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






Classical music for children at the library




For the past three years, the Greensboro (North Carolina) Public Library, in partnership with the Eastern Music Festival, have presented a series of concerts called “EMF Encircling the City.” It is a special outreach to introduce children to classical music. Children dearly love any music they hear. This series exemplifies fairly standard library programming. Surely all public libraries in this country provide rich and varied experiences for children, including live music. Most of them present live music to youth and adult audiences. too. Many even have dedicated concert halls so they don’t have to try to fit performances into multi-purpose … Continue reading






The American public and its libraries




The most recent Pew Research Center poll of library usage includes a fascinating statistic: 91% of respondents consider public libraries either very important or somewhat important to their community.  But only 76% consider it very important or somewhat important to themselves or their families! One non-library user expressed support for the services they provide to people less well off. That person had enough money to choose various alternatives. I doubt if that sentiment represents the entire 15% of Americans who consider libraries important for the community but not themselves. Who are library users? The poll only tracks people who are … 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






Research for ordinary people




Scientists in their labs or historians poring over manuscript collections and archives are researchers. Many of them become well known in their profession, and maybe even with the general public. People who search the web for sites that they then pass on to a writer are also researchers, very likely making $2 an hour somewhere in Asia. They are at the low end of status and responsibility for Internet work. What does either kind of research have to do with most people? Everyone does research. Not everyone does it professionally. For most people, that research is not likely to result … Continue reading