Monday, September 19, 2016

Melvil Dewey, Librarian of Congress, Search Engines, and Michelle Obama

Dr. Carla Hayden, our new Librarian of Congress, has much to say in a recent interview published in The Guardian online Sept. 15. "The librarian of Congress oversees the world’s largest library system. As the name indicates, one of the main roles of the library is to assist Congress in the research it needs in order to pass bills. It also oversees the US copyright system, names the poet laureate, and preserves historical documents and books.

“Dr. [Carla] Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture,” Barack Obama said when he nominated her.

Hayden says she would like to digitize as many items as possible, especially the rare collections, so people would not have to come to Washington DC to experience them. But she says the internet is not enough.

“People still need assistance when they get information on the internet,” she said. “We’re the original search engines and we held people find things to make their lives better,” she said of librarians. 

According to Hayden, the profession was “feminized” when Melvil Dewey, who created the Dewey decimal system, said “it was time to let women in because there was a lot of monotonous work to do. And he also said women in public libraries could be hostesses because they were part of the home”.

“Oh he was quite the fellow,” Hayden said, laughing. “So for a woman to be actual manager, CEO, is poetic justice.” Read complete article here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New York Public Library: Storage, access, & innovation

"This summer, several times a week, a 30-foot truck filled with rough wooden shelves of books has arrived early in the morning at the New York Public Library’s flagship research library. Each truckload contains thousands of books, which have been sitting for the past three years at a storage facility upstate.

Now, 1.5 million books are migrating home, although not to the shelves they once occupied, in the library’s old stacks beneath the Rose Main Reading Room. From the loading dock, the shelves are moved through the maze below the library, until they are two levels below the ground, underneath Bryant Park, which stretches like a lawn before the Beaux-Arts building. There, the books loiter in the hallway, waiting to be ingested.

On an August morning, the 10-person team that works on the second level of the underground stacks was “ingesting” oversized art material. The books are grouped together by size, in cardboard trays with white plastic handles at the front. This library doesn’t use the Dewey Decimal System, so books that are grouped together don’t necessarily cover the same subjects. Upstairs, in the older level of stacks, each book has a call number, and to find a book in one of the six bays, you need to be trained to understand where it might be located. In this lower level, there’s an inventory control system that might be used in an Amazon warehouse or other industrial setting, that tracks where the books are." Read on

- Laskow, S. (17 Aug. 2016). The New York Public Library is Moving 1.5 Million Books to an Underground Lair. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved from: