Beginning with the publication of Freedom’s Journal by Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm in 1827, U.S. newspapers and periodicals written and distributed by African American journalists and publishers in the 19th and 20th centuries have played a vital role in giving voice to black communities, while chronicling and ultimately preserving history from the perspective of those communities. This product spotlight showcases subscription databases with extensive historic black newspaper collections, as well as a selection of free resources made available by the Library of Congress (LC), the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and other institutions.
On September 14, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the new Librarian of Congress. The first African American and the first woman to hold the position in American history, she is also only the third to have worked in a library prior to her appointment. After a moving ceremony in the Library of Congress’s (LC) 1897 Jefferson Building and a reception to meet “as many staff members as they could stand,” Hayden sat down with LJ in her ceremonial office to outline her vision for the library.
Nicholas Carr is a journalist, cultural and technology commentator, and professional skeptic on issues of the Internet, social media, and the potential consequences of our love affair with technological progress. A 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist, he has written numerous articles, essays, contributions to his blog Rough Type, and five books, including The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains and a recent collection of pieces from 2005–15, Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations (both Norton). Carr will be the opening keynote speaker at LJ and School Library Journal’s virtual conference The Digital Shift, on October 19, and LJ recently caught up with him to find out where libraries fit into his thoughts on our wired world.
Last year, our library director brought a futurist to meet with the Board of Trustees to help us better understand the future of the library. I vividly remember the first point in his presentation: the vast majority of services the library will provide will stay the same. One question he didn’t address was our future as trustees. It never occurred to any of us to ask. After all, someone has to set policies, advocate for the library and budget, hire the director, and be responsible to the public. However, just as libraries themselves will undergo significant changes, so will boards.
When working with political campaigns for EveryLibrary, we are often asked to identify the most important digital tactic for winning campaigns and advocating for libraries. Many of the people who ask expect us to talk about best practices using Facebook or Twitter to reach the public. They are usually surprised to hear we still believe email is the absolute most important tool for digital campaigns. This is true because email is still fundamentally the key to the Internet. Your library’s biggest goal in digital and in-person strategy should be the acquisition of email addresses.
Nearly nine out of ten adults have difficulty using health information, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This isn’t surprising—thanks to the open access movement, there are a plethora of reliable medical sources out there, but many are not written for a lay audience. Meanwhile, drug companies on the one hand and anti–traditional medicine advocates on the other flood the Internet with authoritative-sounding contradictory material.
I’ve been working hard to ensure libraries understand that sustainability involves far more than “going green.” Embracing the Triple Bottom Line definition of sustainability helps libraries think holistically about the environmental, economic, and social aspects of their library and community. Nonetheless, libraries have a lot of work to do on the “going green” side of things.
Few libraries were untouched by the economic downturn of the 2000s. As systems began to rebound, however, a challenge was to replace the perception that they were down and out with the new reality of extended hours, replenished staff, and improved services. The strongest marketers among them also focused on the stories behind those comebacks, and information about what users could expect going forward. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML), in the city of Charlotte and County of Mecklenburg, NC, was determined not just to recover but to come back stronger than ever, to make sure its customers knew it—and to give them a chance to tell their side of the story.
The modern library movement began in 1876, a year that saw the birth of both the American Library Association (ALA) and Library Journal (LJ). The January 1, 1976, issue of LJ celebrated that centennial, asking 25 experts and leading librarians to project the future of libraries over the next 25–50 years. Now on LJ’s 140th anniversary, we’ve taken a sampling of those forecasts and briefly assessed their accuracy. The result is evidence of how inadequate current knowledge is to predict the future.