Academic libraries and how they differ from public libraries




In a sense, a library is a library. Public libraries, academic libraries, school libraries, and special libraries exist to connect people with the information they need. Once upon a time, that information was all printed, except for libraries that owned manuscript collections. The explosion of new formats—sound recordings, film and video recordings, and all manner of electronic media—has affected every kind of library. Still, there are important differences between public and academic libraries. The following two lists by no means adequately describe either public or academic libraries, but they serve to show the contrast. … 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






Earth Day at the library




The Greensboro Public Library’s Kathleen Clay Edwards branch held an Earth Day exhibit on Saturday afternoon, April 5 to coincide with the Guilford County School’s spring break. Earth Day is officially April 22, but there’s no reason to limit Earth Day observances to that date. From the start, Earth Day was intended in part as an educational occasion. In 1970, the focus was on teach-ins on college and university campuses.  The library’s celebration seemed aimed mostly at children, although the various exhibits had plenty of useful content for adults as well. I suppose public libraries all over the country observe … Continue reading






3 unusual and unexpected library services




We all know that libraries are more than books, more even than their collections. We expect public libraries to have children’s departments. We expect academic libraries to have reserves. We expect any library to have meeting space, programs, and Internet access, among other ways of serving their communities. Since every community is different, and since every library staff comprises different mixes of talents, it should be no surprise when some libraries offer unusual services, services you won’t find at many other libraries. … Continue reading






Borrowing from a digital library




I have written numerous posts about the general concept that libraries are about more than books. That doesn’t change the fact that libraries are still very much about books. It’s just that nowadays, an increasing number of titles are available as ebooks. Or quite often, only as ebooks. Libraries lend ebooks. And audiobooks, for that matter. … Continue reading