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.
PLA Contributor Author Archive
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.
“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 Despite the many ways in which libraries have evolved to embrace community, innovation, and technology, many outdated perceptions still remain.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.
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.
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.