Libraries exist to serve the needs of their public. Traditionally they have existed to serve needs for information and entertainment. That accounts for the books, periodicals, computer resources, and audiovisual collections, but not necessarily every service or collection. The Helen Plum Library in Lombard, Illinois lends out paintings and sculptures. I found the sculptures handy when I was teaching a humanities course, but apparently most people borrow them just to redecorate their homes for a short time. In earlier posts 3 unusual and unexpected library services and 5 more unusual and unexpected library services I have called attention to unusual ways academic and public … Continue reading
In my last post, about editing, I cited my father’s entry in Contemporary Authors, a still-growing set with more than 200 printed volumes. I couldn’t find the photocopy I made several years ago when I first stumbled across it. I found an online version in WorldCat, but it’s available only at 8 libraries, none within 500 miles of my home. I had to go to a local library to consult the print version. How many other important reference works are available only in print?
I have no need to make the case for good writing here, but the act of writing doesn’t end with the first draft. Very few people write first drafts that are ready to be sent out into the world. Every bit of writing, from a job application to a book, benefits from coming back to it with fresh eyes. A few years ago I stumbled across an entry for my father in Contemporary Authors. He was a giant in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, and all of his published works are in that very narrow specialty. But he made … Continue reading
Contributed by Helen Mainwaring. Learning, even under the best of conditions, can be tough. In a world that is still reeling from financial meltdown of 2008, it often seems that it is education – and all the resources it needs to thrive – that is the first public service to get taken away from a society that badly needs it. More often than not, the first arm of education that is taken away is funding for libraries. Libraries are the easiest targets when those in charge need to save some pennies. In the eyes of those who don’t know their true value, libraries are … Continue reading
It never ceases to amaze me how many newspaper and magazine articles I see almost every month proclaiming that “the library is more than books.” That’s public libraries. Newspapers and magazines don’t seem to acknowledge academic libraries, special libraries, or school libraries very much. I don’t see nearly as many articles that acknowledge that librarians do more than sit around reading books all day, but that’s another long-standing misconception. Library collections have been more than books for more than a century. Every new technology in information or entertainment becomes a new part of library collections. But libraries have always been … Continue reading
When I saw that comment in a forum thread I wondered, “How due you due do diligence?” Someone (or someone’s fingers) was having trouble with homonyms. I suspect hasty typing accounts for that neglect of due diligence. Many losing battles with homonyms seem to result from using the more common word when the less common is correct. A Christian devotional advised readers what to do in the throws of temptation. Throe, most often used in the plural, can mean a violent spasm of pain, or as a metaphor, a condition of agonizing effort or struggle. Against temptation, for example. A … Continue reading
As I have written before, the Library of Congress website contains such a wealth of information that it will take multiple posts even to begin to do it justice. Even the Kids & Family page is difficult to describe fully. It comprises links to 14 other pages, some intended especially for young readers and others not. The link to it on the library’s home page does not stand out. It is on the line of links below the 9 thumbnails. Pages intended for young readers The Young Readers Center is not a web-based collection. It is a room on the … Continue reading
Harold Howe, author of Thinking about Our Kids, has said, “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education.” They must not think much about education in Chicago these days. They have taken school librarians out of the library and assigned them to classroom teaching. I learned of the problem from a report on National Public Radio. I lived in the Chicago area for more than 20 years, and during the last 15 years or so of that time, I was married to a suburban elementary school teacher. We lived through a strike. … Continue reading
Education and economic well-being depend more and more on electronic information and communication. Not everyone in the US has equal access to computers and Internet service. Not everyone who does can use it through wireless devices (wi-fi). The difference between the haves and have-nots is known as the digital divide. In partnership with the Federal Government and private foundations, public libraries take a leading role in closing the gap.
All public and academic libraries offer the same basic services. Many offer unexpected services. In some cases, they are the library’s response to unique local needs. In others, one library has seen how it can address a common need, and other libraries may start something similar. At least some of today’s more recent basic services started out as one library’s experiment. I reported on 3 unusual and unexpected library services a while ago. Here are 5 more.