On July 21, the Movement for Black Lives’ National Day of Action, a team of four public librarians with backgrounds in social justice launched a new initiative, Libraries4BlackLives (L4BL). Jessica Anne Bratt, branch manager at Grand Rapids Public Library, MI; Sarah Lawton, neighborhood library supervisor for Madison Public Library, WI; Amita Lonial, learning experiences manager at Skokie Public Library (SPL), IL; and Amy Sonnie, adult literacy and lifelong learning librarian at Oakland Public Library, CA, joined forces earlier in the summer to create a website that would bring together library-based advocates who want to support the ideals and activism behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Eric Edward Moon, who served as editor-in-chief of Library Journal for nine years (1959-1968) died on July 31 in Sarasota, FL at the age of 93. He was hugely influential in American librarianship for four decades, at LJ, as President of the American Library Association (ALA), and as chief editor at Scarecrow Press.
“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.