Sen. Barack Obama speaks at the 2005 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition

Bound to the Word

June 2, 2021

President-Elect Barack Obama keynoted the opening general session at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23–29, 2005, while a US senator from Illinois. This article, published in the August 2005 issue of American Libraries, is an adaptation of that speech, which drew record crowds and garnered a standing ovation. See also AL’s interview with … Continue reading Bound to the Word


The reader's road trip. Illustration by Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries and Anastasia Krasavina/Adobe Stock

The Reader’s Road Trip

June 1, 2021

“A Literary Landmark is a source of pride for the community,” says Beth Nawalinski, director of United for Libraries, the American Library Association division that now oversees the program. Often the collaboration of Friends groups, community leaders, and literary organizations, these landmarks “demonstrate the power and synergy of those who support the library and literacy … Continue reading The Reader’s Road Trip


Graphic reading "Annual Conference Preview"

2021 Annual Conference Preview

June 1, 2021

FEATURED SPEAKERS Check the Annual Conference Scheduler for dates and times. Opening Session Thursday, June 24, 10–11 a.m. Investigative reporter and author Nikole Hannah-Jones will open Annual Conference. Her work on the 1619 Project, The New York Times Magazine’s groundbreaking exploration of the legacy of Black Americans, won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Listen to … Continue reading 2021 Annual Conference Preview


Historical photos of Black men participating in civic life from the Black Male Archives.

Chronicling the Black Experience

June 1, 2021

“I felt there weren’t enough stories portraying positive Black men,” says Freeman, director of Riviera Beach (Fla.) Public Library. “If people, mainly white people, saw us in a more holistic light, as fathers, husbands, and leaders, they wouldn’t automatically assume we are criminals, monsters, and demons.” To fill this need, Freeman created the Black Male … Continue reading Chronicling the Black Experience


Graphic of letters and legal scales

Libraries and the Law

June 1, 2021

We’ve assembled some of their most topical entries, touching on copyright issues for remote learning, face-mask exceptions, and liability waivers, among other things. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of ALA or PLA. It is meant to serve as a starting point for librarians … Continue reading Libraries and the Law


Illustration of dozens of diverse faces (Illustration: Franzi Draws)

Ask, Listen, Empower

June 1, 2021

Put another way, it is not enough to simply be not racist; we must work to be antiracist. Psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, uses the analogy of a moving walkway. The history and structures of racism are the walkway. It is not enough to simply stop walking, because you’re still moving … Continue reading Ask, Listen, Empower


Ellen Keith, director of the Chicago History Museum Library, displays items related to the Great Chicago Fire. Photo by Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries

Bookend: Archiving the Aftermath

June 1, 2021

“It’s just amazing how much the aftermath was documented,” says Ellen Keith, director of the museum library. The library’s holdings include period maps and stereographs (an early form of three-dimensional photographs popular in the 19th century) depicting the burned areas of the city, transcripts of the 1871 fire department hearings, a 1997 mayoral resolution exonerating … Continue reading Bookend: Archiving the Aftermath


Alicia Serratos poses in front of a seed library holding a box of seeds.

Newsmaker: Alicia Serratos

June 1, 2021

Serratos started her first seed library in 2014 at her elementary school in Mission Viejo, California, after learning about healthy eating, gardening, and sustainability. Through Three Sisters Seed Box, she has now helped place seed libraries in all 50 states and has filled requests from as far away as India. American Libraries talked with Serratos … Continue reading Newsmaker: Alicia Serratos


Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley, Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, and Patricia "Patty" M. Wong

Countering Anti-Asian Hate

May 26, 2021

Three ALA member leaders who have helped blaze the trail for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander library workers discussed with American Libraries their goals for the Association, their experiences with bigotry, and what libraries and library workers can do to counter hate. The three leaders are: Maria Taesil Hudson McCauley, director of libraries, … Continue reading Countering Anti-Asian Hate


2021 Library Systems Report (Illustration: Tom Deja)

2021 Library Systems Report

May 3, 2021

Only a few minor acquisitions took place in this deeply consolidated industry last year. Unlike in 2019, none of these transactions altered the overall balance of power among competitors. Vendors made extraordinary efforts to help customer libraries cope with changed services while they continued product development agendas looking beyond current circumstances. Responses to the crisis … Continue reading 2021 Library Systems Report


The library employment landscape

The Library Employment Landscape

May 3, 2021

Even before COVID-19 struck early last year, the LIS job market was a competitive one. Now, with the pandemic’s one-year anniversary behind us, the employment landscape for librarians has become even rockier and more unstable for entry-level candidates. At Syracuse (N.Y.) University School of Information Studies, for instance, the job placement rate for graduating LIS … Continue reading The Library Employment Landscape


Illustration: Man does virtual interview at home with laptop, wearing shirt and tie with pajama bottoms and slippers (Illustration: Shane Tolentino)

The Virtual Job Hunt

May 3, 2021

After a particularly tough rejection, she reached out to a librarian friend for moral support. “She said, ‘You have it, but, by the way, there’s this job that opened up at the last minute in my district,’ which I didn’t know about,” Vela says. “So she put my name in.” It was Vela’s 35th job … Continue reading The Virtual Job Hunt