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Shannon Pufahl Author Photo

Shannon Pufahl on Luck, the Social Avant-Garde, and the “Interesting Fictional Problem” at the Heart of Her New Novel

In Shannon Pufahl’s luminous On Swift Horses, newlywed Muriel whiles away her days at the local diner where she waitresses. There, she becomes a careful student of the horse trainers and jockeys who eat there, learning the intricacies of the horse racing world by eavesdropping on their conversations. When this newfound knowledge yields an unexpected windfall at the track, Muriel finds herself at a crossroads, tentatively exploring this newfound financial freedom and its impact on her marriage. Meanwhile, her beloved brother-in-law Julius has found work at a Las Vegas Casino, where he has fallen deeply in love with his co-worker (and card cheat), Henry. Both Muriel and Julius soon find themselves on unexpected quests, and Pufahl masterfully tracks their journeys through Tijuana and the queer spaces of mid-century San Diego.

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New Podcast! The 2020 Census and Public Libraries

In this episode, Larra Clark, PLA and ALA Washington Office Public Policy and Advocacy Deputy Director, and Michelle Perera, Director of the Pasadena (California) Public Library discuss the 2020 census. With billions in federal funding at stake over the next ten years, it is crucial for libraries that an accurate count is taken. Clark and […]

photo of an old cemetery

Graves Lost or Found? There’s an App for That!

Most library reference questions regarding cemetery data aren’t quite as urgent as this one, but libraries do often receive requests for such information from genealogists and historians. Thanks to new technology, including crowdsourcing via apps and websites, such information is becoming more accessible.

food

Cooking at the Library

Hosting programs around cooking increases financial and/or health literacy and offers wonderful tie-ins such as cultural aspects of cooking or cookbooks. From small rural libraries with heat plates to multi-branch libraries with own culinary learning centers, public libraries have embraced food-based programs.

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Is Your Library Hiring?

Plan To Have a Presence at the PLA 2020 Career FairIs your library hiring? On Wednesday afternoon of the PLA 2020 conference (February 26) from 3:30-6:30pm, PLA will host a Career Fair at the Career Center in the Exhibits Hall. If your library would like to host a table and connect with job seekers at […]

Paul Theroux Author Photo

“The World Looks More Fragile Than It Did When I Was Younger”—A Conversation with Paul Theroux

For over fifty years, Paul Theroux has set the gold standard for travel writing. Now in his seventies, he remains as curious and fearless as ever, as evidenced in his new book, On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. The book is an extraordinary chronicle of a hugely ambitious trip Theroux undertook, where he drove the entire length of the US-Mexican border, and then deeper into Oaxaca and Chiapas. Along the way, Theroux spends time with Zapotec mill workers, attends a Zapatista party meeting, and teaches a creative writing class in Mexico City. Through it all, Theroux lends his formidable powers of observation to these areas of Mexico rarely visited by its northern neighbors.

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FYI Podcast — eBooks for All!

PLA/ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Deputy Director Larra Clark and Emily Wagner, Public Policy and Advocacy Deputy Director discuss the publisher changes to library ebooks and the publisher embargo which led to ALA’s “eBooks for All Campaign.” Clark and Wagner further discuss how public libraries are taking action, the online petition, and detail how you […]

Julie Zickefoose Author Photo

“Birds are the Messengers for Me”—A Conversation with Julie Zickefoose

When wildlife expert Julie Zickefoose received a photo of a dehydrated blue jay, she had no idea the profound effect the bird, who Zickefoose named Jemima, would quickly have on her life. What followed was a herculean effort on the part of Zickefoose and her family, where they nursed Jemima back to health, released it back into the wild, and then strategized how to give Jemima medical attention when the bird came down with a dangerous disease. Zickefoose’s memoir about this human-avian relationship, Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay, serves as both love letter to this resilient blue jay as well as a fascinating long term analysis of a species that rarely permits itself to be studied. Zickefoose, who might be familiar to readers from her frequent appearances on National Public Radio, is the author of numerous books, including Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest and The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds. Of her latest book, Booklist stated, “Zickefoose has produced another hard-to-put-down winner” while Library Journal hailed it as “a heartwarming account for all interested in natural history, especially birds, animal behavior, and wildlife rehabilitation.”

illustration fo a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse, with images of money and bill-type documents on the screen

Helping Patrons Navigate Online Banking

In the old days, doing just about anything with your money—getting cash, looking up an old statement, depositing a check—meant visiting a brick-and-mortar bank. These days, cash mostly comes from ATMs, looking up a statement is as easy as logging onto the computer, and anyone who can take a photo with a mobile phone can deposit a check. But as efficient as they are, some of these technological advances have left some populations behind: people who are older, don’t have bank accounts, are less educated, or earn less money are likely to lack the necessary computer skills to use mobile banking.

a phone with symbols above it

Tackling Meta-Illiteracy

In my last post, I discussed reasons why librarians should not handle patrons’ personal devices. As a continuation, I want to look at how much help a librarian can provide for a patron with multiple illiteracies and how this affects said patrons.

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The Post-Truth Archive

Fake News, Propaganda and Extremist Literature: Some Considerations for Public Libraries with Local History Archives It’s been said that we live in a post-truth society, one in which appeals to emotion and beliefs are more influential in shaping opinions than facts and reason. While skepticism is nothing new, it seems particularly in vogue in the […]

Eric Lichtblau

“Just Incredible Chutzpah”—Eric Lichtblau on the Real-Life Hero at the Heart of His New Book

In Return to the Reich, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eric Lichtblau tells the incredible story of Freddy Mayer, a Jewish refugee who escaped Nazi Germany as a teenager only to venture into Nazi-occupied Austria years later as an OSS agent. Mayer’s mission was to go undercover as a Nazi officer in Innsbrook, Austria, where he was able to gather intelligence that proved invaluable to the Allies in the waning days of World War II. Mayer’s exploits read like scenes from an Ian Fleming novel—from secretly skiing down an ice-covered mountain in the middle of the night to brazenly posing as a Nazi officer in an officer’s club—made all the more thrilling because it actually happened.

National Book Festival 2019 Poster

The National Book Festival: Takeaways for Programming Librarians

Since 2001, the Library of Congress has hosted an annual author event of epic proportions. The 2019 National Book Festival, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., drew hundreds of thousands of attendees and featured over 100 authors. Librarians who plan programs of all sizes – from a scantly-attended book club […]

illustration of a white bag with a dollar sign on it above a red hand

Fine Policies and Lost Item Policies

I have recently been contacted by several reporters in reference to an article I wrote in 2017 in which I disagree with the elimination of fines and learned that I was quoted in other venues. As this topic has gained more interest and political attention the issue is no longer one limited to libraries. However, […]

illustration of a desk top computer with a question mark on the screen

Handling Patrons’ Personal Property

The three main issues I see with librarians handling patrons’ personal property are how it makes the patron feel, how it makes the professional feel, and liability.