Apr 10, 2011

National Library Week!!

Since 1958, the ALA has sponsored this time to raise awareness for libraries as "centers of learning" and for the librarians who do so much work to keep them alive.  Unsurprisingly, I'm excited for Support Teen Literature Day on the 14th, but I'll most likely gush about that later in the week.  But in honor of libraries:

Things You Didn't Know About Libraries: 

1.  Your thoughts are going to be archived in the Library of Congress.  That is, if you succumb to the social pressures of the Tweeting world, you'll end up forever stored into memory in the LoC.  Every public tweet that enters the world will be digitally archived so people in the future can look back and realize how #selfobsessed technological we all were with our need to document every thought that entered our minds.  It's also a study on how social networks define our existence. 

2.  There are approximately 122,101 libraries total in the U.S.  This one ALA fact brings me some much needed relief: "There are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the U.S.—a total of 16,604 including branches."   I fear the day this statistic reverses.

3.  Most people believe that Jefferson created the first American library.  WRONG!  While Jefferson's undoubtedly important in library history, Benjamin Franklin was actually the one who began the first public lending library.  Because books were so expensive, he came up with the idea that members of his discussion group should pool their money and buy books to share.  This decision led to the Library Company of Philadelphia.  Books were later kept in the State House of Pennsylvania and the first librarian ever was Louis Timothee.  Not too shabby for a man who wasn't President.

4.  Jefferson did, however, sell his entire book collection to the Library of Congress in 1815 after British troops destroyed most of the original collection during the War of 1812.  His collection consisted of almost 6,500 books.  I'm jealous. 

5.  "[Americans] spend $34.95 a year for the public library—about the average cost of one hardcover book."  I've read 42 books this year.  While not every book would be priced that high, by those figures I would have had to spend $1467.90 to read those books without the library.  Ergo, libraries are amazing.

6. Waaaaay before the Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs) came about, people actually had to physically look through cards to find where books were kept in a library.  Callimachus is considered the first person to keep a record of books by author and subject for easy finding in 245 BC.  While it might be easier to search for items in an OPAC, and by might I mean it is, the information doesn't magically appear online.  Librarians are actually the ones who input every. single. fact. into the system so you can frantically search for that book you used when you need to finish your bibliography 5 minutes before your paper is due.  

Sometimes the information looks like this:

MARC: it's a secret language that librarians learn.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to link to this post, if that's all right with you. It's fantastic.