Grappling with the literacy gap has long been at the heart of library work, and several conversations I had at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia got me thinking that we need to be more creative about how we address this persistent problem. Then, the Turn the Page initiative rolling out in New Orleans hit my email inbox, and it struck me as a fresh and much bolder strategy.
Now is the time to find, create, or build the will to secure net neutrality, instilling in policy the equitable access to the Internet we have come to rely on as a society. Last month’s ruling against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denied the body’s authority to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) as if they were common carriers without designating them as such. The decision releases ISPs to do as they please in developing commercial interests and threatens to allow the usurpation of the essential public resource the Internet has become.
The very concept of a “living library” captures the imagination. To serve the over 8,000 people in its district better, the Pine River Library in Colorado has made the idea a reality. There, the library literally embraces life in its program, with a vibrant 17,000 square foot outdoor space put to use as a community garden, learning space, greenhouse, and straw bale toolshed. It’s almost a green thumb version of a Maker space. It engages the community anew in the library—from the construction itself to the ongoing maintenance as the year turns. It exemplifies a holistic approach to service deployed inside and out to create a community hub for all seasons. Talk about vision.
Next month, after 35 years at the helm of the Darien Library, CT, Louise Berry will retire. Under her guidance, that little library has redefined the relationship between the library and its patrons and has become a model for libraries worldwide. “I like to say that before Louise, the attitude at the library was ‘keep the people out and the books in.’ With Louise, it is ‘keep the books out and the people in,’ ” former longtime library trustee Ann Mandel tells me. “Of course, now there is so much more than books on offer.”
Back in 1917, two librarians from the Missoula Public Library wanted to bring library service to the remote lumber camps that peppered Montana’s vast mining range. One of them, Ruth Worden, was from a very powerful Missoula family. When she brought the idea to the man in charge of the camps, Kenneth Ross, she didn’t know if it would work—if the lumberjacks would actually use the books—and neither did Ross. In fact, he expected they would not, notes a story in the Missoulian (ow.ly/qmqA0). But Ross felt he couldn’t say no to Worden, so packets of books started to arrive in the camp office in Bonner. A year later, 4,000 books had been checked out—and the case was made.
t’s rare to get to talk with five of the top thinkers from the library field all at once. I got to do that as moderator of the keynote panel that kicked off the virtual event “The Digital Shift (TDS): Reinventing Libraries,” held October 16. Participating in a group webcast from all over the country were Dan Cohen, founding director of the Digital Public Library of America; Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS]); Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries initiative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Barbara Stripling, assistant professor at Syracuse University and president of the American Library Association; and John P. Wilkin, university librarian and dean of libraries, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
There are few more exciting places to contemplate the evolution of library design than Seattle’s Central Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas. Opened in 2004 and still surprising, it proved to be a vibrant setting for LJ’s 13th daylong Design Institute (DI), held there May 10 and developed in partnership with Seattle Public Library (SPL) and neighboring King County Library System (KCLS). Some 100 participants gathered with architects and vendors for a confab about the changing shape of library spaces as collections alter in response to digital content and budget-driven, ever-morphing staff levels.
Holding steady. That’s the overarching picture of salaries for new graduates from MLIS programs, as captured by LJ’s annual Placements & Salaries Survey. Every year, LJ takes the pulse of the profession through this national survey, and each year we suss out the significant issues conveyed by the numbers and the respondents’ verbatim replies. Steady, of course, can be relatively good news in a challenged economy. Still, I don’t like it. I want to see salary growth in this evolving and crucial profession. More important, the bulk of our new graduates need better salaries to survive and thrive—and the profession needs those wages to retain, and continue to attract, the best and the brightest.
Privacy in our society is being undermined with a daily intensity that may be unmatched in history. The confluence of compromises in our digital lives and the political arena chips away at our sense of what needs to be private and risks codifying a culture in which privacy is not a right but a state hard-won by continual effort or, worse, a state only available to those wealthy enough to protect themselves.