January 21, 2018

Raising Arizona State | Library Design 2017

After the impact of the recession, Arizona State University (ASU) bounced back with an ambitious agenda of innovation, positioning itself as the “New American University.” ASU prides itself instead on being “measured not by whom it excludes but by whom it includes and how they succeed,” and now ASU’s flagship library is reinventing itself to serve the whole student.

Literate on Literacy | Public Library Think Tank

Literacy—and how libraries are reimagining services to address it for patrons of all ages—took center stage at the Northeast Dade–Aventura Branch, Miami Dade Public Library System (MDPLS), FL, March 9–10, at LJ and School Library Journal’s 2017 Public Library Think Tank. The event—targeting “Libraries and Literacies: Redefining Our Impact”—looked at multiple literacies, including digital, media/information, civic, reading, visual, multicultural, and health, and focused on strategic thinking through a literacy lens.

ALA in ATL | ALA Midwinter Preview 2017

From the opening session with political comedian W. Kamau Bell through the closing keynote by actor Neil Patrick Harris, the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting sets an ambitious agenda, tackling timely political issues such as how to work with the new presidential administration and Congress; ongoing social concerns like equity and inclusion; and how best to drive the continuing technological transformation of libraries on the one hand and accurately assess our successes—and learn from our failures—on the other.

Aspiration to Action | Diversity 2016

What can we do? This has to be one of the most commonly asked questions in America—even before the recent presidential election brought a wave of hate crimes more pervasive than the one that followed the September 11 attacks. The ongoing impact of bigotry in America is, perhaps, the quintessential “wicked problem.” A legacy of housing discrimination continues to shape neighborhoods—and how they are served by schools, police, and, yes, libraries—to this day. Studies continue to show implicit bias along lines of race and gender that impacts hiring, promotion, compensation, and retention—and explicit bias is still with us. All of these factors feed one another, eluding simple solutions to any that leave the others out of the equation.

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.