Increasing access to the legal system through outreach.

American Library Association • May 8, 2020

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Law librarians and public librarians link up

The Mobile Law Network RV visits two St. Paul (Minn.) Public Library branches per month. Photo by Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Nicole P. Dyszlewski, Amelia Landenberger, and Sara Monalea McMahon write: “We’re the Law Librarians of New England, a regional chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries with more than 250 members—librarians and information professionals who work in law schools, courthouses, law firms, government agencies, and legislatures. We have been actively working for a decade to link nonlaw public librarians and law librarians in an effort to close the justice gap. LLNE members started a website called LLNE Legal Link, a clearinghouse of information, tutorials, best practices, patron referral options, primary and secondary sources, and content specific to the six New England states.” Libraries are also teaming up with legal aid clinics to help communities with arrest record expungement and finding legal resources....

American Libraries Trends, May

Engage introverts with silent book clubs

The Silent Book Club at Newport (R.I.) Public Library offers teens a space for quiet reading after school

Emily Udell writes: “When a friend and fellow librarian mentioned to Christina Wolfskehl that the most popular programming at her library focused on silent reading, she seemed almost embarrassed by the activity’s simplicity. But the premise intrigued Wolfskehl, young adult librarian at Newport (R.I.) Public Library, who decided to give it a try. As Silent Book Clubs have popped up in coffee shops, community centers, and libraries in several countries, librarians have recognized an opportunity to engage less social readers of all ages with low-cost, low-tech programming. They have also given libraries an opportunity to highlight an essential part of what made them special in the first place—the space and time for quiet reading.”...

American Libraries Trend, May

A new tech revolution

Dispatches, by Bohyun Kim

Bohyun Kim writes: “The fourth industrial revolution is well underway. Recent breakthroughs in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) enable machines to handle tasks previously restricted to humans, including image classification, translation, speech recognition, and medical diagnosis. In every corner of the world, technologies are disrupting industries and bringing rapid changes to the way we live, work, and interact. To adapt and succeed in an era of digital disruption, libraries must continue to explore and evaluate emerging technologies and adopt them when appropriate.”...

American Libraries column, May

When speech isn’t free

In Practice, by Meredith Farkas

Meredith Farkas writes: “I take issue with the notion that libraries are ensuring all voices are heard when they let hate groups speak. Hate speech considered in a vacuum might look merely offensive, but when viewed in a historical context, that speech is inextricably linked with physical violence. Hate speech inhibits free speech because it effectively prevents others from speaking. If libraries want to promote free speech, creating an environment where everyone feels the psychological safety necessary to participate is vital.”...

American Libraries column, May

A precarious LIS job landscape

On My Mind, by Yoonhee Lee

Yoonhee Lee writes: “When I completed my library degree at University of Toronto in 2019, I kept a spreadsheet to track jobs I applied for. Looking through those listings now—part- and full-time jobs across North America in public, academic, and government libraries and archives—I see that all were somehow precarious, with assignment durations ranging from four months to three years. This was not a conscious choice. But in an era of austerity and budget cuts, with a gig economy shaping the market for all types of goods and services, precarity is often the only choice for new librarians.”...

American Libraries column, May
ALA news

Federal relief for academic libraries

Grand Reading Room, Silverman Library, University at Buffalo

Alan S. Inouye and Kevin Maher write: “Budget cuts for college and research libraries are in the offing at many institutions. In some cases, reductions are already taking place. There is much talk about federal aid that’s already available and new proposals. In this post, we make a down payment towards explaining what has happened and what may come to pass. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes $30.8 billion for higher education, a majority of which is for student aid. While most of this funding must be directly disbursed to students, as much as 49% may be spent to cover costs associated with instruction, with only a few constraints.”...

ACRL Insider, May 7

MSU librarian wins Fulbright Scholar award

Deborah Margolis

Michigan State University Middle East Studies Librarian Deborah Margolis (right) has received a Fulbright US Scholar Program award. Margolis will conduct research in partnership with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization in Palestine, the University of Jordan Libraries American Corner, and in the Digital Scholarship Lab at MSU Libraries as part of a project to encourage youth development and create relationships among college-age youth and among professionals from different parts of the world. The goal of her project is for students to work as participant researchers to study their own creative spaces and the creative spaces of others and, in the process, get to know one another....

MSU Today, May 6

Nebraska school librarian celebrated on Today show

Betsy Thomas on the Today show

Betsy Thomas (right) is making a big impact on her students at Kooser Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is armed with a green screen and a closet full of costumes.┬áDuring National Teacher Appreciation Week, NBC’s Today show is airing a special series called “Today Loves Teachers” that honors educators who have gone beyond the call of duty during the coronavirus pandemic. Hoda Kotb profiled Thomas on the show May 5. She has created a daily virtual storytime at home with the help of props. For one video, she borrowed some chickens to accompany a book, and on dinosaur day she became a dinosaur by stepping into a costume....

KSNB-TV, Superior, Neb., May 6
Latest Library Links

Helping kids cope with fear during a pandemic

Librarian Claire Petri at Woodlawn Library in Wilmington, Delaware, and her stuffed friend Sparkle, wear masks during a virtual storytime to address the fears kids might have

Chelsey Roos writes: “Mister Rogers was famous for saying, ‘What is mentionable, is manageable,’ meaning that our overwhelming emotions like fear and grief can be understood by young children as long as we’re willing to talk about them. He addressed frightening, global issues, like assassination and nuclear war. Two writers for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Arthur Greenwald and Barry Head, coined the term ‘Freddish’ to describe how Mister Rogers talked about these tough topics. To speak Freddish, you carefully choose your language, using clear, positive instructions that can apply to all children when discussing a serious issue. We choose unambiguous, simple phrases, and focus on the positive.”...

ALSC Blog, May 6

Chinese libraries begin to reopen

Tongzhou District Library, Beijing

One section of the National Library of China will reopen May 12 with a daily cap of 1,200 visitors in an early step to resume normal economic and social order as the pandemic wanes in China. Visitors must make reservations through a social media app WeChat or by phone. During the visit, users must wear masks and keep a distance of at least one meter from others. Books are available for borrowing only if reservations are made in advance. Beijing’s Tongzhou District Library reopened on May 7 with similar restrictions, allowing only 60 visitors in the morning and 60 in the afternoon....

Xinhua, May 8; China Daily, May 8
Dewey Decibel podcast

Digital jigsaw puzzles

Digital jigsaw puzzle of cover from Aéroplane captif (1909)

Erin Rushing writes: “Need a fun mental break? The Smithsonian Libraries have created six digital jigsaw puzzles through Jigsaw Explorer that feature a few favorite images from our collection. Play them right here on our blog or use the links to expand an individual puzzle. Each puzzle is set to contain about 100 pieces, but they are customizable for any skill set. Hit the question mark icon on a puzzle for more information. We’ve tested these with staff (and kid volunteers) and hope you enjoy them as much as we did. All of these images are freely available through our Image Gallery, Digital Library, or Biodiversity Heritage Library.”...

Smithsonian Libraries: Unbound, May 7

LC uses AI to tag historic newspaper content

Newspaper Navigator processing

Devin Coldewey writes: “A new effort by the Library of Congress is digitizing and organizing photos and illustrations from centuries of newspapers using state-of-the-art machine learning. Led by Ben Lee, a researcher from the University of Washington occupying the Library’s ‘Innovator in Residence’ position, the Newspaper Navigator collects and surfaces data from images from some 16 million pages of newspapers throughout American history. Using the initial human-powered work of outlining images and captions as training data, they built an AI agent that could do so on its own. After the usual tweaking and optimizing, they set it loose on the full Chronicling America database of newspaper scans.”...

TechCrunch, May 7

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