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Newsmaker: Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley When eight-time Grammy Award–winning reggae artist and philanthropist Ziggy Marley released Family Time, a well-received children’s album, in 2009, he didn’t plan to do more projects geared toward youth. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, he found himself at home full-time with his own kids and a new puppy. What resulted […]

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Li...

Gift-giving in 2020 should be all about whimsy, relaxation, and most important—comfort. And while your favorite librarians and book lovers probably don’t need more reading material, you can indulge them with thoughtful presents that help them enjoy the books they have. On our list, everything is priced under $50, from cozy clothes and decadent treats […]

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 […]

Black Caucus of the ALA Celebr...

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). “BCALA comes out of an unflagging commitment to equity,” says Tracie D. Hall, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) and herself a member of the affiliate organization. “I cannot help but think of how prescient its founding […]

The Activist Life of E. J. Jos...

A towering figure in both librarianship and the civil rights movement, E. J. Josey (1924–2009) cofounded the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and served as ALA president (1984–1985). He inspired and mentored colleagues and students with a leadership style that reverberates today. Renate L. Chancellor, associate professor in the Department of Library […]

Let Them Lead

Teen leader Iris Alvarenga poses in front of yard signs at Waltham (Mass.) Public Library that depict issues youth patrons care about. The installation was a partnership between the library, civic organization For Freedoms, and local art group Blueprint Projects. Photo: Erwin Cardona/Waltham (Mass.) Public Library Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations—renewed by the death of […]

The Weight We Carry

Photo illustration: ©Victor Tongdee/Adobe Stock As librarians, we are affected by our work. We’re often directly exposed to traumatic events or feeling the indirect results of natural disasters, terrorist events, or rioting. We experience secondary exposure by hearing patrons speak out about their traumas and even by helping them find the resources they need to […]

Bookend: Conjuring a Collectio...

Amy Schindler, director of archives and special collections at University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Libraries, holds a magic book from the Omaha (Neb.) Magical Society collection. Photo: University of Nebraska at Omaha One day, the magic collection vanished—and then reappeared. That is, the Omaha (Neb.) Magical Society moved its 1,200 magic-related books and materials […]

Referenda Roundup 2020

Illustration: ©artflare/Adobe Stock Each year, American Libraries tracks dozens of library referenda across the country, using the ballot box as a means of tracking support for public and school libraries. Because next week’s presidential election is expected to generate high voter turnout, some communities may be pushing harder than usual to get local referenda in […]

Separate—and Unequal

Carrie C. Robinson Fifty years ago this week, Carrie C. Robinson—a Black school librarian whose long career revealed much about the Jim Crow South, the challenges of integration, and librarianship in the civil rights era—settled a landmark case for racial justice in the profession. After being passed over for a promotion, she had sued her […]

2020 Library Design Showcase

The year’s most impressive new and renovated libraries By Phil Morehart | September 1, 2020 Library Learning Center at Texas Southern University in Houston. Photo: Kayla Hartzog Welcome to the 2020 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries. These shining examples of architectural innovation—completed before the COVID-19 pandemic—address user needs […]

Virus-Responsive Design

A floor plan for furniture removal at Hennepin County (Minn.) Library’s Eden Prairie branch. Illustration: MSR Design Libraries have always been spaces for discovery. But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been tasked with transforming themselves into places that allow users to physically distance while being more digitally connected than ever. As some […]

Ready for Action

A worker installs solar panels on the roof of Ledding Library in Milwaukie, Oregon. Photo: Katie Newell/Ledding Library in Milwaukie, Oregon Sarah Preskitt has lived in Alaska for almost 40 years—and seen its climate change in ways the Lower 48’s hasn’t. “We used to joke that you had to arrange your Halloween costume over your […]

2020 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. […]

Encoding Space

In 1956, Abraham Maslow published a seminal paper on the influence our physical surroundings have on us. Participants viewed photographs of people’s faces and evaluated them based on different attributes. Maslow wanted to test how people reacted to this content while located in different physical environments. Some viewed the images while seated in a beautiful […]

School Librarians Face Reopeni...

BOOKHUB offerings available from Van Meter (Iowa) Community School District. In Park County, Wyoming, the number of COVID-19 cases is relatively low—only 31 reported as of August 11—and K–12 schools plan to open in-person on August 30. That’s with the understanding that the plans could change at any moment and teaching could shift online. “Part […]

Newsmaker: Adrian Tomine

Adrian Tomine, self-portrait With everything from New Yorker covers to New York Times–bestselling graphic novels under his belt, cartoonist and illustrator Adrian Tomine has had a more than successful career. But his newest autobiographical book, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist (Drawn & Quarterly, July), traces a lifetime of humiliations: disastrous book signings, rude reviews, […]

Rethinking Police Presence

Amid mass protests of police violence against Black people, some libraries are revisiting the ways in which they’ve historically interacted with law enforcement—such as by hosting police-led community programming like Coffee with a Cop, hiring off-duty police as security officers, or calling 911 on disruptive patrons. For example, Toledo–Lucas County (Ohio) Public Library (TLCPL) has […]