A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
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Ethical Issues in Libraries: An International Conference

Combating rampant misinformation in the age of internet and social media, as well as dilemmas regarding how best to serve the most vulnerable populations, were key topics of discussion.

Author Photo of Mateo Askaripour

Mateo Askaripour on Mob Movies, James Baldwin, and the Book that Gave Him Permission to Not Hold Back

Four years after graduating as valedictorian from Bronx High School of Science, Darren Vender coasts through life as manager of a Starbucks in the lobby of a New York skyscraper. He spends his free time hanging out with his childhood sweetheart, Soraya, and best friend, Jason, while evading his mother’s persistent questions about his future. An unexpected career path opens up for him, however, when he impulsively up-sells one of the high profile executives who frequent his store. Soon Darren finds himself thrust into the high-pressure (and very white) start-up world, scrambling to learn a new skill set as a member of their elite sales team while dodging his racist co-workers’ attempts to sabotage him. Darren’s considerable sales acumen quickly vaults him into a world of unimaginable opulence, one that pushes him farther away from his family, friends, and neighborhood. When a tragic event upends Darren’s life, Darren finds unexpected purpose by launching an underground plot to recruit and train a more diverse sales force. With his debut novel Black Buck, Mateo Askaripour has crafted a riotously funny dissection of race, corporate culture, and the American Dream that is also one of the most anticipated books of 2021. The Washington Post called it “an irresistible comic novel about the tenacity of racism in corporate America” and Entertainment Weekly hailed it as “a combination of character study, searing indictment of all the problematics of white corporate culture, and some good old-fashioned enjoyable sarcasm.”

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Blurred Line Between Safety and Service

As the pandemic continues, how do library workers stay safe and still
provide the services desperately needed in our communities?

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Libraries Celebrate Community with New Murals

In 2020, through the global pandemic and the rise of voices for social justice, libraries across the country found their own means of expression through art. In particular, three libraries celebrated the diversity of their communities with the creation of new library murals.

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Job Searching During a Pandemic: Flexibility is Key

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the recruitment process upside down for both job seekers and employers. Here’s how to cope.

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Deborah Reed on Creative Pilgrimages, Earthquakes, and Being Surrounded By Stories

Violet Swan, the luminous centerpiece of Deborah Reed’s Pale Morning Light With Violet Swan, finds herself at age ninety-three closing down on life, still active as a renowned abstract artist and doted on by her son, Francisco, and his wife, Penny. Yet when an earthquake upends her idyllic community in coastal Oregon, Violet and her family are forced to confront some complicated truths that have long been ignored. Matters are further complicated with the arrival of Violet’s grandson, Daniel, who brings with him his own secrets that force Violet to reckon with traumatic events of her past, the details of which her family is unaware. Through it all, Reed charts the ever-shifting family relationships with wit and compassion, nimbly jumping between past to present, and constructing one of 2020’s most memorable characters with the enigmatic and ethereal Violet. Critics and authors alike have praised Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan. Booklist hailed it as “a poised, multilayered portrait of a complex life,” and Margaret Renkl called it “a beautiful, shimmering, heart-lifting testament to the power of memory and love and art.”

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Darin Strauss on Merging Memoir and Fiction in his Incredible New Novel

Darin Strauss’ The Queen of Tuesday offers a captivating take on one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century, Lucille Ball, peeling back the layers to show a Lucy only a privileged few would have been able to witness during her lifetime. Beginning with Ball on the brink of her phenomenal television success, […]

Social Work in Public Libraries

Naming the Elephant

I am public library social worker. This may be the first time you’ve heard of such a position, but helping professionals like me are now working within roughly three dozen library systems around the United States. As our institutions continue to serve the public during a global pandemic and other stressors, I am very concerned about burnout and staff mental health.

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Work Smarter, Not Harder

Allen County Public Library has strategically incorporated logic models and outcome measurement in planning and evaluating programs and services in a relatively short amount of time by using Project Outcome tools as a central part of an overall shift to a more outward-facing approach to library services.

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New Research Explores How Public Libraries Can Best Combat Misinformation

New research published in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science adds pieces to the puzzle of how public libraries can best address rising tides of misinformation within their communities. Most recently, misinformation surrounding COVID-19 has demonstrated how complex the issue can be and how serious- even lethal- the consequences.

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Not open? No problem. Rural Libraries Push WiFi Into Community Spaces

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, those who live in such remote areas may have been among the hardest hit. Getting access to WiFi safely – outdoors and away from crowds – can relieve the isolation. It’s something the Gilbreath library (along with more than 60 other libraries in rural regions) can now more easily facilitate, thanks to a $120,000 grant program offered by the Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft.

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Open to Change: Libraries Pivot to Serve Small Businesses

Libraries, as critical local infrastructure, are always tuned into the emerging needs of their communities and are ready to respond with timely and relevant resources and services. This includes support for the local business community. Existing and aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs can leverage library resources and programming to bolster their businesses.

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Online Learning Opportunities for Babies

Eight months have gone by since the beginning of the pandemic. This means that anyone younger than 8 months has probably not been inside of a library. If they have it hasn’t been the library experience their older brothers and sisters experienced. We are not getting to know our infant patrons in the same manner […]

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Todd Snyder on the Poet Laureate of Muhammad Ali’s Corner

Most sports fans are familiar with Drew “Bundini” Brown as the charismatic, rhyme-spouting, larger-than-life figure in the background of Muhammad Ali. In the rousing Bundini: Don’t Believe The Hype, Todd Snyder crafts a loving, three-dimensional portrait of this seminal figure on boxing history, showcasing not only Bundini’s linguistic genius and acute boxing strategy, but also the darker moments that haunted Bundini’s extraordinary life. Through rigorous research, as well as unprecedented access to Bundini’s family and friends, Snyder dives into the key moments of Bundini’s life: his childhood in Florida; his service (as a teenager) in the Merchant Marines; his complicated love story with his wife, an Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn; his work with Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali; as well as his post-boxing life, which included a foray in Hollywood with the Shaft films and an appearance in The Color Purple. Critics have lavished praise on Don’t Believe the Hype. The Wall Street Journal stated, “Mr. Snyder writes lyrically, and his research appears to be impeccable: It’s hard to imagine that anyone has slipped through his interview net,” and Foreword Reviews called it, “authoritative and entertaining, Bundini comes through for boxing fans and for those interested in Black American culture.”

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A Story Walk in the Park

Many libraries across the country and around the world are bringing story-time outside in a way that is safe, fun for the whole family, and encourages a healthy lifestyle through StoryWalks®.