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






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






New technology in libraries




I suppose all professional organizations have regular large, national or international meetings where members gather to learn about the latest developments. Normally they feature an exhibit hall where various vendors display their wares. In recent decades these exhibits always include plenty of fancy new computer technology. Libraries have always been on the forefront of information technology. We think of information technology as requiring the use of computers to store and manipulate data about data, or metadata. In fact, a library catalog entry is and has always been metadata, long before computers existed. When experts at the Library of Congress devised … Continue reading