2017 was a lively year for libraries.National issues and trends impacted our nation’s libraries, and librarians rose to the challenge, promoting media literacy, protecting the freedom to read, advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion and responding to the needs of their patrons.At the beginning of the year, librarians were quite literally on the front lines, many of them participating in the Women’s March on Washington in Atlanta in January.Throughout the year, they continued to advocate, with more than 500 librarians participating in National Legislative Day on May 1-2 in Washington, D.C. It was a time when the proposed federal budget threatened to wipe out the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an important source of funding for library programs.Recently retired ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels said in his opening statement at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, “Libraries are facing the challenge of a lifetime, if this funding can be done away with at the stroke of a pen. This is the time when the rubber hits the road.” READ MORE
Through the front doors of the Naples (FL) Jail Center and up the second floor past the sleeping quarters, a couple of inmates spend most days organizing thousands of books in a library-like room.The inmate librarians — part of a workforce program with the Collier County Sheriff's Office — order the books on shelves based on the Dewey Decimal System and then administer them to other inmates, or library patrons, throughout the day.The genres range from self-help, romance and mystery to best-sellers written by James Patterson and Stephen King.  "The library is one more aspect that helps educate inmates, but also gives them some normalcy from the outside world," said Tanya Williams, Collier County Public Library director.   READ MORE
Dec. 7, 1941, is a date ingrained in the minds of most Americans, marking the attack on Pearl Harbor and the inexorable entrance of the United States into World War II.At the time, Yakima (WA) was home to just more than 27,000 residents, and only a few weeks earlier, on Oct. 24, 1941, the Yakima Public Library had made its own, much more pleasant sort of history — by debuting the city’s first bookmobile.Officially known as the A.E. Larson Traveling Branch Service, the Bookmobile was funded through donations and had taken two years of careful planning and negotiation to bring to fruition.  The new service was met with eager patronage in each of the neighborhoods and schools it visited, and staff enjoyed getting to interact with the public in a “personal and neighborly way.”For head librarian Helen Remsberg, the only downside to the service was that because so many children frequented the Bookmobile, staff were often hard-pressed to provide one-on-one attention.  But this, she conceded in one of her library reports, was a lovely problem to have. READ MORE
Sheikla Blount maintains a high standard for the library at Columbiana Middle School in Columbiana, Alabama, even in an environment where it has not necessarily been required.In the words of Jason Mayfield, her fellow teacher and nominator for the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award, “Ms. Blount has had to fight and create everything that’s good in that library. She hasn’t had resources, finances, or really any encouragement to do the exceptional job that she’s done. Time and again, she’s risen to a standard far above anyone at the school and in the county.”Mayfield said Blount, whom he calls a “quiet giant,” was the first National Board certified teacher the school has had.  In addition, she has been relentless in making sure media center programs serve the needs of readers, whether they are reluctant or advanced.Her library is a welcoming place, a warm contrast to what it was before her arrival.  Mayfield said, “The previous librarian wouldn’t open until two weeks into the school year. She would close the entire month of May to inventory. Ms. Blount has always been welcoming Day 1.” READ MORE
In the summer of 2012, Seema and Suraj Korumilli, then 12-year-old twins from Plainsboro, New Jersey, visited Kapileswarapuram, India, their ancestral homeland. “Walking through the village,” Seema recalls, “was a coming-of-age moment.”The siblings—now first-year students at Northeastern—were shocked by the lack of books, computers, and other educational resources available to the villagers and vowed to effect positive change. As Seema explains, “We felt like it would have been a crime if we didn’t give back to the community that had fostered our entire family and become an integral part of our identity.”They chose to focus on education. “We decided we would become the solution to eradicating illiteracy,” Suraj says, “and the first step to doing that was creating libraries.” READ MORE
Nearly 50 children’s chairs at the Benicia Public Library (CA) were given new life thanks to furniture repairmen with some time on their hands.For some, lots of time.  “After 25 years, they were looking a little beat up and not very appealing,” said David Dodd, Benicia’s Director of Library and Culture Services.  While “exploring a number of options,” replacing the chairs or having them professionally renovated wasn’t one.  “All very expensive,” Dodd said.Thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend — OK, it was interior designer Kristine Passalacqua who knew someone formerly associated with San Quentin — who mentioned that the high security prison had a facility where government and school furniture is reupholstered and refinished for free. READ MORE
Chess is increasingly popular at Carmichaels Area High School (OH), partially thanks to an outdoor, oversized board in the school’s new commons.During the high school renovation, finished in late 2015, there was an area just outside the high school library used to house temporary classrooms. After those buildings were removed, they left a muddy, unusable mess.Librarian Cassie Menhart said that she talked with the administration to construct some sort of outdoor area. The issue, though, was finding funding for such a project.  “I had to have a patio,” she said with a smile at the dedication of the new Paci Madich Commons Nov. 9.That’s where Gary Madich, the 2017 commencement speaker, and his wife, Cindy Paci Madich, stepped in, giving an undisclosed donation to help.  Both 1973 graduates of Carmichaels Area High School, they were looking for a lasting way to give back. The couple now lives in Westerville, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.  “This is home for us,” Cindy Paci Madich said. “To think that two rural farm kids with not much guidance were able to be successful.” READ MORE
Located in the nation’s movie capital, the Musicians Institute Library serves about 1,000 undergraduate students and 250 faculty members at the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music City in Los Angeles. Its college-level performance programs cover such areas as film composition, the music business and audio engineering.Students and faculty alike depend on the library. In the words of Beth Marlis, “MI faculty and students rely on the library as the central hub for resources and materials related to their classes and career.Julie Bill is the conductor and arranger of this symphony of information.  Marlis, who nominated Bills for a 2017 I Love My Librarian Award, said the students and faculty use the library in a variety of ways. They use it to view clinic and live performance workshop videos, answer questions about copyright and clearance in relation to teaching in the classroom and look at live performance workshop charts. READ MORE
Last week, we highlighted a disturbing policy change that we had been anticipating for a while: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Pai’s plan to roll back the net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all internet traffic and services equally.Between Thanksgiving preparations and leftovers, we have had some time to review this big turkey (220 pages worth). Below are some first impressions.Before we dive in, now is the time to raise the volume on outcry as members of Congress return from the holiday. We have set up an email tool so you can make your voice heard in advance of the FCC’s December 14 vote. Visit our action center and contact your elected officials now. READ MORE
 Nearly a month since its opening, we finally got to see Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library in London. I’ve seen some of the items on the internet before (e.g., J.K. Rowling’s original sketches on Pottermore) and heard the quotes from past interviews with the author, but it was of course extraordinary to see the objects from her collection in person.This is the first major exhibition that explores the rich and diverse qualities of her stories, in relation to traditions of folklore and magic. There was a video of Rowling shown in which she said that that she invented 90-95% of the magic in the Potter books; the exhibit gives us an idea of the kind of research she would have done in creating Harry’s world.A room with books that looked as though they were suspended in the air was a fitting entrance to the exhibition that was divided into the following sections: The Journey, Potions, Alchemy, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, and Past, Present, Future. The Harry Potter Studio Tour in London explores the films, but this BL exhibit is for the fans of the books and is definitely geared towards older fans. My seven-year-old kept herself busy jotting down answers in the Family Trail booklet (why she’s interested in “how to make potions to gain admirers” is beyond me), but I couldn’t make her marvel at Rowling’s original sketches or the “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” manuscript annotated by the author and her editor. READ MORE