A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
black and white image of a library 'social work in public libraries' on orange banner on upper left of image

Peers — In Their Own Words

Over the past ten years public libraries around the country have been bringing in social workers to connect with and assist customers experiencing life challenges. Some library systems have added social workers to the staff while other systems partner with government agencies and nonprofit organizations that detail a social worker to the library. From Alaska […]

image of a 3 d printer computer screen

Library’s 3D Printer Makes a Difference

As the presence of 3-D printers grows in public libraries across the nation, patrons utilize them for custom orders and librarians continue to question and discover new ways for their usage to be incorporated into library programming and the overall mission of building community.

hand holding a light bulb

Creative Learning @ Your Library

The Public Library Innovation Exchange Fosters Creativity and STEAM Programming  Central to the mission of public libraries is the facilitation of self-directed learning for all members of the community.  Now more than ever, learning includes not just the ability to consume information in the form of text, but the ability to create and share information […]

Bridgett M Davis Author Photo

“You Don’t Know How Unique Your Own Mother is Until You’re Out in the World” — Bridgett M. Davis on Her Heartwarming Memoir

In The World According to Frannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers, Bridgett M. Davis traces the extraordinary life of her mother, a glamorous businesswoman who ran a thriving Numbers enterprise in Detroit for over thirty years. Frannie Davis arrived in Detroit in 1958 as a young mother with little prospects to support a growing family. She quickly transformed a $100 loan from her brother into a prosperous Numbers venture, serving as a de facto banker, bookie, and counselor for her neighborhood. With luminous prose, Davis delves into her mother’s life, providing an insider’s look at the Numbers world and a sweeping look at Detroit’s evolving landscape in the sixties and seventies.

Intersections an occasional column reporting on pla's collaborative projects

Measuring Civic Impact a Theme of Knight Public Spaces Forum

Just before the 2019 ALA Annual Conference, it was my pleasure to participate in the first-ever Knight Public Spaces Forum in Philadelphia. More than 250 people from across the country, including staff from parks, community foundations, libraries, and arts organizations, joined Knight Foundation staff and government leaders to discuss our civic commons and efforts to […]

Maureen Stanton Author Photo

Unlikely Mentors and Cultural Malaise: Maureen Stanton on her Powerful Memoir

Maureen Stanton probes her dark teenage years with compassion and insight in her new memoir, Body Leaping Backwards: Memoir of A Delinquent Girlhood. Stanton grew up in a boisterous family in 1970s Walpole, Massachusetts, a working-class community where the local prison loomed large in each citizen’s life. Yet when her parents divorce, Maureen and her family find themselves reeling not only from the seismic shifts in their personal lives, but from the political and cultural changes in the country as well. Maureen’s mother, a devout woman who puts herself through college as a single mother, soon finds herself resorting to shoplifting in order to put food on the table. Maureen, meanwhile, experiments with angel dust and dabbles in delinquency, skipping school and breaking into nearby homes. Stanton combines rigorous historical research with acute perception, crafting a memoir that takes a clear-eyed look at adolescence.

Casey McQuiston Author Photo

Casey McQuiston on Nora Ephron, History Nerds, and Full Circle Moments at her Library

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue spins an irresistible premise— what if the son of the U.S. President fell in love with the Prince of Wales— into one of the summer’s most pleasurable reads. Alex Claremont-Davis breezes through life as the son of the United States’ first female President, but he’s brought up short by a contentious relationship with the straight-laced Prince Henry. After a disastrous run-in involving a Royal wedding cake, both men must pose as friends in order to rehabilitate their images. This false friendship soon uncovers very real feelings, and the two men unexpectedly find themselves falling in love. What follows is equal parts swoony romance and adept political comedy that has delighted critics and readers alike.

illustration of org structure

Flatter, Focused, and Community Led – Public Library Staffing Continues to Evolve

21st century public libraries are adapting their internal structures to serve their patrons and communities in new ways. An informal look at public library structures from around the country shows they are becoming flatter organizations. Middle management or “deputy director” positions are not common. Directors often have more than five direct reports. Many support functions, […]

Public Libraries Podcast logo

New Podcast! Library Marketing with Cordelia Anderson

We talk library marketing and PR with Cordelia Anderson, a marketing and communications consultant who works primarily with libraries and nonprofits. She is also the former director of marketing and communications at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Library in North Carolina. Anderson shares her concept of the library marketing funnel, understanding the library user’s wants and needs, the importance of the overall customer experience, and finding where library users are dropping off at your library.

illustrations of a computer and a phone with word bubbles

Media Literacy Ideas

In this post-truth age of fake news and filter bubbles, what are public libraries across the U.S. doing to help community members become more discerning users of media information?

illustration of hands reaching up with hearts on them

Do’s & Don’ts of Supervising Library Volunteers

Volunteer workers make the library world go ‘round, and it is important for supervisors to cultivate good relationships with volunteers and to ensure that volunteers are adequately prepared to perform their job duties. Here are some tips for making the most of your volunteer workforce for the benefit of staff, volunteers, and patrons alike.

image of hand pressing a like button

Staying Social: Why Your Library Needs Social Media Policies

Social media is relatively easy to publish to and free or low-cost, making it genuinely accessible to any type of organization. This ease, however, can come at a price — more and more often we hear stories of businesses dealing with fallout from a poorly thought out post.

Heidi Diehl Author Photo

Heidi Diehl on How History and Krautrock Shaped Her Beautiful New Novel

Heidi Diehl’s Lifelines tells the story of the brilliant Louise, bouncing between her life as a burgeoning art student fresh out of college to 2008, when she is in her late fifties with two grown children. In 1971, Louise moved to Germany to pursue her career as an artist. In short order, she fell in love with Dieter, a brooding musician, and had a baby with him. In 2008, Louise lives in Oregon, married to an unassuming professor of urban design, and has been unexpectedly retired from her job as an art teacher. When Dieter’s mother dies, Louise’s now-grown daughter, Elke, asks her to return to Germany for the funeral. Louise reluctantly agrees, reasoning that it will give her a chance to see her other daughter, Elke’s half-sister Margot, who’s touring Europe with her band. From there, Diehl orchestrates a marvelous family comedy as the different members are forced to confront long-buried secrets and unexamined facets of their relationships.

films strip with the words Films to Recommend above it on a purple background

A Woman’s Place is in the House (And Senate!)

“Knock Down the House,” a new Netflix documentary about four female challengers who ran for congress in 2018, won two audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

Public Libraries Podcast logo

New Podcast! Social Services at Hennepin County

We talk with Kate Coleman, Outreach Coordinator at the Hennepin County (MN) Library about the library’s social services offerings, outreach, and more. Resources for this Podcast: Hennepin County (MN) Library Finding Solutions to Homelessness at Hennepin County Library Peer Navigators Demystify Social Service System