What do librarians do?




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 … Continue reading






Digital divide: broadband, the underserved, and libraries




Education and economic well-being depend more and more on electronic information and communication. Not everyone in the US has equal access to computers and Internet service. Not everyone who does can use it through wireless devices (wi-fi). The difference between the haves and have-nots is known as the digital divide. In partnership with the Federal Government and private foundations, public libraries take a leading role in closing the gap. … Continue reading






5 more unusual and unexpected library services




All public and academic libraries offer the same basic services. Many offer unexpected services. In some cases, they are the library’s response to unique local needs. In others, one library has seen how it can address a common need, and other libraries may start something similar. At least some of today’s more recent basic services started out as one library’s experiment. I reported on 3 unusual and unexpected library services a while ago. Here are 5┬ámore. … Continue reading






Libraries: a shelter in a storm?




With the recent observance of the anniversary of a devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, I wondered if libraries provide storm shelters. I found both less and more than I expected. My local newspaper had a story not long ago that the central library in Winston-Salem had a fallout shelter, one of four dozen downtown. Nobody thinks much about fallout shelters any more, but in the 1960s they seemed an important part of public safety. Public libraries have always been community centers. They have always used their buildings in many ways that have no connection to the most obvious kinds of … Continue reading






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