Ask the ALA Library

Librarian Ethnicity

Q. Does ALA have recent information on the ethnic distribution of librarians?

A Number of Children's and Young Adult Books as well as Audiobooks and Ebooks

In the newest edition of the Library and Book Trade Almanac   (formerly known as The Bowker Annual Library and Book Trade Almanac) put out by Information Today, Inc., the annual report on book title production now includes audiobook and ebook numbers.

Dewey or LC?

Q. Which is older, the Library of Congress Classification or Dewey? Which is more popular?

A. Quickly, Dewey is older and more popular, depending somewhat on the type of library. But let’s step back to the purposes of a classification system to understand a bit more about classification.

To “catalog” a book or other form of library material involves several interrelated processes which all contribute to the achievement of Charles Ammi Cutter’s “objects” for a catalog:

Historical Awards

Q. In a few weeks, one of our colleagues will retire. We know she has received several honors from the American Library Association. Is there any place we can research what they are?

A. We in the ALA Library—and in the divisions and offices, as well—have received this question, or similar ones, over the years. With ALA offering nearly 200 awards or other forms of recognition each year, some at the Association level, others by divisions or round tables, researching the question can be slow.

Using Other Sources

Q. Today's been tough.  Kids are coming in with left-to-the-last-minute homework assignments for which they normally turn to Wikipedia.  We're getting them to print resources and our online databases, but do you have suggestions for teaching research skills? 

Recommended Listening and Audiobooks

Q. I got to explain to an older patron today that audiobooks can be downloaded! She last listened to an audiobook when they were still on cassette tapes.  Now that she knows, she would love to give her 13-year-old granddaughter something else to listen to on her tiny music player. I told her about the Odyssey Award. Does ALA have any lists of audiobooks for children?

Happy 135th, ALA!

Q. What were the forces behind the founding conference of the American Library Association?

Reading Levels

Q. Is there a reliable source for the suggested reading level of a novel?  I'm a teacher who requires independent reading, but the novels my students bring me sometimes look "too young" for the grade I teach.  I cannot always find information on what reading level the novel was intended to entertain.

Librarians in Government

The question came in with the subject line "Reference question that only ALA can answer" but it really is a question that only all of ALA, not just the ALA Librarian, can answer: Are there librarians who have been elected officials, or who have run for office?


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