The future of the American public library is taking shape. I see it in all kinds of libraries. The public, politicians, and local and national media are now noticing the relevance and central role of these libraries. These institutions are delivering a trusted set of up-to-date programs and services and that has earned a far more positive public and political reaction than the one enjoyed by most other agencies of the local, state, and federal governments.
In two decades (plus one year) she has moved from work with the very young, through young adults, to dynamically serving seniors at the Hickory Public Library (HPL), NC. Tamara Faulkner Kraus’s passion for providing library service to people in need more than sustains her energy and creativity. That unsinkable spirit is now being acknowledged with the 2015 LJ Paralibrarian of the Year Award, sponsored by DEMCO.
My optimistic aging memory had me waiting for the economy to do what it used to do and recover enough so that the public and private nonprofit sectors by which most libraries are funded would catch up with the already recovered private sector. So I was a bit taken aback when Siobhan Reardon, the president and director of the Free Library of Philadelphia and LJ’s 2015 Librarian of the Year, told me that wasn’t going to happen.
Over the last decade, Belgrade, MT, has grown and shifted from a small agricultural town to a diverse community of 12,700 in the exurbs of nearby Bozeman. In tandem, the Belgrade Community Library (BCL) has reimagined library services and aggressively developed new outreach efforts to meet the community’s changing needs. The result is intense engagement and support from the community and an impact that extends beyond Belgrade’s borders through active partnerships and state-level leadership.
There will be more than enough information and action at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits (MW) of the American Library Association (ALA) to make it worth the cost and time for any library worker to attend. It features a sparkling array of celebrities and authors, a massive exhibit show floor at McCormick Place, a pile of jobs and opportunities, a packed schedule of meetings, the fantastic city of Chicago, and, best of all, plenty of chances to booze and schmooze with peers, colleagues, vendors, and new professional friends.
Siobhan A. Reardon engineered the creation of an ambitious, five-year strategic plan, underpinned by a powerful mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity through the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP). Her plan refocused the role of the library, outlines a cluster model to streamline and enhance neighborhood library services, and collaborate with community leaders to develop programs and services most needed by residents. Those achievements alone could qualify Reardon, the first woman to serve as president and director of FLP, to be named the LJ 2015 Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Baker & Taylor, but she has achieved much more in a short tenure that is marking a turnaround for this important but embattled library.
The American Library Association’s (ALA)Allied Professional Association (APA) recently sent a message to the members of the ALA Council and other “member leaders.” With the help of Al Kagan, who represents ALA’s Social Responsibilities Round Table on Council, we saw the message and were reminded that since APA’s founding in 2001, we have never fully understood what it is or does, whether it is a real association or just a tax dodge.
You’d think Library Journal and ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education) had Paul T. Jaeger in mind when they wrote the criteria for the LJ/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award. Jaeger, associate professor, College of Information Studies (CIS), University of Maryland, College Park, is the winner of the 2014 award, sponsored by ProQuest, which merges the LJ and ALISE honors for the first time. Jaeger clearly “illustrates student-centered thinking” in his teaching. His contributions to curriculum design at CIS display his expertise and command of new developments. Current and former students enthusiastically tell of Jaeger’s work as mentor, career builder, and collaborator in their working lives. Teaching the core values of the profession comes easy to Jaeger, because his commitment to them is rooted in his early personal and academic life.
The beginning of each semester always rejuvenates me. There is nothing more stimulating than those first few sessions with a class of expectant students, arriving with their high energy, curiosity, and desire to participate and impress. My new class at Pratt Institute’s SILS came to New York from all over America and the world. The students range in age from their 20s to their 60s, which has so often been typical of my LIS classes. It is a great privilege and honor to work with them to try to answer the accursed questions that continue to plague our profession.