by Annette Shannahan, courtesy of Iowa City Press-CitizenHistorical societies and libraries provide many different types of documented information for their patrons. READ MORE
Will Torrence, a librarian at the South Philadelphia (PA) branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, offers far more than books to the local community. He fields questions all day long, a third of which are about health issues. He listens  to patrons, who often come to the library when they are in need—or even in crisis—and he tries to improvise solutions to their most pressing challenges. “We can’t do everything, but every bit of help we can give makes a difference,” he says. READ MORE
Andrea Bernard will go out of her way to serve her library patrons.  Just ask Stephen Ferguson, her nominator for a 2016 I Love My Librarian Award.  Ferguson said he lives alone on a dirt road in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. After undergoing major spinal surgery, he was housebound for four months.“Throughout the winter, in all kinds of weather, my librarian, Andrea Bernard, brought me an endless supply of books, driving her personal vehicle after library hours. Because Andrea takes a personal interest in all of her patrons, she knew just what books to bring me.” READ MORE
Perhaps no audience is more important during Black History Month than our nation’s youth, who will tend the flame of that history for future generations.An encouraging sign for the perpetuation of that legacy was the plaudits recently earned by civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis for “March: Book Three,” written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. The book captured an unprecedented four Youth Media Awards, including one of the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book Awards, at the annual ceremony held by the American Library Association in January in Atlanta.The Youth Media Awards, held each year at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting, illustrate the important role librarians play in promoting the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults. Committees of librarians choose the winners and honor recipients of 19 major awards, including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards. READ MORE
Judith John dropped out of high school 20 years ago, but Thursday she stood before her classmates and family, clad in blue cap and gown, to celebrate meeting a milestone.She and 20 others this year became the first class to graduate from Broward County (FL) Library. The program, piloted last year at 11 libraries in the state, offers scholarships to people like John to earn accredited high school diplomas through online coursework."This is great big world and it's waiting for you to conquer it," John told her colleagues at the graduation ceremony at the North Regional/Broward College Library. "And just in case you don't think so, take another look at your diploma and shout 'I did this!'"Career Online High School was developed in 2012 to offer a second chance to drop-outs long removed from the education system and afraid to turn back. In 2014, it was adapted for public libraries by Gale, a division of Cengage Learning focused on libraries.In Florida, it is being offered by libraries including North Miami Beach, Martin County and is expanding to 17 other systems, including the Boynton Beach City Library. More than 215 students have enrolled statewide, said Kristina Massari, spokesperson for Cengage. READ MORE
Elissa Checov’s vision extends beyond her library at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  That vision is the reason she received one of the 2016 I Love My Librarian awards.Her nominator for the award, Brian Wren, said Checov rejects the notion that the library is merely “a repository for old books and ideas struggling to keep up with the accessibility of information on the internet.”  She makes sure her library is a magnet for students – a place where they can engage with each other and develop their skills with the latest technology.One sees the difference when one enters the library. She redesigned the entrance to give the space more of a lounge feel. Students are welcomed into a commons area with comfortable seating and themed displays that encourage them to interact socially and collaborate on projects.Surveying the library, one is struck by the sight of students diligently working on library computers and laptops and occupying carrels and conference rooms.  Headcounts reveal anywhere from 45 to 75 people occupying the library throughout the day, with the library often filled by 9 a.m. READ MORE
While closely linked to the millennial generation, the “fast casual” concept, in fact, has much broader reach: easily accessible and fresh ingredients are two of its hallmarks that have wide appeal; opportunities for social connection around eating further boost its popularity. Librarians have developed innovative ways to bring the fast casual experience into the library space. Partnerships are central to the success of those efforts and, not surprisingly, libraries offer a variety of fast casual models to meet their community’s needs. READ MORE
A lot has happened in the world of science since 1963.The first moon landing in 1969, for example.  But for a student in the library at Erie's (PA) Lincoln Elementary School, science might seem to have stalled if he or she ever pulls this book off the shelves:  "The Golden Book of Science," published in 1963.  It is near a book about the universe. That book was published in 1962.Such outdated tomes are more the norm than the exception at the 17 libraries that serve the Erie School District's 18 schools.As the district struggles to avoid insolvency, funding cuts have made new books a rarity at the libraries, which circulate a total of 150,000 books a year. The average copyright date for those books, according to the district, is 1993. East High School's collection is the oldest, with an average copyright of 1983. The youngest collection is at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, with an average copyright of 2000. READ MORE
Bruce Groendyke, a severely nearsighted Army vet from Hightstown, New Jersey, says he’s a “technical dinosaur.” But as one of many veterans who attended a recent class held by New Jersey State Library’s (NJSL) Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC), he learned how to use the assistive technology features on an iPad.NJSL and other libraries nationwide have been joining forces with state agencies to improve their patrons’ access to assistive technology. Through a partnership with New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI), TBBC has partnered with seven public libraries to provide accessibility programs for patrons with visual impairments.“Public libraries are learning centers for new technology,” says Adam Szczepaniak, deputy state librarian and director of TBBC. “These initiatives help boost that level of learning to include not only assistive software for those with vision impairments but training as well, which is in high demand by those who need assistance learning how to use an iPad, or who need help browsing the internet because their vision is changing.”Most of these services are geared toward New Jersey’s aging population. As the US Administration on Aging reports, the population 65 and older is expected to double by 2060. The leading causes of vision impairment in the US are age-related eye diseases, and the prevalence of these diseases is expected to double in the next three decades, according to National Eye Institute data. For example, macular degeneration, which currently affects just over 2 million US residents, is projected to affect more than 5 million by 2050. READ MORE