A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
Duncan Tonatiuh Author Photo

Ancient and Contemporary: A Conversation with Duncan Tonatiuh

Duncan Tonatiuh’s evocative and charming picture books have been staples of the bestseller list since his debut book, Dear Primo: Letters to My Cousin, in 2010. Since then he’s written and illustrated Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale, Diego Rivera: His World And Ours, and Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. His most recent book, Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, details the life of José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada, the Mexican artist whose calaveras (skeletons performing everyday tasks) have become a ubiquitous presence in Day of the Dead celebrations. The book was named a 2016 Sibert Award Winner, Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Honor Book, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015. Duncan Tonatiuh talked with Brendan Dowling via telephone on January 26th, 2015. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

typewriter keys

Policies for Library Inclusion of Self-Published Works

Interest in self-published books is on the rise. Libraries should consider including these new materials in their collections, but should be very careful how they go about it.

image of a maze

An A-mazing Library Program

Every once in a while, a library comes along and really inspires the community with a new program or event. Most recently the Denver Public Library hosted an event of epic proportion-they created a giant cardboard maze, with a Harry Potter theme. The maze (which measured 75′ long, 15′ wide, and 6′ tall) was constructed in […]

close up of dog

Kids Reading to Dogs in Libraries

The purpose of a reading to dogs program is to provide children with a comfortable environment to practice their reading skills. In an interview with ABC, Francine Alexander, the chief academic officer for Scholastic, mentions that it is often easier for children to read aloud to dogs than in front of classmates because there is no embarrassment if mistakes occur. In 2010, the University of California-Davis completed a study on reading to dog programs, which suggested that children who read to dogs improved their own reading skills in comparison to children who did not read to dogs, based on the results of the Oral Text Reading for Comprehension Test. The program involved reading to dogs once a week for ten weeks. Children who read to dogs also reported a greater enjoyment of reading than children who did not read to dogs.

little sign in the grass that says keep it green

Libraries Embrace Green Technologies

Almost everyone is trying to go green, embracing the use of solar panels and other similar technologies. Libraries are no different; the ALA’s Green Libraries website says, “Libraries by their very nature are ‘green’ in that their resources are shared by the larger community.” So it is encouraging to hear stories of libraries making this green movement work for them.

Man working with tools in a workshop

Supporting Your Community Through Making

Makerspaces are wonderful places for people to learn about and explore new technology. They can also be labs for inventors developing new products. People create incredibly unique, ingenious, and desirable products, but it can be expensive to create prototypes and initial runs of products.

Circle of Paper Dolls

How Did You Celebrate National Friends of the Library Week?

How did you celebrate National Friends of the Library Week, held October 18 through 24? I, completely unaware of the event celebrating our Friends, requested funding for a puppet show during the Annual Friends Meeting held that very same week! A blunder that our Friends President, Peter Lynch, automatically forgave because…well, that’s how Friends are […]

hands holding a globe

Global Issues, Local Impact: Diving Into the IFLA Annual Report

Knowing what’s happening in the library and information field on an international level can help you drive impact locally.

dictionary open to definition of the word law

More Access to the Law, But at What Cost?

Harvard Law School has had about two months to work on its newest project, Free the Law. When I read about it in The New York Times, I was of two minds. The book lover in me shed imaginary tears as I read that the spines of nearly all the tomes in the collection were being sliced off to digitize the pages. Yet the former electronic content manager in me cheered at the access that this will grant myriad customers.

garden pots for seedlings

The STEM Garden

In 2014, The Stickney-Forest View Public Library District in Stickney Illinois was awarded a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Back to Books 2 Grant, funded by the Illinois State Library. The project, entitled, The STEM Garden, aimed to provide our youth, teens, and their families with creative educational materials and innovative programming that united the common core standards with hands on experience with the STEM principles of science, technology, engineering and math. The STEM Garden encouraged families to discover and apply practical skills including gardening and the concept of slow food to their daily lives and to foster a spark of curiosity that is central to a lifetime of learning. The garden promoted awareness of how food is grown, self-esteem and a healthy lifestyle.


Leading Tolerance

Back when I was in school settings, first as teacher and later as librarian, I greatly adored the publication Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. When I left educational institutions and entered the public library system, my commitment to issues of diversity, equality, and justice remained strong. Over the years in the public library, I have struggled with how to continue to “teach tolerance” while not in the role of “teacher.” I have tried to pursue these values in different ways for not only the public but also for the staff and my library board. For my community, I have engaged these concepts through collection development, displays, and programming. For staff, I have provided both formal professional development opportunities and informal discussion on the distinctions between difference and danger. For the library board, I’ve crafted policy to support these values and explained the importance of being conscious of these issues and implementing policy.


I’m Not Actually a Librarian: Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteer coordinators are part human resources director and part public staff, and many are patrons’ first introduction to a deeper appreciation of how the library works.


2014 Digital Inclusion Survey Report: Public Libraries as Basic Community Technology Infrastructure

The 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey marks twenty years of data collection about the Internet and public libraries. The study is conducted annually by the American Library Association and the University of Maryland’s Information Policy & Access Center. This year’s results showed consistent trends in the increase of public technology service offerings in U.S. public libraries. Some key findings include:
*Virtually all libraries (98 percent) offer free public Wi-Fi access—in 1994 only 21 percent offered public Internet access;
*Close to 90 percent of libraries offer basic digital literacy training, and a significant majority support training related to new technology devices (62 percent), safe online practices (57 percent), and social media use (56 percent);
*Seventy-six percent of libraries assist patrons in using online government programs and services;
*The vast majority of libraries provide programs that support people in applying for jobs (73 percent), access and using online job opportunity resources (68 percent), and using online business information resources (48 percent);
*More than 90 percent of public libraries offer e-books, online homework assistance (95 percent), and online language learning (56 percent).

pink hearts

Americans Love Libraries

Did you know that Americans really do love their libraries? Research shows the reason for this lovefest fits into three broad categories: information access, public space, and our transformative potential, according to research by Wayne Wiegand in his book, “Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library. So, why are we so worried about the future of our libraries? People love us, right? Yes, they do, but that love is not always measured by their willingness to allocate funding to our budgets. Which begs the question, “How do we transform this unquestionable love for public libraries into increased funding?” Enter the librarian.

question marks

A Roving Reference Assessment in Teen Services

Over the course of one month, staff members of the Chattanooga Public Library recorded every reference transaction made, using a free one-month trial on Gimlet, to help determine if removing the traditional information desk made a difference or not.