Enjoying retirement, I was watching my second old flick on TCM when Lillian Gerhardt called. She is the former editor of School Library Journal, and we worked together for a decade or more many years ago. Both of us were totally engaged, maybe obsessed, with libraries and the profession and addicted American Library Association (ALA) critics. I was happy to hear that, like me, she was still watching the association. This time she urged me to comment on “The Advocacy Continuum” by ALA executive director Keith Fiels in the May issue of American Libraries (p. 6–7).
As last summer waned, the library in Ferguson, MO, seemed an unlikely source for a most inspiring illustration of librarianship in action. The library was running on a shoestring budget, and the new director (and sole full-time employee) had taken over scant weeks before. But when that community was wracked by violent protest in the wake of the August 9 death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer, the library emerged as a critical asset, staying open and creating programs on the fly to respond to the turmoil. The library countered the chaos and fear with calm reassurance that the people of Ferguson were supported by a shared resource that was also a “quiet oasis”—a safe place to be, to recover their bearings, but also to learn more about what was happening and why.
Pros and cons of technological futurism, green achievements, and hope for a 24/7 library in letters to the editor from Library Journal’s May 15, 2015 issue.
An inspirational level of collaboration has been undertaken between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed at the end of 2014 has set in motion deeper cross-cultural collaborations and opened opportunities to expand efforts already under way between these sister cities divided by one of the busiest international borders in the world.
The legislative budget season triggers a tense cycle for libraries, and this year is no different. State library funding comes under attack, and library advocates mount a defense. Where wisdom prevails, the lines are upheld or even increased, bolstering the key infrastructure libraries bring to our communities. Where short-term thinking trumps strategic insight, the lines get trimmed and trimmed, gaining a relatively minor lift to the state’s bottom line while putting at risk small but significant programs that interconnect our valuable public library resources—and serve as a critical conduit for federal funds to reinforce service.
Let’s take some advice from sex columnist Dan Savage to improve connections between research and practice. Savage’s Lovecast podcast features a segment called “What You Got?” highlighting recent studies from sex and relationship researchers. Savage gives scholars a few minutes of airtime to report on how their findings might relate to listeners. What a brilliant way to get the word out about research! Maybe a similar segment could find its way to Steve Thomas’s “Circulating Ideas” podcast, a show I always enjoy.
Like many academic librarians, after completing the marathon of the traditional school year, we often use the summer semester to reflect, revise, and plan for the upcoming fall. In the summer of 2012, during a casual conversation in which we shared stories about rewarding reference interactions, we stumbled upon an “a-ha moment,” discovering an opportunity to connect targeted library outreach with an underserved user group. During this exchange, we realized how much we both enjoy working with adult learners and how they always seem genuinely interested in gaining skills to make themselves better library users, and therefore better students. This conversation became the catalyst for an idea of a library course designed specifically for adult learners returning to the classroom.
It was back in April 2014 that we first met. The Makerbot Replicator and I, that is. I work at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library (HHHCL) in Dix Hills, NY, and we are part of the Suffolk County Library System, located on the eastern half of Long Island. Our library system has a bit of a reputation for being smart and ahead of the curve with technology, and when HHHCL heard of its out-of-the-box idea of circulating a 3-D printer among member libraries, we couldn’t wait to sign up. Our turn came last April.