Forbes, Amazon, and public libraries.

American Library Association • July 24, 2018

For daily ALA and library news, check the American Libraries website or subscribe to our RSS feed.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Pinterest icon YouTube icon RSS icon

Forbes decides tax-supported libraries are good, after all

San Francisco Public Library tweet: “Maybe @Forbes doesn’t like that you can download their magazine free with your #SF library card”

On July 21, Forbes published an opinion piece (now deleted) by Long Island University economist Panos Mourdoukoutas with the headline “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” It quickly received relentless backlash from US libraries and their communities. Mourdoukoutas argued that local libraries are no longer useful. If libraries closed, he wrote, taxpayers would save money, and Amazon could open bookstores to provide those communities with physical books. After taking down the article on July 23, Forbes posted another article by astrophysicist Brian Koberlein that has a favorable view of tax-supported public libraries. Perhaps someone sent Forbes a link to Marcus Banks’s “Ten Reasons Why Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet”?...

Quartz, July 23; Fast Company, July 23; Forbes, July 23; American Libraries feature, Dec. 19, 2017

Seven amazing things librarians can do

Librarians run storytimes

Sadie Trombetta writes: “Libraries provide essential resources to children and adults all across the country. Not only do they grant free access to books, computers, and other educational resources, but they preserve history, protect the truth, connect communities, and provide refuge to those who need it. Modern day librarians act as public servants, record keepers, academic scholars, information professionals, community builders, fundraisers, and so much more.”...

Bustle, July 20

Staffing your homework-help center

Gary Yamagiwa, a teacher with Chicago Public School’s Teacher in the Library program, works with a student at Chicago Public Library’s Austin-Irving branch. Photo by Chicago Public Library

Cindy Mediavilla writes: “Providing adequate staff is the single most important element in offering effective homework assistance at your library. While some librarians call their curriculum-based collection of computers and reference materials a homework center, true homework assistance cannot happen without a staff member or volunteers to help students complete their work. Plus, many youngsters need the attention of an adult or peers to keep them on task when completing school assignments. They may also need validation to succeed.”...

American Libraries feature, July/Aug.

Anita Mechler named YALSA executive director

Anita Mechler

ALA has appointed Anita Mechler (right) executive director of YALSA, effective August 13. Mechler has been the project manager and archivist at the Black Metropolis Research Consortium at the University of Chicago Library. In that role, she has designed, developed, managed, measured, and evaluated BMRC grant-funded programs and carried out its strategic plans and policies. She has an MSLIS, with rare books and manuscripts certification, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign....

ALA Human Resources, July 23

Clara Stanton Jones honored by Michigan

Clara Stanton Jones

Clara Stanton Jones (1913–2012, right), an alumna of the University of Michigan School of Information, will be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in the historical category for her groundbreaking leadership as the first woman and first African American to serve as director of a major US library—Detroit Public Library. She was also the first African American ALA president. Jones will be formally inducted at a ceremony on October 18....

University of Michigan School of Information, July 19
Dewey Decibel podcast

Advocacy resources for ALA chapters

Advocacy resources for ALA chapters

The ALA Chapter Relations Office supports ALA’s advocacy efforts by tracking federal, state, and local legislation and other issues affecting libraries, and by working with the Office for Library Advocacy, the Communications and Marketing Office, the ALA Washington Office, I Love Libraries, and other ALA units. The office provides advocacy assistance to ALA chapters by several means, including helping them develop their own advocacy websites, which allow their members to contact state and federal legislators....

ALA Chapter Relations Office

Rare ninja textbook found in Japanese public library

Portion of a page from the ninja technique textbook discovered in the Hirosaki City Public Library. Photo by Shigeto Kiyokawa

An original copy of an 18th-century textbook on ninja techniques has been discovered at the Hirosaki Public Library in Japan, according to Shigeto Kiyokawa of the Aomori University Ninja Club. The 12-page book contains instructions on how to make weapons and use charms. Other skills detailed include a method for combining gunpowder and aconite to make a dust to blind enemies. The book was discovered in March by Tetsuya Ueda, a ninja scholar in Kyoto, when he visited Hirosaki for his research....

The Mainichi (Tokyo), July 22
ALA news

Who lives in education deserts?

Green areas are within a 60-minute drive from a college

Ben Myers writes: “In 2016, almost 40% of first-time, full-time freshmen reported that their colleges were less than 50 miles from their homes, a proportion that has held since the 1980s. But what happens when there’s no college nearby? That’s still the case in substantial pockets of the country. Areas where it’s difficult for placebound students to get to a college (commonly known as education deserts) have drawn attention in recent years, but there’s still much to be learned about their breadth and impact.”...

Chronicle of Higher Education, July 17; The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2016; The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends, 1966–2015

Bookmobiles and mobile libraries in 2018

Rochester (Minn.) Public Library bookmobile

Gavin J. Woltjer writes: “Bookmobiles have always held a special place in my heart.¬†Whereas the bookmobile of my youth was a place for my imagination to run amok (and today’s bookmobiles still provide this outlet for all), bookmobiles today have changed the way a library connects to the people it serves. As a valued part of any library’s arsenal, bookmobiles today help to disseminate information, erase barriers, and equalize opportunity for all patrons—much like in the past, only in different guises today.”...

Public Libraries Online, July 20
Latest Library Links

The case for classics in a high-school curriculum

Pairing Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Karin Greenberg writes: “How can we, as librarians and educators, combine the beauty of classics with the freshness and dynamism of modern novels? One idea is to pair classics with contemporary works that were inspired by them. Not only will this make reading curriculums more balanced, but it will also show teens that great writing moves people to respond by exploring similar issues using their own perspectives. We are teaching teenagers that literature is not stagnant, but is a moving, flowing entity.”...

Knowledge Quest blog, July 24

2018 Will Eisner Comic Book Awards

Cover of Monstress, by Marjorie Liu

The Will Eisner Comic Book Awards ceremony took place at San Diego Comic Con on July 20, and the awards were given out to a delightfully diverse group of winners. Marjorie Liu has made history as the first woman to win the Best Writer category for Monstress (a tie with Tom King for Batman Annual #2), which won every award it was nominated for. Emil Ferris won Best Writer/Illustrator and Best Coloring for My Favorite Thing is Monsters, which also took Best Graphic Album....

Book Riot, July 23; American Libraries Newsmaker, Nov./Dec. 2017

Alternative 3D production platforms

Carvey uses CNC technology to mill wood, plastic, circuit boards, and other materials

Additive manufacturing, a technique used by 3D printers to cumulatively add material following a digital design, is a major part of the maker movement and a near-ubiquitous feature of larger makerspaces. A wide range of standard 3D printers are on the market, each with unique qualities, but the following products can take the learning process in new directions—subtractive design, build-your-own printers, and pancakes (yes, pancakes)....

American Libraries column, July/Aug.

AL Direct is a free electronic newsletter emailed every Tuesday and Friday to personal members of the American Library Association.

Editor, AL Direct: George M. Eberhart,

Send news and feedback:

Direct ad inquiries to: Michael Stack,

AL Direct FAQ:

All links outside the ALA website are provided for informational purposes only. Questions about the content of any external site should be addressed to the administrator of that site.


AL Direct will not sell your email to outside parties, but your email may be shared with advertisers in this newsletter should you express interest in their products by clicking on their ads or content. If the advertisers choose to communicate with you by email, they are obligated to provide you with an opportunity to opt-out from future emails in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation of 2018. Read the ALA privacy policy.

American Libraries
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433, ext. 4216

ISSN 1559-369X

ALA Publishing