Trail-blazing African American librarians.

American Library Association • January 12, 2018
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African American librarians share their stories

Jessie Carney Smith in 1965, her first year as a university librarian at Fisk University in Nashville

When Jessie Carney Smith (right) arrived at Fisk University in Nashville in 1965, she said many people there did not know about black literature. Smith, the dean of the library, said, “Many scholars were told that blacks had no history.” But African Americans within the library profession have certainly had a long history, with one of the first librarians of color, Edward C. Williams, joining ALA in 1896, 20 years after its founding. Today, African Americans comprise roughly 14,250 of the estimated 190,000 librarians in the US....

American Libraries feature, Jan./Feb.

Free Reading Zones

Dispatches, by Mirela Roncevic

Mirela Roncevic writes: “Free Reading Zones (FREZ) is the name of a project that I have been involved with since 2016. A FREZ turns public and private spaces into open virtual libraries, providing people with free and uninterrupted access to ebooks through sponsorships. Readers in the zones can download a free reading app that identifies their locations in several ways and gives them free access to digital books while they are physically inside the zone. A FREZ can be as small as a single building or as large as an entire country.”...

American Libraries column, Jan./Feb.

Sponsored Content

ALA Midwinter in Denver

High-altitude inspiration at ALA Midwinter

Climb mountains with ProQuest in Denver. Libraries and researchers are doing extraordinary things, and we’re joining you in the journey to better research, better learning, and better insights. In 2018, ProQuest is hosting events that will inspire you to learn, network, and bring practical solutions back to your universities and communities. Register today for specific sessions—and be sure to stop by booth #1408 to learn about enhancements to the content, workflows, and solutions that are powering the world’s libraries.

ALA to Congress: Continue to #FundLibraries

Senate Committee on Appropriations

Kathi Kromer writes: “Despite our strong advocacy, we have not saved library funding for FY2018. We’re more than three months into the fiscal year, and the US government still does not have an FY 2018 budget. Because the House and Senate have not reconciled their FY2018 spending bills, the government is operating under a continuing resolution of the FY2017 budget. What happens when that CR expires on January 19 is a matter of intense speculation; options include a bipartisan budget deal, another CR, or a possible government shutdown.”...

District Dispatch, Jan. 11; Roll Call, Jan. 10

Newsmaker: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library charity works with United Way, Rotary International, and library foundations and Friends groups to deliver more than a million free books each month to kids from birth through age 5—up to 60 books that they can keep. Imagination Library, launched in Sevier County, Tennessee, in 1995, will deliver its 100-millionth book in early 2018. American Libraries spoke to Parton, who released her first children’s album, I Believe in You, in October....

American Libraries Newsmaker, Jan./Feb.

Call for papers at IFLA in Kuala Lumpur

2018 World Library and Information Congress, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The IFLA Professional Units have issued calls for papers for the program for the 2018 IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 24–30. They are collected on this page. The deadlines for proposals range from January 20 through March 18, depending on the unit....

IFLA World Library and Information Congress

OIF seeks information on 2017 censorship incidents

Report censorship

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is seeking information on censorship challenges that occurred between January 1 and December 31, 2017. Librarians are encouraged to complete a brief online reporting form by January 31. All online reports are compiled into a database that has tracked censorship incidents since 1990. The reports alert OIF if a librarian or educator is in need of assistance, and the data is calculated into the annual list of the Top Ten Challenged Books, infographics, and committee reports....

Office for Intellectual Freedom, Jan. 8
ALA news

How people actually get on Jeopardy!

Joanna Messer Kimmitt

Mark Beatty writes: “American Libraries published a delightful article on librarians who have appeared on the iconic game show Jeopardy! It turns out one of our active LITA members, Joanna Messer Kimmitt (right), also recently appeared on the show. Here’s her story.” Kimmitt said, “It takes several steps to get onto the show: First, you must pass an online exam, but you don’t really learn the results unless you make it to the next stage: the invitation to audition.”...

LITA Blog, Jan. 11; American Libraries feature, Nov./Dec.

“Black sounding” names and public service

Difference in response rates and % of blacks in employment. The discrimination index is obtained by pooling the data of the two waves and aggregating the data at the state level. Observations are weighted by the number of emails sent in each state. N = 50 (Washington D.C. is excluded)

Tanvi Misra writes: “It’s been well documented that people with names like LaKeisha or DeShawn, which became popular among African Americans during the civil rights era, can face disadvantages in the job market. But that’s not the only place they are likely to bump up against conscious or unconscious biases. A recent study finds that a LaKeisha is much less likely to get a response when they contact public librarians or school district officials than, say, a Becky. And when they do, it’s less likely to be polite.”...

CityLab, Jan. 11; National Bureau of Economic Research, Sept. 2003; Freakonomics, Apr. 8, 2013; The Root, May 30, 2017; The Daily Beast, Sept. 13, 2013; Journal of the European Economic Association, Dec. 18, 2017

Moral judgments stop at the library door

Safeguards at libraries

Melissa Hale-Spencer writes: “We applaud the way our local libraries handle complaints about patrons viewing pornography. After we received a complaint from a Guilderland, New York, resident about seeing someone viewing pornography at the public library, our reporter Elizabeth Floyd Mair interviewed every library director in our coverage area. What our libraries are doing is not against the law. We’re stressing that this week because of a letter to the editor we received from Dan Kleinman, owner of SafeLibraries educational services.”...

Altamont (N.Y.) Enterprise, Jan. 11; Dec. 21, 2017
Latest Library Links

Libraries change lives: Here’s proof

Books, families, and nature come together thanks to Kirklees (West Yorkshire) librarians

Kathy Dempsey writes: “The Libraries Change Lives Award is one of my favorites of the year. It’s all about proving how libraries can—and do—improve the lives of people who use them. This award program is run by a CILIP special interest section, the Community, Diversity, and Equality Group. The award recognizes excellence and innovation in UK libraries. You can use these examples of winners to prove that librarians are educators, difference-makers, caretakers, and community builders.”...

Marketing Library Services 31, no. 6 (Nov./Dec.)

Middle school library adds stationary bikes

Taunton (Mass.) Middle School library stationary bikes. Screenshot from WBTS-LD video

While TV screens flash throughout fitness centers and gyms across the country, most people have still never considered the idea of exercising while reading a book. For the students pedaling on stationary bikes in the John F. Parker Middle School library in Taunton, Massachusetts, that very idea—proposed by school librarian Ina Collins nearly two years ago—has become a reality. Collins said the students seem to consider the bikes a welcome addition to the library....

Taunton (Mass.) Daily Gazette, Jan. 10; WBTS-LD, Boston, Jan. 11

Newspaper takes off with librarian in charge

Weare (N.H.) in the World, vol. 2, issue 1, Jan. 3

Mike Sullivan knew his new weekly newspaper, Weare (N.H.) in the World, was taking off when he saw people waiting for it as he dropped off new editions on Tuesday afternoons at the general store and the local Dunkin Donuts. The idea for the modest four-page paper came from town residents and officials, who had felt a loss with the closing of a quarterly community newspaper in 2016. The day job of the new editor reflects a trend in America’s “news deserts”—Sullivan’s day job is town librarian....

Poynter, Jan. 11
ALA Midwinter Meeting

Facebook overhauls its news feed

Facebook news feed

Facebook has introduced sweeping changes to the kinds of posts, videos, and photos that its more than two billion members will see most often, saying on January 11 that it would prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands. Over the next few weeks, users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies. Instead, Facebook will highlight posts that friends have interacted with....

New York Times, Jan. 11; USA Today, Jan. 11

CES 2018: Top tech trends

AI assistants everywhere

Jim Fisher writes: “For those on the ground covering the show, the Consumer Electronics Show is always an adventure. This year’s ride included torrential downpours and flash floods, coupled by a big power outage in the main convention hall. Despite the hurdles, PCMag’s team of intrepid analysts has worked hard to cover ground and seek out the best products at the show. We’ve also taken a step back to look at the big picture, to highlight the tech trends that will define 2018 and beyond.”...

PC Magazine, Jan. 11

Hidden text uncovered in Alexander Hamilton letter

An excerpt of scratched-out text from the Hamilton letter after imaging, showing different stages of processing by the Preservation Research and Testing Division team to uncover the hidden writing

Julie Miller writes: “When the Library of Congress recently digitized the Alexander Hamilton Papers, an unedited letter from Hamilton to his fiancée Elizabeth on September 6, 1780, with 14 obliterated lines, became public for the first time. However, the lines were still unreadable. To find out what lay beneath the scratchings-out, Fenella France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division, and preservation staffers Meghan Wilson and Chris Bolser used hyperspectral imaging. Here is what they found.”...

Library of Congress Blog, Jan. 11

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