What they say about the library: provocative quotations




When I graduated from library school, I went on a lot of informational interviews. One librarian told me, “Libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.” When I reminded her that I had graduated only two weeks earlier, she replied, “Like I said, libraries have changed a lot since you were in library school.” Few modern institutions are more ancient than the library, and few are as consistently on the cutting edge of change. So naturally people have talked and written a lot about libraries over the centuries. Cicero, the Roman orator, said, “If you have a … Continue reading






Treasure trove: New York Public Library Digital Collection




The New York Public library holds many rare and valuable materials. The new New York Public Library Digital Collection makes them easily available. Before the Internet, if you wanted to use them, provided you knew they existed, you would have had to travel to the library and consult them in person. When the library first began to digitize them and put them online, you could have seen and downloaded a low-resolution images. You would have had to pay for, and wait for, a high-resolution image. Discovery and access were still difficult. Perhaps its description of one of its major collection … Continue reading






Raucous good times at the library




I hope the stereotype of a librarian as a frumpy woman with no friends and a fetish for quiet had a decent burial long ago. Librarians are very creative people who enjoy having fun as much as anyone else. A few years ago, I presented some videos of library book cart drill teams! You might find similar shenanigans at a parade. Some librarian conferences have regular drill team competitions. But what about singing, dancing, running, riding book carts, and even laughing aloud in the library itself? At the reference desk and circulation desk! Even in the stacks!! Librarians do all … Continue reading






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






War and a library: The Library of Congress burns




Two hundred years ago, the War of 1812 entered its final stages. This now obscure war turned out to have a decisive influence on the development of the Library of Congress. The upstart United States of America had declared war on the most powerful nation in the world at the time. Its victories were few, but it captured present day Toronto (then called York) in April 1813. American troops burned the Government House and Parliament Buildings. The British retaliated the following year. They invaded Washington in August 1814 with the intent of burning it. The British had a easier time … Continue reading