What is 'As A Matter of Fact'?
NPR's information provocateurs are emerging from the stacks to bring you a super-fresh perspective on what it's like to be an NPR librarian. We'll cover everything from pop-culture insanity and weird pronunciations to the history of NPR and libraries in the news.
What's the NPR library all about?
The mission of the library is to support NPR in its information endeavors. In order to do so, our group is divided into three areas: Reference, Broadcast, and Transcripts. All three areas are under the auspices of Senior Librarian Laura Soto-Barra, our fearless yet stylish leader.
The reference library is composed of four reference librarians who answer just about any question the news staff can throw at them — seven days a week. Reference librarians are embedded throughout the building to provide maximum coverage for maximum newsocity. When reporters need to know how to pronounce the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, they call the reference library. When editors want to know what the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow is, they call the reference library. When producers need to know the exact length of time it took Billie Jean King to beat Bobby Riggs, they call the reference library. Reference librarians are important and know everything. You get the drift.
Things are a bit different in the broadcast library. For one thing, it's a rather large physical space on the first floor of the Mothership. There are seven broadcast librarians who tend to thousands and thousands of hours of NPR programming, all of it stored on reel to reel or CD. Not only do we archive the audio for posterity, we also create catalog records for nearly every news item NPR's ever aired. We do this to track programming and to reuse the audio for future production. On top of all that cataloging, we also provide audio and programming reference services. The broadcast library also houses the music collection. NPR's thousands of music CDs are lovingly watched over by the library's very own rock god legend and knower of all things musical, Robert Goldstein. Last but not least, we also have a fantastic commercial spoken word collection, which has only grown in its amazingness since it's been under Amy DeCicco's care.
If you're interested in learning more about what we do, keep checking back here. In the coming weeks and months, we'll be highlighting the varied tasks involved in maintaining such an extensive collection.
Transcripts as part of the library? Confused? We've written up a whole FAQ section just for transcripts.
For centuries, librarians and their library predecessors, the monks and scribes, have been quietly and contentedly greasing the wheels of the information juggernaut. And in that solid tradition of quiet contentment, not all the NPR librarians will be blogging. Rest assured though, there are plenty of us who will be. Blogahogan Bibliotecasaurus.
What programs are transcribed and archived?
* All Things Considered (and Weekend All Things Considered)
*Day to Day
*News & Notes
*Talk of the Nation
*Tell Me More
*Weekend Edition Saturday
*Weekend Edition Sunday
** We also archive a bunch more shows that are not transcribed, including Wait, Wait..., On The Media, Car Talk, World of Opera and a host of other cultural specials.
Is the NPR library open to the public?
No. But if you ever visit the nation's capital, you can schedule a public tour through our Listener and Audience Services Department. We're also going to try a feature called "Ask a Librarian". This entails that you, the blog reader, submit some sort of librarian-answerable question. Once a month, we'll ponder those questions, select the easiest ones and publish the answers on the blog. If we publish your question and you send us a self-addressed stamped envelope, we'll send you an NPR decal. How's that for a deal?
Got story ideas?
Doing something cool at your library? Heard about some new information initiative? If so, let us know. You can contact us at AsAMatterOfFact@npr.org
You can comment on our blog posts but you need to join the NPR Community first. Be nice please, we're still learning the ropes.
We help journalists do their job but by no means do we present ourselves as such.
No, but thank you for your patience.