July 20, 2017

Editorial

Asking for More: Four New Approaches to Community Engagement | Editorial

Ask not what you can do but what your community members can—when they’re effectively engaged. That was one of the messages I heard at the recent Next Library conference in Aarhus, Denmark. This small and intense global convening brought me many new ideas, among them the insight that we may be selling short the people our libraries serve by not asking enough of them. Think of it as volunteerism, flipped and multiplied.

The Empathy Builders: A More Compassionate World Through Stories | Editorial

When was the last time you read beyond your comfort zone—whether in point of view, genre, or format? Graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang has focused on doing just that from his platform as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a position to which he was named in early 2016. It’s a cause that’s natural for libraries to promote to patrons but also for each of us to consider in our own approach to our personal and professional reading.

People First: Making the Commons Real | Editorial

The movement toward more people-centric civic design has a new tool to put to work. Last month, the Gehl Institute released “A Mayor’s Guide to Public Life”—an inspirational document that showcases breakthrough projects large and small and offers perspective on how to drive such development at the local level. Anyone interested in how we all experience the spaces we move through will find this valuable. Libraries are natural partners in this endeavor, and there are many ideas here to consider applying in the places our libraries touch—whether literally or through partnerships.

Blueprint for Resilience: Toward Libraries that Give Back | Editorial

Sometimes, just envisioning something can set change in motion. That’s what’s happening at the Belgrade Community Library in Montana. That little library was named LJ’s Best Small Library in America in 2015 and effectively leveraged the honor for local interest and investment. A few years later, the library, under the leadership of Director Gale Bacon, continues to make the most of its opportunities, now via design that is helping to set the community’s sights on a possible future.

Fire in the Belly: Powering Advocacy with Passion | Editorial

The Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) conference in Brooklyn last month clarified the need for library advocates to engage in new ways, expand the network of library support, and focus on tactics for further establishing libraries’ value in our disrupted culture. Outcry over the destruction of so many publicly funded cultural institutions is almost deafening. We must find ways to make our voices resonate.

Knight’s Move: Investing in Today—and Tomorrow | Editorial

Libraries have long benefited from major donors that infuse dollars as well as strategic perspective at key junctures. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has stepped into that role with signature energy, most clearly illustrated by the Knight News Challenges, including two focused on libraries. By their very nature these call on libraries to speed new ideas to address big needs, and the robust response from the library arena has surfaced and celebrated a range of creativity.

Leading on Literacy: It’s a Promise Worth Keeping | Editorial

The word literacy is undergoing a transformation, with multiple literacies emergent, including those relating to information, civic engagement, multiculturalism, finance, and health—and, of course, reading readiness at the core. Let’s not forget news literacy, as the fake news crisis has made apparent. Libraries are doing so much exciting work to address illiteracies in their communities, and that work is more important than ever.

A Better Ladder: Fostering the Leaders Libraries Need | Editorial

The talent at work in libraries should make anyone optimistic for the future—not only of libraries but of the varied communities they serve. As the latest class of LJ Movers & Shakers demonstrates, the field is rippling with energetic, committed, innovative people addressing issues to create ever better service. It’s important that today’s leaders guarantee an institutional dynamic that will keep up-and-coming visionaries like these happy in libraries, allow them to flourish, and enable the best to step forward into larger roles.

Not an Island: Connecting To Community Priorities | Editorial

We know it’s critical in library work to connect to community priorities—and that extends to all library types, with the community in question shifting accordingly. But just how do we put a finger on the pulse of those needs? A new offering takes a unique and useful approach to answering that question.

Losing a Library: A Community That Gives Up its Library Gives Up On Itself | Editorial

On April 1, the people of Oregon’s Douglas County will see ten of their 11 libraries close. The last, the main, will soon follow. This decision by the county Board of Commissioners, announced January 9, is a sad outcome to a long battle to keep the system open. For those who live there, it will mean a devastating loss of a key cultural hub along with the access to information, expertise, technology, stories, voices from around the world, a book-rich environment, and all the skill development, inspiration, and aspiration these resources offer. It’s a loss the community at large should not take lightly.