IMLS awards millions in grants, culture wars continue

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Terra Dankowski and Diana Panuncial write: “The work of medical librarians is essential and varied. Responsibilities are constantly evolving with technology and new programming. American Libraries spoke with the creators of virtual reality programming for medical students and the creators of a specialized book club for pediatric staff. Both innovations were presented at the Medical Library Association's 2022 Annual Conference and demonstrate the impact of medical librarianship.”...

American Libraries feature, Mar./Apr.

Three teens holding trash bags and wearing safety vests

Cass Balzer writes: “Nearly 50 billion pieces of litter are scattered along US roadways and waterways. To alleviate the country’s ongoing litter problem, some public libraries are creating kits to help patrons clean up their neighborhoods. Kits can include a bucket, safety vests, litter grabbers, latex-free gloves, trash bags, and hand sanitizer. Newport News (Va.) Public Library added kits to its catalog software using a grant from the city’s public works department. Once the projects are funded, libraries agree that litter cleanup kits are a boon to the community.”...

American Libraries Trend, Mar./Apr.

Ione T. Damasco

Ione T. Damasco writes: “My news feeds have been filled with stories of school boards and state legislatures trying to ban books and curtail curricula that openly discuss issues of race, gender, and sexual identity. These incidents make it more critical than ever that we examine how we center whiteness in our culture—and especially in our workplaces—in ways that erase and exclude certain groups of people. Academic libraries can start by examining how white supremacy culture is embedded in our work environments. Our workplaces should ensure every person’s humanity is recognized and centered and to integrate diverse ways of knowing and being into the very core of our libraries.”...

American Libraries column, Mar./Apr.

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Laura Bredahl

Laura Bredahl writes: “Bibliometrics are the quantitative ways that scholarly books, journals, and other publications can be analyzed to show their impact in their respective fields, thus helping institutions decide what research to invest in. Investments in building technical skills, establishing new positions, hiring new staff, subscribing to expensive tools, or all the above require resources, governance decisions, and establishing partnerships. The bibliometrics service model that exists at your institution should inform what tools you’ll engage with. This is an area of growth for many libraries with an exciting road ahead.”...

American Libraries column, Mar./Apr.

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At a ceremony on April 21, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) will receive the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books’ 2022 Innovator’s Award. The award “spotlights efforts to bring books, publishing, and storytelling into the future,” according to from the Times. “[FTRF] is as important and relevant today as it was at its inception in 1969,” said Julia Turner, the newspaper's deputy managing editor of entertainment and strategy, in the statement. “We honor its continued fight against book bans and its mission to protect all Americans’ right to read and access information.”...

Freedom to Read Foundation, Feb. 24; Los Angeles Times, Feb. 22

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On March 7, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced it had awarded $180 million in annual grants to each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories, and Freely Associated States. The grants make up the largest source of federal funding support for library services. Based on IMLS analysis of states’ newly submitted five-year plans, the agency anticipates significant investments in training for the library workforce (95% of states), reading (88% of states), library services for the blind and print disabled (73% of states), and broadband (71% of states), among other areas. Previous grants to states have been used to address specific local needs....

IMLS, Mar. 7

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Hannah Allam writes: “The American Library Association says that librarians face an unprecedented threat of censorship, fueled by a blend of hard-right politics and Christian nationalism that, in some areas, is backed by intimidation from local armed groups. Librarians who reject book banning have been threatened, harassed, sued, fired, and labeled ‘groomers’ and ‘pedophiles’ on social media. At their conference in New Orleans, nearly 2,000 librarians from throughout the country strategized on how to protect their patrons and themselves, and how to get the public to wake up to the urgency of the threat.”...

Washington Post, Mar. 4

Drag rally

Marianna Bacallao writes: “Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed a bill banning drag shows in public spaces, a measure that will likely force drag shows underground in Tennessee. Other states across the country are proposing similar legislation. Lee gave his signature just hours after the measure passed in the state senate March 2. In the same sitting, Lee signed a ban on gender-affirming health care for youth in the state. The [drag show] ban could have a chilling effect on Pride festivals. While new laws typically go into effect on July 1, the bill was quietly amended in January to take effect April 1—ahead of Pride Month in June.”...

NPR, Mar. 2

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In its annual list of Women Changing the World, People magazine honored two librarians this year, writing: “When Carolyn Foote, 63, and Becky Calzada, 57, saw Texas lawmakers threaten to ban books pertaining to race, racism and LGBTQ+ themes, they formed FReadom Fighters to rally an army of booklovers on social media and in their communities. ‘Books shouldn’t be contraband,’ says Foote, a retired librarian. ‘We’ve lost our way in this contentious environment. We forgot what’s at the core of libraries: getting kids excited about reading.’”...

People, Mar. 1

ALA news and press releases

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Hannah Byrd Little writes: “Like many other school librarians, I have several questions about the newest artificial intelligence, OpenAI ChatGPT. So I thought, ‘What better way to get answers than to ask my questions using the software itself?’ I must tell you that the interview was fun and even a bit addictive. A few questions about using the tool became a much deeper search. These new tools may be key to engaging students and faculty in the never-ending search for information that leads to lifelong learning. And I found that sometimes it takes several tries to ask the most constructive question.”...

AASL Knowledge Quest, Mar. 1

Two books with a chain and lock on them

Yennie Jun writes: “A majority of Americans across the political spectrum oppose book bans. The topic of book bans is very near to my heart. Banning books is the first step in banning thoughts, ideas, and imagination; these bans are a violation of the very democratic values of freedom of expression America loves to tout. In this article, I hope to share a bit of insight into the types of books, authors, and themes recently banned and currently being banned in school districts across the United States.”...

Art Fish Intelligence, Mar. 2

Recycle bin

Ivy Liscomb writes: “If you start your computer and cringe at the maze of identical folders covering your desktop, it might be time to organize your files. Here’s how to clean up your desktop and keep it that way. Not only can it make things much easier to find, but it can also be good for your mental health. What’s more, you can use this time to secure your files, since many documents, photos, and folders on your desktop might not be backed up properly and could slow the performance of your computer.”...

The New York Times Wirecutter, Mar. 2

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