In April, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries program hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, the aptly named Peer Learning Meeting (PLM). According to the Gates Foundation, the conference is held roughly every 18 months and is described as “a multiday event where Global Libraries (GL) grantees, staff, and partners meet to exchange ideas and experiences, share success stories and challenges, discuss practical solutions, and build relationships with their fellow professionals in the field.” This year, some 120 librarians from 32 countries gathered to share the challenges they face and the solutions they’ve found.
LJ in Print
The trend toward putting public libraries in retail spaces such as big-box stores, malls, strip centers, and main street buildings shows no sign of slowing. The McAllen Public Library, TX, main library, which opened in late 2011 in a former Wal-Mart, garnered many awards, including the coveted American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Interior Architecture. McAllen residents got a lot of library compared with what they would have gotten building new, reduced their impact on the environment, and turned a blight into a flourishing center of community life.
There was never a doubt that the St. Louis Central Library building would remain a library and be restored, However, what was in doubt was the footprint. The original plan called for a proposed expansion outside the building’s original granite walls. But a local architectural firm took the risk of trying to convince library leaders that was the wrong way to go.
A renaissance in library architecture is under way in Washington, DC, thanks to the vision of District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) chief librarian and executive director Ginnie Cooper. Since she arrived at DCPL in 2006, Cooper has overseen the construction and renovation of 14 branch libraries, with eight more renovations and reconstructions to go. Collectively, the upgraded branches and new buildings—the latter conceived by world-class architects, including Adjaye Associates, Davis Brody Bond Aedas, and the Freelon Group—have earned an astonishing 26 awards for their design excellence.
This year brought the sequester, casting its shadow on initiatives and agencies, including the Census Bureau yet again, which stands to take a $46 million hit that would delay the distribution of the 2012 Economic Census, curtail ongoing research, and impact planning for the 2020 decennial census. Time will tell how many more tried-and-true government resources will be affected and what kinds of workarounds might emerge to deliver data in a timely way. In the meantime, the Notable Documents panel thanks all who participated in the nominating process this year. Nearly all of the publications are available online, many with no-cost print counterparts.
“We deliver high-quality education for all ages,” says the simple, direct mission statement of the library system. Its position as an integral member of the county education system was coupled with the effort by CEO and president Valerie Gross to use “words that work” to describe the jobs of HCLS staffers, the services they provide, and the vision and mandate of the library. They all combine to provide a brand that has made HCLS a crucial county asset and a new model for libraries everywhere. This championing of community alignment, as well as many other impressive endeavors, makes HCLS the 2013 Gale/LJ Library of the Year—a well-supported, sustainable 21st-century library system from which others can and do take inspiration.
Historically, libraries have been centered on bringing the world to our members through our collections. This problem of access was important to help solve, meeting a vital societal need. Likewise, our focus on information technologies and the web is natural, too. Throughout the years, these tools have presented some outstanding challenges, though generally they have aided tremendously in our mission to expand access to accumulated cultural knowledge and output. But our fixation on collections and technology is no longer serving us—nor our members.
Asante Cain was elected the 2014–15 President of the Michigan Library Association. He is currently Reference and Adult Services Coordinator, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI. Karen Jaffe was named Head of the Library of Congress Young Readers Center. She was previously Manager of Education Projects for MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. South Florida State College presented Susan Livingston [...]
To aid in your use of the handy ALA Scheduler this year LJ ’s editors have selected a few of their favorite ALA program sessions from the sprawling array of options on offer. We hope these selections will give you the best shot at the newest and best ideas and innovations, the most useful information and best practices, and, of course, the most entertainment for the time and money you have invested. If all else fails there is always “that toddlin’ town” outside.