How the Disabled Benefit from Libraries

disabled and libraries

disabled in libraries posterContributed by Helen Mainwaring.

Learning, even under the best of conditions, can be tough. In a world that is still reeling from financial meltdown of 2008, it often seems that it is education – and all the resources it needs to thrive – that is the first public service to get taken away from a society that badly needs it.

More often than not, the first arm of education that is taken away is funding for libraries.

Libraries are the easiest targets when those in charge need to save some pennies. In the eyes of those who don’t know their true value, libraries are luxuries, a free bookstore that would be nice to have if the funding was there, but money has to be saved, and while books get two thumbs up, they’re not important to save. Of course, that view is completely wrong, and doesn’t factor in the social and educational benefits a library brings to a community.

While we can lament the loss of a library, there is one particular sector of society who feels the affects more than most: the disabled, some of whom need as much help as possible to ensure they can achieve their potential. Continue reading

What do librarians do?

Reference librarian and patron. what librarians do
Reference librarian and patron

Reference interview

It never ceases to amaze me how many newspaper and magazine articles I see almost every month proclaiming that “the library is more than books.”

That’s public libraries. Newspapers and magazines don’t seem to acknowledge academic libraries, special libraries, or school libraries very much.

I don’t see nearly as many articles that acknowledge that librarians do more than sit around reading books all day, but that’s another long-standing misconception.

Library collections have been more than books for more than a century. Every new technology in information or entertainment becomes a new part of library collections.

But libraries have always been more than their collections, too. There are plenty of bookless libraries. The only requirement for something to be a library is that it has librariansContinue reading

Do diligence is a must: more misused pears

mistakes with homonyms--fun with homonyms
fun with homonyms

Mismatched pear of shoes?

When I saw that comment in a forum thread I wondered, “How due you due do diligence?”

It gives me an excuse to pass on some more fun with homonyms.

I suspect hasty typing accounts for that neglect of due diligence. Many losing battles with homonyms seem to result from using the more common word when the less common is correct.

A Christian devotional advised readers what to do in the throws of temptation. Throe, most often used in the plural, can mean a violent spasm of pain, or as a metaphor, a condition of agonizing effort or struggle. Against temptation, for example.

A newspaper comic strip’s author miswrote a punchline: “It didn’t phase him.” Perhaps a faze he was going through? “Phase” has many different meanings as a noun. As a verb it means to carry out a plan by phases, in the sense of distinct stages of development. “Faze” means to disrupt someone’s composure.

Confession: I almost typed “composer” instead of “composure.” I studied music long before I learned to be a librarian. For me, at least, “composer” is the more common word. My head knows the difference. My fingers? Not so much.

But misused pears are not always the choice of the more common word. Someone on Facebook asked, “Is it me, or does nobody have manors these days?” Actually, given the size of new houses over the last 20 or 30 years, lots of people have a manor, or might as well.

The word usually refers to the residence of a lord who rules a domain. Americans, who have never had a noble class, have little reason to know the word, but it can also mean any landed estate. Anyone who owns more than one landed estate therefore has manors—but not necessarily manners!

Did you know that organically grown foods are the waive of the future? Somehow I don’t think that’s what the writer meant. “Waive” is always a verb, which means either to give up a claim or right voluntarily or not strictly enforce a rule.

If waive is supposed to mean anything as a noun, the sentence would mean that in the future no one will insist on organically grown foods! If something is the wave of the future, on the other hand, it’s a metaphor for an unstoppable action of the ocean.

Sometimes, however, one word in a pair of homonyms is not noticeably more common than the other. A marketing coach wrote, “The perfect anecdote to a willy nilly, ‘I think I’m getting this right’ approach to copywriting is to commit your formula to memory.”

Granted, marketing copy is supposed to tell a story, but not necessarily an anecdote. He meant a remedy for poison or other injurious affect: “antidote.”

Here is some good advice from an environmental standpoint: get out of the habit of reaching for paper towels. As someone wrote, “Paper towels — use a tea towel, instead. If you worry about your tea towel stains not coming out or an odor lingering on them, simply soak overnight in a white vinegar and water solution, then wash them. The vinegar will illuminate any odor and it’s better to use than bleach.”

I agree that using cloth towels is usually preferable to using paper towels, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to shed light on stains or odors! I would prefer to get rid of them—eliminate them if possible.

And what are we to make of an email that circulated about some cause on Facebook? The subject line was “A Heartbraking Story of Abuse.” The story will make your heart gradually slow down and perhaps come to a complete stop? I chose not to read that one! I don’t much want my heart broken, either, but the headline should have used “heartbreaking.”

I hope I don’t come across as irritated. I’m just having fun with homonyms. I don’t want to be like the person who wrote, “I don’t have patients for stupid people today.” Doctors have patients—whether they have patience or not.

We all have impatience at times. Some of us will plant impatiens in our gardens come spring.

I haven’t seen that pair mixed up yet, probably because I don’t read a lot about gardening, but I won’t be surprised if I do.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by gadl.

Kids & Family at the Library of Congress website

LOC home page screen shot, librarian of congress history
Library of Congress home page

Library of Congress home page

As I have written before, the Library of Congress website contains such a wealth of information that it will take multiple posts even to begin to do it justice.

Even the Kids & Family page is difficult to describe fully. It comprises links to 14 other pages, some intended especially for young readers and others not.

The link to it on the library’s home page does not stand out. It is on the line of links below the 9 thumbnails.

Pages intended for young readers

Library of Congress, America's Library

America’s Library home page

The Young Readers Center is not a web-based collection. It is a room on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building. It is open Monday through Friday except on national holidays.

Among other programs, it offers weekly story time for infants and toddlers. Continue reading

Chicago Public Schools vs school libraries

Elementary school library--quotations about libraries

Elementary school libraryHarold Howe, author of Thinking about Our Kids, has said, “What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it thinks about education.”

They must not think much about education in Chicago these days. They have taken school librarians out of the library and assigned them to classroom teaching.

I learned of the problem from a report on National Public Radio. I lived in the Chicago area for more than 20 years, and during the last 15 years or so of that time, I was married to a suburban elementary school teacher. We lived through a strike.

The news hit close to home, but I wouldn’t write about it if it had implications only for Chicago. Similar shenanigans appear all over the country, and not just with schools. Continue reading