A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Magazine Feature

January/February Feature Article

Reflections on Gender Oppression and Libraries

During the past year, the public discourse on sexual harassment and gender-based abuse of power has shifted. Women’s marches, the social media #MeToo movement, and the public condemnation of high-profile individuals accused of sexual misconduct have disrupted the nation’s previously accepted complacency and led to demands for accountability. While the national focus on sexual harassment represents an elevated platform and increased visibility for (primarily white) women speaking out against gender oppression, it has yet to translate into a mass movement for pay equity, improved workplace conditions, increased access to childcare, reproductive freedom, and an end to violence against and exploitation of women. This is a case where the individual actions are receiving a lot of attention, but we are in danger of missing the deeper institutional and structural drivers of persistent and entrenched gender inequity.

January/February Feature Article

Civic Engagement through Community-Led Programming

In 2017, Seattle Public Library (SPL) staff spent the year exploring the social impact of mass incarceration in our city and country. This project marked the second year
that a civic topic was selected to explore through a series designed to empower and center communities throughout Seattle.1 The Criminal Justice Series leveraged traditional engagement techniques that reflect libraries’ “bread and butter” work of information sharing, awareness raising, and enrichment, including public programs, a social media campaign, art exhibit, and related booklists. What made it noteworthy as an instrument of civic engagement was that it relied on a community-led process that placed individuals who are directly affected by criminal justice at the center of program development while library staff played a supporting role.

January/February Feature Article

Social Justice Symposium for Teens

If you’ve worked with young people for just about any length of time, a teenager has likely shared something painful with you and you may have felt momentarily powerless to help them. I experienced a moment like that on an afternoon when I heard a small group of young teens in my library branch discussing police brutality. I sat down with the teens that day and I listened. They were furious, frustrated, and sad. Absorbing their words and their feelings, I felt those same emotions. I also felt helpless. Their pain was so large and I felt so small in that moment.

January/February Feature Article

Quiet Rebels at Brooklyn Public Library

This winter, Brooklyn Public Library partnered with Bard College to invite students who have faced multiple barriers to higher education to enroll in free, credit-bearing classes taught by Bard faculty at our Central Library. Recently, some of us got a chance to meet the new cohort of seventeen students over lunch. It was the students’ second day of classes. The students were excited or nervous (or both) and were talkative and appreciative of the library and how welcoming it was. They all seemed to share a readiness to jump into reading, discussing, and learning about new ideas, and developing and expanding upon their own. This is a group, like other groups of college students, where lifelong friendships are bound to form.

November December 2017 Public Libraries Feature Article Header

Project Outcome Results in Action

PLA commissioned ORS Impact to interview participating libraries and community stakeholders to create five success case studies for its performance measurement initiative, Project Outcome (PO). PO is a free online toolkit designed to help public libraries understand and share the impact of essential library programs and services by providing simple surveys and an easy-to-use process for measuring and analyzing outcomes. What PLA learned from the case studies is that, even with limited survey responses, libraries are able to leverage their outcome data into actionable results. By using Project Outcome surveys, libraries are tracking their impact across time; improving and expanding programs and services to meet community needs; supporting new and deepen- ing existing partnerships; and increasing library championship.

November December 2017 Public Libraries Feature Article Header

Visual Merchandising – Applying Bookstore Insights to Public Library Collections

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

November December 2017 Public Libraries Feature Article Header

Efficient Librarianship – A New Path for the Profession

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

Feature Article

Supporting Strategic Planning with Project and Data Management

No matter the size of the library or the population it serves, all public libraries are working toward a common goal—providing relevant and impactful services in areas most important to patrons. As we strive to be a data-driven organization at Sno-Isle Libraries in Snohomish and Island Counties, WA, it is our job to make sure our programs are allocating the right amount of resources to our highest priority services and addressing the needs and interests of our communities. And we need the data to show it.

Feature Article

The Library as Scholarly Publisher An Informal History of the Bulletin of the New York Public Library

Several initiatives to develop, support, and enhance the library-as-publisher have emerged in the last few years. As digital information continues to transform libraries, it is useful to look back at the history of the library’s role as scholarly publisher. Understanding the history and significance of the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, one of the exemplars of this role, is particularly illuminating. As libraries increasingly emphasize content and access to unique local collections, this publication serves as an illustrative encouragement and historical guidepost for the future of scholarly publishing by libraries.

Feature Article

The Power of Community Outreach Meeting the Demands of the Growing Senior Population

What exactly does the term “outreach” mean in the library eld? Outreach represents different services libraries might offer— programming, homebound deliveries, bookmobiles, volunteering, community events—as well as collaboration with schools, Spanish speakers, the homeless, the LGBT community, hospitals, senior facilities, and correctional facilities. When I accepted the position of outreach services librarian at the St. Charles (IL) Public Library District (SCPLD) in February 2015, I did not grasp what outreach fully meant or truly appreciate what an exciting field of librarianship I was entering. Not all libraries have dedicated outreach librarians or departments. So why should libraries become more aware of outreach services?

Feature Article

“Excuse Me, Is There a Loss Section?” Readers’ Advisory to the Grieving and Bereaved

They come up to the desk and, for the most part, they do not look particularly sad. Most of them look tired–very tired. I look over or approach and ask if I can help them, and as they edge closer to the desk, sometimes dropping their voices at the same time, they ask: “Do you have books for when somebody has died?”

May/June Public Libraries

Diversity in Public Libraries Strategies for Achieving a More Representative Workforce

This lack of diversity has been lamented as a problem for decades, yet in spite of efforts to increase the diversity of the library workforce, there has been minimal progress. Much has been written about how to increase diversity in libraries, including suggestions for improving every step of the process from library and information science education, to hiring and retaining a more diverse workforce, to developing diverse collections and library programs. Libraries are not the only work setting that faces a problem with diversity. However, given that the public library is a forum that serves a variety of communities and interests, it is critical to develop a public library workforce that more accurately reflects the diverse backgrounds that public libraries serve.

May/June Public Libraries

Antifragile Management and the End of the Annual Performance Review

MARY JO FINCH is Director and AUTUMN SOLOMON is Associate Director of Westbank Community Library District in Austin (TX). Contact Mary Jo at maryjo@westbanklibrary.com. Contact Autumn at autumn@westbanklibrary.com. Mary Jo is currently reading The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work by Christine Carter. Autumn is currently reading Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined […]

May/June Public Libraries

Managing Library Millennials

When I think of my grandmother, I remember the food she always had in her pantry: Honey Nut Cheerios, Ritz Crackers, Folgers coffee, Joy ice cream cones, and Tang. When I think of my own cupboards, I rarely have one consistent item. Sometimes I will purchase brand names and other times I will get the dollar store version. I like to try out different items, different brands, or buy whatever is on sale. This is not what companies like to hear. Millennials’ fickle trends, popular diets, and adventurous exploring do not provide a dependable customer base.

Public Libraries Feature Article

The 2017 Public Library Data Service Report: Characteristics and Trends

The Public Library Data Service (PLDS) annual survey is conducted by Counting Opinions (SQUIRE) Ltd. (CO) on behalf of the Public Library Association (PLA). This 2017 survey of public libraries from the United States and Canada captured fiscal year 2016 (FY2016) data on finances, resources, service usage, and technology. Each year PLDS includes a special section. This year the supplemental questions focused on young adult services.