5 more unusual and unexpected library services




All public and academic libraries offer the same basic services. Many offer unexpected services. In some cases, they are the library’s response to unique local needs. In others, one library has seen how it can address a common need, and other libraries may start something similar. At least some of today’s more recent basic services started out as one library’s experiment. I reported on 3 unusual and unexpected library services a while ago. Here are 5 more. … 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. … Continue reading






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






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