November’s presidential election led to a surprising result for many. Even among those who voted for the current president-elect, a lot of people did not actually expect him to prevail over a former senator and secretary of state. And almost immediately, everyone from regular people to media pundits were chiming in on what the election will mean for the country.
On March 30 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (KF) announced the award of nearly $1 million to support five innovative library projects. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML), NC; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA; Peer 2 Peer University, Chicago; Richland Library, Columbia, SC; and Southwest Harbor Public Library, ME, each received between $35,000 and $250,000 to help realize a range of creative concepts addressing the digital information needs of their communities. Simultaneously, KF released a report, “Developing Clarity: Innovating in Library Systems,” examining opportunities and challenges within the lifecycle of library innovation.
Fees and fines have traditionally been a fact of life for public libraries in America, even though a nonnegligible proportion of librarians and patrons have long considered fines at best an unpleasant hassle and at worst a serious barrier to access to resources for those unable to pay them. As many libraries continue to assess and overhaul their fine and fee structures, sponsored by Comprise Technologies, LJ surveyed a random selection of public librarians in January 2017 to learn about their libraries’ approaches to fines and fees. LJ received 454 responses.
Kevin Young stepped into his role as director of New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in September 2016, succeeding former director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Young most recently served at Emory University, Atlanta, as curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and curator of literary collections at the Rose Library, at the same time holding the Charles Howard Candler Professorship of Creative Writing and English. If it were not enough that Young now helms Harlem’s Schomburg Center, on March 15 he was also appointed poetry editor of the New Yorker, to succeed Paul Muldoon.
While many public libraries could benefit from business counsel from a team of experts, professional consulting services are not always in the budget, even for larger systems. But recently San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) had the opportunity to do just that, after it was selected to receive pro bono consultation from a team of Harvard Business School alumni.
Six months after librarian Valerie Pfister was told by administrators at Louisville Free Public Library that wearing a preferred pronoun button was a dress code violation, the library has honored its promise to list preferred pronouns on the library-issued name badges of any employee who requests it. The library also agreed to update the city’s Transgender 101 training with Pfister’s help, and offer it to any library employee who wished to take it.
When she arrived to direct California’s San José Public Library in 2013, Jill Bourne faced the effects of years of decimating budget shortfalls and service cuts. The effectiveness with which Bourne spearheaded her Library Access Strategy, opened the libraries, built new relationships with and support from San José’s civic leadership, and leveraged partnerships and fostered innovation—and is now reaching beyond the library to a new citywide Education and Digital Literacy Initiative—has won over a newly inspired staff and convinced our judges to name her the 2017 LJ Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Baker & Taylor.
The County of Los Angeles Public Library believes diverse programming begins with assembling a team of people from various backgrounds and cultures who can offer different perspectives, ideas, and out-of-the-box solutions that appeal to a wider swath of the population. Diverse teams are helping to guide the organization toward its goal of reducing barriers and increasing access to the ten million residents (3.5 million in its designated service area) of the County of Los Angeles, itself a diverse group: 26.6 percent white, 9.1 percent African American, 48.4 percent Latinx, and 15 percent Asian.
Matthew Ismail loves to challenge assumptions, and as Director of Collection Development at Central Michigan University for the last five years, with stints at libraries in United Arab Emirates and Egypt before that, he’s seen plenty of them.
“We librarians assume that patrons will come to us,” says Ismail, who holds four Master’s degrees, one being an MLS from Kent State. “In the 1980s, they had to come to us, there was no internet. Today, many people are able to complete their careers without using the library at all. That would have been more difficult in the 1980s.”
Gary Shaffer, CEO of Tulsa City-County Library (TCCL), OK, since 2011 (and a 2006 LJ Mover & Shaker), will be stepping into a new role in January as director of the Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) program at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business.