Alisun DeKock stands beside the species identification iPad in the Shedd Aquarium’s Amazon Rising habitat, as two South American tambaqui fish swim by.

Bookend: A Friend to the Fishes

March 1, 2018

The Shedd’s library of some 7,000 books is primarily for aquarium staff, interns, and volunteers and is not open to the public. The most popular materials in the collection are the field guides to various fish, plants, insects, aquatic invertebrates, and marine mammals. DeKock says that “staff members take them out on field trips because … Continue reading Bookend: A Friend to the Fishes


Archivist Tawa Ducheneaux stands over a quilt that dates to between 1913–1915. Each square was created by quilting club members from the Wounded Knee ­District in South Dakota and notes the maker’s identity, the date, and sometimes the family’s cattle brand.

Bookend: Tribal Heritage

January 2, 2018

As both the academic library for Oglala Lakota Tribal College and the public library for the reservation, the Woksape Tipi Library oversees 13 branch libraries scattered over nearly 3,500 square miles. “We’re all about local access,” says archivist Tawa Ducheneaux (pictured), one of six library employees. If a staff member isn’t present at a branch … Continue reading Bookend: Tribal Heritage


Miriam Tuliao (Photo: Todd Boebel)

Bookend: Making a Splash

November 1, 2017

On August 6, Tuliao competed at New York’s Rockaway Beach, where she helped raise more than $1,400 for the American Library Association’s Spectrum Scholarship program, which helps promote diversity in the library profession. “Going to library school meant a lot to me,” Tuliao says. “And those scholarship monies are not always there, so it’s an … Continue reading Bookend: Making a Splash


Christopher Goodbeer (Photo: Ann Schertz)

Bookend: Feeling the Music

September 1, 2017

Goodbeer—a 2007 graduate of Indiana University’s master’s programs in music and library and information science—is a Braille music transcriber. According to the Library of Congress, which certifies music transcription in Braille, fewer than 100 people are listed as having such a skill. “It was an uphill climb at first,” Goodbeer says of learning the work, … Continue reading Bookend: Feeling the Music


Attendees at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago. (Photos: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries and Cognotes)

Bookend: Conference Candids

July 27, 2017

Attendees captured on camera, counterclockwise from top: Chelsea Johnson, librarian at Marshall (Mich.) District Library, tries her hand at steering a drone through an obstacle course. Jos Holman, county librarian at Tippecanoe County (Ind.) Public Library, reads from The Inner City Mother Goose at Stand for the Banned, a banned books readout. Alison Griffin (left), … Continue reading Bookend: Conference Candids


Librarian Tara Murray (right) with Victorian-era stamp cases, stamps of the Duchy of Oldenburg from an 1863 album, and books from the American Philatelic Research Library collection. (Photos: Abby Drey)

Bookend: Philatelic Relics

June 1, 2017

For the most part, APRL does not include stamps in its collection, “but they are occasionally included as collateral material. For example, the library owns two examples of the famous 1918 ‘Inverted Jenny’ error stamp, one of which was just recovered in June 2016 after being stolen from a stamp show in 1955. The first … Continue reading Bookend: Philatelic Relics


Maureen Brunsdale (Photo: Lyndsie Schlink)

Bookend: Not Clowning Around

May 1, 2017

Don’t ask Brunsdale to name a favorite item; instead, “it’s the stories that draw me in,” she says, such as the contents of a 1907 letter from circus magnate Otto Ringling to his brothers, suggesting that they purchase the rival outfit of Barnum & Bailey. Among other highlights of the collection: an elephant harness and … Continue reading Bookend: Not Clowning Around


Mark Procknik (Photo: K&A Photography LLC)

Bookend: A Whale of an Archive

March 1, 2017

It holds an immersive array of whaling-related materials: more than 18,000 books on US and international whaling history and New England regional history, 750,000 photographs, a 700-piece cartographic collection, 2,400 log books and journals—the largest collection in the world—and three first editions of Moby-Dick (Herman Melville worked in New Bedford as a whaler and used … Continue reading Bookend: A Whale of an Archive


Clockwise from top right: Pen Pictures, a book of channeled poetry by Robert Burns published in Lily Dale in 1900; the signature pink bookplate of Skidmore’s original library, the Cassadaga Lakes Freethought Association Library; memento mori hair bracelet found inside an 1882 channeled Spiritualist text titled Oahspe; Amanda Shepp examines The Sunflower, a Spiritualist journal published in Lily Dale, 1898–1909. (Photos: Brittany Ford)

Bookend: A Librarian with Spirit(s)

January 3, 2017

Shepp was hired in 2014 as the facility’s first professional librarian and has been busily cataloging its more than 10,000 books, rearranging them into 28 thematic collections and seeing that its rare newspapers and pamphlets are digitized. “In addition to multiple collections that focus on aspects of Spiritualism, others cover the suffrage and freethought movements,” … Continue reading Bookend: A Librarian with Spirit(s)


Meredith Evans holds a copy of the 1977 letter she mailed to President Carter when she was 4 years old. She wrote, “I would like to come to your house for my [birthday] party.” Photo: Pete Winkel

Bookend: Hail to the Librarian

November 1, 2016

As director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Evans is the first African-American woman to be appointed as a presidential library director. The Carter Library receives almost 100,000 visitors per year, catering strongly to K–12 students. In fact, the former president requested that admission be free to those 16 or under … Continue reading Bookend: Hail to the Librarian


Meme Librarian Amanda Brennan has a none-pizza-with-left-beef party with some of her favorite memes (from left): LOL Wut Pear, The Signs as Fat Chefs in My Mom’s Kitchen, Little Grey Cat, and Pepe the Frog. Photo: Todd Boebel; Illustrations: Ursula Vernon (pear); Shutterstock (chef, cat); Matt Furie (frog)

Bookend: I Can Has Meme Job?

September 1, 2016

“I knew that I didn’t want to work in a traditional library,” says Brennan, who previously interned at Know Your Meme and MTV Networks’ tape library while earning her MLIS. Of her career path, she says, “It just kind of clicked—­I was up at 2 a.m. researching some weird internet thing [on Know Your Meme] and … Continue reading Bookend: I Can Has Meme Job?


Kenneth Clayton cuts James Trautman’s hair during a Barbershop in the Library event on June 20, 2016. Photo: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries

Bookend: The Cutting Edge

July 13, 2016

“Teens wanted a space to talk about what was happening in their communities,” says Adewole Abioye, teen program director at the West Englewood branch who organized and facilitates the program. “The barbershop concept was used as a catalyst to get them talking.” The program debuted in December 2015 and is held the third Monday of … Continue reading Bookend: The Cutting Edge