How libraries can build relationships with elected officials.

American Library Association • November 1, 2019
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Connecting with Congress

Deborah Doyle talks with California State Sen. Mark McGuire about funding, programming, and new technology at Healdsburg Regional Library. Photo by Ray Holley / Sonoma County Library

Lara Ewen writes: “The idea of speaking to members of Congress may evoke images of idealistic, Jimmy Stewart–style theatrics, long bus trips to Capitol Hill, and frustrating—even fruitless—time spent away from library work. Plus an annual trip to Washington, D.C., can be prohibitively expensive for many librarians and library advocates. But making sure representatives in Congress keep library issues, budgets, and legislation in mind through year-round advocacy—in particular, with your elected officials’ local and district offices—is vital.” Ewen’s article is part of American Librariesspecial report on libraries and democracy....

American Libraries Special Report, Nov./Dec.

Library advocates deliver ebook petition to Macmillan

From left: ALA Past President Loida Garcia-Febo; PLA Executive Director Barb Macikas; ALA Past President Sari Feldman; Alan S. Inouye, ALA senior director of public policy and government relations; and Tim Cherubini, executive director of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, outside the offices of Macmillan Publishers on October 30, 2019. Photo by Daniel Root

On October 30 a group of library advocates carried bankers’ boxes full of petitions through the crowded streets of Lower Manhattan to the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway, the home of Macmillan Publishers. Their goal: deliver the signatures of the more than 160,000 people who have visited over the past seven weeks to demand that the publisher reverse its intended ebooks embargo, scheduled to take effect November 1. The delivery took place less than 24 hours after Macmillan CEO John Sargent issued a letter to the library community in response to the groundswell of “frank (and occasionally brutal) feedback.” ALA responded to Sargent’s letter on October 31....

AL: The Scoop, Sept. 12, Oct. 30–31

Welcoming new Americans

From the President, by Wanda Kay Brown

ALA President Wanda Kay Brown writes: “Autumn brings with it many traditions. For some, the season is synonymous with holidays and hot chocolate. For others, it’s about civic engagement: elections, politics, and democracy. Although the next major general election is still a year away, candidates are campaigning, new voters are registering, and pollsters are busy taking the temperature of a divided electorate. Libraries have a role to play too. Newcomers to this country, especially, see libraries as trustworthy guides on their path to integrating into their new communities.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

Free webinar on preparing for the 2020 Census

Preparing My Library for the 2020 Census

ALA will host a free webinar for library staff, “Preparing Your Library for the 2020 Census,” to be held on November 14. The webinar will highlight key information for libraries about the 2020 Census, as well as ideas for funding sources to support census preparations and activities. Presenters will include representatives from libraries, funders, and ALA. The webinar will also introduce a new ALA publication, Preparing My Library for the 2020 Census....

ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, Oct. 31
ALA news

Easy Fire spares Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Reagan’s Air Force One sits on display at the Reagan Library as the Easy fire burns in the neighboring hills in Simi Valley. Photo by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A spokeswoman for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, said the complex was not damaged by the nearby Easy Fire that ultimately grew to more than 1,800 acres. Melissa Giller said the fire came within about 30 yards of the complex on October 30, but it had been protected by aerial water drops and a firebreak, a gap of cleared vegetation that functions as a barrier to stop wildfires. A herd of goats is brought in annually to eat the vegetation and create the firebreak. The fire erupted before dawn as strong winds hit Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, prompting an evacuation of the library....

KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, Oct. 30; Voice of America News, Oct. 31; NBC News, Oct. 30

Queens Mobile Library delivers service to shelters

Gerardo Maza, Daniel Arroyo, and Lechelle Thornhill-Boothe, who work with the Family Shelter Mobile Library Literacy Tour, stand outside the Queens Mobile Library as it makes a stop on October 22 in Flushing, New York. Photo by Ann Hermes

Scholars and social workers have noted how public libraries around the country are particularly well-positioned to provide those without stable housing with resources many take for granted—computers and internet access, a dedicated place to think and work, and opportunities to learn. There were more than half a million people without a stable home in 2018, and library systems in many US cities have become more focused on serving their homeless patrons, sometimes partnering with social service organizations or adding social workers to their staffs. The Queens (N.Y.) Mobile Library partners with social services agencies like Homes for the Homeless....

Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 31; Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, Dec. 2018

Philip Roth leaves $2 million to Newark Public Library

Philip Roth

In addition to his entire personal book collection, late author Phillip Roth (right) also donated at least $2 million to the library in his hometown. Before his death in 2018, Roth arranged to donate the money to the Newark (N.J.) Public Library. The money, a large chunk of his $10 million estate, would be used to bolster the library’s general collection. And the gift included additional funding to help renovate a space to house his 7,000-book personal collection. The protagonist in Roth’s first novel, Goodbye, Columbus, is a Newark library employee. Roth conducted much of the research for his award-winning American Trilogy series in the library’s New Jersey Room....

Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, Oct. 31
Latest Library Links

Chicago’s no-fines policy results in many more returns

Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to eliminate library late fees and lure scofflaw patrons back to the Chicago Public Library by erasing outstanding debt already is working wonders, city aldermen were told October 30. Testifying at budget hearings, Library Commissioner Andrea Telli (right) said the number of books returned has increased by 240% in the three weeks since Chicago jumped on the no-fines bandwagon. Still undecided about fines? Dawn Wacek, youth services manager at La Crosse (Wis.) Public Library, debated the issue with Bradley P. Tolppanen, professor of library science and head of circulation services at Booth Library at Eastern Illinois University....

Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 30; Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 22

Host an escape room at your library

Rose Hopkins-LaRocco as Professor Trelawney

Rose Hopkins-LaRocco (right) writes: “Escape rooms: They’re all the rage. You know you want to host one. Go on, do it. It’s not that hard. It’s time-consuming, but it will be one of the most fun and rewarding things you do in your library career. Luckily, I work with amazingly creative and hard-working people, so that made it a breeze. The La Grange Park (Ill.) Public Library hosted a Harry Potter Escape Room for Harry’s (and J. K.’s) birthday. First, we would be nowhere without Robin Papaleka’s wonderful guide. This helped so much in determining a timeline and budget. We also used a few of her puzzles.”...

ALSC blog, Oct. 30; Programming Librarian, Nov. 3, 2017

The library as “force multiplier”

Game night at the University of Tennessee’s Hodges Library

Noah Lenstra writes: “University libraries can’t be all work, all the time. When I walked into the University of Tennessee’s Hodges Library, one of the first things I saw was a poster advertising a monthly game night. This program is popular, sometimes attracting more than 100 students. Gaming enables library staff to engage students in a new way and show them that it is okay to have fun in the library. Dean Steven Smith calls the library a ‘force multiplier,’ which means that by working with the Student Affairs Office or the Center for Health Education, the library is able to multiply, amplify, and increase the impact of programming efforts across campus.”...

Programming Librarian, Oct. 30
Dewey Decibel podcast

A new collection of Zora Neale Hurston’s writings

Zora Neale Hurston

Nearly a century after she put pen to paper, Zora Neale Hurston’s timeless works will soon be found in one place. Amistad Books, a HarperCollins subsidiary, is releasing a collection of Hurston’s lost short stories in 2020. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick features Hurston’s writings about love, migration, gender, racism, sexism, and classism, and includes eight short stories that were rediscovered in “forgotten periodicals and archives.” The book also includes writings that will challenge the perception of Hurston (right) as an “author of rural fiction” and showcase her “biting, satiric humor.”...

Vibe, Oct. 25

Americans who want to live like Jane Austen

A guest at a Jane Austen weekend at Governor’s House in Vermont

Anne McCarthy writes: “Jane Austen fans are a devoted bunch. True ‘Janeites’ tend to travel widely to celebrate their favorite author, most often to Bath in the UK for the Jane Austen festival. But on the other side of the world sits Governor’s House, a picturesque, yellow, Georgian-style mansion in Hyde Park, Vermont. The house, along with its owner Suzanne Boden, draws Janeites from all over the globe—who come not only to celebrate their favorite author, but to live as a character in her world. Boden had the idea to start hosting Austen weekends at her home 11 years ago.”...

The Guardian (UK), Oct. 28; Sept. 15, 2014

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