The Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), MO, became a model for all libraries in the way it reacted to the crisis and the aftermath of riots brought on by the shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by local police. FMPL was the one agency in town that stayed open to serve and support all the people of Ferguson. The library quickly became a safe haven and expressed a peaceful resolve, becoming a critical community anchor.
NYC Neighborhood Libraries_groupLibrary leaders, staff, friends, and council members gathered May 20 in a grand celebration atop New York City’s Hearst Tower to for the second NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. This year, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation teamed up to make the awards even more impactful, doubling the total award amounts and creating strong engagement with library users along the way. The ten winning branch libraries were selected from more than 13,000 nominations. The five winners, which each received $20,000, are: Langston Hughes Library, Corona (Queens); Mott Haven Library, Mott Haven (the Bronx); New Lots Library, East New York (Brooklyn); Parkchester Library, Parkchester (the Bronx); and Stapleton Library, Stapleton (Staten Island).
The Best Small Library in America award was created in 2005 to honor libraries that meet the challenges of smaller budgets, space, technology, and collections and still find ways to bring expanded, innovative, and supportive services to their smaller communities. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for the past decade the award has encouraged and showcased exemplary work in libraries serving populations under 25,000. Judging criteria include creativity in developing model services and programs, innovations in public access computing, demonstrated community support, and evidence of the library’s role as community center. This year LJ looks back to see how the award has influenced the winning libraries, their communities, and their futures.
In 2010, two young fathers, Forrest Register and Vince Edge, decided that a direct appeal to local government from citizens of the city of Dothan and its surrounding Houston County, AL, could help transform their community into one in which their children would grow up educated and happy and perhaps even want to stay as adults. Their first priority was to infuse new energy and relevance into the lethargic Houston County Library System (HCLS): at the time headquartered at a downtown branch that few people visited, although it was open seven days a week.
I knew I had met a creative force when I called Gale Bacon to let her know that the Belgrade Community Library, MT, had been named LJ’s 2015 Best Small Library in America, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She was enthusiastic but cool-headed on the phone, immediately cooking away on ideas for how to leverage the award. After meeting her at a celebration at the library in February, I am in awe of this director’s savvy and dedication to expanding support for her library. She took what anyone would consider a success story for Belgrade and turned it into a success story for the whole state—while keeping the people of Belgrade front and center.
In two decades (plus one year) she has moved from work with the very young, through young adults, to dynamically serving seniors at the Hickory Public Library (HPL), NC. Tamara Faulkner Kraus’s passion for providing library service to people in need more than sustains her energy and creativity. That unsinkable spirit is now being acknowledged with the 2015 LJ Paralibrarian of the Year Award, sponsored by DEMCO.
Over the last decade, Belgrade, MT, has grown and shifted from a small agricultural town to a diverse community of 12,700 in the exurbs of nearby Bozeman. In tandem, the Belgrade Community Library (BCL) has reimagined library services and aggressively developed new outreach efforts to meet the community’s changing needs. The result is intense engagement and support from the community and an impact that extends beyond Belgrade’s borders through active partnerships and state-level leadership.
Library design is forward-thinking by nature, yet the idea of the library—as a gateway to learning, a public space open to all, a place to find what you’re looking for—is iconic. Today’s public libraries are re-imagining services, space, collections, and programming in ways that engage communities and celebrate creativity. Their design reflects a changing reality, yet also needs to stand the test of time. LJ’s New Landmark Libraries initiative identifies the top new libraries to look at for ideas and inspiration. The 2015 New Landmark Libraries will focus on public libraries that have completed new construction, expansion, or significant renovation within the last four years (2010–2014). We are accepting submissions now through March 31.
Siobhan A. Reardon engineered the creation of an ambitious, five-year strategic plan, underpinned by a powerful mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity through the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP). Her plan refocused the role of the library, outlines a cluster model to streamline and enhance neighborhood library services, and collaborate with community leaders to develop programs and services most needed by residents. Those achievements alone could qualify Reardon, the first woman to serve as president and director of FLP, to be named the LJ 2015 Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Baker & Taylor, but she has achieved much more in a short tenure that is marking a turnaround for this important but embattled library.
You’d think Library Journal and ALISE (Association for Library and Information Science Education) had Paul T. Jaeger in mind when they wrote the criteria for the LJ/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award. Jaeger, associate professor, College of Information Studies (CIS), University of Maryland, College Park, is the winner of the 2014 award, sponsored by ProQuest, which merges the LJ and ALISE honors for the first time. Jaeger clearly “illustrates student-centered thinking” in his teaching. His contributions to curriculum design at CIS display his expertise and command of new developments. Current and former students enthusiastically tell of Jaeger’s work as mentor, career builder, and collaborator in their working lives. Teaching the core values of the profession comes easy to Jaeger, because his commitment to them is rooted in his early personal and academic life.