February 11, 2016

BPL’s BKLYN Incubator Project to Fund Innovative Programming

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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.

SafetyLit: A Free Database It Might Be Useful to Know About | Not Dead Yet­­

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Someone from the SafetyLit Foundation recently sent me information about the SafetyLit Database via LinkedIn. I hadn’t heard of this resource before, but I took a look (though not an exhaustive one) and saw some interesting material in it.

University of Kansas Librarians Embedded in New Journalism Program

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The newest online Master’s degree program at the University of Kansas (KU) opened its doors under the auspices of the school’s Journalism department. But when it officially launches in June, 2016, the new program, which focuses on teaching veteran and aspiring journalists alike how best to present and share digital content, will also owe a lot to the school’s librarians. KU’s information specialists have helped to consult on the structure of the program and the content it will cover, and will be embedded in the program’s digital classrooms from day one.

Knight News Challenge Winners to Develop Open Data Training Program

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Anne Neville knows the value of open data. Neville, director of the California Research Bureau at the California State Library, has spent the last six years directing the State Broadband Initiative at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in Washington, DC. She’s passionate about digital equity, and supporting the critical work public libraries do to make information accessible to communities.

Constant Campaign | Budgets & Funding

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In 2015, nearly 150 libraries in 24 states held referenda to renew or enact taxes for operations, staffing, or facilities. More than 1.1 million voters showed up at the polls in 2015 to decide on tax measures for their libraries. Just over 650,000 people voted yes and nearly 470,000 voted no. Of the 148 library ballot measures we have identified (through news reports, surveys, and direct involvement of EveryLibrary, the national library PAC the authors work for), 127 were won and 21 lost. One, while technically passing, actually rolled back the library’s funding, making it, in our opinion, a loss.

Gaining Ground Unevenly | Budgets & Funding

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LJ’s 2016 survey of U.S. public libraries, distributed geographically by size and type, reveals that while libraries continue to regain lost ground, recovery is gradually slowing—and not evenly distributed. Libraries reported moderate gains in overall budgets—an across-the-board increase of 3.2%, representing funding from all sources. Combined with a slight drop in inflation rates—.5% over the 12 months ending in November, compared to .8% for the preceding year—this is still smaller than last year’s overall uptick of 4.3% but welcome nonetheless.

Canadian Library Association Votes to Dissolve

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After months of discussion, voting among members, and the recommendations of its advisory council, the Canadian Library Association (CLA) voted to disband at a Special General Meeting held on January 27. The CLA—a nonprofit national association that has been the voice for Canada’s library community since its formation in 1946—will dissolve following its final annual conference in June 2016.

Murder Most Traditional | 2015 Agatha Christie Award Nominees

Agatha Christie was the queen of the traditional mystery, and every year Malice Domestic, a fan convention, honors those titles published in the previous calendar year that best typify the qualities of Dame Christie’s work (no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence, among other elements). The nominees for the 2015 Agatha Christie Awards reflect a wide range of authors, publishers, styles, and themes.

Five Institutional Strategies for Textbook Affordability | From the Bell Tower

Steven Bell

Whether you’re just getting started or want to take your program to the next level, thinking strategically about campus adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) can make a difference.

The Gadfly Alerts: They warn us of corrupted information | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

The first time I encountered the Progressive Librarians Guild (PLG) was nearly 30 years ago. Almost miraculously, PLG has survived from just after the Reagan era through the Clinton and Bush years until Obama. It is still small but manages to publish Progressive Librarian (PL), a journal that combines rigorous scholarship with a strong ideological sentiment.

Librarians, the Gathering: Designing and Publicizing a Personal Librarian Program | Peer to Peer Review

Alfred University Librarians in group drawing as fantasy characters

Beginning in December 2013, librarians at Alfred University, NY, began discussing the possibility of creating a Personal Librarian Program, inspired by the work of librarians at places like Drexel University and Yale University’s Medical Library. We have always encouraged students to seek out a librarian for research assistance; now we wanted to add a human touch, providing a name and face for students encountering the intimidating task of using a college library for the first time. The librarian trading card programs of other libraries–such as Penn State and the University of Rochester–gave us the idea of creating unique cards and personas for each librarian. We decided to take the trading card idea, give it a fantasy roleplaying spin, and use these new “Magic: the Gathering”-esque cards to help connect students to their librarians and publicize the program. With this, “Librarians, the Gathering” was born.

David Giles and Story Bellows: BPL’s Strategy Team Looks Ahead

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In Fall 2015, the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) strategy team gained two codirectors, David Giles and Story Bellows—urban innovators with strong backgrounds in government policy. Giles joined the library as chief strategy officer in November 2015, after serving as research director at New York’s Center for an Urban Future (CUF), which in 2014 published Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries, a report examining the physical and economic challenges facing the buildings that make up New York City’s three library systems. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership around program development, partnerships, advocacy, and capital planning, among other aspects of BPL’s mission. Leading the strategy team with Giles is Bellows, who became BPL’s chief innovation and performance officer in October. Before arriving in Brooklyn, Bellows cofounded and directed the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Philadelphia, an in-house research and development lab aimed at supporting innovative approaches to civic problem solving.

GPO Launches Beta of govinfo.gov, Site Will Eventually Replace FDsys

From Roll Call: On govinfo.gov — which the Government Publishing Office’s spokesman declared “the Google for government documents” — users can access the Congressional Record, track the course of legislation or perhaps dive into a treasure trove of information specifically on President Gerald Ford. Government geekery aside, anyone from the general public may punch out […]

Between Pressure & Promise: Where hyperlocal meets the big picture | Editorial

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Trend watching is always fun, but it becomes an annual exercise when the New Year arrives and outfits large and small seize the moment to attempt to encapsulate the forces at work in their spheres. With the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting held so early this year, the 2016 trends deep dive dovetailed, for me, with the many conversations I had in Boston, which as usual ranged from essentially functional to highly aspirational, pinging between today’s pressures and tomorrow’s promise. It struck me that our collective work balances in that space, sometimes more precariously than others.

IFLA Updates Statement on Public Lending Right to Include eBooks

1From the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Announcement: On 9 December 2015, IFLA’s Governing Board approved an updated Statement on Public Lending Right (PLR) including a new section on eBooks. The updated statement identifies the complexities of considering PLR for eBooks, reinforces the need to involve libraries when considering changes to PLR programs to […]