Do any of you remember when you checked out a book in the "old days," i.e. the Sixties? They would take an actual photograph of your card and the removable library card pasted into the book. You would stand there at the checkout counter, and the librarian (complete with glasses and a bun) would step on a foot pedal, triggering the bright light photo and a neat 1960's mechanical noise, taking the picture, so as to trace you if you became overdue or worse.
Back at the end of March, I wrote about something I was calling "community reference." The idea was as radical as it is obvious: people with questions may not think to ask a librarian, so the library needs to send the librarians to the people.
Sometimes, those questions are big -- so big that whole neighborhoods or municipalities wrestle with them. Here's an example: how do you build and sustain a vibrant "downtown?"
I don't go to a lot of conferences. But I just came back from the annual American Library Association conference in Washington, D.C.
I was not alone. There were, by last estimate, over 27,000 librarians in the city. That's a lot of librarians.
But that might be one of the points of the conference. Did you know:
* there are more library outlets than there are McDonalds in this country?
* there are more annual visits to libraries than to all sporting events combined?
We don't always know the effects our actions have on others.
Some years ago, I wrote a column about trying to do things I'd always wanted to do, but hadn't gotten around to. This is probably an aging Boomer phenomena, as witnessed by the slew of books coming out with titles like "100 Places to See (or Things to Do) Before You Die."
But one of my readers, Manijeh Badiozamani, a college professor, took the challenge personally. And she did something she'd always wanted to do: volunteered to work in a kitchen.