Do You Know What Librarians Know?

Librarians know things! This was brought home to me when I read The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann and the The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating by Steven Kerry Brown. Like private investigators, librarians have a body of tangible knowledge that is unique to us. For a private investigator, tracking people down starts with knowing which resources to use; certain databases are better for certain queries, while for some it’s best to deal with other people. Part of a PIs trade is knowing which is which. In seeing libraries as community centers and librarians as generalists, we often forget that a degree in library science (an MLS, or MLIS) is meant not simply as a path to a professional job, but as a symbol that librarians have specific knowledge, and that knowledge is real.

Public Libraries Make People’s Lives Better

Despite the obvious missions of public libraries, the unmeasured and often unmentioned return-on-investment with regards to them is the affect they have on the quality-of-life of the population they serve. Individual and group happiness are only recently becoming viewed as valid economic indicators, though positive psychology, the study of happiness and the causes of positive life experiences, has been a growing movement within psychological research for over a decade (see the Positive Psychology Center’s list of readings). With all the news about depression and stress rates in the United States soaring, it makes sense that a counterbalance is offered. To that, and into the general fracas I am throwing my unscientific opinion that public libraries have an important role to play in both the physical and mental health of communities.

How Libraries Support Nonprofits

Local libraries are immersed in their communities and, in many cases, will work with and support non-profits on a local and national level to bring about impactful change. There are many non-profits located in your local community that benefit from the resources and support that libraries provide. Libraries have a lot to offer-just look at the endless stories of library and non-profit partnerships that have emerged throughout the years.

For the Best Free Genealogy Websites, Start at Your Library

Genealogy is the study of lineages and family histories and is a topic that comes up at one point or another in a person’s life. Whether due to sheer curiosity or specific interests in family origins, the search through one’s genealogy can be a big task to take on. Genealogists spend extensive amounts of time using oral interviews, historical records such as birth, death, or marriage records, forensics and genetics, the census, and many other research materials. Luckily, the public library makes the search easier for researchers and those interested in their family history. There are plenty of genealogical resources available for free through local and state libraries as well as databases and trained librarians that can aid in this discovery process.

Best Genealogy Websites are at the Library

For the best free genealogy websites, start at your local library. There are plenty of amazing genealogical resources available for free through local and state libraries and archives, as well as databases and trained librarians that can aid in your discovery. 

Part of the Gig Economy? Grab a Library Card!

If you’re like the 57.3 million Americans who work as independent contractors and freelancers, you undoubtedly have a work-life that differs greatly from a standard nine-to-fiver.  And while your workflow may be atypical, access to quality resources doesn’t have to be. Improve your gig game at the local library. Here’s how:  

Library Databases Really Have It All

A Basic Review A database is a collection of items organized in a computer and made searchable. Unlike search engines, which use advanced coding and digitized spiders to collect and allow users to search for information, databases use human beings. Think of a search engine as a huge collection of file cabinets with everything the search engine collects and a database as a smaller, more organized set of file cabinets dedicated to a single topic and organized by humans. This gives them far richer resources for research but demands more consideration by the user to get the most out of them. Because humans organize them, databases lack the ability to ‘guess’ your query the way Google can, and therefore, more thought is needed to organize your searches. This lack of guessing means that the search must be stripped down to the fewest words possible to express the main idea.

Free eBooks Galore!

It is common knowledge these days that public libraries are the place to turn to if you’re looking for free books to read. With public libraries available for communities everyone, it is not too hard to drop in, sign up for a library card, and begin taking books home with you to keep you occupied for hours. But, did you realize that public libraries can be accessed from the comforts of your own house? Digital library collections are an investment that public libraries have implemented through their own ebook purchases or through partnerships with eReaders and apps to bring readers access to hundreds of thousands of print materials through digital platforms. Now, anyone with a library card can easily access free ebooks on their devices without having to scour the internet or use illegal platforms to download new titles. The app partnerships are easy to use and allow patrons to “check out” all kinds of books from classics written decades ago to anything like new fiction titles or even the latest memoir written by past president, Barack Obama.

What Exactly Does a Librarian Do?

The librarians that many of us actually encounter in our lives are vastly different from pop culture portrayals. They range from young to old and have wide ranges of skills and interests. While it is true that a majority of librarians are female, very few fit the bill of being grumpy old ladies. Librarians are incredibly useful and come in handy during times when we are feeling especially curious. Their diverse backgrounds make them experts of many subjects and capable of becoming experts in any subject. They connect their communities with important resources and build relationships- their jobs are more focused on working with people than with books.

Welcome Back! What To Expect When Returning To Your Library

Librarians are civic-minded individuals who are on the lookout for ways to open their doors to underserved communities. Libraries provide sanctuary and safety as well as books and movies. Six years ago, during the protests in Ferguson, MO. over the death of Michael Brown, when schools and businesses closed, Scott Bonner, the Head Librarian, kept the public library open. The first organization to hold a convention in New Orleans after Katrina? The American Library Association. Librarians do not back down from challenges, but COVID-19 presented a new, and often heartbreaking, set of difficulties. The community members who most need libraries; the elderly, children, and the homeless were the ones they were forced to turn away. That did not stop many of them as they moved programs, including summer reading, online and started options like curbside service.