Articles

Each year, users of all types of libraries – public, school, academic and special – get to express their appreciation for their favorite librarians.Up to ten librarians are selected annually for this prestigious honor: each one receives a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a travel stipend to attend the awards ceremony and reception in New York City, hosted by the award's co-sponsors Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Public Library, and The New York Times. This year, four academic librarians, three public librarians and three school librarians were chosen from more than 1,000 total nominations.The following winners enjoyed a well deserved chance to share the spotlight: READ MORE
When you think about the most valuable cards in your wallet, you probably envision your credit and ATM cards. Here’s another one that should come to mind: your library card. These days, the nation’s 9,057 library systems let you check out a lot more than books.Need a power tool, kayak, 3D printer or Ninja Turtle-shaped cake pan? Your library might have one you can borrow. What about crafting or studio space? It might have you covered there, too. Some libraries provide access to courses on computers or graphic design. Many will let you borrow passes to local attractions such as zoos and museums. Others provide seeds and cuttings to check out; you can grow your own, then return seeds or cuttings to share with others.Bottom line: If you don’t have a library card, you should get one. If you do, it may be time to dust it off. READ MORE
Once upon a time there was a lonely caboose, fenced off and neglected for years until the day it was befriended by humans, given a fresh paint job and a new purpose in life: making children happy — through books.It’s not a fairly tale: The newly refurbished caboose in Brownsville’s (TX) Linear Park will begin a new chapter as a children’s library early next year, possibly by March.Donated to the city of Brownsville by the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway through the efforts of the Raul “Mr. B” Besteiro Jr. family, the caboose was placed in Linear Park in 2007. It weathered the elements behind a chain-link fence, largely ignored, until early this year when the city and Brownsville Preservation Society teamed up to restore it.The city budgeted $40,000 for the restoration, while BPS coordinated the project, which involved sandblasting, painting, construction of a new platform and getting rid of the fence. Almost the only thing left is to put up signs denoting the historical significance and recognizing those who contributed, BPS President Trey Mendez said.“ I would say it’s 95 to 98 percent complete,” he said. “It’s been substantially complete since the summer.” READ MORE
Over the past 20 years, Sioux Center, Iowa has welcomed an influx of immigrants from Central and South America who are drawn to the region’s agricultural opportunities.But the small, rural town of 7,500 wasn’t equipped to teach ESL courses. The library referred community members to classes at Northwest Iowa Community College, but the college was 30 miles away, with no public transit option, and while residents were interested they often did not complete the registration process.Librarian Ruth Mahaffy, who speaks Spanish, worked with the college to simplify the registration process, increasing enrollment and convincing the college of the need for satellite courses. The college agreed, and together they partnered to offer ESL courses at Sioux Center Public Library several times a week. The college provides the instructor, while the library provides the space, and, thanks to the American Dream grant, the materials for the courses. READ MORE
When a community needs a new library building, people frequently suggest converting existing—usually vacant—structures into a library. Converting nonlibrary spaces into libraries has much in common with remodeling and expanding existing libraries, but it’s a far different undertaking.When possible conversions loom on the horizon, libraries must be prepared. In all conversion situations, one of the major problems involves the building shaping the library rather than the library shaping the building. Many spaces may lack the basic functional needs of libraries, such as ceilings high enough for reflected uplighting, sufficient power supplies, workable configurations of spaces, desirable natural light, good sight lines, sufficient floor strength, and flexibility of design. If too many of the basic needs are compromised, the result is at best dysfunction and at worst an amazing waste of money.Begin with a planAlways start by preparing a building program to evaluate possible conversions. If you don’t have one, people will start pointing out what interesting features could be provided in certain existing structures. By and large, these will be features you don’t need. Unless you have a lot of experience with library building construction, hire a building consultant to write your program—an experienced professional librarian with a degree accredited by the American Library Association and not an architect.Because there are many issues in library planning in addition to space needs, building programs need to be detailed, with information on required floor loading, accessibility, lighting, acoustics, furnishings, shelving, floor coverings, electrical supplies, sight lines, exit control, security, flexibility, and other areas. Programs should always be written without regard to available spaces, so that they can be used as measuring sticks to test the feasibility of using a proposed space. There will inevitably be compromises, but starting with the ideal program helps everyone become aware of what these compromises are. READ MORE
When Chris Peters became Harborcreek High School’s librarian this year, she wanted to see through an idea to make the space “relevant” to tech-savvy teens who had little use for the encyclopedias.With a team of volunteers, Peters unscrewed the wooden bookshelves anchored to the cement floors. They took every book off every shelf. They bought Keurig coffeemakers and K-cups, sofas and rocking chairs, a record player and vinyl records. They installed a black chalkboard and painted a few walls orange, one of the school’s colors. A local contractor lent his time and skills to transform old shelves into tables.That wasn’t all.  Peters turned one area into a makerspace where kids tinker and create. And she halved the librarian’s office to make a kitchen for café.Some of it, she admits, was done without the permission of the maintenance personnel. But her vision in its entirety has come with overwhelming support from fellow teachers, staff members, administrators and school board members.Peters, an elementary school teacher in the district for 24 years and an elementary librarian the last four, came to the high school library with grand plans. READ MORE
Greenwood Public Library (IN) has started a Teen Library Corps. For the past year, the teens have been doing tasks around the library that have plugged them into coming to the library, which makes sure it is offering programs teens will want to participate in, teen librarian Jessica Smith said.About 20 teens help clean the library, set up new exhibits and help guide what classes and curriculum the library will offer for teens.  They shelve books and dress up as the Easter bunny for community festivals.And librarians hope that the teens will help outreach to the community, will help them show that the library is for more than checking out books and will give the teens leadership and social skills they can use when they are adults, she said.“We want to create leaders; that is the real reason,” Smith said. READ MORE
Libraries are often the first place new Americans turn to for support, whether to learn English, connect with community services, or to learn about American culture while celebrating their own heritage. American Dream libraries are the new community centers for English language learners, offering not only language instruction but also camaraderie and civic engagement through clubs, events, and services.For the Louisville Free Public Library, investing in the education of the thousands of new refugees who arrived in the metropolitan area each year is a top priority. To help new Americans and international students become more self-sufficient in school, work, and life, the library created English Conversation Clubs, which provide one-on-one assistance and help foster ties to the community.With their American Dream grant, the library was able to purchase iPads and software to help students study for citizenship and GED exams, improve their pronunciation, and learn English idioms and grammar. READ MORE
In York, Nebraska, a town of almost eight thousand residents, a staple of the community is the Kilgore Memorial Library.  York’s library provides abundant and fruitful programs to an active community.  Dedicated and passionate staff welcome visitors of all ages and from all walks-of-life with smiles and warm greetings.2018 brought about drastic change within the community of York.  Due to a severe budget deficit, the library lost significant financial funding. This brought about a burning passion and drive within the community to take action in effort to ensure the livelihood of this beloved library.  Initial efforts began prior to the finalization of the city budget.  Individuals throughout the community voiced their concerns in letters to the editor of the local newspaper and to city council members.  Social media also became a platform for creating awareness of the budget issues.  Upon attending city council meetings, citizens addressed the mayor and city council members directly regarding the proposed budget cuts. As the individual efforts continued, invested community members became aware of one another and formed a network of collective wisdom and zeal for the library. READ MORE
The University of Illinois Library has long been a point of pride for the campus, ranked among the best in the world for its vast collection and top-ranked academic programs.Now the library is embarking on a $54 million modernization plan that would demolish its older "stacks," build a new interdisciplinary liberal arts center in their place, move services for undergraduate students into the Main Library and turn the current Undergraduate Library into a home for the University Archives and other special collections.To University Librarian John Wilkin and other proponents, the ambitious plan would bring the library into the 21st century, provide a long-awaited home for special collections now scattered across campus, and improve services for students and scholars.  The changes are motivated by structural issues and technological updates that have altered the nature of library materials and services. With 14 million volumes and growing, storage is a constant issue for the country's second-largest academic library (after Harvard). READ MORE

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