What’s a library without books? Some bookless libraries




I read about a library without books sometime in the late 1990s, I don’t remember what college or university in New York  had no room in its library for a computer lab. So it opened one in another nearby building it owned and called it a branch library. Why? Because it was staffed with librarians. In principle, it’s not the presence of a book collection that defines a library. A library simply requires librarians. In recent years, however, libraries have experimented with bookless libraries based on digital technology. That is, they have books, just not printed books. How is that … Continue reading






Surprising place to get healthy: at the library




As the Affordable Care Act’s flaws become more apparent and politicians bicker over how, or whether, to fix it, where can we look for real leadership on health? At the library! The library’s role in health shouldn’t be surprising. Libraries have long dedicated themselves to educating the public about many critical issues. They have long provided the poor with services they can get nowhere else. They have long sought innovative ways to expand their influence. Here are four  health initiatives I have recently learned about. … Continue reading






What’s new? Innovative library services revisited




There’s nearly always something new at the library. Librarians are imaginative people. They know offering innovative library services will entice more people in the door. Or let more people use the library without coming in the door. So I offer an occasional series on creative ways librarians find to serve their public. Here are four new ideas. Maybe some library close to you offers similar services.  … Continue reading






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






How the Disabled Benefit from Libraries




Contributed by Helen Mainwaring. Learning, even under the best of conditions, can be tough. In a world that is still reeling from financial meltdown of 2008, it often seems that it is education – and all the resources it needs to thrive – that is the first public service to get taken away from a society that badly needs it. More often than not, the first arm of education that is taken away is funding for libraries. Libraries are the easiest targets when those in charge need to save some pennies. In the eyes of those who don’t know their true value, libraries are … Continue reading