Innovative library services: some kudos and a rant

Libraries 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 … Continue reading

Circ staff: the most visible people at the library

It’s not hard to go in and out of the library without speaking with most of the library staff, but it is hard not to see any of them. I’d like to say that you’ll see a reference librarian, but some libraries have decided to do away with a regular reference desk. You’ll see reference librarians at those libraries, but not necessarily know who they are. Even if you don’t check anything out, you’ll recognize some library staff right away: the people who check out library materials. They still work behind a desk, probably very close to the door. The … Continue reading

Library staff: the paraprofessional

Not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. Librarians must have a masters degree in library science. Once upon a time, only librarians could perform certain tasks in a library, such as selecting materials for the collection, cataloging books, etc., and serving at the reference desk. Not any more. Increasingly, paraprofessional staff perform those tasks. Paraprofessionals may not have a library degree, but they have intensive on the job training and develop a high level of skill. Here is a brief overview of where you might be served in the library by a paraprofessional. Acquisitions Professional librarians still … Continue reading