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.
On March 15, the Plainfield Public Library District (PPLD), IL, failed to pass two referenda—a bond measure and a property tax increase—needed to raise money for a new library building. The ticket fell victim to a Vote No campaign consisting of mailers and last-minute robocalls funded by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing super PAC (political action committee) with an antitax agenda. Behind AFP lies tens of thousands of dollars from the billionaire Koch brothers, lifelong Libertarians who heavily oppose taxes, social services, and industrial oversight, among other government functions.
President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) budget request to the U.S. Congress, released on February 9 by the U.S. Government Publishing Office and the Office of Management and Budget, included $230,000,000 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Of the total FY17 appropriations request for IMLS, $228,593,000 is allocated for programs and administrative costs authorized by the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA), which comprises the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Museum Services Act (MSA). Some $182,429,000 would go toward programs authorized by LSTA: grants to state library agencies, Native American and Native Hawaiian library services, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, and National Leadership Grants for libraries.
In 2015, nearly 150 libraries in 24 states held referenda to renew or enact taxes for operations, staffing, or facilities. More than 1.1 million voters showed up at the polls in 2015 to decide on tax measures for their libraries. Just over 650,000 people voted yes and nearly 470,000 voted no. Of the 148 library ballot measures we have identified (through news reports, surveys, and direct involvement of EveryLibrary, the national library PAC the authors work for), 127 were won and 21 lost. One, while technically passing, actually rolled back the library’s funding, making it, in our opinion, a loss.
The first time I encountered the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was nearly 30 years ago. Almost miraculously, PLG has survived from just after the Reagan era through the Clinton and Bush years until Obama. It is still small but manages to publish Progressive Librarian (PL), a journal that combines rigorous scholarship with a strong ideological sentiment.
In Fall 2015, the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) strategy team gained two codirectors, David Giles and Story Bellows—urban innovators with strong backgrounds in government policy. Giles joined the library as chief strategy officer in November 2015, after serving as research director at New York’s Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which in 2014 published Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries, a report examining the physical and economic challenges facing the buildings that make up New York City’s three library systems. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership around program development, partnerships, advocacy, and capital planning, among other aspects of BPL’s mission. Leading the strategy team with Giles is Bellows, who became BPL’s chief innovation and performance officer in October. Before arriving in Brooklyn, Bellows cofounded and directed the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, an in-house research and development lab aimed at supporting innovative approaches to civic problem solving.