WorldCat: a librarians’ tool the public can use

Libraries of any size probably rely on the various services of a company called OCLC. No one else needs to know anything about most of them, but you may have seen a reference librarian look up something for you on WorldCat. That’s a tool you can use as easily as you use your own  library’s catalog. It’s free and available from your home as well as the library. WorldCat aspires to be a universal library catalog. It hasn’t made it yet, but it shows the holdings of about 27,000 different libraries in more than 170 different countries. Even though it … Continue reading

Libraries offer support in technology

Technology is growing by leaps and bounds. The cycle from unconceived to visionary, the latest new thing on the market, standard, old-fashioned, obsolete, and eventually unavailable has never been faster. Where better than the library to keep track of everything? Libraries are early adopters of technology. They make the new technology available for free to the general public, and librarians teach patrons to use it. Libraries also hang on to old technology, because as the world at large moves on to the next new thing, the old content does not necessarily move with it. New technology There may be nothing … Continue reading

How the public library can save you money

[ad name=”Google Adsense 728×90″] Public libraries have always been a good deal, as most of their programs and resources are free and the rest are inexpensive. Nowadays, with the economy sputtering, library budgets are suffering along with everyone else’s. Even so, chances are they still offer an array of free and inexpensive services. Oh, and if your community has a college or university, chances are the general public can use many of its services, too. What’s the first association anyone makes with libraries? Books, of course. Libraries collect all kinds of books. Chances are anything you can find at a … 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

Libraries uphold the public interest in copyright issues

Copyright is a part of intellectual property law and is explicitly mentioned in the US Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 8): “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”Libraries have a great interest in copyright issues, and librarians (not individually, but at the national association level) are among the major voices trying to influence the interpretation of just what the clause means. When a work is under copyright protection, only the copyright holder is allowed to use it to make … Continue reading