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The Children's Book on How to Use Books and Libraries: 12/31/14

cover art

The Children's Book on How to Use Books and Libraries by Carolyn Mott is one of those special books that survives weeding. It was designed as an introduction to information literacy and library usage for elementary school aged children.

The basics of how public and school libraries work hasn't changed much in the last hundred or so years. Books (and other things) are curated and cataloged and shelved. Yes, libraries today also provide downloadable content or reference materials through databases, but a child's introduction to how libraries work is typically through story time and picture book checkouts.

And those parts of Mott's book are still on topic and still relevant. The rest of the book is a charming look back at how libraries used to work, with adorable stick figure illustrations that were done by children in collaboration with the author (a librarian).

This book is one of those gems that pops up whenever a library is doing a serious weeding effort. When I was working for Cushing Library at Holy Names, we were going through a major cataloging / weeding effort. The library hadn't yet fully converted from the old card catalog system (even though the drawers were gone), meaning that thousands of books were on the shelves but not necessarily findable by anyone using the local or consortium catalogs.

To keep the cataloging effort to as efficient a minium as possible, books that had been categorized as NICs (not in catalog) were weeded before coming to me for cataloging. Though our book dated back to the 1950s and showed aspects of the library long since made obsolete (like the card catalog), the book is just too cute and charming to let go of, as librarian Daniel Ransom noted on his tumblr site.

Four stars

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