A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
Image of the "Cursed" book cover

Cursed — A Conversation with Karol Ruth Silverstein

Since 2004, ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award has honored an author or illustrator for a title that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.  In 2020, the “teen” category prize went to screenwriter and first-time novelist Karol Ruth Silverstein’s Cursed, published in 2019 by Charlesbridge Teen. Readers meet 14-year-old […]

ALA's Build America's Libraries Logo

Act to Ensure Libraries Part of Infrastructure Act

Within the next two weeks Congress will make historic decisions about how to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. ALA is asking advocates to act to ensure libraries aren’t left out.

Nicole Glover Author Photo

Nicole Glover on Pocket Diaries, Floating Books, and Creating the Fantastical World of her Debut Novel

With The Conductors, Nicole Glover creates a fascinating alternate reality—a Reconstruction-era Philadelphia where magic exists and is regulated by the government—in which readers will want to get lost. Hettie Rhodes, a former conductor on the Underground Railroad, spends her days working as an in-demand seamstress and her nights as a detective, tackling the cases that the white police force ignore. Hettie is aided in her pursuits by her husband, Benjy, a former Conductor like Hettie but now a gifted blacksmith. When an acquaintance is murdered, Hettie and Benjy dive into an investigation that causes them to explore the many facets of Black Philadelphia, while also confronting dormant issues in their relationship and events from their past. In her debut novel, Glover confidently creates a complex world rooted in real-life history, as well as a gift for empathetically delving into the interior lives of her characters. She talked with us about filling in the lives of her supporting characters, her research process, and what the future holds for Hettie and Benjy.

Author photo of Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman

Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman on Co-Writing a Novel, Google Doc Etiquette, and Creating the Most Unexpected Relationship of the Summer

Ava Simon has insulated herself from the trauma of the death of her girlfriend by throwing herself into her job at STÄDA, a minimalist Scandinavian design company in Brooklyn. Her ordered world, however, is thrown into tumult when her charismatic new boss, Mat Putnam, wiggles his way into her personal life. Overconfident and gregarious, Mat appears to be everything Ava is not, a Golden Retriever in human form. The two strike up a surprising relationship, and for the first time since her girlfriend’s death, Ava surprises herself by developing romantic feelings for another person. Yet Mat contains secrets of his own, and as Ava begins to pull at the threads of his facade she threatens to unravel her hard-won happiness. Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman’s A Very Nice Box is a gleeful satire of relationships and start-up culture, as well as an incisive examination of grief and male entitlement, one that has earned plaudits from critics. The New York Times Book Review raved about the book, stating “the book’s authors, Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman, are linguistic magicians, and their sparkling debut manages to expose the hollowness of well-being jargon while exploring, with tender care and precision, how we dare to move on after unspeakable loss.” Blackett and Gleichman talked to us about their unconventional writing process, creating the richly detailed world of their novel, and creating one of the most unanticipated relationships of the summer.

Photo of a DVD on a reddish background

Are We Reaching the End of Library DVD Collections?

When then-President Trump early voted at the Palm Beach County’s Main Library, late night host Jimmy Kimmel featured it in his show’s opening monologue. In addition to the usual jokes at the President’s expense, Kimmel was amazed by the long row of DVD shelving in the background. “Those are all DVDs. It’s a huge DVD […]

photo of a person holding a phone with a keyboard and notebook

ALA Group Calls on Publishers to Update Pricing Models

The ALA Joint Digital Content Working Group has issued a position paper on ebook lending, calling on publishers to update their models for pricing and licensing to enhance equity of access for public, academic, and school libraries.

Michael Blanding Author Photo

Michael Blanding on Researching the Fascinating Mystery Behind Shakespeare’s Plays

When Dennis McCarthy approached Michael Blanding after an author event for Blanding’s last book, the journalist little knew that he was about to embark on a research project that would take him all over Britain and Italy in pursuit of an unconventional theory about the source material for Shakespeare’s plays. McCarthy, a charismatic independent Shakespearean scholar, was eager to investigate the life of Thomas North, a sixteenth century courtier and scholar who McCarthy believed wrote a series of plays that Shakespeare later used as the basis for his own work. An initially reluctant Blanding was persuaded to follow McCarthy when part of McCarthy’s prodigious research was published in a book he co-wrote with Shakespearean scholar June Schlueter. Blanding and McCarthy found themselves in England and Italy, retracing different trips North took that McCarthy believed influenced the plays he wrote and investigating firsthand documents in libraries. The resulting book, North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work, is a wildly entertaining read that illuminates a forgotten figure in British history and brings the political intrigue of sixteenth century England to rip-roaring life. Critics have been equally enthusiastic over North by Shakespeare as they were with Blanding’s last book, the NPR Book of the Year The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps. The Christian Science Monitor raved, “The book likewise does a virtuoso job of evoking both the realities of Shakespeare’s world and the twists and turns of the whole Shakespeare question” and Publishers Weekly praised it, saying, “Shakespeare fans and readers who enjoy the thrill of a good bibliographic treasure hunt will want to check this out.”

photo of a book bag with books showing

Twelve Months of Passive Programming

Passive programming can be a challenge. More so, the difficulty is determining how to supply activities that are not too pricey (we try to supply enough kits for 60 patrons) and too complicated for patrons to follow via printout instructions. With that being said, my library has successfully carried out twelve months of dynamic passive […]

booklet with title ADA Americans with Disabilities Act

Make Your Library ADA Friendly, Not Just ADA Compliant

Having an ADA compliant library is necessary by law, but you can go above the ADA requirements to become an ADA friendly library and better help your patrons with different abilities.

illustration of two hands dropping coins into a building

Why Do We Think Library Services are Free?

I was in the library’s media lab helping a patron with Microsoft Publisher, and I recommended she learn how to use Publisher with an online course provided through the library. My co-worker chimes in, “and the best part is that it’s free!” I frowned and said, “it’s not free. It’s paid for with your tax dollars.” I am beginning to believe that how we think about public library services as free directly impacts how public libraries don’t get funded.

photo of a woman at a laptop with headphones

The Library Comic Convention Goes Virtual

Like most other library programming, Library Comic Conventions went virtual during the pandemic. Three libraries share how they made the transition.

Public Libraries Podcast logo

FYI Podcast — Hosting Digital Author Events

In this episode, Stesha Brandon, Literature and Humanities Program Manager at the Seattle Public Library (SPL) shares how SPLA successfully moved author programming to a digital format during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in for tips and great ideas on creating or improving your library’s digital author programming.

Short story dispenser dispensing a story

Short Story Dispensers Make Strides, Despite Pandemic

French publisher Short Édition made waves in U.S. libraries with its innovative Short Story Dispenser.

Author Photo of Jonathan Parks-Ramage

Jonathan Parks-Ramage on Subverting the Expectations of Genre and the ‘Fever Dream’ of His New Novel

Jonathan Parks-Ramage’s debut novel Yes, Daddy is an unnerving examination of the relationship between Jonah, a young writer struggling in New York City, and Richard, an incredibly wealthy, much-lauded middle-aged playwright. Jonah, who is barely able to make ends meet working at a restaurant for an abusive boss, is initially swept away by Richard’s lavish lifestyle and career full of accolades. Their idyllic romance turns dark, however, when Richard invites Jonah to his opulent compound in the Hamptons. Jonah, awed by the cultural glitterati who pop by for Richard’s wild weekend parties, overlooks several ominous signs, including the compound’s forbidding iron gates and the bruises that appear on the bodies of the handsome young men who serve as Richard’s staff. Yet after a fallout with Richard, Jonah finds himself plunged into a terrifying situation, one that forces him to confront some of the darkest moments from his past. In Yes, Daddy, Parks-Ramage deftly hops among multiple genres to spin an unsettling tale of abuse, betrayal, and atonement, crafting a story that will enthrall critics and readers alike.

Brian Broome Author Photo

Brian Broome on Gwendolyn Brooks, Giving Everybody the Benefit of the Doubt, and Why He Loves Writing on the Bus

Brian Broome’s triumphant memoir Punch Me Up to the Gods heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new writer. In essays of searing wit and compassion, Broome leads the reader through growing up Black and gay in rural Ohio, examining his relationship with his pragmatic mother and defeated father. As a young adult, he moves to Pittsburgh. The city affords him the community he had long sought growing up, but also causes him to confront his issues with addiction and past traumas. In every essay, Broome’s joyful empathy shines through, as he unflinchingly recollects the darkest moments of his life with sensitivity and good humor. Broome’s book has been met with glowing praise by fellow writers and critics. The New York Times Book Review stated, “Punch Me Up to the Gods feels like a gift,” and Kiese Laymon said, “Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the American paragraph. I’m not sure a book has ever had me sobbing, punching the air, dying of laughter, and needing to write as much as Brian Broome’s staggering debut.”