A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

PLA Contributor Author Archive


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Adult Lock In

Library Lock-ins for Adults

It’s a Friday night and library staff are planning to be awake for the next twelve hours, plus the time it takes for them to drive home and fall exhausted into bed. It’s another lock-in, but this time the youngest attendees are 18. It’s an adult lock-in, and just like when they were in high school, there is no expectation of sleep. Squeezed in around jobs and school, new adults make time to gather with their friends at the library and be kids again.

Epic Failure Is Always an Option

Contributing Editor JESSICA MOYER is Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Jessica at jessicaemilymoyer@gmail.com. Jessica is currently reading Painted Lady by Elizabeth Peters (June 2017) and listening to Carpe Jugulum (2000) by Terry Pratchett, narrated by Nigel Planer. I love a good underdog archetype. Whether they are fantastic failures or lovable losers, these characters abound in popular culture and […]

The Destination is “We”

PLA President FELTON THOMAS is Director of the Cleveland (OH) Public Library. Contact Felton at felton.thomas@cpl.org. Felton is currently reading Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe. The focus of this issue is on fantastic failures, and boy, do I have a lot of those. To narrow it down, I will seek to define a “fantastic failure” […]

How I Learned to Love Patrons Again

MATT SMITH is Collection Development Specialist at Kalamazoo (MI) Public Library. Contact Matt at matts@kpl.gov. Matt is currently reading The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race edited by Jesmyn Ward. Hermann Hesse once wrote that “nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to […]

Facing Failure

KRISTY PASQUARIELLO is a Children’s Librarian at Wellesley (MA) Free Library. Contact Kristy at kpasquariello@minlib.net. Kristy is currently reading My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson. When I first started working as a children’s librarian in a public library, I had grand plans for the successful programs I would run: charming storytime […]

Authors Bounce Back

BRENDAN DOWLING works for the Public Library Association in Chicago. Contact Brendan at bdowling@ala.org. Brendan is currently reading Lush Life by Richard Price. In keeping with this issue’s theme of fantastic failures, we turned to some of our favorite authors to see how they had navigated disappointments in their own careers. Their sym­pathetic yet heartening responses […]

FEATURE | Mirrors and Windows: Diversity in Children’s Picture Books

William Caxton printed Aesop’s Fables in 1484, some saying it was the first book directed at children. Nearly two hundred years passed until The Little Book for Little Children by Thomas White was published in 1660, and the first modern picture book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, wasn’t published until 1902.[1] After a very slow start to the publication of children’s picture books, diversity within these books was slower still, and progress even reversed during certain decades. I became interested in picture book diversity after discovering that the first picture book to feature an African American character, The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats, was not published until 1962.[2] I began to investigate this subject further and became concerned by my findings.

volunteer hands

The Benefits of Volunteers

In an earlier post, we talked about the challenges that can come with having volunteers in the library. The benefits of having volunteers, however, can be far greater than the obvious labor they provide. Sometimes having a volunteer program in a library is about much more than getting tangible aid.

group of young people with 'volunteer' shirts on

The Challenges of Using Volunteers in The Library

When money is tight, libraries frequently look to volunteers to help get work done. Even if money isn’t tight, free labor is hard to ignore. However, is it really free? In this article we discuss the challenges that come with using library volunteers.

FEATURE | Prescriptions for Joy: Librarians, Collections, and Bibliotherapy in Pediatric Hospital Settings

How many of the millions of children hospitalized each year in the United States have access to book collections during their hospital stays? How many are offered treatment plans that include bibliotherapy? Public libraries have a responsibility to know the answers to these questions pertaining to hospitalized children in their communities and also to serve these young, isolated patients.

July august 2016

UNDER THE RADAR | The Power of Story

At the time of this writing, many of us are angry and sad and frustrated, if the news and social media are any indication. And for many of us, books serve as a refuge when life becomes difficult. Yet while books can provide an escape from harsher realities, they can also provide a lens through which we can better view and understand what is unfolding around us.

logo for fyi the public libraries podcast

Weeding Library Collections – FYI Podcast Episode 13

Kathleen Hughes, PLA Manager Publications, talks to Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly about weeding library collections, awful library books they’ve discovered, and more. Holly and Mary have recently released a book in PLA’s Quick Reads series, entitled “Weeding Manual.” In addition, they are cofounders of the popular blog Awful Library Book (awfullibrarybooks.com) and co-authors of the book “Making Your Collection Count: A Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management.” Holly Hibner is adult services coordinator at Plymouth District Library in Plymouth, Michigan and Mary Kelly is youth services librarian at the Lyons Township Library in Michigan.

Outside the Lines Logo

Outside the Lines Aims to Shift Perceptions of Libraries

“Why do we need libraries when there’s the Internet?” For those that work in the library industry, it’s an unfortunately familiar question. Despite the many ways in which libraries have evolved to embrace community, innovation, and technology, many outdated perceptions still remain. In 2014, a group of Colorado library marketers and directors decided it was time to tackle this issue head-on. The result of this collaboration is Outside the Lines, a grassroots initiative that is helping to shift perceptions of libraries everywhere.

The Importance of Dynamic Planning for Libraries

In today’s fast-paced environment of constant technological, demographic, fiscal, and social change in our communities, we have to be nimble and ready to meet opportunities and push through challenges. Dynamic planning practices provide the tools to be in touch with our community members, empower staff, and engage stakeholders in order to continuously meet the needs of our communities.

FROM THE PRESIDENT | A Foundation for the Future

Nearly twenty years ago, I made one of the best professional decisions of my life and joined the American Library Association. Soon after, I became a PLA member and began to volunteer with this fine organization. Even then, I could never believe that the young boy who had started working in public libraries at the age of thirteen to escape gangs in his neighborhood would one day lead the organization representing more than nine thousand public library workers and supporting more than 16,000 public libraries throughout the country. There have been many mentors over the years, and I begin by thanking them for their belief in me and their great counsel. I also want to thank my staff and board at the Cleveland (OH) Public Library for their support of this leadership journey. Finally, I must thank my family in advance for their patience and love over the next twelve months.