At 140, Library Journal looks ahead, at what’s coming for our communities, and at the sophisticated ways today’s leaders are sculpting more nimble organizations to manage the challenges and opportunities on the horizon.
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.
Paper Cloud is something to see, though it’s actually impossible to see it all at once. This “aerial sculpture” by George Peters and Melanie Walker has resonated with me since I saw it in 2014 during a tour of several facilities in the Salt Lake County Libraries (SLCL) system. The installation flies, floats, and wends its way through the West Jordan Library and the library’s Viridian Event Center, elevating the spaces and the people using them.
North Carolina’s adoption of the so-called “bathroom bill” (House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act) on March 23 has been rightly denounced for building bias and discrimination into state law and barring cities from extending protections for transgender individuals. It should go without saying that wholesale bigotry against members of a group is unacceptable and unconstitutional. This legislation is a travesty and an assault on our civil liberties.
Last month, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) released a series of articles on the status of public libraries in the UK. The news is dramatic. More than 300 libraries have been closed since 2010—the reported total of 343 includes 132 mobile libraries, with over 100 more on the chopping block—and almost 8,000 jobs have been lost. The advocacy drumbeat for UK libraries has been sounding for some time, with prominent authors and celebrities offering their support. Staring down the numbers reported by the BBC has spurred a barrage of public and professional response—some reinforcing negative stereotypes and others helping to build the case for more investment.
This summer, Columbus, OH, will be the center of the library world when the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) brings its annual World Library and Information Congress there, August 13–19. For many U.S. librarians, this meeting, which last came to the States in 2001, provides rare access to the global sharing active members of IFLA experience each year. If you haven’t yet considered attending, do so soon, as it promises to be a robust conclave of some 4,000 librarians from all over the world. Witnessing the global nature of this work, and sharing with colleagues from some 120 countries, should be inspiring and will, hopefully, spark many significant and lasting connections.