a librarian explains the public library: introduction

Atlanta, IL Public Library
Public library in Atlanta, Illinois [source]
Or some of it, anyway.

I’ve worked in public libraries for over a decade, and I answer a lot of questions. I get questions from library patrons, of course, and from library staff, but I also often answer questions (okay, sometimes I force answers on people who did not actually ask a question, because I can’t have information that might be of interest to someone and not share it) from dental hygienists and receptionists and doctors and dudes at the car dealership and grocery cashiers and all the other people I chat with in the course of going about my life. Usually part way through these answers, I can see people’s eyes glazing over, and then I cut to the chase and say, “Well, the answer to that is money and politics,” and that always shuts them up.

But I’m really interested in how money and politics shape the public library, this democratic/socialist/anarchist paradise that nevertheless exists in the world and has to abide by its rules and complications. So I’m going to write about some of them and put them here.

Topics may include

  • library funding
  • ebooks (and other online resources)
  • patron privacy
  • providing internet for the public
  • public meeting rooms

Suggestions are welcome.