There have been many efforts to quantify the return on investment of a library. Researchers take into account the cost of public meeting space, computer use, books checked out, and other factors, and have found that libraries return several times more value to the community than they cost. While those factors may be easier to quantify, I would like to revive a simpler definition of a library: it’s a place with books. The benefits of these books to the community are difficult to quantify, but research on the effects of reading shows us that the benefits are also difficult to overstate. As we adapt to the Information Age, we must be cautious not to forget about one of our core services.
This month the Library of Michigan celebrates the 20th birthday of its innovative Michigan eLibrary, affectionately known as MeL. One of the country’s earliest electronic libraries, MeL was toasted at a gala on October 4th that brought together scads of fans among residents, libraries, government (state and federal), and the information industry. Companies represented included ProQuest, Gale, LearningExpress, and Innovative Interfaces—all have worked with MeL since its pioneering days as “M-Link” and “Access Michigan.”
As we breathlessly race toward a sci-fi future, questions inevitably crop up about the meaning and usefulness of reading an actual book. And, while traditional modes of reading inexorably erode, the very existence of libraries seems to be at stake. Now before you assume this will be a diatribe against new media and a fist-shake at those damn kids on our lawn, it’s really not. The world is a big place, and there is plenty of room for all types of flora, fauna and techna. This article is more a plea for respecting the old forms, rather than merely trashing it in heedless favor of the new.
What if you had to ask permission before selling, lending, or even giving away your books? On October 29, the Supreme Court hears oral argument in the case of Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons, a case that could change the way we own everything from books to watches. Libraries, who own books, movies, and other copyrighted works on behalf of all of us, could be hit especially hard.
“Close the door,” said the director, as the assistant director escorted me into the office. Well, that got my attention. You know the thought process: “Have I done something I shouldn’t have? Well, at least something they found out about? Did a patron complain about one of the books in the collection? What in the heck is this about?” The next thing I heard was that we were starting an English as a Second Language (ESL) program, and they wanted me to coordinate it.
Central to the library profession is our role as protectors of the freedom of information. With higher education facing greater scrutiny from regulatory agencies and citizenry in general, we have an important opportunity to affirm the importance of freely accessible information. If we seize this opportunity to protect the public’s right to information, the library will honor its role as an institutional conscience.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) this year was held in friendly, design-minded Helsinki Finland on August 11-17. The stellar conference brought together library professionals from all over the world with a diversity of interests but also, as the conference theme— “Libraries Now! Inspiring, Surprising, Empowering”—suggests, [...]
Libraries and librarians are a regular occurrence in popular culture. From the occasional commercial to television and film, libraries pop up pretty frequently in any format you can imagine. Comics are dedicated to them, superheroes are evolved from them, songs are sung in them, and hellmouths are located underneath them. Libraries are a ubiquitous part [...]
Georgia State University (GSU) Library recently launched a new campaign promoting open access (OA) to the campus research community. Librarians distributed 150 copies of Peter Suber’s new book Open Access from MIT Press to new faculty and campus administrators in a push to increase awareness about OA in general and provide practical information to [...]
I recently read an interesting article titled Make Room for Daddy…And Mommy: Helicopter Parents Are Here, which states, “Helicopter Parents hover over their children interceding as soon as the child faces an unpleasant situation or uncertainty. The parents are ‘over-involved’ in their child’s life.” Although Helicopter Parents can be viewed negatively, not every characteristic is [...]