What’s new? Innovative library services revisited

library signThere’s nearly always something new at the library. Librarians are imaginative people.

They know offering innovative library services will entice more people in the door. Or let more people use the library without coming in the door.

So I offer an occasional series on creative ways librarians find to serve their public. Here are four new ideas. Maybe some library close to you offers similar services.  Continue reading

Rime thyme

Spelling is hardA wicked witch long ago cast a bad spell on the English language. Now there are hardly any common words that don’t rhyme with other words that have a very different spelling. Some people get confused.

George Hearst, father of journalist William Randolph Hearst, ran for governor of California in 1882 despite having almost no education. In defense against the jeers of political rivals, he said,

My opponents say that I haven’t the book learning that they possess. They say I can’t spell. They say I spell bird, b-u-r-d. If b-u-r-d doesn’t spell bird, what in the hell does it spell?

“Burd,” by the way, used to mean “young woman” in Middle English (800 years ago). But how was Hearst to know?

What would happen if all these rhyming words decided to trade endings? Would anyone be able to figure out what a sentence says? Can you? Try these. Continue reading

Travel information: government websites you should know

luggage travelIt’s election season. Want to get away?

The federal government can help. Really!

Government websites offer a great deal of travel information. They won’t book your flight or find a hotel, but some of them can suggest great travel locations.

They’ll give you safety tips and help you decide what to do if something goes wrong.

Do you have a 4th-grader? The feds offer a special deal to save you money—and maybe your sanity in years to come. Read on. Continue reading

31 tips to improve your writing skills

student writing -- improvement in writingHow long have you been a writer?

Since about first grade. As soon as you started to learn to read, you started to learn to write.

First you wrote letters, then words, then sentences, then paragraphs.

Do I need to remind you of term papers? Many people look forward to graduating as much to turn in their last paper as for anything else.

And many people, I suppose, look for jobs where they don’t have to write much. They have no faith in their writing skills.

You may have to write a lot more than you anticipated when you started your current career.

But if you write nothing more than emails to friends or Facebook updates, why not make them worth reading? Why not develop better writing skills? Continue reading

What happens when you need to look it up?

Research using a laptopI wrote this post for anyone who doesn’t know everything off the top of their head. You have to look things up from time to time, don’t you?

Once upon a time, we all looked up addresses and phone numbers in a phone book. We probably all still have them.

You can still use print to find a wide variety of information, but nowadays, you most likely look things up online more often. What happens between you typing your search query and the results appearing on the screen? Continue reading