A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Kathleen Hughes Author Archive


Email: khughes@ala.org   Website: http://ala.org/  


George Orwell

Books Vs. Cigarettes

Although George Orwell is perhaps better known for his scathing attack on totalitarian Stalinist communism in “Animal Farm,” and his dystopian futuristic novel “1984,” he also wrote an engaging short piece in 1947 called “Books vs. Cigarettes.” In this brief essay Orwell discusses a reluctance among many people to purchase books because of their perceived expense. Orwell challenges this general prejudice through an examination of the relative cost of book buying compared to the cost of other items and pursuits.

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New Podcast! Providing Health Information/Evaluating Health News

We talk with Carolyn Martin and Sally James about providing Health Information Services and in particular evaluating health news. Carolyn Martin is a librarian who is the Consumer Health Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Pacific Northwest Region. Sally James reads health news critically and gives grades to stories and news releases as a part of a team at the nonprofit Health News Review. She also writes about medical research and other science as a freelancer from Seattle.

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New Podcast! Serving Homeless Patrons with John Spears

We talk with John Spears, Director of the Pikes Peak (Colorado) Public Library about challenges and opportunities in serving homeless patrons at the public library, educating the public, tensions in the community, efforts to expand initiatives, and more.

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New Podcast – A Look at Graphic Medicine

In this podcast, we discuss Graphic Medicine, which can be defined as the use of comics (graphic narratives) in health sciences education and patient care. Our guests are Susan Squier and Ellen Forney. Susan Squier is Professor Emerita of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State University, where she taught graphic narratives (comics!) to graduate students. She is now Visiting Fellow at the Freie Universität, Berlin (the Free University, that is) where she is part of a collaboration called the PathoGraphics project, a study of the relations between illness narratives (also called pathographies) and comics about medicine, illness, disability and caregiving. She is a co-editor of the Graphic Medicine book series at Penn State Press, which publishes long form graphic narratives, graphic narratives for classroom use, and scholarly studies of works of graphic medicine. Ellen Forney is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me,” a graphic memoir about her bipolar disorder. Her new book, the follow-up to Marbles, is a self-help guide to maintaining stability with a mood disorder. It’s called “Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from My Bipolar Life,” and will be out this May. She teaches comics at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

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Visual Merchandising – Applying Bookstore Insights to Public Library Collections

Looks at bookstore display ideas that can be implemented in libraries.

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Efficient Librarianship – A New Path for the Profession

Author shares productivity and efficiency practices and explores how utilizing these ideas can positively impact librarianship.

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Supporting Workforce Development with Libraries Work

Formed in January 2017, Libraries Work is a national networking group among state library agencies. Inspired, in part, by the American Library Association’s 2016 white paper, “The People’s Incubator: Libraries Propel Entrepreneurship” by Charlie Wapner, Libraries Work focuses on supporting workforce development and has a broad range that includes: serving youth and adults; supporting not only tech hire and STEM skills, but the full college and career-ready learning standards and skills (including Liberal Arts); connecting public libraries to WIOA (Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act) and other national and state initiatives for career/work prep; and taking a proactive stance on getting libraries at the workforce and business development table in each community.

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Dare I Ask? Consumer Health in a Rural Library Setting

An elderly woman comes to the desk and asks for books about diabetes. I politely look the subject up in our catalog and let her know the section in which she can find the many books we have on the topic. A while later, I see the same woman, leaving the library empty-handed. As I rush over to her I’m thinking. “Where did I go wrong?”

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Seeking Essays on the Social Justice Implications of Net Neutrality

We are currently seeking 3-5 essays (no more than 1,500 words) for inclusion in the Perspectives column in the January/February issue of PUBLIC LIBRARIES.

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Navigating ACA Open Enrollment at Your Library

Federal legislation and executive leadership have added confusion to this year’s open enrollment period for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here are a few suggestions to make a potentially stressful task easier for both library workers and patrons.

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New Podcast! FYI 024- Nicholas Higgins on Library Service to Jails and Prisons

We talk with Nicholas Higgins, director of Outreach Services at the Brooklyn (NY) Public Library. Higgins, author of the latest book in the PLA Quick Reads series, shares wisdom gleaned from his years of experience providing library service to incarcerated persons; provides a thoughtful perspective on the American criminal justice system and shows how to provide the absolute best service to this group and the families they have left behind.

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PLA Podcast: Public Service Loan Forgiveness with Kyra Hahn

Librarian Kyra Hahn shares her experiences navigating the intense bureaucracy of the Federal Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and provides tips, advice, and explanations that can make the process easier for applicants.

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PLA Podcast – Aspen Institute’s Eric Motley — Author of Madison Park: A Place of Hope

PLA’s Brendan Dowling Talks with Eric Motley, Executive Vice President, The Aspen Institute about his new book, “Madison Park: A Place of Hope.” Motley shares stories from his childhood and about the place he was raised, an African-American community established by freed slaves, and elaborates on how those experiences shaped his journey all the way to the Bush White House.

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Promoting Healthy Communities: Connecting Public Libraries with Health Information

Whether they’re searching the Internet, watching television, or browsing social media, Americans are bombarded with information related to their health, but the messages they’re receiving may not be understandable, reliable, or even credible. Faced with confusing medical terminology, conflicting reports, and a constantly changing healthcare system, people are looking to their local public libraries for guidance. That’s why the National Networks of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is partnering with the Public Library Association (PLA): to help libraries meet the challenges of keeping up with evidence-based health resources and producing successful health programming.

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Participatory Culture in a Candy Shell

The term “participatory culture” had no meaning to me until recently. It is a term that has been around for at least a decade, and it is an idea that Henry Jenkins, a provost professor at the University of Southern California School of Communication, has been working with for more than two decades. There is a relationship between participatory culture and libraries; in some cases, the would would not exist without the other. It behooves us, as librarians, to be aware of the relationship, and to promote collection development with participatory culture in mind.