A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

PLA Contributor Author Archive


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Image of the "Cursed" book cover

Cursed — A Conversation with Karol Ruth Silverstein

Since 2004, ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award has honored an author or illustrator for a title that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.  In 2020, the “teen” category prize went to screenwriter and first-time novelist Karol Ruth Silverstein’s Cursed, published in 2019 by Charlesbridge Teen. Readers meet 14-year-old […]

Feature Article May/June 2020 Issue of Public Libraries

Define & Design: The Bookstore Model of Customer Service

We have often looked to retail to borrow marketing, merchandising, and materials arrangement ideas, but few of us have considered the other bookstore model—the deliberate design of customer service transactions—for inspiration in understanding how the consumer environment has changed around us. Strengthening the interpersonal components of user experience is something every library can and should do, especially in these most uncertain of times.

Build America's Libraires Act logo and ALA logo

Urge Congress to #BuildLibraries During United for Infrastructure Week

This year, May 10-14, 2021 marks United for Infrastructure Week. This week presents a wonderful opportunity for libraries to position themselves as critical infrastructure, and to advocate for the Build America’s Libraries Act to support that role. The Build America’s Libraries Act, introduced in the Senate and House by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI) and […]

illustration of three figures representing staff members

Library Staff In and Beyond the Workplace

The survey comments indicated that inadequate support has two main characteristics: lack of access to paid leave and caregiver accommodations, and lack of flexibility, especially for part-time staff. A lack of support can have serious consequences for individual staff members, libraries, and the profession as a whole. It is a particularly pressing issue within the library profession as it is predominantly female, and women are more likely to be caregivers.

Illustration of a bright yellow light bulb

Help Fight Light Pollution with a Science Experiment

Globe at Night asks volunteers to go outside and measure light pollution in their communities using either the naked eye or a simple piece of equipment called a Sky Quality Meter.

girl + woman looking at the screen of a laptop - text says Participate from Home!

Five Kitchen Sink Science Experiments to Try at Home

It’s April: Citizen Science Month! There are hundreds of online events and ways to engage, including many opportunities from libraries around the world. Looking to do some projects inside, where you live? Check out the below projects. Then, discover additional events and opportunities on CitizenScienceMonth.org.

three blue figures with a red heart above them on a yellow background meant to show care for library staff

The Impact of COVID-19 on Library Staff: Supporting Health and Well-Being

In 2020 the Public Library Association (PLA) and the American Library Association (ALA) conducted two surveys about the impact of COVID-19 on libraries. Following on from that, PLA’s “Survey of the Public Library Field” in February 2021 asked library staff about the impact of the pandemic on them as individuals. The survey received 2,967 responses. […]

citizen science month logo seen with woman working on laptop

What is Citizen Science Month?

This April, explore over 100 events planned around everything from measuring light pollution to counting caterpillars.

photograph of hands typing on a laptop keyboard

COVID-19 Makes Library Skilling Programs Critical

Improving their communities’ digital literacy is important for public libraries as they seek to live up to their mission. The challenge has taken on new urgency as we fight against the economic costs of the pandemic.

illustration of a hand pointing at data on a screeen

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.

ala libraries build business logo

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.

image of four hands holding gears to the sky

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?