Treasure trove: New York Public Library Digital Collection

Miniature of annunciation, New York Public Library Digital Collection

Miniature of Annunciation, initials, linefillers, and border design, 15th century

The New York Public library holds many rare and valuable materials. The new New York Public Library Digital Collection makes them easily available.

Before the Internet, if you wanted to use them, provided you knew they existed, you would have had to travel to the library and consult them in person.

When the library first began to digitize them and put them online, you could have seen and downloaded a low-resolution images. You would have had to pay for, and wait for, a high-resolution image. Discovery and access were still difficult.

Perhaps its description of one of its major collection is representative of the library’s own concerns: Continue reading

22 ways to use the library

library signDo you know what’s going on at the library? Even if you’re a regular library user, you may may be missing something interesting.

Libraries represent a kind of “third space,” which is neither home nor work. Unlike many others, they are not a business. They don’t carry with them the expectation that you will pay for something.

Of course, libraries offer numerous services you can use. You’re paying for public library services with tax dollars. You’re paying for academic library services if you are part of a college/university community.

For most purposes, then, you never have to dig out cash or a credit card in the library. That makes a library suitable for a multitude of activities you couldn’t comfortably do in other third spaces.

Plenty of libraries offer unique services, but here are some that nearly all of them will have. Let’s consider the library as a building, a set of services, a collection, and a place for activities. Continue reading

Air on the side of caution: more misused pears

fun with homonyms

Mixmatched pear of shoes?

That’s advice I saw somewhere about how not to fall for scams:

“If you suspect the email could be legitimate, air on the side of caution anyway.”

It’s an error of course, not an airor. The expression is err on the side of caution.

Air and err are two homonyms that someone mixed up. Something I like to call misused pears. (Although actually the preferred pronunciation of “err” according to the American Heritage Dictionary is ur rather than air.)

Lots of people err when typing, but not on the side of caution. I wouldn’t advocate being so cautious as to look up every word in a dictionary, but at least learn what the right word is and then proofread!

But that mistake somehow reminds me of a sign I saw posted in a town where I used to live: “Do not air out your dog here.” I wish I had taken a picture of it. That sign isn’t a misused pear, just a very strange euphemism. Whoever posted it certainly didn’t care how much air came out of a dog! Continue reading

Happy birthday, Wikipedia

 

Wikipedia's Twitter page

Wikipedia’s Twitter page

Wikipedia just passed its 15th birthday. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what online information and online research were like before it burst on the scene. It is one of the first and by far the largest ventures in user-written content.

It is not, I repeat, not an authoritative source of information suitable for student papers or other serious research—unless perhaps it is the only available source. But that’s not because Wikipedia is created by volunteers instead of recognized experts. It’s because it’s an encyclopedia.

Continue reading

Raucous good times at the library

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

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

I hope the stereotype of a librarian as a frumpy woman with no friends and a fetish for quiet had a decent burial long ago.

Librarians are very creative people who enjoy having fun as much as anyone else.

A few years ago, I presented some videos of library book cart drill teams!
You might find similar shenanigans at a parade. Some librarian conferences have regular drill team competitions.

But what about singing, dancing, running, riding book carts, and even laughing aloud in the library itself? At the reference desk and circulation desk! Even in the stacks!! Librarians do all that and more in parody videos of popular songs. Continue reading