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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last summer, Bloomberg BusinessWeek devoted an entire issue to “What Is Code?” a single article by Brooklyn-based writer and programmer Paul Ford. Ford’s breakdown of key concepts pulls back the curtain on the fundamentals of computer programming and makes a compelling argument that any smart person can learn the basics—and that the basics are worth learning even for those who aren’t planning to become professional coders. It is, in part, a case for coding as a new frontier in digital literacy. There’s a growing interest in this type of education among kids, teens, businesspeople, career changers, and the generally curious. And a growing number of public libraries are already responding to this need within their communities. Here’s a look at ways in which a few libraries have made their programs a success.
As part of its new BKLYN Incubator project, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is inviting librarians from across the system to come up with creative new programming at their branches. With the help of a $25,000 Sparks Ignition Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), BPL has set up a framework for branch librarians to develop and promote their own ideas for programs and services—from an ethnic music performance venue in Coney Island to ballroom dancing for older adults in Carroll Gardens to a Russian literature club in Sheepshead Bay—and for their communities to help vote on the ones they want to see implemented.