About the BLRL


About the Butter Lamb Reference Library

The Butter Lamb Reference Library (BLRL) exists to proclaim the good news of reference books as a source of trustworthy information that can be used to challenge misconception, confront willful ignorance, and provide answers to an astonishing array of questions be they serious, silly, or something in between.

I am aware that reference books have lost their allure these days and that most folks prefer to find information via the Internet. Fortunately, I couldn’t care less. I maintain this attitude for several reasons. Among them is that, far too often the information offered online is simply inaccurate. For example, when searching anachronist on Dictionary.com, I was told there’s no such word (see above). My paper-based (Compact) Oxford English Dictionary begs to differ. I am not asserting, of course, that the books lining the BLRL’s shelves always provide the correct answer. Indeed, many times the information in one text will conflict or challenge the information in another. Yet, when taken together, the information they provide is often more nuanced and more thorough than that found on the Internet.

Let’s face it: The web is a primarily visual medium. (Disagree? Watch another cat video and mull it over.) Text is a liability, and this limits the amount of nuance it is likely to provide. Beyond that, the web is all about the now and the next, but when it comes to words, a little perspective is often necessary. Reference books do a better job of leaving a paper trail (pun intended) for would-be etymologists and lexicographers to follow.

Nevertheless, I can see the writing on the wall. The web isn’t going anywhere and, given most folk’s inability to wrest their attention from their phones, it’ll only get more prevalent. As a result, the reference books I love, which can be heavy, large, and generally inconvenient, are going the way of the dodo. Even some contemporary lexicographers confess that they no longer use their physical dictionaries. (The horror!) There isn’t much a reference enthusiast like me can do about all of this except collect these magical texts and then show them off in a museum-like setting, which is exactly what I do via the Butter Lamb Reference Library!

Who Is the Butter Lamb?

The BLRL is managed, and its blog is written (and sort of edited) by me, Joe Smith. I am neither a lexicographer nor a librarian. I have, however, worked in several libraries, I am the founder of the College Park Community Library in College Park, Maryland, and I have a bachelor’s degree in English (which you probably guessed). In the end, though, I am merely a fan of dictionaries (and other references), a worshiper of words, and a lover of books, and this blog keeps me out of trouble.