Articles

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
Tuesday evening STEAM programs at the Wilson County Public Library (NC) are gaining popularity with area families.The brain-building activities have been going on since May and are paid for with a 2017 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act. The federal portion was $44,343, plus $11,090 in local funds, for a total of more than $55,000 to create a CrAFT studio emphasizing robotics, coding, crafts, electronics and more.The goal of the grant was to build a space in the library that focused on activities in science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, according to Debbie Schmitzer, a librarian who works in the children’s room on the library’s second floor.Schmitzer said a space once occupied by local history materials is being repurposed for STEM and STEAM functions. READ MORE
Actress, singer and model Zoë Kravitz stars in two new video Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the American Library Association, promoting the magical power of libraries. In the PSAs, Kravitz, who appears in the upcoming film “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” urges the public to visit libraries to discover and experience new worlds through literature and resources such as eBooks, games and 3D printers. READ MORE
Students in the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership have teamed up with Barnard librarians to create a lending library for first-generation low-income students at the recently opened Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning.The library, an extension of the lending library in Butler Library, currently holds close to 500 textbooks available to either be checked out for two hours or rented for an entire semester, and FLIP plans to continue to add more textbooks over the course of the semester. Students who identify as first-generation or low-income must fill out a Google form to obtain access to the books.“The goal is to have books for all schools in both libraries,” FLIP co-president Destiny Machin, SEAS ’19, said. “We're just making sure we can get as many course texts and that each student who needs books has what they need.”For Machin, who identifies as first-generation low-income, this initiative was deeply personal because of her past experiences purchasing textbooks. READ MORE
What was I thinking?Last week at the Gilmore Car Museum library in Hickory Corners, northeast of Kalamazoo (MI), I was asking myself that question as I sat at a work table sorting through a box of old car brochures. For the past several weeks, I have been hopping into my Verano and driving the Buick eastward on I-94 for 70 miles two days a week to take up a residence at the library.The reason being I have donated my collection of car brochures – all 29 boxes of them – to Gilmore and also volunteered to sort through the stockpile and assess each and every one.Going through the piles has been a history lesson for me. It has shown me how significantly the automakers have changed in the way they designed, equipped and, most importantly, how they promoted their products as time marched on.I’ve not taken the time to count how many brochures there are in each box, but there are thousands. They come in all sizes. Some brochures measure more than 15 inches square and can be 1/8-inch thick. Others are little more than a large sheet of thin paper printed on both sides and folded several times to make a small handout. READ MORE
Neshoba Central High (MS) students have been busy, crafting Native American necklaces in their school colors of red, white and blue.For two weeks, students are learning about the history and culture of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians through storytelling, dancing, beading and cooking Choctaw food. The program is made possible through a grant from the NoVo Foundation, according to Rachel Kiepe, the school's library media specialist.  Phyllis McMillan, a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, came to the school to share her tribal beading skills with the students. She encouraging them to create something meaningful, such as jewelry they could wear to pep rallies. With that in mind, the students created diamond-shaped necklaces. McMillan said that in Choctaw culture, the diamond shape represents the diamondback rattlesnake, which eats rodents trying to destroy the farmers' crops.  READ MORE
Libraries provide a wide range of free services to the public. But the cost isn’t free. And while tax dollars help, it is the work of Friends of the Library groups that supplements that source of revenue by backing individual programs, raising funds by holding book and bake sales and creating a strong reserve of volunteers. They also provide the foot soldiers when libraries go to referendum.Their importance cannot be underestimated. Indeed, libraries seeking grant funds find it an advantage if they can show the support of Friends groups.  Each year, their efforts are honored during National Friends of Libraries Week. From Oct. 21-27, the 13th annual celebration will be held, and two Friends groups will receive $250 each in honor of their celebrations.Last year’s winners were the Friends of the Library of Rutherford (N.J.) and Friends of the San Juan Library.  The Rutherford library hosted a Pet Photo Contest in which 98 photographs of dogs and cats were entered.Friends used the opportunity to set up a table at the entrance and recruit new members, using a free candy bar to sweeten the deal.  A mayoral proclamation framed and placed by the circulation attested to the vital role played by Friends in the community. READ MORE
The calls came just as Baca and her husband were crawling into bed that Sunday night. Baca’s phone rang first. It was her best friend whose sister was attending the concert with the twins. “I just remember her saying, ‘Do you know what’s going on? Do you know what’s going on?’” she said.Months earlier, their daughters had asked permission to attend the country music festival. After some consideration, the Bacas decided to let them go. The couple didn’t see much harm in letting their responsible girls, who were seniors at Faith Lutheran High School and co-captains of their varsity cheerleading squad, enjoy the Sunday night concert. They could be tired for one school day, they thought. Not a big deal.Confused by her friend’s question, Baca said she knew her twins were at the concert. Her friend continued, encouraging Baca to stay calm. READ MORE
Every weekday morning, four female cats anxiously await the contents of a Ziploc bag Milor High School (CA) library tech Lisa Natoli retrieves from a cupboard near her desk.  When the cat food hits the asphalt, the felines swarm.The number of stray and abandoned cats on campus used to be higher, but many have found new homes. Natoli speaks affectionately of Jelly, the white runt she saved from the heat last summer. Milor principal Andres Luna, too, adopted a cat, a queen that somehow found refuge for her four kittens inside his office a couple years back.Milor, a continuation school in the Rialto Unified School District, is one of many high schools in the area with feral cats roaming campus. English teacher and Cause for San Bernardino Paws founder Angela Halfman hopes by involving staff members, students and, ideally, other schools in their rescues, she can raise awareness of the ethical and humane treatment of these colonies. READ MORE

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