In Fall 2015, the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) strategy team gained two codirectors, David Giles and Story Bellows—urban innovators with strong backgrounds in government policy. Giles joined the library as chief strategy officer in November 2015, after serving as research director at New York’s Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which in 2014 published Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries, a report examining the physical and economic challenges facing the buildings that make up New York City’s three library systems. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership around program development, partnerships, advocacy, and capital planning, among other aspects of BPL’s mission. Leading the strategy team with Giles is Bellows, who became BPL’s chief innovation and performance officer in October. Before arriving in Brooklyn, Bellows cofounded and directed the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, an in-house research and development lab aimed at supporting innovative approaches to civic problem solving.
In the midst of the ongoing international migration crisis, libraries worldwide are finding ways to support newly arriving refugees. Libraries across Europe are assisting the wave of newly arriving Syrian refugees, as illustrated by recent articles from Public Libraries Online and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). And they’re not alone: as cities in the US and Canada receive an influx of Middle Eastern refugees seeking asylum, libraries are using both traditional and innovative services to reach out and connect with these populations in crisis.
Three years ago, internationally acclaimed urban installation artist Theaster Gates decided that a decayed, hulking, once iconic three-story South Side Chicago building deserved to be brought back to life. His vision, with encouragement and advice from friends, resulted in the Stony Island Arts Bank—a hybrid gallery, research library, media archive, and community center dedicated to African American culture and history—which opened to the public in early October.
Digital Inclusion Survey: Renovation Matters, Help Happens at Point of Need, and Staff Still Do (Almost) Everything
In October, the Information Policy & Access Center at University of Maryland (iPAC) and the American Library Association (ALA) released the results and initial analysis from the 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey. iPAC has gathered statistics on public libraries and the Internet for 20 years, and this report highlights the sea change over that time. Of particular note, this survey looked more closely at the relationship between recent renovations or construction (within the past five years) and the ability of libraries to support a full and robust online life for all of a community’s residents—regardless of age, education, and socioeconomic status—by providing free access to public access technologies (hardware, software, high-speed Internet connectivity); a range of digital content; digital literacy services that assist individuals in navigating, understanding, evaluating, and creating content using a range of information and communications technologies; and programs and services around key community need areas such as health and wellness, education, employment and workforce development, and civic engagement.
Mappamundi is the online web portal for the Global Middle Ages Project (GMAP) based out of the University of Texas at Austin (UT). It links to a series of Digital Humanities projects by scholars from around the world about people, places, and objects from the period of roughly 500-1500 CE. Although many people think of this period solely as the European “Dark Ages,” the project directors are interested in portraying a much more global picture. Many of the projects focus on areas outside of Europe and are interested in cultural exchange between peoples.
At Library Journal and School Library Journal’s October 14 virtual conference, The Digital Shift: Libraries Connecting Communities, “Always Watched: How Being Surveilled Online Impacts Us All and What Librarians Can Do About It” , attendees were reminded that government and commercial surveillance is an issue of increasing importance for libraries and users alike, and librarians need to consider issues of privacy more than ever.
Libraries may be going digital, but librarians still bring—and need—that personal touch. On October 14, Library Journal and School Library Journal’s virtual conference, The Digital Shift, Libraries Connecting Communities, aptly demonstrated this in a wide range of offerings throughout the day-long event.
We are pleased to announce the results of the eighth edition of the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat. The LJ Index is a measurement tool that compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on four per capita output measures: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. Scores on the LJ Index are produced by measuring the relationships between each library’s statistics and the averages for its expenditure category. This year, there are 261 Star Libraries, 54 of which were not Star Libraries last year.
This year, 207 of 2014’s Star Libraries retain their Star status, though their numbers of Stars may have changed. There are also 54 new or returning Star Libraries—ones that were not Stars in last year’s rating. While the 54 new Star Libraries in 2015 represent the lowest number of additions since the Index first appeared in 2009, there was still plenty of movement among the three-, four-, and five-Star categories in 2015.
The 2015 Star Libraries are found in 41 states scattered across the country geographically. The top five states, ranked by their numbers of Star Libraries, are New York (39), Ohio (28), Illinois (19), Massachusetts (15), and Kansas (12). The top ten states are rounded out by a three-way tie for places six to eight shared by California, Iowa, and Texas (each with 11), Nebraska (9), and Maine (8). Like these top ten states, the remaining 30 Star Library states are spread across the nation and in every major geographical region.