Children's LiteratureFrom the clay tablets stored in Babylon to the Library of Congress to your local public library, this slim volume looks at the evolution of libraries from mere repositories for book to vibrant, busy centers offering a variety of programs and services. The author addresses the importance of free access to public libraries, how libraries are adapting in the information age, and the issues of funding and staff shortages, especially youth services librarians. There is a brief history of libraries in general and a comprehensive chronology of the Library of Congress. It even looks at the cultural phenomenon of mega bookstores where one can sit, browse, sip coffee and read all day. Clear, concise and up-to-date, the chapters are short and amply complemented with contemporary and archival photos. Contains a bibliography of books and web sites and an index this is a serviceable introduction. 2001, Millbrook Press, $22.90. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library JournalGr 2-4-Though youngsters may more readily enjoy Gail Gibbons's Check It Out: The Book about Libraries (Harcourt, 1985) and Julie Cummins's The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries (Dutton, 1996), this volume is a useful addition. The intermediate text introduces concepts as familiar as library cards but goes on to describe more esoteric matters such as MARC records and the history of the Library of Congress. Although there is more than enough information to write a report, no one topic is covered in depth. Wu makes a few generalities: "Libraries usually have their own Web sites-," and several statements focus on the need for libraries: "Many believed that libraries would become less necessary as computers became more commonplace." Sidebars describe the Dewey decimal system, Banned Books Week, and the role of the poet laureate. The full-color and black-and-white photographs are appealing, but they give the impression that all libraries are huge buildings-there are no pictures of smaller branches. However, this book is a good promotional tool as many passages encourage children to visit the library, get a card, and, of course, ask the librarian for help.-Thomas Pitchford, Rosenthal Elementary, Alexandria, LA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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