August 23, 2017

Coming Together Around a Divided Past | Diversity 2016

When youth specialist Mary Shortino at the Johnson County Public Library (JCPL), a suburban system near Kansas City, KS, read Tanner Colby’s Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America (Penguin Bks.), she got excited. About a quarter of the book is about Kansas City, where racial real estate covenants first began, and the specialist, who is in her 50s, remembered when the city’s schools were first integrated. Shortino pulled in Angel Tucker, youth services manager of JCPL, and the two went to see Colby speak nearby in Kansas City, MO. Colby’s response to meeting them, says Tucker, was, “ ‘I should’ve come to your library,’ ” and with that, a collaboration was born.

Reworking the Workforce | Diversity 2016

Librarianship, as a field, has a major diversity problem. According to the American Library Association’s Diversity Counts, in 2009–10 (the most recent year for which we have numbers), 85.2 percent of credentialed librarians and 72 percent of library assistants were white. Two years ago, St. Paul faced a similar problem. Citywide, the workforce was 82 percent white. Yet the city population is only 60 percent white, and the school age population, 22 percent white.

Learning from History | Diversity 2016

Police bias against people of color, particularly black people, has been one of the most heated issues of the past few years, with killings by officers of unarmed black people in cities across the country serving as the impetus behind the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some might think there’s not much role for libraries in fixing this problem, beyond helping users find reliable data and texts that address it.

Big Data and Small Steps at the Charleston Conference 2016

At this year’s Charleston Conference, held as always in lovely Charleston, SC, in early November, attendees seemed in a mood to focus on practical, incremental progress, with sessions on assessment packed with standing room only audiences while questions of where the field is going failed to pull the crowds.

Librarian of the People | LJ Interview

On September 14, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the new Librarian of Congress. The first African American and the first woman to hold the position in American history, she is also only the third to have worked in a library prior to her appointment. After a moving ceremony in the Library of Congress’s (LC) 1897 Jefferson Building and a reception to meet “as many staff members as they could stand,” Hayden sat down with LJ in her ceremonial office to outline her vision for the library.

Charleston Conference Preview 2016

This year’s Charleston Conference, with its on-the-nose subtitle of “Roll with the Times or the Times Roll Over You,” will return as always to the Francis Marion Hotel (and surrounding venues) October 31–November 5. This year’s schedule (still tentative at press time) naturally hits many of the topics of perennial interest to librarians, particularly academic ones: discovery, the Big Journal Deal and its frequently forecast demise, working with vendors, and ebook acquisition models. Newer returnees such as MOOCs, open educational resources, assessment, the role of the subject specialist and/or department liaison, and research data management also make appearances.

(Re) Open Concept | Library by Design 2016

The story of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), OH, main library renovation is a familiar one these days: indeed, it has become practically archetypal. A gorgeous old Carnegie, opened in 1907, had long since been outgrown. Over the century and with four additions, it had been married to expansions—the most recent bringing the library to more than 250,000 square feet. Done in 1991, at the height of the trend of stack-centric libraries designed to maximize collections, this latest reformation included virtually no windows, lest the books be damaged by sunlight. Now, a people-first renovation has gently polished the Carnegie and dramatically opened up the addition, thinning the (still ample) collection to focus on space for community in the form of events, meetings, coworking, and simply relaxing and reading—perhaps with a cup of coffee from the new Carnegie Café.

Future Fatigue | Designing the Future

Often expressed informally through back channels, there’s a strong contrarian strand of thought that holds librarianship—if not all of American society—spends too much time, energy, and ink trying to predict what’s next. Too great a focus on the future, say such skeptics, shortchanges the present, preventing practitioners from being “in the moment,” and can make library leaders devalue the work that still comprises the vast majority of interactions to chase trends that appeal to, at best, a much smaller subset of users.

Annual First Look | ALA Annual 2016

The American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference ran June 23-28 at Orlando, FL’s Orange County Convention Center and nearby venues. The mass shooting at Latin night at Orlando’s Pulse, an LGBT nightclub, a couple of weeks before the ALA Annual was top of mind for conferencegoers, leading to displays of solidarity both practical and symbolic. Attendance was considerably down relative to last year. Nonetheless, exhibitors were happy with the crowds on the show floor. The Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) reported, “The Association is still a financially strong and sound organization.”

The Art of the Matter | Library by Design, Spring 2016

Why does art in libraries matter? Erinn Batykefer of the Library as Incubator Project (and a 2014 LJ Mover & Shaker) cites public art’s role in promoting creativity. “Visible art in the library space, whether through gallery shows, public art or performance, or hands-on workshops, is incredibly important in terms of the ‘incubator library’—a space where the right conditions for creative thought and new ideas are protected and promoted,” she tells LJ. “It serves as a visible representation of the connection among information and creativity and innovation…making the library a visible place where creativity is valued and nurtured.” She adds, “Every library, stripped to its barest mission, seeks to connect people with information. Art is information—the product of a creative process and the process itself.”