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Saving Lives in the Stacks

June 21, 2017

“As this nation’s opioid crisis has exploded, the staff at the public library … have become first responders,” NPR’s Scott Simon told listeners. “And I gather the librarians there have been obliged to become involved in a way that—well, become involved in a way librarians aren’t usually asked to become involved.” What Simon didn’t say—but … Continue reading Saving Lives in the Stacks


The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools and the National Education Association organized national I Am Jazz school and community readings in May. Photo: Human Rights Campaign

Standing Up for Our Communities

June 21, 2017

Underserved communities need libraries now more than ever, and among the most vulnerable communities are youth who identify as LGBTQ+. Unfortunately, library services to this group are, at the moment, “woefully inadequate,” despite the social and legal progress the community has made over the past several years. Yet libraries must take on and live up … Continue reading Standing Up for Our Communities




Steam buns at Yusho

Windy City Eats

June 1, 2017

A few years ago, I was given one of the best assignments a writer could hope for: to eat my way around Chicago and share the best restaurants in the Frommer’s EasyGuide to Chicago. American Libraries asked me to take some of my favorites and create a guide just for you, ensuring that you’re well … Continue reading Windy City Eats



An officer escorts five men from the Alexandria (Va.) Library in August 1939. They were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

“I Always Will Refuse”

June 1, 2017

August 21, 1939. Five African-American men—William “Buddy” Evans, Edward Gaddis, Morris L. Murray, Clarence “Buck” Strange, and Otis Lee Tucker—walk into the whites-only Alexandria (Va.) Library (now the Barrett branch library). Strange’s younger brother Bobby, 14, serves as lookout and courier. The men, who range in age from 18 to 22, ask for library cards … Continue reading “I Always Will Refuse”


A young Jesse Jackson (center) was one of the Greenville Eight. Joan Mattison Daniel is third from the right.

The Greenville Eight

June 1, 2017

Another of the students was Joan Mattison Daniel, a then-18-year-old freshman at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, who recently told American Libraries that “Jesse Jackson was responsible for our getting together to stage the sit-in. He had come home in January and needed a book to write a paper. The book was not at the … Continue reading The Greenville Eight



Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park

Offbeat Chicago

June 1, 2017

In downtown’s Millennium Park, the Frank Gehry–designed JAY PRITZKER PAVILION offers free outdoor concerts. On the evening of  June 23 or 24, bring a picnic and enjoy the strains of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, performed by renowned American pianist Conrad Tao. Not a classical-music fan? June 22 brings a concert by folk group Hurray for the … Continue reading Offbeat Chicago


Nikki Giovanni

Newsmaker: Nikki Giovanni

June 1, 2017

When you were growing up, what was your relationship to libraries like? We went to the Carnegie library that Andrew Carnegie had built for black Americans—Knoxville, Tennessee, was still segregated—and my librarian was Mrs. Long. I remember her getting books for me: “Well, Nikki, would you like to read this?” Some of the books I … Continue reading Newsmaker: Nikki Giovanni


Mindfulness for Librarians

Mindful Librarianship

June 1, 2017

Participants sit in comfortable chairs arranged in a circle, and Allen sounds a low bell to begin. Overhead, sunlight sifts through the double windows as the meditators silently listen to the sounds of the bell and their own in-breaths and out-breaths. Then, while a recording of a meditation by Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh … Continue reading Mindful Librarianship