Category Archives: Policies

Fragrance-coded card catalog

Copyright Card Catalog Files
I just found this article, and have NEVER heard of this idea – but I’m in love with it!!!

Card catalog cards had a smell to them, say…chocolate. If you, as a patron, were looking for your book you did not have to rely on an indecipherable map, or on your own memory of a specific section of the library. Instead you could just sniff along the aisle until you found the shelf that also smelled like chocolate. Then you browse along until you find your specific book! Amazing!!

Sadly, this catalog is no longer in use – and it clearly has not swept the nation and is not being used in every library.  Yes it would add some challenges to the job of catalogers everywhere to make this happen, but what an amazing idea for helping to make the collection accessible to patrons!!!

Please, please take a moment to click on this article and to admire the scanned newspaper articles about this cataloging system. You will absolutely not be sorry!

Do you have any other seemingly crazy ideas for helping people to connect with your materials? Share them!!! Heck – we will give out up to $300 in mini-grants to people who send us an application with some idea that just needs some funding to get off the ground!! (CMLE members only, please!)

Libraries are here to serve our communities, and to connect them with information through our materials and programs. Let’s keep thinking of interesting new ways to make that happen!


User/Patron, Community Health Issues and Librarian Roles and Responsibilities

From ALA President Julie Todaro

“This past year I have had ongoing questions about public health crises including the opiate crises and the public library role in these difficult times. The issue has been looked at by a number of groups for several years (for example librarians being trained to provide information/educate in NY state since 2013) Interviews for me (obviously) began a year ago and q and a included:

 –specific articles on Illinois and public library deaths
–libraries partnering with health services for professionals to regularly visit the library to assess clientele
–libraries hiring health professionals to assist community members directly and identify health services for them
–libraries ramping up training on best practices for managing elements of the opiate crises in libraries such as identifying distress signals, notifying appropriate community support, etc.
–libraries accessing furniture, layout, signage, etc. re: changing clientele
and the latest
–libraries stepping up to stock Narcan (Denver, Philly already…SFP considering, Mass. considering, NY considering and so on)
–librarians storing and some storing and administering Narcan (one story you might have seen this past week is about the librarian who has saved 7-8 lives by administering Narcan to patrons AND to people in the park next to the library)
Obviously, this is a very serious issue and the last interview (two discussions with CNN) was particularly eye-opening as to the q and a on the role of the librarian. So – based on this past month and my beginning-level research on this issue I am going to having a Board discussion in Chicago on how best for ALA to proceed. It may be a simple as tasking an office to pull together reps from Committees, Divisions, Round Tables, etc. but the products I think we need include – at the very least – a guide on what questions to ask as all issues – especially in this area (much like sanctuary issues) begin with local definitions. At the most I see the profession needing:
–aspects of a best practice or guide for this growing situation (From the list above you see where some libraries are significantly involved while we can say “all libraries have been in the education role” regarding this.)
–questions to ask (I have been told library leaders are already talking to each other to find out what levels and roles there are)
–questions for insurance/risk issues (ex. Good Samaritan states/locations vs. non Good Samaritan states/locations and are these the overarching guidelines, laws, rules that apply)
–lists of issues behind training for use (should a library choose to get involved….spray only? spray and CPR? certification required? if so, where? etc. again – focusing on what happens locally and I can assure you this debate is national as well – but we won’t “recommend” national, rather focus on local)
–cost issues – who pays (upwards of 75$ per use)
–tracking related medical situations (the nasal spray unit recall in 2016, etc.)
If any members wish to share examples or links to these issues, please send to me. Thank you all for the service you provide every day on the front lines…this issue illustrates the changing roles and responsibilities we have and their magnitude!
Dr. Julie Beth Todaro
2016-2017 President
American Library Association
Dean, Library Services
Austin Community College


Strengthening the Voice for Sustainability How academic librarians can share resources with stakeholders

(From American Libraries, by

This column is one in a multipart American Libraries series that explores the library profession’s relationship to sustainability.

Academic librarians have a notable opportunity to take the lead in ensuring reliable information enters the hands of community members, including leaders and activists. One area for improvement is the topic of sustainability—an issue not just for those interested or working in the sciences, but one for every living, breathing being.

Libraries can move toward providing a fact-based voice in fighting climate change in their communities. One way to do this is by more proactively collecting and disseminating information to stakeholders involved in local sustainability efforts. A recent study from Lisa Dilling and John Berggren at the University of Colorado finds, “there is substantial capacity to provide the needed data, modeling, and knowledge, but … stakeholders may be encountering barriers in locating data, finding experts, or simply knowing whom to contact as a first step.” Libraries can curate and actively market meaningful data and resources to those seeking information.

Continue reading Strengthening the Voice for Sustainability How academic librarians can share resources with stakeholders

State relents on rights fee to print WWI soldiers’ pictures

Every girl pulling for victory, WWI poster, 1918From

WORCESTER – An effort by local historians to put faces to the names on the city’s World War I memorial recently encountered an expensive hurdle in an unexpected place – the Massachusetts State Library.

The issue, concerning usage fees for images in the State Library’s collection, appeared on its way to being resolved this week, ending what had been, for the historians, a potentially costly predicament.

More than 60 photos of Worcester veterans who gave their lives in the “War to End All Wars” are in the State Library’s digitized archive of World War I photos. Some are likely the only images of these men in uniform.

Continue reading State relents on rights fee to print WWI soldiers’ pictures