The year’s most impressive new and renovated libraries.

American Library Association • September 3, 2019

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

2019 Library Design Showcase

Ives Squared commons, New Haven (Conn.) Free Public Library

Welcome to the 2019 Library Design Showcase, American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries. These shining examples of innovative architectural feats address user needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways. Renovations and expansions continue to dominate submissions, as communities find novel ways to conserve and honor existing spaces while moving them well into the 21st century....

American Libraries feature, Sept./Oct.

Inclusive by design

From the President, by Wanda Kay Brown

ALA President Wanda Kay Brown writes: “In 2017, when librarian J. J. Pionke was evaluating the messages the architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign library sent to students, he realized that wayfinding signage was deeply lacking. This, he understood, could be a possible barrier to entry for groups that were less likely to use the library, such as students who use wheelchairs or have social anxiety. Buildings can be influential messengers, and the design and architecture of our physical spaces can send powerful messages to patrons and the community about the values housed within.”...

American Libraries column, Sept./Oct.

Dewey Decibel: Beyond our borders

Dewey Decibel podcast

In Episode 41Dewey Decibel features conversations that extend beyond US borders. First, American Libraries Senior Editor George Eberhart speaks with Nigerian-American science-fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor (Who Fears Death and The Book of Phoenix) about how her heritage influences her work. Then, Dewey Decibel host and American Libraries Senior Editor Phil Morehart speaks with Jonathon Hodge, digital literacy service lead at Toronto Public Library, and Mark Williams, chief librarian and CEO at Milton (Ont.) Public Library, about tech initiatives that earned the libraries ALA Presidential Citations for Innovative International Library Projects....

AL: The Scoop, June 23, Aug. 30; American Libraries feature, July 17

Tonga prepares to open its first public library

Local children shelve books in Tonga’s first public library. Photo by Kahoa Corbett

The Pacific Island state of Tonga will open its first-ever public library in October. Thousands of books, as well as bikes and laptops, have been donated by more than 50 council libraries in Auckland, New Zealand. The library is the brainchild of South Auckland couple Kahoa and Brendan Corbett, who for the past year have been packing up donated goods almost every month to be shipped to the village of Kolovai. The couple had visited the island shortly after Cyclone Gita devastated Tonga in February 2018. While it may be a surprise for some that Tonga has never had a public library before, the little kingdom is full of avid readers and has a 99% literacy rate....

Radio New Zealand, Sept. 2
ALA news

Documentary on The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

A cache of African manuscripts stored in librarian Abdel Kader Haidara’s home, 2009. Photo by Brent Stirton

New York Times bestseller The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is getting a documentary adaptation with director Otto Bell and fledgling UK outfit Cove Pictures. Written by Joshua Hammer, the book, released in April 2016, follows the true story of a group of librarians who undertook a daring cultural evacuation to save ancient texts from Al Qaeda. The documentary, which due to security concerns has been shot secretly over more than a year in Mali, focuses on the 300 days of jihadi occupation—from April 2012 to January 2013—when the Saharan city fell under Al Qaeda control....

Deadline, Aug. 27; American Libraries Newsmaker, Mar. 24, 2016

Ruth Bader Ginsberg appears at National Book Festival

Ruth Bader Ginsberg at the National Book Festival

Book lovers came together by the tens of thousands to celebrate reading and meet their favorite authors August 31 at the 19th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Thousands more watched the festival’s Main Stage streamed live on the library’s YouTube channel. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (right) drew a record-setting crowd of more than 5,000 people, who cheered and applauded her rock-star persona. Interviewed by NPR’s Nina Totenberg, the 86-year-old justice shared highlights from her life before and after her appointment as the second woman on the high court....

Library of Congress, Aug. 31; Library of Congress YouTube channel, Aug. 31

Harry Potter removed from Nashville Catholic school

Cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The students at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville, Tennessee, can no longer check out the popular Harry Potter book series from their school’s library. The series, which depicts the magical adventures of a young wizard and his friends, was removed from the library because of their content, school pastor Fr. Dan Reehil said. He added that he consulted exorcists in the US and Rome who recommended removing them. The Catholic Church does not have an official position on the Harry Potter books, according to Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville. In this situation, the school’s pastor does have the final say....

Nashville Tennessean, Aug. 30; Washington Post, Sept. 3
Latest Library Links

Dutch magic table helps patrons on the autism spectrum

Tovertafel projections. Screenshot from RTE video

A device that projects interactive light games onto a table is being used in Irish libraries to help people with dementia and autism. The Tovertafel, which means “magic table” in English, is a Dutch innovation. The DLR Lexicon in Dún Laoghaire was the first Irish library to install one in 2018. The magic table is a “box on the ceiling that projects light animation onto a table surface; by interacting with your hands or other tools, the sensors then interact with your movements creating the games,” DLR Lexicon Library Assistant Erika Csibi says. The games are specially designed to help those with autism and dementia to be more active socially, cognitively, and physically....

RTÉ, Sept. 2

Mapping the paranormal map

Keir Clarke writes: “ is an interactive map of ‘strange, wonderful, unusual, and unexpected’ stories. Using the map, people can submit locations where they have had weird and strange experiences. These could be encounters with fairies or ghosts, close encounters with time travelers or aliens, or even an unexpected meeting with a witch or wizard. The UFO Sightings Map plots over 90,000 reports of UFO sightings since 1905. The map uses data from the National UFO Reporting Center. UFO Stalker has been mapping the locations of the latest UFO reports to the Mutual UFO Network for a number of years.”...

Maps Mania, Aug. 28

Hurricane resources for 2019

Hurricane Dorian is crawling toward Florida’s coast

As the 2019 hurricane season intensifies, personal safety comes first. But if you have time, protect your family treasures by following the advice of the Northeast Document Conservation Center. Before the storm, move your collections way from windows and doors. Placing them in boxes, even temporarily, will add a layer of protection. NEDCC is available to take calls from institutions with collections damage, as well as private individuals whose family collections are damaged. The National Heritage Responders is a highly skilled team of conservators and other collections care professionals with expertise in emergency response....

Northeast Document Conservation Center
Dewey Decibel podcast

Historical copyright records and transparency

Printed volumes of Catalog of Copyright Entries

Sean Redmond writes: “In 2018, the New York Public Library began a pilot project to extract data from the Catalog of Copyright Entries published by the US Copyright Office. All books published in the United States more than 95 years ago (before 1924 at the time of this writing) are in the public domain in the US; all books published in 1964 and after are likely still in copyright. For those of us interested in digitizing books, information about a book’s copyright allows us to identify material that can be shared digitally. Transcribing the CCE book registrations has made it possible to identify the registration and corresponding renewal for a book.”...

New York Public Library Blogs, May 31, Sept. 1

10 of the coolest tech-genius women in comics

Cover of Shuri: The Search for Black Panther, by Nnedi Okorafor and Leonardo Romero

Elisa Shoenberger writes: “To celebrate all the awesome women characters in comic books today, I’ve put together a list of 10 women who are obsessed with technology in comic books. Some of these women are superheroes who use technology to facilitate fighting the bad guys, while others are mechanical whizzes, and still others really dig computer science. I’ve included the first issue of the solo series for the superheroes.”...

Book Riot, Sept. 3

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