Digital divide: broadband, the underserved, and libraries

digital divide. shutting down the library
digital-divide-circle

Digital divide

Education and economic well-being depend more and more on electronic information and communication.

Not everyone in the US has equal access to computers and Internet service.

Not everyone who does can use it through wireless devices (wi-fi).

The difference between the haves and have-nots is known as the digital divide. In partnership with the Federal Government and private foundations, public libraries take a leading role in closing the gap. Continue reading

5 more unusual and unexpected library services

Drones in flight

Drones in flight

All public and academic libraries offer the same basic services. Many offer unexpected services.

In some cases, they are the library’s response to unique local needs. In others, one library has seen how it can address a common need, and other libraries may start something similar.

At least some of today’s more recent basic services started out as one library’s experiment.

I reported on 3 unusual and unexpected library services a while ago. Here are 5 more. Continue reading

Wastes: Government websites you should know about

waste and recycling truck

waste and recycling truckDo you ever throw anything away? Then you are participating in a major social, economic, and environmental problem. We talk about throwing stuff away, but there’s no such place as away.

We can’t leave dealing with waste entirely to the government, either. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency website has a many pages devoted to Wastes. They provide a lot of useful information to help us make the best choices for our own waste management.

The index page has links to four major groups of articles as well as a “Wastes Quick Finder.” If you recognize the topic you want in the quick finder, click there.

Otherwise, finding the same articles requires a lot of clicking. The advantage to all that clicking, though, is that you will find topics grouped thematically, not just in alphabetical order. Continue reading

Queue the violin music and other misused pears

mistakes with homonyms--fun with homonyms
fun with homonyms

Mismatched pear of shoes?

I subscribe to several email newsletters. A couple of them are valuable for more than the information they convey.

Their authors have a delightfully hard time choosing the right word from a pair or more of homonyms.

One of these authors admitted to being stressed by something and apparently figured most of his readership wouldn’t be especially sympathetic. So he added, “queue the violin music.”

“Queue” is a much more common word in British English than American English. It means a line of people waiting, say, to buy a concert ticket. As a classical music lover, it saddens me that the queue for violin music is always so much shorter than for rock music.

But somehow I don’t think that’s what the writer meant. Continue reading

Academic libraries and how they differ from public libraries

academic library exterior
academic library exterior

Walter Science and Technology Library, one of 14 in the University of Minnesota Libraries

In a sense, a library is a library. Public libraries, academic libraries, school libraries, and special libraries exist to connect people with the information they need.

Once upon a time, that information was all printed, except for libraries that owned manuscript collections.

The explosion of new formats—sound recordings, film and video recordings, and all manner of electronic media—has affected every kind of library.

Still, there are important differences between public and academic libraries. The following two lists by no means adequately describe either public or academic libraries, but they serve to show the contrast. Continue reading