Coping with change–especially shrinking budgets and growing demands–is the focus of several pieces in American Libraries' January-February issue, and just the act of reading them has inspired me to approach 2010 with new resolve. All of us who work for the advancement of library services in this country are going to need what James LaRue of Colorado's Douglas County Library calls "strategies for reining in expenditures without compromising the long-term integrity of our institutions."
We can also gain more footing in what's really important to library patrons in an excerpt from the forthcoming ALA Editions title Assessing Service Quality from Peter Hernon and Ellen Altman, in Lisa Rosenblum's "How to Thrive by Design in Tough Times," and in "Next Steps," a new column by Brian Mathews that will spend the next year spotlighting creative library management techniques that strive for quality service.
For American Libraries, part of the effort to rein in expenses and assess service quality will be tied to the rollout of a newly redesigned website in time for ALA's Midwinter Meeting in Boston (you're looking at it now). The new site was built in the open-source content management system Drupal by Associate Editor Sean Fitzpatrick and offers clear benefits to both end users and staff compared with the old site. We'll now be able to offer HTML versions of most of the print magazine's content, and as many of you have requested, all the articles will be comment-enabled. Please visit the site often and enjoy the expanded content, new blogs, web-only spotlights–and go ahead and jump into the conversation; we look forward to joining you there.
Also in the January-February print issue are reports from California on the ongoing saga of the Colton Public Library and its battle to stay afloat, as well as a sit-in at California State University in Fresno, where college students are fighting cuts in library service. Public support for libraries across the country continues to be strong, and ALA invites you to help it grow by visiting the Association's two websites for the public and participating in advocacy at ilovelibraries.org and awareness-raising at atyourlibrary.org. Both sites are looking for stories and testimony about the essential contributions of libraries to education and improving the quality of life in communities, schools, and academia everywhere in America.
For an inspiring study in resolve in the face of adversity that makes our hometown budget woes seem mild by comparison, read Carol Erickson's story about octogenarian Nancy Hatch Dupree and her determination to bring libraries to remote areas of Afghanistan during a time of war. More inspiration can be found in "Ringing Out for Literacy" by Judith Gibbons, and Steven Escar Smith and Holly Mercer defend online research from their vantage point at Texas A&M University. Last, take a look at the top 10 library stories of 2009, then let us know what your choices would be with a visit to americanlibrariesmagazine.org.