What they say about the library: provocative quotations

library door, quotations on librariesWhen I graduated from library school, I went on a lot of informational interviews. One librarian told me, “Libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.”

When I reminded her that I had graduated only two weeks earlier, she replied, “Like I said, libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.”

Few modern institutions are more ancient than the library, and few are as consistently on the cutting edge of change.

So naturally people have talked and written a lot about libraries over the centuries.

Cicero, the Roman orator, said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” But what about now? Continue reading

Major disruptions in the book publishing business

eBook readers -- book publishing business

Ebook readers and potential ebook readers

Ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle roiled the book publishing business.

Big time.

Ebooks now outsell printed books. We can carry one device with dozens of books, and it weighs less than any one of them would in print. Major bookstore chains went belly up.

But ebooks are hardly the first major disruption in book publishing. The printing press only came along about 700 years ago. It eventually put an end to the scriptoriums that had produced manuscript books for centuries.

Printing put books in the hands of more readers than the scriptoriums ever could, but books remained relatively expensive well into the 20th century.

Selling books by subscription and cheap paperbacks sold in other places besides bookstores revolutionized book publishing. These practices made books available to people who couldn’t otherwise afford books. Or who couldn’t otherwise easily find them. Continue reading

How to take expensive online courses free at the library

woman with laptop computer on couch -- taking online courses?

Taking an online course?

Do you want to take online courses? And know they’re legit? Some companies offer thousands of courses.

You can take as many as you want, if you want to pay $20-30 a month for a subscription.

A bit out of your budget? Maybe you can get around it the same way you can get around other information expenses. Go to the library. Continue reading

Banished words list: fun for a slow news day

banished words listYou have probably noticed an article or two about the annual banished words list. Did you notice that it came out on January 1?

The public relations department of Lake Superior State University has issued the list since 1976. It’s a lot of fun for word lovers.

New Year’s Day is a slow news day, so when the list was new, it seemed a good day to get some press.

I thought it would be fun to look back at previous lists to see if our society has actually stopped using any of the words. Continue reading

A new President and the End of Term Web Archive

Obama inauguration, 2009. end of term web archive

Obama inauguration, 2009

Preservation of online information presents a very difficult problem in general.

Federal government websites are especially vulnerable at the end of a presidential term. The End of Term Web Archive has preserved a snapshot of them since 2008.

I have seen web posts that speak of a frantic effort to preserve government information. They attribute it to fear of the incoming Trump administration.

Don’t believe such mindless hysteria.

Regardless of who won the election, the End of Term Web Archive team would be hard at work. Even when a President is reelected, turnover in the cabinet and at other agencies can be high. The new team often takes down the old sites to make room for its own.

If a government document exists in print, some archive preserves it. The National Archives or a presidential library preserve a lot. Government information that exists only on the web easily disappears without a trace. Just like any other web-based information. Continue reading