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News & Opinion

Social Work in Public Libraries

Naming the Elephant

I am public library social worker. This may be the first time you’ve heard of such a position, but helping professionals like me are now working within roughly three dozen library systems around the United States. As our institutions continue to serve the public during a global pandemic and other stressors, I am very concerned about burnout and staff mental health.

illustration of a hand pointing at data on a screeen

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Allen County Public Library has strategically incorporated logic models and outcome measurement in planning and evaluating programs and services in a relatively short amount of time by using Project Outcome tools as a central part of an overall shift to a more outward-facing approach to library services.

abstract figure of a person yelling through a bullhorn to a crowd

New Research Explores How Public Libraries Can Best Combat Misinformation

New research published in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science adds pieces to the puzzle of how public libraries can best address rising tides of misinformation within their communities. Most recently, misinformation surrounding COVID-19 has demonstrated how complex the issue can be and how serious- even lethal- the consequences.

images of people using computers

Not open? No problem. Rural Libraries Push WiFi Into Community Spaces

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, those who live in such remote areas may have been among the hardest hit. Getting access to WiFi safely – outdoors and away from crowds – can relieve the isolation. It’s something the Gilbreath library (along with more than 60 other libraries in rural regions) can now more easily facilitate, thanks to a $120,000 grant program offered by the Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft.

ala libraries build business logo

Open to Change: Libraries Pivot to Serve Small Businesses

Libraries, as critical local infrastructure, are always tuned into the emerging needs of their communities and are ready to respond with timely and relevant resources and services. This includes support for the local business community. Existing and aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs can leverage library resources and programming to bolster their businesses.

illustration of three owls (a family) reading

Online Learning Opportunities for Babies

Eight months have gone by since the beginning of the pandemic. This means that anyone younger than 8 months has probably not been inside of a library. If they have it hasn’t been the library experience their older brothers and sisters experienced. We are not getting to know our infant patrons in the same manner […]

walkway among imaginary setting with a large book in the middle

A Story Walk in the Park

Many libraries across the country and around the world are bringing story-time outside in a way that is safe, fun for the whole family, and encourages a healthy lifestyle through StoryWalks®.

Fire Dange sign

Wildfires Damage Libraries

“We are open regular hours- except of course the branch that burned to the ground.”

Glowing candle in darkness

Be Like RBG – Lessons from a Life

Like countless others, I admired the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), Supreme Court Justice and human rights icon. In 2017 I painted her portrait as part of a series on human rights leaders. I had a quality art print made from the original and mailed it with a letter of appreciation. To my delight, I […]

picture of a bookmobile

Bookmobile Conference Goes Virtual

For the first time in its history, the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services’ annual conference will be conducted virtually this year. Learn more about this organization and the benefits of outreach professionals swapping trade secrets.

person at desk looking tired and overwhelmed

A Pandemic Side Effect: Low Morale in Public Libraries

Employee morale takes another hit in the age of COVID.

Voices are Power

The insights gained from a library visit in Nashville, have put into motion events that will certainly change lives and create a new future for many libraries in Africa. We are on the threshold of making history as we seek to transform lives by empowering African voices to tell their stories.

person holding a white mask

Collections May Be Low Risk but Public Spaces are Not

Public libraries are caught in a Catch-22 where their services are low risk for individuals who are able to access the internet from home, but increase the risk for marginalized patrons, who rely on shared public space.

Social Work in Public Libraries

Relationship as a Resource

These are tough times, and we’ve got questions. What are we supposed to do? We face so much communal and individual pain—pain that is fueled by a global pandemic and systematized racial injustice—pain that existed long before 2020 but has been ignited, amplified, and now refuses to be ignored. What are we supposed to do now?

a woman with a laptop attending an online meeting

Libraries Launch BLM Book Clubs

As indicated by the ALA’s response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, libraries have an obligation to act on behalf of racial justice with genuine systemic change, not just statements or book lists.