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






Libraries vs the digital divide




Railroad tracks used to divide some communities into the right side and the wrong side. People on the wrong side of the tracks lacked both social standing and the resources to better themselves. The term “digital divide” similarly refers to those who have access to the Internet and those who don’t. Libraries, and especially public libraries, are at the forefront of attempts to bridge the digital divide. What is the digital divide? What constituted the digital divide changes over time. When the general public first began to acquire computers at home, poor people and minorities were less likely to have … Continue reading






Bookmobile: when the library comes to you




By the time even smaller cities had public libraries, patrons still had to live in town to use them. The idea of taking library materials to smaller towns and rural areas took form only in the twentieth century. Depending on which website is correct, the first bookmobile service in the US started either in Chester County, South Carolina or Washington County, Maryland. Washington County’s effort (from 1905) is better documented, but Chester County’s claims to have started in 1904. The idea caught on and spread first to neighboring counties and eventually throughout most of the country. Today, some kind of … Continue reading






Libraries support families




If you have ever dropped your kids at the library for story time, you know one way that libraries support families. If that’s all you know, you have hardly scratched the surface of what the library has to offer. The Children’s Reading Foundation has determined that pre-schoolers need hundreds of hours of being read to in order to be adequately prepared for kindergarten. Even parents with minimal or no reading skills can make up stories to go along with the pictures in books. Twenty minutes a day beginning in babyhood will easily add up to that much time. Unfortunately, not … Continue reading






Libraries nourish creativity




“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out” — Jeff Bezos So how to you go about inventing your way out of a tight box? It requires curiosity and creativity. Libraries themselves have been in a tight box lately. For centuries, they have functioned mostly as repositories of information. Rightly or wrongly, society seems to be coming to the conclusion that it does not need repositories any more. For the past several decades, libraries have been reinventing themselves into idea factories. Why did society start building large collections of books … Continue reading