As part of the 50th anniversary remembrance of the assassination of President Kennedy, it seems good to pay particular attention to the JFK Library. Like all modern presidential libraries, it was constructed with private funds and then maintained and operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. Franklin D. Roosevelt established the first one. The Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 encouraged subsequent Presidents to do the same, even though at the time the President’s papers were still considered private property. And so on September 20, 1961, less than a year into his administration, Kennedy began consultation with the Archivist of … Continue reading
I have written numerous posts about the general concept that libraries are about more than books. That doesn’t change the fact that libraries are still very much about books. It’s just that nowadays, an increasing number of titles are available as ebooks. Or quite often, only as ebooks. Libraries lend ebooks. And audiobooks, for that matter.
Ever since I came across an online article claiming Benjamin Franklin as America’s first environmentalist, I have been looking for information that I can use in one of my other blogs. I just took notes on another online article called “What Would Ben Franklin Do? Influences of America’s First Environmentalist “ by Lauren Siminauer and noticed that at the time of publication she was “finishing her bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology at the University of Virginia. I have written quite a lot about research, sources, and using the library for writing term papers. Since Simenauer has essentially gotten one … Continue reading
If you’re older than about 40, chances are that you grew up using the card catalog to find library materials and had some trouble getting used to the new computer catalogs. If you’re younger than about 30, chances are you never used one, and perhaps have never even seen one. And yet the concept of the card catalog is still with us. Just for fun I looked up “online card catalog” on Google. The search found more than 72 million results. I see that on average Google still gets 90 searches a month on that term. There is no such … Continue reading
Loose and lose are similar. They’re easy to misuse and easier to mistype. I like to refer to mixing them up as “misused pears.” Some people might wonder, “who cares?” The answer is that, if those who care include potential employers, clients, customers, or other people who can directly influence your livelihood, you’d better care. In other words, you lose credibility with careless word choices. “Lose” always points to a kind of failure: failure to keep or win. “Loose,” on the other hand, has a connotation of freedom. If your jeans are loose, you’re free to move comfortably. Or if … Continue reading
The mass media often misuse statistics when they report about such subjects as health, science, education, and the economy. Media outlets seem to be more concerned with pushing agendas than accurate reporting. Even if there is no agenda, emotionally vivid language in headlines and teasers create and maintain interest in the story. I’m not writing media criticism, though. This post is as much about research and any of my others. Not many Americans know much about statistics. And journalists have no more training in statistics than most of the rest of us. Badly understood and misused statistics also influence public … Continue reading
Classes have started at colleges and universities. Some time at the beginning of every term, academic librarians conduct tours of the library and visit classes to offer library instruction. Or perhaps meet them in the library’s own classrooms. What are they trying to accomplish? What happens when they don’t get through to students? The results can be comical. They also help perpetuate a cycle of ignorance. After all, some students who never catch on graduate anyway. And some of them wind up teaching somewhere.
Medline Plus is a database made available by the National Library of Medicine. Most library databases require a subscription that only libraries can afford to pay. Because Medline Plus originates from the federal government, it is free. As the name implies, it is something called Medline with additional features. Medline itself is the online version of Index Medicus. For anyone who remembers having to use Reader’s Guide, Index Medicus was one of a number of similar reference serials for specialists. Now anyone can use it and understand it.
A librarian sits at the reference desk. Patrons come to the desk, ask questions, and receive answers. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. I have personally served at busy times with people streaming past the desk in both directions, but not stopping to ask questions. That doesn’t necessarily mean that none of those people had questions, either. Here’s a story I found on a librarians’ email list: One student at an academic librarian sat at a table asking friends for help as they walked by. He used his cell phone to call friends in other parts of the library. … Continue reading