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

Movies, technology, and libraries

I’m dating myself again, but I remember when home movies used 8 mm film. Movies available for sale were 16 mm. The latter were mostly made for educational purposes, so only English classes ever had feature films. I doubt if anyone thought of renting one for home use. Then came the VHS/Beta wars. Soon enough it didn’t matter that VHS had won, because everyone flocked to DVDs. They’ll be gone soon enough, too. So will Blu-ray. It’s not a problem for libraries–at least, not yet New technology and business Audio cassettes made it possible for the general public to buy … Continue reading

Libraries, immigrants, and digital literacy

Immigrants to the US generally come with some skills and resources, but not necessarily everything they need to succeed here. For example, many arrive with limited or no facility in the English language. Many also lack adequate computer skills needed to get and perform jobs. Libraries offer both language instruction and computer instruction, but helping patrons with limited English learn digital literacy presents new challenges In the days when most immigrants arrived by ocean, they arrived in major ports and tended to stay there. If very many of a particular group of immigrants left the port of entry, they usually … Continue reading

How the American public perceives and uses libraries

The Pew Research Center has lately issued a substantial report called Library Services in the Digital Age. I will explore this important research in depth for future posts, but for now I’ll just mention some things that immediately catch my eye. The importance of libraries According to the findings, 91% of Americans ages 16 and older consider libraries important community resources and 76% consider them important to themselves and their families. Oddly enough, only 84% have actually visited a library at some point in their lives, while only 59% have visited either a library, a bookmobile, or a public library … Continue reading