Articles

On June 1, the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the news that the Free Library of Philadelphia’s McPherson Square Branch had a serious problem with opioid use among patrons. By June 3, everybody from the Washington Post to National Public Radio (NPR) had picked up the story.“As this nation’s opioid crisis has exploded, the staff at the public library … have become first responders,” NPR’s Scott Simon told listeners. “And I gather the librarians there have been obliged to become involved in a way that—well, become involved in a way librarians aren’t usually asked to become involved.”What Simon didn’t say—but what librarians far and wide know—is that the McPherson Square branch is just one of many American libraries struggling with opioid-related issues such as discarded, contaminated needles; drug use in the library itself; and even on-site overdoses and fatalities. Libraries from California to Colorado, Pennsylvania to Missouri, are finding themselves on the front lines of a battle they never anticipated fighting.Of course, opiate use isn’t limited to libraries. Neither is anyone claiming that the problem is more severe in libraries than it is anywhere else. Still, the fact that libraries are open to all, offer relative anonymity, and generally allow patrons to stay as long as they like make them uniquely vulnerable to those seeking a place to use drugs.“It’s just like: What is going on? How can we stem this tide?” says Kim Fender, director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH). READ MORE
A couple of times each month, lunchtime crowds at the Pop-Up Urban Park in downtown Wichita (KS) can get their food-truck cuisine with a side of literature.The Wichita Public Library, as part of a new outreach effort, occasionally sends “Pop-Up Librarians” to the park at 121 E. Douglas to give away books and tell urban professionals about all the resources the library offers.“It’s about surprising people with what a library is,” said Stephanie Huff, spokeswoman for the Wichita library.  “We give away books for free on a regular basis with loaning. So this is a little different, but it’s in that same vein of just celebrating the joy of reading for fun and pleasure.”At least twice a month during the summer. a staff member from the library’s Central branch packs a few dozen books into a vintage trunk and hauls them the block and a half to the Pop-Up Urban Park. READ MORE
When Cathy Beaudoin started working at the Dover Public Library (NH) in 1975, the building dealt exclusively in books, magazines and other print sources.  A few years later, the library acquired its first computer, an Intel 286.Fast forward nearly 40 years, and Beaudoin is guiding the library through a turbulent technological time by updating how the city department does business, attracts customers and remains a vital part of the community.“People used to come in and ask us, ‘What’s the state bird of Ohio?’” Beaudoin said. “Nobody needs to come here for that anymore. Instead, they come in and ask, ‘How do I set up a Gmail account?’ or ‘How do I download an audiobook?’”Beaudoin said she remembers getting calls from bars asking questions like, “How do you spell Afghanistan?” While spelling has likely not improved drastically in the past few decades, technology has, and answers can easily be found by typing words into a phone instead of using it to place a call. READ MORE
In light of the threatened cuts to IMLS and federal library funding this year, we have seen an outpouring a support and an increase in advocacy efforts by librarian across the country. Over 42,000 emails were sent to the House and Senate during the Fight for Libraries! campaign alone! But many libraries did not stop at phone calls and emails.In April, Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library decided to showcase how different types of funding (including state and federal) help the library to provide valuable services for their patrons. The librarians tied balloons around objects and materials in the library, using different colored balloons to signify the different funding sources that made the resources possible. The result was a low-cost, eye-catching campaign that got the patron attention they were hoping for! READ MORE
“Béédaałniih: Diné bizaad bídahwiil’aah. Táadoo biligáana k’ehjí yádaalłti’í. Ahéhee’.”These are the first words that visitors see on a sign at the entrance of Tsé Hootsooí Diné Bi’ Olta’, an elementary immersion school that teaches the Navajo language to its 133 students on the capital of the Navajo Nation (AZ).In English, the sign means, “Remember: We are learning in Diné. Please leave your English outside. Thank you.”Visitors coming to the school also see trophies. Lots of them. Two full trophy displays line the halls near the entrance and even more trophies sit on top of bookshelves in the library, or naaltsoos bá hooghan, as students and teachers call it.These trophies are awards that Diné Bi’ Olta’ students have won since the school opened its doors in 2004. Schools on the Navajo reservation compete in annual cultural competitions that include pow wow dancing, singing, Navajo spelling bees and science fairs. Many are Diné Bi’ Olta’ students who have showcased their knowledge of Navajo language and culture, earning the school a reputation well enough to feature previous students in the Navajo-dubbed version of Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” or “Nemo Hádéést’į́į́.” READ MORE
Libraries loaning “stuff” isn’t a new concept. Framed paintings were available for checkout at the Newark (N.J.) Public Library back in 1904. “Libraries were sharing before sharing was cool,” says Miguel Figueroa, director of the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries. READ MORE
Students at Wheaton High School and Loiederman Middle School are using art to express how they feel about community and culture in Montgomery County, MD. Dozens of students gathered at Montgomery County Public Libraries Wheaton Interim Branch Thursday evening to debut their new artwork that will be displayed in the libraries.“I designed a multicultural bookmark which is based on a hot air ballon above the world which is meant to represent how you’re free to explore,” Katelyn Hinkel, ninth grade student at Wheaton High School said.In an after school program titled, “Multicultural Bookmarks Project,” 24 students had the unique opportunity to create bookmarks that not only promoted literacy but the diverse cultures in the community as well. READ MORE
Jamille Rogers not only serves the students who visit her library at Marguerite Vann Elementary School Conway, Arkansas. She gets to know them and encourages them to make the most of their potential.Bobby Walker, school principal and her nominator for a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award, said, “Miss Rogers has excellent rapport with students and parents. As an administrator in a building with nearly 500 students, sometimes it’s a challenge to just remember all their names; much less be familiar with all of their interests and concerns. However … Miss Rogers uses the time in her library each week to not only provide meaningful instruction, but to also become familiar with her students.”A prime example of her powerful motivation skills is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Club. Addressing low academic performance among the male students, Rogers and her fellow members in the Conway School District’s Closing the Achievement Gap Committee. Rogers worked alongside Walker, the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program president, and a local men’s store owner to establish the Distinguished Gentleman’s Club. READ MORE
Confronting inequality is integral to the history of libraries and remains at the heart of library service today. The same materials, programs and services are available to anyone who walks through the library’s doors, no matter the size (or existence) of their wallet. Yet librarians’ commitment to equity requires greater action, particularly during a sustained period of rising income inequality as we are experiencing in the United States. Across the country, in libraries of all types, librarians are taking that extra step. READ MORE
Tom Ratliff was searching the internet to learn more about his deceased grandfather when he discovered an oral history of his military service — all thanks to the Mary L. Cook Public Library’s (OH) participation in a national project more than a decade ago.“I was trying to find his military records online. I stumbled across the Veterans History Project (VHP) maybe a year ago and saw there was a cassette tape of the interview at the Library of Congress. They required an advanced notice, and I would have had to travel to Washington, D.C.,” Ratliff said. “Recently, I looked up the project again and saw he was interviewed by members of the Mary L. Cook Public Library. I went to their site and right there on the page was a YouTube video of the interview.”For 45 minutes, Richard L. Levering details his military experiences as part of the Library of Congress’ VHP, which seeks to collect and preserve oral histories of veterans to share with future generations. READ MORE

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