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.
PLA Contributor Author Archive
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.
The public library should be a place of learning, exploration, and enjoyment for children. The library should also offer parents essential resources and tools to successfully raise children. We do provide these services, and we do it very well—and absolutely should continue to do so. But we too often exclusively brand ourselves as a resource for families. In addition to visual promotions, much of our narrative is focused on families with children, from newsletter articles to local paper write-ups to board meeting talking points. Who could blame us? Those images tug at the heartstrings, and stories of kids creating a craft at a program will appeal to any mom or dad. But, in promoting this impression more than others, public libraries are, to our detriment, alienating a rising population of potential users. It’s time to modify our marketing perspectives.
As a local history librarian, I read with great interest that Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been amassing video interviews of music legends for an ongoing oral history project. It is encouraging to learn that they, too, recognize the value of this preservation format in collecting first-person history. With greater interest, I read further that they recently interviewed four greats together: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino. But they ran into some difficulty. Little Richard dominated the interview, and they had to tape the other three individually the next day. These museum curators were unaware of the dangers of the multiple-person interview. Less can equal more. Oral histories are most effective when the interviews are one-on-one. How do I know this, and why is it of interest to me? Over the past ten years at Way Public Library (WPL) in Perrysburg (OH), I have conducted dozens of oral history interviews.
On July 31, 2016, the Fountaindale (Ill.) Public Library District (FPLD) celebrated their first Smart Horizons Career Online High School (COHS) graduation, with three graduates receiving diplomas. COHS, in partnership with Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, is an online high school diploma and career certification program. COHS began in 2011 and was accredited as of February 2012. In 2014, FPLD became the third public library in the country to offer this vital initiative, thanks to grant funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Clinton Global Initiative. This funding allowed FPLD the opportunity to award seventy-five COHS scholarships to prospective students.
Global Literature in Libraries (GLLI), a new initiative spearheaded by translators and advocates for translation, has been established with the goal of increasing awareness of international literature within the library community, with a special emphasis on contemporary fiction. GLLI members include translators and publishers who are working with public, school, and academic librarians to increase the visibility of translated literature.
There is an elusive group of people sitting in their cars in your library’s parking lot making use of your library being a PokeStop or Gym. They could be teenagers but more than likely they are somewhere in their twenties, thirties, or forties. You haven’t seen them in the library for years, if ever. Can you get them into the building to see how awesome your library is?
Credibility is crucial. The true art of email marketing is knowing when and how often a person should be contacted by email. Too little and they forget that you are there; too much, and off to the spam blacklist you go. Think of emails as a commodity or a natural resource to help your frame of mind. If it took your library several months to years to build up your list, it is in your library’s best interest to make this expendable resource last for future generations.
Studio NPL, the Nashville Public Library’s innovative teen technology program, hosts workshops every day ranging from music production, photography, and design to e-textiles and robotics. The idea of a teen-only Digital Inclusion PSA competition to encourage adults to learn how to get online was a concept everyone was excited about. We all saw its potential for the community.
The Wired Library explores tech topics relevant to public librarians.
Perspectives offers varied viewpoints on subjects of interest to the public library profession.
Under the Radar is where you’ll find books, movies, and other media of note that might not be getting tons of publicity, but your patrons are sure to be interested in.
PLA President Vailey Oehlke is Director of Libraries for Multnomah County (OR) Library in Portland. Contact Vailey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vailey is currently reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. As I write this, I am reflecting on the fabulous PLA 2016 conference in Denver. I’m so proud of the exceptional […]
The Public Library Data Service (PLDS) annual survey is conducted by Counting Opinions (SQUIRE) Ltd. (CO) on behalf of PLA. This survey of public libraries from the United States and Canada was collected in 2015 for the fiscal year 2014 (FY2014). It includes data on finances, resources, service usage, and technology. Each year PLDS includes a special section. This year the supplemental questions focused on strategic planning.
The number of public and academic libraries becoming passports acceptance facilities (PAFs) is increasing exponentially. Just a few years ago, there were only a handful of libraries accepting—or, as the Passport Agency calls it—executing passport applications. Now there are 203 libraries performing this much-needed service. The Regional Passport Agency (RPA) has realized the benefits of libraries becoming PAFs and is promoting this effort by attending and presenting at various library conferences across the nation.