One of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy’s (OITP) major projects is preparing for the next presidential administration, and one of the issues on which we’re focusing—veterans and military families—is a stated priority for both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. OITP is developing a three-page document to brief the campaigns and transition staffs as well as national policy advocates about how and why libraries can help reach and provide assistance to veterans.While collecting information for this document last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a Veterans Resource Center—one of 10 in the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) system—at the LAPL’s Exposition Park branch. Many thanks to LAPL Adult Service Librarian Edwin Rodarte and veteran volunteers Paola Martinez and Veronica Hansel for briefing me and answering my many questions.What does the Veterans Resource Center do? The official statement:“Veterans and their families can meet with trained volunteers, who are veterans themselves, and get connected to information and resources regarding health, education, employment, housing, and other benefits that they may be entitled to.” READ MORE
Sean Ott, the first garden programmer for the Faulkner County Library in Conway (AR), was wrangling some raspberries “that were getting kind of gnarly” onto a trellis, he said.  He’s come a long way for someone who said he grew up “a total city kid.”“I grew up a military brat,” the 26-year-old said. He said most of his family is in Pittsburgh, but he moved with his parents to Gravel Ridge in about 1996.  “I can’t say I’m an Arkansan, but I would definitely say Arkansas is home,” Ott said.Ott started the new part-time job in August. He will help the Arkansas GardenCorps service member with programming for the Faulkner County Urban Farm Project, a community garden north of the library. He’ll oversee the Garden Club for kids; a book club, which he wants to gear for adults; and the seed library.This is the last year the library will have an Arkansas GardenCorps service member, said Nancy Allen, adult services and reference librarian. The Arkansas GardenCorps program is a three-year program, and this is the third year.“It’s going to be on the library from here on out to maintain the program,” she said. Allen said the new position that Ott filled “is kind of cutting edge, I think.”  Ott, who lives in Jacksonville, said he started in 2008 as an art-history major at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. READ MORE
By Steve ZaluskyLibraries not only transform communities – they are, in turn, transformed by them.  This is certainly true as it applies to Friends of the Library groups.Friends groups have been instrumental in helping sustain libraries – and historically have played an important role in their creation as well. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, among the requirements for securing a Carnegie grant was a commitment by community members to raise funds and support a new library. READ MORE
The Red Hook (N.Y) Public Library proved it’s more than just a book-lender when it listened to residents’ frustrations and rallied the small town to protest a faulty traffic light, inspiring community members to address other problems together.  READ MORE
By Steve ZaluskyWhile waiting to check out books at your local library, this is a good time to consider thanking your librarian for protecting your freedom to read. From Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, our nation will be celebrating Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of our First Amendment freedom to read.Every day, librarians from all types of libraries are standing on the front lines, standing up to challenges that threaten to restrict the free flow of ideas.Those challenges can happen anytime, anywhere. READ MORE
Libraries – shhhhh! – have secrets.Including, probably, yours. Just ask your librarian about the books that don’t circulate.  Books you don’t know about. Books not in any catalog or database.Books too rare, too wonderful, too terrible, too ridiculous or too scandalous to lend out.“This door is always locked,” says Sarah Kiefer, local history librarian, as she directs visitors into the sanctum sanctorum: the locked room behind the locked room at the Ridgewood (NJ) Public Library.Here, kept at a regulated temperature of between 63 and 65 degrees, are the treasures of the Local History Room of the library’s Bolger Heritage Center.The prize of the collection is an 8½-inch -by-14-inch volume, bound in embossed leather with brass clasps – dating, best estimate, from 1602. Open it – carefully, carefully – and you will see, written in antique typeface, words that are familiar to any English major: “Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote...”“The Canterbury Tales” is just part of “THE WORKES OF GEFFREY CHAVCER, newly Printed, with diuers additions,” a volume that has been in the Ridgewood collection, apparently, since the 1940s. “It’s not viewable outside the archives,” Kiefer says.How did it get there? No one seems quite sure. A bill of sale from March 4, 1944, indicates that the volume was sold from a “D.M. Beach, 52 High Street, Salisbury” for 7 pounds, 10 shillings, but how it ended up in Bergen County remains a mystery. “I would imagine this was an item that came to us as a gift,” says Ridgewood Library Director Nancy Greene. “We would never have gone out trying to buy that.”There’s more. Old bound volumes, dating from 1844 and 1845, of Graham’s Magazine, featuring first-time-in-print contributions by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elizabeth Barrett (Browning), and one “Edgar A. Poe.” Also, from 1850, Household Words, a magazine edited by another author you may possibly have heard of: Charles Dickens. “It’s amazing the little treasures you can find in your local library,” Kiefer says. READ MORE
Most graduates get flowers or a nice dinner to mark the occasion. But Craig Del Mundo had something even more romantic in mind.Del Mundo, an FIU (Florida International University) grad who received his bachelor’s in Information Technology in 2013, wanted to surprise his girlfriend of five years, Danahlyn Tamola – who was set to receive her master’s of Business Administration from FIU (she had previously earned a bachelor’s in Psychology in 2011)– with an engagement ring.His choice of proposal location? The Green Library at Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The pair had met on the second floor years earlier, after mutual friends invited Del Mundo, then a recent transfer student, to their hangout spot in order to welcome him to FIU.Del Mundo enlisted the help of family and friends, who lured Tamola to the library after the commencement ceremony had finished. He then got down on one knee and asked his best friend if she would spend the rest of her life with him. READ MORE
“Miss Diane” is the reason why patrons love the Stetson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library.  That was the consensus of a focus group when asked the question, according to Dawn La Valle, who nominated Diane Brown for her I Love My Librarian award.Brown, the branch manager, “is the heart of the Stetson Branch Library and the heart of an urban community burdened with a high poverty and high crime rate who overcame many obstacles in her own life to transform the Stetson Branch Library into a community hub beloved by all,” she wrote in her nomination.A librarian who is also a community activist, Brown has made an impact within the Dixwell community, a predominantly African American community challenged by low literacy, high poverty and high crime.La Valle wrote, “While so many libraries are struggling to build lasting partnerships with local schools, Diane took the challenge and turned it into an opportunity.”Brown worked closely with CONNCAT (CT Center for Arts and Technology) to assist with the design and implementation of an after-school tutoring program at the Lincoln Bassett School (K-8). READ MORE
You might be seeing a lot of Snoopy in September.For the second year in a year, the iconic cartoon beagle from Peanuts is helping in the annual push for people to obtain a library card, as the Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-Up month.As summer fades into fall, which means the kids will be flocking back to school, now is the most important time to make sure everyone in your family has a library card.  The American Library Association and libraries across the nation recognize that, which is why each September they celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month.Held each year since 1987 to mark the beginning of the school year, the celebration reminds parents, caregivers and students that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning. The importance of making the public library part of a child’s routine was emphasized by Anita Carroll, director of the Granville (Ohio) Public Library, who said there are several families who come to the library on specific days and make it a point to have a required number of books in their house. The results, she said, show up in their children’s performance in school. READ MORE
Advanced digital tools have rendered the world a classroom. The problem is, it’s a really big classroom and can overwhelm even the most earnest student. In this way, connected learning refers not just to the technology, but to the substance of the experience.  In today’s wired environment, access to digital tools and opportunities to engage in self-selected, self-guided and self-paced learning provide new avenues for learning.  Curation of those digital tools by professional librarians ensures that library patrons are not only plugged in, but tuned in as well. Or, if you will, connected. READ MORE