New Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden librarian of congress history

Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress

Carla Hayden has recently been sworn in as only the 14th Librarian of Congress in history. Most reports emphasize that she is the first woman and the first African-American to hold that position.

Those are important milestones to be sure, but attention to them obscures some others. Carla Hayden is

  • The first Librarian of Congress with a limited term of appointment
  • Only the third professional librarian appointed to the position.
  • Fully backed by the American Library Association (ALA), which opposed some of her predecessors.

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What do Americans think of libraries? Poll results

Bookmobile--library users

Bookmobile. Monterey (California) Public Library

Do you know all the educational services your library provides?

According to a recent Pew Research poll, many American’s don’t. A majority thinks libraries offer acceptable service for their communities’ educational needs; 37% answered “very well” and 39% answered “pretty well.

Most people, library users or not, are satisfied for themselves, their families, and their communities.

If you are among the people who think libraries do a good job, but don’t know what all they offer, you can be even more satisfied.  Continue reading

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