One of a kind: Stories of solo librarianship

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Aaron LaFromboise, Martha Hickson, Vicki Selander, Chelsea Price, and Marilynn Lance-Robb

Megan Bennett writes: “Libraries of all sizes across the US are more than just information access points: They’re social hubs, technology centers, and can be safe havens for the marginalized. In rural areas and small towns in particular, libraries are often one of the few—or only—places to serve these functions in a way that’s free and accessible to all. American Libraries spoke with five solo staffers from public, school, and community college libraries about the ways they have bridged gaps in services, weathered devastating budget losses, and stood up for their patrons’ right to read.”...

American Libraries feature, Nov./Dec.

From the president by Emily Drabinski

Emily Drabinski writes: “What does ALA actually do? As president of ALA during this critical moment in history, I get asked this question a lot. Libraries and library workers are both in the spotlight and under the microscope, and people want to know who we are and what we do. Maybe you’ve even asked this question yourself. One of the joys of this role is that I get to learn and share about what all of us do. What I value most is the role ALA has played since its founding in 1876: Convening library workers together in service of our shared mission.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

Youth Matters by Karina Quilantan-Garza

Karina Quilantan-Garza writes: “Gamification has gained traction over the last decade for its potential to facilitate learning, foster motivation, and empower individuals to lead their own professional development. The integration of digital badging, microcredentials, and other game elements in training and upskilling programs has been shown to hold learners’ attention and motivation more effectively than traditional methods. Yet when we talk about the practice in school libraries, it’s often associated with students rather than teachers. With gamification, we have a unique opportunity to unlock our teachers’ potential as technology leaders and create a school culture where professional development is prioritized.”...

American Libraries column, Nov./Dec.

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Michele Norris

Emmy Award-winning journalist and author will open the in Baltimore, January 19–22. Norris will discuss her book Our Hidden Conversations: What Americans Really Think About Race and Identity on the main stage at the opening session January 20. The LLX Studio Stage will feature Peabody and Emmy Award-winning NBC News correspondent discussing her new book Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum, and comedian talking about his upcoming book Raising Mamá’s Plantitas....

ALA Conference Services, Oct. 25, Nov. 2

Two wooden artists' figure models, positioned to appear to be shaking hands

John Eye writes: “Negotiation is part of everyone’s life. Effective negotiations usually do not emerge without careful planning and intentional execution. Collecting, synthesizing, analyzing, and understanding this information is important to building confidence and establishing leverage to support contractual objectives. By connecting the process of open records requests to collection development efforts, a framework can be developed to gather public information and use it to advance the purchasing power of the library. [I have] used open records requests for several years to concentrate on larger, six figure agreements where the savings add up dramatically, especially for multiyear deals.”...

College & Research Libraries, Nov.

Library shelves

Andrew Atterbury writes: “Florida is among the latest conservative-leaning states to sever connections with the nation’s oldest library organization after the nonprofit became embroiled in the ongoing culture war over what books should be available to students. The agency in charge of Florida’s public libraries issued a new rule in October forbidding any grant activities tied to the American Library Association, a 150-year-old organization that aids thousands of libraries across the country with training and funding.” Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) director Nancy Pack to maintain state funding. APLS will make its final decision November 16....

Politico, Oct. 31; AL.com, Nov. 3

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Two Indigenous girls hugging.

“We Need Diverse Books has launched , a new website dedicated to Indigenous children's literature. Designed with educators in mind, the site features book lists, sorted by age range and topic, as well as articles penned by Native American authors and educators on the landscape of Indigenous children's literature and best practices for teaching it.”...

Publishers Weekly, Nov. 7

Robot on a bench reading

Lauren Coffey writes: “Librarians have often stood at the precipice of massive changes in information technology: the dawn of the fax machine, the internet, Wikipedia and now the emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI), which has been creeping its way into classrooms. While some library trailblazers embraced AI early on, others are more cautious about its potentially negative implications, from misinformation to inequality in research. Despite the concerns, librarians also see opportunities in AI. It will affect how students research, creating teachable moments for librarians to inform students on verifying and evaluating information.”...

Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 3

Jennifer Tapley and Tom Gurski reporting librarians to police, in a screencap from body cam footage

Judd Legum writes: “Two members of Moms for Liberty, a right-wing activist group, have reported several Florida school librarians to law enforcement. On October 25, Jennifer Tapley, a member of the Santa Rosa County chapter of Moms for Liberty and a candidate for school board, contacted the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office. Tapley was accompanied by Tom Gurski, who is also active in the local chapter.” Tapley told officers the young adult novel Storm and Fury by Jennifer Armentrout, checked out from Jay High School, was “pornographic.” Watch an officer’s of the full report....

Popular Information, Nov. 6

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Sheep in front of a chalkboard with 2+2=5 written on it

Joanna Thompson writes: “In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic rampaged across the globe, the World Health Organization declared that we had plunged into a second, simultaneous catastrophe: an infodemic characterized by the rapid spread of false information. The fear was that such inaccuracies would leave the public unmoored, adrift in a sea of untruth. But some psychologists and sociologists aren’t convinced that misinformation is as powerful as all that—or that it is a substantially different issue now compared with in the past. In fact, they think that we may be prematurely whipping ourselves into a misinformation moral panic.”...

Undark, Oct. 26

University Archivist Maynard Brichford and graduate assistant Harriet Alexander with an accession of archival materials from the American Library Association headquarters in 1973

Cara Bertram writes: “Fifty years ago on [October 31], ALA announced the transfer of its archives to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The genesis of can arguably be traced back to 1910 with the acceptance of the papers of S. Hastings Grant, a leader at that unsuccessfully attempted to create a national library organization. However, it is with establishment of the archives at UIUC that an organized and accessible archives was realized. Because of the partnership between ALA and the University, the ALA Archives has grown to be one of the most significant primary source collections in the history of American librarianship.”...

American Library Association Archives, Oct. 31

What's on your nightstand? The Not-a-Book-Club Book Club

Betsy McKay writes: “Though traditional book clubs have been a fixture of American social life for decades, some bibliophiles think they have lost the plot. These bookworms don’t want to read books that don’t interest them. Even worse is recommending a book the rest of the group hates. So they are showing some spine and rewriting the book club, without the assignments or attitude. Librarian Kathy Beaird runs a monthly group touted as a ‘’ at the public library in Woodstock, Vermont, where participants discuss books they have read.”...

The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 6

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