A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

November/December 2014Volume 53, No. 6

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Looking at the Future of Libraries

“A library is a collection of possible futures.”—John Barth, Browsing1

The future of libraries is a lot like my office clock. It has your standard 1-12 numbering around the outside edge of the device, along with an inner ring that marks off the minutes in five-minute increments. Each hand ends in a circle, and you can read the clock by checking to see which numbers are inside each circle. In order to do so, you’ve got to realize that the hour hand is the bigger of the two—countering more than 1,000 years of conditioning telling us which clock hand is which

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Feature: Innovation Expo: Create and Collaborate in Maryland

The second annual Innovation Expo was held in May 2014 on a spring Saturday in Baltimore. The public day-long event featured a keynote speaker from
the inspiring Chattanooga (Tenn.) Public Library (CPL), a library-staff-only training opportunity, and a 5,000-square-foot exhibit hall full of hands-on learning opportunities from museums, academic institutions, makerspaces, public libraries, and more. The event, subtitled “Create and Collaborate,”was a creative collaboration in and of itself.

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Re-Envisioning Public Libraries

Although I have to admit feeling a bit self-conscious about wearing Mickey Mouse ears with a tassel after recently “graduating” from a workshop at the
Disney Institute (DI), the training from that day was nothing to laugh about and really got me thinking about the Aspen Institute’s (AI) “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” report released in October.1 Disney’s workshop was targeted to a broad range of attendees from the private and public sectors with a focus on leadership, creativity, and innovation. AI’s report is focused on public libraries and offers a call to action for library leaders, policy makers, and the community. The following are some of the interesting parallels I observed between the two institutes.

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Feature: Library Services for the “New Normal” of Miltary Families

Article details the Cumberland County (N.C.) Public Library and Information Center’s quest to provide the best possible services for their military family patrons. Looks at the results of the library’s “military community assessment” and shows how programs and services were altered or developed to meet the needs of this group.

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Mental Health Training in Public Libraries

When I was a kid, one of my favorite “dad at work” stories was about the time a homeless guy tried to kick him. My dad was a library director, a job that required a lot of management and administration—two words that meant nothing to me a child. What exactly did he do all day? But the homeless guy story—that I could understand. This man was washing his socks in the library’s bathroom sink despite having been told repeatedly to stop. Dad was called and the guy lost it.