September 19, 2017

Editorial

No Time To Waste: Facing the Reality of Climate Breakdown | Editorial

The people of Texas and Louisiana are beginning to rebuild after Harvey, and the library community has stepped up to help. As we have seen in the aftermath of all too many disasters, the library infrastructure and network is critical. Not only do libraries provide refuge and expertise to put to work on relief efforts, but librarians consistently offer compassion and are ready to serve anyone in need.

Natural Phenomenon: Making Moments Momentous | Editorial

Libraries are about learning but also about inspiring and enabling awe. Every once in a while, this gets multiplied by an event that shows just how cool libraries are when they enable everyone to access a rare experience. The enthusiastic response to the solar eclipse on August 21 evidenced this on a grand scale, and libraries were right in the center, building excitement and engagement for many, speaking directly to the role they play in shaping a more egalitarian society.

360° Advocacy: Engage Stakeholders in What Libraries Really Deliver | Editorial

Do your stakeholders know what your library does for them? In the United States, libraries are under unprecedented threat, and the response from advocates has been tremendous. As the 2018 federal budget, with its dark promise to shut down the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as other key federal bodies, makes its way through the House and Senate, advocates have been moving the needle, with waves of activity intended to compel the right decision-makers at the right time.

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.