Contemporary poetry drew Toby Altman and Izzy Casey from much larger cities — Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively — to the writing-rich environment of Iowa City last year.And now that love of poetry and appreciation of the poetry community here have led them to launch a unique local public service project.They call it the Iowa City Suitcase Library.  It will lend out volumes of contemporary poetry to anybody interested at no charge, just like a regular library — only working out of a suitcase instead of a building.“We brainstormed this idea after a poetry seminar by Professor Elizabeth Willis last semester,” says Altman.  “We think there is a need for better access to contemporary poetry in Iowa City.” READ MORE
Now this town on the river of the Road to the Buffalo has a bull of its own.He’s big and wooden and weighs half a ton.The bison roams his range in repose, starting this week and for years to come, in the reading nook on the back wall of the Bonner School library.  “Read to him, but quietly, because he’s sleeping,” urged Ice Rogers, the chainsaw sculptor who created the wooden bull.His audience Thursday morning consisted mostly of some 70 students from kindergarten and sixth grade, chosen in “somewhat strategic” fashion for the public unveiling, as school superintendent Jim Howard explained.“Kindergartners, this is your first year at Bonner School. You’re going to be here for eight more years, so you’re going to really get to know the buffalo better than anybody, aren’t you?” he said to the excited 5- and 6-year-olds sitting cross-legged or kneeling on the floor. READ MORE
Never underestimate the power of a good competition.Meredith Fickes doesn’t, which is why the Mickle Middle School (NE) librarian is spending an increasing amount of her time creating boxes with all sorts of locks on them and the puzzles that must be solved to open them.It’s why, on a frigid Thursday morning, sixth-grade social studies students spent first period in the library using what they’d learned about ancient Egypt’s pharaohs and pyramids, empires and hieroglyphs to solve word and number puzzles that unlock nondescript plastic, black boxes.And nobody slouched in their chairs, stared off into space or made random doodles on a piece of paper.No, these sixth-graders were going to get into those boxes before the 40 minutes on the digital timer disappeared, even if the only thing inside was a colorful, handmade sign that said: #CRUSHEDIT. READ MORE
The Sully Branch Library serves a poverty-ridden area in Rochester, New York. It is reflected in the high crime rate and one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation. Lurking about the library is persistent gang activity.Amidst all these discouraging signs, however, is one figure who provides hope and is an agent of change – young adult librarian Timothy Ryan, one of the winners of the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award.Ryan’s nominator for the award, Trina Thompson, said, “By offering state of the art technology programs that incorporate 3D printers, video games, coding and game design software, and virtual reality, Mr. Ryan is keeping our teens engaged and off the streets, off of drugs, and out of the gangs.”But Ryan’s efforts reach beyond virtual reality and offer the youth a firm foundation for a richer reality in the future. He offers to assist them with homework, TASC, SAT, ACT preparation, resume workshops, job fairs, food stamps, medical insurance and even legal questions about custody and divorce.Ryan succeeds in providing an inclusive environment, Thompson said. READ MORE
After weeks of collaborative lobbying by the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) and the Virginia Library Association (VLA), the state senate’s education committee narrowly defeated a bill that would have relaxed requirements for librarians at the middle and high school level. The Virginia House Education Committee defeated Senate Bill 261 in a 12-10 vote on March 5. The bill would have lessened current regulations that stipulate that “a local school board is required to employ two full-time librarians for any middle school or high school,” creating a loophole where non-librarian staff could be hired in place of librarians. Audrey Church, president of VAASL and past-president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association, testified in opposition to the bill, along with Jim Livingston, president of the Virginia Educational Association. “School librarians play invaluable roles in our schools, and their skill sets are unique, Livingston is quoted as saying in the VEA Daily Reports. “Every middle and high school in Virginia deserves the benefit of having a fully staffed school library.” This local collaboration mirrored much of the work occurring at the national level, where AASL has been partnering with ALA to provide support and assistance for Virginia. “Through this partnership, VLA and VAASL were able to harness the collective power of our networks to advocate for the students of the Commonwealth of Virginia, said Lisa R. Varga, executive director of the Virginia Library Association. ALA and AASL provide coordinated, strategic support to states faced with negative legislation, budget cuts and other crises, including consultation, use of targeted social media messaging and advocacy software to reach elected officials. Read more about SB 261, Standard of Quality; staffing requirements, librarians and clerical personnel. READ MORE
On March 16, we celebrate the anniversary of former President James Madison. But that day, we also celebrate the legacy he and the founders of this country left us – open government.Madison, known as the Father of the United States Constitution, once wrote that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."It is only natural that libraries, which promote open access to information for all, join in the celebration.Each year, the American Library Association presents the James Madison Award and the Eileen Cooke State & Local Madison Award on Freedom of Information Day to recognize those individuals or groups that have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know.  The award will be presented by ALA President Jim Neal in a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 9. Even if you can’t join us in Washington, you will be able to watch the program wherever you have an internet connection! The event will be streamed live from the Knight TV Studio in the Newseum at READ MORE
Penn Libraries received a grant to preserve Muslim manuscripts and make them more accessible to the students, scholars, and the public.  Penn will collaborate with Columbia University and the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation in the next three years to digitize Arabic, Persian, and Turkish texts through a full-time cataloger.“This is basically a project to digitize all of the early manuscripts relating to the Muslim world held in Philadelphia as well as those at Columbia University in New York,” said Mitch Fraas, curator of the Special Collections and Kislak Center for Special Collections and Rare Books and Manuscripts of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. This project is part of the innovative program Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives, which includes two other grants dedicated to preserving records. READ MORE
Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), held March 1–4 in Seattle, expanded its programming this year to include a full day of professional development for librarians and educators, cosponsored by the American Library Association and several publishers at Seattle Public Library’s (SPL) Central Library.Creating a community of practice for librarians and educators around comics collection, education, and advocacy was a major theme of the program, which included sessions such as “Censored: The Comics They Don’t Want You to Read (and How to Keep ’Em Circulating),” “The Representation Bookshelf,” and “What Do I Say When?: Tough Questions about Comics and How to Turn It Around.”Taylor Eastman, ReedPOP content and talent coordinator for ECCC, said, “On top of being fans themselves, educators and librarians are teaching our next generation of fans. We feel lucky to not only offer this content to our professional badge holders but also help connect these educators and librarians in a place where they can learn and share ideas.” READ MORE
For many of Sacramento’s (CA) homeless men and women, the public library is a haven from harsh weather, a primary source for bathroom facilities, a place to rest from the stress of the streets.Sacramento library director Rivkah Sass welcomes them all, she said, as long as their behavior is not disruptive to staff members and other patrons.But as the homeless crisis deepens in the capital city and around the country, libraries increasingly are seeing people with untreated mental illnesses that cause them to act oddly, or put themselves or others in danger.“Clearly, there just are not enough services for people who need to address their mental issues, and they end up with us because we are the last free, public open space available to them,” Sass said.Now, for the first time, employees of Sacramento’s library system are taking training to help them respond to customers who appear to be suffering from mental problems. READ MORE
KATIE SCHERRER is a former children’s librarian who consults and trains libraries and educational organizations to improve services to Latino immigrant communities through outreach and bilingual programming. She is also a registered yoga teacher. She is the coauthor of Once Upon a Cuento: Bilingual Storytimes in English and Spanish (ALA Editions, 2016). READ MORE