A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

May/June 2014Volume 53, No. 3

New Product News May/June 2014

Gale Virtual Reference Library Gale looked at the various acquisition models in the market and concluded that people pay attention to usage. We want to know if our purchases are being used, so in November 2013 Gale introduced a new usage-driven acquisition model for its Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL). How it works: a library […]

Supporting Innovation in Education: Digital Curricula and the Public Library

In 2013, the Washington County (Minn.) Library (WCL) began collaborating with South Washington County School District (SWCSD) (District 833) to support the district’s Transforming Thinking through Technology (T3) initiative. This new curriculum incorporates a variety of digital learning tools and strategies, including tablet-based learning, flipped classrooms, and a gradual phasing out of textbooks from select classes. WCL has taken a multi-departmental approach to providing support services to district staff and students, leveraging library resources on a variety of fronts and demonstrating library utility to a number of different audiences.

Feature Article

Mentoring Gen-X Librarians

Recent library literature abounds on the subject of recruiting and retaining the profession’s most recent arrivals, the Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000. On the other end of the spectrum, the Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, have also attracted attention as libraries prepare for Boomers to retire over the next ten to fifteen years. Sandwiched in the middle and often overlooked is Generation X, the generation born between 1965 and 1979. At just more than half the size of the Baby Boomer generation, Generation X presents a challenge for all organizations simply because of its smaller size. Who will replace all the retiring Boomers? Libraries will feel this challenge even more keenly because of the typically older age profile of librarians, many of whom entered the profession as a second career or later in life. Indeed, as many as 60 percent of current librarians are predicted to retire by 2025. This situation may be further aggravated by indications of poor retention of Generation X librarians. Poor retention of this generation will clearly exacerbate an already impending library staffing shortage. However, poor retention may also lead to a leadership gap in libraries because Generation X is poised to be libraries’ next generation of leaders and many of the retiring Baby Boomer librarians will vacate leadership and supervisory roles. Thus it is essential that libraries consider retention strategies targeted to Generation X.

Learning from Librarians and Teens about YA Library Spaces

Young adult (YA) librarianship has received growing attention in the library literature over the past several years. However, the majority of writing on this topic has focused on the services provided rather than on the physical spaces where these services take place. As U.S. public libraries are evolving to meet users’ changing needs, we are in need of new design principles that reflect how users are actually using and interacting with their library spaces. Physical design elements have a large impact on how welcoming and comfortable the library feels, making user-centered design a crucial consideration in serving teens.

Creating Community through Community

The changing nature of libraries stresses a shift to deliberate action on the part of the library, and the sense of “turning outward” espoused by the American Library Association’s (ALA) “Libraries Transforming Communities” advocacy campaign. Documenting these connections serves to recast the library experience in a new light.

Moving Toward Outcomes

Recently I received an email message from a fellow library director recommending a librarian for employment. She noted that the librarian was skilled in readers’ advisory and a good team member, but had been let go due to continuing cuts to the public library’s budget by the municipal authorities, despite the fact that the town is sufficiently affluent to afford sustained support for public library services. Unfortunately, the local officials do not see the extent of the public library’s contribution to the well-being of community residents and to the town. We need to show more effectively that libraries are not only busy and efficiently run institutions, but that public libraries have multiple direct and indirect impacts on our communities.