Two Fun Reads (Librarians Only)

Here are two, short and fun, reads that anyone who has made a living as a librarian will enjoy.

  1. Gale, Thomson. Funny You Should Ask: Return of the Grin, Real-Life Questions from the Reference Desk Volume 2. [Farmington Hills, MI] : Thomson Gale, 2006.(WordCat link:
  2. Parsons, Arthur Hudson. A Library Is To Know. Bound to Stay Bound, 1971. (WordCat link:

The Inviolable Rights of the Reader

Set aside the rigid reading model of your childhood, the one that guilts you in to reading every word, page, and chapter in a book. How many times have you, as a reader, been stoic and endured the unnecessary pain and misery of finishing a bad book. Some books do not deserve to be read to the end.

Daniel Pennac offers children (and those adults who never learned otherwise) an alternative; with his Inviolable Rights of the Reader1 he offers a way to make reading fun again.

  1. The right not to read
  2. The right to skip pages
  3. The right not to finish a book
  4. The right not to re-read
  5. The right to read anything
  6. The right to ‘bovarysme’ (a textually transmissible disease)
  7. The right to read anywhere
  8. The right to browse
  9. The right to read out loud
  10. The right to remain silent (not to have to comment on what has been read)
  1. Pennac, D. (1994). Reads like a novel. London: Quartet Books.>

Patron Saint of Librarians


The head of the patron saint of librarians, Saint Lawrence of Rome 1

Let neither popery nor skepticism restrain you from enjoying a good story. For August 10, the feast day of St. Lawrence of Rome, is a very special day for both librarians and storytellers. Throughout history there have always been sadists to accommodate the willing martyr. The methods have varied from beheading and stoning, to being hanged, drawn and quartered. But, the most interesting has to be roasting. This being the grilling of the victim over an open flame.

In 258 A.D., the Roman Emperor Valerian put Pope Sixtus II and six deacons to death. Leaving Deacon Lawrence the head of the church. Today, Deacon Lawrence is better known as St. Lawrence, the patron saint of librarians. He is one of three patron saints of the library profession—the others being Saint Jerome and Saint Catherine of Alexandria—because of his efforts in preserving the documents of the early church.

After the death of Pope Sixtus II, the prefect of Rome came to Lawrence and demanded he turn over the treasures of the church to him. Lawrence replied come back in three days. When the prefect returned, Lawrence had assembled the poor of Rome and told the prefect, these are “the treasures of the church.”2 For this, Lawrence was to be put to death. A gridiron was made. This was not the football field gridiron, but the cooking kind: a flat framework of mesh bars was assembled and placed over glowing coals. This was done so that he could be slowly burnt.

Stripped and bound to the gridiron, Lawrence was slowly roasted little by little. Now this is the part where St. Lawrence became a patron saint not for what he did in his life, but for how he left it. After having roasted one side for a long time he turned to the cook and said with a cheerful smile, “I am done enough, eat if you will.”3 While he roasted to death, he showed such great courage that he is also the patron saint of cooks and comics.

One other thing, if you ever do go to the Vatican, St. Lawrence’s mummified and slightly crisp head is available for viewing in the archives.

  1. Ambrosini, M. L., & Willis, M. (1996). The Secret Archives of the Vatican. Barnes & Noble, Inc. Retrieved from”
  2. Butler, A. (1894). Lives of the Saints: With Reflections for Every Day in the Year. Benziger Brothers. Retrieved from
  3. Butler, A. (1894). Lives of the Saints: With Reflections for Every Day in the Year. Benziger Brothers. Retrieved from

Sexy Books are Back

Washington Park Plans to Turn Library Into — What Else? — a Strip Joint

By Chad Garrison Mon., Jun. 27 2011 at 2:45 PM
Source: Riverfront Times

'Cause librarians are sexy, dammit!

'Cause librarians are sexy, dammit!

​Washington Park is home to 5,000 people and eight strip clubs. Make that nine if officials in the impoverished metro East St. Louis community pass a plan to turn the town’s former library into a topless bar.

The property in question is owned by Willie “Big Mack” McIntosh, a county board member and husband of a Washington Park trustee. McIntosh’s wife and the majority of the town’s other trustees have approved the plan to convert the building into a strip club. They’re just waiting on Mayor James Jones to sign on.

Why the need for another adult-entertainment business in Washington Park?

Because the strip clubs bring in a lot of dough for the struggling community. This year they’re expected to pay $39,000 in local taxes.

And, to be fair, the building that houses the library was already a strip club once when it was owned by racketeer Thomas Venezia, who lost the building in the mid-1990s after being convicted of running an illegal gambling empire in the Metro East. (See “Win, Lose or Die” for more on that story.)

Besides the library building at 5103 Bunkum Road won’t technically house a new strip club. It will be home to the “Soft Touch” — a Washington Park strip club that burned down in November. Soft Touch was also one of the few, if only, minority-owned adult businesses in the nearly all-black city. That ought to count for something. As village trustee Ferris Williams told the Belleville News-Democrat:

“They were the only black adult entertainment club owners in the village. I felt it was fair for them continue. They contribute a lot to the children in the village. They just donated $500 to Mayor Jones’ memorial celebration of past great leaders in the village a couple of weeks ago. I feel we should be there for those who support Washington Park.”

Here at Daily RFT we’re just hoping that should Mayor Jones approve the strip joint (which he shouldn’t; this deal stinks of cronyism) he requires that it change its name to honor the building’s past life as a home for literature and learning. We’re thinking it should be called the “The Pubic Library” or perhaps the “Hard Catalog.” Just anything but the Soft Touch.

Term: Libraryize



To place in a library.


1796 S. T. Coleridge Biogr. Lit. (1847) II. 361 If you see nothing in it [Beddoes’s Essay] to library-ize it, send it me back next Thursday.



The librarian libraryized several books.



Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

Is a Special Collection so Special?

What is the definition of a special collection?  For some librarians, it is anything they want it to be. To be more technical there are two general types:

  1. A collection of rare and unique items, thus requiring proper preservation techniques, tools, and skills: These being things like an archivist, climate controlled environment, or monitored use of the items.

  3. A collection of items or books built around a topic. This would be a highly developed collection used for scholarly purposes.  It is usually set off, separate from the general collection, specially cataloged, and even has its own set of lending rules.1

Those libraries that do not feel bound by the technical definition of special collection and lack an exacting approach to creating and developing a special collection can be creating more confusion than alleviation.  The dangers of an ill-thought-out special collection are as follows:


1) Locating materials becomes unnecessarily confusing and difficult.

Take Dewey as an example.  It is a well defined classification system that has been in existence for 140 years and is globally used by over a quarter-million libraries.2 Every American who uses a public library has (knowingly or unknowingly) used this system.

In a library using Dewey, special collections are made of items removed from the 000-900 schema and placed somewhere else in the library.  Now the user (remember, most have a very basic understanding of Dewey) has to figure out if an item is in the general collection or in a special collection, and if she can figure this out, the patron then has to find where that other place is.  The more special collections a library has the more confusing this becomes.  If there is a local history special collection, an African-American special collection, and then the general collection, the user has three different locations to keep track of and locate. At times, even librarians can become confused.

Special collections isolate materials thereby making collections harder to use. A special collection should be for the benefit of the user, but often we burden the user with confining loan rules that limit these materials to use within the library or a shortened checkout period.


2) The special collection can becomes unfocused and suffer from content creep.

Without well written policies on what goes in a special collection, over time, the collection risks becoming unwieldy and unfocused. Whether it is a local collection or an African-American collection, the library needs to define what is meant by the terms it is using to describe its special collection. A poorly defined and managed collection will lack consistency in its content and usage. Items that belong in a special collection may start to be found in the general circulating collection, or items that have limited or no relevance to the special collection may be added to it over time.

While a special collection has the potential to be of added value and usefulness to library patrons and researchers, a library needs to carefully consider the creation of a special collection. It first needs to determine if it has sufficient content on a subject and researcher interest in that subject to warrant the creation of a special collection.  If the answer is yes, then the library needs to decide if the usefulness of a special collection compensates for the isolation of that content.  If the answer is yes again, the library must develop a policy to properly manage the collection. This policy should include:

  • A definition of what the special collection is and what constitutes it.
  • The location of the collection.
  • A designated authority for managing the collection.
  • A statement on duplicates.
  • What formats are included or excluded.
  • What the funding source of the collection is.
  • The collection development policy for the special collection.

When considering the coverage of a topic, a library needs to carefully determine if it requires the creation of a special collection or the creation of a collection emphasis. Does the library need to create a special collection for its state, which is pulled out of the normal flow of the classification system and separated from the general collection, or should it have a collection development emphasis on materials related to the state is resides within.  (In Dewey, the tables allow for the creation of a geographic/historical state section in the 900’s, which seamlessly fits into the existing “flow” of the system.) If you already have a special collection, or are contemplating creating one, ask yourself if your special collection is helping or hindering your patrons?

  1. Selection: Defining and Managing Special Collections. (n.d.). Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Retrieved July 5, 2011, from
  2. Dewey Services at a Glance. (n.d.). OCLC. Retrieved June 24, 2011, from

Term: Logophile


A lover of words.


logo- + -phile



Noah Webster and Samuel Johnson were logophiles.


Librarians Work in Libraries

In schools across America we have replaced the library with the Learning Resource(s) Center (LRC).  There are now even Success Centers on college campuses. (Is not that why the library became the LRC?) Success Center and LRC are shiny, bright, action oriented terms, but what do they really get the student, the library, or the school? Hmmm. Lots of questions.

I had been a librarian for a decade and I was pretty sure I knew what the definition of a library was until I came to work in an LRC. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says a library “is a place set apart to contain books for reading, study, or reference.” Although it has gone through many variations in spelling from librarie, lyberary, liberary, librarye to the modern library, the basic definition has stayed the same.

So what is an LRC? According to the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science, it is “synonymous in the United States with school library.”1 A school library being one that serves the information and curriculum needs of public or private schools. Ok. But, why cannot a library just be a library? The 1972 combined ACRL AECT Guidelines for Two-Year College Learning Resource Programs may be where it all started. (Although, I have come across several different starting dates for the term.) According to Wanda K. Johnston, since this report was published it became unpopular to refer to community college libraries (are you ready) as libraries.2  I work in an “LRC” and I have never had anyone who was lost or looking for the library ask me where the LRC is. Patrons call it the library. The only ones that contort the term library into LRC are library professionals. In the book It’s All About Student Learning the authors say that, “in many colleges learning resource centers are reverting back to using the term libraries, often reflecting that, in the vernacular used by students and faculty, our departments continue to be thought of as libraries.”3

No matter how different the mission and objectives of one library may be from another, all libraries are fundamentally the same. Whether a library’s mission is to support research, instruction, a specialized field, or the needs of the common citizen, at the most basic level the purpose of every library is to fulfill the information needs of its patrons. An overly specialized term like LRC does nothing to help achieve this objective.  I am a librarian and I like to work in a library.




  1. Joan M. Reitz. (n.d.). ODLIS — Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. ABC-CLIO. Retrieved June 14, 2011, from
  2. Johnston, W. K. (1994). Administering the Community College Learning Resources Program. New York: Maxwell Macmillan International.
  3. McCabe, G. B., & Dowell, D. R. (2006). It’s All About Student Learning: Managing Community and Other College Libraries in the 21st Century. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Book Xylophone

O’Reilly Books are more than text.


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Training Ain’t Educating

I have trained, I have educated, they are not the same thing.


An important distinction:


Education is what we know for life.  Whether your job changes or the world around you changes, these are skills that you will take with you and always use. Skills like critical thinking, reading and writing, and arithmetic.

Training teaches time-sensitive and task-specific skills. For instance, your library subscribes to the database Books in Print.  A friendly trainer traveled to your library to train you on this product three years ago, however Books in Print 2.0 has just been released.  The database has changed and now you will need to be retrained on how to use the tool.

Training ain’t Educating.