All posts by Amy Carlton

Special Report: Democracy in Action

And libraries are especially well suited to be “democracy coaches,” in the words of Amanda Smithfield, a librarian at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Open to everyone regardless of political leanings, they serve as voter registration hubs and polling places and provide meeting space for community groups and forums. Our special report … Continue reading Special Report: Democracy in Action

Connecting with Congress

“Building these relationships is one of the most important strategies for a successful advocacy program,” says Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that helps members of Congress and constituents communicate effectively with each other. “There’s a general wall of cynicism that’s been built up around government. But … Continue reading Connecting with Congress

Discourse for Democracy

In a city of more than 23,000 residents, just 40 miles south of Cleveland, these forums have attracted dozens of attendees and receive significant local media coverage. They are recorded and later posted to the city’s website. Daniel Slife, the library’s director, moderates the forums, which were initiated by former Director Pamela Hickson-Stevenson. Slife always … Continue reading Discourse for Democracy

Countdown to the Vote

National Voter Registration Day In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, hundreds of libraries participated in National Voter Registration Day (NVRD). Since 2012, the nonpartisan, unofficial holiday has been held on the fourth Tuesday of September with the aim of extending the franchise to eligible voters. Last year, libraries made up 14% of NVRD’s … Continue reading Countdown to the Vote

Advocacy Tips from ALA’s Policy Corps

As part of our special package on libraries and civic engagement, we asked a few members of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Policy Corps—library workers specially trained in advocacy and policy issues—to give us their tips and best practices for being effective library advocates. Here’s what they had to say about what works and what … Continue reading Advocacy Tips from ALA’s Policy Corps

Collections in Briefs

Campbell County (Ky.) Public Library (CCPL) has four branches serving 92,000 residents, about 9% of whom are living below the poverty line. When an instructor at an early literacy skills workshop mentioned that something as basic as lacking clean underwear can keep some children from staying in the classroom, the library’s managers brainstormed a creative … Continue reading Collections in Briefs

Automatic for the People

But he says any move to automate would be about expanding services, not cutting staff. “I told that journalist, the conversation would regard whether we repurpose one of our staff, who is doing transactional work, to do more transformational work enhancing library resources and programs in senior living facilities or nursing homes or low-income housing … Continue reading Automatic for the People

Newsmaker: Raina Telgemeier

Telgemeier has also written two fictional graphic novels (Drama and Ghosts), four illustrated adaptions of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the new interactive journal Share Your Smile. American Libraries spoke with Telgemeier about her creative process, how graphic novelists became champions for unrepresented voices in publishing, and her advice for aspiring artists. You wrote two … Continue reading Newsmaker: Raina Telgemeier

Process Matters in Design

Participatory design is more than a needs assessment, a focus group, or even an ethnographic study—stakeholders actively contribute to defining problems and designing solutions. They are considered equal members of a research and design team rather than treated as research subjects. Given the diversity of library design projects and our user-centered focus, it seems a … Continue reading Process Matters in Design

Making It Count

The 2020 Census kicks off next April. As always, some census takers will be out knocking on doors. But for the first time, people will also be able to complete the questionnaires online. Librarians can help provide space, equipment, and information to guide patrons through the process. Conducting a fair and accurate count isn’t as … Continue reading Making It Count