Tag Archives: Public Libraries

This year I’m thankful for US public libraries – beautiful icons of a better civic era | The Guardian

The US can often be cruel to its citizens, but the public library is a sanctuary and a vision of what our country might one day be

By Moira Donegan, Wed 28 Dec 2022 10.13 EST

‘The public library does not understand its patrons as mere consumers, or as a revenue base. Instead, it aspires to encounter people as minds.’ Photograph: BA E Inc./Alamy

If you proposed it now, at any town council or city hall meeting, you would be laughed from the room. The concept is almost unthinkably indulgent, in our austere times: an institution, open for free to anyone, that sells no products, makes no money, is funded from public coffers, and is dedicated solely to the public interest, broadly defined. And it’s for books.

If the public library did not already exist as a pillar of local civic engagement in American towns and cities, there’s no way we would be able to create it. It seems like a relic of a bygone era of public optimism, a time when governments worked to value and edify their people, rather than punish and extract from them.

In America, a country that can be often cruel to its citizens, the public library is a surprising kindness. It is an institution that offers grace and sanctuary, and a vision of what our country might one day be.

Source: This year I’m thankful for US public libraries – beautiful icons of a better civic era | Moira Donegan | The Guardian

The Most Popular In-Demand Books in U.S. Libraries: July-September 2022

By Kelly Jensen, Nov 2, 2022

from article…

Each quarter, Panorama Picks takes a deep dive into the data about ebook use at libraries across the U.S. It’s a fascinating look at not just the most popular ebooks in public libraries — they don’t stray too far from what you’d expect of the bestseller lists — but also at the books that are seeing uniquely high demand at libraries.

These are books which are seeing a lot of interest but haven’t necessarily stayed atop bestseller lists for months and/or books with particular interest locally. The data looks at adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and young adult books (which includes fiction, nonfiction, and comics). Panorama Picks groups public libraries by coordinating American Bookseller Association (ABA) regions, which allows for a really neat way of exploring interest on a regional level. A book might be especially popular in California but less so in the Midwest, and looking at that data provides a real opportunity for local bookstores and libraries.

A major goal is to help independent bookstores identify unique opportunities to reach the unmet needs of local readers for these books.

“We compile and publish Panorama Picks on a quarterly basis and we endeavor to promote our findings to local booksellers as well as to publishers and authors,” said Daniel Albohn, Panorama Project’s lead.

Source: The Most Popular In-Demand Books in U.S. Libraries: July-September 2022

From book stacks to psychosis and food stamps, librarians confront a new workplace | Salon.com

As America’s social safety net decays, librarians are feeling less safe doing their jobs

By Rachel Scheier, Published August 24, 2022 8:15AM (EDT)

Stack Of Books On Table In Library (Getty Images/Rachan Panya/EyeEm)

For nearly two decades, Lisa Dunseth loved her job at San Francisco’s main public library, particularly her final seven years in the rare books department.

But like many librarians, she saw plenty of chaos. Patrons racked by untreated mental illness or high on drugs sometimes spit on library staffers or overdosed in the bathrooms. She remembers a co-worker being punched in the face on his way back from a lunch break. One afternoon in 2017, a man jumped to his death from the library’s fifth-floor balcony.

Dunseth retired the following year at age 61, making an early exit from a nearly 40-year career.

“The public library should be a sanctuary for everyone,” she said. The problem was she and many of her colleagues no longer felt safe doing their jobs.

Via: Library Link of the Day, http://www.tk421.net/librarylink/  (archive, rss, subscribe options)

Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…

Source: https://www.salon.com/2022/08/24/from-book-stacks-to-psychosis-and-stamps-librarians-confront-a-new-workplace_partner/

Some states are changing the laws that govern community libraries : NPR

Thanks to Library Link of the Day for this one…
http://www.tk421.net/librarylink/  (archive, rss, subscribe options)

Heard on Morning Edition, By Jim Zarroli, June 21, 20225:12 AM ET

Attempts to ban books in school districts around the country have increased in recent years. Now, some states are working on enacting laws to give politicians more power over public libraries.
Rick Bowmer/AP

When the Kentucky Legislature started mulling a bill that would tighten control over public libraries earlier this year, librarians across the state called their lawmakers pushing for its defeat.

In the past, legislators would at least have heard them out, says Jean Ruark, chair of the advocacy committee of the Kentucky Library Association. Not this time.”

It seemed as though our efforts fell on deaf ears. There was a big outcry about the passage of that and they did it anyway,” Ruark says.

At a time when public school libraries have increasingly become targets in the culture wars, some red states are going further, proposing legislation aimed at libraries serving the community as a whole. A few of the bills would open librarians up to legal liability over decisions they make.

While some of these bills have quietly died in committee, others have been signed into law, and librarians worry that the increasingly partisan climate is making them vulnerable to political pressure.

Source: Some states are changing the laws that govern community libraries : NPR

Biblioracle: If they didn’t already exist, public libraries would never be established in today’s America – Chicago Tribune

By John Warner, Chicago Tribune, Apr 30, 2022 at 6:00 am

Thank goodness public libraries already exist, because if they didn’t, there’s no way we’d ever be able to establish similar institutions in today’s dis-United States of America.

from article…
The Carnegie Library in Waukegan, at the intersection of Sheridan and Washington, was built in 1903 as one of the many libraries built with Andrew Carnegie’s money. It was where author Ray Bradbury liked to read when he was young. Although it’s no longer a library, the building is slated to be the home of the Waukegan Historical Society. (Rob Dicker / Chicago Tribune / Chicago Tribune)

There are a number of reasons I’m skeptical. For one, belief in institutions, in general, is at an all-time low ebb. Government, schools, churches — the entities in which people are expected to come together and sacrifice some portion of their individual well-being for an overall increase in the common good — either have significantly less salience in today’s society (churches), or are under direct assault by forces that seem to not just be partisan politically, but actively anti-democracy.

Weakened institutions aside, there also seems to be an overall lack of communal spirit.

“I’ve got mine” could be the slogan of our age.

from article…

Our inability to act collectively to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic is illustrative here. Inconvenience or discomfort, or worse, someone else getting something one thinks they might not “deserve” would all make libraries a difficult sell.

I can imagine the internet hot take: Why punish people who can afford to buy books by making them free to read for everyone?

Source: Biblioracle: If they didn’t already exist, public libraries would never be established in today’s America – Chicago Tribune

As librarians convene in Portland, Multnomah County Library showcases its work in diversity, equity and inclusion – oregonlive.com

Updated: Mar. 18, 2022, 11:42 a.m. | Published: Mar. 18, 2022, 5:00 a.m., By Kathi Inman Berens | For The Oregonian/OregonLive

Multnomah County Library patrons sit in a reading room in the Central Library in downtown Portland in 2019. Michael Lloyd/The OregonianLC-

As more than 3,300 U.S. librarians flock to Portland for the Public Library Association conference March 23-25, they’ll witness up close Multnomah County Library’s groundbreaking work in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.

The pandemic, and social justice work after the 2020 protests, have permanently influenced how the library delivers services. There is now more in-person, on-site dialogue between community members in multiple languages and from various cultures. The library has also significantly expanded who can access its digital services, and made it easier to get a library card.

Source: As librarians convene in Portland, Multnomah County Library showcases its work in diversity, equity and inclusion – oregonlive.com