Broadcast Collaboration

September 16, 2011

“Remind me how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull?” “What music should I play for a piece about polar bears?” “David Hasselhoff—singing at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Can you find tape?” Welcome to a typical day at the National Public Radio library in Washington, D.C., where over 10,000 such requests come in each year from staff, … Continue reading Broadcast Collaboration

A Pioneer Evolves

August 1, 2011

Andrew Carnegie had a radical idea. In 1895 when he developed the public library complex in Pittsburgh, it included swimming pools, music halls, art galleries, and a natural history museum. He wanted to ensure that his mill workers and their families had easy access to excellent cultural assets. The original building still stands today. However, … Continue reading A Pioneer Evolves

We Never Close

May 19, 2011

Imagine that your library building is open 24/7 with no overnight staff or security gates. What if trusting patrons to abide by the honor system actually worked? That’s the reality at Marlboro (Vt.) College's Rice-Aron Library, where an open-door policy has been in effect for decades. To understand this library, you must consider the campus … Continue reading We Never Close


The Little Library that Could

March 7, 2011

Inspiring libraries are often the ones with big budgets. They have impressive buildings, enormous collections, and large staffs. The Makiki Community Library in Honolulu, Hawaii, has none of these things, but that doesn’t make it any less remarkable. This small donations-based, volunteer-driven organization effectively executes its deep-seated mission of engaging the community. In the 1940s, … Continue reading The Little Library that Could

Forward Compared to What?

December 20, 2010

As a forward-looking library faces the future, one of the most vital steps it can take is to determine where it stands right now. You might have a destination in mind, but without knowing your current location the journey ahead will be difficult. We all have opinions on how well we are performing and the … Continue reading Forward Compared to What?

The Stanford Innovation Juggernaut

October 14, 2010

The libraries at Stanford University have been a juggernaut of innovation over the last 20 years. They have reenvisioned scholarly communications with the launch of HighWire Press, initiated digital preservation and archiving tools LOCKSS and CLOCKSS, become a founding member of the open-source course management software Sakai, and developed numerous enhancements to Blacklight, the open-source … Continue reading The Stanford Innovation Juggernaut

Transforming a Hodgepodge

September 27, 2010

In Stevens County, Washington, public libraries are a fairly new concept. Residents voted to form a library district in 1996, transforming a hodgepodge of donation-based collections run by volunteers into a modern system. Over the past decade library staff have worked hard—not only at providing service but also on shaping perceptions of what exactly a … Continue reading Transforming a Hodgepodge

The Customer’s Always Right

August 16, 2010

We strive to provide great customer service, yet few of us actually use the “C” word. We have many names—patron, borrower, user, reader—but “customer” remains controversial and typically we avoid it. Not so at Howard County Library, located in the Baltimore suburbs. At HCL, they embrace the term, feeling that it accurately conveys the relationships … Continue reading The Customer’s Always Right

Social Eyes

June 10, 2010

“Library fines got you down? Help build our Facebook page to 500 people & I'll waive fines of two students.” This message streamed across the Luria Library’s Twitter feed. In less than 140 characters, it perfectly portrays the playful and forgiving nature of its library director, and demonstrates the rising value of social capital, which … Continue reading Social Eyes

Weeding Grows the Garden

April 16, 2010

Michael Sawyer takes pride in weeding books. In fact, he estimates that over the past 30 years he has overseen the removal of more than 500,000 items across eight library systems. As you can imagine, this has not been without controversy. “Many librarians have an emotional attachment to their collections,” Sawyer observes. "They think of … Continue reading Weeding Grows the Garden