March 1, 2015

Editorial

The Long Good Fight: Libraries at the heart of intellectual freedoms | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

Librarians and libraries are essential to discourse about intellectual freedoms. Now we have more work to do in light of violent efforts to curtail such rights, perhaps most notably the January 7 attack on the offices of Paris’s weekly Charlie Hebdo. For me, these events brought our work to date into high relief but also intensified a sense of urgency about what librarians can do to defend a richer understanding of the value of freedom of inquiry and expression.

Worth the Price: Reflecting on the Problem of “Free” | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

“When a library goes out for a vote, the librarians shift from being partners in education, skills building, personal enrichment, and community identity. We turn into the Tax Man,” write political action committee EveryLibrary’s John Chrastka and Rachel Korman in their take on 2014 referenda. This predicament is true for all libraries, but it is especially pointed for libraries that struggle at the polls.

De Blasio’s Opportunity: It’s time to reinvest in NYC’s branch libraries | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

New York City’s libraries get a fair amount of attention, but all too rarely is it directed to the branches. Those neighborhood hubs arguably have the greatest impact and potential, cultivating the essential connection to the community at the most local levels in more than 207 buildings. Unfortunately, according to the Center for an Urban Future, they are also at risk. The time has arrived to embrace a new citywide strategy to deliver excellent library services to all New Yorkers.

Getting Real About Privacy: Confidentiality, digital literacy, and beyond | Editorial

We need to reexamine how we talk about privacy. It’s hard to go a day right now without seeing a major article addressing privacy concerns—be it about personal financial data; the ability to track student progress and report it to parents, teachers, or advisors; new Facebook settings; the stalled USA Freedom Act; and so on. The alarm has been sounded, but the prevailing lack of response is still unnerving.

Focus on Relevance: Tell politicians why libraries are vital | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

Not long after Republican Kim Wyman was elected secretary of state of Washington in 2012, she had a meeting with a legislator that set her on a new course. As they began to explore the possibility of rebooting an envisioned but later abandoned Heritage Center project, she was asked, “Are libraries necessary?” It’s a great question. Her response should be a prod to all of us to get out there and make sure our elected officials have the insight into libraries they need to help build and sustain strong funding.

United We Stand: Reflecting on the Aspen report | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

There is much to think about in “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries,” the first and much anticipated report of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries (AIDPL), released last month at the New York Public Library (ow.ly/CSN7z). While just a start in practical terms, it begins to reframe the role and position of public libraries in light of the possibilities brought by the digital age. Importantly, it describes a more robust, interconnected network of vital institutions, geared to impact the lives of even more people in the communities they serve. As a framing device, a sort of charter on what libraries are today and could become, it is inspiring, challenging, and useful.

View from the Top: Susan Hildreth’s insight on collective impact | Editorial

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When President Barack Obama appointed Susan H. Hildreth as director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in 2011, many in the profession knew we were in for a robust four years of activity by that federal agency. Hildreth had already been influencing the library landscape for years in major leadership roles, including time heading major public libraries (San Francisco and Seattle) and the California State Library.

Online Learners & Libraries: It’s time to connect to the revolution | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

Online learning, much touted and often doubted, is revolutionizing education as we know it. This is good for learners and could be transformational for libraries. The connection between learning and libraries has always been natural and strong—it’s fundamental. This particular transition, however, intensifies the need for libraries and calls for stepped-up services to support these independent learners.

It’s What We Do: Service and sanctuary in Ferguson | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

I am usually proud to be a librarian. Last month that feeling was deeply reinforced by the work done at Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, and the professional creativity and focus expressed by Director Scott Bonner over weeks of duress in that community.

The Degree We Need: Strong standards are just the start | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

Our professional credential is an embattled thing. It’s a rare day that the master’s in library and information science (MLIS) escapes a conversation unscathed and unquestioned. This is rightfully so. Nothing so time-consuming and expensive, and essential, should be taken for granted. It should be under constant scrutiny by the schools themselves, the candidates, those who hire graduates, and the broader profession that it serves.