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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 […]

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 […]

Embracing Expression

When a mutual aid organization approached Annika Clark about her library hosting a gender-affirming closet, she says the timing was perfect. “We have a diverse staff that wants this kind of thing,” says the associate librarian at Salt Lake City Public Library’s (SLCPL) Glendale branch. And Clark had been looking for new ways to connect […]

Under Pressure

Illustration: Gaby FeBland When a handful of books stopped being returned at Vinton (Iowa) Public Library, Janette McMahon suspected it was more than just forgetfulness. McMahon, the library director at the time, says residents of the east central Iowa town of 5,000 had been discussing book bans, and it had become heated. “We had five […]

By the Numbers: Presidents’ Da

Photo: Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Presidents’ Day is February 20  1955Year Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act, establishing the Presidential Library System. Before that, many presidents’ archives were lost, destroyed, or separated. 887,000Number of copies of Barack Obama’s 2020 memoir, A Promised Land, that sold in the US and Canada within the first […]

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 […]

ID Made Easier

Patrons display their new enhanced library cards at an April 6 sign-up event at the Fairbanks branch of Harris County (Tex.) Public Library. The cards offer another form of ID. Photo: Nancy Hu/Harris County (Tex.) Public Library Photo identification is an essential part of American life. But for large swaths of the populace, photo IDs can […]

A Carrel and a Corral

Play areas next to desks give care­givers flexibility at Henrico County (Va.) Public Library’s Fairfield branch. Photo: Chris Cunningham Photography In January, images of some unusual new workstations at Fairfield Area Library—part of Henrico County (Va.) Public Library (HCPL)—went viral on social media and across national and international news media. What caught people’s attention: the […]

By the Numbers: Halloween

This movie poster is one of 3,000 items in the Witchcraft Collection at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Photo: Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections 19thCentury in which Halloween was popularized in the US, thanks in part to the arrival of Irish and Scottish immigrants. Halloween has its roots in the […]

The Beat Goes On

Young patrons play in the music garden at Pickerington (Ohio) Public Library. The garden was installed in November 2019, and continues to see regular use during the pandemic. As Tony Howard explored the exhibit hall at the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2019 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C., his head was still in his […]

A Sense of Support

When her son brought home speech cards from elementary school to help him better learn and articulate words, Jen Taggart could barely see what the cards depicted. The cards had been duplicated and the images were blurry, says Taggart, head of youth services at Bloomfield Township (Mich.) Public Library (BTPL). That experience more than 13 years […]

Period. End of Story.

Photo: Jenna Toulantis That time of the month.” “On the rag.” “Shark week.” The euphemisms range from coy to absurd, but library workers and others want to make talking about menstruation—and accessing products related to it—as straightforward and shame-free as discussing hand-washing. “The products are important, and normalizing the conversation is important,” says Eiko La […]