Tuesday, July 25, 2017

4 important things users want from a library (and how to offer them)

Public Libraries | Library Services | Phone Reference



Sometimes, there is a big imbalance between what the users wish to have in a library and what they really get. As Mick Fortune mentions in our previous post, for many years libraries measured their success primarily by footfall and they only focused on that. Only in the last few years, libraries have really started focusing on getting to know their users better. Even so, all the studies, such as those made by The Pew Internet, Carnegie UK Trust, Museums Libraries & Archives UK, etc. end up showing the same results.

In the following blog posts, we’re going to explore the various things users want from a library and suggest a few ways how libraries can set this right. In this first post, we will focus on the 4 most important things users want from a library.


1. A good range of books

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Monday, July 24, 2017

The Library of Congress opened its catalogs to the world. Here’s why it matters

Library of Congress | Online catalog | Research

library of congress
The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone at no charge. Photo by Flickr user casajump

Imagine you wanted to find books or journal articles on a particular subject. Or find manuscripts by a particular author. Or locate serials, music or maps. You would use a library catalog that includes facts – like title, author, publication date, subject headings and genre.

That information and more is stored in the treasure trove of library catalogs.

It is hard to overstate how important this library catalog information is, particularly  as the amount of information expands every day. With this information, scholars and librarians are able to find things in a predictable way. That’s because of the descriptive facts presented in a systematic way in catalog records.

But what if you could also experiment with the data in those records to explore other kinds of research questions – like trends in subject matter, semantics in titles or patterns in the geographic source of works on a given topic?

Now it is possible. The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone to use at no charge. The free data set includes records from 1968 to 2014. Read more...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Want to Raise Your Child to Love Reading? Read These Secrets

Children's books | Literacy | Reading

A class at Public School 682, the Academy of Talented Scholars, in Brooklyn. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

“You’re the children’s books editor?” Someone has said this to me, usually with a smile, at least once a week in the almost three years I’ve been at The New York Times. “What a cool job!” is the subtext. But lurking in the background are almost always other questions, sometimes more pressing ones about kids’ reading in general. “What should my second grader be reading?” a colleague asked the other day, adding, “She’s obsessed with the books in that series with the different flower fairies, and I can’t get her interested in anything else.” A neighbor recently approached me with a worried look and said, “My 10-year-old will only read graphic novels. What should I do?”

Clearly, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there among parents when it comes to children’s books, and also an earnest desire to make the right choices and do the right thing. Parents realize the stakes are high, and childhood passes quickly.

So when the Guides team approached Pamela Paul, the editor of the Book Review, about writing a guide to raising readers, and she asked if I was interested, I jumped at the chance. (Find it here.)

Much of what I do every day is sift through new books, deciding which ones we should assign for review, or which ones might make for a good feature story. I try to balance for different ages, different genres and books by authors from a variety of backgrounds. There’s always the thrill of discovering a book I can’t wait to tell our readers about. Read more...

Virtual reality and smoothie bars: What’s in at Bay Area university libraries?

Academic Libraries | Library Design | User Experience

College students still need help finding and interpreting information.

Rodrigo Gris, a summer session student from Spain studying art history, works in one of the new study carrels in Moffitt Library at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. on Thursday, July 6, 2017. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)
Librarians at UC Berkeley are holding workshops for students on what to do with the information they collect using drones. At Stanford, they’re experimenting with virtual reality. And across the Bay Area, as more textbooks gather dust and coursework moves online, universities are reimagining their libraries.

“We’re like fish,” said Sonoma State University librarian Karen Schneider. “If we don’t keep swimming, we die.” 

University libraries used to warehouse knowledge, but they’re places where it’s created now. And that, students and school officials say, makes them more relevant than ever.

Numbers back up that notion. While book circulation is down at each of the libraries the Bay Area News Group surveyed, the number of students using library space is up.

Librarians say students are looking for places where they can take the work they do individually online and use it to collaborate as part of a team in the real world.

“The digital age has actually raised the importance of spaces for people to actually come together,” said Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, Cal’s librarian and chief digital scholarship officer. Read more...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Over 83,500 Vintage Sewing Patterns Are Now Available Online

Design | Archives | Digital Humanities

By Jessica Stewart | July 3, 2017

McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity. If you were into sewing, or simply spent time as a child rummaging through patterns with your mother at the fabric store, these names will bring on a wave of nostalgia. And now, thanks to a fantastic online collection of vintage sewing patterns, it's time to dust of your sewing machine.

The Vintage Patterns Wiki boasts more than 83,500 patterns that are at least 25 years old, which makes for a fascinating look back at fashion history. As a collaborative effort, the database is constantly being updated and organized, with any newly uploaded patterns dating prior to 1992. Just click on the cover and browse the list of pattern vendors who have the look. Read more...