Bare with me: more misused pears

misused pears
misused pears

Mismatched pear of shoes?

I was on live chat with a technician, and at one point he had to look something up. So he typed, “Bare with me.”


I’m pretty selective when it comes to either making that invitation or accepting it. Besides, it’s much more fun when we’re in the same room.

Here’s another instance where a pear (oops, pair) of homonyms tripped someone up. He chose the wrong word. He meant, “Bear with me.” Bear as a verb has numerous meanings. Among others, it means to tolerate or endure. In this case, “put up with my absence for a while.”

Bear also means to proceed in a particular direction, and that reminds me of a story I heard about two very dumb hunters. They wanted to shoot a bear, but they were afraid of getting lost in the woods. So they decided to walk along a road and just look into the woods for the bear.

After a while, though, they came to a sign that said, “Lane closed ahead. Bear left.” What else could they do in that case? They just went back home.

At least they weren’t watching for the bear with baited breath. If the bear took the bait, their injuries might have been too much to bear.  “Bated breath,” on the other hand, refers to lessening the force of their breath. Or to get away from the dictionary definition, anyone who waits with bated breath barely breathes while waiting.

I can just imagine someone who succeeds in using the right words bragging on Facebook, “I past the test.”

Oops. The past tense of pass isn’t past. It’s passed. Past can never be used as a verb.

“Of coarse,” someone might say. Actually, I have never seen that blunder. I suspect that it’s only because course is such a more common word than coarse. I haven’t seen anyone recommending course sandpaper or objecting to course language. But it’s bound to turn up some time.

Perhaps that’s a mute point? No. Mute means silent. The proper word is moot, which means either debatable or, as a legal term, without significance, having already been decided.

Mute and moot are not exactly homonyms. They’re pronounced differently. We’ve all probably heard “mute point” as often as we have seen it in writing. It’s the same difference as that between the languages of a cat and a cow.

“Here! Here!” said the grammar police. Um, no. Lots of people write that, but not grammar police. If anyone shouts “here! here!” they’re merely calling attention to themselves and their location. “Hear! Hear!” on the other hand expresses agreement with what someone else said and urges everyone else within earshot to pay attention. 

Well, I’ve got to go. I just got an email from a dating service asking if I want to meat my ideal mate. I wonder what that means?


3 unusual and unexpected library services

Los Angeles Public Library

We all know that libraries are more than books, more even than their collections. We expect public libraries to have children’s departments. We expect academic libraries to have reserves. We expect any library to have meeting space, programs, and Internet access, among other ways of serving their communities.

Since every community is different, and since every library staff comprises different mixes of talents, it should be no surprise when some libraries offer unusual services, services you won’t find at many other libraries.

Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles Public Library, Westwood Branch

Continue reading government websites you should know about

EPA seal

EPA sealThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a political agency, and so I suspect you probably approve or disapprove of its policies depending on what you think of whatever administration happens to be in power.

But regardless of your politics, its website contains a great deal of useful, practical, and non-controversial information. Continue reading

Meet the library staff, answer a question


Librarians do. . . all kinds of fun things!
Barbarian/Librarian Party

As much as I would love to post here every week, it hasn’t been possible. I have managed only once so far this month. Today’s post is scheduled for Christmas Day, which means you’re probably reading it later.

You are used to going to librarians to ask questions. This time, the librarian (that’s me) has a question for you. It’s at the bottom of the page.

Here’s a compilation of earlier posts about librarians and library staff, only one of which has anything to do with Christmas at all. If you’re really looking for fresh, Christmas-related content, be sure to catch the post on Musicology for Everyone about Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols This year is the centennial of Britten’s birth.

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Librarians at work

  • library catalogers

    Catalogers at work

    The librarian’s job Maybe the old stereotype of a librarian as woman with bad hair and an aversion to conversation is dead, but lots of people still don’t get what a librarian does.

  • Helping the reference librarian help you Librarians conduct a “reference interview” to learn what you need to know. Knowing what they will ask and how to answer will help both of you get to your answer.
  • Reference librarians reach out Reference librarians don’t just sit at a desk waiting for patrons to come to them. They also have all kinds of ways to reach out to patrons, both high and low tech.
  • Circ staff: the most visible people at the library You might not see catalogers, administrators, etc. at the library. Some don’t have reference desks any more. But you will see the circ staff. Get to know them.
  • Catalogers: the invisible librarians Catalogers aren’t really invisible. They just work outside the public eye. Their work is vital to library services, and very visible to the public.
  • Library staff: the paraprofessional Gone are the days when only librarians and clerks worked in libraries. Highly skilled paraprofessionals take on critical responsibilities in every department.

The librarian left the building

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Librarians at play

The request

Are you a librarian or a frequent library user? I would love to publish guest posts here.

So far as I know, Reading, Writing, Research is the only blog by a librarian that is not aimed either at other librarians or the patrons of a specific library. If something is happening in your library that you want the general public to know about, let me be your soapbox!

If you have something to write, let’s correspond. Write to me at

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Photo credits:
Barbarian librarian. Some rights reserved by Glamour Schatz.
Catalogers at work. Some rights reserved by sundaykofax.
Bookmobile. Some rights reserved by Loyola Marymount University Library.
NUC Christmas tree foundation. Some rights reserved by Monterey Public Library.

John F. Kennedy Library & Museum

JFK_library at dusk
JFK_library at dusk

JFK Library at dusk

As part of the 50th anniversary remembrance of the assassination of President Kennedy, it seems good to pay particular attention to the JFK Library. Like all modern presidential libraries, it was constructed with private funds and then maintained and operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Franklin D. Roosevelt established the first one. The Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 encouraged subsequent Presidents to do the same, even though at the time the President’s papers were still considered private property.

And so on September 20, 1961, less than a year into his administration, Kennedy began consultation with the Archivist of the United States to begin plans for his own library. He planned to establish it, following Roosevelt’s model, near Harvard University. A month before his final trip to Dallas, he selected the site. Continue reading