Library Blog

Kendriya Vidyalaya Port Trust, Kochi

Famous librarians

Have you ever wondered the past life or secret dreams of your local librarian as they helped you find research paper resources and swiped the bar code on your books? As it turns out, a lot of world leaders, famous authors and legendary philosophers and scholars had careers as librarians. Read below to find out who.

1. Ben Franklin: Ben Franklin didn’t sit behind a circulation desk and help college kids find research materials, but he is still a legitimate librarian. In 1731, Franklin and his philosophy group Junto organized the “Articles of Agreement,” which set up the nation’s first library. Their library, called The Library Company, was first meant to benefit only the members of Junto, so that they could share books on the issues they discussed during meetings. It was organized as a subscription library, and members of Junto payed a small fee to retrieve books.

Franklin was actually the second librarian, and the Company grew to include more books than most university libraries at the time, plus artifacts like coins and fossils. Over time, The Library Company granted access to members of the Second Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention and others.

2. Melvil Dewey: Founder of the Dewey Decimal System, Melvil Dewey was born in New York in 1851. While a student at Amherst College, he worked in the school library to support his living expenses and stayed on as a librarian after graduation. After experimenting with different cataloging and organization methods for library collections, Amherst College published his work A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library. Dewey has been named the “Father of Modern Librarianship” and even helped created the American Library Association in 1876.

3. Eratosthenes: The Greek scholar Eratosthenes discovered the system of latitude and longitude and made significant contributions to astronomy. Eratosthenes was also the chief librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria.

4. Saint Lawrence: As one of the patron saints of librarians, Saint Lawrence, or Lawrence of Rome, was a Catholic deacon who was killed by the Romans in 258 for refusing to turn over the collection of Christian treasures and documents he was entrusted to protect.

5. Mao Zedong: Mao Zedong, the man responsible for uniting China during the 1940s and 50s when he organized the People’s Republic of China, was a librarian. In 1918, Mao lived in Peking China as a young man, he was as assistant librarian at Peking University. The chief librarian at Peking University was a Marxist, and succeeded in converting Mao to communism.

6. Seyd Mohammad Khatami: Seyd Mohammad Khatami was the fifth president of Iran and a former Iran Minister of Culture. He is also a former head of the National Library and Archives Organisation of Iran. He is considered to be a reformist in Iranian culture and politics, supporting freedom of expression and foreign diplomacy.

7. Golda Meir: Golda Meir was the fourth prime minister of Israel, from 1969-1974. She was also one of the twenty-four who signed the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948; am ambassador to the Soviet Union; Minister of Labour from 1949-1956, and the inspiration for the Broadway play Golda, which starred Anne Bancroft. Before her distinguished political career, however, Golda Meir worked as a librarian.

8. J. Edgar Hoover: As the legendary director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover led domestic investigations from 1924-1972, as head of the Bureau of Investigation and when he founded the FBI in 1935. In his early life, however, Hoover went to night school at George Washington University and supported himself by working at the Library of Congress. There, he was a messenger, cataloguer and clerk. In 1919, Hoover left the Library of Congress and worked as a special assistant to the Attorney General.

9. John J. Beckley: John J. Beckley is recognized as being the first political campaign manager in the U.S. He was also the first Librarian of the United States Congress, serving from 1802-1807. In 1789, he was sponsored by James Madison to be the Clerk of the House and supported the new Republic party in 1792, backed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

10. Giacomo Casanova: The infamous spy, writer, diplomat and lover Casanova was born in Venice during the first half of the 18th century. Although he studied to become a priest at the University of Padua and the seminary of St. Cypria, Casanova is well-known for being a drinker and for having scandalous love affairs with numerous women. Later in life, he worked as a librarian for the Count of Waldstein in Dux, Bohemia.

11. Pope Pius XI, or Achille Ratti: Pope Pius XI served from 1929 -1939, during which time he established the feast of Christ the King and spoke out against social justice crimes and unethical financial corruption practices. Before he became pope, Ratti was a librarian and scholar, and at the Vatican, Pope Pius XI famously reorganized the archives.

12. David Hume: Scotsman David Hume contributed greatly to 18th century philosophy and economics, writing important works like Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and A Treatise on Human Nature. He was an anti-Mercantilist, and according to The New School, Hume “was also one of the better articulators of the Quantity Theory and the neutrality of money.” In 1752, Hume became a librarian at the Advocate’s Library in Edinburgh, where he wrote his famous History of England.

13. Marcel Duchamp: Marcel Duchamp is considered to be one of the most significant and influential modern artists of the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Duchamp was born in the Haute-Normandie region in France, where he took drawing and painting classes as a child. In the early 1900s, Duchamp experimented with Cubism, nude works, and was active in the intellectual and artistic groups influencing the newest culture and trends in Paris at the time. Around 1912, Duchamp became tired of painting and worked as a librarian at the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genvieve, during which he devoted his time to math and physics experiments.

15. Lewis Carroll: The author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Dodgson grew up in Cheshire and Yorkshire, England, and after graduating from Oxford with a B.A. in mathematics, he became a sub-librarian at Christ Church there. He left that position in 1857 to become a Mathematical Lecturer. Dodgson first told the story of Alice Adventures in Wonderland to the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, in 1862. The book was published three years later and continues to be a popular and significant work of fiction today.

16. Beverly Cleary: Popular children’s book author Beverly Cleary wrote the Ramona Quimby books and Henry Higgins books and has received three Newbery Medals. But before she became a celebrated author, Beverly grew up in a tiny town in Oregon, where her mother asked the State Library to send books to their farm. During the Depression, Beverly went to junior college in California and later attended the University of California at Berkeley. She then attended the School of Librarianship at the University of Washington, Seattle, and became a children’s librarian.

17. Laura Bush: Former First Lady Laura Bush earned her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin after working as an elementary school teacher. As the First Lady of Texas, she supported George W. Bush’s campaigns and started her own public projects regarding education and literacy. When George W. Bush became President of the United States, Laura supported librarian recruitment initiatives and toured many libraries around the world.

18. Madeleine L’Engle: American author Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is still a popular book among junior high students and almost like a rite of passage for young fiction readers. She has won multiple Newbery Medals and other awards, but later in life, she served as the librarian and writer-in-residence at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

19. Marcel Proust: At once one of the most celebrated and obscure novelists and critics of all time, Marcel Proust once decided to go to school to become a librarian. The French writer was born in 1871, and his most famous work, In Search of Lost Time is still studied today.

20. Jorge Luis Borges: Jorge Luis Borges is an Argentine writer who made significant contributions to fantasy literature in the 20th century. He shared the International Publishers’ Formentor Prize with Samuel Beckett and was a municipal librarian from 1939-1946 in Argentina, before getting fired by the Peron regime. One of his most famous short stories, “The Library of Babel,” depicts the universe as a huge library.

21. Joanna Cole: Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus series has served to educate and entertain elementary-aged children about the human body, space, and more. She has also worked as a librarian, a schoolteacher, book editor and writer/producer of the BBC children’s TV show Bod.

22. Jacob Grimm: Grimms’ Fairy Tales was first published in 1812, but the stories, including “Hansel and Gretel,” “Cinderella,” and “Snow White,” are still classic children’s stories constantly reinvented as plays, Disney movies and more. Jacob Grimm worked as a librarian in Kasel, after graduating with a law degree. During this time, Jacob and his brother Wilhelm collected German folk tales from ordinary citizens in hopes of uniting area kingdoms on the basis of sharing a similar culture.

23. Philip Larkin: English poet Philip Larkin was born in 1922 in Coventry. He began publishing poems in 1940 and was even offered the Poet Laureateship of England after the death of Sir John Betjeman, but he declined. Besides writing poetry and novels, Larkin worked as an assistant librarian at the University College of Leicester, a librarian at the University of Hull and was elected to the Board of the British Library in 1984, the same year he received an honorary D.Litt. from Oxford.

24. Stanley Kunitz: Stanley Kunitz is a celebrated American poet who was named the United States Poet Laureate in 2000. He has also been awarded a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Levinson Prize, the National Medal of the Arts, and more. Before being named the U.S. Poet Laureate, Kunitz was Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress from 1974-1976.

[From http://www.onlinebestcolleges.com/%5D

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Pleasures Of Reading

Reading is to mind while exercise is to the body. “A man may as well expect to grow stronger by always eating as wiser by always reading.”

But why do we really need to read? “Reading sweeps the cobwebs away.” What does this means? “Reading enhances thinking. It stretches and strains our mental muscles. It hits our narrow, delicate, intolerant views with new ideas and strong facts. It stimulates growing up instead of growing old.

In other words, reading develops us. It scratches those itches down deep inside. It takes us through virgin territory we would not otherwise discover.

There are three classifications of reader: simple reader, gentle reader and intelligent reader.

The Simple reader is an ordinary book consumer who read to make use of his spare time. Without any definite purpose, more often than not he does not read a book the second time.

The Gentle reader, who wants to grow and who turns to books as a means of purifying his tastes depends his feelings, broadening his sympathies and enhancing his joy in life. He reads not from a constraint of fashion of learning, but from a thirst of pleasure. Such enjoyment re-establish the heart and quickens it, makes it stronger to endure the ills of life and more fertile in all good fruits of courage, love and cheerfulness.

The Intelligent reader is the particular type of reader whose aim in reading is to obtain better acquaintance with facts. His greatest desire is to learn about things and he treasures books because of the accuracy of information they contain.

To become a good reader, here are some pointers.

– Maintain a healthful routine. This means that to read at your best, you must be in good physical condition. Most of us read only when we are stranded in an island or when we. are confined in the hospital.

– When reading avoid unnecessary distractions. Some people we know have trained themselves to read in noisy surroundings. Most persons, however, find it easier to read in a disturbing sights and sounds.

– Have a clear objective for your reading. Why do you read? And why do you read that kind of book? When you turn the printed page, you should have a clear purpose for reading in mind. Just saying the word’s silently while your mind is elsewhere, or when you have no goal for your reading, is a waste of time.

– Get into the habit of reading widely. You can improve your reading ability only by reading abundantly. Get into the habit of reading a great deal. You may start with light materials – with a popular magazine, a daily newspaper, or a book of easy short stories.

Find time to discover the richness of reading. Reading can make you rich in mind and soul. Try reading, you’ll enjoy it!


[From http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Pleasure-of-Reading&id=2474444%5D

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Reading To A Baby

You may wonder about the benefits of reading to your baby. Clearly an infant can’t understand what you’re doing or why. But you wouldn’t wait until your child could understand what you were saying before you started speaking to him or her, right? And you wouldn’t bypass lullabies until your baby could carry a tune or wait until he or she could shake a rattle before you offered any toys.

Reading aloud to your baby is a wonderful shared activity you can continue for years to come — and it’s an important form of stimulation.

Reading aloud:

– teaches a baby about communication
– introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way
– builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills
– gives babies information about the world around them

Believe it or not, by the time babies reach their first birthday they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk. Hearing words helps to imprint them on a baby’s brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.

When reading, your child hears you using many different emotions and expressive sounds, which fosters social and emotional development. Reading also invites your baby to look, point, touch, and answer questions — all of which promote social development and thinking skills. And your baby improves language skills by imitating sounds, recognizing images, and learning words.

But perhaps the most important reason to read aloud is that it makes a connection between the things your baby loves the most — your voice and closeness to you — and books. Spending time reading to your baby shows that reading is a skill worth learning.


(from http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/all_reading/reading_babies.html)

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Introducing Kids To Libraries

In an effort to develop an early love of reading and encourage usage, libraries these days are increasingly child friendly. But when is the best time to introduce your child to this exciting new world?


Each Kid is Different

The first thing to remember is that each child is different. That may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook how different in temperament children of the same age can be, even when they’ve grown up in the same environment. Ask any parent! For this reason, it’s impossible to offer guidelines on the basis of age. One should consider the child’s temperament. One child may enjoy the peaceful environment of the library and be content to spend long periods looking through the books on offer, whilst another of the same age may be bored and thus disruptive to other library users.


Stand in their Shoes

Try and think like a small child when considering your first trip to the library. Put yourselves in their little shoes, if you will. Remember that a child has a very short attention span compared to an adult, and will require stimulation to retain concentration for more than a very short period. It is perfectly normal for some young children to be bored by hand-off type entertainment, so bearing this in mind it may be sensible to limit your first visits to the library to short trips whilst just choosing a book.


Entice Kids into the Library

Although a child will find the different environment of the library interesting, it’s best to keep the first visit short in order to maintain their interest. The new people, interesting things to look at and different activities to explore will all appeal to a young child, and you can make each visit a little longer to enable them to explore this new environment at their own pace. The aim is to make the library a relaxed, interesting and friendly place to visit and to develop a lifelong passion for visiting. By not overwhelming your child on their first visit, you should be able to ensure that your child will look forward to their subsequent trips.

One idea for a first outing to the library would be order a book in advance, either by phone or online, and then take your child into the library with you when you visit the front desk to collect it. It will provide a brief introduction without allowing the child to become bored.


Libraries Like Kids, Too!

Do investigate what activities your local library offers for young children. Many recognise that the library can become a part of a child’s life long before they can read and offer activities from a child’s first year. These may include readings from popular children’s books, or perhaps puppet shows or re-enactments of favourite stories. For older children there may additionally be reading challenges, competitions or other interesting events scheduled.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of visiting the library in teaching your child valuable social skills which will be invaluable for the future. Learning to replace books and take care of them teaches respect for things which do not belong to them, whilst behaving quietly and showing consideration for other library users teaches personal responsibility.

Introducing your child to the wonderful world of libraries whilst they are young will ensure that they grow up appreciating and making the most of this most marvelous resource.

[From http://ezinearticles.com/?Introducing-Kids-to-Libraries—A-World-of-Reading-Awaits&id=2457833%5D

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A Simplified Classification Of Books

Most students are not well aware about the types of books kept in a standard school library. Here I am providing a brief introduction to the different types of books and what to find in them.

Traditionally, the information sources in a library are classified into:

– Documentary sources

– Non-documentary sources

Documentary sources are the reading materials in different formats, and non-documentary sources are the many formal and informal channels through which information flows (universities, personal contacts). Here I am concentrating on the documentary sources. On the basis of the nature of information, these are divided into:

– Primary

– Secondary

– Tertiary

But for simplification, let me make a classification on the basis of reading materials usually found in a KV library.

Reading materials in a school library can be broadly categorized into:

– Books

– Periodicals

The difference between the two is that the latter has a periodicity and contains relatively current information. Eg. Education today (Monthly), Employment News (Weekly), Sangam (Quarterly), etc.

Books can be further classified into:

– Textbooks

– Monographs

– Reference books

Textbooks contain information that has been tested and reviewed by experts in the field. They are meant for readers who want to acquire a deeper knowledge on a subject. Eg. NCERT prescribed textbooks, grammar books, essay books, etc.

Monographs are, more often than not, a single unit containing information on a single subject, or one or two related subjects. Monographs usually have a single author who follows a uniform train of thoughts throughout the book. Eg. books related to a specific topic like ornithology, books of fiction, biographies, etc.

Reference books can be

– Dictionaries

– Encyclopaedias

– Yearbooks

– Atlases

– Directories

Everybody is familiar about general dictionaries. But there are subject dictionaries also – dictionaries listing the words related to a specific subject like physics. In a library you can find biographical dictionaries (Eg. who’s who), geographical dictionaries. Also, there are thesaurus (dictionaries giving synonyms and antonyms) dictionaries dealing with phrases, etc.

Like dictionaries, encyclopaedias can be either general, or related to a specific subject, place, person or time.

Yearbooks can be classified as periodicals, since they have a periodicity (Yearly). But they contain a lot of information on a variety of subjects. They chiefly deal with events that have taken place in a specific period, usually a year. Eg. Manorama Yearbook.

Atlases deal with maps. But they also contain a lot of statistical information of a geographical or economic nature.

Directories are lists, like Directory of Universities in India.

All the above reference books are nowadays available in the CD-ROM format also, which helps in the easy and quick location of specific information. But for getting extensive information on a subject, it is usually wise to depend on a hard copy.

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Book Highlight



Told in diary form by an irresistible heroine, this playful and perceptive novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the May Bird trilogy sparkles with science, myth, magic, and the strange beauty of the everyday marvels we sometimes forget to notice.

Spirited, restless Gracie Lockwood has lived in Cliffden, Maine, her whole life. She’s a typical girl in an atypical world: one where sasquatches helped to win the Civil War, where dragons glide over Route 1 on their way south for the winter (sometimes burning down a T.J. Maxx or an Applebee’s along the way), where giants hide in caves near LA and mermaids hunt along the beaches, and where Dark Clouds come for people when they die.

To Gracie it’s all pretty ho-hum…until a Cloud comes looking for her little brother Sam, turning her small-town life upside down. Determined to protect Sam against all odds, her parents pack the family into a used Winnebago and set out on an epic search for a safe place that most people say doesn’t exist: The Extraordinary World. It’s rumored to lie at the ends of the earth, and no one has ever made it there and lived to tell the tale. To reach it, the Lockwoods will have to learn to believe in each other—and to trust that the world holds more possibilities than they’ve ever imagined.

Book info & cover courtesy: goodreads.com