Patron Xander Dianen returns a wagon to Summers County (W.Va.) Public Library.

An Uphill Battle

May 2, 2022

At the core of library work are stories. We listen to our patrons’ stories when we perform a reference interview, readers’ advisory, or a community needs assessment. We interpret these stories to supply our users with the best information and resources to fit their situation. Often, this is simple, but other times this requires close … Continue reading An Uphill Battle



Speaking Up

March 24, 2022

At the March 23 Opening Session of PLA 2022 in Portland, Oregon, PLA President and Richland (S.C.) Library Executive Director Melanie Huggins addressed a masked and gleeful crowd and acknowledged these “rough last two years.” “We have navigated challenges and risks in our personal and professional lives, but you made it a priority to be … Continue reading Speaking Up


Elgin (Ill.) Area Pandemic Team

Relief for Renters

March 1, 2022

In March 2021, Gail Borden Public Library District (GBPLD) received a grant contract from the Illinois Department of Public Health with a budget of up to $415,000 to create the Elgin Area Pandemic Assistance Team. Part of the department’s Pandemic Health Navigator Program, the project connects people with community and municipal resources that address pandemic-induced … Continue reading Relief for Renters


On My Mind by Cynthia Kiyotake

Broadening Outreach

March 1, 2022

My eight-branch library system in the Denver metro area serves about 655,000 people across much of Arapahoe County, covering a diverse social landscape: lower-income communities, rural Coloradans, a county jail, and a variety of residential and commercial interests. Various groups within our libraries administer programming work collaboratively to meet the particular needs of children and … Continue reading Broadening Outreach


Molly Shannon

Molly Shannon Announced as National Library Week Honorary Chair

January 20, 2022

Molly Shannon, multiple Emmy-nominated and Spirit Award–winning actress and comedian will help celebrate our nation’s libraries as the honorary chair of National Library Week. Shannon will highlight the ways libraries serve to connect communities to books, resources, programs, and each other. Shannon said she is “honored” to serve as honorary chair. “My mom was a … Continue reading Molly Shannon Announced as National Library Week Honorary Chair


Illustration of a library building with small business owners (lawn care, baker, contractor) inside and outside (Illustration: Gaby FeBland)

Big Ideas for Small Business

November 1, 2021

In fact, the number of minority-owned small businesses that reported trying and failing to get a loan to help with the pandemic was 60% greater than nonminority-owned small businesses, according to an August 2020 study by the US Chamber of Commerce and MetLife. Additionally, minority-owned small businesses were almost 10% more likely to report that … Continue reading Big Ideas for Small Business


Foodlink Community Café in Rochester (N.Y.) Public Library’s Central Library provides culinary training and work experience for people who have faced barriers to employment. Photo: Foodlink

Cafés with a Conscience

November 1, 2021

“We talked about how we could make things better in our neighborhood,” says Patricia Uttaro, director of RPL and Monroe County Library System. “We have been doing a lot of work with our library on social justice and conversations on race. We wanted to find a solution there.” RPL collaborated with Foodlink, a local nonprofit … Continue reading Cafés with a Conscience


Silhouette of mosque on gold background (Illustration: green2/AdobeStock)

Understanding the Other

September 1, 2021

Ghada Kanafini Elturk, a Lebanese American who was then working as community and cultural outreach librarian at Boulder (Colo.) Public Library, described the hostility against Muslims and Arab Americans in the months after the attacks. “Those Americans who are not familiar with my culture do not show respect,” she told American Libraries reporter Ron Chepesiuk … Continue reading Understanding the Other


An ad used by Multnomah County (Ore.) Library to promote its Library Music Project.

Stream On

September 1, 2021

“Portland and Multnomah County really treasure their music and libraries, so it was a natural fit,” says Shawn Cunningham, director of communications and strategic initiatives at MCL, about the Library Music Project, which offers more than 250 locally produced albums to stream or download. The service also provided MCL with a gateway into the local … Continue reading Stream On


Getting Back into the Community

June 26, 2021

“[During the pandemic], the definition of outreach was put to the test,” Zimmerman said. She detailed the ways in which libraries across the country pivoted in their outreach and service methods: offering contactless deliveries and curbside services, repurposing outreach vans to become delivery vehicles and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, making phone calls to connect with seniors … Continue reading Getting Back into the Community


Gracey Gordon, Liz M. McChesney, Vicky Perez, Aldo Vasquez

Priming the STEM Pipeline

June 25, 2021

The STEM career pipeline is “leaky,” often leaving behind students of color and those in poverty. For this reason, the Urban Libraries Council—with funding from IMLS—launched Partners for Middle School STEM in 2018. This grant funded programs at 11 libraries to develop models for building strong STEM community partnerships for middle school children. Durham County … Continue reading Priming the STEM Pipeline