Joshua Kim writes: “Mary Jane Petrowski, associate director of ALA’s Association of College and Research Libraries, reached out in regard to my piece on academic library staffing trends. In that piece, I shared some Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) findings that seem to demonstrate a steep drop in academic library staffing since 2012. As Petrowski is ideally positioned to unpack academic library staffing trends, she agreed to help us figure out what is going on.” Petrowski answers whether IPEDS data is adequate for telling the story of staffing trends, contextualizes staff reductions, and shares ideas for how nonlibrarians can be allies to academic librarians.
Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 21, Feb. 12
Maggie Laurel Boyd writes: “What happens when time doesn’t heal us the way we expect? Is healing possible in the terms we have laid out for it? This reading list features eight books published in the last 20 years, plus one book published 50 years ago (it’s worth the trip back in time, though, I promise) that challenge traditional healing narratives. In the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions about health and healing remain all too relevant; many of us are realizing that illness permeates many of the spaces we exist within, and still more of us are reckoning with our vulnerability to illness. Reading these texts helps us recognize that if our arc of recovery deviates from the template, then at least we’re in good company.”
Electric Lit, Feb. 23
ALA’s Reference and User Services Association will host its second-annual RUSA Virtual Forum March 28 and March 30. Under the theme “Reference and User Services Reimagined,” the forum’s two nonconsecutive days of programs will showcase best practices for library workers in reference, user services, adult readers advisory, collection development, resource sharing, genealogy and archives, business reference, and reference technology. The opening keynote will be delivered by Nicole A. Cooke, Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and associate professor at University of South Carolina’s School of Information Science. Early bird registration ends March 11.
ALA’s Reference and User Services Association, Feb. 22
Paisley Rekdal, Peter Bromberg, and Rebekah Cummings write: “Utah is the latest state hit by the national wave of bills targeting public education. A new public school curriculum bill introduced in the Utah legislature (House Bill 427) would ‘prohibit the use of instructional materials and classroom instruction inconsistent with the principle of inalienable rights, equal opportunity, and individual merit.’ Vacuous as this description might seem, the bill is hardly empty of meaning. If passed into law, this bill would effectively shelter students from the past, spoon-feeding them versions of the world that make no one feel uncomfortable about anything, least of all actual facts. It’s not only a paternalistic attitude, but one that would stultify the classroom.”
The Hill, Feb. 24; The Guardian (US), Feb. 14; Utah State Legislature
Jodi Fortino and Kate Grumke write: “The ACLU of Missouri is challenging a new state law that bans ‘sexually explicit material’ from schools and has resulted in districts pulling hundreds of books from their shelves. The suit, filed on behalf of the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association, asks the circuit court in Kansas City to find the law unconstitutional. The ACLU filed the lawsuit against Jean Peters Baker in her capacity as the Jackson County Prosecutor and on behalf of all county prosecutors in Missouri. In its lawsuit, the ACLU argues that the law violates educators’ due process rights because it uses vague language that invites government overreach and does not differentiate school employees’ official capacity from their personal capacity.”
KCUR-FM (Kansas City, Mo.), Feb. 23
ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall writes: “Having visited, worked or consulted for, and spoken at hundreds of libraries, I don’t believe there is any educational or public service institution that more ably facilitates personal growth and community access than libraries. They place the acts of discovery and changemaking within reach of everyone. The library’s proven ability to stimulate people and ideas into action is what fueled ALA’s new Civic Imagination Stations project, a pilot supported by the Estée Lauder Companies’ Writing Change program, a three-year initiative designed to advance literacy as a pathway to equality, access, and social change.”
American Libraries column, Mar./Apr.
Shannon Cole, Tim Rockey, and Lex Yelverton report: “Part of the roof of the Palmer (Alaska) Public Library collapsed Wednesday night. Palmer Fire and Rescue Chief Chad Cameron said that everyone inside the library self-evacuated, including a family of four and three staff members. Library occupants did not suffer any injuries. Palmer Mayor Steve Carrington warned residents to stay away from the library while the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is considering next steps while the library is out of service.” Donations are being collected for Palmer Public Library through ALA’s Disaster Relief Fund.
KTUU-TV (Anchorage, Alaska), Feb. 16