The future of the American public library is taking shape. I see it in all kinds of libraries. The public, politicians, and local and national media are now noticing the relevance and central role of these libraries. These institutions are delivering a trusted set of up-to-date programs and services and that has earned a far more positive public and political reaction than the one enjoyed by most other agencies of the local, state, and federal governments.
Federal funding for community colleges, the problem of free, and more letters to the editor from the March 1, 2015 issue of Library Journal
A few years ago I went to my optometrist. On hearing I was a librarian, she asked me a fiction reader’s-advisory question. Of course, I’m not a public librarian, or a reference librarian either. Rather than try to explain that to my optometrist, however, I went along with her assumptions about what librarians do by recommending a recent read. It isn’t just optometrists who have narrow notions of what this field encompasses; too often our own notions are barely any broader. This worries me, not least because it doesn’t reflect the variety and opportunity I see in the information professions.
I don’t feel comfortable without a book nearby (a print book, that is). And the older I get, the more books I read at the same time; I’m usually in the midst of two or three. This is no boast, because I’ve religiously avoided reading serious literature ever since the course that required me to read Nausea and The Death of Ivan Illyich in the same week. Now I read mostly mysteries, which I could argue are, in fact, serious literature, but I don’t because then I wouldn’t want to read them anymore. I get a lot of paperbacks from Amazon, especially since I recently discovered how cheaply I can get used paperbacks there (I also get lots of used paperbacks from the Harvard Bookstore in the interest of supporting brick and mortar bookstores). Then one of my favorite mystery writers released a novella only in a Kindle version available through Amazon. I broke down, downloaded the Kindle app to my laptop, bought the novella, and read it online.
There was much excitement when the James L. Knight Foundation opened a News Challenge for Libraries last September—for good reason. Libraries were getting a highly visible shout-out from this national foundation, and library enthusiasts were being asked to share ideas in a setting that encouraged collaboration to deepen the impact of library work. The process surfaced mission-focused ingenuity across the library landscape, highlighted the smarts in our field, and should serve as motivation for leadership to find new ways to enable latent capacity in our libraries to serve our communities better.
The pros and cons of community college for all, library marketing, the need for shooter safety, and more letters to the editor form the February 15, 2015 issue of Library Journal.
Now that the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education is finished, I finally got around to reading it. I was often critical of parts of the information literacy standards, but haven’t found much to criticize about the “Framework,” although I know others have. Most of the “threshold concepts” are things I’ve been talking about with students for years, so there’s little in it that seems particularly new, except thinking of such ideas as threshold concepts. There was one thing that surprised me, though: the recognition of various forms of privilege.