Posts Tagged ‘Public Libraries’
According to the U.S. State Department, America has accepted more than three million refugees since 1975. Last year, the U.S. welcomed 84,995 refugees from around the world. Currently, there has been a torrent of court filings over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries. While courts have temporarily blocked Trump’s travel ban, the issue is far from being resolved and may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court. As an editor for SIRS Issues Researcher who works on the Immigration Leading Issue, I am following the multiple angles of this issue closely. Regardless of varying opinions on the current controversy, once refugees enter the United States legally, they often need assistance. I have always been impressed with the amazing services libraries offer the community. So I was curious as to what role libraries play in welcoming refugees who legally enter the United States.
I have learned that libraries across the nation have often been a welcome spot for refugees and immigrants. Through a wealth of immigration services and programming, libraries play an important role in raising awareness about the naturalization process and the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship and in helping refugees and other newcomers to the U.S. participate in the broader society.
Since 2013, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has partnered with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help libraries assist refugees with immigration and citizenship information and resources. As a result of this partnership, hundreds of public libraries have set up areas known as “Citizenship Corners,” which include free brochures and immigration forms.
In addition, in 2015, the American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table issued Guidelines for Outreach to Immigrant Populations. These guidelines for library services and programming offer ideas on how to help immigrants adjust to life in their new homeland while preserving their cultural and linguistic heritages.
Free Legal Help, Cooking Classes and More
Two such libraries that are helping immigrants and refugees are the Brooklyn Public Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia.
The Brooklyn Public Library offers programs for immigrants in many languages and includes citizenship classes and study groups, bilingual family arts and culture programs and courses to help immigrant businesses succeed. Additionally, the library’s immigration services include free immigration legal help with the Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC). IJC Fellows hold office hours at select branches to help immigrants file applications for citizenship and green cards as well as offer other legal support.
In addition to offering a myriad of immigration and naturalization resources, events and classes, the Free Library of Philadelphia also offers a unique six-week course via their Culinary Literacy Center called Edible Alphabet. The program uses food as a way to unite people from different cultural backgrounds and helps immigrants learn English through cooking lessons. According to Liz Fitzgerald, the Administrator of the Culinary Literacy Center, the meals they prepare include a smoothie, carrot coriander soup, panzanella, pancakes, pasta primavera, and chana masala. The library partners with a non-profit organization called the Nationalities Service Center (NSC), which has been helping immigrants and refugees in the Greater Philadelphia area since the 1920s.
Tell Us Your Story
Does your library offer services to refugees? If so, drop us a line in the comments section below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!
Need some ideas to spruce up your holiday? Our infographic below lists a sampling of 12 wintertime items you can borrow from libraries besides books.
By Dawn Treude, Library Assistant, Scottsdale Public Library
This month the Scottsdale Public Library is offering our young patrons Scream STEAM, science with a Halloween twist. With activities like Frankenstein’s Hand, Balloon Banshees and Troll Boogers (don’t worry, it’s liquid glue and starch), we took a departure from typical coding or robotics programs and let simple household items shine as the stars in simple, yet satisfying activities. The results sent happy shivers down my spine.
As the demand for STEM/STEAM programs continues to grow, two responses typically come to mind—delight or fright.
Youth Librarians never tire of engaging with our young patrons, but not all of us have a background in math and science. Figuring out what to do with the kids can be tricky and time-consuming as you study and practice STEM/STEAM activities.
The turning point for me came in earlier this spring when I read an interview in YALS, the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association, with Shannon Peterson of the Kitsap Regional Library in Washington State about its Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box program, which was funded through IMLS grant. The grant proposal made the point to identify “librarians as co-explorers and community builders instead of experts” when it came to STEM/STEAM participation.
As I read those words a weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have a strong background in math or science, but I certainly know how to explore new things.
About this time I’d been preparing for what we call Slimeology. In studying about polymers and slime making, I happened on The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science by Sean Connolly (2008, Workman Publishing). In it, Connolly uses everyday items to create catchy-sounding experiments, like Frankenstein’s Hand, which simulates a gloved hand coming to life under an acid (vinegar) and base (baking soda) mixture. This was the activity that inspired Scream STEAM.
Once I had a theme, it wasn’t too difficult to find other experiments that could be tailored for a Halloween program. I used the Balloon Banshee (a lesson about friction and sound) from Connolly’s book, re-named Slimeology to Troll Boogers and discovered a fantastic dip-your-hands-in-it blood tray that I christened Werewolf Blood from the I Can Teach My Child website. I wanted to do a candy dissolving experiment as well, but thankfully the Youth Services Coordinator and STEM/STEAM Librarian reigned me in a bit and helped me design a workable forty-five-minute program.
We started with Frankenstein’s Hand because I knew the kids would enjoy it through the entire program. I prefilled cups with the vinegar and the baking soda in the latex glove. The kids then placed the glove over the mouth of the cup, shook the fingers and waited for the hand to come alive. I used this time to talk about chemical reactions, acids, and bases and share some facts about sodium bicarbonate.
Next, we moved on to Werewolf Blood (I chose the name due to how closely related humans and werewolves are). I’d hydrated the water beads (from the floral department at Michael’s) the night before in a large plastic tray. The beads have this fantastic soft, slimy feel to them and shimmer in the right lighting. These were the red blood cells. We added white blood cells (ping pong balls) and platelets (small foam rectangles) and renamed the leftover water in the tray plasma. The kids had a blast running their hands through the mixture but I didn’t manage to convince everyone it really was Werewolf Blood.
After cleaning our hands, we moved on to ghost lore with Balloon Banshees. Most of the kids had never heard the word banshee before and were interested in this Irish lady specter, but I did modify the facts slightly and said she signaled bad news, rather than death. This experiment uses only a balloon and a small hexagon nut but does require adult-level balloon blowing skills. The nut is placed inside the balloon and it is blown up. Then you grab it from the tie end and move your hand in a circular motion and wait for the shrieking to begin. The friction as the sides of the nut move along the inside of the balloon produces an eerie sound. The rate of motion effects the sound, so the kids were able to try a variety of speeds. We had a few balloons pop and rather than cause a fright, that served to increase the excitement level.
Before we moved on to our last experiment, we checked on the hands to see if they were still alive. They were.
By far the best experiment in terms of interest and ick-factor was Troll Boogers (Slimeology in disguise). The experiment failed. I’d poured too much water in the mix, resulting in a blob of glue and starch boogers in a watery soup. This gave me a great opportunity to talk about mistakes in the lab and how important they are to learning. The kids still had a blast with their creations and delighted in picking the right color to add to the mix based on the type of troll whose boogers were in your bowl. (For example, Garden Trolls have green boogers.) The kids loved all my snot and booger facts. The most expressive looks and groans came when I held up my one-quart pitcher as a visual aide to demonstrate how much snot your body produces in a day. We talked about polymers, liquids and solids as well. Everyone’s hands were filthy with sticky goo and I don’t think I’ve seen a happier group.
My takeaway from this program is that there is definitely a place for a variety of STEM/STEAM programs in the library. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring, and for systems or schools without the funding for robotics materials, household science packs a big punch in terms of payoff for children to see, feel and understand. Adding a seasonal or pop culture theme can create more interest and draw bigger attendance. The response was positive enough that we’re creating another seasonal program this February, You Gotta Have Heart.
Dawn Treude is a Library Assistant in Youth Services at the Arabian branch of the Scottsdale Public Library in Scottsdale, Arizona. She enjoys creating themed programming for youth of all ages and has been known to create wizard wands and lightsabers when the need arises.
We welcome guest posts! If you would like to be a Featured Blogger for Share This, let us know and enter your contact information on this form.
The Spanish language is an integral part of the American experience.
According to the 2011 Pew Research Center’s American Community Survey, Spanish is the main language spoken in more than 37 million homes. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans comprised 17% of the country’s population–53 million people.
How do the more than 16,000 public libraries across the United States serve this culturally rich community?
There are numerous ways that public libraries can find the fiscal support, cultural materials, and language expertise necessary to successfully serve their diverse Spanish-language-speaking communities. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated each year in the U.S. from September 15 through October 15, let’s take a look at some.
The American Library Association offers a comprehensive overview to librarians and media specialists who seek to initiate services to Spanish-language-speaking populations or to build upon their existing resources. Visit Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users for an overview of collection development and selection; cultural programming and outreach; the value of personnel training and development; and the significance of collection placement.
The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA) was established in 1986 with the purpose of providing educational, charitable, and programming outreach to Hispanic American librarians and to libraries wanting to serve the Spanish-speaking population.
The REFORMA site provides extensive online resources for libraries, including a Spanish-English dictionary, Spanish-language brochures and flyers, and storytime materials. The organization offers awards and recognition to libraries and holds events and conferences on Spanish-language literature and in support of outreach to Spanish-language communities.
Spanish in Our Libraries (SOL), although no longer being published, is now an archive of valuable information. This electronic newsletter helped to connect librarians and media specialists serving their libraries’ Spanish-speaking communities.
Public Libraries Using Spanish (PLUS) is a growing searchable database that provides libraries with documents necessary for any library to serve its Spanish-language communities. Find printable card applications, signs, programming information, and more, written in Spanish with English translations. The site’s owner is accessible by email and asks for users to share their comments, experiences, and document submissions.
WebJunction is an online learning community for librarians. The organization offers knowledge and support in many areas of librarianship: leadership and communication, staff training, library services, technology, and programming.
One facet of WebJunction is its Spanish Language Outreach (SLO) Program. Case studies, webinars, and materials (such as an action plan template and checklists) assist libraries in creating, maintaining, and growing Spanish language collections, services and programming, and outreach. Text to the site’s Spanish Language Outreach Workshop Curriculum–including a PowerPoint presentation and a resource packet–offers in-depth instruction and support to librarians and media specialists.
These sites are only some of the resources available to public libraries serving, or looking to serve, their Spanish language communities–communities that are integral to the advancement of our nation and its libraries.
SIRS Knowledge Source and SIRS Discoverer commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month each year by spotlighting the history of and the news, events, and issues affecting this vibrant and diverse population. Find articles, timelines, photos, and more.
Catching the Pokémon Craze
As soon as Pokémon Go came out, I found myself saying things like, “Be back later, going to hunt Pokémon” or “Gotta catch ’em all.” I’m not the only one. My colleagues and friends are also venturing outside all in hopes of catching as many Pokémon as they can. My colleague, Amy Shaw, and I wanted to write a blog post about how this game has impacted libraries specifically since many of them are set up as Pokémon Gyms or Pokéstops, and are organizing activities centered on the game.
Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library’s ‘Pokémon Go Walk and Train Club’
Erin Douglass, the Youth Services Librarian at Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ said they are enjoying the Pokémon mania through a Walk and Train Club to fit in with their 2016 summer reading theme of sports and fitness. Players can bring their smartphone and join a walk around the neighborhood. They stop at a Pokémon Gym, Pokéstops, and share tips as Pokémon spawn while a lure module is dropped in the park. Douglass said her hope is to have the club grow and be able to incorporate a walk for charity app to contribute to a cause and catch ’em all at the same time.
Douglass also put together a craft activity based on the game. Pokémon fans are able to create a Pokéball that opens to reveal a Pokémon inside and participants can choose from Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Gengar, Snorlax, or Eevee. Since the Worth-Pinkham Memorial Library is a Pokéstop in the game, Douglass said they’ve scheduled lure modules to drop at specific times. Players are invited to take a break from the heat while rehydrating inside the library. Future dates of Pokémon Go activities will appear on the library website. Douglass said her Pokémon tip is to explore new places, but be safe and attentive. Also catch a lot of Eevees — they’re adorable and can evolve three different ways!
New York Public Library Luring Patrons
At the New York Public Library, Pokémon Go has been a great way to get people outside and exercise. Lauren Weiss, NYPL Social Media Marketing Associate, said the game has been super innovative.
She said people of all ages are bonding over it and interacting. One thing the NYPL is doing is challenging others to “beat the library” by holding down the Pokémon Gym. They are coming up with ways to get people into the library through the Pokéstops and gyms. She said the crown jewel of Pokémon seems to be the Snorlax. Weiss also shared the library’s Pokémon Doppelgangers found in their Digital Collections! Here you can find side-by-side comparisons of various Pokémon to real images found in the NYPL collection.
In response to the Pokémon Go game’s popularity, Weiss said, “I think it is going to get bigger. Those of us who grew up with it are the ones who are the core audience.”
Beaufort County Library Wants You to Bring All Things Pokémon
At the Bluffton Branch of the Beaufort County Library Ryan Easterbrooks is in charge of Children’s Programs. Being a huge Pokémon fan, he saw an immediate opportunity to combine Pokémon and libraries.
He created a Pokémon display meant to bring attention to the game and said a friend of his saw it on his personal Facebook page and posted it to Reddit. He said it was on the front page of Reddit by the end of the day and had 5500 upvotes, with 1.3 million views on Imgur. He said it was awesome to see something library-related go viral.
His library has been contacted by several others in the U.S. that want to know what children’s programs they are planning on. His idea for the future is to have a Pokémon club where people can bring their Pokémon trading cards, Nintendo DS, or device with the game to the library and play against and with other kids. He said they are also promoting the manga as reading material to kids.
“Pokémon is selling the library in many ways,” Easterbrooks said.
Uniting People Through Pokémon
Warwick Public Library has been busy with Pokémon Go events. Kristin Munson, a reference librarian there, said they’ve held a live gym meet for teens in grades 7-12 who could battle for ownership of the library Pokémon Gym. They’ve also had stations for creating Pokémon-shaped bookmarks, 3D perler bead pets, or to take photos with a plush Pikachu and props.
Later on, the library is going to give out gym badges that can be earned through submitting photos of Pokémon people have caught.
“My favorite part of Pokémon Go by far has been the camaraderie and genuine kindness of everybody playing,” Munson said.
It’s been a great icebreaker for the shy or socially awkward and a great motivator to get those who are depressed outside. People are playing for purely selfless reasons, dropping lures at children’s hospitals, picking up litter while they hunt, leaving out water and snacks for strangers and even walking shelter dogs to progress in the game.
She said, “It’s been the ultimate restorer of faith in humanity.”
Bridging Generational Gaps
At Farmers Branch Manske Library in Farmers Branch, Texas, Youth Services Librarian Korey Finch recognized the programming potential of Pokémon Go right away. Finch, who has loved Pokémon since the game first came out in the ’90s, set up a Pokémon Go Adventure Walk, which she called “a total Field of Dreams moment.” Not only was the event well-received, it also managed to reach one of hardest to reach groups – teenagers. Inspired by the successful turnout of The Adventure Walk, Finch created a 5K Egg Hatch Walk, which also had a good turnout, in spite of the Texas heat.
One of the best things about the events, according to Finch, was that Pokémon Trainers of all ages participated, bridging generational gaps. Finch also noticed other benefits to Pokémon Go, including increased traffic to the library. According to Finch, “[m]ore people have been coming in to get library cards, pay off old fines, enjoy the cool air, and quite a few come in just to chat with me about different things they’ve caught or places to catch certain things.”
“In my opinion, one of the coolest things about this game is its ability to bridge generational gaps, and allows libraries to connect with teen patrons in such a fun way. Out at the park we encountered some teens who found out about Pokémon we had caught in the library, and they took off running to go explore the library! When does that happen voluntarily?!” –Korey Finch, Youth Services Librarian, Farmers Branch Manske Library, Farmers Branch, Texas
IndyPL: Gotta Catch ’em all READING!
The Indianapolis Public Library joined in on the Pokémon craze by holding a Pokémon Lure Day on July 23. During the event, library staff dropped lures to attract players to its many branches. Central Library in the heart of downtown Indianapolis served as the main Pokémon site, dropping lures every 30 minutes during library hours and offering 2K and 5K Walking Maps of nearby gyms and stops. The event attracted more than 2,400 patrons to Central Library, which according to Jon Barnes, Communications Specialist at the Library, was a 500 visitor increase compared with the previous Saturday. The downtown library even featured a special drink, the Pikachu Power!
The Indianapolis Public Library event showcased their event in a staff-created online resource guide: “IndyPL: Gotta Catch ’em all READING!” The resource guide is chock full of all things Pokémon, including 63 different how-to videos on how to draw Pokémon.
Pokémon can also be used as a way to foster collaboration between libraries and those in their communities. Such collaborative events can be a way to reach current and new library users in a new way. Korey Finch, of Farmers Branch Manske Library, says she has been in talks with the Farmers Branch Historical Park about creating a Pokemon Go Meetup Event for teens at the park before school starts. (Update: Ms. Finch let us know that she finalized plans with their historical park for a Pokémon & Popsicles event on Friday, August 19th, from 9AM-11AM!)
Cari Rérat, Director of the Thomas J. Harrison Pryor Public Library in Pryor, Oklahoma, mentioned that the library will be partnering with the Main Street Association, their town’s Rec Center and downtown businesses to organize a Pokéwalk, with at least one lure every 30 minutes, through their downtown area.
Pokémon and Safety
Libraries are also using Pokémon as a teaching tool to address digital safety and privacy issues. Skokie Public Library in Skokie, Illinois, plans to use the game to teach children about both physical and digital safety. On August 16, from 3:00-4:00 p.m., they will be conducting a Pokémon Go Safari with children in Grades K-5. According to Amy Koester, the Youth & Family Program Supervisor at the library, the safari will take the children on a walk to several Pokéstops that are within a several block radius of the library.
Tweet Us Your Library Pokemon
Are there Pokémon in your library? Send us your photos or let us know how you’re joining the fun! Tweet us at #ProQuest or send us a comment below.
BOOKS ON THE BEACH
About a year ago, I read a Fast Company blog post about a gorgeous pop-up library on a beach in Istres, a town in the South of France. I live in Florida and spend practically every single weekend at my local beach, and I’m a bibliophile to boot, so the idea of a library on the beach thrilled me. I wondered if such a library existed in my part of the world.
Curious, I googled pop-up beach libraries in the U.S. and discovered that, yes, they do exist, just not (at least, at this point) near me.
Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) is one such library that offers books on the beach. I contacted the library and heard back from Reference Services librarian, Jeff Kaplan, who said he had read the very same blog post about the French beachside library. In fact, the post inspired him to pitch the idea to his library’s Director, Maria Carpenter, who approved the idea to create a series of library pop-ups at their local beaches.
Mr. Kaplan gave me some background information on SMPL at the Beach, which debuted last summer and was a huge success (they had four 12×12 canopies serving over 500 visitors, including 151 participants in their beach programs). According to Mr. Kaplan, they strove to make their pop-ups “a ‘beachified’ version of the library, with all its services, programs and collections represented, not just a bunch of books on the beach.” Services even included a Seaside Story Time for children and reference and instruction services with mobile wifi hot spots.
SANTA MONICA LIBRARY GOES BACK TO THE BEACH – SUMMER 2016
I was happy to learn that beginning July 8, SMPL at the Beach 2016 will offer five seaside pop-up libraries with summer fun programming, including ukelele lessons (I am sooo jealous!), fitness classes, beach games like bocce and ladder toss, music performances and even a Surfside Lounge. The Library Foundation will also be providing free giveaways (beach towels, trucker caps and water bottles).
IOWA LIBRARIES WELCOME RAGBRAI CYCLISTS
July also marks the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and local libraries are prepared for the fun and for doing what they can to make lives easier for the cyclists. I contacted a few librarians at the libraries situated along this year’s bike route (419.9 miles across state’s scenic southern terrain) and the excitement RAGBRAI generates is palpable among them.
Librarian Joy Stortvedt of Shenandoah Public Library said that they are opening their library on Sunday, July 24, even though they are typically closed that day. Cyclists can use the Shenandoah library to cool off, use the bathrooms and charge their devices. Wifi access will also be provided outdoors, and can be accessed, even when the library is closed, from their outdoor amphitheater. They also hope to offer paperbacks, but aren’t yet certain about their stock. Ms. Stortvedt recommends the library’s brick mural by artist Jay Tschetter (see photo above) and a historic arch as excellent photo ops for the cyclists.
Library Director Debbie Stanton of Washington Free Public Library said that their library will be open to the public until 11 p.m. on July 29, the day RAGBRAI comes through their town. She also shared that they are converting their library’s used bookstore room into an entertainer’s lounge, which will provide “backstage” accommodations for their headlining bands, and they are adapting their two janitors’ sinks into showers for the cyclists. They are also providing overnight accommodations for two teams of bikers (about 50 people total) in their meeting rooms and working with a local Internet service provider and an economic development group to provide wifi access points downtown.
Library Director Karen Koppe of Letts Public Library let me know that this will be the first time RAGBRAI will go through her small town. She says the library will sell homemade pies and that she has plans to have the kids in town help with making banners, signs and donation buckets for the July 30th event in Letts, which will feature 15 vendors and a DJ. Ms. Koppe also notes that cyclists might be interested to know that the town has a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient buried in the town’s cemetery.
Not only do libraries help plant seeds of knowledge, but some also offer real-life garden plots! The LibraryFarm is one such garden. Located on the grounds of the Northern Onondaga Public Library at Cicero, New York, the LibraryFarm is an organic community garden that donates to three local pantries and offers regular programming dedicated to sustainable gardening and food literacy. Programs range from home solarization to backyard chickens. The garden also includes a neat insect hotel that was constructed out of discarded shipping pallets by the library’s maker club. If you can’t get away for the summer, a community garden is a nice way to relax after a day of work. Check out your community to see if the library or another organization offers garden plots.
SUMMER-THEMED ITEMS YOU CAN BORROW
You might be reading this and thinking, “Aww, but my library doesn’t have a garden, and I don’t live near Santa Monica, California, or one of the many libraries along this year’s RAGBRAI trail in Iowa.” No worries, fellow bibliophiles, these aren’t the only library summer fun spots. Innovative libraries across the country offer a range of summer programming, from summer reading challenges for children and adults (such as the one my local library offers) to puppet shows and more. In addition, many libraries offer summer-themed items you can borrow.
Here are examples of four items you can borrow from some libraries that go hand-in-hand with summer fun:
- Athens County Public Libraries, Athens, OH
- Georgetown Public Library, Georgetown, TX
- Winter Park Public Library, Winter Park, FL
- Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, MO
- Raymond M. Blasco, M. D. Memorial Library, Erie, PA
- Woodward Memorial Librarry, LeRoy, NY
- Arapahoe Libraries, Englewood CO
- Glen Ridge Public Library, Glen Ridge, NJ
- Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento, CA
- Cumberland Public Library, Cumberland, RI
- Longwood Public Library, Middle Island, NY
- Miami‑Dade Public Library System, Miami, FL
- Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA
Share with Us!
What is your library doing this summer? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us a picture at #ProQuest!
As a child growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, a trip all the way downtown to the public library was a major excursion—and one my siblings and I always looked forward to. “My” library, the Waukegan Public Library, in Waukegan, IL, was one of the 1,679 library buildings built across the United States with funds donated by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie in the early 20th century. It was built in 1903 and continued in use as a library until 1966.
It was a grand, stately old place—all polished floors and gleaming wood tables and those rows and rows of books. For anyone who loved to read as much as I did, being turned loose in that magnificent building—library card in hand—with all those books to choose from was truly exhilarating.
Many years later I discovered that my library sentiments were shared by science fiction/fantasy author Ray Bradbury, a fellow Waukegan native. In fact, Bradbury wrote about Waukegan—pseudonym Green Town—in several of his novels, including Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He even described the Waukegan Carnegie Library in some of his short stories.
His fondness for “our” library is apparent in the following quote:
My idea of living was every Monday to run down Washington Street directly to the library … the Carnegie Library built by Andrew Carnegie at the turn of the century. I loved opening the library door and looking in and listening to all my friends in there. All the books talked to me, they all whispered. The stacks were dark and mysterious and wonderful. —Ray Bradbury in a 2006 interview
Bradbury never attended college—instead he boasted about the free education he received in the library, and he was a life-long advocate for libraries everywhere. He never forgot his roots and returned often to visit Waukegan. Bradbury passed away in 2012 and bequeathed his personal book collection to the new Waukegan Public Library.
The old Waukegan Carnegie Library still stands and its future use is uncertain, but in 2014 it was added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
Technology enhances library engagement according to the Pew Research Center’s latest typology on Americans’ public library usage. Technologically-savvy Americans, even with a world of information at their fingertips, still use library services. This suggests that technology is not replacing the need for school and public libraries. But I propose taking this finding one step further: technology has the potential to increase engagement with libraries.
Consider this case: A man becomes disengaged with libraries after he graduates from college. Years later he discovers that his local library offers online services. The hassle of physically going to the library is no longer an issue or an excuse. He taps into his library’s resources with a few simple clicks. Suddenly he has access to a plethora of free content. Plus, the library’s Web site informs him of the latest library news, events, and offerings.
This man is me.
Having access to a slew of magazines and journals has had a huge impact on my life. Content on the Internet is becoming increasingly restricted to subscribers only, and I cannot afford to pay for every publication that interests me. That is no longer a worry or a source of frustration thanks to my library card. I now have access to more writer magazines and poetry journals than I have time to read. My library’s Web site has not only saved me time and money; it has also furthered my education and expanded my access to the world.
I understand that one story is merely anecdotal. I do not represent library users everywhere. But I share my story to suggest that technology is not a death sentence for libraries as is often claimed. To the contrary, the Internet is a powerful tool that libraries are using to connect with students and the public. The face of our school and public libraries may be changing, but their online services are keeping them as relevant as ever. I am proof that the Internet can increase library engagement.
With the 2014 National Library Week upon us, let’s honor the impact of libraries past, present, and future.
Tell us below how your library is harnessing the power of the Internet to increase engagement.