Raucous good times at the library




I hope the stereotype of a librarian as a frumpy woman with no friends and a fetish for quiet had a decent burial long ago. Librarians are very creative people who enjoy having fun as much as anyone else. A few years ago, I presented some videos of library book cart drill teams! You might find similar shenanigans at a parade. Some librarian conferences have regular drill team competitions. But what about singing, dancing, running, riding book carts, and even laughing aloud in the library itself? At the reference desk and circulation desk! Even in the stacks!! Librarians do all … Continue reading






Recalls: Government websites you should know




It seems like the news constantly brings word of new recalls. Sometimes it’s cars. Sometimes it’s food. Sometimes it’s toys. There seems to be no limit to what can get recalled. What are we supposed to do, besides wait for the random news story, to keep up with them all? Six government agencies have collaborated on a site for you to find information, report dangerous products, or just find safety tips. It’s called, logically enough, www.Recalls.gov. … Continue reading






Victory for Google Books, larger victory for the public




Have any of your Google searches turned up pages from a book? Google began to experiment with scanning books in 2002 and announced plans to establish a digital library, now known as Google Books, in 2004. The project quickly became mired in controversy as the Authors Guild, some individual authors, and several major publishers sued Google for copyright infringement. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld a 2013 district court ruling on Authors Guild v. Google that Google’s activities constitute fair use under copyright law. The Authors Guild plans to appeal to the Supreme Court. Its executive … Continue reading






Where’s the proof? In the pudding? Clichéd confusion




I just heard someone else say, “the proof is in the pudding.” What’s that supposed to mean? Sayings become clichés for a reason. They express a thought in a short, easily memorable form that people over a wide range of time and geography want to express. So it gets used over and over. Sometimes people get careless and don’t say it correctly. All meaning goes out the window, but unfortunately, the mangled version sometimes takes on a life of its own. It becomes as common as the correct, meaningful version, or maybe even more common. … Continue reading






4 library tips for busy college students




Writing papers and preparing for other assignments can take a lot of time. You can probably think of all kinds of other things you’d rather do with your time. Worse than time spent researching and writing papers is time wasted researching and writing papers. Here’s how to put your time to productive use: … Continue reading






The Library of Congress Turns a Page




The Librarian of Congress is not an official who makes the news often, but the current Librarian of Congress, James Billington, announced his retirement last June. President Obama will appoint the next Librarian of Congress, becoming only the 10th President to have that opportunity. Billington was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987. You know that the Library of Congress is the library, well, of Congress. Congress created a library for its own use very early in the nation’s history. But it has become more than that. It’s America’s unofficial national library. It affects the workings of every other library in … Continue reading






How search engines and library catalogs work

Online library catalog




You know how to use a search engine. Decide what keywords you want to search and type them into the search box. Then see if the results returned the information you expected. Do you know how to use a library catalog? Even though you will probably see a single search box like a search engine’s, if you expect it to work the same way you will be frustrated. That single search box is not the only way to search the catalog. It’s not even the best way. If you see a link to “advanced search,” click on it. Once you … Continue reading






What Everyone Ought to Know about Disasters: FEMA Website

FEMA relief effort




You don’t want to deal with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’s not because it’s a federal bureaucracy, which is bad enough. It’s because the only time they come to town is when you’ve suffered a catastrophe: severe weather, wildfires, earthquakes, or various manmade disasters like chemical spills. You don’t want to deal with them. But it’s a good idea to look at the FEMA website. The home page is simple and attractive. The site itself is many layers deep and may require some hunting to find exactly what you need to know. It contains information not only for … Continue reading






Eggcorns, a new word for misused pears

misused pears




Children eventually stop growing. The English language does not. Most new words catch popular fancy for a while, and then drop out of site. Quite a few eventually get recognized by major dictionaries. Merriam-Webster just added 1,700 new words. “Eggcorn” now takes its place alongside malapropism, spoonerism, and mondegreen to describe a losing battle with using or understanding words. A malapropism substitutes a completely wrong word, as when Mrs. Malaprop (in the third act of The Rivals by Richard Sheridan) declares, “Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice … Continue reading






Government websites: National Park Service

Yellowstone national park service




This installment of the occasional series on federal government websites looks at the National Park Service. Travel season will be here before we know it, and the national parks make wonderful vacation destinations. Nearly everyone knows parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, but the National Park Service operates 407 national parks, national monuments, and other properties. Click on “Find a Park” in the header menu to find parks by name, location, activity, and topic. Here are the ones that begin with the letter E. Ebey’s Landing Edgar Allen Poe Effigy Mounds Eisenhower El Camino Real de los Tejas El … Continue reading