June 22, 2016

Aspen in Action | Community Engagement

A LESSON IN PLANNING Columbus Public Library, WI, director Cindy ­Fesemyer (l.) incorporates the Action Guide as a text into the class she teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies, University 
of Wisconsin-Madison. Photo by Chloe Prosser

“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.”

Promise and Peril of AI for Academic Librarians | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

It is still early in the development of artificial intelligence but eventually it will change the work of librarians—or make it irrelevant. How likely is it that we will be replaced by bots in the future?

In Solidarity: Standing with UK Libraries | Editorial

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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.

Library Robot Coming to Welsh University

Pasi William Sachiti, Ariel Ladegaard, prototype robot

At Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, users will soon have a novel means of consulting the catalog at the college’s Hugh Owen Library. Rather than typing their request, or asking a reference librarian, students can be led to the title they’re looking for by a robot with access to all of the library’s holdings.

MIT’s Future of the Library: Encouraging Social Knowledge-Building

David Adjaye, Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT Recipient presents at the Future of the Library panel at MIT. Image courtesy of MIT, photo by L. Barry Hetherington

On February 11, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hosted a discussion on “The Future of the Library” as part of the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. The award is given to a prominent artist in any field who embodies MIT’s commitment to risk-taking, problem solving, and connecting creative minds across disciplines.

Knight Foundation Launches Second News Challenge on Libraries | ALA Midwinter 2016

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The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (KF) kicked off the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Boston on the morning of January 10 with a session announcing its second News Challenge on Libraries. The challenge, which launches February 24, will address the question “How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?” Winners will receive a share of $3 million in funding toward their projects. In addition, a select number of projects will be considered for the Knight Prototype Fund.

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve | Future Proof

Scott Steinberg

As librarians are aware, today’s cultural and business environments are rapidly shifting—often in highly unpredictable and disruptive ways. In the past few years alone, physical has quickly given way to digital (including cloud and app-based solutions), classroom-based education to distance learning, and community development efforts targeted at engaging Millennials into initiatives aimed at connecting with Generation Z and beyond.Researchers at IBM have uncovered a telling reason why: In their words, continuous change is the new normal. (Having published these findings roughly half a decade ago, it’s now more normal than new.)

The Human Network | The Digital Shift

Photo ©2015 Shawn G. Henry

The librarians who are thriving most consistently in the digital era are those who have found a way to operate as a node in a network of libraries and librarians. They are agents of change, actively creating the future instead of constantly reacting to it—or worse, resisting it.

Meet Your Maker | Maker Movement

Caption can go here saying somethign about Denver PL's ideaLAB. Top photo shows Nate Stone (l.) helping a teen in the audio lab, center shows teen activity, and the bottom photo is an adult session on learning to code. Photos by Christina Kiffney

On June 11, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in collaboration with the Congressional Maker Caucus, Maker Media, and Nation of Makers, hosted its first Capitol Hill Maker Faire, featuring a series of panel discussions and an expo open to the public, including members of Congress. Held in conjunction with this year’s National Maker Faire at the University of District of Columbia and the White House National Week of Making, June 12–18, these events indicate the growing interest in our nation’s capital in the Maker movement and its potential implications for education, workforce development, and community building.

Lending a Green Thumb | Maker Movement

GROWING ON US Arlington PL, VA (top), offers informative “Garden Talks”; St. Louis County Library (bottom) installed its first garden in 2013. Top photo courtesy of Arlington PL; bottom photo courtesy of St. Louis County Library

It wasn’t your average ribbon-cutting ceremony. In place of the traditional ribbon, a length of ivy. Instead of an oversized pair of golden scissors, pruning shears, hedge trimmers, and garden loppers. And on September 26, 2014 (Johnny Appleseed Day), with a quick snip of the shears, The Shed at Arlington Public Library’s (APL) Central Branch, VA, packed with tools for planting and digging, weeding and cutting, raking and watering, was open for business. The business of borrowing, that is.