The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) have launched a joint investigation into Queens Library (QL) president and CEO Thomas Galante. The New York Daily News reports that on February 28, federal investigators arrived at the Central Library branch in Jamaica, Queens, NY. There they served subpoenas to Galante and Frank Marino, a construction consultant whose firm has managed 15 projects for QL since 2008—and who works at the Elmont Union Free School District, the same Long Island, NY, school system where Galante holds a part-time consulting position netting him compensation in the six figures.
Since Shannon Miller, a former stay-at-home mother of three, assumed the Van Meter District, IA, teacher librarian position seven years ago, youth librarianship has become a livelier and more connected field. The hands-on K–12 librarian from this rural school district is an influential speaker, blogger (The Van Meter Library Voice), tweeter, and winner of the social media Shorty Award for Connecting People, along with many other ed tech honors. She is also informing future product development as a consultant to companies such as Rosen Publishing and Mackin Educational Resources.
A former youth services librarian who in 2013 was promoted to library information supervisor at the Flatbush Branch of Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), Edwin Maxwell taps into his own background, growing up in the hardscrabble Bronx, and his hands-on work as a librarian to draw at-risk youth to library resources and programs that have practical application in their lives.
Inspired by the Skills Training & Employment Project (STEP) at BPL, where he worked one-on-one with job seekers, Maxwell says his goal is to connect library resources with each individual’s real-life challenges.
Amy Holcomb’s DIY approach results in STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) youth programming that’s inexpensive, acclaimed, and popular. Her aesthetic was inspired by a 2012 Chicagoland Library Unconference discussion on technology in youth programming, which “stressed using what your library has before expanding into new technological territory,” recalls Holcomb. “Libraries should use available technology to provide opportunities for project-based programs, where patrons can show off what they create.” Over the past two years her Mad Scientists and Math and Science Labs programs have included deconstructing computers and creating chemical reactions with everyday items, like hot sauce packets from Taco Bell. She’s also incorporated more high-tech tools into her technology programming, writing grants for inexpensive Arduino microcontrollers, Raspberry Pi computers, and laptops.
Librarian Justine Hernandez was at one of Tucson’s farmers markets trying to figure out how to connect Pima County Public Library (PCPL) to gardeners and the local food movement when she learned about grassroots community repositories for seeds. An idea began to sprout: What if the library loaned seeds?
Stephanie Ham was first introduced to the groundbreaking Limitless Libraries—a partnership between the Nashville Public Library and local public schools—as a high school librarian in Whites Creek, TN. Her students used Limitless Libraries to order books and other resources for easy pickup at the school library, while Ham collaborated with the program’s collection development librarians to acquire additional materials for the school at the public library’s discounted rate. “I couldn’t believe how amazing the program was,” says Ham. “I was literally obsessed.” When the position of program coordinator became available, Ham couldn’t believe her luck.
“The rest of librarianship often discounts what youth services librarians do as ‘just reading books to kids’ or ‘just having fun,’ ” says Cory Eckert, who recently joined the Houston Public Library as head of youth services and branch manager. “I wanted to show how much thought, and sweat, goes into planning and providing a story time.”
In January 2011, when frustrated patrons at Kent District Library (KDL) found only seven ebooks available to check out, Melissa DeWild jumped into action. Realizing that dues from the ebook consortium to which the library belonged were hampering the ability to obtain new titles, she laid out a proposal to new director Lance Werner for a stand-alone collection. Though Werner had yet to attend a board meeting, DeWild’s convincing appeal swayed him, and despite a shrinking budget, the board granted $400,000 for the project. Her bold solution led to a 229 percent usage increase, and the ebook collection is now one of the largest and most used in Michigan.
“I love early literacy programming,” says Shelley Davenport, and it shows. As programming and outreach coordinator at Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL) since 2012, Davenport identified a need for the library to step up as a community leader in early literacy intervention and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programming. In one month last fall, AACPL offered 32 new STEM programs for children of all ages. That compared to just a few STEM-focused programs previously.
With a pink-on-black color scheme and an avatar depicting a smiling librarian energetically pumping her fist into the air, Tiffany Whitehead’s blog, Mighty Little Librarian, is a memorable online presence. More than that, however, the site embodies the middle school librarian’s foremost goal: to be a strong leader who contributes to the school library community.
As head of web services for the University of Houston (UH) Libraries, Rachel Vacek and those in her department develop, integrate, and maintain the various systems that make up the library’s digital presence. But Vacek is also a force at the university and in the wider library field. At UH since 2007, Vacek has sat on more than a dozen committees and served as chair of three (she led the UH Libraries’ strategic directions planning process). One quarter of the libraries’ 120-person staff have taken the yearlong Technology Training Program she developed.
In her first 18 months as director of the small Emily Williston Memorial Library & Museum, Kristi Chadwick upgraded patron and staff computers and Wi-Fi, restored Saturday hours, weeded stagnant collections, added drop-in technology tutoring, and increased outreach, all to improve users’ experiences.
Elizabeth Stearns (l.) began looking for someone to help the Waukegan Public Library, IL, connect with the local Latino community out of necessity. She had worked at the library through two censuses and saw that by 2010 Latinos made up more than half of the city’s population. “We would not stay relevant if we did not reach this community,” says Stearns. Stearns says she tried a few public relations campaigns but soon realized she needed someone from within the Latino community to do outreach. In 2011, she found Carmen Patlan, who was then the Human Concerns Director at a majority-Latino Catholic church with more than 5,000 members. Patlan had no library experience but had been a longtime advocate for a community that she says “often feels voiceless.” Stearns and Patlan discovered that, together, they could accomplish a lot.
Whether librarian Madeline Walton-Hadlock leads 100 toddlers in a music and movement story time at a hip downtown San José coffee shop, inspires volunteers and staff, or partners with the hacker community to turn summer reading into summer learning, she lives up to her moniker “outreach black belt.” That’s what relatively new director Jill Bourne calls Walton-Hadlock.
University of Alabama (UA) science and engineering librarian Vincent Scalfani found his way to the library via the lab. As a chemistry grad student, Scalfani was an avid researcher who lived by the motto that “an hour in the library is worth a month in the laboratory.” His love of the research end of the scientific process drew him to a career in librarianship, in which, he says, he knew he would “be immersed in the research process, research data, and scientific literature and have the opportunity to teach others how the library is a crucial component and partner in their research.”