August 30, 2016

Birmingham Public Library Board Funds Innovative Cool Awards

Birmingham Public Library Board presents the first Innovative Cool Award to help fund the Career Survival Program at Pratt City Branch Library. L-R: Library Trustee Eunice Johnson Rogers, Library Trustee Gwen Amamoo, Pratt City Library Branch Manager Deborah Drake Blackmon, and Byron Williams of Pratt City Library.

While many libraries have come up with creative rewards for staff innovation, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Innovative Cool Awards do double duty. The monthly award, funded and run by BPL’s ten-member Board of Trustees, is an incentive for staff to develop—and promote—engaging new programs and workshops, and also a way to connect the board with staff.

Write Here | Programming

THE WRITE STUFF (Clockwise from top l.): Denver PL’s Hard Times Writing Workshop; SpeakEasy Book Authors Signing for the Community Novel Project at Topeka & Shawnee County PL, KS; Corvallis–Benton County PL, OR, National Novel Writing Month plot planning party; 
White Plains PL, NY, Families of Veterans Writing Workshop (FVWW) participants (l.–r.) Ekaterina Quinones, Julie Geisler, Amanda Cerreto, 
and Kareem Brown; (inset) FVWW book cover

Everyone has a book in them, it’s said. While Christopher Hitchens completed that phrase with “in most cases that’s where it should stay,” it doesn’t seem the public agrees. This is dramatically demonstrated by the expansion of U.S. publishing, as measured by Bowker, the U.S. issuer of ISBNs, the numbers that help track book sales. In 2002, Bowker issued 247,777. In 2012 (the most recent figures available), demand rose to 2,352,797—an increase of 2,105,020, or a whopping 849.5 percent.

Dallas Public Library “Dedicated to Serving with Compassion” After Shooting

Vigil at Dallas's Thanks-Giving Square on Friday, July 8

Residents of Dallas pulled together in their grief and anger Friday morning after five police officers were killed at a peaceful downtown demonstration Thursday night. All 29 branches of the Dallas Public Library (DPL) were open, despite the initial fear that the alleged shooter, who was killed by police, had planted explosives in the downtown area.

CO Parks Collaboration Expands to All State Libraries

Backpack with contents displayed

Colorado libraries of all kinds are celebrating summer by launching a statewide collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The Check Out Colorado State Parks program allows library patrons to borrow a backpack containing a Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) pass, which admits a carload of visitors into any of the state’s 42 parks.

Library Field Responds to Orlando Tragedy

Orlando vigil 2

Update: ALA is planning a planning a memorial gathering at the Annual Conference on Saturday, June 25, 8–8:30 a.m. in the OCCC Auditorium, and a special conference Read Out co-sponsored by GLBTRT and OIF. Details on other support activities during the conference can be found here.

In the wake of the shooting in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on the night of June 12, which killed 49 people and injured 53 others, library administration and staff, organizations and vendors have stepped up with statements of solidarity, offers of help, and opportunities to join forces with the GLBT and Latinx communities—the shooting occurred during Pulse’s Latin night—to mourn those killed and wounded.

Celebration & Integration | Public Services

Syrian library patrons at Louisville Free PL’s 2016 Women of the World event. 
Photo courtesy of Louisville Free PL

Since before Ellis Island became the gateway to the United States for many, libraries have served immigrant communities with language classes and learning materials that can help ease the path toward employment and citizenship. Today, those services have expanded to include referrals to city and health-care services, cultural events honoring countries of origin, legal aid, small business and entrepreneurship assistance, and much more.

Canadian Libraries Help Fort McMurray Fire Evacuees

Landscape view of wildfire near Highway 63 in south Fort McMurray
Photo credit: DarrenRD CC BY-SA

The wildfire that ravaged the city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, for more than two weeks forced the evacuation of some 88,000 residents—many of them making their way to Edmonton, the nearest large city, and some as far south as Calgary. Throughout the area, local services stepped up to help the evacuees, from shipments of food, bottled water, and diapers to prepaid debit cards to a Facebook page that gathered donations of prom dresses for teenagers forced to flee without their clothing. Edmonton and Calgary public and academic libraries did their parts as well, ensuring access to library services, providing library cards to evacuees, and doing outreach at evacuation centers.

Word of Mouth | Language Learning

ENGAGING ENGLISH (Clockwise from top l.): New Americans Corner in Nashville Public Library’s (NPL) Southeast Branch;  Nashville patron shows off her new library card; ready to write at NPL; NPL adult literacy coordinator Megan Godbey (l.) offers computer help; Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Let’s Speak English group

Programming that supports English-language learning (ELL) is not new in the world of public libraries. Kenneth English, associate director of adult learning centers at the New York Public Library (NYPL), has seen “photos and notices from around 1920 promoting classes in Manhattan’s Lower East Side immigrant neighborhoods.” While ELL programming has existed for nearly 100 years, modern libraries continue to update their offerings to fit the needs of their communities. Innovative and traditional projects that are responsive to demographic shifts and capitalize on local people power are key to best serving library customers working on their English-language skills.

San Diego PL Raises Sex Trafficking Awareness

SDPL sex trafficking brochure

The San Diego Public Library is working to reduce local sex trafficking statistics with Out of the Shadows, a comprehensive sex trafficking awareness campaign. Out of the Shadows, funded by a $25,000 grant from the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund matched with funds from the San Diego Library Foundation, began as training for the more than 800 staff members throughout the system’s 36 locations, providing information on how to recognize a possible victim of sex trafficking, ways to initiate a conversation, and appropriate resources and support services to offer those in need. Since its launch in August 2015, the campaign has expanded to include a teen peer advocate program and extensive community outreach.

Public, School Libraries Crucial to Flint’s Recovery

Flint River
Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Since the revelation that water in Flint, MI, is contaminated with toxic levels of lead, public and private institutions, individuals, and civic organizations have been stepping up to help across the country. In addition to the infrastructure changes that now need to be made to the city’s water system, much of the immediate relief effort centers around information: on health hazards, residents’ legal rights, and what the city needs to do going forward. The Flint Public Library (FPL) has positioned itself as a source of reliable information, and the remaining libraries in Flint’s public high schools have been instrumental in helping local teenagers better understand what their city is going through.