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.
Office of Intellectual Freedom Reaches Out for Help as Challenges Slip Through the Cracks | ALA Midwinter 2014
At the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter conference in Philadelphia, the organization’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) stated that the number of challenges to books in school and public libraries is on the rise. Some464 challenges were reported to OIF officials in 2012, a steep rise from the 328 recorded in 2011 and 2010’s total of 346 reported challenges.
The American Library Association (ALA)’s burgeoning budget crisis and dip in membership shows the group is having a tough time thriving as a multi-type library organization. It might be easy to cast a net of blame across the tepid economy, the aging profession, even entrenched leadership in ALA itself. But we think ALA’s membership woes are caused by a lack of unity across librarianship, a problem that is reinforced by ALA’s organizational structure and too narrow publications. In the tradition of thinking such as Andy Woodworth’s ‘big tent’ librarianship, we believe the leadership of the ALA should be at the forefront of unifying librarianship, working to link our academic, public, and school libraries and librarians. Instead, we shudder as we see ALA working to reinforce silos that separate public, academic, and school libraries from one another, rather than bridges to connect them.
Of Ohio’s 251 public libraries, only three have presented levies since 2009 without success. Some might believe that those three might as well give up, that the necessary level of services simply can’t be met without such local funding support. However, Holmes County District Public Library (HCDPL), one of those three, is challenging the way that funding happens and, with a bit of cross-cultural cooperation, succeeding.
One of the most challenging tasks for grassroots advocacy is in finding data to justify the relative importance of the cause one seeks to promote. In speaking with federal, state, and local legislators about a wide array of good causes, invariably the elected official will ask something like this: “how do I know that folks living in my area actually care about … [insert name of cause here].” Thankfully, for library advocates, a wonderful source of data measures is available to help quantify the actual degree to which the public at-large truly values public libraries.
Who would have thought that the United States Congress—after a year filled with gridlock and subsequent political inertia—would end up giving the American people a gift just before Christmas week? As of last week, comprehensive legislation finalizing the federal budget for fiscal year 2014 received final passage from both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. While generally modest in scope, the mere fact that a piece of fiscal legislation garnered the support of key Democrats and Republicans in Congress represents a significant achievement.
Fifty-four percent of Americans visited a library in person or used a public library’s website at least once during the past 12 months, and 70 percent of parents have taken their child to a public library or bookmobile during the past year, according to “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities,” a report released today by the Pew Research Center. The nationally representative survey of 6,224 Americans 16 and older indicated that the overwhelming majority of Americans continue to have a positive view of libraries, although many are not aware of all of the services and resources that their libraries offer.
With all the excitement over social media and reports of newspapers closing or shifting focus to keep ad revenues rolling in, libraries have taken a hit with ever decreasing coverage. You might even be thinking whether it’s worth the effort to create media releases. The quick answer is yes. If well written and interesting they can amplify your message reaching reporters, bloggers and the general public through your web and social media channels. But if you want to have larger value-driven articles published, you’ll need to step up your game and pitch those story ideas to reporters.