Thursday, December 02, 2004

Reference questions of the day:
  • How do I find these articles I'm looking for in Psychological Science, from 1999 and 1998?
  • Is the expression "call the shots" a popular idiom, and if so, is it polite, and also, what does it mean? (Asked by an ESL student.)
  • How can I find a reference book on the Bill of Rights?
  • Where can I find the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians? (Take note, Leslie, if you're reading this: they use it!)

There's an interesting blog entry on libraries and the homeless here, in Library Dust. We see some homeless and/or itinerant users here in our library, because we allow community members to borrow books for virtually no cost, and because we're right in the middle of town. Still, it's nothing like the situation in major urban systems. When I worked in the Vancouver Public Library, the main downtown branch, I got more of a sense of how homeless person v. library plays out on a daily basis.

It's a major drag to think of banning people from the library because of how they look or smell, or because of how many possessions they're carrying with them. But on the other hand, Nancy Pearl and Michael McGrorty make some good points about what libraries are intended to do, and what happens when their services are stretched beyond those intentions. Essentially, what we need is a more civil and humane society, the sort of society that spawns things like the Housing Works Used Book Cafe like mushrooms after rain. And not just from the mushroom level up, either. We need a society where the government funds this sort of thing, where there's a general political will to get rid of poverty and treat illness and care for each other, instead of trying to legislate each other out of the stacks. But that's just me, and I'm hopelessly Canadian.


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