Articles

When a community needs a new library building, people frequently suggest converting existing—usually vacant—structures into a library. Converting nonlibrary spaces into libraries has much in common with remodeling and expanding existing libraries, but it’s a far different undertaking.When possible conversions loom on the horizon, libraries must be prepared. In all conversion situations, one of the major problems involves the building shaping the library rather than the library shaping the building. Many spaces may lack the basic functional needs of libraries, such as ceilings high enough for reflected uplighting, sufficient power supplies, workable configurations of spaces, desirable natural light, good sight lines, sufficient floor strength, and flexibility of design. If too many of the basic needs are compromised, the result is at best dysfunction and at worst an amazing waste of money.Begin with a planAlways start by preparing a building program to evaluate possible conversions. If you don’t have one, people will start pointing out what interesting features could be provided in certain existing structures. By and large, these will be features you don’t need. Unless you have a lot of experience with library building construction, hire a building consultant to write your program—an experienced professional librarian with a degree accredited by the American Library Association and not an architect.Because there are many issues in library planning in addition to space needs, building programs need to be detailed, with information on required floor loading, accessibility, lighting, acoustics, furnishings, shelving, floor coverings, electrical supplies, sight lines, exit control, security, flexibility, and other areas. Programs should always be written without regard to available spaces, so that they can be used as measuring sticks to test the feasibility of using a proposed space. There will inevitably be compromises, but starting with the ideal program helps everyone become aware of what these compromises are. READ MORE
When Chris Peters became Harborcreek High School’s librarian this year, she wanted to see through an idea to make the space “relevant” to tech-savvy teens who had little use for the encyclopedias.With a team of volunteers, Peters unscrewed the wooden bookshelves anchored to the cement floors. They took every book off every shelf. They bought Keurig coffeemakers and K-cups, sofas and rocking chairs, a record player and vinyl records. They installed a black chalkboard and painted a few walls orange, one of the school’s colors. A local contractor lent his time and skills to transform old shelves into tables.That wasn’t all.  Peters turned one area into a makerspace where kids tinker and create. And she halved the librarian’s office to make a kitchen for café.Some of it, she admits, was done without the permission of the maintenance personnel. But her vision in its entirety has come with overwhelming support from fellow teachers, staff members, administrators and school board members.Peters, an elementary school teacher in the district for 24 years and an elementary librarian the last four, came to the high school library with grand plans. READ MORE
Greenwood Public Library (IN) has started a Teen Library Corps. For the past year, the teens have been doing tasks around the library that have plugged them into coming to the library, which makes sure it is offering programs teens will want to participate in, teen librarian Jessica Smith said.About 20 teens help clean the library, set up new exhibits and help guide what classes and curriculum the library will offer for teens.  They shelve books and dress up as the Easter bunny for community festivals.And librarians hope that the teens will help outreach to the community, will help them show that the library is for more than checking out books and will give the teens leadership and social skills they can use when they are adults, she said.“We want to create leaders; that is the real reason,” Smith said. READ MORE
Libraries are often the first place new Americans turn to for support, whether to learn English, connect with community services, or to learn about American culture while celebrating their own heritage. American Dream libraries are the new community centers for English language learners, offering not only language instruction but also camaraderie and civic engagement through clubs, events, and services.For the Louisville Free Public Library, investing in the education of the thousands of new refugees who arrived in the metropolitan area each year is a top priority. To help new Americans and international students become more self-sufficient in school, work, and life, the library created English Conversation Clubs, which provide one-on-one assistance and help foster ties to the community.With their American Dream grant, the library was able to purchase iPads and software to help students study for citizenship and GED exams, improve their pronunciation, and learn English idioms and grammar. READ MORE
In York, Nebraska, a town of almost eight thousand residents, a staple of the community is the Kilgore Memorial Library.  York’s library provides abundant and fruitful programs to an active community.  Dedicated and passionate staff welcome visitors of all ages and from all walks-of-life with smiles and warm greetings.2018 brought about drastic change within the community of York.  Due to a severe budget deficit, the library lost significant financial funding. This brought about a burning passion and drive within the community to take action in effort to ensure the livelihood of this beloved library.  Initial efforts began prior to the finalization of the city budget.  Individuals throughout the community voiced their concerns in letters to the editor of the local newspaper and to city council members.  Social media also became a platform for creating awareness of the budget issues.  Upon attending city council meetings, citizens addressed the mayor and city council members directly regarding the proposed budget cuts. As the individual efforts continued, invested community members became aware of one another and formed a network of collective wisdom and zeal for the library. READ MORE
The University of Illinois Library has long been a point of pride for the campus, ranked among the best in the world for its vast collection and top-ranked academic programs.Now the library is embarking on a $54 million modernization plan that would demolish its older "stacks," build a new interdisciplinary liberal arts center in their place, move services for undergraduate students into the Main Library and turn the current Undergraduate Library into a home for the University Archives and other special collections.To University Librarian John Wilkin and other proponents, the ambitious plan would bring the library into the 21st century, provide a long-awaited home for special collections now scattered across campus, and improve services for students and scholars.  The changes are motivated by structural issues and technological updates that have altered the nature of library materials and services. With 14 million volumes and growing, storage is a constant issue for the country's second-largest academic library (after Harvard). READ MORE
The Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library’s main exhibition space, usually resembles a 17th-century sitting room — the walls are robin-egg blue, gold chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, and a framed portrait of a regal-looking man sits above a fireplace. But for Rachel Howarth’s goodbye party in December 2015, the room was adorned with donkey piñatas and holiday decorations. And among the festivities were six librarians who, in their white button-down shirts and black bowties, could be easily confused for waiters. But that night, they were neither waiters nor librarians — they were The Beatles.Emilie Hardman, a Houghton librarian, had gathered a band of colleagues to give Howarth a surprise musical send-off. Michael Austin played the guitar, Micah Hoggatt the banjo, and Emily Walhout the viola da gamba. Heather G. Cole was on drums, but because they couldn’t bring a full drum set into the library, that meant “a snare placed on a stool,” as Cole recalls in an email. James M. Capobianco ’99, a classically-trained tenor, was lead vocalist, singing a parody of “Penny Lane” with new lyrics about their departing friend. Hardman, who had written the lyrics, rocked a tambourine. Together, they formed the Yellow Sub-Basement. READ MORE
Libraries are often the first place new Americans turn to for support, whether to learn English, connect with community services, or to learn about American culture while celebrating their own heritage. American Dream libraries are the new community centers for English language learners, offering not only language instruction but also camaraderie and civic engagement through clubs, events, and services.The Terrebonne Parish Library System was already offering English language programs when it received its American Dream grant in 2017, but the library wanted to find new ways to connect with the Hispanic population of their “little bayou town” in Louisiana.The result was Conectando, an umbrella term for courses, story times, and festivals that engaged adult English language learners and celebrated the Hispanic culture of the community. READ MORE
In 1990, when it was ranked one of the worst libraries in Colorado—open only four days per week, the lowest number of books per capita, minimal reference, and no children’s services—Douglas County Libraries (DCL) won 66% of the votes in an election to create a better-funded, independent library district.By 2007 (and after I had served as DCL director for 16 years), 84% of households in the county had an active library card. Its annual circulation per capita was 27, and gate counts exceeded those of any local business by a wide margin. In June 2009, right after DCL decided to go back to the voters for a tax measure to keep up with community growth, the library earned the number-one spot in Hennen’s American Public Library Rankings for libraries with populations of 250,000–499,000 (based on 2006 government data).Confident of a win, DCL campaigned to little resistance and many compliments. But the library lost the election by only 1% of the vote.Shortly thereafter, OCLC unveiled its first From Awareness to Funding study in 2008, exploring the relationship between the public’s perception of a library’s role within the community and success with levies, referenda, and bond measures. It was a revelation, and it underscored the DCL experience: Use does not equal support. Douglas County, like most libraries, had been marketing its services, not its value. READ MORE
Every Tuesday evening, a small corner of the Blount County Public Library (TN) turns into a land of fantasy, dragons, enemies and magic for a group of more than a dozen young Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts and adult gamers.First published in 1974, Dungeons and Dragons was developed as a fantasy tabletop role-playing game where each player is assigned a specific character to play. The characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting refereed by a dungeon master.Characters join together to solve problems, engage in battles and gather knowledge and treasure. As the characters achieve goals, they become increasingly more powerful and able to tackle bigger challenges and adventures. READ MORE

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