The American public and its libraries




The most recent Pew Research Center poll of library usage includes a fascinating statistic: 91% of respondents consider public libraries either very important or somewhat important to their community.  But only 76% consider it very important or somewhat important to themselves or their families! One non-library user expressed support for the services they provide to people less well off. That person had enough money to choose various alternatives. I doubt if that sentiment represents the entire 15% of Americans who consider libraries important for the community but not themselves. Who are library users? The poll only tracks people who are … Continue reading






Summer: a time for learning or forgetting?




Left to themselves over the summer, children will forget some of the reading and math skills they learned in school. That puts them behind where they ought to be when school starts up again. Students who really struggled in school lose even more skills, putting them even farther behind. As much as school children need unorganized play time during the summer, it’s not good to leave them entirely to themselves. Most if not all public libraries have summer reading programs. So do many school districts. At the very least, parents, grandparents, or concerned neighbors should encourage children to participate in … Continue reading






The family that sings together clings together




One family of my acquaintance never took vacations. They never did much of anything else together. The children never became involved in after-school activities. They did not develop common interests at home. Now that they’re grown, holidays are times of tension. It’s as if they gather together because families always gather together on holidays, but no one really seems to enjoy each other’s company and no one really seems to know what to talk about or  how to fill the time. I know another family with two grown brothers living in the same suburb. Both were musicians, and one played … Continue reading






A Family Tradition: Making Chocolates




Nothing draws families together like shared experiences. When I was growing up, among other things, we made candy every Thanksgiving. Now that we’re adults and all of my siblings have children of their own, we still do. Not just any candy, either–hand dipped chocolate candy. My father cannot remember a time before his  mother started making candy, but he does remember when she tried chocolates for the first time, in 1932. It was a disaster. She melted some chocolate, made some fondant, dipped the fondant in the chocolate with a fork, and set it aside. When it cooled off, it … Continue reading