In the weeks since the 2016 presidential election, librarians across the United States have taken actions to foster dialog, confront intolerance, and reaffirm public libraries as safe spaces for all patrons. Whether as a reaction to the need to initiate community conversations or as a response to incidents taking place within the library, library employees are looking at ways to get people talking—and listening.
From the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to its aftermath, incidents of hatred, anger, and intolerance have been on the rise across the country and beyond. Academic libraries have been the sites of several incidents, as have schools. Even public libraries, generally thought of as safe spaces for their communities, have not been immune.
The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) announced the winners of the 2016 ULC Top Innovators Award at the 2016 ULC Annual Forum in Kansas City, MO, on October 6. The award showcases ULC’s Innovations Initiative honoring 20 public libraries whose services “demonstrate how our members, and public libraries in general, continue to evolve and serve as essential technology, education and community leaders,” according to the press release.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Chief Offices of State Library Agencies (COSLA) recently announced a project called “Measures that Matter,” with the aim of evaluating data collection by public libraries in the United States. This project will survey the current state of public library data, assessing current strengths and weaknesses and formulating a plan for future action.
In 2014, the American Community Survey reported that an estimated 19.4 million veterans were living in the United States. Libraries, both public and academic, are well positioned to serve the unique needs of this population by offering programming and meeting space, sharing veterans’ stories, and providing the community connections necessary to transition successfully from military to civilian life.
We are pleased to announce the results of the ninth edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat. The LJ Index rates U.S. public libraries based on selected per capita output measures. The 2016 LJ Index derives from data recently released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for FY14.
Although IMLS has begun collecting data on Wi-Fi access usage, we did not include Wi-Fi use this year because there are ten states whose data reporting schedules mean that they will always be one year behind the other 41 in reporting any new data element. While we reluctantly excluded libraries from one state this year in order to introduce e-circ to the LJ Index, excluding libraries in ten was unthinkable.
This year we are again posting a detailed spreadsheet (link below) listing every Star Library award given since the inaugural edition of the LJ Index in February 2009. We have rated U.S. public libraries annually since then, and twice in that initial year due to scheduling of the release of the 2006 data. (That year the responsibility for releasing the Public Libraries in the United States Survey had transferred from the National Center for Educational Statistics to the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS).