Happy National Library Week!

National Library Week started yesterday, April 8th  and will end this Saturday the 14th.

What is National Library Week? From ala.org:

National Library Week (April 8- 14, 2018) is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and library workers and to promote library use and support. From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries offer opportunity to all. The theme for 2018 National Library Week is “Libraries Lead,” and American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Misty Copeland will serve as 2018 National Library Week Honorary Chair.

National Library Week 2018 will mark the 60th anniversary of the first event, sponsored in 1958. This national celebration is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate every year in National Library Week.

Main events taking place throughout the month of April are as follows:

You can read more about the 60 year history of National Library Week over at American Libraries Magazine’s website.

This year the National Library Week Honorary Chair goes to ballerina Misty Copeland.  Copeland made history in 2015 when she became the first African American woman (in the company’s 75-year history) in the company’s 75-year history.to ever be promoted to the position of principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

She’s also the author of two New York Times Bestsellers: Her 2014 memoir  Life in Motion and  Ballerina Body, released last year. She also wrote a picture book titled Firebird which won the  Coretta Scott King Book Illustrator Award in 2015.

As we celebrate libraries this week, take time to get to know your local libraries a bit better.  Here are some past posts of mine that’ll get your journey started:

Learn about the various types of libraries through my Types of Libraries Infographic and learn Five Facts about Libraries from this infographic I created.

I also got the opportunity to conduct four interviews with librarians and library staff from libraries around the country! Here they are linked below:

ALA Library’s Karen Muller

Florida Department of Corrections’ Dean Peterson

New York Public Library’s Brandy McNeil

The Library of Congress’s Jennifer Gavin

Libraries are important to society and they need all of the support that they can get. Support your local library today!

 

 

Advertisements

National Library Week Throwback Interview: The Library of Congress’s Jennifer Gavin

National Library Week has come to an end and I want to end this weekly celebration with a bang. Last year for Uncanny Pop, I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Gavin a Senior Specialist of Public Affairs at the Library of Congress. All photos courtesy of the Library of Congress. Read it below:

The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith
The Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith

TA: Can you tell us what your job is at the Library of Congress?

JG: My title is Senior Specialist, Public Affairs.  I am the No. 2 person in the Office of Communications, behind the Director, and I act as office manager, do some blogging, edit all copy that passes through here (250+ news releases a year, a weekly newsletter, calendars, a bimonthly magazine and the annual report) and stand in for the director in her absence.  The director is the spokesperson for the Library.

TA: What inspired you to work be a librarian/library staff member?

JG: This is an amazing and world-renowned institution. It’s a privilege to work here.

Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress; photo by Michael Dersin
Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress; photo by Michael Dersin

TA: What is one thing about working at the library that you love?

JG: Getting to see in person, as part of my job, major treasures that occasionally are brought out and shown as part of a display for dignitaries, in preparation for public exhibitions, or for the media.

TA: What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better librarian/library staff member?

JG: How to write and edit well.  And to do that, you have to read a lot.

TA: Why is it important to promote literacy?

JG: Reading at least reasonably well is the foundation of any working life. If you want to have a job that doesn’t pay badly, you MUST be able to read.

TA: How can libraries continue to promote library use?

JG: By being useful in their communities, by being proactive in promoting how useful they are in their communities, and by keeping up with the times (which may mean adopting digital approaches or reaching out to changing demographic groups – it means different things in different places).

Thomas Jefferson's Library Exhibition
Thomas Jefferson’s Library Exhibition

TA: What advice can you give someone who is interested in becoming a librarian/working in the library?

JG: In high school and college, get a good, broad undergraduate education, but try to get internships and off-hours work in Library settings.  If the work still fascinates you, figure out which aspect of it you like best and go get a graduate degree in that area (for example, archiving, or preservation, digital specialties, library management – there are many choices). To have a full career in this field, it is probable one will need a master’s degree.

TA: What impact has social media had on libraries?

JG: It has given them new avenues to reach out to the public.

Photo by Rob Sokol
Photo by Rob Sokol

TA: How can libraries use technology more efficiently?

JG: That’s a broad question, but the short answer is: the same way good managers do anything efficiently – there is usually money involved (hiring people and marshaling purchasing power) and getting the max for minimum outlay is the basic definition of efficiency.

TA: What is a favorite book about libraries of yours?

JG: There are a couple of excellent histories of the Library of Congress by author Helen Dalrymple.

minerva
“Minerva of Peace,” a large marble mosaic of the Greek goddess of wisdom and war by Elihu Vedder in the East Corridor staircase in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith.

TA:  What are some challenges affecting libraries today and what can be done about them?

JG: Most state and local governments have tight budgets. Libraries often aren’t at the top of the priority list.  Libraries need to get their supporters out to make sure their local officials know that libraries ARE a priority in budgets.

The Great Hall, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith
The Great Hall, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo by Carol Highsmith

TA: Who is a librarian/library staff member who inspires you?

JG: Several staff members in our Music Division are very knowledgeable about music, with excellent training in that area, in addition to their duties as librarians. The Library of Congress holds a classical music concert series and some of the program notes written by David Plylar are just fantastic – he ought to be doing this for a major orchestra somewhere, or at Carnegie Hall.  But we get to have him.  That’s very special.

TA: What does the future hold for libraries?

JG: They will always be loved, but they need to get active to stay lovable.

View of the ceiling of the main reading room.
View of the ceiling of the main reading room.

TA: What library projects are you currently working on?

JG: The duties mentioned above; in addition I am a member of a special task force at the Library reaching out to the Latino community to improve its awareness of our offerings (we have extensive collections of interest to the Hispanic world) and to increase the number of Latinos (and other underrepresented groups) employed here.

Visit the Library of Congress’ website: http://www.loc.gov/

All photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

And that concludes this year’s celebration of National Library Week! I hope you enjoyed the posts and I’ll see you here next year.

National Library Week Infographic: Types of Libraries

As we near the end of this year’s National Library Week, today’s post focuses on the different types of libraries that exist in our communities. Libraries can come in all shapes and sizes, they can be private or public and more. So here’s my infographic I created via Piktochart last year for Uncanny Pop.

typesoflibraries

National Library Week Throwback Interview: New York Public Library’s Brandy McNeil

Today’s post is an interview I conducted for Uncanny Pop last year with New York Public Library’s Brandy McNeil, manager of the New York Public Library’s technology programs, TechConnect.

The TechConnect program offers more than 80 free technology classes at libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Classes include learning about computers and tablets, internet basics, Microsoft Office, video chatting, finding a job online and much more.

Read the interview below as McNeil shares her experience in creating innovative programs that help educate and inspire library users.

TA: What inspired you to work at the Library?  

BM: I wanted to continue my love of helping people, to teach them something new. The non-profit world was one that I hadn’t tackled and I thought it would be interesting to really understand what engages and moves people when they have free access to something.

TA: What is one thing about working at the library that you love?  

BM: I love that every day is different:  New challenges, new tasks. I love trying to come up with new ideas that our patrons may love.

TA:  How can libraries continue to promote library use?  

BM: Libraries can continue to promote library use by showing people that we are changing with the times.  If we show people that we can help educate them on their journey or at least give them the first steps in the right direction, we will continue to have patron usage.  We are not just books, but unfortunately, most people don’t realize that.  We have to stay continuously engaged with our patrons from elementary school and up so that we take the journey with people throughout every stage of their life.  I find it sad when I hear people mention the last time they went to their local library was when they were in elementary school or only to get a book for their child because they are missing the benefits that we have for them.

TA: What advice can you give someone who is interested in working in the library?  

BM: My advice to someone who is interested in working at the library is to have a passion for helping people and a continued passion for learning and wanting to know as much information as possible. You never know what type of question or need might pop up!

TA: How did the NYPL TechConnect Classes project come about?  

BM: The library wanted to proactively invest in the digital literacy of NYC.  So we decided that we needed to brand a program of innovation for patrons at the library where learning technology was at the forefront.

TA: How can libraries use technology more efficiently to create innovative programs that allow Library users to learn new technology and digital skills that help educate and inspire?  

BM: The best way to do this is by having a variety of staff who have a passion for technology and the skills to teach it.  In addition, there must be some type of leeway given to allow for experimentation so that innovation can happen, which would include the purchasing of technologies that patrons may or may not know about and technologies that patrons may or may not be able to afford.

TA: What are some challenges affecting libraries today and what can be done about them?  

BM: One of the challenges affecting the library today would be trying to change the mindset of people so they realize just how important and all the many benefits that libraries provide outside of the traditional use of books.  Another challenge is having enough funding to renovate locations where the basics needs of the building hinder the focus on programs that could be done.  There are branches that need computers labs.  However, due to flooding issues with the city streets, it hinders a computer lab from being able to be included in a location.

TA: Who is a librarian/library staff member that inspires you?  

BM: The library staff member that inspires me are the TechConnect training staff.  They really have a passion for technology and figuring out ways to help others with their digital literacy and that inspires me.

TA: What does the future hold for libraries?  

BM: Technology will be one of the biggest roles in the future for libraries. I think the future of the library will be about how quickly libraries can adapt to the changing needs and wants of patrons.

TA: What library projects are you currently working on?

BM:  I am currently working on Interactive Testing for patrons where they can assess themselves, as well as a Phase 2 to the very popular 10-week coding program called Project Code that boasts a waiting list that would probably wrap around a NYC block.

 

National Library Week Throwback Interview: Florida Department of Corrections’ Dean Peterson

For today’s post, here’s an interview I conducted for Uncanny Pop from last year’s National Library Week.  It’s with librarian Dean Peterson. Since 2001, he’s worked for the Florida Department of Corrections and all but two of those years were in library services-the other two were in education.  For the first nine years he supervised the libraries at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida.

You can read the interview below:

TA: What inspired you to be a librarian/library staff member, particularly one that works in a prison?

DP: In 2001, the Florida Department of Corrections had an opening for a professional librarian. Although I was not initially a librarian, I was a lifelong library user and supporter. I then earned a Master’s Degree (MLIS) from the University of South Florida using the state employee tuition waiver.

TA: What is one thing about working at the library that you love?

DP: I couldn’t get enough of the tough reference questions inmates asked.

TA: What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better librarian/library staff member?

DP: Speaking strictly from a correctional point of view, the importance of taking your time and getting things right, and not letting anyone rush you into decisions or actions. A large part of what we do is law libraries, and you’re dealing with legal deadlines real and imagined. You are often pushed for a fast response, sometimes in an attempt to trip you up. The number one thing I tell new library people is to take your time, step away, and find out what rule and procedure says. There is almost never a need to make a snap decision.

TA: Why is it important to promote literacy?

DP: Again from a correctional standpoint, the goal is to reduce recidivism. The vast majority of inmates will return to Florida’s communities. I want them to succeed in life and stay out of prison. Being literate is a proven route to success after re-entering society.

TA: How can prison libraries continue to promote library use?

DP: Keeping our libraries stocked with current reading a legal materials, and making them welcoming places for inmates to visit goes a long way toward promoting inmates to use the resources we offer. We’ve also seen success when implementing interactive programming such as writing and poetry contests and inmate book clubs.

TA: What advice can you give someone who is interested in becoming a librarian/working in the library?

DP: Embrace technology. Learn it. Get an entry-level non-professional position to get your foot in the door. Get your MLS or MLIS. Be flexible and resilient. Be reliable.

Photo: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/annual/1314/stats/index.html Photo: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/pub/annual/1314/stats/index.html

TA: What impact has public opinion have on prison libraries?

DP: Public opinion usually does not have an impact on prison libraries.

TA: Is there a stigma about working in a prison library?

DP: None that I’ve ever identified.

TA: How can prison libraries and the community that they’re located in work together?

DP: Community efforts help prison libraries tremendously. Book donations from community efforts have been invaluable for prison libraries.

TA: What is a favorite book about libraries of yours?

DP: I have not read a book about libraries, however this question might inspire me to do so.

TA: What are some challenges affecting prison libraries today and what can be done about them?

DP: Delivering general library services on a tight budget is a challenge, and building a working relationship with the community is one way to deal with that challenge.

TA: Who is a librarian/library staff member that inspires you?

DP: There have been three women who have played huge roles in my library career. First is Diane Walden, who is head of prison libraries in Colorado. She is the one who originally hired me when she was in Florida, and she is a giant in correctional libraries. She gave me a great deal of guidance in a relatively short period of time. Then there is Janet Coggan, who pushed me to get my MLIS and imparted a lot of good practical advice, along with being a good friend. Finally, there is Marty Morrison, the head of prison libraries in Florida. Marty is also a good friend, and it’s been my privilege to work closely with her the past year and a half. What I’ve learned from her (and continue to learn) has been immeasurable.

TA: What does the future hold for prison libraries?

DP: Libraries in the prison system faces similar challenges to public libraries. The fast pace of technology is a factor.

TA: What library projects are you currently working on?

DP: I continue to work on a series of training videos for library staff in Florida prisons.

National Library Week Infographic: Did You Know? 5 Library Facts

National Library Week is in full swing and today’s post is an infographic that features five facts about the library. I made it last year for Uncanny Pop via Piktochart.

nationallibraries

National Library Week Throwback Interview: ALA Library’s Karen Muller

We kick off National Library Week with a throwback interview I did last year for Uncanny Pop with a representative of the American Library Association Library.  The ALA library is a small special library housing a collection focusing exclusively on the history of and issues with libraries and librarianship.  The library’s primary mission is to “help the staff of the American Library Association serve ALA members, and thereafter, the needs of the members of ALA, other libraries, and members of the public seeking information on librarianship.”

I had the opportunity to interview the ALA Library’s Director of Library and Knowledge Management Specialist, Karen Muller.

Read the interview below:

TA: What inspired you to become a librarian?

KM: Basically, I became a librarian because of a love of learning and scholarship, but with interests too wide to focus enough to be a scholar myself.  By being a librarian, I can help others pursue their scholarly interests.

TA: What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you a better librarian?

KM: As secretary to the Keeper of Rare Books at the Boston Public Library, I learned about the process of scholarly research in libraries, as well as the core preservation function libraries have to take measures to insure that resources will be available for future generations.

TA: Why is it important to promote literacy?

KM: Although knowledge may be transmitted in many ways, much of our store of knowledge is recorded as text.  Being able to decipher that text-read-unlocks the content.  Reading also opens windows through the more creative acts of enjoying poetry or literature.

TA: How can libraries continue to promote library use?

KM: In addition to using the tried-and-true forms of outreach–book columns in local newspapers, summer reading programs, activities around national celebrations like National Library Week–currently underway — April 12-18, 2015, and general publicity–I think we’ll see increases in programming that appeal to segments of the community, such as game nights for teens, craft clubs, use of the community room for book groups and similar activities, but also specific promotion of the new services libraries have, such as terminals for free internet access and programs that help teach job skills or provide tips on completing online forms.

TA:  What advice can you give someone who is interested in becoming a librarian?

KM: We at the ALA Library answer variants of this question all the time.  Becoming a librarian requires earning a master’s degree in library and information science from one of the 59 programs accredited by the American Library Association.  The undergraduate degree can be in any academic subject.  Once armed with the degree, the career path can go in many directions, depending on skills, interests, scholarly interests, and involvement in continuing education activities.  People work in public libraries-the 9,600 or so libraries we see on Main Street in cities and towns across the U.S.; people work in school libraries-some 110,000 in elementary, junior high, and high schools everywhere; people work in academic libraries, from rural “ag and tech” programs to suburban liberal arts colleges to large, sprawling land grant university campuses; and people work in special libraries, or those that serve a defined clientele or institution, ranging from law office libraries, to ecology center libraries, to museum libraries, to hospitals.  The American Library Association Library is a special library, serving primarily our headquarters staff, and, through them, our members, along with librarians who contact us directly; we are not open to the general public.

TA: What impact has social media had on libraries?

KM: If anything, I think the ready streams of  news about what libraries are doing has heightened the profile of libraries. Those libraries with effective social media outreach are also among our most vibrant.

TA: How can libraries use technology more efficiently?

KM: Libraries use technology in many ways, some visible to the public, but others working behind the scenes to support information delivery.  ALA has worked throughout its existence to identify new technologies and apply them effectively to library practice. Librarians need to stay current with these technologies and their underlying standards to be able to exploit them for information delivery. Work is underway for connecting locally available print materials with online resources that extend them so as to provide researchers with the best information available. This can only be done when libraries use systems that work together with the end user in mind. A simple example is one I read in the newspaper: a dad was assigned the task of finding and returning an overdue library book.  Having no clue what to look for, he went to the online catalog on the library’s web page–and found the image of the book cover, the book he’d been reading to his son the night before. Simple need, seemingly easy answer, but the trail of technology and cooperative agreements that go far beyond the local library is long.

TA: What is a favorite book about libraries of yours?

KM: I read two kinds of books about libraries. I have a column in ALA ‘s magazine, American Libraries, where I review five-seven professional books each issue.  A recent favorite out of these is “Everyday Information: the Evolution of Information Seeking in America,” by William Aspray and Barbara M Hayes (MIT Press, (c)2011).  The authors look at several types of information we need in our daily lives, such as travel information, and how we research it.  I also read a genre of mysteries called cozies, and some of these take place in libraries, or have a librarian protagonist.

TA: What are some challenges affecting libraries today and what can be done about them?

KM: Libraries are faced with budget cuts as government ally-supported services of all kinds are squeezed. Librarians and their beneficiaries–which should be everyone–need to advocate for not just maintained support, but increased support. Study after study has shown that a dollars spent on library services return four, five, or more dollars back to the community in educational performance, job growth, real estate value and other important community measures.  An educated populace is an involved populace, and libraries are a key source of education after the school years are done.

TA: Who is a librarian that inspires you?

KM: The librarian–and there are far too many of them–who struggles daily to bring library services to his or her community despite the lack of funds and staff needed to supply the surrounding community with the services needed.  The librarian who can get the kids into the library and engaged in a summer reading program using only hand-done posters and his or her own strength of will. Imagine how the community would thrive with only a little more funding. Imagine a lot. These are the dedicated librarians we should celebrate.

TA: What does the future hold for libraries?

KM: I think the future of libraries will be much like the past: a constantly evolving institution that maintains the culture of the past, even as it enables its users to acquire the knowledge they need to invent, write, invest, build, create.  In my first days at the Boston Public Library, I, along with other new hires, had an orientation. One of the stories we were told was of a 19th century Italian immigrant who studied in the reading room every night, living frugally.  He later gave a portion of the fortune he had amassed through investments he made with what he learned to the library. I don’t remember his name, but I remember two things: you never know who the humble looking library user really is, so service should be equitable, and you never know what great things will be done with the information you help supply. And that help is not just frontline help, but all the behind-the-scenes activities that bring information to the user.

TA: What projects is the ALA Library currently working on?

KM: The ALA Library is wrapping up a migration from one catalog platform to another.  Over the past year we have worked through the process to use the WorldCat Discovery product from OCLC to power our library catalog, and with that, access to the digital content available to our users.