Go Pack Horse Librarians, Go!

One podcast that survived my recent purge is The Keepers, a series from The Kitchen Sisters and NPR.  The series features: "stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians. Keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections they keep. Guardians of history, large and small, protectors of the free flow of information … Continue reading Go Pack Horse Librarians, Go!

How to pay your library back

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy stories from the library information desk. A regular came to the desk with the George Carlin Commemorative Collection DVD she was returning. "Before I return this," she said, "I'd like to know how much it was for the library to buy because you bought it based on my … Continue reading How to pay your library back

Refer Madness: The Book Dropper strikes again

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy stories from the library reference desk. A few months ago, a coworker and I noticed that every Tuesday, two items appear on the library's book sale shelves that shouldn't be there. The library has a system for what gets placed in the book sale, so we know which items are … Continue reading Refer Madness: The Book Dropper strikes again

Summer assignment: visit your local library

Despite their great intentions, those "required reading" lists of books make me cringe. Required reading usually feels like work, whether they're from a friend, a professor, or a stranger on the internet. Pleasure reading should be based on freedom and empowerment and whim, not compulsion. Use those lists as a resource, sure, but don't feel obliged … Continue reading Summer assignment: visit your local library

For the records

Dan Cohen ponders why some recent sci-fi films prominently feature libraries, archives, and museums: Ever since Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor extracted the Death Star plans from a digital repository on the planet Scarif in Rogue One, libraries, archives, and museums have played an important role in tentpole science fiction films. From Luke Skywalker’s library of … Continue reading For the records

Refer Madness: A String of Beeps

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. I was on the phone with a patron when I heard it: that incessant beep the copier makes when something goes wrong. Once I finished with the patron on the phone, I went over to see what was the matter. This time it was … Continue reading Refer Madness: A String of Beeps

A skeptic’s “Glance at the Public Libraries” of 1928, from H.L. Mencken’s American Mercury

Watch out, world: we've got ourselves a 90-year-old hot take! In the June 1928 issue of The American Mercury, a periodical edited by the famous journalist H.L. Mencken, there's an article by Fletcher Pratt called "A Glance At The Public Libraries". I stumbled upon the issue while processing material at the Frances Willard House Museum. … Continue reading A skeptic’s “Glance at the Public Libraries” of 1928, from H.L. Mencken’s American Mercury

Refer Madness: The Worst Thing

Refer Madness spotlights strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk. Some days on the desk are rough. Challenging patrons, technical difficulties, a case of the Mondays—whatever the issues are, like sneezes and football sacks they often come in bunches to create a day that's better forgotten. This was not one of those days. First, there … Continue reading Refer Madness: The Worst Thing