Flowers in the Hewitt Public Library (TX) courtyard do more than catch the eye.  They help with brain development, bring joy and promote a universal language.Each petal of the four metal flowers sounds a different tone when struck with the attached baton. Someone standing in front of a flower could easily create a song, Library Director Waynette Ditto said.The nonprofit Friends of the Hewitt Public Library raised about $5,000 to purchase the equipment from Freenotes Harmony Park outdoor musical instruments. The flowers are installed in the partly covered courtyard at the library.The recently installed equipment is just the beginning of the library’s musical ambitions.  The friends group aims to raise money to buy outdoor musical drums and a xylophone to create the full music experience surrounding the butterfly-shaped area for flowers.The project grew from a conference that Ditto and librarian Kay Carlile attended in New York last year as the library was working to earn a designation as a Family Place Library. Ditto said they learned a lot about how children’s brain development reacts to music and the positive influence created by playing instruments. Ditto said she approached the local nonprofit as money for the flowers wasn’t available in the library budget. READ MORE
by Alison Marcotte, courtesy of American LibrariesNew York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds has been writing poetry since he was 8 years old. He fell in love with the art form when he first started reading hip-hop lyrics and liner notes, and he moved toward novels after reading Richard Wright’s Black Boy at 17. Reynolds has written several YA and middle-grade novels that have earned the Newbery Honor, NAACP Image Award, and Coretta Scott King Author Honors, among others. He’s also the 2018 spokesperson for the American Association of School Librarians’ School Library Month. American Libraries caught up with Reynolds to talk about what he hopes to accomplish as this year’s spokesperson, the biggest misconceptions about teenagers today, and why school librarians should be showered with love. READ MORE
Druid Hills Middle School in Atlanta serves 930 students and is a Title I school with many students eligible for free and reduced lunch. During 2017, there were 148 students at the school who were classified as English language learners or were being monitored by ESOL teachers. There are 23 different languages spoken by students at DHMS.How does one merge all of these students from such differing backgrounds into a cohesive whole? School librarian Marcia Kochel is the answer.Jennifer Green, her nominator for a 2017 I Love My Librarian Award, said, “Mrs. Kochel is incredibly hardworking, committed to excellence, passionate about literacy, and a believer in her students. Even with limited resources, she has worked to transform the library from a traditional book repository to a ‘learning commons’ that engages kids in creative and inviting ways. The library is now buzzing with activity as a center of community, collaboration, and creativity, and Mrs. Kochel has made it happen.”Kochel arrived at the school after teaching at a private school in Atlanta where students had unlimited access to resources. At Druid Hills, the situation was very different, a public school with students from less privileged backgrounds.Nevertheless, Kochel has worked diligently to provide an exemplary academic atmosphere, one that is accessible to all students regardless of their English literacy level. Her library is a beacon for collaboration in which students can develop their talents. READ MORE
The way libraries operate is a common place for jokes. Television shows and commercials still portray a dark library with a 70-something-year-old librarian hushing patrons who are being too loud.Many grew up with that type of library – a place for reading, researching, solitude and structure – and as times have rapidly changed, libraries are seen as one of the things that haven’t.  But is that public perception still accurate? Do libraries still function the same way they did in the 20th century?For the school districts in the South Hills, the answer is a resounding no – and they’re proud of it.  Christy Smith started at Mt. Lebanon School District as an English teacher in the late 1990s before moving over to be the high school librarian, which she’s been the last 15 years.“I enjoyed teaching very much, but I feel like I’m still teaching, just in a bigger classroom,” Smith says. READ MORE
Michael W. Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene and the African-American food history blog Afroculinaria, has devoted his life to researching African-American culinary traditions and how they affect our understanding of the past and present. He has been honored by as one of the 20 greatest food bloggers of all time and was named in 2015 one of “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living.Twitty serves as honorary chair of Preservation Week, held April 22–28, which focuses this year on cooking and community archiving. American Libraries spoke with him about what can be learned about the past through food and about his work with Preservation Week. READ MORE
The Cornell Library has begun the digitization of North America’s longest-running live folk music show, “Bound for Glory.” The program was first broadcast in September 1967 and has aired at 8 p.m. on Sunday in the cafe in Anabel Taylor Hall for five decades since.The show provides diverse programming in and around the folk genre, according to the program website, and is broadcast from WVBR in Ithaca.Phil Shapiro M.A. ’69, the founder and host of the show, once led the live folk concerts and continues to participate in the program. Shapiro has entertained audience members for decades with the speeches he gives prior to every Sunday show, where he explains the proper way to promote folk music on the radio.Prior to the digitization, Shapiro kept the nearly 1,500 shows within his home on tapes and CDs, according to Evan Earle ’02, M.S. ’14, the University’s archivist. In order to avoid the deterioration of the recordings, the Cornell University Library has begun to digitize the tapes.“As a townie, I recall listening to the show on occasion growing up and have attended some performances in person,” Earle said.Earle said that Shapiro wanted the collection be made available for use, rather than simply be stored.“Since playing analog reels like this can put the material at risk, digitizing the items makes the material usable for scholarship and for enjoyment,” Earle said.Unlike many radio shows today, “Bound for Glory” does not promote particular views within the current political climate, according to Earle. Instead, the show focuses on simply enjoying the music.“Bound for Glory” has featured numerous musicians that have led promising music careers. Most recently, the show has hosted John Specker, a well-known fiddler, and Richie and Rosie, who are known for their work with American Old Time music.“We very much want to continue to digitize the rest of the collection. We estimated that the entire 1,500+ show archive could cost over $200,0000 to properly digitize and preserve,” said Earle, in regards to the completion of the project. “The first batch of digitization was funded mainly through crowdfunding, and we hope we can continue to get support to make more of this fantastic collection available and preserved for the future.”The digitized shows can be found in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in Kroch Library.  READ MORE
The Robert W. Woodruff Library and Atlanta University Center was designated a Literary Landmark in 1991 in honor of W.E.B. DuBois. DuBois served on the faculty of Atlanta University from 1897 to 1910 and from 1932 to 1944.W.E.B. DuBois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. After graduating from high school, he was accepted to Fisk College in Tennessee. This time spent in the south gave DuBois a wider  understanding of racial discrimination. DuBois went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, however, he was so deeply affected by the things he witnessed in the south that he dedicated his life to studying social behaviors and encouraging social reform. He is considered by many to be the father of social science. READ MORE
Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress has served as a wake-up call to our nation about the pitfalls of “big data” and its impact on our privacy.It is also calling attention to the important role played by librarians in safeguarding our privacy, even in the face of attempts by data analytics companies offering themselves to libraries themselves. That role will be in the spotlight from May 1-8, when the American Library Association celebrates Choose Privacy Week. The theme for this year’s celebration – “Big Data is Watching You” - is eerily apropos.Choose Privacy Week promotes the importance of individual privacy rights and celebrates libraries and librarians' unique role in protecting privacy, focuses on growing threat of "big data" analytics, especially in a time when technology, mobile computing, social media and the growing adoption of "big data" analytics pose new threats to everyone's right to privacy.  READ MORE
It is never too early to become financially literate. At every stage in life, we are faced with financial issues, whether it means spending our allowance wisely, obtaining loans for college, applying for a mortgage or saving for retirement. And our nation’s libraries are here to help, with a wealth of free resources and programs.From April 21-28, 2018, more than 1,000 of our nation’s libraries will be participating in Money Smart Week®. Library events will focus on such diverse financial issues as first-time home buying, obtaining renovation loans, preparing a personal spending plan, the property tax appeal process, evaluating financial aid packages, choosing the proper Medicare plan and the basics of wills and trusts. Libraries are also offering programs that week on options for tax-free savings and charitable tax strategies.Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. The American Library Association (ALA) is among several partnering organizations. READ MORE
There’s new proposed national legislation for library advocates to monitor and support. On March 15, 2018, the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. The proposed legislation will amend the U.S. Copyright Act 17, U.S.C. § 121, to be in compliance with the Marrakesh Treaty (Library Copyright Alliance).What Is the Marrakesh Treaty?The Marrakesh Treaty is a short title for the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.” It is an international copyright treaty approved by member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in June 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco (WIPO Summary).The main goal of the Marrakesh Treaty is to increase availability of accessible formats of published materials, including books and magazines, to print disabled people across borders. According to the World Health Organization, in October 2017 it was estimated that 253 million people worldwide have a form of vision impairment including those who are blind (World Health Organization). READ MORE