K. O. Lee Aberdeen (S.Dak.) Public Library, from framing to final product. Photos: K. O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library (top three); Spencer Sommer/MSR (bottom)

How to Build a Library

September 3, 2019

These libraries, each completed within the past three years, are now centerpieces of their communities. They have inspired awe and appreciation, increased user engagement, received architecture and design awards—and won over some of their critics. So how did these endeavors come together? How does a beautiful building become a reality? We asked three administrators—who have … Continue reading How to Build a Library


From the President by Wanda Kay Brown

Inclusive by Design

September 3, 2019

“When you can navigate a space, whatever that space may look like, and you don’t have to ask for help and you can do it independently, that’s confidence-building,” he says. When we think of some of the foremost goals of our profession—advocating for the value of libraries, librarians, and library workers as well as promoting … Continue reading Inclusive by Design


Sarah Studer and Arnold Phommavong at the "Libraries Transform: Social Innovation" program at the ALA 2019 Midwinter Meeting in Seattle.

Innovating with Creativity and Empathy

January 27, 2019

“[It’s remembering that] the people most affected by the problem have the best ideas on how to solve the problem,” said Sarah Studer, assistant director of the Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Studer shared with library professionals her philosophy on collective action and using business … Continue reading Innovating with Creativity and Empathy


April Aultman Becker, dean of library and research technologies at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, used Microsoft Publisher to design this series of bookmarks in her previous role as education coordinator at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Medical Library.

Cutting Out the Clip Art

September 4, 2018

“The first flier I ever designed had a clip-art border,” confesses Lamarre, head of children’s services at Duxbury (Mass.) Free Library (DFL) and a freelance graphic design consultant. “I had no idea that that wasn’t the proper way to design an eye-catching flier.” Pixelated photos, inappropriate font choices, and other design depravities—including, yes, clip art—often … Continue reading Cutting Out the Clip Art


Dispatches, by Hsuanwei Michell Chen

Design and Conquer

May 1, 2017

Be clear and concise. Ensure that the data you are illustrating is comprehensive and accurate. The goal is to convey the greatest number of ideas in the smallest amount of space in the shortest number of words. A good resource to review for inspiration is The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte. … Continue reading Design and Conquer


Ryan Gravel

“Unfettered by Reality”

January 23, 2017

Gravel—who sparked the idea for the Atlanta BeltLine, a 22-mile multiuse trail or repurposed rail lines that will eventually connect 46 neighborhoods—should know. His “ulterior motive,” he says, was simply creating a city that he wanted to live in. Gravel’s talk was testament to how one person with a bold idea can make a difference … Continue reading “Unfettered by Reality”



CollectionsCollisions.jpg

Collections Are for Collisions

October 13, 2014

The title of that tale was The Travels and Adventures of Three Princes of Serendip. The story inspired Walpole to coin the term serendipity. Who among us has never known, how­ever trivial, a serendipitous discovery? More essentially, nearly every librarian has heard at some point in his or her career someone’s story about a serendipitous … Continue reading Collections Are for Collisions