Every reader is unique and while recommended novels are easy to find, how about for those of us who want non-fiction?

Image Credit: Mike McAlister via Unsplash

Reading non-fiction is one of the best ways to learn something new. No matter what topic you’re interested in, there is sure to be plenty of books on it. I’ve written before about how to expand your non-fiction reading, but what if you’re happy with quantity and are seeking the exact book for your current level of knowledge, and the expertise you hope to gain?

First off, before you even think about selecting a book, you need to know what you’re after. Each book has a purpose and even books on the same topic can aim for different targets, so…

Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t loath them, but…

I suspect that it’s a normal human trait to want to make hard things easier. That’s probably why there are so many Medium articles on making obscene piles of cash in no time at all, or gaining a million followers yesterday. Pick a hyperbole and someone is trying to find a way to hack it. Reading is no different; seekers of knowledge want to play with mind-bending ideas, but can’t commit to doing it the age-old way.

This isn’t new, of course, people have been attempting shortcuts to reading books through speed reading courses, book summary booklets and, I don’t…

Two decades of working in libraries teaches you a lot of unexpected life lessons…

Image Credit: Marcelo Chagas at Pexels.com

It’s a cliché among library workers that books are part of the job but reading them hardly ever is. What is part of the job is working with people and technology to provide access to materials, including books. The things we do are often nuanced because people are complicated, and this nuance, along with the general nature of being information workers, is a ripe stage for developing wisdom for those that do their jobs in a mindful way (read: Those who pay attention!). I’d like to think that my two decades of work in various libraries have taught me some…

Libraries, just like any institution, require specialized skills to be successful. Do you know what they are?

Image Credit: (cc) Asheboro Public Library

Librarians know things! This was brought home to me when I read The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann and the The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating by Steven Kerry Brown. Like private investigators, librarians have a body of tangible knowledge that is unique to us. For a private investigator, tracking people down starts with knowing which resources to use; certain databases are better for certain queries, while for some it’s best to deal with other people. Part of a PIs trade is knowing which is which. …

It doesn’t take statistics or ROI studies to understand how libraries improve communities.

Image Credit: (cc) Sarah Reid via Flickr

Despite the obvious missions of public libraries, the unmeasured and often unmentioned return-on-investment with regards to them is the affect they have on the quality-of-life of the population they serve. Individual and group happiness are only recently becoming viewed as valid economic indicators, though positive psychology, the study of happiness and the causes of positive life experiences, has been a growing movement within psychological research for over a decade (see the Positive Psychology Center’s list of readings). With all the news about depression and stress rates in the United States soaring, it makes sense that a counterbalance is offered. …

Is the death of libraries near?

As a library worker, advocate, and lover, I am so focused on the everyday workings of libraries that it can be hard to raise my head and look around, much less lift my perspective above the clouds to survey the so-called “big picture.” Yet when I do that, a consistent question pops up that concerns the future of libraries: Are they in a slow decline?

Now, at this point you should imagine a buzzer going off in your head! Not because the answer is a resounding no, but because we’re asking about the future of libraries in a preposterous way…

For many, the Pandemic has made long-form reading all but impossible. Luckily, there are ways to “trick” your brain into focusing better.

It took me three months into the COVID-19 quarantine to be able to open a book again. And even then, reading it was slow-going. Many people I’ve talked to still can’t seem to focus for long enough to read a book; they read a page, then reread it, then put down the book in frustration. This behavior makes unfortunate sense with all the anxiety of a deadly virus, an upcoming election, and the various disruptions our lives have experienced. Didn’t reading used to be an act that brought solace? Books the barriers from the world’s woes? Stories, our mutual getaway…

Would you believe me if I told you that there is an independent government agency that runs on just .006% of the federal budget but affects the lives of either you or someone you know?

It’s true, despite using considerably less than 1% of the federal budget, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) manages to fund distinctive projects and services that help communities all over the United States…and it’s on the chopping block yet again!

IMLS is a tiny government agency with a huge impact and the complex mission "...to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development." Fine, but what does that look like on the ground?

I'm glad you asked. …

They say the heart wants what it wants. Well, my heart wants me some almond butter.

OMG! I’m sweating!! Credit for this porn goes to Esther Max via Flickr (cc)

I love almond butter.

I thought it would be more difficult to admit, but here we are. Is it controversial to adore almond butter the way I do? Don’t answer yet. I plan to hold nothing back, I promise.

Okay, I guess it probably isn’t a big deal if I told you that I prefer almond butter on my toast more than I love any other morning snack. It’s so good!

And it’s healthy, too. Haters say that almond butter has a lot of fat content. To that I say: “Really, haters? Fat-shaming a spread?” …

You know about public and university libraries, but state libraries shouldn’t be ignored as vibrant havens for visiting online and off!

The New York State Library is located in the Cultural Education Center, a remarkable building completed in 1978. Image Credit: (cc) Matt Wade.

While most people know about the Library of Congress, individual state libraries are an unusual, and potentially exciting, discovery for many people. Similar to the Library of Congress, state libraries typically started as either purchased or donated collections that were kept on-hand to give legislators ready access to research materials. Since their genesis, however, many state libraries have expanded their purview to include serving as historical archives, resources for public and university libraries and library workers, administrators of grant funding, service providers for people with disabilities, and repositories for various government documents, and more.

What you may not know is…

Oleg Kagan

Author, editor, speaker, writing coach, and librarian. More at olegkagan.com

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