A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

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March April 2016

FEATURE|Interview Practice Service at Richland Library

About the Authors RICHLAND LIBRARY BUSINESS AND JOB CENTER STAFF includes Chris Barstow, Kris Dempster, Charletta Felder, Sylvie Golod, Janet Hatch, Andrena King, Bland Lawson, Diane Luccy (Business and Job Center Manager), Megan Mathis, Debra Talton, Jennifer Thompson, and Mary Vicks. Contact Diane at dluccy@richlandlibrary.com. She is currently reading The Little Book That Still Beats […]

Applying Previous Library and Non-Library Experience to Best Advantage

Anyone who has worked in or patronized a small public library knows that in order for the organization to thrive, the manager must employ a wide variety of skills on a daily basis. “From chief cook to bottle washer” is a commonly heard phrase when public library managers are asked to describe their duties. While there are skills that can be taught and learned ahead of time to maximize success in the public library manager role, many of the management skills necessary for success are acquired on the job. The job doesn’t necessarily have to be in the public library setting, however. There are commonalities across library and organizational settings that allow for managerial skills to be acquired and transferred so that the public library manager can excel, no matter how he or she might have gained that experience.

¿Cómo puedo ayudarle? Providing the Best Service to Your Hispanic Community

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2014, the estimated Hispanic population is 17.4 percent of the total 319 million U.S. population.1 Not every one of those individuals who classify themselves as Hispanic or Latino speaks Spanish. However, according to a 2015 report released by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes, “The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.”2 The U.S. has forty-one million native speakers and eleven million who are bilingual.3 Those are some serious numbers and public libraries are at the forefront of assisting many of these Hispanics with whatever resources they have available. Many Spanish speakers go to public libraries to look for answers regarding a path to citizenship, questions about the I-90 form, services offered for Spanish speakers, and my favorite, “¿Donde tienes tus libros españoles?” (“Where do you have your Spanish books?”) Publishing companies are doing their best to cater to this large community, but answer this question: Even with more Spanish books readily available, who are the librarians assessing community needs and building these Spanish and bilingual collections? It is one thing to be a Hispanic librarian, as I am, but it is another to truly understand the Hispanic community to know how a collection should be built.

Jan Feb 2016 Public LIbraries

FEATURE|Serving All Library Families in a Queer and Genderqueer Way

There are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer children and families in every service community in the country. While libraries all across the country serve queer people in various ways, most likely still rely on heterosexuality and cisgender as defaults. That is, the norms that govern straight people, normal families, and people whose gender expression matches their birth sex.

public libraries magazine feature article november/december 2015 on a background of clouds

Re-Envisioning the MLS The Future of Librarian Education

The last several years have been marked by a number of societal changes that include, but are not limited to, the shifting nature of our economy, the workforce skills needed to succeed in a reinvigorated job market, advances in technology, the evolving nature of information, transformations in education and learning approaches, and the rapid demographic shift occurring in our communities.1 Any one of these challenges can have a significant impact on individuals, communities, and institutions. Collectively, the shifts are seismic and impact how we learn, engage, work, and succeed moving forward (see “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Issues, Considerations, and Framing” for additional details). Public libraries in particular have been deeply affected by the changing social, economic, technological, demographic, community, and information landscapes—so much so that various initiatives are exploring the future of public libraries.2 Exploring the future of public libraries, however, also requires us to consider the future of public librarians—and how we prepare them for a dynamic and evolving service context.

public libraries magazine feature article november/december 2015 on a background of clouds

Capital Investment: San Francisco’s Branch Library Improvement Program

Your library is very likely somewhere in the process of conceiving, funding, planning, constructing, or wrapping up a capital project or a large capital program. If you’re wrapping up, you’re probably also dreaming of the next round or series of improvements to at least some buildings.

This pattern describes the capital investment life cycle for libraries. While this cycle occurs with other public facilities, including city halls and community centers, it is perhaps more pronounced with regard to libraries because of fundamental changes occurring in how people use libraries. Libraries across the country are—to use a current term—transforming. Yesterday’s library is fundamentally different from today’s twenty-first-century library. Much of this change is fueled by rapid evolutions in technology, which influence how people access and share information. Increasing digital collections creates the opportunity to rethink spaces once devoted to periodicals and books. Libraries across the country are finding room for more community gathering spaces, study areas, and media centers. Economic and cultural changes are also contributing to the transformation of libraries. During the Great Recession and in this time of a growing economic gap, libraries are playing important roles in skill development, job searching, career advancement, and support for small businesses.

public libraries magazine feature article november/december 2015 on a background of clouds

May I Ask You a Question? Lessons Learned from Interviewing Public Library Leaders

What exactly does a library director do? In 2012, I was a branch manager in the Palm Beach (FL) County Library System (PBCLS). While in this position, I graduated from a county leadership program that inspired me to consider becoming a library director. I had to admit that I did not know what the job fully entailed. So I set about researching the duties and responsibilities of the position, along with identifying the traits that make a great director. I wanted real advice, not just book knowledge. But the question was how to find it?

sept oct public libraries feature article

Musical Stories Infusing Your Read-Alouds with Music, Movement, and Sound

Public libraries have a longstanding tradition of supporting families, childcare providers, preschool teachers, and communities to help every child enter school ready to learn to read. PLA’s and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)’s Every Child Ready to Read1 (ECRR) initiative clearly defines the role of public libraries in supporting parents and caregivers […]

sept oct public libraries feature article

Just Good Practice: Engaging Families with Young Children

Books can open doorways to discovery. PerfectPiggies! (2010) by Sandra Boynton, for example, delights babies and toddlers with quirky fun and
upbeat illustrations—and helps grown-ups interact with children. “Isn’t that pig silly? What do you think will happen next?” Adults learn to relax and enjoy the “conversation”—”bah doo bah doink.” Parents can invite story connections to personal life. “A piggy needs kindness. Wasn’t Grandma kind to bring us flowers yesterday?” A well-chosen book and a suggested home activity help parents create a heart-to-heart intimacy with their child. Library play-and-learn centers magnetically draw children into the kind of play that engages and inspires them. Grown-ups and children—by talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing—can enter into this world of discovery.

sept oct public libraries feature article

Google Books: Far More Than Just Books

One of the beauties of Google Books is the ability to search the entire text of millions of items, bypassing the necessity of hunting down known items or even familiarity with the published literature on the topic. All the patron needs is the name of an ancestor or a historical curiosity to begin the search. This article will focus on ways average readers, librarians, and genealogists can enrich their research in surprising ways by the variety of materials beyond mere monographs that are contained in Google Books.

July/August 2015 column "Public Libraries"

New Product News – July/August 2015 “Public Libraries”

New Product News delves into the world of library vendors, products, and services to find the standouts that combine innovation and quality.

July/August 2015 column "Public Libraries"

The Wired Library – Tech Trends and Tension

The pendulum, it swings. Eight years ago, my charge as a technology librarian was to herd the cats — to introduce new technology and ways of serving the digital patron to an organization that was largely skeptical of change. Cut to now, and I’m … still herding cats. Only, this time, it’s the folks at all levels of the organization who want to incorporate tech into every service they can think of. Sunrise, sunset.

Does that mean we’ve had a complete polar shift in the way technology operates in libraries? Yes, but also no. Maybe we’ll even throw a “maybe” in there for good measure. The pendulum will keep swinging, meaning we’ve got to be ready for shifts in either direction. Sound confusing? Of course it is. There’s a tremendous tension between the wish to provide stability and the urge to forge new ground. In our quest to provide quality service and access to all, it’s no wonder we feel pulled in all directions at once.

Public Libraries Feature Article July/august issue

Using Superhero Comics to Teach Young Children Intellectual Property Concepts

On January 5, 2014, The Simpsons television series aired “Steal This Episode.” Homer Simpson discovers that he enjoys pirating movies so much that he decides to share them with his neighbors. He installs a large outdoor movie screen and offers lawn chairs and popcorn for his friends to view the illegally acquired flicks. He doesn’t charge […]

Public Libraries Feature Article July/august issue

Project Outcome: Helping Libraries Capture Their Community Impact

Project Outcome is PLA’s latest field-driven initiative, helping libraries to capture their impact in the communities they serve. In 2013, libraries and researchers formed a task force with a mission to develop and test a simple set of outcome-based surveys for any library type to use when measuring the outcomes of their services and programs. Project Outcome builds on the task force’s work by providing resources and support to help any library set strategic goals, measure outcomes, communicate their findings, and successfully achieve their goals.

Public Library Advocacy: An Evidence-Based Perspective on Sustainable Funding

A new evidence-based perspective on evaluating the advocacy efforts of public libraries is being developed. By drawing on research from other disciplines and the latest studies on libraries, a set of advocacy best practices is emerging. Findings show that building strong relationships with funding decision-makers and other related tactics of interpersonal influence could be important advocacy tools.