When Barbara Stripling took the helm at the American Library Association (ALA) this summer, she arrived with a plan to make a mark. She anchored her “Libraries Change Lives” initiative with a quiet but forceful tool, the Declaration for the Right to Libraries.
In some ways, romance novels are the dirty little secret of the literary world. Largely ignored by mainstream critics, regularly maligned by academics, and sometimes hidden away even by their readers, romances are nevertheless responsible for as much as 50 percent of annual mass market paperback sales in the U.S.. Now, the organizers of the Popular Romance Project (PRP) are trying to rewrite the narrative, bringing romance to the attention of those who might not already pay attention to the genre by showcasing its diversity and depth and the community of authors and fans that drive its enduring popularity.
After a year-long search, Texas welcomed a Mark Smith as the new state librarian last week. But with a background that includes 14 years as a vice-president of Library Systems and Services, Inc. (LSSI), the native son’s return to Texas libraries makes some librarians uneasy. Others, though, think Smith’s unconventional CV could be an asset.
That titular truism is even more accurate during hard times; the muzzling and corrupting impact of the almighty dollar on the flow of information is magnified in a weak economy. Those with an agenda use their money to influence our politics, our ideology, and our lifestyles and social interactions. We see this sway not only in election campaigns but in the media as they provide our entertainment and report our news. Even the once sacrosanct public media are afflicted with influences that tend to quiet their critique and discussion if it might affect their donors, funding agencies, trustees, and advertisers.
Having written a column a couple of weeks ago expressing skepticism, even cynicism, about the prospect of the international diplomatic conference sponsored in Marrakesh by the World Intellectual Property Organization actually producing a treaty on copyright exceptions for the blind and visually impaired, I was both pleased and surprised to hear that such a treaty was agreed to by the delegates in the wee hours of June 25.
On June 30, at the Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia wing, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will allow the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and Aarhus Public Libraries in Denmark to work together to create a new model for innovation, experimentation and decision-making within libraries.
Early at the Annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) copies of a page from Illinois Lawyer Now, a publication of the Illinois State Bar Association, were quietly distributed to members of the press. The page reported the disbarment and suspension of 11 Illinois attorneys. Included was the disbarment of Mary Frances Wilkens, a lawyer since 2006, who was charged with misappropriating $174,300.53 from ALA for her own personal use between 2006 and 2012. Wilkens was employed in the offices of ALA Booklist, the Association’s book review publication.
Robust crowds showed for the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, which took place in Chicago June 28-July 2. Total attendance topped more than 26,000, dramatically higher than 2011 and 2012, which both came in at about 20,000. In addition to the greater total attendance, ALA’s recent initiative to condense programming into fewer, closer locations meant more bodies physically on site, garnering grateful shout-outs from several attendees on Twitter. The combination of more attendees and fewer competing venues also led to excellent traffic in the exhibits, several vendors told LJ, and a sense of intensity that attendees welcomed.
The American Library Association has launched a new website, ala.org/liberty, in response to the recent revelations about widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). The site offers a toolkit and other resources for libraries to convene forums and moderate community discussions on privacy. Many more resources will be added in the weeks to come, an ALA representative said.