Unplugging, then, suggests stepping away from the usual routine, purposefully establishing a quieter zone for undistracted action, interaction, or inaction. Libraries are important sources of access to technology and this will not change. At the same time, libraries are, at their core, about connection. Sometimes, to make those connections, people need to unplug—and libraries have found innovative ways to help patrons achieve that. Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the Libraries Transform website. Visit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries. READ MORE
For 40 years, the Aurora (Illinois) Public Library has been celebrating the holiday season in a way that incorporates all cultures and faiths.  It is an example of how libraries offer more than just books. They provide spaces for community interaction. And what better time to engage the community than the holiday season?  At Aurora, it began in 1976 with an exhibit called Christmas in Many Lands. At the time, Mary Clark Ormond was director of the library during that Bicentennial year.The goal was to reach users who hailed from other countries or maintained strong ties to their ethnic heritage. The library asked those users if they would be interested in decorating a Christmas tree using the designs and incorporating the legends of their own culture.The library purchased seven trees at a local Ace Hardware and deployed them around the circulation desk at the former main library on East Benton Street. It also set up a larger tree – the community tree – on the first floor and invited people to festoon it with tags bearing their names.Forty years later, the celebration has evolved into Holiday Celebrations in Many Lands.  For this year’s 40th anniversary, the library has the trees on display during the entire month of December at the Santori Library on South River Street. READ MORE
A monk walked around a board decorated with a multicolored sand design, ringing a bell. The estimated 300 patrons at the Mark Twain Library (CT) inched closer, trying to get a last look at the mandala art, which featured symbols from different religions, the American flag, the Buddhist flag, the library’s logo and the words “One World, Keep Peace.”The monk picked up pieces of the sand and put them in a glass carried by another monk, ringing the bell again. He used a tool to create lines through the sand at each side and corner before the other monks moved forward with brushes in hand. The audience gasped as the monks swept away the sand, destroying the design so only the carvings of the symbols remained on the wood.“Let it go with a long breath,” the monk said as the crowd sighed with him. “We’ve done it a long time, so no emotion here because we can rebuild it.”  “I have to learn that,” a woman in the crowd said.The monks had been working on this design since Wednesday, but destroyed it in a ceremony Sunday afternoon to symbolize one of the main tenants of Buddhism: impermanence. READ MORE
“Awws” echoed through the Lackawanna County (PA) Children’s Library when Bill Streeter lifted Mortimer, a pocket-sized saw-whet owl, from his crate.The 3-ounce bird seemed to squint with trepidation as he slowly turned his head to size up the room. Mr. Streeter, director of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center in Milford, had met the Furby-like bird of prey 17 years ago after a truck struck the owl in the middle of winter.A kindhearted passer-by saw the bird flapping in the snow and rescued him, he said.Although most of the predatory birds, called raptors, rehabilitated at Mr. Streeter’s facility re-enter the wild, Morty is among those that never fully recover. They spend the rest of their days in captivity as part of educational programs like the one held Sunday afternoon at the library. READ MORE
Collective impact channels the knowledge and resources of multiple partners towards a specific social problem. With their commitment to meeting patrons needs, libraries seek ways to serve and strengthen their communities. Sometimes, however, the needs rise beyond the conventional realm of library services—and this has been particularly true since the recession. Through the strength of non-traditional partnerships, libraries offer innovative solutions to a variety of challenges faced by their communities. READ MORE
In communities facing crises, libraries have been first responders.  They responded in many ways to a variety of situations.In 2012, a library worker at Sandy Hook Elementary School rescued 18 children from the gunman in a deadly shooting by hiding them in a library supply closet.In 2014, following the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing rioting in the community, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library stood apart as an oasis that provided art programming and tutoring for students whose classes were canceled.A sign posted in the library said it all. It read, “During difficult times, the library is a quiet oasis where we can catch our breath, learn, and think about what to do next. Please help keep our oasis peaceful and serene. Thank you!”Libraries are transforming their communities, and one special way they transform is by responding to the need for a safe space that promotes equity, diversity and inclusion.  This is a need that promises to grow more urgent in the wake of a presidential election that brought racial and ethnic tensions to the surface. READ MORE
Socially struggling students have historically sought solace in the silence and solitude of their high school libraries.  “It was definitely silent,” Chimacum (WA) High School Principal Whitney Meissner said of her high school's library during the mid-1980s.“I would go there to do research or get homework done, but I would never go there to hang out with my friends.”Thanks to para-educator Chris Alm, Chimacum High School's library isn't just comfortable and welcoming; it serves as a catalyst for social interaction, helping shy students break out of their shells and find new friends with shared interests.“Anybody should be able to fit in here like a book fits into the Dewey Decimal system,” said Alm, who has worked in the high school library since 2007 and in libraries throughout the school district since 1996. “The students should be just like the books; they should fit in, regardless of their situation.” READ MORE
There is something about play that we humans are wired for and, even as adults, we get a charge from the opportunity to combine skill, chance and a bit of moxie. Gaming and gamification have brought elements of play into previously staid realms. Similarly, they have transformed the way libraries offer learning for patrons of all ages. From escape rooms to competitive reading, libraries are finding new ways to up their game. READ MORE
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), selected five books as finalists for the 2017 William C. Morris Award, which honors the year’s best books written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.YALSA will name the 2017 award winner at the Youth Media Awards at 8 a.m. on Jan. 23 in Atlanta during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting.The 2017 finalists are:“Girl Mans Up” written by M-E Girard, published by HarperCollins;“Rani Patel in Full Effect” written by Sonia Patel, published by Cinco Punto Press;“The Serpent King“ written by Jeff Zentner, published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House, a Penguin Random House Company;“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” written by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House, a Penguin Random House Company;“Tell Me Something Real” written by Calla Devlin, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers READ MORE
Some people claim that 70 is the new 50. Whether or not that is true, data clearly show an increase in the number of Americans over age 65. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of older Americans will nearly double by the year 2050. Between advances in health care and increased expectations for continued engagement in the public sphere, today’s aging population is more active than ever. Library programming reflects this shift, particularly in public libraries where seniors are already dedicated consumers of library services. READ MORE