Innovative library services: some kudos and a rant

student writing

student writingLibraries exist to serve the needs of their public. Traditionally they have existed to serve needs for information and entertainment. That accounts for the books, periodicals, computer resources, and audiovisual collections, but not necessarily every service or collection.

The Helen Plum Library in Lombard, Illinois lends out paintings and sculptures. I found the sculptures handy when I was teaching a humanities course, but apparently most people borrow them just to redecorate their homes for a short time.

In earlier posts 3 unusual and unexpected library services and 5 more unusual and unexpected library services I have called attention to unusual ways academic and public libraries have found to serve their patrons. Printing fish? Cooking classes in a professional kitchen?  Here are some more innovative  programs.

School libraries, unfortunately, seem under attack. Too many of the articles I have read still seem to find it unusual that libraries can be anything more than book warehouses. How will today’s children get to know libraries any better if they are denied access to them now? Continue reading

Reference books and sets you must read in print

not a library without books

reference books in printIn my last post, about editing, I cited my father’s entry in Contemporary Authors, a still-growing set with more than 200 printed volumes.

I couldn’t find the photocopy I made several years ago when I first stumbled across it. I found an online version in WorldCat, but it’s available only at 8 libraries, none within 500 miles of my home. I had to go to a local library to consult the print version.

How many other important reference works are available only in print? Continue reading

Why you should edit before publishing–especially online

editing -- writing skills
editing

Editing the old fashioned way

I have no need to make the case for good writing here, but the act of writing doesn’t end with the first draft. Very few people write first drafts that are ready to be sent out into the world. Every bit of writing, from a job application to a book, benefits from coming back to it with fresh eyes.

A few years ago I stumbled across an entry for my father in Contemporary Authors. He was a giant in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, and all of his published works are in that very narrow specialty. But he made a comment to the editors that applies directly to my subject matter. Continue reading

How the Disabled Benefit from Libraries

disabled and libraries

disabled in libraries posterContributed by Helen Mainwaring.

Learning, even under the best of conditions, can be tough. In a world that is still reeling from financial meltdown of 2008, it often seems that it is education – and all the resources it needs to thrive – that is the first public service to get taken away from a society that badly needs it.

More often than not, the first arm of education that is taken away is funding for libraries.

Libraries are the easiest targets when those in charge need to save some pennies. In the eyes of those who don’t know their true value, libraries are luxuries, a free bookstore that would be nice to have if the funding was there, but money has to be saved, and while books get two thumbs up, they’re not important to save. Of course, that view is completely wrong, and doesn’t factor in the social and educational benefits a library brings to a community.

While we can lament the loss of a library, there is one particular sector of society who feels the affects more than most: the disabled, some of whom need as much help as possible to ensure they can achieve their potential. Continue reading

What do librarians do?

Reference librarian and patron. what librarians do
Reference librarian and patron

Reference interview

It never ceases to amaze me how many newspaper and magazine articles I see almost every month proclaiming that “the library is more than books.”

That’s public libraries. Newspapers and magazines don’t seem to acknowledge academic libraries, special libraries, or school libraries very much.

I don’t see nearly as many articles that acknowledge that librarians do more than sit around reading books all day, but that’s another long-standing misconception.

Library collections have been more than books for more than a century. Every new technology in information or entertainment becomes a new part of library collections.

But libraries have always been more than their collections, too. There are plenty of bookless libraries. The only requirement for something to be a library is that it has librariansContinue reading