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News & Opinion

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To Engage or Not to Engage? Social Media in Public Libraries

Many see social media as a panacea – connecting libraries with the people we serve. However, social media done right takes time, effort, strategy and planning. Social media in libraries done right can reach users in new ways. Maintaining social media accounts for an organization takes a level of expertise often underestimated or taken for granted.

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New Podcast! Guests include Library LoveFest and Author Juliet Grames

PLA’s Brendan Dowling hosts a conversation with Lainey Mays and Christopher Connolly of the HarperCollins Library LoveFest team, and an interview with Juliet Grames, whose first novel, “The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna,” will be released in the Spring.

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Providing Social Service Resources in a Library Setting

When people discover I am a social worker at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) Main Library, the first question I often hear is, “Really? Why provide social services at the library?!” I understand this response, but in truth, many patrons experiencing homelessness access the library for refuge and assistance for basic needs. And that is where I enter the picture.

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Expect the Unexpected at Library Programs

After three decades as a librarian, I’ve learned that the unexpected is to be expected during most library programs. Like libraries across the country, the Miami-Dade Public Library System caters to all ages. Any topic can be a potential program. Success can be anything from impacting a few grateful ESOL students at a Conversation Circle to a full-on children’s festival for thousands. However, our best intentions about a dream program can emerge into a difficult to predict reality. Thus, my staff has learned “on the fly” to be flexible for whatever comes. Here are a few examples:

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Never Shut Up About the Awesome Programs at the Library!

In every conversation that I had with event attendees, they all said the same thing, “I didn’t know that the library had/did that!” In fact, if I had had a dollar for every time I heard it, I would have made more money than the breakfast cost to put on. Libraries are integral to their community and provide a wide array of services, so why are so many patrons in the dark?

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New Quick Reads – Teaching Early Literacy to Teen Parents

Using Every Child Ready to Read principles and programming tips from San Antonio Public Library’s “Little Read Wagon,” this guide will show you how to create a program that meets the needs of your community’s teen parents.

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Why I Am Still Not Decorating My Library For Christmas

After much thought, I find myself in the same place. I will not decorate my library for Christmas, because Christmas is not a secular holiday. I will not decorate my library for any religious holiday. I feel that this is alienating for those who do not celebrate these particular faiths.

black and white photo of a library orange banner in upper left reads 'social work in public libraries'

The Public Library as a Protective Factor

Fundamentally, I see the goal of public libraries as the empowerment of the citizenry. Historically, libraries have empowered individuals primarily through the distribution of information. However, we offer so much more than that. I encourage you to consider the ways in which your library functions as a protective factor for the members of your community and to build upon those strengths so that all our patrons, both privileged and vulnerable, are empowered to reach their full potential.

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Library on the Border Acts as Haven for Immigrant Families

One public library offers a safe space for immigrant families to gather. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the U.S. – Canada border, has become a safe haven and a commons for immigrants.

Public Libraries Help Support Resolutions to Get Healthy

For the sixth year, Devon Libraries in the United Kingdom offers Active Life, Active Mind programming series. This year features over 250 events across the county. Their slogan is “take a step in the right direction and try a new activity this January at your local library.” Meanwhile, here in the U.S., dozens of libraries planning “New Year, New You” programs

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Taking Teen Services to the Teens

Why not opt to get out of the library and meet the teens where they are already at?

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Breaking Down Barriers to Library Service-Going Fine Free

As community driven institutions, libraries should focus on removing all possible barriers to achieve equality of access for every member of our communities.

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Finding Answers – Unexpected Reference Sources

The issue of Lapham’s Quarterly that I saw on my friend’s table was about music and it is a treasure trove of information for general readers and researchers alike.

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Library of Congress Digitizes Vast Teddy Roosevelt Collection

The Roosevelt collection is the  largest presidential archival collection held by the LOC, at 276,000 documents, which have been scanned into 461,000 images. The bulk of the collection was a personal gift from President Roosevelt to Herbert Putnam (Librarian of Congress 1899-1939).

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Reframe Advocacy to Highlight Library’s Essential Services

By not specifically highlighting how the work of public libraries impacts disadvantaged populations we’re simultaneously selling ourselves short, reinforcing the idea that libraries are for some and not all, and slowly but surely digging our own grave. Our advocacy must start getting real about who is using our libraries and for what reasons. A public building is intended for public use, and not just the version of the public that people feel comfortable being around. Our facilities, services, programming and materials should be able to be used by even the most marginalized in our societies. Otherwise we’re not doing our job and assisting in its demise.