Libraries Aren't Bookstores, and Patrons Aren't Customers

By Kniffel, Leonard | American Libraries, August 1997 | Go to article overview

Libraries Aren't Bookstores, and Patrons Aren't Customers


Kniffel, Leonard, American Libraries


I live in a Chicago neighborhood that offers a new Barnes & Noble "superstore" and a new branch of the public library both within walking distance of my house, both done in the oak-rich, Arts-and-Crafts style that characterizes so much design today.

Armed with a notebook and a typical library request, I spent an hour at each recently testing persistent rumors that bookstore chains are some kind of threat to libraries. My request: "I need to find out who the first elected woman senator in the U.S. was, and then I need some information about her." Here's what happened.

At the Barnes & Noble information desk, I was told, "We don't have a computer that could access that." Then I was instructed to browse through "U.S. History" - 29 shelves of books alphabetical by author.

Another vivacious clerk asked, "Finding what you want?" I explained again what I was looking for. He clicked computer keys for a while and then said, "I read a book once that might have the answer." He pulled Born for Liberty from the shelves. I found a lovely, comfortable chair by a window and checked the book's index. After 10 minutes, I told him it did not contain my answer. He then suggested browsing through 12 shelves of "Women's Studies."

I killed some time. Finally, knowing that the answer was Margaret Chase Smith, I picked the book I thought most likely to contain the answer, Timetables of Women's History. It was on page 351.

I returned to the desk, where a new clerk was on duty, and asked for biographies of Smith. She checked the shelves, then BIP, where she found six titles listed. She checked the B&N database and found The Politics of Conscience, $24.95, which she offered to obtain "in three to eight business days."

An hour into this experiment, I left Barnes & Noble with Margaret Chase Smith's name, which I had located for myself. The coffee was excellent, so I took some with me, from the cafe where some 20 people were leisurely reading on a Tuesday afternoon. I had seen many tempting things to buy - two splendid floors full, with plenty of comfortable browsing spots.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Libraries Aren't Bookstores, and Patrons Aren't Customers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.