When Barbara Stripling took the helm at the American Library Association (ALA) this summer, she arrived with a plan to make a mark. She anchored her “Libraries Change Lives” initiative with a quiet but forceful tool, the Declaration for the Right to Libraries.
Back in 1917, two librarians from the Missoula Public Library wanted to bring library service to the remote lumber camps that peppered Montana’s vast mining range. One of them, Ruth Worden, was from a very powerful Missoula family. When she brought the idea to the man in charge of the camps, Kenneth Ross, she didn’t know if it would work—if the lumberjacks would actually use the books—and neither did Ross. In fact, he expected they would not, notes a story in the Missoulian (ow.ly/qmqA0). But Ross felt he couldn’t say no to Worden, so packets of books started to arrive in the camp office in Bonner. A year later, 4,000 books had been checked out—and the case was made.
t’s rare to get to talk with five of the top thinkers from the library field all at once. I got to do that as moderator of the keynote panel that kicked off the virtual event “The Digital Shift (TDS): Reinventing Libraries,” held October 16. Participating in a group webcast from all over the country were Dan Cohen, founding director of the Digital Public Library of America; Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS]); Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries initiative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Barbara Stripling, assistant professor at Syracuse University and president of the American Library Association; and John P. Wilkin, university librarian and dean of libraries, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Holding steady. That’s the overarching picture of salaries for new graduates from MLIS programs, as captured by LJ’s annual Placements & Salaries Survey. Every year, LJ takes the pulse of the profession through this national survey, and each year we suss out the significant issues conveyed by the numbers and the respondents’ verbatim replies. Steady, of course, can be relatively good news in a challenged economy. Still, I don’t like it. I want to see salary growth in this evolving and crucial profession. More important, the bulk of our new graduates need better salaries to survive and thrive—and the profession needs those wages to retain, and continue to attract, the best and the brightest.
Privacy in our society is being undermined with a daily intensity that may be unmatched in history. The confluence of compromises in our digital lives and the political arena chips away at our sense of what needs to be private and risks codifying a culture in which privacy is not a right but a state hard-won by continual effort or, worse, a state only available to those wealthy enough to protect themselves.
Students and faculty of North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, are now diving into the first full school year with a new library at their disposal on the school’s Centennial Campus, and the rest of us get to watch as a new model hits its stride. The Hunt Library, which opened its doors in January after much anticipation and had the spring to work out any kinks, articulates the vision of the team at NCSU’s libraries. That team is led by Susan Nutter, vice provost and director of NCSU’s libraries and LJ’s 2005 Librarian of the Year. (We have a saying at LJ, “once a Librarian of the Year, always a Librarian of the Year,” and she keeps living up to it.)
“The library in 2020 will offer a culture of generosity supported by fiscal oversight that reflects rigorous controls and realistic projections,” writes Josie Barnes Parker, director of the Ann Arbor District Library, in Library 2020: Today’s Leading Describe Tomorrow’s Library (Scarecrow). In comparison to many of the predictions in the book of essays, this statement seems very conservative in its pragmatic approach. Nonetheless, it has resonated with me as I think about what drives effective decision making in a time of change.
All eyes are on Miami-Dade, as they should be. The tragic budget cuts that will almost halve what has been a highly regarded public library system should have every library leader on alert. I worry that it’s a suffering canary in the coal mine, a warning we can’t ignore. We must understand what happens there.
It’s good to be back. A year and a half ago, I left my job as executive editor at LJ and moved down the hall to head up sister publication School Library Journal (SLJ). Little else could have pried me away from the work I had under way here at Library Journal at the time. Now I am back, having been recently named editorial director of the two magazines and editor in chief of both.
Many efforts to diversify the ranks of librarians focus on well-intentioned but expensive projects to recruit a small number of aspiring students who may, or may not, become long-term members of the profession. For example, in April the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) gave a grant of $487,652 to support a joint diversity [...]