A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

PLA Contributor Author Archive


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Encouraging Computational Thinking for Young Children and Families From a Distance

Development of computational thinking skills can begin in very early childhood, helping to foster creative problem solvers capable of solving 21st century challenges. By intentionally incorporating, modeling, and making computational thinking skills accessible in your programs and services during this time and beyond, you can empower and support families in this realm.

Public Library Association Call to Action for Public Library Workers to Address Racism

The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), calls on public library workers to commit to structural change and to taking action to end systemic racism and injustice.

Social Work in Public Libraries

Prioritizing Staff Mental Health When Reopening

Now more than ever, our libraries must prioritize not only the physical safety of our staff members but also their mental health. I see this as both compassionate workplace policy and a customer service issue. As libraries and our community partners attempt to do more with less, as stability in our lives decreases, we must do what we can to take care of one another so that our libraries may then take care of our patrons.

March/April 2020 feature article

Even in the Worst-Case Scenario

What are public libraries meant to do for their communities? How does the changing nature of our community also change our mission? And when crisis strikes, disrupting the assumptions, routines, and procedures of “business as usual,” what is the impact on the social role of our institution?

PUblic Libraries JanFeb 2020 EDISJ Matters column header

The Movement Toward Equity

As PLA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (EDISJ) begins its fourth year, Public Libraries is please to debut a new column on EDISJ topics.

Public Libraries march/april 2020 EDISJ Matters Column Head

Hire EDISJ

One of the most significant shifts that we’ve seen in the development of public library roles is the creation of positions with a targeted focus on supporting and moving forward equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice (EDISJ). The development of EDISJ-specific positions provides powerful signaling that centering this work is a priority—a critical and necessary step towards truly embodying the idea that everyone is welcome at the library.

Public Libraries (magazine) March/April 2020 (issue) Opinion

Reader [R]evolution

I’m going to propose what some may see as a radical departure from current library culture, while others may scoff at it as old-fashioned: The most important part of your library is your readers, both on your staff and in your patron base. The symbiotic relationship between the building that provides storage for a host of knowledge and entertainment and the librarians in charge of that building has been lost.

person sitting against a wall with head in hands

Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), individual trauma results from an event, a series of events, or a set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

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Serving Patrons In Your Makerspace Who Are Experiencing Homelessness

Does your library offer makerspace programming? Do the offerings extend to adults? If no, why not? Libraries are better positioned than commercial or nonprofit spaces to give all adults access to technology like 3D printing and advanced design software. Your makerspace will serve the population that has the most time and desire to be there: mobile workers, the unemployed, and people experiencing homelessness, for example.

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Understanding the Community as a Librarian and a Neighbor

Food insecurity, a concern faced by many communities, has intensified in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Census Starts in Two Weeks

Are You Ready for Patron Questions? On March 12, millions of American households will begin receiving mailings inviting them to respond to the 2020 Census. To get an accurate count, everyone has to respond – if they don’t, our libraries and communities will lose needed funding. As the mailings arrive, and especially with the new […]

illustration fo a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse, with images of money and bill-type documents on the screen

Helping Patrons Navigate Online Banking

In the old days, doing just about anything with your money—getting cash, looking up an old statement, depositing a check—meant visiting a brick-and-mortar bank. These days, cash mostly comes from ATMs, looking up a statement is as easy as logging onto the computer, and anyone who can take a photo with a mobile phone can deposit a check. But as efficient as they are, some of these technological advances have left some populations behind: people who are older, don’t have bank accounts, are less educated, or earn less money are likely to lack the necessary computer skills to use mobile banking.

Ad for Kanawha County Public Library Director job

Kanawha County Public Library Seeks Director

The Board of Directors of the Kanawha County Public Library seeks an experienced, collaborative, innovative, dedicated leader to serve as Library
Director. The Kanawha County Public Library is more than a building. It is a topnotch library system with an exceptional reputation of vibrancy and
trust among the public, local and state government, schools and hospitals, and businesses and community organizations.

a purple heart with a line graph

Reaching the Uninsured @ Your Library

In recognition of Health Literacy Month in October, the Public Library Association (PLA) is offering public libraries, especially those in states that utilize the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace, healthcare.gov, a suite of free tools and resources.

public libraries may june 2019 feature article notepad and pen

Evolving Public Libraries

When our public libraries are asked to defend their relevance, we often rise to the bait, drowning our detractors in the myriad of services, programs, and events we offer. But what if we took a step back and considered whether we’re telling the right story?