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Intellectual Freedom: A Manual...

First published in 1974, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Manual has become an essential reference for library workers who need dependable answers to thorny questions about book challenges, patron privacy, and policy development for their institutions. The 10th edition, coedited by Martin Garnar, director of Amherst (Mass.) College Library and former president of […]

A Little Light to See By

A confession: I had intended to write about the strategic planning work that we have been engaged in across the Association for the past year. It’s work that centers on the financial stability and membership growth required to achieve ALA’s goals of universal broadband (and the educational, employment, and public health access that depend on […]

Libraries and the Law

Legal issues arise in libraries. Which is why, over the past year and a half, our Letters of the Law column at americanlibraries.org has explored a wide range of legal topics, led by two authorities: Mary Minow, a librarian who became a lawyer, and Tomas A. Lipinski, a lawyer who became a librarian. Together they […]

Countering Anti-Asian Hate

On May 20, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which addresses the increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic. The measure comes as the nation celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Three ALA member leaders who have helped blaze the trail for Asian […]

The Virtual Job Hunt

Illustration: Shane Tolentino Gloria Vela, fresh from receiving her MLIS and earning her Texas school librarian certification, did all the right things when she applied for school librarian jobs. She set up a tidy workspace well-lit for Zoom interviews. She applied makeup, styled her hair, and made sure her 6-month-old miniature Australian shepherd, Olive, was […]

Serving the Community at All T...

In early March 2020—before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the US in full—a typical Tuesday evening at the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales branch of Denver Public Library (DPL) would bustle with activity, the smell of coffee brewing, and the murmurs of many voices. Some people would practice English together, while others worked on homework assignments or drilled […]

A Disproportionate Pandemic

Jack Miller dusts shelves at the main location of Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin, Illinois, pre-pandemic. Photo: Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin, Illinois Before COVID-19 came along, 18-year-old Jack Miller, who has autism, visited the main location of Gail Borden Public Library District (GBPLD) in Elgin, Illinois, three times a week. […]

The Road to Normal

Valerie Wagley, counselor at Fair Oaks Elementary School in Cobb County, Georgia, reads to kids at a bookmobile stop in summer 2020. Photo: Kelli Wood When Goochland County (Va.) Public Schools abruptly stopped in-person learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, school librarians Zoe Parrish, Sarah Smith, and Susan Vaughn worried that […]

Fighting the Spread

©wei/Adobe Stock When the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading throughout the US in early 2020, Jessica Daly, consumer health librarian at hospital network Orlando (Fla.) Health, knew it was time for her—and other information specialists in the medical field—to step up. “As medical professionals and librarians, we tell people what to do, but we don’t often […]

Think Inside the Box

A kamishibai box is a small stage containing a sequence of cards that illustrate traditional folktales. Photo: Geo1208 The performance begins like this: Erica Siskind, librarian at Oakland (Calif.) Public Library, rides her bike to the front of the room, parks it, and pulls from her basket two sticks and a small wooden box. Clack, […]

Where Monarchs Reign

Human visitors explore the butterfly garden at Kokomo–Howard County (Ind.) Public Library’s South branch. Photo: Kokomo–Howard County (Ind.) Public Library When members of the Howard County (Ind.) Master Gardener Association became enchanted by the idea of creating a local butterfly habitat, their first stop was Kokomo–Howard County Public Library (KHCPL). Not for books and information […]

2021 Midwinter Wrap-Up

Since 1908, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting has taken place 107 times, with only a few pauses. Held virtually, this year’s Midwinter was the last in its current format; next year ALA will launch LibLearnX, a learning, networking, and collaboration experience scheduled for January 21–24, 2022, in San Antonio. Though this year’s event […]

2020 Year in Review

ALA Headquarters Move After 57 years on East Huron Street in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, ALA headquarters relocated to Michigan Plaza at 225 N. Michigan Avenue. ALA Welcomes New Executive Director Tracie D. Hall began on February 24 as the American Library Association’s (ALA) new executive director (ED). The 10th ED—and the first female African-American […]

REALM Test Results

Our collective knowledge of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to evolve as researchers across the world work to understand and combat the virus. In such an uncertain information landscape, establishing best practices isn’t easy; it requires library workers to balance community needs with the best available guidelines for limiting the virus’s spread. Since […]

Escape for the Isolated

Illustration: Katie Wheeler When you seek the advice of a goblin priest in the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons, beware: Instead of helping you in your quest, he might try to feed you to a tentacled monster with a taste for adventurers. A crew of six explorers—library patrons playing as a gnome, two half-elves, […]

Collecting Coronavirus Stories

Patrons at Palos Verdes Library District in Rolling Hills Estates, California, submitted photos that include images of daily jokes, Zoom meeting signs, protests, and jigsaw puzzles. Photos: Palos Verdes Library District in Rolling Hills Estates, California The Palos Verdes Library District (PVLD) coronavirus archiving project started with a cat. Monique Sugimoto, archivist and local history […]