It’s time to ignite a movement in libraries, one that faces head-on the pressing threat brought by climate change and addresses every way we can help to secure a better future, or, in more stark terms, a future for the generations to follow. This seems more imperative every day, but the functional response is limited.
The community served by the Birmingham Public Library, AL, this October gained three new programs targeted to branch-level needs—Vintage Memory Making, with an eye to sewing and crafting; After School Writing, keyed to supporting penmanship, including cursive writing; and New Parenting, focused on helping caregivers through the first years. All three ideas stem from staff participation in the library’s recently launched Innovative Cool Award initiative, which interconnects the organization, including trustees, and helps the library be responsive to the community.
A new era has begun for the Library of Congress (LC), and if Carla Hayden’s first gestures in her role as Librarian of Congress signal sustained momentum to come, the LC of the future might just live up to the hopes of so many. Since her swearing in, on September 14, Hayden has set a compelling tone, one that is purposeful, inclusive, and infused with an important balance between the awesome responsibility of, and a sense of joy in, the work to come.
Libraries and LEGO have gone together for ages, but libraries made of LEGO bricks are much more rare. So when I received a box containing a little library constructed of LEGO bricks, it got my attention. That alone is a win for any marketing initiative—getting someone to tune in. Good marketing is hard to do, and harder for organizations such as libraries that do so much already with limited resources. When it’s done right, however, both the community and the library benefit.
I wrote this in a small library in the town of Kyneton, Australia. As many library fans do, I visit libraries wherever I go—stopping in for a look-see, lingering to use the space and services, and sometimes getting a full tour. It’s always valuable—and often inspiring. This was the case when I recently visited Australia on a family trip, and I experienced a handful of libraries small and large along the way.
On Leap Day this past February, I gave myself the gift of a Citi Bike membership. In New York City, where Library Journal’s office is located, this bike-sharing service hit the streets in 2013 and has continued to gain traction ever since. Like many, it has had growing pains, but it now touts over 100,000 annual members, and this summer it celebrated a record of 56,000 trips in one day. I ride for part of my commute, replacing what would be an underground subway leg with three-plus miles on the surface. This has given New York back to me, reinvigorating my relationship with the city and allowing me to witness its changeable beauty.
The struggle to improve the affinity between library schools and applied librarianship has just gained a powerful ally. In June, the University of Washington’s Information School (iSchool) announced the appointment of its first Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, Susan Hildreth. She is one of the most experienced and visionary librarians in our ranks, having served stints as a library director, state librarian, head of consortia, and, most notably, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
I hadn’t heard of the Diversity Council of Australia’s #WordsAtWork campaign until my feed lit up with its call to remove the word guys from workplace use. The comments express conflicting perspectives on whether it was on target or over the top in terms of political correctness. While I basically agree with the council—I’d already been working to break my habit of using guys when addressing colleagues at LJ and School Library Journal (SLJ), a team predominantly made up of women—the full-throated response made me reflect on how challenging and necessary such conversations are.
This year, the American Library Association (ALA) has the opportunity to make its annual conference more meaningful than ever. While it will be held among the artifice of Orlando’s tourist draws, the meeting will be full of dialog about very real issues, driven by the cultural moment and determination to move the needle on what my colleague John N. Berry III would call the “accursed questions.” Those questions continue to press, and I am hopeful this ALA will live up to its promise to help the field effectively grapple with the challenges ahead.