Ask the ALA Library

Literary Landmarks

Q.  We were in Hannibal, Missouri on a recent spring driving trip and visited the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum.  I noted that it is a "Literary Landmark."  What is this designation?

Bar Codes in Libraries

Question: Is there a standard library barcode identification system?

Award-winning Libraries

Q. Our library is beginning to think about a major addition.  I recall that the ALA gives an award for library buildings.  I'd like to plan a cross-country trip so that I could see some of these.  How can I get a list of these libraries?

War Service Library book

Q. Today I was going through some books donated to our book sale and ran across one with a bookplate stating "War Service Library" with a picture of a WW I Soldier carrying a stack of books.  This plate was found in a 1918 book.  What is the story behind this bookplate?

A.  The bookplate -- sometimes a label or a stamp with the words "American Library Association, Soldiers and Sailors Camp Library"-- is one of several versions affixed to books furnished to sailors and soldiers by the American Library Association during World War I.

Mobile accessible library websites

Question: We'd like to make our website available to patrons that have "smartphones".  Do you have any resources to help us?

Book Groups

Q. A new resident inquired whether our library had any book clubs.  The library in the town she moved from supports several and she had found hers to be a congenial way to explore books and reading.  What's involved in starting one?

Disaster Planning

Q. There was recently a flash flood in a neighboring town--and it seems like there's another earthquake reported every week.  Our library doesn't have a disaster plan.  Where can I get help in writing one?

A. There are a number of resources available to you. Start with the "Disaster Recovery" resources prepared by members of the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services as background material for the first ever Preservation Week, May 9-15, 2010.

Value of Old Books

Q.  One of our regular library visitors is clearing the attic of the family home now that her parents are deceased.  Where can I direct her to learn more about the value of these books?

What is a library?

Q. The word "library" seems to be used in so many different aspects now, from the brick-and-mortar public library to the digital library.  Is there a good definition of what a library is?

A. We're glad you asked.  The Whole Library Handbook offers this definition:

Oldest University Library

Question: What is the oldest university library?


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