Presidential Libraries of the United States




Now that the George W. Bush Library and Museum has opened, every former President from Herbert Hoover onward has a presidential library established in his name. For all the snarky humor about whether the new Bush library has anything but picture books, a presidential library isn’t a library in the normal sense of the term. Whatever books it has comprise only an insignificant part of its holdings. (President Bush has written a book, so his library certainly includes that one!) Although they are called presidential libraries, they are more museum and archive than library. The Office of Presidential Libraries of … Continue reading






Public libraries in American life




Last January I wrote about how Americans perceive libraries, based on a Pew research poll about library services. For one thing, Americans hold their public library in high esteem even when they don’t personally use it. It’s time for a closer look at that point. First, the numbers The Pew questionnaire begins with some very general questions about the respondents’ communities, their access to the Internet, and their book-reading habits. The first question directly related to libraries asks about the importance of public libraries, and explicitly excludes school or university libraries. Are libraries [very important / somewhat important / not … Continue reading






Why you’re not allowed to hear most old recordings




The U.S. Constitution empowers Congress “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” In 1976, Congress set the limit at 75 years or the life of the author plus 50 years. In 1998, it extended both terms by 20 years. At least that’s true for most of what comes under the copyright law. For some reason, sound recordings do not fall under the federal copyright law. Instead, they fall under, and are crushed by the weight of a tangle of federal … Continue reading






Government web sites you should know about: consumer issues




Various offices of the federal government offer a wealth of information that the public can use. It seems good to describe some of them here from time to time. This first installment looks at three web sites devoted to various consumer issues. Federal Trade Commission The FTC’s Consumer Information page has separate tabs for information on Money & Credit Homes & Mortgages Health & Fitness Jobs & Making Money Privacy & Identity It also offers a video/media library. There you’ll find not only videos, but audio tips and games. Quite a bit of the content deals with scams and consumer … Continue reading






Foreclosures in San Diego and what libraries are all about




Led by the San Diego County Library (SDCL), a few libraries in Southern California and Nevada are helping homeowners threatened by foreclosure. At least, my source for this post does not indicate that the effort is any more widespread than that. But it beautifully illustrates how libraries struggle to meet the needs of their community. At first glance, libraries don’t seem to have much to do with the housing crisis. At second glance, people who see their homes slipping away have no idea where to turn for information. Providing information is a core library function. Building community is another. The … Continue reading