Usually when you go to a library, everything in the collection is easily accessible and in plain view. That includes books and audiovisual materials that you may check out. It also includes computers, magazines, newspapers, reference materials, etc. that you must used in the library. But what treasures lie behind a locked door marked “special collections”? It’s mostly academic libraries that have a special collections department. If they’re very old, then some of their earliest acquisitions have become both old and rare. They’re rare because most other libraries have “weeded” those items out of their collections long ago. After all, … Continue reading
We use fewer commas now than in centuries past. Some eighteenth century writers, annoy me by putting commas between the subject and verb of a sentence, as I did here. Yuck. Here’s a sentence I found in a concert review from an 1833 newspaper. Apparently the trombonist was the best musician in a bad orchestra. Aren’t you glad no one writes like this any more? We can ourselves vouch, that when the Instrumentalists, on Thursday evening, were, in the Sinfonia, which commenced the second part, all awry, he pulled them together in the most admirable style, and ceased not until … Continue reading
Reference librarians are in the business of answering questions, whether helping someone plan a major research project or pointing the way to the drinking fountain. Most questions are pretty routine, but some patrons ask funny questions. They have no idea what they really want, and occasionally appear not even to understand that they’re in a library. Some patrons want a particular book. They just can’t remember the author or the title. They might ask by color, but often as not, they’re wrong about that, too. Here are some memorably funny reference questions, along with the eventual answers.
I hear a lot from and about people who take their laptops or tablets to places like Starbucks, Panera, or just a local place with wi-fi and hang out there. These are informal places that don’t seem to mind how long someone stays, so long as they spend some money. Meanwhile, the folks that hang out there often say how much work they get accomplished, including working online or interviewing people. What could be better? Consider the library.