Early in 2017, Adam Matthew, a database vendor known for its collections of digitized historical primary sources, will release a new collection called Race Relations. The database will offer access to a trove of previously undigitized civil rights material from the Race Relations Department of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, 1943–70, an organization that was based at Fisk University in Nashville and whose records are now housed at the Amistad Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. Chianta Dorsey, an archivist at the Amistad Center, explains, “The formal program of the department began in 1943 as a forum to engage in a national discussion regarding numerous topics including racial and ethnic relationships, economics, education, government policy, housing and employment.”
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.
Matthew Ismail loves to challenge assumptions, and as Director of Collection Development at Central Michigan University for the last five years, with stints at libraries in United Arab Emirates and Egypt before that, he’s seen plenty of them.
“We librarians assume that patrons will come to us,” says Ismail, who holds four Master’s degrees, one being an MLS from Kent State. “In the 1980s, they had to come to us, there was no internet. Today, many people are able to complete their careers without using the library at all. That would have been more difficult in the 1980s.”
Between Wednesday, November 9—the day after the U.S. presidential election—and Wednesday, November 16, the Southern Poverty Law Center collected reports of more than 700 incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment through submissions to its #ReportHate page, which launched the day after the election. More than 60 of these occurred on academic campuses, including in libraries, ranging from verbal attacks, fliers, and personal notes containing hate speech to postings on social media. Most of these have thus far been limited to graffiti and property defacement, but at least one student has been physically confronted.
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.
On her website, Jenna Hartel talks of “a different character of LIS”—one rooted in positivity, curiosity, and proactivity. It’s what she calls “the bright side of information,” a focus on the upbeat aspect of library studies that has won Hartel, associate professor on the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto (U of T), a special spot in the hearts of her students and fellow faculty members—and the 2016 Library Journal/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by Rowman & Littlefield.
This year’s selection of library construction efforts are each unique in their own way, but most share a significant guiding principle: keep it open. The 105 capital projects completed between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, exemplify a dedication to the totality of users’ experience with regard to sight lines, maneuverability, accessibility, and natural light but also in consideration of others’ ideas, needs, and potential. With atria, lots of glass, and coworking and group study spaces, libraries are indeed open for business.
Featuring Brown University’s Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio at the Rockefeller Library; the Bibliothèque Desjardins, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Drummondville; the James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University; and the Information Commons at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.