A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
Nancy Pearl Author Photo

Nancy Pearl on How Reading Informs the Person That You Are

Whether it’s through her beloved Book Lust series, her frequent appearances on NPR’s Morning Edition, or her own critically acclaimed novel, George and Lizzie, Nancy Pearl has been providing readers with impeccable reading options for many years. With The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives, Pearl has taken it one step further. She and her collaborator, playwright Jeff Schwager, interviewed a wide-ranging group of twenty-three American authors about the books that made them who they are today. From Susan Choi on The Borrowers to Amor Towles on The Honorable Schoolboy, the result is a series of illuminating conversations that reveal your favorite writers in surprising and intimate ways.

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.

Magda Newman and Nathaniel Newman photo

Magdalena Newman on Kindness Momentums and Her Aha Moment

Magdalena Newman’s Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey, beautifully details her oldest son Nathaniel’s experience with Treacher Collins syndrome, a congenital disorder that causes craniofacial deformities. At birth, Nathaniel’s ears, eyes, cheekbones, and jawbone were not properly formed, necessitating hearing aids, a gastrointestinal tube, a tracheostomy tube to assist breathing, and over sixty surgeries the first fifteen years of his life. Newman, who had been a professional concert pianist in her native Poland, was totally unprepared to care for a baby with such enormous medical needs, Yet she immediately rose to the challenge, becoming laser focused on ensuring Nathaniel could lead a normal life. Magdalena and her husband Russel’s fierce advocacy serve as a guiding light for their family and community, navigating through Nathaniel’s complicated medical procedures (as well her own bouts with both non-Hodgkins and Hodgkins lymphoma diagnoses) with grace and dignity. Newman charts her family’s journey with raw honesty, while Nathaniel’s perspective pops up throughout the memoir, emerging as a clever and funny teenager with his wry commentary. Magdalena and Nathaniel’s journey take them to unexpected places, including a friendship with R.J. Palacio, who saw a picture of Nathaniel while doing research for Wonder.

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.

Tiffany D. Cross Author Photo

“I Had Grown Too Big to Shrink”: Tiffany D. Cross on her Journey from the Control Room to the Green Room

Tiffany D. Cross has been a major player in the news media for nearly two decades, first working as an Associate Producer for CNN, then founding the influential newsletter The Beat DC, to her current appearances as an on-air political analyst on MSNBC. In her new book, Say It Louder: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy, Cross digs into the current landscape of the news media, exploring how a lack of diversity in newsrooms shapes not only what stories are covered but also how they are reported, and then examining the resultant effect on day-to-day life in the United States. Through comprehensive data analysis as well as exploring key moments in U.S. history, Cross investigates the critical role Black voters have played in past elections, and how that role has been misunderstood and under-reported by the media. The result is an illuminating look at the current political moment that profoundly shapes how readers consume and examine news media.

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?

Author photo of David Nicholls

David Nicholls on the Fond Embarrassment of First Love and Community Theater

In David Nicholl’s hilarious and tender Sweet Sorrow, the impending marriage of thirty-eight year-old Charlie causes him to look back on his formative first relationship, a summer romance with the ebullient Fran, a fellow cast member in a community theater production of Romeo and Juliet over twenty years earlier. As the present-day Charlie recalls the highs of falling in love and the many embarrassments of his first foray into acting, he also recounts the darker moments of that summer: the loneliness of being left behind as his school friends prepared to leave for university and his recently divorced dad grappling with the collapse of his beloved record shop. The result is an emotionally rich look at a man reckoning with his past and the relationships that guided him to his present, one that stands proudly alongside Nicholls’ previous books, which include the beloved One Day and Starter for Ten.

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.

image of four hands holding gears to the sky

Encouraging Computational Thinking for Young Children and Families From a Distance

Development of computational thinking skills can begin in very early childhood, helping to foster creative problem solvers capable of solving 21st century challenges. By intentionally incorporating, modeling, and making computational thinking skills accessible in your programs and services during this time and beyond, you can empower and support families in this realm.

library shelving

Rising to the Challenges

Like many of you I am struggling to adapt to the new world in which our branches are empty and quiet.

Public Library Association Call to Action for Public Library Workers to Address Racism

The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), calls on public library workers to commit to structural change and to taking action to end systemic racism and injustice.

Author Photo of Sameer Pandya

Sameer Pandya on Digging into the Everyday Lives of Characters and Opening Up the Campus Novel

Sameer Pandya’s Members Only charts a calamitous week in the life of Raj Bhatt, a charming middle-aged anthropology professor at a South Californian university. As part of his tennis club’s membership committee, Raj has long sought to diversify the club’s lily white makeup. He’s thus delighted to meet Bill Brown, a charismatic Black doctor who is applying to the club. Yet during Bill’s membership meeting, Raj makes a racist joke in a disastrous attempt to bond with Bill and his wife. From there, Raj’s week only gets worse. His white colleagues at the club demand to dictate the terms in which Raj should apologize (while blithely ignoring their own past racist comments), while a cohort of Raj’s white students rise up to protest his “reverse racism” in the classroom. Through it all, Pandya navigates Raj’s world with insight and grace, making Raj’s miserable week very, very funny in the process.

Social Work in Public Libraries

Fostering Resilience via Libraries/Library Work

As I continue to report to work during shelter in place, I have witnessed people linger at the front gates of the San Francisco Public Library anxiously asking when the library will open again.

Author Photo of Diane Cardwell

Diane Cardwell on Surfing, Falling Over and Over Again, and the Danger of Saving Yourself for a Future that Never Comes

Diane Cardwell was in her mid-forties when a chance visit to Rockaway Beach altered the trajectory of her life. A successful journalist for The New York Times, Cardwell was at Rockaway for a story, but found herself transfixed by the surfers on the beach. That fortuitous encounter caused her to sign up for a surf lesson, and soon Cardwell was spending every spare moment at the beach, forging friendships with other surfers, and eventually buying a home there so she could more seriously pursue her newfound passion. Her memoir, Rockaway: Surfing Headlong into a New Life, charts Cardwell’s journey of self-transformation through surfing, providing not only a bighearted exploration of Rockaway, but also exquisite sports writing that plants the readers on top of the surfboard.

Gerard Koeppel Author Photo

Gerard Koeppel on the Clash of Cultures that Turned Deadly on the High Seas

In Gerard Koeppel’s engrossing Not a Gentleman’s Work: The Untold Story of a Gruesome Murder at Sea and the Long Road to Truth, Koeppel investigates a murder trial that captured the attention of the late nineteenth century but is now largely forgotten. In 1896, six days into a twelve-week voyage to Buenos Aires, crew members […]