A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

PLA Contributor Author Archive


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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.

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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.