“We needed to change the conversation about libraries,” says Gina Millsap, CEO of Kansas’s Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL), the 2016 Gale/LJ Library of the Year. Millsap refers to her ongoing work with the Aspen Institute, an international leadership development nonprofit that has turned a lens toward public libraries. In October 2014, Aspen sparked a conversation about the future of libraries with its release of a report titled “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries.” TSCPL served as a case study. “The report gave us a framework and concepts to take out to the community,” Millsap tells LJ. As libraries engaged with the report, it became clear that many wanted more hands-on guidance about how to take recommendations from Rising to the Challenge and turn them into practical, achievable goals. In response, Aspen developed a new toolkit featuring 12 chapters of “ACTivities” covering topics such as “The Library as Civic Resource,” “The Library as Literacy Champion,” and “Jobs and Economic Development” to help libraries dig into the work of transformation, released in January as the “Action Guide for Re-Envisioning Your Public Library.”
A $600,000 budget cut will force Connecticut’s Hartford Public Library (HPL) to eliminate 10 jobs and curtail Saturday hours at most branches, but swift intervention by Mayor Luke Bronin prevented an even steeper reduction that would have left the system with no choice but to close three of its 10 branches.
For the second year in a row, the proposed New York City capital budget provided a healthy allocation for the city’s three library systems. In a handshake agreement announced on June 8, Mayor Bill de Blasio—along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and members of New York City Council—presented the proposed $82.1 billion capital budget, which included $43 million in funding for New York’s three library systems. The funding restores and baselines an extra $21 million for libraries in FY17.
Since before Ellis Island became the gateway to the United States for many, libraries have served immigrant communities with language classes and learning materials that can help ease the path toward employment and citizenship. Today, those services have expanded to include referrals to city and health-care services, cultural events honoring countries of origin, legal aid, small business and entrepreneurship assistance, and much more.
Ten libraries and museums were presented with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service in a ceremony at the White House on June 1. First Lady Michelle Obama joined IMLS director Kathryn K. Matthew to honor institutions from across the country for outstanding service to their communities, including one academic and four public libraries: North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh; Brooklyn Public Library, NY; Madison Public Library, WI; Otis Library, Norwich, CT; and Santa Ana Public Library, CA.
A decade ago, as a sociology major at the University of Arizona, it was Rebecca Blakiston’s wish to pursue a career that in some way helped people. Then she took an aptitude test that determined she was best suited to be a librarian. She soon began stocking shelves part-time in the library. She could not […]
Last month, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) released a series of articles on the status of public libraries in the UK. The news is dramatic. More than 300 libraries have been closed since 2010—the reported total of 343 includes 132 mobile libraries, with over 100 more on the chopping block—and almost 8,000 jobs have been lost. The advocacy drumbeat for UK libraries has been sounding for some time, with prominent authors and celebrities offering their support. Staring down the numbers reported by the BBC has spurred a barrage of public and professional response—some reinforcing negative stereotypes and others helping to build the case for more investment.
Kansas library professionals, forced to mobilize quickly and using social media to rally support and spread their message, convinced lawmakers to remove language from a fast-tracked tax bill that they said threatened the survival of the state’s seven regional systems and, in turn, promised a trickle-down reduction in services for public libraries.
The transition from print to electronic record keeping has made it easier and less expensive to store data and search for information, yet this trend has had troubling implications for individual privacy and the security of personal data, explained Mariko Hirose, staff attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) during the “Privacy Toolkit for Librarians” seminar held on March 22 at Long Island’s Farmingdale Public Library (FPL). Co-sponsored by the Greater New York Metropolitan Area chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Long Island Library Resources Council, the half-day event included presentations by Hirose and Library Freedom Project director and 2015 LJ Mover & Shaker Alison Macrina, covering topics including electronic surveillance, records subpoenas, and ways in which libraries can protect their patrons.
A new report published March 29, “Core Customer Intelligence: Public Library Reach, Relevance, and Resilience,” brings together market segmentation from ten public library systems across the United States to explore how libraries can examine and act on granular data about their core customers—the 20 percent of cardholders who check out the most physical materials. Using 2014 customer and checkout data to group top library users by lifestyles, interests, preferences, and behaviors, the study drills down into community demographics to reveal that core customers aren’t found in any one segment of the population but occur across all lines, reflecting the diversity of their communities.