City directories are locating tools for people or businesses that are used like telephone books. But unlike telephone books, city directories also have a sections arranged by street address and telephone number that show the name, address and telephone number of the person at that location.
Most libraries have a policy on giving out information from city directories over the telephone. City directories are used heavily by collection agencies from outside a library's service area, and metropolitan libraries are often swamped with telephone calls for city directory information. Some libraries feel that taking the time to find each address needed detracts from their local service mission.
Another issue with answering city directory questions is that callers often ask for the names and phone numbers of near-by addresses to the one they are seeking. They usually want to contact a person's neighbors to find out where that person might have moved. While tracking a person's location using this technique is not illegal, some libraries feel it is a violation of people's privacy to give out this information. Other libraries say that this public information and should be freely available as is information from other directories. You should ask about your library's policy on this issue.
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