The ALA’s new public awareness initiative is a savvy approach to the broad challenge libraries face as they continue to evolve and must communicate what they actually contribute to their communities. Much more than talk, Libraries Transform is an actionable toolkit you should put to work now to help your constituency understand the real life of libraries.
Like so many who have been stunned and saddened by seemingly constant instances of gun violence, I have been reflecting on what can be done to create a culture with less danger from firearms and less chaos in the discourse about them. It seems we have lost our moorings when it comes to talking about guns and creating laws and practices to manage them. In the meantime, people are getting hurt.
Libraries are all about access to information in its many forms, and librarians have a long and admirable tradition of striving to increase that access whenever they can. Several recent events have spurred me to think about real-world barriers—visible and invisible—and how seeing them in light of access to the library could influence services.
Five years ago, a burning question evolved into what is now the ongoing New Landmark Libraries (NLL) project. Often in conversation with librarians on the verge of construction, I was asked which libraries should be on a “must see” list. Beyond the go-to, big name projects, we at LJ had our favorites recently opened, but our lists were personal and not comprehensive. Hence, the New Landmark Libraries. The national competition was designed to bring forward the excellence in library buildings for celebration, as a tour planner for those approaching a capital project, and as a road map for the next generation of libraries still not even on the boards.
There is a lot of wow at the new library at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, which boasts over 150,000 square feet—but the building holds a secret surprise that exemplifies the creativity of the overall project in just over 1,000 square feet. Tucked in the heart of the building on the third floor and reaching to the sky is a gem of an open-air courtyard that takes the breath away even as it must soothe a study-stressed brain.
It’s easy to see why students want to camp out at the new library at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. I had the opportunity to see it in person last month when I attended the Re-think It: Libraries for a New Age conference on campus. The space itself is incredible—as is the response to the critical questions that drove the design and programming of services delivered at what is now the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons.
The American Library Association (ALA) took a crucial step when it passed the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries at the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco. Now we as a profession face the complex work ahead to make the goals of the resolution real. We have this collective articulation to lean on to make it a priority in a holistic sense—across strategic planning, space design, community engagement, and educational outreach. It is critical that we redouble our efforts.
All eyes are on the Library of Congress (LC) as the iconic institution approaches what promises to be a transformational time. When long-standing Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced his plan to retire in January 2016, bets started flying on who would be the best new leader. The job, to be filled by President Barack Obama’s appointment, with confirmation from Congress, is an exciting and challenging one.
As last summer waned, the library in Ferguson, MO, seemed an unlikely source for a most inspiring illustration of librarianship in action. The library was running on a shoestring budget, and the new director (and sole full-time employee) had taken over scant weeks before. But when that community was wracked by violent protest in the wake of the August 9 death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer, the library emerged as a critical asset, staying open and creating programs on the fly to respond to the turmoil. The library countered the chaos and fear with calm reassurance that the people of Ferguson were supported by a shared resource that was also a “quiet oasis”—a safe place to be, to recover their bearings, but also to learn more about what was happening and why.