I am usually proud to be a librarian. Last month that feeling was deeply reinforced by the work done at Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, and the professional creativity and focus expressed by Director Scott Bonner over weeks of duress in that community.
Our professional credential is an embattled thing. It’s a rare day that the master’s in library and information science (MLIS) escapes a conversation unscathed and unquestioned. This is rightfully so. Nothing so time-consuming and expensive, and essential, should be taken for granted. It should be under constant scrutiny by the schools themselves, the candidates, those who hire graduates, and the broader profession that it serves.
Empty moving boxes perch on filled ones all through LJ’s offices. One of them now contains a record I’ll look forward to referencing in another nine years. As our staff gear up to move to a new space, I focused on weeding paper documents that had migrated from one workspace to the next. Packing can be a process of discovery. Among the fossils excavated was a blue folder holding the agenda and notes from a think tank, “2020 Vision: Idaho Libraries Futures Conference,” held in Boise in August 2005.
I have a theory that too many library trustees are underutilized in their board work. In far too many libraries, fear of meddling and of losing control have meant that directors don’t take advantage of the expertise and talent on their Board of Trustees. Where that is true, library leaders are squandering critical capacity and losing a potent edge in the key task of connecting to the community.
In May, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would be ending its Global Libraries program over the next three to five years. This decision marks the beginning of the end of a tremendous philanthropic investment that helped spur significant innovation in U.S. libraries and speed the growth of public libraries in developing countries. I’ll admit it, the news took my breath away.
With a legacy that reaches back to 1876, Library Journal is accustomed to big anniversaries. This month marks 50 years since a young man named John Berry III arrived at LJ to take on the position of assistant editor. That was May 25, 1964. His vision has been an integral part of the field ever since.
As we approach this year’s BookExpo America (BEA), it’s useful, perhaps especially to publishers, to contemplate where libraries fit into the broad book market. It’s hard to ignore just how fundamentally important libraries have become to the potential success of a book—that is, if you pay attention to a few simple facts and are willing to question persistent myths.
The new Ideas Box from Libraries Without Borders/ Bibliothèques Sans Frontières is fun, smart, and inspiring. The comprehensive vision behind it and the resulting design hold lessons for anyone interested in library outreach. It takes a significant step forward in framing an ideal outpost library that can reach into the gap as an element of humanitarian aid in the wake of a disaster when basic services and cultural institutions are unavailable or inactive.
There’s something wonderful and seemingly simple about the photograph on the cover of this issue that I don’t want you to miss: the mayor of Wichita, KS, and the director of the library—Carl Brewer and Cynthia Berner Harris, respectively—standing side by side in a group of civic leaders and key staff. This coalition is “activating” Wichita with strategic thinking that is informed through an open town hall–style forum that taps solutions from the community. If your library isn’t part of such planning, and gathering a similar group in your library would be a no-go, you have work to do.