Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians

#128, January 25, 2002

Or why you might want to hire me for speaking engagements or workshops. To see outlines for previous presentations I've done, click on Handouts

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Order My Book

Click HEREto place a direct order for my book, The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint

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What IS Ex Libris?

The purpose and intended scope of this e-zine

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Highlights from Previous Issues:

My Rules of Information

  1. Go where it is
  2. The answer depends on the question
  3. Research is a multi-stage process
  4. Ask a Librarian
  5. Information is meaningless until queried by human intelligence
  6. Information can be true and still wrong

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Guru Interviews

  1. Tara Calishain
  2. Jenny Levine, part I
  3. Jenny Levine, Part II
  4. Reva Basch
  5. Sue Feldman
  6. Jessamyn West
  7. Debbie Abilock
  8. Kathy Schrock
  9. Greg Notess
  10. William Hann
  11. Chris Sherman
  12. Gary Price
  13. Barbara Quint
  14. Rory Litwin
  15. John Guscott
  16. Brian Smith

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Cool Quotes

The collected quotes from all previous issues are at

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When and How To Search the Net

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Wanna See Your Name in Lights?

Or at least on this page, anyway? I'd like to print here your contributions as well as mine. As you've noticed, articles are brief, somewhere between 200 and 500 words -- something to jog people's minds and get their own good ideas flowing. I'd also be happy to run other people's contributions to the regular features like Favorite Sites on _____. I'll pay you the same rate I pay me: nothing.

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To subscribe to a combined subscription to Neat New Stuff and ExLibris, please click HERE, complete the form, and click on "subscribe." To unsubscribe, use the same form but click on "unsubscribe." To change addresses for an existing subscription, unsubscribe from that form and then return to the page to enter the new address.
PRIVACY POLICY: I don't collect or reveal information about subscribers.

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Drop me a Line

Want to comment, ask questions, submit articles, or invite me to speak or do some training? Contact me at: marylaine at

Visit My Other Sites

My page on all things book-related. NEW STUFF ADDED in August

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Best Information on the Net
bestinfo/The directory I built for O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University, still my favorite pit stop on the information highway.

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My Word's Worth
a weekly column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me.

Subject Index to My Word's Worth at

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My personal page

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SUBJECT INDEX to Past Issues

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Neat New Stuff I Found This Week
January 25: electron microscope images, business customs abroad, medieval drama, master photographers, and more.

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My resume


by Marylaine Block

In an earlier article [], I suggested that the net has led libraries, publishers, writers, bookstores, schools, scholars, and readers, all former partners in the knowledge and reading enterprise, to regard each other as dangerous competitors. I pointed out how self-destructive this was, since we all continued to provide different but equally valuable contributions to the success of the others.

Libraries and bookstores in particular should be natural allies, since we both want to serve readers and increase their number. In fact, our readers and theirs are essentially the same people -- virtually every reader survey shows that people who buy books also use libraries. Libraries are to bookstores what tasting parties are to wine shops -- places where people can sample and find out what they like.

Readers who discover a favorite author in a library -- a Robert Ludlum or Dick Frances or a Barbara Kingsolver -- and read their way through all the author's previous work, often go out and buy not only the newest work by their chosen author, but their favorite older books as well, for themselves, and to give to friends. Parents who take their kids to story hours often take them to the bookstore and buy them the latest Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket books. Libraries, in short, create bookbuyers.

Bookstores, on the other hand, may create library users. A fan who, for example, has bought all the Gordon Korman books still in print may go to the library to find the ones misguided publishers have allowed to die, like the wonderfully funny No Coins, Please, or Don't Care High.

How might we collaborate? Let me count the ways:

  • We already publish lots of reading lists: If you like cat mysteries, try these titles; if you like John Grisham's legal thrillers, try these. We provide topical reading lists -- on terrorism, coping with grief, women's history, the Olympics, etc. We even do complete author bibliographies, both their in print and out of print titles. Wouldn't the bookstores like to have copies to post in their stores in the relevant areas, or stick in the bag along with a book purchase?

  • We sponsor lots of book-related events, and so do bookstores. Shouldn't we share? Can't we jointly sponsor author appearances and book talks?

  • Couldn't our book discussion groups get special discounts at local bookstores? For that matter, shouldn't librarians? Shouldn't the top ten readers in our summer reading programs get gift certificates from the local bookstores?

  • Couldn't we give bookstores advance notice of the books, authors and topics we're going to feature in exhibits, story hours, and special events so they could stock up? Couldn't they publicize our story hours with an alcove of "story hour books"? Shouldn't bookstores route copies of their own readers' magazines to us so we can stock up on multiple copies of the stores' featured items?

  • If we decide to choose a particular kind of e-book technology, shouldn't we notify local bookstores so they can stock some titles in compatible format?

  • We have deeper collections than the bookstores on virtually every topic; when people want to know more on any topic, shouldn't bookstores refer people to us?

  • We have a backfile of magazines, and they only have current issues; they have lots of titles that we don't [quick, how many of you subscribe to Guns and Ammo?]. When someone wants what isn't on our shelves, shouldn't we refer people to the bookstores, and shouldn't they refer people to us? Do your local bookstores even know what magazines you subscribe to? Have you given them a copy of your serials list?

  • Bookstores get reference questions and questions about out of print books all the time that they can't provide answers to. Shouldn't they say, "Hold on, let me call the library and see if they can answer that question/have that book?" Couldn't they tell people seeking an out of print book that the library may either have it or get it for them on loan?

  • For that matter, shouldn't we be their reference source of choice for author and book information beyond the purview of Books in Print -- for author biographies, book reviews, the value of that first edition of Gone with the Wind, identifying a book when the patron knows only the plot line, and such? Do the bookstore folks even realize that we could search WorldCat, or NoveList or Fiction Catalog for them?

  • Wouldn't they rather have us buying from them than from jobbers? Wouldn't they like to match our jobber discounts to encourage that?

  • Shouldn't bookstore owners be working members of our Friends of the Library groups, and board members? Shouldn't they be defending library budgets in city council and Chamber of Commerce meetings, and helping us on bond issue campaigns?

    I'm sure there are other ways of collaborating that haven't occurred to me. The point is, libraries and bookstores are as complementary as salt and pepper, serving the same purpose for the same people, but in slightly different ways.

    I know some libraries are already collaborating with bookstores. I'd be interested to know how your collaboration is working. Please write and tell me about it.

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    To use the term "distance learning" to refer to students and a teacher sending e-mail messages to each other may have some value, but it obscures the fact that reading a book is the best example of distance learning possible, for reading not only triumphs over the limitations of space and co-presence but of time as well.

    Neil Postman. Building a Bridge to the 18th Century.

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    You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles for noncommercial purposes (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:

    Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2002.

    [Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]