A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
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The Public Library as a Protective Factor

Fundamentally, I see the goal of public libraries as the empowerment of the citizenry. Historically, libraries have empowered individuals primarily through the distribution of information. However, we offer so much more than that. I encourage you to consider the ways in which your library functions as a protective factor for the members of your community and to build upon those strengths so that all our patrons, both privileged and vulnerable, are empowered to reach their full potential.

Illustration of two people holding a baby and suitcases with a boat filled with people in background

Library on the Border Acts as Haven for Immigrant Families

One public library offers a safe space for immigrant families to gather. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the U.S. – Canada border, has become a safe haven and a commons for immigrants.

Public Libraries Help Support Resolutions to Get Healthy

For the sixth year, Devon Libraries in the United Kingdom offers Active Life, Active Mind programming series. This year features over 250 events across the county. Their slogan is “take a step in the right direction and try a new activity this January at your local library.” Meanwhile, here in the U.S., dozens of libraries planning “New Year, New You” programs

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Taking Teen Services to the Teens

Why not opt to get out of the library and meet the teens where they are already at?

Sy Montgomery Author Photo

There’s Going to be Enough Splendor to Dazzle You: A Conversation with Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery’s books crack open the interior lives of animals and provoke readers to look at their world from a new perspective, whether it’s The Good, Good Pig, a loving tribute to her pet pig Christopher Harwood, or The Soul of an Octopus, where she immersed herself into the world of octopi to explore their emotional intelligence. With her latest book, How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, she turns that remarkable focus onto herself. In wide-ranging essays marked by her matter-of-fact candor, she examines her relationship with thirteen very different animals and the myriad lessons they taught her. Publishers Weekly praised the book, stating, “Montgomery’s lyrical storytelling and resonant lessons on how animals can enhance our humanity result in a tender, intelligent literary memoir,” while Nick Jans raved that it “stands as a vivid reminder of the deep and necessary connection we share with all living things.”

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Breaking Down Barriers to Library Service-Going Fine Free

As community driven institutions, libraries should focus on removing all possible barriers to achieve equality of access for every member of our communities.

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Finding Answers – Unexpected Reference Sources

The issue of Lapham’s Quarterly that I saw on my friend’s table was about music and it is a treasure trove of information for general readers and researchers alike.

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Library of Congress Digitizes Vast Teddy Roosevelt Collection

The Roosevelt collection is the  largest presidential archival collection held by the LOC, at 276,000 documents, which have been scanned into 461,000 images. The bulk of the collection was a personal gift from President Roosevelt to Herbert Putnam (Librarian of Congress 1899-1939).

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Reframe Advocacy to Highlight Library’s Essential Services

By not specifically highlighting how the work of public libraries impacts disadvantaged populations we’re simultaneously selling ourselves short, reinforcing the idea that libraries are for some and not all, and slowly but surely digging our own grave. Our advocacy must start getting real about who is using our libraries and for what reasons. A public building is intended for public use, and not just the version of the public that people feel comfortable being around. Our facilities, services, programming and materials should be able to be used by even the most marginalized in our societies. Otherwise we’re not doing our job and assisting in its demise.

colorful book shelves

Picture Book Discussion Group at the Library

Why not host an adult book club focused on picture books?

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Lynne Truss on Not Giving Everything Away, Big Characters, and Being the Cleverest Person in the Room

Lynne Truss is perhaps best known in the U.S. for her lauded book on grammar, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, but with A Shot in the Dark she establishes herself as a gifted comic mystery writer, mixing equal parts Christie with Wodehouse. Based on characters Truss originally created for a series of successful radio dramas, A Shot in the Dark takes place in the seemingly idyllic resort town of Brighton. When a fatuous theater critic is murdered on opening night of a touring theatrical troupe’s play, the idealistic Constable Twitten finds himself embroiled in a crime that stretches back to an infamous bank robbery decades prior. Joined by his lovestruck colleague, Sergeant Brunswick, and the station’s sagacious charlady, Mrs. Groynes, Twitten uses his wits to solve not only the murder, but also ferret out a criminal mastermind who has been hiding in plain sight for years. A darkly comic romp, A Shot in the Dark has been widely met with praise. The Guardian raved, “with plenty of brightly coloured bucket-and-spadery, including ghost trains and Punch and Judy and variety acts, this clever, tongue-in-cheek escapade is a perfect summer read.”

book club sign

Library Book Clubs Can Change Lives

The simplicity behind gathering to talk about a shared story softens feelings of self-doubt. The book and its storyline are the vehicle allowing club members to listen, and be listened to. It is meant to expose feelings through difficult ideas and opposing viewpoints. While talking about fictional characters, real experiences bubble up to the surface. There’s an opening to relate first to the story and then to each other. There is no better way to spread great ideas then when people meet face-to-face. A bookclub is neutral ground, which makes it subtly powerful and influential.

Photo of a child pulling a book from a shelf in a library

Leaving Dewey for BISAC

Four years ago we wrote about our library converting to a BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) organizational structure. We thought it was time to detail what we learned about the experience, especially as we receive plenty of emails asking how it went or would we do it again if we had the opportunity to do everything over.

Calendar with job interview marked on it

What Are Hiring Managers Really Looking For?

Whether you are looking for your first library job or your next library job there are certain details that, if left unattended, can derail your job hunt even before you get called in for the interview. What is it that hiring managers look for in an applicant? How can you be that perfect candidate? Read on to find out!

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah Author Photo

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah on Redemption, Unlearning Things, and the Patience of Working Retail

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black is sure to be one of 2018’s most significant books. This stunning collection of short stories thrusts the reader into bizarre and frightening territories, from an all-too-real theme park that commercializes racism to a big box superstore in the throes of Black Friday madness. In each story, Adjei-Brenyah compassionately examines his characters’ plights, fully exploring their humanity with wit and precision. Friday Black has already been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Fiction, and The New York Times Book Review hailed it as “an unbelievable debut, one that announces a new and necessary American voice.”