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2024 LibLearnX Wrap-Up

Washington Post columnist Michele Norris (right) speaks with ALA President Emily Drabinski at the opening session of the 2024 LibLearnX conference in Baltimore on January 20. Photo: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries Freezing temperatures in Baltimore could not stop librarians from exchanging hot ideas at the American Library Association’s (ALA) second in-person LibLearnX conference. Held January 19–22, […]

Spirit-Free Spaces

Adult patrons sample an array of sober cocktails at Grand Forks (N.Dak.) Public Library’s Music and Mocktails event in October 2023. The event brought together residents, local businesses, and live musicians. Photo: Windland Photography Alcohol-free events have gained significant traction in recent years. It’s a trend reflected in the growing popularity of wellness challenges like […]

Hot Topic

Aydin Kwan, adult services librarian at Sunnyvale (Calif.) Public Library (SPL), uses an induction cooktop available for loan. Since March 2021, SPL has circulated 12 cooktop kits nearly 300 times. Photo: Neha Paralkar When the existing gas range in his home began to malfunction, Brian Bunk considered replacing it with an induction stove. That decision, he […]

One of a Kind

Libraries of all sizes across the US are more than just information access points: They’re social hubs, technology centers, and can be safe havens for the marginalized. In rural areas and small towns in particular, libraries are often one of the few—or only—places to serve these functions in a way that’s free and accessible to […]

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 […]

Tranquil Tones

Patrons at Mt. Lebanon Public Library (MLPL) in Pittsburgh play with a tongue drum, rain stick, and singing bowls—instruments used during MLPL’s sound bath sessions. Photo: Katie Donahoe After talking with students who were grappling with mental health challenges, Katie Donahoe wanted to do something to help. Donahoe, teen librarian at Mt. Lebanon Public Library […]

Another’s Treasure

Illustration: Gaby FeBland A vintage Wells Fargo padlock that runs anywhere from $50 to $500. A pristine, late-19th-century glass bottle produced by a local company worth a grand. A 1930 baseball signed by 26 baseball players, including six future Hall of Famers—Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Grove, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth, and Al Simmons—valued at […]

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, […]

Older Beginners

Students in the English for Older Beginners class at Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts, build their language skills through activities like field trips. Photo: Lynne Weintraub It’s not unusual for libraries to offer English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship preparation programs. But Jones Library (JL) in Amherst, Massachusetts, has designed a program specifically […]

By the Numbers: Gardening

Salt Lake City Public Library’s community garden. Photo: Jeri Gravlin 71Number of institutions recognized by the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. These libraries are often housed within public gardens, arboretums, or universities around the world. 2004Year the first seed library opened in a public library. Hudson Valley Seed Library—which has since evolved into Hudson […]

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 […]

Flower Power

Certified ikebana instructor Huimei Lai (seated) provides feedback to a student during a February class for older adults at Scripps Miramar Ranch Library in San Diego.Photo: Meiling Yueh Ikebana—the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging—is finding new fans among library patrons. Through online and in-person workshops and exhibitions, many participants find that it brings them […]

Three Years Later

Illustration: Gaby FeBland This March marks three years since COVID- 19 brought the country to a standstill. While the pandemic is still ongoing—tens of thousands of cases continue to be recorded daily in the US—the effects it has had on our everyday lives, and our libraries, have abated and become somewhat normalized. In those early […]

From Makeshift to Mainstay

Illustration: Gaby FeBland When COVID-19 shuttered businesses, schools, and public spaces in March 2020, we knew little about the virus and how long it would last. But even in the absence of answers, library workers did what they do best: shared information, pivoted programs and services, and tried to plug noticeable equity gaps. Three years […]

A Checkup for Checkout

With a grant from the National Library of Medicine, Pickens County (S.C.) Library System created medical wellness kits, including blood pressure kits, for checkout. Photo: Pickens County (S.C.) Library System Julie Lepore noticed that many of her patrons were feeling isolated following COVID-19 exposures, positive tests, or caring for sick family members. “We’re a fairly […]

Libraries on Call

Each phone in Las Vegas–Clark County (Nev.) Library District’s Cellphone Lending Program was loaded with more than 50 social service provider contacts. Photos: ©carballo/Adobe Stock (person); Las Vegas-Clark County (Nev.) Library District (phone) When Las Vegas–Clark County (Nev.) Library District (LVCCLD) closed its doors at the start of the pandemic, the technological barriers that existed […]

Making a Statement

Starting in fall 2021, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library offered three pilot sessions of its Senior Debate program, during which older adults practiced and competed in debates. Photo: Gregg Richards/Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library As a library volunteer who works with elementary school students, Catherine Tong knows young people can have big opinions. “Kids are very strong […]

Baa-maste!

Bedford (Tex.) Public Library hosted a Halloween-themed goat yoga program during fall 2021, in which goats were dressed in silly costumes. Photo: Mary Woodward/Bedford (Tex.) Public Library It’s not every day that patrons dodge prancing barnyard goats while navigating instructor-led yoga sessions, but goat yoga (exactly what it sounds like—yoga in the company of goats) […]

60 Seconds of Library Fame

Kelsey Bogan, library media specialist at Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania, uses her school library ’s TikTok account to create videos of book reviews, tutorials, and more. Ring lights, check. Tripod, check. Phone camera, check. Ideas for what trend to hop on, check. Librarians are making the most of the video-sharing social media […]

Close-Knit Community

In March, Hickory (N.C.) Public Library held its Sheep to Sweater program series, designed to take patrons through five different stages in the wool and clothing production process. Photos: Hickory (N.C.) Public Library Hickory (N.C.) Public Library (HPL) Community Engagement Librarian Dacy Shute was looking to host a program that would celebrate the city’s agricultural […]