November 24, 2015

The Heart of Service: Why libraries do “what we do” | Editorial

Rebecca T. Miller

As last summer waned, the library in Ferguson, MO, seemed an unlikely source for a most inspiring illustration of librarianship in action. The library was running on a shoestring budget, and the new director (and sole full-time employee) had taken over scant weeks before. But when that community was wracked by violent protest in the wake of the August 9 death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer, the library emerged as a critical asset, staying open and creating programs on the fly to respond to the turmoil. The library countered the chaos and fear with calm reassurance that the people of Ferguson were supported by a shared resource that was also a “quiet oasis”—a safe place to be, to recover their bearings, but also to learn more about what was happening and why.

2015 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, Courage in Crisis

Photos by Sid Hastings

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), MO, became a model for all libraries in the way it reacted to the crisis and the aftermath of riots brought on by the shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by local police. FMPL was the one agency in town that stayed open to serve and support all the people of Ferguson. The library quickly became a safe haven and expressed a peaceful resolve, becoming a critical community anchor.

Edmonton Public Library Celebrates Library of the Year Honors

Edmonton Library staffers celebrate the LOTY honor with foam fingers and party favors.

When the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) in Alberta, Canada was named the Gale/Library Journal 2014 Library of the Year, the staff knew they’d made history, becoming the first library outside of the United States to take home that honor. Turns out, Edmontonians know how to party, and they sent us some images from the celebration, which featured party favors, foam fingers, and of course, story time for the kids. Because no matter how big the honor you have to accept, nothing gets in the way of story time.

2014 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: Edmonton Public Library, Transformed by Teamwork

A WINNING TEAM (top row, l.-r.): Edmonton Public Library Deputy CEO Pilar Martinez (l.) and CEO Linda Cook are proud 
of their approach to service and their team, which includes (l.–r.) director of marketing and fund development 
Tina Thomas, director of library services Linda Garvin, director of collections and technology Pam Ryan, director of library 
services Louise Reimer, and facilities director Kevin Kramer. Bottom row, l.-r.: EPL touts its free library card promotion, and Martinez 
and Cook stand behind EPL’s “Spread the Words” slogan with director of human resources services 
Mike Lewis (l.) and EPL CFO Gastone Monai (r.). Photos by Phil Chin/AP Images for Library Journal

For 101 years, Alberta’s Edmonton Public Library (EPL) has galvanized its ever-growing city. From its beginnings above a meat and liquor store in 1913 to its current configuration as a massive, team-driven enterprise, EPL has served as a pioneering gathering place, connecting people and expanding minds. In the process, it changed the parameters of what it means to be a public library and transformed itself. Having the spirit and creativity to do that meant taking risks, innovating, and embracing change. It made EPL a model for all public libraries and the winner of the 2014 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year Award.

What Academic Libraries Can Learn From Howard County Public | From the Bell Tower

There’s a reason that the Howard County Library System, MD (HCLS) is the Gale/LJ 2013 Library of the Year—an incredible focus on user experience and staff development that enables each worker to invest in the success of the library. It’s a case study for academic librarians who want to take things to the next level of service and community engagement.

ALA Annual Conference Day Three: First Time Authors, Top Tech Trends, Library of the Year | ALA 2013

Auditorium Speaker Temple Grandin

Photo gallery of events from the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL

2013 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: Howard County Library System, MD


“We deliver high-quality education for all ages,” says the simple, direct mission statement of the library system. Its position as an integral member of the county education system was coupled with the effort by CEO and president Valerie Gross to use “words that work” to describe the jobs of HCLS staffers, the services they provide, and the vision and mandate of the library. They all combine to provide a brand that has made HCLS a crucial county asset and a new model for libraries everywhere. This championing of community alignment, as well as many other impressive endeavors, makes HCLS the 2013 Gale/LJ Library of the Year—a well-supported, sustainable 21st-century library system from which others can and do take inspiration.

Photo Gallery: A Look at the ALA Annual Conference, Day 3 | ALA Annual 2012

LJ Editor-in-Chief Francine Fialkoff, San Diego County Library Director Jose Aponte, and San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts. Photo: Dave Feiling Photography

After some fabulous sessions, exhibits, and author signings (and a fire alarm at the convention center), the day concluded with the Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year award reception in honor of San Diego County Library. See below for some of the highlights, and and stay tuned for more live reports from #ala12.

2012 Gale/LJ Library of the Year: San Diego County Library, Empowering the Public


As the dimensions of the housing crisis became clear to the management team of the San Diego County Library (SDCL), under the direction of Jose Aponte, they moved the library, knowing it was a trusted organization, into the breach. The libraries actions in that area and many others have won many awards and also serves as a prime example of why SDCL is the Gale/LJ 2012 Library of the Year.

ALA Annual 2011: King County Library System Receives Gale/LJ Library of the Year Award

UPBEAT AND ALWAYS INNOVATING An enthusiastic group of staffers from King County (top) gathered at the House of Blues to accept accolades; (clockwise from middle l.) KCLS’s Jed Moffitt also had a chance to jam with the band; San Francisco’s Marcia Schneider talked with with Edmonton’s 2011 Mover & Shaker Tina Thomas and NISO’s Todd […]