The library workforce fails to reflect the increasing diversity of our communities. It’s time for effective change.
Federal legislation and executive leadership have added confusion to this year’s open enrollment period for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here are a few suggestions to make a potentially stressful task easier for both library workers and patrons.
Community access and technology training are crucial components of public library services. The American Library Association’s (ALA) 2015 Digital Inclusion Survey found that “those who receive formal digital literacy training were significantly more likely to use the Internet to pursue economic opportunities and cultivate social ties.”1 In this context, at Forest Park (IL) Public Library (FPPL) we decided in 2016 to revamp our programming efforts to serve our suburban population of 15,000. Helping patrons effectively use technology to achieve educational, economic, and social goals became our shiny new objective. We were eager to launch a new lineup of programs. However, beyond the many questions and dilemmas inherent in launching a new initiative, I wondered who in the world would facilitate the workshops?
We talk with Nicholas Higgins, director of Outreach Services at the Brooklyn (NY) Public Library. Higgins, author of the latest book in the PLA Quick Reads series, shares wisdom gleaned from his years of experience providing library service to incarcerated persons; provides a thoughtful perspective on the American criminal justice system and shows how to provide the absolute best service to this group and the families they have left behind.
Liverpool Central Library proposes weddings as a new revenue stream.
Recent research shows that many public libraries now manage seed libraries. This unique kind of “library of things” has many benefits for libraries and for the communities they serve.
A.J. Baime’s “The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months that Changed the World” dives deep into the tumultuous first four months of Truman’s presidency. Tracing Truman’s rise from failed farmer to leader of the free world, Baime constructs a compelling argument that no other President has ever faced such a fraught entrance into the office.
Over the last summer EasyJet unveiled their “flybraries” or flying libraries, hoping to encourage young passengers to read more.
Jessica Yu’s “Garden of the Lost and Abandoned” tracks the work of Gladys Kalibbala, a Ugandan reporter whose weekly column on missing children works to reunite her subjects with their families. Equal parts detective, social worker, and child advocate, Kalibbala hunts down the origin of each child’s story, working tirelessly to find a solution for each child’s predicament. Yu brings her skills as a documentary filmmaker (she won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for “Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien”) to bring Kalibballa’s story to life. While “Garden of Lost and Abandoned” is her first book, it has been met with rapturous praise. Kirkus Reviews called it “an eloquent affirmation of the vast capacity of the human heart,” while Amazon selected it as one of its Best Books of the Month: Nonfiction. Yu spoke to Brendan Dowling via telephone on November 6th, 2017.
“But, librarians aren’t teachers.” This was one of the first (and most common) comments I encountered when I began my research. “Degree-wise, yes. But,” I asked, “are they instructors?” Do most libraries (read this as librarians) have to walk someone through a process, whether it be how to download and use an app, reserve a book or a room, or access and use library databases? What about programs and classes? Most libraries today are offering a variety of choices to their adult communities: help with résumés, genealogy, technology. Name a topic, and some library in the United States is probably offering a class or program. Do these all count as teaching? Of course they do.
Librarian Kyra Hahn shares her experiences navigating the intense bureaucracy of the Federal Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and provides tips, advice, and explanations that can make the process easier for applicants.
Phil Harrison’s novel The First Day spans decades in tracing the fallout caused by a tumultuous love affair in Belfast. When Beckett scholar Anna meets local pastor Orr in 2012, they embark on a passionate relationship despite their profound differences, thus permanently altering their families’ lives. Thirty years later, their son Sam must deal with the aftershocks of their relationship as he navigates his carefully isolated life in New York City. Publishers Weekly noted “Harrison’s remarkable writing elevates a story that is all the more powerful for its eschewing of easy answers and resolution,” while Kirkus raved that “Harrison’s elegant prose and deeply felt characters create a novel with a fiercely beating heart.”
As library leaders, we need to do better, be funnier, and use humor liberally especially when times are tough and things are hard. Your staff, and ultimately your patrons, will thank you for it.
The public library by our mission and place within communities across the country is in a position to help facilitate positive social change.
As the homesteading and sustainability movement grows larger every year, a basic class in Canning and Preserving is just what your community library needs. Besides Raising Your Chickens and How to Live Off the Grid classes, canning and preserving is a hobby anyone can do in their home, with a minimal amount of cost.