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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 […]

A New Start

The spring 2023 cohort of Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library’s entrepreneurship program celebrates after completing a six-month course to help cohort members start their own businesses. Photo: Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library More than 1.8 million people in the United States were incarcerated in a prison or jail at the end of 2021, according to […]

By the Numbers: Toys

A catalog from the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play in Rochester, New York. 230,000Number of volumes available at the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, located at Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The museum is also home to the National Toy Hall of Fame. The library houses books, […]

Unbanned

Libraries and schools nationwide are working overtime to repel an unprecedented level of attacks on the freedom to read. Vigorous debate, advocacy, and coalition-building remain the backbone of the fight against book banning. But some libraries, groups, and individuals have recently taken innovative approaches to ensure information access for all. Books Unbanned is one of […]

Visualizing Book Challenges

Libraries are facing a record number of attempts to restrict access to books and other library materials. In the first eight months of 2023, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) reported challenges against 1,915 titles in libraries. This pace is expected to eclipse the record set in 2022, which saw 2,571 titles challenged. To help […]

Keep the Peace

World War I–era peace pins housed at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford (Calif.) University. The pins belonged to pacifist and feminist activist Alice Park. Photos: Hoover Institution Library and Archives On a winter Chicago afternoon, near the end of her life, renowned social worker and activist Jane Addams started to burn her […]

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 […]

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 […]

By the Numbers: Indigenous His1

Code Talker by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila 1979Year that the American Indian Library Association (AILA) was founded. AILA, an affiliate of ALA, is a membership group that supports individuals and institutions working to improve library services to American Indians and Alaska Natives and disseminate information about Indian cultures, languages, and values. 300Number of […]

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, […]

Personal Care

In January, Billings (Mont.) Public Library installed the Community Cabinet in its lobby. The cabinet contains hygiene products that patrons can take freely and discreetly. Photo: Billings (Mont.) Public Library Last summer, Taylor Arnold, media and reference librarian at Billings (Mont.) Public Library (BPL), pedaled a bike library around the city. From an outfitted tricycle, […]

Special Delivery

Since January 2022, Grosse Pointe (Mich.) Public Library has been delivering a welcome kit, along with a handmade baby cap, to new parents.Photo: Grosse Pointe (Mich.) Public Library When outreach librarian Annie Spence was working from home during the pandemic, a colleague dropped off a care package of books at her doorstep. The package made […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sit and Surf

In Oklahoma, Pioneer Library System’s Wi-Fi benches advertise library resources via QR codes. Photo: Pioneer Library System On a bright, sunny day in Norman, Oklahoma, patrons of Pioneer Library System (PLS) are browsing available titles, messaging friends and family, and powering up personal devices. The twist? Those patrons are doing this all outside while sitting […]

Opioid Outreach

A pilot program at Banff (Alberta) Public Library offers fentanyl test strips to detect the presence of the potent synthetic opioid in drugs.Photo: Banff Public Library Opioid overdoses remain a significant health crisis not just in the US but also Canada. An estimated 32,630 Canadians died from an apparent opioid-related overdose between 2016 and 2022, […]

Talking Trash

Patrons of Thomas County (Ga.) Public Library System use litter cleanup kits they checked out. The initiative, launched in 2020, has been popular with groups of all sizes.Photo: Keep Thomas County Beautiful Nearly 50 billion pieces of litter are scattered along US roadways and waterways, according to a 2020 study by the nonprofit Keep America […]