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2021 Library Design Showcase

Welcome to the 2021 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries that address user needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. That this year’s slate features building projects completed during the pandemic makes them even more noteworthy. Despite libraries being temporarily closed or operating at reduced hours because of COVID-19 […]

2021 ALA/AIA Library Building ...

By Phil Morehart | September 1, 2021 The following libraries are winners of the 2021 Library Building Awards, sponsored by Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures (a division of the American Library Association) and the American Institute of Architects. The awards recognize the best in library architecture and design and are open to any architect licensed in […]

What Was Lost

The Sphere, a sculpture by Fritz Koenig, survived the collapse of the Twin Towers partially intact. The unrestored sculpture now sits in New York City’s Liberty Park near the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Photo: Michael Rieger/FEMA Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, many archivists […]

Understanding the Other

Illustration: green2/AdobeStock Islamophobia in the US existed long before the September 11 attacks. But as a traumatized country mourned and searched for someone to blame, fear and suspicion of those perceived to be Muslims or Arab Americans intensified. The FBI reported a 17-fold increase in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim crimes in 2001 over the previous year, […]

A Safe Haven in the Sea

Photo: ©cnky photography/Adobe Stock (globe); Gander (Newfoundland) Public and Resources Library (exterior) Imagine you’re on an island in the middle of the ocean, and you’ve never heard of it, and you’re trapped there.” That’s what Pam Soucy, a library assistant at Gander Public and Resource Library (GPRL), and her coworkers told themselves in the days […]

Archives of an Attack

The Internet Archive’s Understanding 9/11 video archive features footage from 20 news outlets spanning the period from the morning of September 11 to September 17, 2001. Like Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the events of September 11, 2001, have left a […]

Defenders of Patron Privacy

The Connecticut Four. From left: Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase, George Christian, and Janet Nocek When the FBI approached George Christian in 2005 with a national security letter (NSL) and lifetime gag order, the then–executive director of the Library Connection—a Connecticut library consortium—convened a meeting with the organization’s executive committee. The NSL would have forced them […]

2021 ALA Award Winners

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) recognizes the achievements of more than 200 individuals and institutions with an array of awards. This year’s winners, chosen by juries of their colleagues and peers, embody the best of the profession’s leadership, vision, and service as well as a continued commitment to diversity, equality, education, and outreach. […]

Recruit, Retain, and Engage

On February 19, United for Libraries (UFL) hosted “Friends and Trustees under 40: Recruit Them, Retain Them, Engage Them,” a webinar featuring tips for attracting millennials and younger adults to Friends groups, trustee boards, and foundations. The session was moderated by Jillian Wentworth, UFL’s manager of marketing and membership, and presented by members of UFL’s […]

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 Deeper Look: Censorship beyo...

Programming such as drag queen story hours has been subject to challenges. Photo: Jennifer Ricard Just as books are sometimes challenged and banned in libraries, schools, universities, and public institutions, other library materials, resources, and services have been challenged, canceled, or dismantled. People’s perception of offensive content is not limited to the written word. Censorship […]

2021 International Innovators

Students compete in the Virtual Library InfoLit Race Challenge at Nazarbayev University Library in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan Five libraries earned this year’s American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects. The winning projects include programs that offered online academic aid and games to college students during the pandemic; examined the significance of historic […]

Catalog Locally, Share Globall...

If you have paid any attention to cataloging matters over the past three years, you might have heard rumblings about something called the 3R Project, which is having a large impact on RDA cataloging. RDA, or Resource Description and Access, is the successor to AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, second edition), the cataloging system developed nearly […]

Bookend: Beyond Words

Tenzin Kalsang, children’s librarian at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library’s Williamsburg branch, performs Tibetan storytimes for users around the world. Photo: Todd Boebel When Tenzin Kalsang, children’s librarian at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library’s (BPL) Williamsburg branch, started an online series of bilingual storytimes in April 2020, the native Tibetan speaker couldn’t have predicted she’d become an […]

2021 Annual Conference Wrap-Up

Though the ongoing pandemic prompted the American Library Association (ALA) to hold its 2021 Annual Conference and Exhibition virtually June 23–29, there was no shortage of enthusiasm or curiosity among the more than 9,100 attendees who gathered online to hear from speakers and authors and share their experiences. Nikole Hannah-Jones Headlining speakers talked about books, […]

Newsmaker: Savala Nolan

Savala Nolan. Photo: Andria Lo As a woman who is mixed race, has experienced elite schools and generational poverty, and has been thin and fat at different times in her life, Savala Nolan has long felt that she occupies in-between spaces in society. The lawyer, speaker, and writer (whose work has appeared in Bust, Time, […]

Bound to the Word

Sen. Barack Obama speaks at the 2005 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition President-Elect Barack Obama keynoted the opening general session at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23–29, 2005, while a US senator from Illinois. This article, published in the August 2005 issue of American Libraries, is an adaptation of that speech, which drew […]

The Reader’s Road Trip

Illustration: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries and Anastasia Krasavina/Adobe Stock In 1986, Friends of Libraries USA President Frederick G. Ruffner Jr. had the ambitious idea to start the Literary Landmarks Association, an organization that would encourage the development of historic literary sites across the US. Thirty-five years later, his vision has been realized: 187 Literary Landmarks spanning […]