A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
library desk with glasses

Are Small Public Libraries the Way of the Future?

A Washington Post editorial champions the idea of small libraries, suggesting they are key to the industry’s future success. Writer Steve Barker states, “With print collections and budgets down, more libraries may be the answer—but smaller ones.”[1] I work at a public library that serves a population of 4,078. It is one of the smallest of our system’s seventy-seven members (the smallest serves only 3,382). My staff knows most of our regular patrons by name, and many out-of-town visitors tell us they like our library because of its cozy environment. We are part of a cooperative in which each library is independent but can take advantage of select shared services like ILL and digital collections. In a world of large multibranched regional libraries, however, I have typically viewed our size—and corresponding tiny budget—as somewhat of a detriment. Barker’s argument is quite compelling and made me pause to re-evaluate.

laptop open with code on screen

Collaborative Learning in Libraries

Collaborative learning puts a group of people in a situation where they learn something together, no matter their skill level. We at the Chattanooga (TN) Public Library started co-learning classes on the 4th Floor, our public laboratory and educational facility with a focus on information, design, technology, and the applied arts. as a less intimidating approach to learning new skills. Our co-learning classes have consisted of three strategically different workshops: HTML and CSS, 3D Design, and Arduino. These workshops highlight not only what we have to offer on the 4th Floor but also the twenty-first-century skills that will make an impact on people’s careers and personal interests.

colleagues meeting at a round table one person presenting

Professionalism In the 21st Century Library

A recent ACRLog blog post by Madison Sullivan brings up the debate of whether professionalism is an outdated ideal in today’s libraries. Sullivan argues that it is and that it prevents librarians from expressing their ideas and individuality. “I question what it is to be a professional every single day,” Sullivan writes. She goes on to say, “It makes me nauseous because what if who I am, and who I’d like to be in the workplace, doesn’t align with other people’s definition of what a professional is?”[1]

silver and white keyboard

DRM Still Coming to the HTML

In March, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) threw out a nonaggression covenant that would safeguard people from some of the legal risk associated with building DRM (digital rights management) into the open web. This means that the charter for the HTML Media Extensions Working Group—which oversees the Encrypted Media Extensions specification—has been extended through September 2016.

person typing info from a card into a laptop

The Pirate Library Controversy

Until recently the term “pirate library” was fairly unknown. As the popularity of these websites has grown, however, primarily among academic researchers, and a major publisher has taken legal action, pirate libraries are a growing force in the information ecosystem. The pirate libraries I’m exploring are not libraries with collections about pirates. Instead, pirate libraries are offer a collection of content provided freely to users regardless of, and usually in violation of, copyright restrictions.

hand in red circle indicating stop

The Dangers of Internet Filtering

So you are at your public library about to download or view information for a research paper, and then it happens: The library’s blocking software lets you know that you are not allowed to access a certain webpage because it has been filtered out by the network’s firewall. You are immediately disappointed because you know the information you are trying to access is harmless and poses no threat to minors; however, according to the library’s firewall, the webpage has been categorized as “adult,” allowing you no access to the page. This is not only a disappointment but also a disservice to many students who are simply trying to access informational resources.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (left) watches artist Shepard Fairey sign a replica of LA’s first artist-designed, limited-edition library card at the press launch on April 19 at the Central Library. The card is available at all 73 locations of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Los Angeles Public Library Updates Twenty-Year-Old Library Card Design

As part of its National Library Week Celebration, the Los Angeles Public Library teamed up with artists Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson to re-imagine their outdated purple and orange card. The new green and black design is a stylized illustration of the Central Library in downtown L.A., which is celebrating its ninetieth birthday this year.“Our city is the creative capital of the world—and this collaboration between the Los Angeles Public Library and Shepard Fairey is a great expression of how art can enliven our civic institutions,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti at the April unveiling of the LAPL’s first limited-edition artist-designed card. “It is a beautiful design that will raise awareness about the wealth of resources that our libraries offer, free of charge, to Angelenos of all ages and in every community.”

Modern-looking library

A History of the Future Library

Libraries have long been a important social institutions. One only need reflect on the famed Library of Alexandria, for instance, to understand its important place. The library has indeed had to shift its duties and focus to remain relevant in each successive era and each respective culture. This has never been truer than in the twenty-first century, especially in the United States. The changing role and nature of the American library is the topic of a recent gathering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

recording collection

Record, Record, Who’s Got the Record?

On May 10–14, 2016, nearly three hundred recorded sound experts, librarians, archivists, preservationists, electronics engineers, collectors, and producers of recordings and electronic equipment; all came together at Indiana University to celebrate the fiftieth annual conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC).

These are the people—representing the largest collections of sound in US, Canada and several from the countries of Brazil, Germany, England, the Czech Republic, France, Austria, and the Netherlands—preserving history and providing information—whether music or voice found on cylinders, discs, magnetic tape, wire, or film. The sophistication of the methods used and the metadata involved with so many “carriers” in so many formats, with so many issues of different rates of deterioration, boggles the mind. From private recordings to major record labels, conferees were treated to expertise in all areas.

People gathered around a desk - staff meeting scenario

In-the-Trenches Leadership

Anyone who has ever been in a managerial position has experimented with handling conflict and a variety of personalities. From an autocrat to an “in the trenches” type of leader, I have seen the various personalities and reactions that are activated when one has to exercise their managerial obligations. In her article “Top Skills for Tomorrow’s Librarians,” Library Journal’s Executive Editor Meredith Schwartz collaborated with library directors to see what leadership attributes future managers should have. Good communication, teamwork, and excellent interpersonal skills are the types of leadership skills that seem to work best.

laptop keyboard

Lessons From a Meme Librarian

Amanda Brennan, a content and community associate at Tumblr, is perhaps better known as the “meme librarian,” thanks to a recent feature in the Washington Post.[1] Brennan studies memes from their inception to their inevitable disappearance into cyberspace, looks at real-time trends and conversations across the site, conducts data analysis, and works on large-scale projects such as Tumblr’s Year in Review. Prior to taking the position at Tumblr, she catalogued memes for Know Your Meme, a website devoted to tracking the popular graphics. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Brennan about her experience.

statistical report keyboard and tablet computer

Public Library Usage Shows Ten-Year Increase

How is public library usage trending nationally? How does usage compare with pre-recession levels? How are investments in public libraries reflected in their usage? These are all questions explored in the Public Libraries in the United States Survey (PLS) for FY 2013. This annual statistical report by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) shows how public library usage is changing over time. While some of the major public library output measures are showing short-term declines, many continue to show a ten-year increase in activity.

By Khonsali (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

al-Qarawiyyin Library Set to Reopen Once Dust Settles from Renovations

The library of the al-Qarawiyyin University in Fez will reopen for public use after the completion of major renovations led by Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni. After receiving a grant for the project from Kuwait’s Arab Bank, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture asked Chaouni to rehabilitate the library in order to safeguard its contents and make it suitable for public use. Chaouni was approached in 2012 to begin work on the renovations. In a field mainly dominated by men, she was surprised and pleased to receive the call; after all, the al-Qarawiyyin is the oldest library in the world, and this would be a huge and indescribably important undertaking. Four years later, the renovations are almost complete, and King Mohammed VI is hoping to cut the ribbon on the reopening in May 2016.

Rest Rooms Sign with Arrow

Do Not Go Gentle into That Gender Neutral Bathroom

On May 3, 2016, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced in a press release the implementation of new guidelines for transgender individuals, which allows for a welcoming and safe environment for all. “For the first time, CPS is providing clear guidance on restroom, locker room and overnight trip accessibility, and establishing support for employees and adults in addition to students.”These momentous changes came ahead of Obama’s administration’s guidance letter on transgender student’s rights sent to school districts on May 13. The language used by the federal government is similar to that of the CPS policy in that it supports the use of all facilities according to an individual’s gender identity, not to their biological sex.

logo for fyi the public libraries podcast

FYI Podcast – A Social Ignition

Kathleen Hughes, PL Editor, talks to Sonja Skvarla, the founder of A Social Ignition. Founded in 2012, A Social Ignition was conceived while Sonja was helping various groups fulfill their missions in the field of post-prison reentry. She developed a curriculum of entrepreneurship and professional development and offered it to the Oregon Department of Corrections.