Mentors and student reporters for Coal Cracker in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, gather for a journalism training session inside the Teen Canteen, an old bank building that used to be a popular hangout in the 1950s and 1960s. Krista Gromalski (back, left) founded the community paper. Photo: Nikki Stetson

Community Reporting

May 31, 2016

“It’s a very depressed area economically,” Gromalski says of Mahanoy City. “The coal region, which is made up of small towns, used to be booming. Now the mining industry has been gone for several decades, older people are getting older [and] younger people are moving away because there are no jobs.” To re-create pride in … Continue reading Community Reporting


Ferguson Municipal Public Library Director Scott Bonner

Ferguson, One Year Later

August 7, 2015

ALA: How are you feeling about the anniversary? Scott Bonner: Worried. Not knowing is the worst part. There’s a possibility that we’ll see a big crowd of protesters, and if the police react strongly, things could get rough. We just don’t know. I tend to be optimistic, but I was also optimistic about the grand … Continue reading Ferguson, One Year Later


From left: Tasha Burton and Charles Wade, founders of Operation Help or Hush; Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Public Library; and moderator Leah Gunning Francis at the Ferguson One Year Later panel during the National Conference of African American Librarians. (Photo credit: Gerald Brooks)

Connecting Libraries and Social Justice

August 6, 2015

Reflecting on the tragic shooting death of Michael Brown and the resulting unrest, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and NCAAL illuminate the role of libraries in meeting the needs of communities working towards social justice. In a short film screened during the 90-minute panel session, Ferguson One Year Later: Community Perspectives—Lessons … Continue reading Connecting Libraries and Social Justice


A memorial to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

NCAAL Unofficially Begins with a Pilgrimage to Ferguson

August 5, 2015

The tour, which was offered before the opening session of the 9th Annual National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL), gave librarians insight into the city’s history and culture. The tour started at the “Black Diamonds Walk of Fame,” an alternative to the more widely known St. Louis Walk of Fame on Delmar Boulevard. This … Continue reading NCAAL Unofficially Begins with a Pilgrimage to Ferguson


Baltimore resident Kevin Eaton walks past the Enoch Pratt Free Library at Pennsylvania Avenue on April 29 as police were stationed against many city buildings and on the streets.

Libraries Respond to Community Needs in Times of Crisis

May 15, 2015

A pretty typical moment for most librarians, Diggs says, except that Tuesday morning, April 28, was no typical day. Just 12 hours before, rioting had erupted across the street from the Pennsylvania Avenue branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, when protests against the high-profile death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray turned violent. As a … Continue reading Libraries Respond to Community Needs in Times of Crisis



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Ferguson’s Safe Haven

November 10, 2014

After being informed that classes would be canceled, Carrie Pace, an art teacher at Ferguson’s Walnut Grove Elementary, wanted to do something, anything, to help with the recovery. While driving through town she passed the Ferguson Public Library. That’s where she got the idea to use the facility as a place for kids to go … Continue reading Ferguson’s Safe Haven