2018 Year in Review

A look back at the stories that affected libraries

January 2, 2019

2018 Year in Review
2018 Year in Review

Michelle Obama. Photo: Cognotes

Michelle Obama at Annual

At the Annual Conference of the American Library Association (ALA) in New Orleans, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden conversed before an overflow crowd of 8,000. Obama spoke about her family, her career, and writing her memoir—and about getting her first library card at age 4. (Photo by Cognotes.)


US Signs Marrakesh Treaty

On October 9, President Trump signed into law the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, which removes a key copyright barrier and allows libraries and other organizations to make materials available across borders to people with print disabilities. The treaty came into force in 2016 and now covers 74 countries.


Library Bill of RightsMeeting Rooms Language Adopted, Rescinded

At its June 26 meeting in New Orleans, ALA Council voted to update the meeting rooms interpretation of The Library Bill of Rights, specifying that libraries that provided meeting space to the public could not exclude hate groups. Members, leadership, and library advocates then engaged in weeks of passionate debate on both sides of the issue. In a special election in August, Council repealed the change and reinstated the 1991 language.


Drag Queen Storytime

Drag Queen Story Hours Become Popular, Controversial

As drag queen–hosted library story hours increase in popularity, socially conservative organizations protesting the events have gotten more vocal, organizing protests, inundating library boards with automated form letters, and causing some events to be rescheduled or relocated out of safety concerns. (Photo by Jon Viscott)


Newspaper clippings from Jim Crow era about library segregationResolution Honors African Americans

At the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, Council unanimously adopted a resolution that honored African Americans who fought library segregation and apologized for wrongs committed against them in segregated public libraries.


Federal Funding for Libraries

After a second year of #FundLibraries activism by library advocates, President Trump signed legislation on September 28 that includes level or increased funding for many library programs for FY2019. The Institute of Museum and Library Services received an additional $2 million to improve its state-formula grant administration, enabling libraries to continue offering innovative services.


Yvonne Cech and Diana Haneski

Librarians and Guns

Library Media Specialist Diana Haneski (right) saved 55 lives during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February. Haneski knew what actions to take thanks to her friend Yvonne Cech, a school librarian who had protected students during the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012. In March, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill allowing school librarians and other staff to carry firearms on the job. (Photo: Cognotes.)


Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wilder Award Name Changed

On June 23, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Board voted to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Then–ALSC President Nina Lindsay said the move reflects the division’s core values, and, in a joint statement with ALA Past President Jim Neal, acknowledged that Wilder’s works include dated cultural attitudes toward indigenous people and people of color. (Photo courtesy of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library)


3D Gun Debate Hits Libraries

On July 31, US District Court Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order to block Texas-based Defense Distributed from publishing its instructions for 3D-printed guns online, but the plans could eventually be made public. ALA created a resource to help libraries develop policies for 3D printer use. (Photo by Justin Pickard.)



Outrage Over Amazon Op-Ed

On July 23 Forbes published an op-ed arguing that Amazon stores should replace libraries. After public outcry, the publication removed the article from its website.



ALA Sees Big Changes

ALA saw major changes in 2018. In January, the Executive Board appointed Mary Ghikas as executive director through January 2020. And in September, the Association decided to explore Chicago’s commercial real estate market by listing its headquarters buildings at 40 and 50 East Huron.


#MeToo Hits Publishing Industry

The publishing industry was not spared allegations and admissions of misconduct in the wake of #MeToo. Authors Sherman Alexie, Jay Asher, and Junot Díaz were among high-profile examples of those accused, leading many librarians to question collection development policies in the face of the movement.



net neutralityNet Neutrality Rules Rescinded

The Federal Communications Commission rescinded the rules that it had passed in February 2015 guaranteeing an open, unrestricted internet. The repeal took effect June 11. The US Senate passed a resolution May 16 to reinstate net neutrality rules, but a similar measure failed to come to a vote in the House.



1958 National Library Week logo with eagle holding "Wake up and read" bannerNational Library Week Turns 60

National Library Week (NLW)—an awareness campaign conceived to get America reading—celebrated its 60th year with the theme “Libraries Lead.” In 1958, the first NLW, an effort of the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Book Publishers Council, attracted more than 11,000 newspaper articles and spurred the formation of Friends groups in dozens of cities.



Emilio EstevezEstevez Movie Highlights Libraries

Emilio Estevez visited ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans to screen his new film, The Public, a drama set inside the downtown location of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.


net neutrality

The State of Net Neutrality

A coast-to-coast roundup of efforts to restore the open internet

National Library Week promotional materials through the ages. Photos: ALA Archives

“Wake Up and Read” to “Libraries Lead”

The 60-year history of National Library Week