Drew Alvey (in red shirt), manager of Houston Public Library's Stimley–Blue Ridge branch, models interactive play for families. Photo: Houston Public Library

Bringing Libraries to WIC

June 1, 2018

It’s a question that Marisa Conner, manager of youth and family engagement at Baltimore County (Md.) Public Library (BCPL), says her staffers are often asked when doing outreach at Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) centers. She explains: Many WIC clients, particularly those originally from other countries, aren’t sure what a library is or whether it … Continue reading Bringing Libraries to WIC


Librarian's Library: Karen Muller

Information Access for All

June 1, 2018

Let’s start with Revised Standards and Guidelines of Service for the Library of Congress Network of Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 2017, from the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Developed by the Library of Congress and ASCLA, these supersede the 2011 standards. … Continue reading Information Access for All


Elizabeth Sargent (left), associate director of customer experience at Houston Public Library, speaks about her experience using the WIC center at Stimley-Blue Ridge.

WIC, Wellness, and Libraries

March 26, 2018

Staff members of Houston Public Library (HPL) discusses the WIC food and nutrition center in one of their branches in the session “What Having a WIC Center in Your Library Brings (Besides Crying Babies)” on March 22. Drew Alvey, manager of HPL’s Stimley-Blue Ridge branch, spoke of the WIC center project consisting of three overlapping … Continue reading WIC, Wellness, and Libraries


1 in 5 people suffer from mental illness.

Mental Health First Aid

March 1, 2017

Though many library staffers receive physical first aid and CPR training as part of their jobs, mental health first aid training happens far less often. For libraries, however, mental health training can defuse tense situations, provide needed resources, and most importantly, help patrons through crises. Such training is meant “to raise awareness and break down … Continue reading Mental Health First Aid


Stationary bikes at Troy University Library

Sweating in the Stacks

May 2, 2016

In February, Troy (Ala.) University Dean of Library Services Christopher Shaffer brought fitness to the ­libraries when he made available six exercise bikes for student use. The endeavor made national headlines. Here, Shaffer explains his motivations, the bikes’ reception, and plans for the future. The bikes were reasonably priced at $299 each, so I ordered … Continue reading Sweating in the Stacks


Marilynn Lance-Robb, branch manager at the Carvers Bay Branch Library in Georgetown, South Carolina, assists a patron with health information. Photo: Marilynn Lance-Robb

Improving Health Literacy, One Public Library at a Time

October 30, 2015

Instead, Davis assists patrons with their health care questions by helping them find information on Medline-Plus, an authoritative, free website where the public can find health information in more than 40 languages. Although Davis, a former medical librarian, is familiar with health care topics, most public librarians do not necessarily have a medical background. Still … Continue reading Improving Health Literacy, One Public Library at a Time


A death cafe meets in the Ann Stevens Room in the Anchorage (Alaska) Public Library. Photo: Kris Green

When the Subject Is Death

October 30, 2015

Since the first gathering, named death café, was held in the US in Columbus, Ohio, in July 2012, the forums have spread across the nation. And many are beginning to appear in libraries, according to Lizzy Miles, an organizer for DeathCafe.com. Miles, who organized the Columbus death café, tells American Libraries that she was inspired … Continue reading When the Subject Is Death