Classics Lives at the Public Library

August 8, 2013

This is just a short note to mention that I started working at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County as the Grants Resource Librarian, a part of the Information and Reference Department, in mid-April.  I’ve learned all sorts of new things working in a large urban public library, but one thing that I’ve been surprised by is how regularly patrons ask for information about classical topics!  In the less than four months I’ve worked here my classics-related contacts have included:

  • a patron interested in Greek grammars; we discussed how the Dewey call number system treats ancient Greek language materials in some detail
  • a patron interested in teaching himself Aramaic
  • a patron, aged 13, looking for an ancient Greek dictionary
  • two 7th graders looking for works on specific buildings in Rome (Cincinnati’s magnet high school, Walnut Hills High School, has a very well-regarded mandatory latin program; I turned out to know their teacher)
  • a high school student looking for research on the Trojan war
  • a patron who wanted latin learning materials (apparently for self-teaching) and a text to work with (I was only passing by on this one, but I think we set him up with a Loeb of Caesar’s Gallic Wars)
  • a patron wanting text-book style overviews of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilization (who was reading for pleasure and self-education and mentioned that decades ago she had read the entirety of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall!)

Pretty impressive, right?  Despite crotchety commentary in the press and online about how public libraries are only interested in serving entertainment and pablum to the public, I can attest that we are also promoting classical studies!


One comment

  1. A month ago or so I was in Juneau Alaska on business. Juneau is one of those tourist towns where several cruise ships show up each day. Some of them are taller than the 6th State Office. I stopped at a little used books store I enjoy. Being in a hurry I asked where the “Classical Studies, mythology, Ancient Greek stuff” section was. The clerk lead me to a small box case. I found a small treasure and returned to the counter. “Weird.” he mumbled, “You are the sixth person today looking for Greek mythology.”

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