As communities struggle to contain COVID-19, their libraries ask: What do regular services look like in uncertain times? Some of our favorite examples of libraries meeting this challenge in creative ways are compiled in our latest issue’s Bookend, including drive-thru service, drive-in e-sports, and creating a virtual branch in the videogame Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Following the lead of Colson Whitehead, who canceled his appearance at Free Library of Philadelphia scheduled for this week, several more authors have canceled their events. Comedian Maysoon Zayid and disability activist Alice Wong, Princeton University Chair of the Center for African American Studies Eddie Glaude, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal have all declined to appear at FLP in solidarity with the Concerned Black Workers at the Free Library of Philadelphia, who posted an open letter to library leadership on June 26 alleging racism, discriminatory hiring practices, and lack of safety.
Nominations are being accepted for ALA honorary membership, the Association’s highest honor, which is bestowed on living citizens of any country whose contributions to librarianship or a closely related field are so outstanding that they are of significant and lasting importance to the whole field of library service. Members who wish to forward nominations must complete the online ALA honorary member nomination form. The completed nomination packet, with all attachments, must be received no later than September 1.
ALA and Capital One announced a new grant opportunity for rural public libraries that will support digital access and financial capability for 20 communities nationwide. Through Community Connect: Digital Access at Home, 20 rural public libraries will receive resources to support financial capability and internet access for their patrons for two years. Applications will be accepted July 6–August 26. Library workers can apply online at ala.org/CommunityConnect.
ALA announced the deferral of applications for the 2021 Lois Ann Gregory-Wood Fellowship Program. Because the program’s grant is designed to support attendance at ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting, this decision was made in light of the cancellation of the 2020 ALA Annual Conference and continued uncertainty in coming months around public health restrictions on large gatherings. The current 2020 fellow’s term will extend through 2021. ALA anticipates reopening applications in summer 2021 to resume the program in 2022.
At annual review time, many employees complete a self-evaluation, which is often the same evaluation sheet their supervisor will use. Employees’ self-perceptions are not always accurate, and self-evaluations do not offer much insight into why employees see themselves that way. Incorporating self-reflection into the evaluation process can help supervisors understand much more about where employees see their strengths, areas for improvement, struggles, and successes. Register online: LLAMA member $49; nonmember $59.
Kathi Kromer writes: “On July 2, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) introduced the Library Stabilization Fund Act (LSFA), companion legislation endorsed by the American Library Association (ALA) calling for $2 billion in federal support for libraries. When the act was introduced with 13 cosponsors in the Senate (S. 4181) and 27 cosponsors in the House (H.R. 7486), ALA called for advocates to contact their senators and representatives to cosponsor the bill.”
Lindsey Simon writes: “With food insecurity on the rise in the wake of COVID-19, libraries have continued to work tirelessly to keep local families fed. Many libraries across the country have been pursuing partnerships with local food banks and hunger relief organizations to distribute free meals to those in need. Curbside or drive-through pickup has allowed library staff to pass out the food while maintaining social distancing, mitigating further spread of COVID-19.”
In the absence of in-person journeys, travel writer and TV host Rick Steves reminisces on his favorite European libraries, their ornate interiors, and their impressive histories. On his list: the Bodleian Library at England’s Oxford University, the grand Baroque King João’s Library at Coimbra University in central Portugal, and the library at Strahov Monastery in Prague.
Jarrett Dapier and Emily Knox write: “Calling the police when a patron is disruptive may seem like a library’s only course of action. But often, the potentially violent results aren’t considered. They should be. Black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police according to Mapping Police Violence, a research collaborative that collects national data on police killings. Every time library staffers call the police, we put the lives of our Black patrons in danger.”