Higher education is in a state of flux and the key shifts taking place may create opportunities for the academic library. If these are higher ed’s most pressing problems, academic librarians are part of the solutions.
A FEW YEARS AGO at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Anaheim, CA, I had dinner with librarians from three large universities. The conversation turned to something they had in common: they were all moving print book collections at their respective institutions off-site to make room for student spaces. Back then, this was a big deal, and these administrators met with opposition and angst from their constituents.
The great debate has come to a truce: The new Framework for Information Literacy has been adopted, but will not replace the familiar information literacy Standards, at least for now. This probably frustrates people who strongly support (or oppose) one or the other, but it gives us a chance to work out some sticky issues without anyone feeling that they lost.
We talk a lot about resilience when we discuss library sustainability. It is one of the trends identified by Miguel Figueroa, an LJ 2005 Mover & Shaker, in the recent “Forecasting the Future of Libraries” report. It encompasses a broad swath of library work—dynamic programming, deep and robust community commitment to the well-being of the institution, and facility design that can withstand the very real threats of extreme weather change that comes with global warming. Resilience also means creating buildings that don’t drain precious natural resources.
Congratulations to the Paralibrarian of the Year, specialization in the profession, libraries as competitors, and more letters to LJ’s April 1, 2015 issue.
Finding great books is getting even harder now as more and more books are published every year. Nearly a million new books flooded the market last year alone—about half of them self-published. LJ’s Patron Profiles data shows that libraries can be a great source for book discovery—32 percent of patrons find books to read or borrow from libraries. But there are still many more readers to reach. Readers’ advisory and online discovery both continue to play big roles in connecting readers to new titles, authors, and even genres they might not have sought out on their own. In the physical space, there is much more that can be done by reinventing how libraries approach the art of the display.
Two keys to success become apparent when you review the transformations so many libraries have achieved in recent years. The most important is community involvement, and that means much more than simple publicity, marketing, and fundraising efforts. It has meant making community leaders and all residents an integral part of the planning and execution of the library’s whole turnabout—from early in the process until it is finished—which ensures their interest, satisfaction with the result, civic pride, and continued participation.
The Gold Coast Public Library (GCPL), Glen Head, NY, wouldn’t exist if it had not been for Girl Scout Troop #61. In 1997, when working to meet the requirements for the ”My Community” badge, one young scout asked her leader, “Why doesn’t our community have a library?” This was just the first step in a long process spearheaded by devoted residents. GCPL opened in summer 2005, when residents overwhelmingly voted to establish the library district. The library adopted the slogan, “Powered by Community.” This community values libraries and the services they offer. As such, GCPL strives to add programs that bring old and new patrons together and foster the sense of community. Our newest book club, “Cook the Book,” does both. The cookbook collection is a hot section and, therefore, one of our best sources of new service ideas. The club, inspired by an article in a local paper about programs available in libraries, brings together patrons who love to cook over a meal and conversation about cooking and recipes.