Heather Moorefield-Lang has witnessed the face of freshman terror when the first-year students walk into the college library at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, are confronted by two million books, and don’t know where to start. As an assistant professor at the School of Library and Information Sciences, she knows that relieving that angst is her job.
The safety of staff and patrons is a top priority for all libraries, with managers striving to maintain a welcoming and secure environment for all who wish to make use of the space. Library systems nationwide enact security policies tailored to their respective communities and resources. Although these vary from library to library, librarians must strike a balance between offering a broad open door policy for all community members and ensuring a safe, secure environment for staff and patrons.
For a primer on managing disruptive patrons, knowing when to get law enforcement involved, and how to form the relationships that make that call easier, we spoke to Steve Albrecht. A retired police officer and security consultant, Albrecht is the author of Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities (ALA Editions). (For more from Albrecht, see Playing It Safe: Author Steve Albrecht Tackles Security Measures for Libraries.)
Dealing with patrons who break library rules is no one’s favorite part of the job. But establishing clear policies and penalties, and a consistent system for tracking misbehavior, is the first step toward creating an environment in which staff feel confident when enforcing rules and patrons understand the consequences of misconduct.
From annual appeals, planned giving, and partnerships to events, libraries’ fundraising efforts do much more than make up gaps. Libraries of every size, in communities of all kinds, can develop fundraising strategies to meet a wide range of programming, collection development, and building needs and provide a chance to try things that public money might not cover such as new services, training, or temporary staff. But this adaptability requires ongoing maintenance of approaches, databases, and—most of all—relationships.
On Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., a PBS program that’s a must for those interested in family history, viewers watch as Harvard professor Gates reveals to famous people information about their ancestors, some of them recent forebears and others from many generations ago. TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA), based on a BBC series of the same name, is now in its eighth season and offers a similar chronicling of the search for a famous person’s roots.
Few individuals have contributed more to the popularization of genealogy in the United States than Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. In addition to serving as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, he is perhaps best known as the creator of PBS’s hit show Finding Your Roots. With the help of librarians and genealogists across the country, the series traces the family trees of well-known Americans from Branford Marsalis to Gloria Steinem to Stephen King. Guests discover unexpected chapters in their family histories that include immigrations, adoptions, marriages, murders, and tales of hardship and courage—on a recent episode, Dustin Hoffman wept to learn of his great-grandmother’s years in a Soviet concentration camp after the execution of both her husband and son. LJ caught up with Gates to see what librarians and patrons can learn from his approach to genealogy as narrative.
Programming that supports English-language learning (ELL) is not new in the world of public libraries. Kenneth English, associate director of adult learning centers at the New York Public Library (NYPL), has seen “photos and notices from around 1920 promoting classes in Manhattan’s Lower East Side immigrant neighborhoods.” While ELL programming has existed for nearly 100 years, modern libraries continue to update their offerings to fit the needs of their communities. Innovative and traditional projects that are responsive to demographic shifts and capitalize on local people power are key to best serving library customers working on their English-language skills.
What does fracking have to do with scholarly publishing and journal pricing? While the library financial landscape has improved since the depth of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, it still cannot be considered robust. As articles such as this one chronicle annual serials price increases, libraries, publishers, and vendors search for innovative ways to fulfill information needs within the finite, predefined budget environment. New business and access models ranging from the initial e-journal big deal packages, article pay per view, open access, mega-journals, and publisher e-journal database pricing have evolved in response to the environment; libraries, publishers, and vendors have merged, consolidated, or disappeared along the way. Just as fracking keeps the oil and gas flowing, these strategies enable the current scholarly publishing ecosystem to extract the necessary resources—intellectual and financial—to survive.
Most libraries that adopt floating collections expect circulation to rise because collections will be better distributed to meet patron demand. Yet how many have analyzed whether collections perform better after implementing floating than they did before materials were relocated? The Nashville Public Library undertook an experiment in floating with optimism. Did the results pay off? Here is how it all began.