What’s a library without books? Some bookless libraries

empty bookshelves. library without booksI read about a library without books sometime in the late 1990s, I don’t remember what college or university in New York  had no room in its library for a computer lab.

So it opened one in another nearby building it owned and called it a branch library.


Because it was staffed with librarians.

In principle, it’s not the presence of a book collection that defines a library. A library simply requires librarians.

In recent years, however, libraries have experimented with bookless libraries based on digital technology. That is, they have books, just not printed books.

How is that likely to work out?  I’m not much impressed by what I’ve read. Continue reading

What do you know about your librarian, really?

library action figures. what librarians do

Library action figure with real shushing motion. Modeled on a respected librarian with a good sense of humor!

Librarians have a different reputation than they used to. Is it any better? Let’s see.

Do you remember, in It’s a Wonderful Life, what would have become of George Bailey’s wife if he had never existed?

Clarence the angel shows him she would never have married. She would have become an old maid. A librarian.

What about The Music Man? When we first meet Marian the Librarian, she has no friends.

And why should she? She’s full of book learning. She considers herself superior to townspeople who don’t come to the library. And she’s not very nice to people who don’t behave properly in the library when they do.

Ah yes. The stuffy spinster with a bun telling everyone to be quiet. That’s not the image anymore. Continue reading

Healthfinder.gov: Government websites you should know

healthfinder.gov screen shotHave you ever looked for health-related information on the web? Most people do, either for their own health or for someone they love.

Government information often does not appear on the first page of search results.

Therefore, few people think of it or know where to look for it. Healthfinder.gov is an award-winning site for the general public dedicated to prevention and wellness. Continue reading

What they say about the library: provocative quotations

library door, quotations on librariesWhen I graduated from library school, I went on a lot of informational interviews. One librarian told me, “Libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.”

When I reminded her that I had graduated only two weeks earlier, she replied, “Like I said, libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.”

Few modern institutions are more ancient than the library, and few are as consistently on the cutting edge of change.

So naturally people have talked and written a lot about libraries over the centuries.

Cicero, the Roman orator, said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” But what about now? Continue reading

Major disruptions in the book publishing business

eBook readers -- book publishing business

Ebook readers and potential ebook readers

Ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle roiled the book publishing business.

Big time.

Ebooks now outsell printed books. We can carry one device with dozens of books, and it weighs less than any one of them would in print. Major bookstore chains went belly up.

But ebooks are hardly the first major disruption in book publishing. The printing press only came along about 700 years ago. It eventually put an end to the scriptoriums that had produced manuscript books for centuries.

Printing put books in the hands of more readers than the scriptoriums ever could, but books remained relatively expensive well into the 20th century.

Selling books by subscription and cheap paperbacks sold in other places besides bookstores revolutionized book publishing. These practices made books available to people who couldn’t otherwise afford books. Or who couldn’t otherwise easily find them. Continue reading