Charlie Robinson and I both earned our MLS degrees at the School of Library Science (SLS) at Simmons College in Boston. I first met Charlie (who died last month) in the office of Ken Shaffer, the SLS dean. When alumni would come back to visit, Shaffer would gather a few of his favorites in his office for conversation. If they were influential dignitaries, or he thought they would become such, he liked it all the better.
When a library offers balanced information from both poles on local or national issues, reaction from either side can be unpleasant, even hostile, to the library and to library support. It is even worse when the citizens are part of the oldest American movement, the one that asserts that all government is evil—even public agencies such as the library. It is a courageous librarian who delivers facts that offer an opposing view to that one.
Legendary library leader Charles W. Robinson died on Friday, April 8 after a long illness. He was 88 years old. He led the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) for 33 years, spearheading innovation and sometimes provoking controversy among librarians from 1963 until he retired in 1996. Robinson joined the BCPL staff as assistant county librarian in January 1959 and was appointed director in 1963 when his predecessor, Richard D. Minnich, died suddenly. The 33-year era of Robinson’s progressive and inspired leadership moved BCPL to the forefront of public library service in the nation.
Louisville Free Public Library’s (LFPL) leadership—along with its collaboration with the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and many other local institutions in efforts to improve literacy, support lifelong learning, and teach new skills needed in the local workforce—has won for LFPL the 2016 LibraryAware Community Award. The award recognizes LFPL’s engagement with the community, its needs, and the priorities of its civic institutions, as well as the library’s ability to make Louisville fully cognizant of what LFPL does and can do. The award is presented by Library Journal and funded by LibraryAware, a product of EBSCO Publishing’s NoveList Division. It carries a prize of $10,000.
I’m concerned that the Canadian Library Association (CLA) has decided to disband. It isn’t just that I remember many of the top Canadian librarians I befriended and the good times I had at CLA conferences. The Canadian librarians I recently talked to were very unhappy about the dissolution of CLA (though they were too few to be a valid sample, and their views are too close to mine to help me understand what brought about this drastic action).
In a compelling entry supported by 20 passionate letters from the academic community of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG), and beyond—including deans, faculty, administrators, librarians, community leaders, and coworkers—Brown Biggers was overwhelmingly recommended for LJ’s 2016 Paralibrarian of the Year Award, sponsored by DEMCO. Among the highlights, nominators pointed to Biggers’s communication and teaching skills, technological expertise, commitment to service both at his job and in the larger Greensboro community, and genuine love for people.
The first time I encountered the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was nearly 30 years ago. Almost miraculously, PLG has survived from just after the Reagan era through the Clinton and Bush years until Obama. It is still small but manages to publish Progressive Librarian (PL), a journal that combines rigorous scholarship with a strong ideological sentiment.
There is more than enough evidence to confirm the choice of Nicolle Ingui Davies as the 2016 LJ Librarian of the Year, our award sponsored by Baker & Taylor. Take her special skills at communicating with community members in and outside of the library. Then there is her leadership in building and developing a committed and passionate staff dedicated to patron service. That is complemented by her unequivocal belief that libraries are essential services, not just “nice” assets, and the best medium to achieve an informed citizenry. The results of Davies’s leadership convinced voters in 2015 that they ought to tax themselves to the tune of $30 million a year, increasing the Arapahoe Library District (ALD) budget by $6 million.
One of the joys of teaching is reconnecting with students years later as they pursue their careers. I recently had lunch and a long discussion with Patti Foerster, who had been a student a decade ago in my class at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library & Information Science, River Forest, IL.