Author Archive: Lara Ewen

Newsmaker: Nina Totenberg

November 1, 2022

Totenberg has written a memoir, Dinners with Ruth (Simon & Schuster, September), covering her own career and the relationships that helped shape it. She spoke with American Libraries about friendship, journalism, and covering SCOTUS in unprecedented times. What made your friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg special? It was special because she was special. All my friends … Continue reading Newsmaker: Nina Totenberg


Illustration of three people running toward an open door with office files and boxes in their hands

Quitting Time

June 1, 2022

*Editor’s note: All librarian names have been changed to protect their privacy. The burnout began earlier for Chris. “Even before the pandemic started, I’d been feeling increasingly ambivalent,” says the Midwest-based academic librarian who left her associate director position in fall 2021. “Then we had the pandemic, which required libraries to make a ton of … Continue reading Quitting Time


Pad with Free Pads 4 All written on it

Period. End of Story.

May 2, 2022

“The products are important, and normalizing the conversation is important,” says Eiko La Boria, founder and CEO of The Flow Initiative, a New Jersey–based organization devoted to stamping out social, cultural, and economic inequities associated with “period poverty.” She says libraries are a natural partner for her organization’s outreach: “I wanted to implement greater access, … Continue reading Period. End of Story.


The 411 on Funding

March 1, 2022

The pandemic threw the issue of unequal access to technology into sharp relief. Multiple funding bills have been proposed in the past few years—many with similar names—to alleviate this imbalance. However, staying on top of which bills have passed, what funding is available for libraries, and how librarians can get that funding can be a … Continue reading The 411 on Funding




Pottsboro (Tex.) Area Library converted a former junk room into a private telehealth space with its own outdoor entrance. Photo: Pottsboro (Tex.) Area Library

Healthy Distance

May 3, 2021

The pandemic has thrown digital disparities into sharp relief. Between Zoom classrooms, working from home, and costly data plans, even people with reliable online access can be stretched thin. Now, as virtual doctor visits have become more common, inequitable online access has become a public health issue, too. Pam DeGuzman, associate professor for the Department … Continue reading Healthy Distance


A Lakota camp in 1891. During his presidency, Harrison forced the Sioux Nation to divide among separate reservations in the Dakotas and sent the military to Wounded Knee. Photo composite: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (Harrison, Lakota, tipis)

Tarnished Legacies

January 4, 2021

It also has led to repercussions at Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia. When, in 2015, Princeton students staged a 32-hour sit-in demanding that the school remove Wilson’s name, “we had a huge drop in funding,” says Robin van Seldeneck, the Virginia library and museum’s president and CEO. “We had people saying, … Continue reading Tarnished Legacies


2020 Holiday Gift Guide

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Librarians and Book Lovers

December 1, 2020

  Gifts under $10   Checking You Out Card ($5.50) This letterpress-printed card from Power and Light Press presents the perfect opportunity to tell someone special how you feel. The 3.5-by-5-inch library card comes in a compostable manila-colored sleeve and a pool-blue envelope.   Librarians Saving Your Ass Since 300 B.C.E. Patch ($6) This kick-ass … Continue reading 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Librarians and Book Lovers


A floor plan for furniture removal at Hennepin County (Minn.) Library’s Eden Prairie branch. Illustration: MSR Design

Virus-Responsive Design

September 1, 2020

Traci Engel Lesneski, CEO and principal at Minneapolis-based national architecture firm MSR Design, which has worked with hundreds of libraries across the country, says libraries are ideal spaces for innovative design solutions. “It’s not a stretch to think about the ways that libraries have modeled what’s next in the world,” she says. “Libraries can talk … Continue reading Virus-Responsive Design


Illustration: Tom Deja

How to Sanitize Collections in a Pandemic

June 1, 2020

It’s an unprecedented situation. Conservators, who are experienced in diagnosing and repairing collection damage, say that historical information on sanitizing library materials is lacking. Besides a bit of anecdotal evidence in a 2019 Smithsonian Magazine article, there’s very little historical data available, says Evan Knight, preservation specialist at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners: “There’s … Continue reading How to Sanitize Collections in a Pandemic