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 Brian Herzog

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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