Libraries and entrepreneurs




In this season, politicians at all levels of government seek votes by talking about our weak economy and what they’ll do to create jobs. Meanwhile, libraries are quietly (or perhaps not so quietly) doing something about this problem. I have already written about library services for the unemployed. There are a couple of paragraphs there about supporting local entrepreneurs, and in fact, many people use unemployment as a spur to start their own businesses instead of looking for a new job. The topic deserves more careful attention. The importance of entrepreneurs Some of the nation’s most successful companies have started … Continue reading






Teenagers, libraries, digital media, and learning




To many grownups, teenagers always seem to be goofing off with various electronic toys: cell phones, music players, game consoles, portable computers, and the like. Teenagers certainly consume a lot of digital media. Libraries are discovering that this same passion for digital technology can help develop creativity and critical thinking skills. In November 2011, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, made grants of $100,000 to twelve museums and libraries across the country to develop digital learning laboratories for teenagers. They will announce another round of grants in November 2012. … Continue reading






Circ staff: the most visible people at the library




It’s not hard to go in and out of the library without speaking with most of the library staff, but it is hard not to see any of them. I’d like to say that you’ll see a reference librarian, but some libraries have decided to do away with a regular reference desk. You’ll see reference librarians at those libraries, but not necessarily know who they are. Even if you don’t check anything out, you’ll recognize some library staff right away: the people who check out library materials. They still work behind a desk, probably very close to the door. The … Continue reading






Roots: digging for your family tree at the library




When I lived in the Chicago area, the Newberry Library was one of my favorite places. I occasionally had occasion to cross paths with “the cemetery lady,” a researcher who knew more about cemeteries than just about anyone else in the area. And why shouldn’t she hang around the Newberry? It has one of the best genealogy collections in the country. If you’re serious about tracing your family tree, be prepared to learn a lot about cemeteries. And the best place to start learning about them, or anything about your ancestors, is at the library. Your local library does not … Continue reading






Libraries vs the digital divide




Railroad tracks used to divide some communities into the right side and the wrong side. People on the wrong side of the tracks lacked both social standing and the resources to better themselves. The term “digital divide” similarly refers to those who have access to the Internet and those who don’t. Libraries, and especially public libraries, are at the forefront of attempts to bridge the digital divide. What is the digital divide? What constituted the digital divide changes over time. When the general public first began to acquire computers at home, poor people and minorities were less likely to have … Continue reading