or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 2/19/12

   February 25th, 2012

45s Card Game Rule BookThis was sort of a bizarre question, but the way I got to answer it made me pretty happy.

A patron walked up to the desk and said,

Someone told me the rules for forty-fives is available on DVD - can you show me where it is?

I had no idea what this meant. I was thinking 45 records, maybe the size and rpm that made 45's different from other records? That was flimsy though, so I just asked him what "forty-fives" was. I was surprised at the answer:

It's a regional card game, kind of like Hearts and Whist. Its complicated to learn, and I'm looking for the Merrimack Valley rules.


[note: my library is part of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium, so this is definitely local]

I searched our catalog for both 45 and forty-five for DVD and then everything, but didn't find anything like what he was talking about. Then I searched Amazon to try to find what the right title of this item might be, but couldn't find anything out there either.

So next I just tried a web search for 45 card game and came up with all kinds of stuff (including, of course, a Wikipedia article). Eventually we ended up at http://www.the45scardgame.com, which listed the rules online, but also linked to sites to play online, buy the game on CD, or buy a printed book of rules.

The patron was happy to see that, because he could learn the rules this way (and from a number of the other sites we found as well). He also thought his friend might have been talking about the game on a CD-ROM, and not on DVD after all.

But I couldn't resist ordering a copy of the rules book too - it's just too local and too unusual not to have in the library. I love it when the library can add something to our collection that a patron may no have purchased for themselves - not only do they get access to it then, but so does everyone else. Plus, I like card games*, so I'm really curious about this one. I've never heard of it before, but a game with rules like "black twos are higher than black tens, but red twos are not," is exactly my kind of game.


*And for the card-curious, my current favorite game has a not-kid-friendly name, so my family just calls it Rules.

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3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 2/19/12”

  1. Emily Says:

    Your favorite card game is one of my favorites too. It’s fun to play at the bar because when people come up to ask you what you’re playing you get to look them in the eye and tell them – it can be very funny, if you’re quick to explain.

  2. Christine Says:

    I grew up in Chelmsford and 45s is very much a regional thing. All my cousins played it growing up. It’s fun — you should give it a try!

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Emily: I also like it because there are variations to the rules that can be added in – although, I supposed that’s true of any card game, and maybe that’s just how it was taught to me.

    @Christine: I’ve lived here for six years and this was the first time I’d heard of it, although all my coworkers (who grew up here) had – that’s a good example of why not everything librarian can know everything.