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Seeking Sanctuary

Illustration: Shane Tolentino Last year, when states were introducing a raft of legislation that would effectively take books off the shelves, librarians at Harris County (Tex.) Public Library (HCPL) knew they wanted to take a stand. Texas House Bill 900, which would have restricted materials in school libraries and required vendors to assign book ratings […]

Scholarly Publishing for All

Last November, my home state of Iowa saw a flurry of activity relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), both positive and negative. A group of plaintiffs filed suit against the state over a law that would ban books in K–12 schools that purportedly depict sex acts. (A federal judge temporarily halted enforcement of the […]

Meeting Neurodiverse Needs

Participants at LifeWorks, a residential community for neurodiverse young adults, hold bags from Warren County (Ky.) Public Library (WCPL). WCPL recently opened a satellite branch at LifeWorks.Photo: Warren County (Ky.) Public Library To fill in service gaps exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Warren County (Ky.) Public Library (WCPL) opened four satellite libraries. These one-room, full-service satellites, […]

Newsmaker: Hanif Abdurraqib

When poet and writer Hanif Abdurraqib received a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, the foundation observed that he “is forging a new form of cultural criticism, one that is informed by lived experience and offers incisive social and artistic critiques.” This aptly describes A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (2021), winner of […]

Newsmakers: Trish Adlesic and 1

From left: Filmmakers Trish Adlesic, Nazenet Habtezghi, and Sheila Nevins. The trio codirected The ABCs of Book Banning (MTV Documentary Films). American Libraries spoke with Adlesic and Habtezghi about the nomination and the ongoing fight for intellectual freedom. Photos, from left: Brandi Merolla, Nazenet Habtezghi, Valerie Chiang Book challenges and bans rage on in the […]

Newsmaker: Jesús Trejo

Jesús Trejo often has a full plate—literally and figuratively—when it comes to his career. The comedian and author is the host and executive producer of First We Feast’s Tacos Con Todo web series, where he bites into California’s taco scene alongside other comedians. He acts and writes for the Hulu’s This Fool. Last summer, he […]

In Their Own Words

Steve Phan discussed moving from Washington, D.C., to Kentucky amid COVID-19 for Jessamine County (Ky.) Public Library’s (JCPL) Pandemic Stories Project. Photo: Jessamine County (Ky.) Public Library Steve Phan, a park ranger with the US National Park Service (NPS), remembers driving to his office in Washington, D.C., after the first shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic […]

CALA Turns 50

The Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. In the five decades since its formation, the organization has become known for its scholarship, awards, and humanitarian efforts—and has grown to include nine chapters across North America and the Asia Pacific region. CALA President […]

True Colors

Teen artist-in-residence Celia Hamilton uses the studio at Carmel Clay (Ind.) Public Library (top left) to plan and execute a photoshoot of herself wearing her fashion designs (right). Photos: Carmel Clay (Ind.) Public Library Celia Hamilton wanted to identify further with her Chinese heritage. Her adoptive parents are not Chinese, and she says this left […]

Newsmaker: LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton Photo: Sarah Coulter for Paramount+ When asked about the impact libraries have had on his life and work, LeVar Burton answered simply and succinctly: “Better to ask what role sunlight and water plays in the life and work of flowers.” The actor, known for his roles in the iconic series Roots and Star […]

It’s in the Bag

Anna Pilston (right), branch librarian at Spartanburg County (S.C.) Public Libraries’ Landrum Library, holds a Bag of Hope alongside a member of Operation Hope, a local nonprofit.Photo: Spartanburg County (S.C.) Public Libraries Spartanburg County is the fifth most populated county in South Carolina—and it’s growing. In 2022, it had close to 346,000 residents, but nearly […]

2023 Annual Wrap-Up

Simon & Schuster Senior Vice President and Publisher Justin Chanda (left) interviews author Judy Blume at the 2023 Annual Conference and Exhibition. Photo: EPNAC This summer marked a homecoming for the American Library Association (ALA), as thousands of library workers and advocates gathered in Chicago for the 2023 Annual Conference and Exhibition. The conference, which […]

Growing Our Own

I recently attended an Institute of Museum and Library Services convening focused on the role of libraries in expanding information literacy. I was pleased to see that community engagement kept appearing as a vital component in combating the tide of misinformation (false information), disinformation (intentionally false information), and information withdrawal (censorship and book bans) that […]

Culturally Diverse Collections

Illustration: ©PureSolution/Adobe Stock School libraries come in many forms. They may be book sanctuaries, hangout spots for learners during noninstructional time, technologically advanced media centers full of activity tubs and work tables, or a combination of these. Whatever your school’s library is like, the opportunity to bring in culturally responsive principles exists. If you are […]

Fresh Ideas

A patron at Charleston County (S.C.) Public Library picks up fruits and vegetables from a Free and Fresh Fridge. These fridges opened at three branches in 2021. Photo: Charleston County (S.C.) Public Library Kathleen Montgomery views food, much like access to information, as a fundamental right. “We know that if people don’t have enough food, […]

Let’s Talk about It

Illustration: ©Alina.Alina/Adobe Stock When I have connected with public librarians about sharing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information, a common refrain has been that patrons do not come to the reference desk for this information. This isn’t surprising. How comfortable would you be going up to a stranger and asking them a question about your […]

Newsmaker: Angie Thomas

Photo: Imani Khayyam Soon after Angie Thomas released her debut young adult novel, The Hate U Give, in 2017, the book became a common target for challenges in schools and libraries across the US. But the novel also helped change the landscape of the publishing industry, at a time when authors and readers were calling […]

Reading for Our Lives

In mid-March, I spoke on a panel at the South by Southwest EDU conference in Texas to discuss the alarming and increasingly weaponized attempts to ban and remove books from public and school libraries. Joining me on the panel were Carolyn Foote, retired school librarian and FReadom Fighters cofounder; Kelvin Watson, executive director of Las […]

Newsmaker: Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang Photo: Jessica Sample As a kid, the library was the first place Kelly Yang felt invited to “dream bigger.” Yang, now a bestselling and award-winning middle-grade and YA author, spent her childhood moving from city to city, making it difficult to find her footing. But everywhere she went, she could find familiar stories […]

On the Cutting Edge

Photo: ©kite_rin/Adobe Stock The work of medical librarians is essential and varied. Housed within academic medical libraries, hospitals, corporate libraries, and insurance companies, medical librarians provide information and resources to improve patient care, promote public health, and support medical education and research. Responsibilities are constantly evolving with technology and new programming. American Libraries spoke with […]