The library, as described by the 1771 Encyclopædia Britannica

I was walking through the stacks on a rare quiet day (classes don’t start until next week), when I stumbled upon the 1771 Encyclopædia Britannica. I couldn’t resist looking up the entry for library:

an edifice or apartment destined for holding a considerable number of books placed regularly on shelves ; or , the books themselves lodged in it.

We can all agree that libraries have come a long way since being simply buildings full of books, but here’s the part that really had me rolling on the floor:

In Edinburgh there is a good library belonging to the university, well furnished with books ; which are kept in good order, and cloistered up with wire-doors, that none but the keeper can open, and are now lent out only upon consignation of the price ; a method much more commodious than the multitude of chains used in other libraries.

Still, I think this would be an appropriate tagline even today:

Libraries: disseminating information through the most commodious methods for centuries

Stephen Abram at McGill

Stephen Abram, of Stephen’s Lighthouse and president of the SLA, gave a talk at McGill today, and it was exactly the sort of thing that helps keep us motivated, especially now that everyone is so busy with final assignments that are often less than exhilarating. He talked about how librarians can be innovative and make serious change in the field, and he made some distinctions between Canada and the United States, which is always interesting. He promised he’d post the slides online, so I’ll give you the update when those are available – I just couldn’t wait to post about his talk! If you’re not familiar with it, I highly suggest that you check out his blog.