Librarians and Their Memorable Patron Interactions

some reference and book questions stick out more than others. They stand out either because they were truly great questions or because they were absolutely ridiculous. Either way, patrons never fail to keep me on my toes. Just when I think a decade of public libraries has allowed me to see and hear it all, another question or situation leaves me stunned. Here are some of my most memorable patron interactions:
From Librarians and Their Memorable Patron Interactions | Book Riot
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Female Librarians on Horseback Delivering Books, ca. 1930s

President Franklin Roosevelt was trying to figure out a way to resolve the Great Depression of the 1930s. His Works Progress Administration created the Pack Horse Library Initiative to help Americans become more literate so that they’d have a better chance of finding employment.
From Female Librarians on Horseback Delivering Books, ca. 1930s | History Daily
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Some of the Rarest Books in the World Can Be Found in This Downtown Library In Texas

BEHIND A LARGE CAUTION SIGN on a locked door inside the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building downtown, you’ll find the vault. It’s not filled with money or an arsenal, but it does contain the world’s most valuable currency and deadliest weapon—the written word. Researchers must apply to peruse the rare, often centuries-old books and other artifacts inside the room, which is kept at a crisp 60 degrees and cared for by preservation librarian Elizabeth Mayer. We asked her to share some of her favorite rarities with Houstonia readers, and she obliged.
From Some of the Rarest Books in the World Can Be Found in This Downtown Library | Houstonia
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Menu Matters: On Alison Pearlman’s “May We Suggest” - Los Angeles Review of Books

Studies of menus, however, are a little trickier to find. Menus as scholarly artifacts have come a long way in recent years — traveling from the libraries of antiquarians and sentimental dilettantes to invocations in academic monographs about everything from environmental history to immigration patterns to changing trends in graphic design. The New York Public Library’s collection of over 45,000 menus is getting a lot more traffic than it used to, while To Live and Dine in L.A. (2015) — a collaborative project sponsored by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles that resulted in an exhibition and a book — celebrated the menu collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.
From Menu Matters: On Alison Pearlman’s “May We Suggest” - Los Angeles Review of Books
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Hidden Details of the New York Public Library | Architectural Digest - YouTube

Noted historians serve as your personal audio guide through a virtual walking tour of the New York Public Library. Find out about hidden details of the famed NYC building as these expert reveal the history behind the Winnie the Pooh toys, the Rose Main Reading Room, the iconic lion statues Patience and Fortitude, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, the Milstein Division, the map collection, the book train and more.
From Hidden Details of the New York Public Library | Architectural Digest - YouTube
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Every Page of This Book Is a Slice of Cheese - Gastro Obscura

Last summer, University of Michigan art and design librarian Jamie Lausch Vander Broek acquired 20 Slices—a squat, square volume composed of 20 plastic-wrapped Kraft singles sandwiched between bright yellow covers. “For me, a lot of the purpose of the collection is engaging with people who usually have never seen an artist’s book before,” she explains. “So I have tailored my selections away from subtlety. It’s really important to me that people get excited about the work that I buy, and that it happens quickly.”
From Every Page of This Book Is a Slice of Cheese - Gastro Obscura
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How badly is Google Books search broken, and why?

Partly this is the story that we all know: Google Books has failed to live up to its promise as the company has moved away from its original mission of organizing information for people. But the particular ways that it has actually eroded, including this one, are worth documenting, because it's easy to think that search tools that worked perfectly well a few years ago won't have been consciously degraded.
From Sapping Attention: How badly is Google Books search broken, and why?
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Hold the front pages: meet the endpaper enthusiasts | Books

Faced with the hideous maw that is today’s news cycle, there could be little more soothing than slipping into the esoteric world of We Love Endpapers, a society for enthusiasts to share their favourite examples of the most beautiful pages bookending tomes. Endpapers date back to at least the 15th century, when pieces of old manuscript or vellum would be used to help sew a book block into its binding, and to protect it. By the 17th century, they were being used as decorative items; today, they can feature everything from maps to an extra shot of artwork from a book’s illustrator.
From Hold the front pages: meet the endpaper enthusiasts | Books | The Guardian
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Amazon caught selling counterfeits of publisher’s computer books—again

Amazon markets the service to publishers as a way to have "100 percent availability of books" internationally, and the company has enrolled a number of publishers. The problem is that Amazon apparently doesn't police whether book content uploaded to CreateSpace actually belongs to the person doing the uploading. As others who sell through Amazon have discovered, Amazon has had a problem with mixing legitimate and counterfeit products in fulfillment warehouses because of how it prepositions product for Prime Delivery.
From Amazon caught selling counterfeits of publisher’s computer books—again | Ars Technica
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Why do so many book covers still use the phrase for works of fiction?

Books have used the “XYZ: A Novel” format since the 17th century, when realistic fiction started getting popular. The term “novel” was a way to distinguish these more down-to-earth stories from the fanciful “romances” that came before, says Steven Moore, author of “The Novel: An Alternative History.” Then, as now, it was a tag that identified the kind of literature you were getting yourself into.
From Book covers still use the phrase “A Novel” for works of fiction - Vox
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Meet the woman who took 73 years to return a library book — and wasn’t fined

Slipped behind other books was a lovingly worn copy of the 1929 children’s book “The Postman,” by Charlotte Kuh. Gregg’s mother had checked it out of a Silver Spring, Md., library in 1946, when Gregg was a toddler. Nearly 27,000 days past its due date, Gregg, now 75, decided to return it.
From Meet the woman who took 73 years to return a library book — and wasn’t fined - The Washington Post
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How Libraries Can Make Public Data More Accessible - CityLab

In fact, librarians have long been advocates of digital inclusion and literacy. That’s why, last month, ULC launched a new initiative to give public libraries a leading role in a future with artificial intelligence. They kicked it off with a working group meeting in Washington, D.C., where representatives from libraries in cities like Baltimore, Toronto, Toledo, and Milwaukee met to exchange ideas on how to achieve that through education and by taking on a larger role in data governance.
From How Libraries Can Make Public Data More Accessible - CityLab
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Amazon Sells Way Fewer Books To Academic Libraries Than People Think

Is Amazon taking over the academic library industry? That's what a new study from a higher-education-focused non-profit takes a look at, and their findings might surprise you as long as you haven't read the title of this article too closely. For the study, Ithaka S+R gathered acquisitions data from 124 U.S. higher education institutions in fiscal year 2017 along with data from 51 institutions covering between 2014 and 2017. The report has more than one interesting takeaway about the under-examined world of academic literature, but here's the big one: Amazon isn't anywhere close to controlling the academic library market. 
From Amazon Sells Way Fewer Books To Academic Libraries Than People Think

The Very Modern Anger of Shakespeare’s Women

Literary scholars often hear about dangers of presentism: we are warned against looking at the past for confirmation of our own progress — the distance between us and them — and against collapsing that distance, and seeing, Narcissus-like, our own reflections in long-ago lives and letters. But of course, the present always shapes our encounters with earlier texts, whether we’re reading them, writing about them or, in the case of Shakespeare, staging them. Not only do we inevitably view the past through the lens of our present, but our present also renders the past visible — or invisible — in shifting ways. Walter Benjamin tells us that history is “filled with the presence of the now.” And, as the now changes, so does the history.
From The Very Modern Anger of Shakespeare’s Women – Electric Literature
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Shelf policing: how books (and cacti) make women too 'spiky' for men

Speaking of bedrooms – books apparently aren’t allowed in there, as they are a room for “sleep and love”. This raises some questions. Does it mean that if you like reading a book in bed you must then go put it back elsewhere in the house just before falling asleep? Is one book (singular) in the bedroom fine but two or more forbidden? What if you do find a partner thanks to your attractive new flat and he also enjoys reading in bed, does this create a loophole? Should you read this singular book together at the same time? Any word on Kindles?
From Shelf policing: how books (and cacti) make women too 'spiky' for men | Books | The Guardian
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3 Rules for Choosing Nonfiction Books

Before I start, a disclaimer: All of this is, of course, highly subjective. I read nonfiction for enjoyment, and I enjoy nonfiction most when I am learning interesting things, or am guided to think in new ways. Preferably, claims should be backed by peer-reviewed studies, or presented as speculation otherwise. Either way, the author should be clear about this, and unbiased enough to present different sides of the issue. With that out of the way, let’s look at the rules.
From 3 Rules for Choosing Nonfiction Books
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Novels with Giant Possibly Magical Libraries - Charlie Harrington

There are two things that, when I encounter them in a book, immediately cause me to fall in love. The word palimpsest A giant, possibly magic, library (extra points for a Forbidden Section or two) The two are not unrelated. A palimpsest is a book that has been one or more books before, with the older knowledge hidden just beneath the surface of the parchment, waiting to be unearthed. A giant library must, invariably, contain books with once-known, now-forgotten knowledge, just beyond that locked door over there. But I have the key... I hereby present a list of the very best novels featuring giant libraries filled with secrets.
From Novels with Giant Possibly Magical Libraries - Charlie Harrington - @whatrocks
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Thousands of scientists run up against Elsevier’s paywall

Researchers at German institutions that have let their Elsevier subscriptions lapse while negotiating a new deal are hitting the paywall for the publisher’s most recent articles around 10,000 times a day, according to Elsevier — which publishes more than 400,000 papers each year. But at least some German libraries involved in negotiating access to Elsevier say they are making huge savings without a subscription, while still providing any articles their academics request.
From Thousands of scientists run up against Elsevier’s paywall
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The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

E-readers and tablets are becoming more popular as such technologies improve, but research suggests that reading on paper still boasts unique advantages
From The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens - Scientific American - Scientific American in 2013
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A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions

Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A. J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his début thriller, “The Woman in the Window.” His life contains even stranger twists.
From A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions | The New Yorker
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