Libraries focus on critical 21st-century science.

American Library Association • October 11, 2019
ALA Graphics posters

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

Climate change and sustainability

Master Gardener Susan McCorry (in white hat) helps a family gather compost for their seed bombs at the Pico branch of the Santa Monica (Calif.) Public Library system for the library’s ClimateFest program in April 2017. Photo by Jen Ullrich

Phil Rockrohr writes: “As public concern over climate change grows, libraries across the US have begun offering a wide range of programs on the topic—and, in at least one case, celebrating literature that supports and promotes environmental sustainability. Santa Monica (Calif.) Public Library has offered green programming for many years, addressing not just climate change but the economic and social sustainability of green initiatives. An April 27 program, ‘Hope for Our Planet,’ featured a speaker from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby—an environmental advocacy group based in Coronado, California—who discussed local, national, and international remedies.”...

American Libraries Trend, Oct. 9

Have you signed the #eBooksForAll petition?

eBooksForAll petition

America’s libraries are committed to promoting literacy and a love of reading with diverse collections, programs, and services for all ages. In an increasingly digital world, libraries are investing more in ebooks and downloadable media, and thousands of people discover and explore new and favorite authors through both digital and print collections. ALA and libraries across the country are asking you to voice your opposition to Macmillan’s new library ebook policy by signing this petition and telling Macmillan CEO John Sargent that access to ebooks should not be delayed or denied. The goal is to reach 100,000 signatures this weekend....

RUSA Update, Oct. 8; AL: The Scoop, July 25; Public Libraries Online, Oct. 8

Napans crowd the library during power outages

Napa branch of the Napa County (Calif.) Library. Photo by Sarah Klearman / Register

Having lost electricity, tens of thousands of Napa County, California, residents have been forced to shop for new provisions, seek prepared food outside the home, and find public spaces that will allow them to use the internet. The county library branch in downtown Napa has been especially busy, hosting residents at its charging stations, hosting children’s activities, and offering Wi-Fi. Director Danis Kreimeier said 1,400 more people than usual had visited October 9. “When the fires and the earthquake happened, people were slow to find we were a resource,” Kreimeier said. “This time, the word is out, and people know that we’re available.” The El Dorado Hills branch of the El Dorado County (Calif.) Library has also been a point of refuge for power-deprived residents who need to recharge their devices....

Napa Valley (Calif.) Register, Oct. 10; KOVR-TV, Stockton, Calif., Oct. 10
ALA news

Georgia Southern responds to book burning

Georgia Southern University statement on student book burning

The Writing and Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro says it is “dismayed and disappointed” by some students’ behavior this week. Videos posted to social media show students burning a book after its author visited the campus. Jennine Capó Crucet, author of Make Your Home Among Strangers, visited campus October 9 for a lecture. Students read the novel for a first-year course. Department Chair Russell Willerton said the discussion “devolved into accusations of Crucet demonstrating racism against white people.” Afterward, students burned the book and gathered outside the hotel where Crucet was staying....

WTOC-TV, Savannah, Ga., Oct. 11; The George-Anne (Georgia Southern University), Oct. 10

Libraries become sites of social trauma

Emilio Estevez in The Public

Bob Hennelly writes: “Public libraries have become a bellwether for our empire in decline, as a lack of social services has led to many libraries becoming de facto social agencies. But librarians are not trained as social workers, and many have come to suffer invective and even violence that they don’t deserve and never asked for. In and among our marginalized populations are people contending with all manner of serious mental illness and addiction issues. For them, the public library represents a sanctuary from the vagaries of the street and the hard edges of incarceration.”...

Salon, Oct. 6

Laundromat libraries in Milwaukee

Nikiya Palmer (left) and Gigi Hinkle read a book at Riverworks Coin Laundry’s new Read, Play, and Learn space. It’s the first in a city effort to bring mini libraries into laundromats. Photo by Emily Files

Emily Files writes: “Over the next few months, Milwaukee residents washing clothes at laundromats will start to see something different: mini libraries. A new city office focused on early childhood education is installing reading nooks in places where children tend to have downtime. The goal is to meet families where they are to encourage early literacy. The laundromat ‘Read, Play, and Learn’ spaces are some of the first concrete actions from the new Milwaukee Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, created last year.”...

WUMW-FM, Milwaukee, Oct. 10; Nov. 2, 2018

Some libraries still closed as Harvey repairs continue

McGovern-Stella Link branch of the Houston (Tex.) Public Library

It’s a bustling weekday afternoon in the McGovern Stella-Link branch of the Houston (Tex.) Public Library, which reopened in May after it became one of 12 branches in Houston and Harris County that closed because of damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Of the 12 libraries, one Harris County branch and seven Houston branches remain closed, many with indefinite reopening dates. The city estimates $1–$5 million will be needed for repairs, but library officials say they’re stuck in limbo waiting for recovery funds from FEMA and other federal grants. Meanwhile, temporary libraries and mobile bookstores help satisfy the patron needs....

Houston (Tex.) Chronicle, Oct. 10
Latest Library Links

Viewpoint: Student needs are academic needs

Alfred C. O’Connell Library, SUNY Genesee Community College

Emily Hampton Haynes writes: “This week I watched a new report, ‘Student Needs Are Academic Needs,’ make the rounds of community college listserv discussions. The researchers found that students ‘see the library not only as an informational resource, an academic resource, or simply a quiet place to study, but also as a community resource within the campus context.’ I think that’s the part some readers are taking issue with: the idea that students see the library as the place for both academic support and personal assistance. But I think we should be redirecting the conclusions of this report outside the library.”...

ACRLog, Oct. 9; Ithaka S+R, Sept. 30

Offbeat Twitter memes wind up in the LC digital collections

Listen closely, friend. My time here is short, because there are a lot of bugs and it smells like a swamp. Tell them to lay their babies down to sleep on their backs, without blankets or pillows, every time. Consumer Product Safety Commission tweet by Joe Galbo

Jon Blistein writes: “The Library of Congress began collecting offbeat Consumer Product Safety Commission memes when Joseph Galbo, the commission’s social media specialist, pitched them the idea. LC has been collecting web content from both in and outside the government since 2000. Memes themselves became part of the collection in 2017, when the American Folklife Center launched its Web Cultures Web Archive. Malea Walker, the LC reference specialist who’s spearheading the acquisition, said it’s possible that assorted one-off memes have already been swept up in the process. But the CPSC memes differ, she notes, because they’re an actual collection that reflect a specific and targeted approach.”...

Rolling Stone, Oct. 10

Missing part of The Tale of Genji discovered in Japan

A missing part of the oldest copy of the classic Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu

A missing part of the oldest copy of the classic Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu, has been found among the heirlooms of the family of a former feudal lord, a cultural foundation reported October 8. Experts have confirmed the authenticity of the fifth chapter, titled “Wakamurasaki,” found in a five-chapter work called “Aobyoshibon” (blue cover book) compiled by poet Fujiwara Teika (1162–1241) in the Kamakura period, according to Reizeike Shiguretei Bunko, the foundation for preservation of cultural heritage. The discovered chapter contains an important part of the novel in which the 18-year-old hero encounters his future wife.”...

Mainichi Shimbun, Oct. 9
Dewey Decibel podcast

Two Nobel Prizes in Literature awarded

Olga Tokarczuk. Photo by Maciek Nabrdalik / New York Times

Olga Tokarczuk (right), a Polish author, and Peter Handke, an Austrian writer, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 10, the Swedish Academy announced at a ceremony in Stockholm. Handke won the 2019 prize and Tokarczuk won the 2018 prize, which had been postponed for a year because of a scandal at the academy. Tokarczuk is best known for her 2014 historical novel The Books of Jacob, centered in the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires. Handke’s debut novel Die Hornissen was published in 1966, and with that and his play Offending the Audience, he made his mark on world literature. But many, including PEN America, are upset with Handke’s win because of his outspoken support for Serbia’s role in the Balkan Wars and its President Slobodan Milošević....

New York Times, Oct. 10; Mar. 18, 1996; PEN America, Oct. 10

Crime novels for angry women in an angry world

Cover of Eileen, by Otessa Mossfegh

Katie Lowe writes: “Increasingly, women are owning their fury, both on and off the page. In fiction, female characters across the board are expressing their anger in both subtle and deliciously raucous ways. And that makes it a glorious time to be reading women in crime. Because while it’s a joy to see righteous anger channeled productively into protests and activism—there’s also a kind of deep, gut-level satisfaction at seeing female rage at its darkest depths, through characters that inhabit the deliciously murky underworld of contemporary crime fiction. These eight novels all feature female characters who aren’t necessarily good—but they’re sure as hell angry.”...

CrimeReads, Oct. 10

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