New York City’s libraries get a fair amount of attention, but all too rarely is it directed to the branches. Those neighborhood hubs arguably have the greatest impact and potential, cultivating the essential connection to the community at the most local levels in more than 207 buildings. Unfortunately, according to the Center for an Urban Future, they are also at risk. The time has arrived to embrace a new citywide strategy to deliver excellent library services to all New Yorkers.
Siobhan A. Reardon engineered the creation of an ambitious, five-year strategic plan, underpinned by a powerful mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity through the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP). Her plan refocused the role of the library, outlines a cluster model to streamline and enhance neighborhood library services, and collaborate with community leaders to develop programs and services most needed by residents. Those achievements alone could qualify Reardon, the first woman to serve as president and director of FLP, to be named the LJ 2015 Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Baker & Taylor, but she has achieved much more in a short tenure that is marking a turnaround for this important but embattled library.
It was a seismic move in the struggle to create a workable ebook access model for the users of America’s libraries. It was engineered by Joanne (Jo) Budler, the Kansas State Librarian, when she realized that an initial proposal in 2010 to renew the Kansas State Library (KSL) contract with OverDrive would increase administrative costs by some 700 percent over the next few years, as the state ebook deal was being restructured. Despite the risk of disrupting and even losing access to ebooks for the users of Kansas libraries, Budler rejected more than one proposal from OverDrive for a new contract until a year ago when she won the right to transfer titles from OverDrive to a new platform. The dispute set off a long (and public) national examination of library service agreements.
“We know Luis Herrera will win this award someday because he is a fabulous leader,” wrote Catherine Bremer, the chief steward of the Librarians Guild of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, about the city librarian who directs the San Francisco Public Library. That support was echoed by many others, from the very recently reelected mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee, to members of the city’s Board of Supervisors, citizens who represent library branches, and the chiefs of other city departments. Such broad consensus made Herrera the clear choice for the 2012 LJ Librarian of the Year, selected by the editors of LJ.