Wastes: Government websites you should know about

Do you ever throw anything away? Then you are participating in a major social, economic, and environmental problem. We talk about throwing stuff away, but there’s no such place as away. We can’t leave dealing with waste entirely to the government, either. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency website has a many pages devoted to Wastes. They provide a lot of useful information to help us make the best choices for our own waste management. The index page has links to four major groups of articles as well as a “Wastes Quick Finder.” If you recognize the topic you want in … Continue reading

Queue the violin music and other misused pears

I subscribe to several email newsletters. A couple of them are valuable for more than the information they convey. Their authors have a delightfully hard time choosing the right word from a pair or more of homonyms. One of these authors admitted to being stressed by something and apparently figured most of his readership wouldn’t be especially sympathetic. So he added, “queue the violin music.” “Queue” is a much more common word in British English than American English. It means a line of people waiting, say, to buy a concert ticket. As a classical music lover, it saddens me that … Continue reading

Academic libraries and how they differ from public libraries

In a sense, a library is a library. It exists to connect people with the information they need. Once upon a time, that information was all printed, except for libraries that owned manuscript collections. The explosion of new formats—sound recordings, film and video recordings, and all manner of electronic media—has affected every kind of library. Still, there are important differences between public and academic libraries. The following two lists by no means adequately describe either public or academic libraries, but they serve to show the contrast.

Scam alerts: government websites you should know about

Most people work for a living at an honest job, or at least want to. As for the rest, the number of ways they invent to steal from the rest of us is truly breathtaking. In this installment of my running series of government websites you should know about, I have chosen not to examine a specific site. Instead, I went to http://www.usa.gov and typed “scam” in the search box. It is a page of links, and if you’re reading this close to the time of publication, here’s the latest from the blog at USA.gov: Top 5 summer scams and … Continue reading

Brother, can you spare a digm?

Oh come on. You know what a digm is. You probably have at least one in your pocket. It’s worth ten cents. It’s time for a paradime shift! Here are some sentences full of rhyming words that decided to trade endings. How quickly can you read them? Did Herman really bict his neighbor’s ear? A jury mite indight him. She was aglough that her boe had lots of deau, but full of wow when she saw he was sough shalloe.

Libraries: a shelter in a storm?

With the recent observance of the anniversary of a devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, I wondered if libraries provide storm shelters. I found both less and more than I expected. My local newspaper had a story not long ago that the central library in Winston-Salem had a fallout shelter, one of four dozen downtown. Nobody thinks much about fallout shelters any more, but in the 1960s they seemed an important part of public safety. Public libraries have always been community centers. They have always used their buildings in many ways that have no connection to the most obvious kinds of … Continue reading

War and a library: The Library of Congress burns

Two hundred years ago, the War of 1812 entered its final stages. This now obscure war turned out to have a decisive influence on the development of the Library of Congress. The upstart United States of America had declared war on the most powerful nation in the world at the time. Its victories were few, but it captured present day Toronto (then called York) in April 1813. American troops burned the Government House and Parliament Buildings. The British retaliated the following year. They invaded Washington in August 1814 with the intent of burning it. The British had a easier time … Continue reading

Library of Congress: government websites you should know

It’s not like you can go into the Library of Congress and check out books. It’s not an ordinary library. But it’s as much your library as your public library. Unofficially, the Library of Congress is the national library of the United States. You can, if you want, get a reader registration card and use the reading rooms. None of the collection can leave the buildings, of which there are now three. Most people never go to the Library of Congress, or if they do, it’s as a tourist. On the other hand, it offers so many services online that … Continue reading

Earth Day at the library

The Greensboro Public Library’s Kathleen Clay Edwards branch held an Earth Day exhibit on Saturday afternoon, April 5 to coincide with the Guilford County School’s spring break. Earth Day is officially April 22, but there’s no reason to limit Earth Day observances to that date. From the start, Earth Day was intended in part as an educational occasion. In 1970, the focus was on teach-ins on college and university campuses.  The library’s celebration seemed aimed mostly at children, although the various exhibits had plenty of useful content for adults as well. I suppose public libraries all over the country observe … Continue reading

Something old and something new in a recent research project

I concede: Real research can be done using only web sources. Just not much. Since this month is Earth Month, I want to look back at the first Earth Day in 1970 for one of my other blogs. Can I find enough information on the web to write something about it? Sure. And I’d produce a post every bit as disappointing as an online article I wrote about last fall, which appears to have started out as an undergraduate honors paper. So I had to use some very old research methods. Along the way, I found a new piece of … Continue reading