Library of Congress: government websites you should know




It’s not like you can go into the Library of Congress and check out books. It’s not an ordinary library. But it’s as much your library as your public library. Unofficially, the Library of Congress is the national library of the United States. You can, if you want, get a reader registration card and use the reading rooms. None of the collection can leave the buildings, of which there are now three. Most people never go to the Library of Congress, or if they do, it’s as a tourist. On the other hand, it offers so many services online that … Continue reading






Helping the reference librarian help you




[ad name=”Google Adsense 468×60″] Do you need help answering a question? Ask a librarian. Specifically, ask a reference librarian. You’ll usually find at least one at the library’s reference desk. Now, some libraries are starting to do away with reference desks as a special service point. In some cases, at least, that means they have decided to have the librarians roam the library, or parts of it, looking for people who need  help. If you see a librarian at a desk who seems to be busy with paper work, go ask your question. You will not be interrupting anything important. … Continue reading






Ask a librarian: help the librarian help you




Far beyond the collection, the equipment, or the building, the defining attribute of the library is the presence of librarians. You can ask a librarian how to find what you’re looking for and how to use what you find (catalog, databases, and various equipment). You do not even have to be in the library to ask a librarian a question. You can ask over the phone, by email, by chat, etc. Over the years, librarians have learned that the first question a patron asks is seldom what they really want to know. “I’m looking for books by Mark Twain” seems … Continue reading






Why do we still need libraries?




[ad name=”Google Adsense 468×60″] People have been asking that question for at least 20 years. I first became aware in the late 1980s that some college administrators regarded the library as obsolete. They thought it a good place to cut the budget. At that time, online databases had only recently become available for public use. There may have been some magazines and scholarly journals available online. “Everything’s online” was nothing more than wishful thinking on the  part of the ignorant. Since then, the amount of information available on the Internet has increased exponentially. We could once say that older materials … Continue reading






Information literacy: the work of librarians past and present




As long as there have been public libraries, librarians have been involved in education. They have helped people choose what to read for leisure and helped with their information needs. The recent emphasis on information literacy is more of a new term than a new concept, but as technology has transformed everything in society, information literacy needs to be done differently. For most of the twentieth century, the best way for most people to identify books on a particular subject was the card catalog in the library. Specialists could use various published bibliographies or the Cumulative Book Index among other … Continue reading