The last of a series of Pew Research Center studies examining the changing face of library service in the 21st century was released in March, offering a look at library use that breaks Americans down into nine different groups of library users. The report, “From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers,” caps three years of Pew research on libraries funded by the Gates Foundation, and looks to identify what users—and some non-users—value about library service, and where they may see room for improvement.
Today I want to talk about one of the greatest services academic libraries offer to scholars, one that is absolutely essential for any sort of advanced scholarship, and one that is facing the biggest obstacle of its 140-or-so-year-old existence. I’m talking about interlibrary loan (ILL) and the threat it faces from ebooks.
The Wichita Public Library (WPL), KS, has become a coalition builder for larger community goals. WPL signed on as an early “vision partner” with Visioneering Wichita, whose goal is to develop a strategic plan, through extensive community engagement, for the whole Wichita metropolitan area. Over the decades, WPL had established a growing engagement with the city’s residents. The Visioneering Wichita process gave that long-standing community engagement specific goals and direction. This reenergized engagement won for Wichita and its library the 2014 LibraryAware Community Award.
The first weeks of March were busy for litigation in the library world as the American Library Association (ALA) and Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) weighed in on a pair of cases headed to the Supreme Court. While neither impacts libraries directly, both have the potential to be big decisions that shape precedent on freedom of speech and privacy rights.
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.