The Library as Spinach

(Think slimy canned spinach, not delicious fresh spinach in a tasty salad.) My first job as a librarian was in a theological seminary, where we had students aged 22-50 and beyond, many with small children.  One day a student came into the library with his fussy toddler, clearly juggling child care responsibilities with the need to do some library research.  As the understandably bored child whined and began to act up, the student said, “Stop it, or that librarian [pointing at me] will make you … [Read more...]

What is a library?

I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read Joe Hardenbrook’s “Little Rant on Little Free Libraries.”  “A handcrafted box of books – no matter how lovely (and many are!) – is not a library. It’s an open bookdrop.  A library is more than just that.”  Yes!  He perfectly captured the unease I felt when two of my colleagues proposed creating a little free library in Davidson.  It’s not a library.  And Davidson already has a great public library. A little box of books is not a library, but is size … [Read more...]

Why I hate the word “support”

When we wrote the library’s new mission statement a couple of years ago, I issued only one rule:  the word “support” could not appear anywhere in the document.   When I think of “support,” it’s always followed directly by “hose” and images of my ancient great-aunts, now long departed, which is not at all the image I want for a library these days.  But I also have two serious reasons for disliking the word. One is that, in library mission statements, it’s often a weasel word.  A typical … [Read more...]