Articles

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Nazis threatened to march in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, home to a large Jewish population.  A prolonged court battle ensued, resulting in a compromise – the Nazis would hold their march in a Chicago location.In the meantime, the threat brought together groups of Christians and Jews in a show of solidarity, notably at a prayer service held at a local high school.Today, as our nation faces the looming threat of intolerance and hate speech in the wake of a bitterly contentious election, Skokie, a community serving a population that is over 40-percent foreign-born, is once again standing up to social injustice and bigotry, this time through one of its enduring cultural institutions, the Skokie Public Library.  That commitment was literally front and center, with the library posting signs at both entrances stating, “Everyone is welcome here.” READ MORE
When he got to the black-and-white snapshot of himself standing aboard a U.S. Navy vessel, veteran Louis Jawitz smiled and said his hair wasn’t quite that full today.Going through a slideshow for a crowd in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library (PA), Jawitz commented on personal photos that told the story of his years in the Navy. The images were for the most part simple, depicting life in service — soaring jets, faded hats, men in uniform.One of his favorite photos, though, showed what life is like for many who come back from war.  In it, a homeless man sleeps in a truck, an American flag draped around his torso.  “He was a veteran from the Korean War, and he had to live like that,” Jawitz said Saturday afternoon. “And today, they’re on the streets." READ MORE
Same-sex marriage has evolved from a far-fetched notion to established law in the United States over the past four decades. At the forefront of this modern civil rights movement has been a Yale alumnus, Evan Wolfson ’78.Wolfson wrote his Harvard Law School thesis on same-sex marriage long before it became a topic of national and local activism. He founded Freedom to Marry in 2001, serving as its president until the Supreme Court’s historic 2015 decision guaranteeing marriage equality. Along with his many other awards, Wolfson was honored with a Yale-Jefferson Public Service Award in 2016.Wolfson donated Freedom to Marry’s archives to Yale in 2015. The alumnus explained that decision to YaleNews: “When we confirmed that Freedom to Marry would, as promised, wind down after having achieved the goal and fulfilled the strategy we were created as a campaign to drive, we pledged it would be a strategic, careful wind-down that would capture the lessons and resources and make them available to other advocates, causes, and other countries, as well as historians and students. Yale already had a number of key LGBT collections, had a deep commitment to preserving and telling our story.” READ MORE
Lia Kharis Hillman has turned her library into a moveable feast.Hillman, fourth floor program manager at the San Francisco Public Library, drew upon her experience as a former chef to cook up a garden and food education program in library branches across the city.The program, which helps underserved families meet challenges they have in cooking and, as a result, promotes a healthier lifestyle, is one example of why she was one of 10 chosen for the 2016 I Love My Librarian Award.Carolyn Federman. her nominator for the 2016 I Love My Librarian award, for which she was one of 10 recipients, said, “Lia has started many programs that extend the role of the library to provide social supports for the community, and each of these programs is now an on-going part of library services thanks to her solo effort.” READ MORE
Unplugging, then, suggests stepping away from the usual routine, purposefully establishing a quieter zone for undistracted action, interaction, or inaction. Libraries are important sources of access to technology and this will not change. At the same time, libraries are, at their core, about connection. Sometimes, to make those connections, people need to unplug—and libraries have found innovative ways to help patrons achieve that. Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the Libraries Transform website. Visit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries. READ MORE
For 40 years, the Aurora (Illinois) Public Library has been celebrating the holiday season in a way that incorporates all cultures and faiths.  It is an example of how libraries offer more than just books. They provide spaces for community interaction. And what better time to engage the community than the holiday season?  At Aurora, it began in 1976 with an exhibit called Christmas in Many Lands. At the time, Mary Clark Ormond was director of the library during that Bicentennial year.The goal was to reach users who hailed from other countries or maintained strong ties to their ethnic heritage. The library asked those users if they would be interested in decorating a Christmas tree using the designs and incorporating the legends of their own culture.The library purchased seven trees at a local Ace Hardware and deployed them around the circulation desk at the former main library on East Benton Street. It also set up a larger tree – the community tree – on the first floor and invited people to festoon it with tags bearing their names.Forty years later, the celebration has evolved into Holiday Celebrations in Many Lands.  For this year’s 40th anniversary, the library has the trees on display during the entire month of December at the Santori Library on South River Street. READ MORE
A monk walked around a board decorated with a multicolored sand design, ringing a bell. The estimated 300 patrons at the Mark Twain Library (CT) inched closer, trying to get a last look at the mandala art, which featured symbols from different religions, the American flag, the Buddhist flag, the library’s logo and the words “One World, Keep Peace.”The monk picked up pieces of the sand and put them in a glass carried by another monk, ringing the bell again. He used a tool to create lines through the sand at each side and corner before the other monks moved forward with brushes in hand. The audience gasped as the monks swept away the sand, destroying the design so only the carvings of the symbols remained on the wood.“Let it go with a long breath,” the monk said as the crowd sighed with him. “We’ve done it a long time, so no emotion here because we can rebuild it.”  “I have to learn that,” a woman in the crowd said.The monks had been working on this design since Wednesday, but destroyed it in a ceremony Sunday afternoon to symbolize one of the main tenants of Buddhism: impermanence. READ MORE
“Awws” echoed through the Lackawanna County (PA) Children’s Library when Bill Streeter lifted Mortimer, a pocket-sized saw-whet owl, from his crate.The 3-ounce bird seemed to squint with trepidation as he slowly turned his head to size up the room. Mr. Streeter, director of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center in Milford, had met the Furby-like bird of prey 17 years ago after a truck struck the owl in the middle of winter.A kindhearted passer-by saw the bird flapping in the snow and rescued him, he said.Although most of the predatory birds, called raptors, rehabilitated at Mr. Streeter’s facility re-enter the wild, Morty is among those that never fully recover. They spend the rest of their days in captivity as part of educational programs like the one held Sunday afternoon at the library. READ MORE
Collective impact channels the knowledge and resources of multiple partners towards a specific social problem. With their commitment to meeting patrons needs, libraries seek ways to serve and strengthen their communities. Sometimes, however, the needs rise beyond the conventional realm of library services—and this has been particularly true since the recession. Through the strength of non-traditional partnerships, libraries offer innovative solutions to a variety of challenges faced by their communities. READ MORE
In communities facing crises, libraries have been first responders.  They responded in many ways to a variety of situations.In 2012, a library worker at Sandy Hook Elementary School rescued 18 children from the gunman in a deadly shooting by hiding them in a library supply closet.In 2014, following the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing rioting in the community, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library stood apart as an oasis that provided art programming and tutoring for students whose classes were canceled.A sign posted in the library said it all. It read, “During difficult times, the library is a quiet oasis where we can catch our breath, learn, and think about what to do next. Please help keep our oasis peaceful and serene. Thank you!”Libraries are transforming their communities, and one special way they transform is by responding to the need for a safe space that promotes equity, diversity and inclusion.  This is a need that promises to grow more urgent in the wake of a presidential election that brought racial and ethnic tensions to the surface. READ MORE

Pages