The phrase “toiling in obscurity” is an interesting adage used by authors and writers. It is probably in the minds of many librarians—that they are engaged but obscured. Whether you are a new librarian or have been in the system for years and years, preparing books for the public in the back rooms or even at the top as directors and department heads, I suspect every one of you have had days of wondering, “Is this all there is?”
Paul Jackson Author Archive
Mr. Jackson is an Information Specialist; a retired Special Librarian of Academic, Public, Corporate, Church and Prison libraries. He initiated meetings in 1965 resulting in the founding of the national Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) in 1966. He has taught Research to PhD candidates, and published a wide variety of articles; is a bibliographer, essayist, contributing journal editor, reviewer of recordings and books. He is both publisher and self-publisher. He is currently Editor of Plateau Area Writers Association's Quarterly and anthology series, Contrasts; a timpanist and percussionist for several musical ensembles. His most recent book, Letters from Paul, is a compilation of three years of monthly encouragement essay letters written as a deacon to his parish members.
Several have sounded the alarm that information is disappearing. We’ve known for a long time that some of our oldest materials were deteriorating and that we needed to microfilm (now digitize) the items for preservation. What’s happening now is that new information is disappearing from current databases and resources.
We have been inundated by articles about the future of the library, yet little has been said about the future of librarians; those bastions of information and troughs of information and experience people rely on. Like the oft quoted proverb from Africa “When a knowledgeable old person dies, a whole library disappears,” librarians are surely as much the library as the brick and mortar buildings they work in.
Barbara Laws, a first grade teacher in Grandblanc, Michigan, was experimenting with colors. Some of her most disruptive students (who had difficulty reading) found using color overlays improved their attention and reading. Law had discovered the idea in the book Reading by the Colors, by Helen Irlen, published by the Irlen Institute in California. Irlen’s research revealed that 40 percent of students with reading problems actually had visual problems, many of which could be overcome through visual correction.
With more than one million books now being “published” per year, will we ever be able to preserve and maintain even a hint of that number in the near future?
Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort (2008) describes how we have been collectively sorting ourselves since the 1950s, moving and living among like-minded people, politics, economies, cultures, religions. We’ve all but left behind the melting pot where we can exchange ideas and conversations about real differences and needs. This melting pot can be the key to belonging and coming together to solve the largest of problems.
On May 10–14, 2016, nearly three hundred recorded sound experts, librarians, archivists, preservationists, electronics engineers, collectors, and producers of recordings and electronic equipment; all came together at Indiana University to celebrate the fiftieth annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC).
These are the people—representing the largest collections of sound in US, Canada and several from the countries of Brazil, Germany, England, the Czech Republic, France, Austria, and the Netherlands—preserving history and providing information—whether music or voice found on cylinders, discs, magnetic tape, wire, or film. The sophistication of the methods used and the metadata involved with so many “carriers” in so many formats, with so many issues of different rates of deterioration, boggles the mind. From private recordings to major record labels, conferees were treated to expertise in all areas.
Since—and perhaps before—public libraries started building auditoriums in their libraries, we have had music programs for the public. Some of these programs started back in the 1940s; possibly earlier. One of the first noted concert series in libraries was that of the Composers Forum. Under the joint auspices of Columbia University and the New York Public Library, contemporary American composers in 1947 gave concerts until 1977 in the Donnell Library, a branch of the New York Public Library, and in Columbia’s McMillin Theater (now the Miller Theater).
This post provides a short list of resources for public libraries to consider when dealing with privacy policies and cases.
Research is a method of collecting qualitative and quantitative data, verifying it, and determining conclusions, while searching is somewhat an art form, learning about search engines and taxonomies, and being able to use them successfully to find data and answers. This piece is about finding resources to help you use the Internet more effectively and efficiently.
Whether rebranding, re-organizing, or answering the public’s questions, we have to talk about semantics. If we are asking a question, the way we ask can disrupt the course of inquiry…if we ask the wrong question.
Last month I wrote about finding answers. This is a follow-up on the process. Sometimes the process takes us to strange worlds like finding the answer to the riddle, “Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” Many of the experts we rely on use their memories. Now I know at my age, my memory is not completely coherent, especially with family time-lines, i.e., what happened when with whom. On the other hand, I’ve known theater buffs who could tell you what review showed up in which issue of Variety.
The most frequent request librarians get at the reference desk (other than directions to the bathroom) is a request for an answer–not necessarily a resource. Over the years of working with various organizations, businesses, and libraries, it seems we have great access to all sorts of information. We collect it, we catalog it, we index it, we sort it, we file it, we shelve it, and we make it available with computers. The government does a lot of that too, and they even give rewards, i.e., grants to those who will collect the information and make it available either as booklets, seminars, workshops, videos, and digitally online.
Many new and start-up libraries are looking for ways to acquire books cheaply because of their small budgets. In 1992, I wrote an article for Against the Grain about finding resources to build collections. The ideas in that article are still useful and it can be downloaded from the Purdue University site here.