Government websites: 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

Writers write about reading, writing, research

Not everyone who reads is doing research. Not everyone who does research in the broadest sense (looking up useful information) writes about it. But everyone who publishes research must read first. Indeed, anyone writes anything must read first. A friend of mine wrote an autobiography, and compiled as much documentation as he could find in order to refresh his memory and insure accuracy. Novelists must not only read other literature voraciously, but if they want respect for their novels, must conduct research to make sure that they describe places, customs, etc. accurately. Whatever else they write about, writers often write … Continue reading

Innovative library services: some kudos and a rant

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

Reference books and sets you must read in print

reference books in print

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?

Why you should edit before publishing–especially online

editing

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

How the Disabled Benefit from Libraries

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

What do librarians do?

Reference librarian and patron

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

Do diligence is a must: more misused pears

misused pears

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

Kids & Family at the Library of Congress website

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

Chicago Public Schools vs school libraries

Elementary school library

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