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Name: Rick Meyer

Occupation: City Librarian, Decatur Public Library

City of residence: Decatur

How did you get involved in working at a library, and what interested you in the field?

My first library job was as a student worker at (University of Illinois at Springfield's) Brookens Library. I loved the job, and I loved the atmosphere. In my early 40s, I was beginning to be a bit burned out in the social services field I had worked in for a long time. As I thought about a new career direction, I kept coming back to libraries. My family was very supportive of me making the leap; I could not have done it without them.

There is very little in the field of libraries that does not interest me, but of late, my main interests are the role libraries can play in improving the civic life of the communities we serve and in engaging citizens in lifelong learning.

What are the best resource tools you recommend for students working on research papers?

As far as digital resources are concerned, that’s pretty dependent on what you are researching. Generally speaking the Gale Academic One File and the Gale General OneFile are very good. The Proquest Newspaper Archive and World Book Online are also good. Tutor.com can help you by reviewing your paper before you turn it in. And books. I think books are particularly great resource tools; the best that are available in most cases.

Obviously libraries have had changed over the past 10 years or more. What are some positives and negatives to digital advancement in libraries?

Positive — I can check out a new book in bed at midnight. Or watch a movie. Or listen to music. The convenience and really large number of options is fantastic.

Negative — When using the electronic options you aren’t as likely to a) accidentally find something great that you didn’t know you were looking for, and b) meet someone, have a conversation. The social aspect of the library shouldn’t be underplayed.

Can you name some (or all) of the services offered at the Decatur Public Library? What sort of things do residents have access to that they may not know?

I can’t name all of the services in the space allotted. I’ll name 3 that I bet most of your readers don’t know about.

1) Fold3: This is an online database of military records. It provides access to military records, stories, photos and personal documents of men and women who served.

2) I’ve already mentioned Tutor.com but there is a lot more to it than providing research paper reviews. It also provides live homework help for grades K-12, college entrance test prep, career services like resume reviews, and lots more.

3) Lynda.com instructional videos are a great resource to learn new business and software skills.

OK, one more: 4) Kanopy is a treasure trove for the film lover. Stream over 30,000 films: classics, Criterion Collection, PBS, Great Courses, foreign, indie and more. All these resources are available on our website, 24 hours a day.

What is some advice for children or students to help keep them reading?

My advice to children is read what you love and abandon books you don’t like. If you don’t know what you might like to read, visit Decatur Public Library and talk to one of the librarians or library assistants upstairs, or, if you’re a little older, downstairs. They love to help and know their stuff.

As far as advice to parents, first, understand that to some degree reading is a matter of temperament. But it is also a matter of habit. I think the best way to develop kids into readers is to read to them (even after they are able to read themselves), listen to them read and talk about what they are reading. I also recommend letting them choose their own books (within reason). Junk can often lead to higher quality books down the road. Also, model the behavior you want to see in them. It does little good to encourage reading if they never see you doing it.


A look at previous Herald & Review '5 Questions'

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Contact Kennedy Nolen at (217) 421-6985. 

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