Public libraries face the challenge of providing information and resources about the upcoming election this November but they also engage their communities in civic opportunities and experiences throughout the year.
Marybeth Zeman Author Archive
I am the Transitional Counselor for the School Program for Incarcerated Youth at a county jail in Long Island, New York and reside in Brooklyn, NY. I received an MLIS from St. John's University in 2009 via a Laura Bush Scholarship. I have been lucky enough to wear two hats and combine counseling with maintaining a small school library--the library has proved to be an important touchstone for my counseling. I have been blessed with seeing the transformative power of books in people's lives and how library resources empowers a community.
Throughout presidential history, each of our 44 Presidents have expressed an eclectic list of their own favorites: James Madison’s—John Locke, William McKinley’s—Lord Byron while Warren G. Harding favored The Rules of Poker. Perhaps, no president since Abraham Lincoln has been as shaped by reading and writing as President Barack Obama. As Former President Obama prepared to leave office earlier this month, Michiko Kakutani, book critic for The New York Times, interviewed him about his favorite books and the impact books have had during his life.
MIT invited its university members to “hack its libraries” as part of its Preliminary Future of the Library Report prepared by a faculty/student/staff Ad-Hoc Task Force. After a year of work, the Task Force’s recommendations envision a “global library for a global community.”
Literacy means more than learning to read for teens in New York’s juvenile detention facilities. Literacy for Incarcerated Teens supports literacy programs that transform incarcerated teens’ lives.
What happens when you combine thirteen students, a librarian, and a furniture design professor and put them in jail? Creativity, collaboration, and design. That’s exactly the formula for success that New York Public Library’s Correction Services Managing Librarian, Sarah Ball, looked for when she contacted the Parsons School of Design. She was looking for a way to update the makeshift carts NYPL was using at Rikers Island and the Manhattan Correctional Facility.
What’s happening when The New York Times has been reporting queues as long as those for hot Broadway shows like Hamilton? And there are lines circling city blocks for hours waiting for tickets for first-come, first-serve seats? What’s happening? Storytime at one of New York City’s many public libraries. Library storytimes have been drawing record crowds in New York City and around the country since the White House released its report, Empowering Our Children—Bridging the Word Gap, in June 2014.
In an era tinged with skepticism and partisan divisions of one sort or another, there are few institutions Americans fully trust. Their public library is the exception. Americans not only believe that their local libraries matter, they also believe the library can be trusted because the information accessed there is reliable. That is one of the key findings of the recently released report by The Pew Research Center, “Libraries At The Crossroads”, which further concludes that the nation’s public libraries now find themselves standing at the intersection of “aspiration and disruption”—that place where new vision and change meet. And while that may sound contradictory, what matters most to Americans with regard to libraries is rooted in a rather old fashioned notion—libraries continue to promote literacy and a love of reading.
Teens at the Long Island Uniondale library create music together and discover that the public library is a great place to hang out.
Public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries provide Americans of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes with access to “unlimited possibilities.” The State of America’s Libraries 2015: A Report from the American Library Association recognizes American libraries as “community anchor institutions” whose missions include economic benefits—as well as creating a more democratic, just, and equitable society.
NYC residents can now access library services in all five of its boroughs, using either a traditional library card or the newly adopted IDNYC Card, which offers other benefits as well.
Building a connection between authors and libraries, the Authors for Libraries website also cements the bonds of support and advocacy between them.
If anyone doubt that libraries respond to their communities in times of emergencies, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library remained the one calming and stable constant in this Missouri town’s tumultuous life as schools, businesses, and other government agencies closed after the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
Low literacy skills, poverty, and school dropout rates are common denominators for incarcerated teens. Gaining literacy skills create lifelong activities—improved self-esteem topping the list. Begin there and there’s hope for everything else to happen.
When challenged with serving New York City’s most linguistically diverse borough, the Queens Library in New York City has flourished instead and created a mosaic that celebrates the Queens community’s wonderful multiculturalism.
Baby Boomers have rebranded themselves—older adults, matures, 55+, aging adults, longevitists? They aren’t called “seniors” anymore. And library services need to keep pace with their changing needs.