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






3 unusual and unexpected library services




We all know that libraries are more than books, more even than their collections. We expect public libraries to have children’s departments. We expect academic libraries to have reserves. We expect any library to have meeting space, programs, and Internet access, among other ways of serving their communities. Since every community is different, and since every library staff comprises different mixes of talents, it should be no surprise when some libraries offer unusual services, services you won’t find at many other libraries. … Continue reading






EPA.gov: government websites you should know about




The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a political agency, and so I suspect you probably approve or disapprove of its policies depending on what you think of whatever administration happens to be in power. But regardless of your politics, its website contains a great deal of useful, practical, and non-controversial information. … Continue reading






John F. Kennedy Library & Museum




As part of the 50th anniversary remembrance of the assassination of President Kennedy, it seems good to pay particular attention to the JFK Library. Like all modern presidential libraries, it was constructed with private funds and then maintained and operated by the National Archives and Records Administration. Franklin D. Roosevelt established the first one. The Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 encouraged subsequent Presidents to do the same, even though at the time the President’s papers were still considered private property. And so on September 20, 1961, less than a year into his administration, Kennedy began consultation with the Archivist of … Continue reading