What do librarians do?




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






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






Meet the library staff, answer a question




As much as I would love to post here every week, it hasn’t been possible. I have managed only once so far this month. Today’s post is scheduled for Christmas Day, which means you’re probably reading it later. You are used to going to librarians to ask questions. This time, the librarian (that’s me) has a question for you. It’s at the bottom of the page. Here’s a compilation of earlier posts about librarians and library staff, only one of which has anything to do with Christmas at all. If you’re really looking for fresh, Christmas-related content, be sure to … Continue reading






Encouraging college students to use the library




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. … Continue reading






Reference librarians reach out: low tech this time




I wish I had read about this before I wrote last week’s post. Except for walking around the library, all of the means of outreach I wrote about entailed the use of computer technology and electronic communication. Who would have thought of a bicycle?  … Continue reading