American Libraries

Articles from Vol. 39, No. 9, October

Alaska College's Shutdown Threatens Historic Collections
When Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska, shut down its operations last year, among the many logistical questions was what to do with the 48,000 items held by its Stratton Library. The oldest institution of higher education in the state, the 130-year-old...
Beyond the Barriers: A Quest for Real-Time Gold
Beeeeeeeeep. Alarm. 4:50. Predawn. Downstairs. Coffee. Eyes ... opening ... slowly. Countdown. 2,008 drummers, thousands more dancers, singers, athletes from all around the world, a couple of speeches, a flying gymnast lighting the torch, and the unsettling...
Conservative Writer Accuses Library of Denying Access to Obama Records
Following accusations by conservative political writer Stanley Kurtz that the University of Illinois at Chicago blocked his access to documents that might portray Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in an unpatriotic light, the university...
Critics Revisit Library Flap That Paints Palin as Censor
Journalists and bloggers scrutinizing Sarah Palin's record of public service have made national news out of a 1996 library incident in Wasilla, Alaska, where the Republican vice-presidential nominee was then mayor. The story that has emerged--in countless...
Cruel to Be Kind: Why Do We Keep Unproductive Employees?
Have you ever worked in an organization where: The materials aren't shelved for a week? Some employees cannot handle rush times at a service desk so they are only given desk time during "slow" periods? The organization provides a service that patrons...
Director Fires Library Diaries Author over Patron-Privacy Concerns
The director of the Mason County (Mich.) District Library contends that he did not violate the First Amendment rights of a library assistant he fired in late July after reading her unflattering book about the quirky and disreputable characters who...
Everyone in Their Places: Nothing Says Welcome like an Open Parking Space
In planning a library building, there are a million design details to consider, but none is more important than parking. In our auto-obsessed society, public service institutions live and die by their parking lots. You won't learn this fact in library...
Family-Values Group Wins Library Suit
Citizens for Community Values has won a First Amendment lawsuit against the Upper Arlington (Ohio) Public Library over the library's objection to the content of the group's scheduled "Politics and Pulpit" program several days after approving a February...
Feeding the Whole Child: How Libraries Can Nourish Hungry Stomachs and Minds
In The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer, one of the challenges Gary Paulsen's anonymous 16-year-old protagonist faces is hunger. The boy, as Paulsen calls him throughout this brief and intense work, survives by completing all sorts of grueling...
Global Reach
UNITED KINGDOM 1 A public inquiry has ruled against Oxford University's plans for its world-famous Bodleian Library. The university, which hoped to build a [pound sterlings]29-million depository at Osney Mead to house 8 million books, said the ruling...
Gulf Coast Libraries Prepared for Worst; New Orleans Spared Hurricanes' Wrath
On the eve of the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed or damaged libraries and schools throughout the Gulf Coast region, Hurricane Gustav hit land September 1, but the area was spared the predicted destruction that had prompted...
Hennen's American Public Library Ratings 2008
HAPLR 8" is how I'm dubbing this edition of Hennen's American Public Library Ratings, as they enter their second decade. Although I have tried to avoid-doing so, others have frequently called the ratings annual. But the vagaries of federal data reporting...
How the World Sees Us
"If you are of the view that book reading in a public library is nothing but a tryst with dust and worms, think again." News item on plans for a new state library in Chennai, Tamil Nadu State, India, Times of India, Aug. 14. "Think of the library...
IFLA Conference Showcases Quebecois French Culture
Canada played host to the 74th World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), which convened August 10 in Quebec. The annual IFLA conference is the largest and most diverse international...
J. K. Rowling Wins Copyright Fight
A U.S. district court ruled September 8 that Michigan publisher RDR Books could not proceed with the print publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon, a 400-page reference work by former school librarian Steven Vander Ark based on the website he created...
Libraries Connect Communities: Site Visits to 63 Public Libraries Reveal the Power of Technology on Staff and Users
An elderly African-American woman researches her family tree online at her public library. Nearby, a retired physician, on break from his part-time job, checks the status of his investments. An immigrant from Pakistan corresponds with journalists...
Newsmaker: Kay Ryan
Librarian of Congress James Billington announced July 17 that Kay Ryan had been appointed as the library's 16th poet laureate, for 2008-09. Ryan is scheduled to open LC's annual literary series this month with a reading from her work. In making the...
Our New Website Is a Blog; Using Wordpress for Content Management
Keeping a website current and engaging can be a challenge for a library without tech-savvy staff members. Many small libraries have websites whose content hasn't changed in months (if not years), meaning that their events and displays go unnoticed...
Partners in Learning: Fulfilling Patron Needs in a Struggling Economy
If you are not one of the 11 million-plus who have seen Karl Fisch's "Did you know?" video (tinyurl.com/2rzrn9) or its 2006 predecessor, "Shift Happens," on YouTube, I recommend that you invest eight minutes and 19 seconds to watch it. Then ask yourself:...
Rethinking the E-Rate: The Pros and Cons of Why Libraries Should Be Tapping the Largest Available Pot of Federal Dollars
What is the largest source of potential federal funding for public libraries? Your first thought may naturally be the Library Services and Technology Act, a program that provided around $220 million for libraries in FY 2008. But the correct answer...
Retreat! Retreat! Choosing What Really Matters
Are commitments to your library, family, and professional or social activities colliding? Are you guilty of promising more than you can effectively deliver? I, too, have suffered the throes of having said "yes" too many times to worthy commitments...
Shuttered Branches Get Second Reprieve
The Hartford, Connecticut, city council broke into cheers September 9 at the announcement that two state legislators had persuaded the leaders of the state house and senate to give Hartford Public Library one-time donations of $100,000 apiece from...
The Not-So-Dark Side: An Out-of-Work Librarian Becomes a Vendor
It is hard to believe how much the profession has changed in the 17 years since I got my MLS degree. In the late 1980s, I pursued the degree in part because of an article in a popular magazine that listed corporate librarians as one of the fastest-growing...
Vigilant Lifelong Learning
If there's anything this lengthy political season is teaching me, it's the importance of lifelong learning--not just encouraging it for the clients we serve, but for the sake of our own jobs. In the lead feature in this issue (p. 48), Miriam Pollack...
What's for Breakfast ... at Tiffany's?
When I was 14 years old, I saw the movie version of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's and concluded that being a writer in New York was the coolest thing a person could do in life, possibly even cooler than playing center field for the Giants....