Why Must a Card Be a Card?

October 29, 2010

The library world, in general, has done a poor job of keeping up with new technologies over the past decade, and that has hurt us in many ways. Many libraries and librarians are working hard to catch up, but the broader library culture is still sluggish. The world of information exchange is in constant flux, … Continue reading Why Must a Card Be a Card?


The Unknown Cataloger

October 22, 2010

Hardly a month goes by without a story in the newspapers or elsewhere in the media about a scholar who has “discovered” a lost or hitherto unknown manuscript of a text or musical work by a famous author or composer. Typically, following a headline such as “Twain’s Lost Story Discovered by Professor” or “Scholar Asks: … Continue reading The Unknown Cataloger


A Bookworm By Any Other Name

August 9, 2010

“So what do you do for a living?” she asked, pushing her comb through my dampened hair. It was an innocent question from a hair stylist, who by all outward appearances, seemed to be innocent herself. I know it’s one of the first questions we all ask when we meet people, but I absolutely hate … Continue reading A Bookworm By Any Other Name


Signage: Better None Than Bad

July 12, 2010

A quick search of the photo website Flickr for the keywords “library signage” can produce interesting results. You will find everything from café-style chalkboard advertisements to sheets of white paper with a few pieces of clip art thrown in. Poor visual communication can create a frustrating environment for users, but it's a practice that librarians … Continue reading Signage: Better None Than Bad


GPO Must Go

June 7, 2010

There are two things that Congress and Libraryland need to eliminate from their thinking before government information can truly move into the digital age. The first is the word “printing,” as in Government Printing Office (GPO). The second is the word “documents,” as in Superintendent of Documents (SuDoc), the branch of GPO that actually runs … Continue reading GPO Must Go


A Passion for Copyright

May 14, 2010

Copyright is a subject with which I believe most librarians have a love-hate relationship. I am mostly in the love-it camp, but not necessarily in the love-all-the-regulations-and-guidelines one. I enjoy immensely the detective-work aspect of finding the copyright owner and then requesting permission for use of a copyrighted work. Nothing makes my day more than … Continue reading A Passion for Copyright


Let’s Review Everything

April 20, 2010

For many years, readers’ advisory has been a fundamental and valuable library service that has helped library patrons and others decide what books to borrow from a library or to buy from a book dealer. Librarians have also been prolific writers of book reviews, which have helped other librarians make purchasing decisions and helped readers … Continue reading Let’s Review Everything


Our Conservative Ideals

March 17, 2010

Although TV talking heads discuss trillion-dollar bailouts for broken industries as if you might trip over one on your way to the unemployment office, libraries—which aren’t broken—struggle to make our case. I sometimes worry that librarians’ language only addresses the left side of the political aisle, leaving the right’s opinions to be shaped by people … Continue reading Our Conservative Ideals


The Case for Textbooks

February 17, 2010

At Miami University’s regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, Ohio, we have also encountered “the textbook phenomenon” described by Bonnie Imler. However, our response to students’ confusion about the roles of the library and the bookstore has been quite different from Imler’s. Our reaction to the oft-repeated axiom that “libraries don’t purchase course textbooks” was … Continue reading The Case for Textbooks


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The Faces of Circulation

December 29, 2009

What is the recipe for creating a circulation worker? You add three or four able-bodied individuals, one tablespoon of a circulation study guide, bake for about one month of trial-by-fire on-the-desk  experience, and you have what is called the circulation worker. As a former circulation worker who ultimately became a reference librarian (in other words, … Continue reading The Faces of Circulation


Troublesome Textbooks

October 26, 2009

I refer to it as "the textbook phenomenon," and it has me perplexed. Over the past five years, I have watched increasing numbers of students struggle with the difference between the traditional roles of the college library and the college bookstore. I still remember the first time a student approached me at the reference desk … Continue reading Troublesome Textbooks


Killjoy Was Here

September 23, 2009

Recently I listened to a commencement speaker who said, "If faculty members can't offer students some hope and optimism for their future, some path of confident thinking in uncertain times, then we have no right or reason to be around them." I'd prefer offering students a sunnier picture from behind the reference desk, but the … Continue reading Killjoy Was Here