A recent episode of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kathleen Dunn Show discussed the relevancy of public libraries in today’s world. Through interviews with Wisconsin Library Directors Paula Kiley and Kelly Krieg-Sigman, Dunn examined how libraries are being used by their communities and how this has changed over time.
Gretchen Kaser Author Archive
Gretchen Kaser is employed as the director of the Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. She began her library career in youth services, and other interests include emerging technologies, social media marketing, and statistics. Gretchen is currently reading Orient by Christopher Bollen.
Online coursework is becoming more prevalent across higher education, and this is especially the case in MLIS programs. When I began working towards my master’s in 2011, online programs were already popular; now, they seem even more ubiquitous. A recent article in Slate, “An Online Education Disconnect” by Rachael Cusick, explores the pros and cons of this type of study, which inspired me to explore my own thoughts as well.
A recent Business Insider article touts the changes coming to public libraries, detailing the shifts our field will see over the next fifty years. According to writer Chris Weller’s research, libraries five decades from now will transform into “all-in-one spaces for learning, consuming, sharing, creating, and experiencing,” even offering alternate realities for loan. Their emphasis will be on connectivity, not just physically providing technology to patrons, but also in linking them with sensory experiences. They will connect experience with the ever-present technological movements of social media, streaming content, and data.
Summer reading is the most popular time of year for many public libraries. Thanks to their newfound free time and to our library’s expanded program offerings, kids and teens in my small town easily double their attendance here between June and August every year. Our special events are not just fun and games, however; my staff and I strive to incorporate an educational component to keep kids learning outside the classroom.
Public libraries provide a wealth of information to their patrons on virtually any topic, including resources for individuals responding to tragedy. Although this is often a difficult subject to approach due to its emotional nature, patrons may need this information now more than ever, due to the recent spate of mass shootings.
It’s easy to lose focus on the theoretical principles behind librarianship after completing library school. While most librarians’ foundational resources will likely vary, the importance of professional literature to our field does not change.
A Washington Post editorial champions the idea of small libraries, suggesting they are key to the industry’s future success. Writer Steve Barker states, “With print collections and budgets down, more libraries may be the answer—but smaller ones.” I work at a public library that serves a population of 4,078. It is one of the smallest of our system’s seventy-seven members (the smallest serves only 3,382). My staff knows most of our regular patrons by name, and many out-of-town visitors tell us they like our library because of its cozy environment. We are part of a cooperative in which each library is independent but can take advantage of select shared services like ILL and digital collections. In a world of large multibranched regional libraries, however, I have typically viewed our size—and corresponding tiny budget—as somewhat of a detriment. Barker’s argument is quite compelling and made me pause to re-evaluate.
A recent ACRLog blog post by Madison Sullivan brings up the debate of whether professionalism is an outdated ideal in today’s libraries. Sullivan argues that it is and that it prevents librarians from expressing their ideas and individuality. “I question what it is to be a professional every single day,” Sullivan writes. She goes on to say, “It makes me nauseous because what if who I am, and who I’d like to be in the workplace, doesn’t align with other people’s definition of what a professional is?”
Amanda Brennan, a content and community associate at Tumblr, is perhaps better known as the “meme librarian,” thanks to a recent feature in the Washington Post. Brennan studies memes from their inception to their inevitable disappearance into cyberspace, looks at real-time trends and conversations across the site, conducts data analysis, and works on large-scale projects such as Tumblr’s Year in Review. Prior to taking the position at Tumblr, she catalogued memes for Know Your Meme, a website devoted to tracking the popular graphics. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Brennan about her experience.
Deanna Marcum, managing director of consulting firm Ithaka S+R, has many thoughts on library leadership. At 2016’s annual meeting of the National Federation of Advanced Information Systems Marcum delivered a lecture on how leadership is changing as libraries move towards a more digital environment
In light of recent changes to the merits of LIS degrees, two new ALA task forces will address and reform accreditation.
For the last year and a half, Hartford (CT) Public Library (HPL) has participated in ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) program with the goal of strengthening its community’s relationship with the local police force. Through initiatives such as community theater and block parties, HPL has helped fill this need so clearly indicated by its residents.
The Public Library Association (PLA) held its annual Results Boot Camp program this year on August 24th – 28th at the Nashville Public Library. Facilitated by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia, this year’s event focused on strategic planning and service delivery. In its tenth year, Boot Camp is described by PLA as “intensive library management training,” although the specific focus varies each year. Participants attend four full days and one half-day session, which feature a mix of lecture-style instruction and small group work. Time is also allotted for individual reflection about how the content fits in with your particular library’s situation.
Summertime can be pretty overwhelming in a public library, even if you don’t work in youth services. Thanks to an increase in unstructured time, the library becomes a popular place for students and their families. At my library, we also see an uptick in usage from residents who do not have school-age children and come in to stock up on books and media before heading off on vacation. While the rest of the world is getting the chance to relax, we’re kicking it into high gear in order to provide the best possible service for our patrons.
The August 1 deadline is quickly approaching for consideration in next year’s group of ALA Emerging Leaders. According to ALA’s website, this program “enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and [provides an] opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity.”