December 5, 2016

The Better Angels: Committed to defending an inclusive society | Editorial

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We face a cultural crisis that calls on all who care about creating an inclusive society. There is much to do. We must speak to the rise in unapologetic manifestations of hate during and after the presidential campaign, as reports by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center clearly illustrate.

At Your Service

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In 2014, the American Community Survey reported that an estimated 19.4 million veterans were living in the United States. Libraries, both public and academic, are well positioned to serve the unique needs of this population by offering programming and meeting space, sharing veterans’ stories, and providing the community connections necessary to transition successfully from military to civilian life.

Libraries Bring Access to AIDS-Affected Uganda Communities

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According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, an estimated 650,000 children in Uganda have been orphaned by AIDS. The majority of them are now cared for by their grandmothers. The adult literacy rate reported by UNESCO is 73.9 percent, and only 66.9 percent among women; these discrepancies are particularly acute in AIDS-affected populations. In an effort to address these issues, the Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project (NAOP), a nonprofit working on behalf of AIDS and HIV orphans in rural Uganda, has recently established two libraries for HIV- and AIDS-affected communities with support from the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF), a Canada-based nonprofit.

The Fix is Free | Programs That Pop

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What do you do with a broken toaster, a lamp with a frayed cord, or a shirt with a loose button? Toss it? No way! Massachusetts’s Westborough Public Library and the Rotary Club of Westborough partnered to offer Westborough’s first Repair Café at the library in March 2016.

The Future of Government | Designing the Future

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Data transformation, transparency, and resident input are remaking civics as we know it.

The Library Is In

GET WELL HERE Library health services span a wide range of sizes and approaches. Top: Pima Cty. Health Department library nurse Barbara Oppenheimer gives a patron a shot at the Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch. 
Bottom: at Pima’s Valencia Branch, nurse Mary Frances Bruckmeier (l.) discusses health care. 
Photos courtesy of the Pima County PL

Nearly nine out of ten adults have difficulty using health information, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This isn’t surprising—thanks to the open access movement, there are a plethora of reliable medical sources out there, but many are not written for a lay audience. Meanwhile, drug companies on the one hand and anti–traditional medicine advocates on the other flood the Internet with authoritative-sounding contradictory material.

A Non-Partisan Political Party | Programs that Pop

Debate Watch Party at Johnson County Public Library

The Johnson County Library, KS, hosted its first Debate Watch Party in 2012, but for the 2016 election the Library’s Civic Engagement Committee wanted to make sure the event was really memorable. On September 26, 2016, we watched the debate with 135 excited and engaged library patrons over pizza and popcorn. In order to make the event as robust as possible we created a more social feel: we had tables with table cloths set up cafe style to encourage interactions between patrons who might have differing views and interests. We provided live fact checking, debate bingo, and partnered with the League of Women Voters to help with on-site voter registration and information about the voting process.

The Future of Stuff | Designing the Future

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The trend of circulating “stuff” other than books and DVDs is not new, but a few libraries have begun to embrace it more fully. For example, the “Library of Things” at Hillsboro Public Library, OR—inspired partly by tool libraries like Berkeley’s and the Library of Things at Sacramento Public Library, CA—offers patrons access to musical instruments, tools such as infrared thermometers and thermal leak detectors, gold panning kits, bakeware and kitchen appliances, karaoke machines, and even commercial-grade popcorn and cotton candy machines.

Working Toward Change | Workforce Development

O-GETTERS (Top): Go where they are—learning “on the road” in the Houston PL Mobile Express. (Inset): Hands-on learning for MT1 certification at the Carson City Library, NV. Top photo courtesy of Houston Public Library; bottom Photo by Cathleen Allison, Nevada Photo Source–C/O Carson City Library

Melanie Colletti was on desk in the Denver Public Library’s (DPL) technology center when she recognized a woman at a computer who’d been a participant in the library’s “Free To Learn” job seekers program the previous year. “She seemed easily frustrated but very intelligent, and I was disappointed when she didn’t return for her third session,” says Colletti. She asked the woman how she was doing, and, to Colletti’s delight, the woman had used the résumé they’d worked on to get a job and had been employed ever since. “Even though it didn’t seem like we were connecting with her, I guess we were.”

The Future of Futures | Designing the Future

Illustration ©2016 Daniel Hertzberg

Human-centered design, a highly creative approach to problem solving, is gaining popularity in libraries as they plan for what lies ahead. Also known as design thinking, it focuses on defining and then resolving concerns by paying attention to the needs, aspirations, and wishes of people—in the case of libraries, not only a library’s patrons but its staff, administration, and members of the community who may not be library customers…yet.