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Public Libraries Feature Article

Reading Confidence with Tail Waggin’ Tutors

Children who participate in canine-assisted reading programs are likely to develop confidence in their reading skills and find reading to be more enjoyable. While there has not yet been an extensive amount of data to be found to prove the effectiveness of children reading to therapy dogs at drop-in library programs, a research study conducted by the Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension at the University of California found that school children who read to therapy dogs on a regular basis improve their reading fluency by 12 percent. Studies that are available on canine-assisted library reading programs have found results for improvements in oral reading fluency and accuracy, along with significant increases in engaged reading time and significant improvements in reading skills, such as the ability to explain, describe, analyze, and infer.

Public Libraries Feature Article

A Community Collaboration Rekindles Interest in Classic Literature

Once per month, from September to May, program participants discuss literary powerhouses like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The program is a collaboration between PRPLD, the English department at Colorado State University (CSU), and a local Fort Collins (CO) business, Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House. Graduate students and faculty from the English department are our expert guides, providing background on the author, historical period, significance of the work, and thoughtful prompts for discussion. The program is drop-in and open to all community members.

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The Importance of Teaching Adult Services Librarians to Teach

“But, librarians aren’t teachers.” This was one of the first (and most common) comments I encountered when I began my research. “Degree-wise, yes. But,” I asked, “are they instructors?” Do most libraries (read this as librarians) have to walk someone through a process, whether it be how to download and use an app, reserve a book or a room, or access and use library databases? What about programs and classes? Most libraries today are offering a variety of choices to their adult communities: help with résumés, genealogy, technology. Name a topic, and some library in the United States is probably offering a class or program. Do these all count as teaching? Of course they do.

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Public Service Loan: Forgiveness The Struggle to Qualify is Real

I often call public libraries the “people’s university” because as an institution, we serve anyone who comes through our doors with an interest in learning. The public library is a welcoming community space for people of all ages to gather, connect with one another, tinker and try new things, and cultivate new ideas. Whether people come to visit for business networking meetings, looking for research materials for school projects, grabbing popular movies, or learning how to download or stream digital media content, it’s hard to walk out of a library without learning something new.

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Engaging Patrons with Library Podcasts

As podcasts have further embedded themselves into popular culture, public libraries have become active producers of podcast content, through both workshops for patrons and library-hosted programs. At their base level, podcasts are an effective way of archiving library programs and making them accessible to patrons who are unable to attend. Yet many public libraries are pushing beyond merely recording author talks by producing shows that supplement existing programs, reflect the communities they serve, and engage patrons in a unique way. The following is just a sample of the many innovative ways public libraries employ podcasts.

January February Feature Article

Authors Bounce Back

In keeping with this issue’s theme of fantastic failures, we turned to some of our favorite authors to see how they had navigated disappointments in their own careers. Their sympathetic yet heartening responses are below.

January February Feature Article

Facing Failure

Much has been written about the numerous benefits to be had from a failed experience at work. It’s widely thought of as a cliché in the business world to “embrace failure.” There are, to-date, eight TED Talks about learning from failure. Experts extol the virtues of analyzing mistakes in order to avoid repeating them. Many managers have procedures and policies in place that are designed to help their employees embrace failure in the name of positive change. And yet, denying failure and a reluctance to admit defeat are still the norm, from healthcare to politics, from giant corporations to small-town public libraries.

January February Feature Article

How I Learned To Love Patrons Again

Patron bashing—i.e. venting, ruminating, gossiping—might be the greatest failure when it comes to customer service and perhaps the greatest barrier to excellent customer service in libraries. It creates a toxic, negative environment that stunts innovation, wastes time, and waters down service. If that isn’t bad enough, patron bashing is a drain on our mental and organizational health.

How I Learned to Love Patrons Again

MATT SMITH is Collection Development Specialist at Kalamazoo (MI) Public Library. Contact Matt at matts@kpl.gov. Matt is currently reading The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race edited by Jesmyn Ward. Hermann Hesse once wrote that “nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to […]

Authors Bounce Back

BRENDAN DOWLING works for the Public Library Association in Chicago. Contact Brendan at bdowling@ala.org. Brendan is currently reading Lush Life by Richard Price. In keeping with this issue’s theme of fantastic failures, we turned to some of our favorite authors to see how they had navigated disappointments in their own careers. Their sym­pathetic yet heartening responses […]

Facing Failure

KRISTY PASQUARIELLO is a Children’s Librarian at Wellesley (MA) Free Library. Contact Kristy at kpasquariello@minlib.net. Kristy is currently reading My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson. When I first started working as a children’s librarian in a public library, I had grand plans for the successful programs I would run: charming storytime […]

FEATURE | Public Libraries in the Age of Fake News

Scrolling through my Twitter feed the afternoon after the election, I was surprised to see so many people tweeting that the results were in: Donald Trump had won the popular vote. It surprised me because earlier that morning I had heard on the radio that Hillary Clinton was pulling even further ahead of Trump. I did some fact-checking and it became clear: I had witnessed another example of the viral spread of fake news.

FEATURE | Mirrors and Windows: Diversity in Children’s Picture Books

William Caxton printed Aesop’s Fables in 1484, some saying it was the first book directed at children. Nearly two hundred years passed until The Little Book for Little Children by Thomas White was published in 1660, and the first modern picture book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, wasn’t published until 1902.[1] After a very slow start to the publication of children’s picture books, diversity within these books was slower still, and progress even reversed during certain decades. I became interested in picture book diversity after discovering that the first picture book to feature an African American character, The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats, was not published until 1962.[2] I began to investigate this subject further and became concerned by my findings.

FEATURE | Civil Rights Training at Nashville Public Library

In light of recent and continuing conflicts between citizens and police across the nation, the Nashville (TN) Public Li­brary (NPL) has partnered with the Nashville Police Depart­ment on a groundbreaking diversity education initiative that aims to improve understanding and communication between police forces and citizens. The program, Civil Rights and a Civil Society, uses NPL’s […]

Lit Sparking Community Connections with Dynamic Book Programming

In October 2015, Alberto Manguel wrote a fascinating editorial in The New York Times arguing for “reinventing the library.” Among those of us in the profession, and especially those of us who have passionately embraced and argued for libraries as community-centered institutions, such a title would have led us to expect an article focused on the many ways in which libraries, through creative programs and services, are establishing new relevance for themselves in the digital age. In Manguel’s essay, though, the reinvented library isn’t about makerspaces, concerts, yoga classes, or PokeStops. The reinvented library is about . . . books?