A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online
Public Libraries Podcast logo

New FYI Episode! A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Library Patrons

In this episode we talk with Debra Keane and Margaret Ann Paauw (members of the PLA Social Work Task Force) about the emerging field of public library social work; the SWTF’s new book, (available April 2022 from ALA), “A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Library Patrons — A PLA Workbook of Best Practices;” and more.

Ruchika Tulshyan Author Photo

“To Make Meaningful Long-Term Change We Have to Take a Systemic Approach To It”—Ruchika Tulshyan on Creating a More Inclusive Workplace

Ruchika Tulshyan combines her years of expertise as a DEI consultant for global companies along with her journalist’s acumen to write Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work, a ground-breaking and user-friendly guide to making workplaces more inclusive environments. Tulshyan articulates that inclusion must be a practiced habit rather than an acknowledged theory, and gives leaders the tools to transform their companies into more inclusive spaces. Tulshyan’s meticulously researched management book also serves as a workbook for leaders, ending each chapter with prompts for writing and reflecting on how the issues covered in the chapter show up in the reader’s life. Tulshyan might be familiar to readers for her appearance on Brené Brown’s podcast as well as her frequent essays for The New York Times. Her previous book, The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace, focused on leadership strategies to advance women at work.

Jane Pek Author Photo

Jane Pek on Subverting Genre Tropes and the “What If” Scenario at the Heart of Her Ingenious New Mystery

Twenty-something Claudia Lin spends her days biking around New York City, working for a very unusual (and exclusive) detective agency. Lovelorn New Yorkers hire Claudia’s company to investigate their potential romantic partners, and Claudia must determine if the online persona on the partner’s dating profiles matches up to their real life identity. When one of Claudia’s clients dies under mysterious circumstances, the lifelong lover of detective fiction immediately suspects foul play. Despite strict instructions to the contrary from her boss, Claudia launches her own investigation. In the midst of tracking down a potential murderer, Claudia must also fend off her mother’s prying questions about her dating life, keep her job secret from her high-achieving siblings, and navigate the confusing waters of New York’s dating scene. Jane Pek’s witty and incisive The Verifiers is a love letter to the Golden Age of mystery, and with Claudia, Pek has created a brilliant and endearing detective for the current age. Critics have heaped praise on The Verifiers. Buzzfeed hailed it as an “astute, page-turning debut [that] sheds light on the necessities and limitations of interpersonal interaction, the role technology plays in its evolution (and de-evolution), and what it means to be human and looking for love in the 21st century,” while Poets & Writers wrote, “Through Claudia’s perceptive and entertaining narration, The Verifiers underscores the pitfalls and absurdities of modern technology. The novel is also an intimate portrait of a young, queer Chinese American person forging her own path.”

American Library Association Logo

Advancing Digital Equity by Expanding Tribal Library Access to E-Rate

Since the federal E-Rate program was established in 1996, public libraries across the nation have saved close to $2 billion in telecommunications and internet access costs. However, the program has largely failed to reach communities with some of the worst broadband access in the nation. Nearly 7 in every 10 residents on rural tribal lands remain without access to high-capacity broadband, and yet only about 12 percent of tribal libraries report receiving E-Rate funds.

asexuality pride flag consisting of black gray white and purple stipes

Asexuality On the Shelves

What is asexuality? While it’s most often described as “not being sexually attracted to others,” it is far more complex than those few words indicate. What else? Approximately one per cent of the population is asexual (or ace) and it is an orientation, akin to lesbianism or bisexuality. It’s also important to understand that a […]

February is black history month

Bertha Winborne Edwards: An Icon of Library Black History

Before all public libraries were desegregated, Black librarians were especially critical in providing library services to their communities. They often had to creatively marshal resources, working with modest budgets and collections. One such librarian was Mrs. Bertha Winborne Edwards, (1920-2009), librarian of the Portsmouth Colored Community Library in Virginia for its entire existence, from 1945 – 1963.

Public Libraries Podcast logo

New FYI Podcast Episode–Public Library Anti-Hate Statements — an Inclusive Way to Support Community Members

Editor’s Note: This podcast is based on a presentation that was scheduled to occur at the 2022 PLA Conference. Unfortunately, the presentation was canceled and will not/did not take place. However, the podcast episode still offers a ton of information on library anti-hate statements. In this episode we talk with Cindy Khatri, Public Relations Manager, […]

photo of a pile of face masks

Public Libraries are Feeling the Impact of the Latest Surges

As we near the 2-year anniversary of the first lockdown, libraries continue to feel the effects of skyrocketing COVID-19 case numbers. The Delta and Omicron surges have forced libraries to adjust yet again in the face of rampant staffing shortages, testing demand, and schools going remote. Libraries are constantly adjusting to continue being a resource to their communities.

Renee Branum Author Photo

Renée Branum on Buster Keaton, Giving Herself More Freedom, and Her Secret Shelf at the Library

At the beginning of Renée Branum’s sly and perceptive Defenestrate, Marta finds herself confronting an almost unfathomable loss: her beloved twin brother Nick lies in the hospital after falling out a window, seemingly a victim of their family’s longstanding curse. Years ago, their Czech great-great grandfather pushed a stonemason off a window ledge to his death. Since then, the family has been beset by unusual (and sometimes fatal) falls. As Nick begins his precarious recovery, Marta reflects on not only her family’s unusual history, but also on her own fraught relationship with her mother, who stopped speaking to Nick when he came out. In her debut novel, Branum casts a compassionate and generous gaze upon her deeply relatable characters, dissecting the intricacies of family relationships with luminous prose. Critics have raved about Defenestration. The New York Times Book Review listed it as one of their Editor’s Choice selections, and The Washing Post raved “in a feat of literary archery, Branum’s lyrical prose hits its mark again and again, rich but never overly ripe, delicate but with a tautness that propels the narrative.”

Feature article nov/dec 2021 public libraries magazine

We Can Do Better — Best (And Worst) Practices for Managers Responding to Sexual Harassment Claims

Sexual harassment from patrons has long been a significant issue for library employees, but front-line staff are often the ones who bear the burden of enacting change, while having the least amount of power in the workplace. It’s time to place the responsibility for enacting meaningful change where it belongs: with managers and administrators. This article looks at some of the best (and worst) practices for managers when it comes to supporting staff and addressing sexual harassment claims.

Feature article nov/dec 2021 public libraries magazine

We All Win — Training and Advancement for Non-MLS Library Workers

There is a shift happening in East Bay Libraries, in California. One after another, hiring managers are inviting librarian candidates to the interview
table who do not have a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS).

Entrance to the Victoria (TX) Public library

Stop Trying to Make Book Banning a Thing

Book banning has become an unfortunate trend. According to ALA, the rate of attempted book bannings in September 2021 was a 67% increase from September 2020. Challenged books deal overwhelmingly with two topics: race and LGBTQ+ issues.

Book Cover of Correctional by Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar on His Revelatory Memoir and The Embrace of The Totality of The Experience

Ravi Shankar is a Pushcart Prize-winning poet and editor of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry, whose work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, and PBS NewsHour. In 2008, he had a thriving career in academia when he was pulled over by a New York City police officer for a supposed traffic violation. The police officer promptly arrested Shankar, who is of South Indian descent and weighs 200 pounds, on a warrant for a 150-pound white man. A judge eventually dismissed the case, but not before Shankar had to spend seventy-two hours in jail. That experience (which also involved the arresting officer using racist language) understandably traumatized Shankar. Shankar had a later run-in with the law a few years later when he received a DUI after having some celebratory beers with members of his soccer team. In 2013, he violated his probation for his DUI by driving with a suspended license. This infraction caused him to be sentenced to a 90-day pretrial detention at Hartford Correctional Center, a level four facility for adult males. While incarcerated, Shankar was promoted to full professor, an event that the local media sensationalized in their coverage and politicians used to score points during a contentious election. Shankar ultimately chose to resign amidst the media and political pressure placed upon him, and his marriage ended during this experience as well. In his elegantly wrought and emotionally transparent memoir, Correctional, Shankar recounts his own experience with the criminal justice system, exploring how race, class, and privilege shaped his time in the correctional facility.

thought bubbles with question marks on a purple background

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

The one thing we can all predict about the future is that it will be unpredictable. That being said, we also know that certain themes carry forward like clockwork. After two crazy years, what does the future hold for public libraries?

Tim O'Brien Author Photo

“Memoir is a Strange Word When you Don’t Remember a Whole Lot” – Tim O’Brien on How Memory, History, and Literature Inform his Joyous New Book

Tim O’Brien’s vividly wrought Dad’s Maybe Book is equal parts a love letter to his children, a thoughtful analysis on war’s lifelong effect on those who serve, and a joyful celebration of the written life. Told in thoughtfully crafted letters to his young sons, O’Brien ruminates on becoming a father later in life, American history, his relationship with his own father, and his approach to writing. The result is an incredibly moving summation of a life, one where O’Brien brilliantly articulates his well-considered philosophy on a variety of subjects. O’Brien is perhaps best known for his story collection Things They Carried, and his other books include the National Book Award -winning Going After Cacciato and In the Lake of the Woods. Critics have been equally enthusiastic about Dad’s Maybe Book as O’Brien’s earlier work, with Time Magazine hailing it as “a work that’s the spiritual inheritor of John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley and Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country.”