In 2021, libraries saw a record number of book challenges. So it’s fitting that while American Libraries looks for Call Number podcast’s new host, we re-air our sixth episode, “Banned Books.” This episode originally aired in October 2016 but its wisdom is—unfortunately—still applicable today. Former host Phil Morehart interviews James LaRue, the then-executive director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom; Sara Stevenson, a librarian at O. Henry Middle School in Austin, Texas, who faced a book challenge over the John Green YA novel Looking for Alaska; and Marjane Satrapi, author of the award-winning graphic novel Persepolis, about how her book was being briefly banned at a Chicago high school.
Call Number with American Libraries, Jan. 20
Samantha Handler writes: “States that want to give libraries a better deal on ebooks are watching a publishers’ suit against Maryland, the first state to set terms for how digital books are distributed for public borrowing. Library associations, including the American Library Association and several state groups, have been pushing for laws to require publishers to distribute digital works to libraries on ‘reasonable’ terms. The groups say libraries pay too much for ebooks and should be able to get them at lower prices. The bills and the law enacted in Maryland have set off alarm bells for authors and publishers who fear the legislation encroaches on copyrights. A hearing on the law’s implementation will be held in early February. Library associations are watching what happens in Maryland to decide how to proceed in other states. Bills are pending in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and legislation is likely to be reintroduced with some changes in New York.”
Bloomberg Law, Jan. 18, Dec. 9
David Lee King writes: “It’s true that people crave connection, to be acknowledged and listened to. But they’re not always looking to mimic real-world connections online, and an organization that tries to position itself as a new best friend on social media can come across as fake. So how can libraries strike a balance, demonstrating authentic engagement with a patron’s experiences, whether in person or via a digital transaction? Let’s consider how libraries can make use of common engagement platforms: catalogs, e-newsletters, mobile apps, and more.”
American Libraries column, Jan./Feb.
Linda W. Braun writes: “For much of my career as a youth librarian, I had focused on the topic of teen mental health from a service point of view. That meant knowing which resources or hotlines were available in the community and being able to point teens to assistance during times of distress. I’ve recently realized that this is not enough; libraries’ support of teen mental health must be embedded in everyday services and start far before a crisis occurs. My ‘aha’ moment in realizing that we must shift from reactive to proactive support was spurred by Caring about Teen Mental Health, a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services last year.”
American Libraries column, Jan./Feb.
San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced on January 13 that a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will be used to fund a collaboration between San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the American Library Association (ALA) that aims to improve and expand library services for incarcerated individuals locally and nationally. The initiative, Expanding Information Access for Incarcerated People, will undertake a survey of existing models for library services to people in jails and prisons and a revision of outdated standards in collaboration with formerly incarcerated people and librarians. The project will also include the development of an interactive map for locating library services for incarcerated individuals, virtual trainings led by SFPL staffers and field experts, and digital literacy trainings to support people in the process of reentry.
ALA, Jan. 13
Terra Dankowski writes: “Cynthiana–Harrison County (Ky.) Public Library’s (CHCPL) first in-person program since before the pandemic made a big impression—a headline-grabbing, 1,300-pound impression, to be exact. Hank, a Tennessee Walker–breed rescue horse, moseyed on into his hometown library in September 2021 for an equine-themed storytime that included a scavenger hunt, coloring contest, and prizes. While there, Hank received his first library card, in observance of Library Card Sign-Up Month. “This [event] really brought us a lot of faces that we don’t normally see, which was exciting,” says Molly Watson, CHCPL youth services librarian. “A lot of the local news stations picked it up, [which] got shared with national news stations. We were taken aback by the attention.”
American Libraries feature, Jan./Feb.
American Library Association (ALA) members are invited to register for ALA Executive Board, Council, and other governance meetings happening in conjunction with LibLearnX. Want to join and observe member leaders at work? Find registration links and meeting documents here. Most meetings will take place before or after conference.