It's 9.15 a.m. when a dark green, 1993 Toyota truck that's logged 160,000 miles pulls into Tooele County (UT) jail parking lot. A tall, thin woman in khaki cargo pants and a black T-shirt gets out to unload boxes of donated books and cart them into the men’s jail library.Once the fiction and nonfiction have been mingled with the existing stock, she admires the 1,300 titles.“I’m into pretty. Pretty books are happy books,” says Toby Lafferty, who then bids the books farewell that October morning. “Bye guys, see you next time.” She often sends “good energy to the books. They’re going into places that are quite dark.”Men and women in 35 prisons and jails in 13 states nationwide depend on Lafferty and her Millcreek-based nonprofit, Books Inside, for a monthly supply of books to expand often decrepit libraries. Last year, Books Inside mailed 23,000 books to incarceration facilities. In Utah alone, she supplies seven jails and created libraries from nothing in the Tooele County and Kane County jails. READ MORE
In celebration of El día de los niños, el día de los libros (Children’s Day, Book Day) and its focus on diversity, the Tippecanoe Branch of the Milwaukee Public Library (WI) hosted a free Arabic culture event for local residents.Librarians at the location had not been able to present much programing about Arabic culture, which was a population represented in the surrounding neighborhoods. They saw the children’s literature holiday as an opportunity to involve that community and engage cross-cultural learning.“It is a celebration for those who are already familiar with Arabic culture, and also as a way to introduce it to people in our city,” said Jennifer Hron, Children’s librarian at the Tippecanoe Branch. “Milwaukee is kind of segregated and divided, so to be able to introduce people to new things in a way that is very welcoming and open and a lot of fun for everyone is something we really enjoy doing.”The Milwaukee Public Library service in the Tippecanoe neighborhood dates back nearly 100 years to 1916, when the area was a part of the Town of Lake. After a portion of the Town of Lake was annexed to the City of Milwaukee, a branch of the Milwaukee Public Library was established. READ MORE
Our nation’s archives preserve our history, but, thanks to the work of Natalia Fernández, they also promote the cause of social justice.As curator of the multicultural archives at Oregon State University and as the co-director and lead archivist for the Oregon State Queer Archives, she has preserved and shared the stories and histories of LGTBQ+ community members in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.At Oregon State University, she has enhanced the library experience of both students and faculty, working, for example, on various projects with the office of Outreach and Engagement.According to Bradley Boovy, her nominator for the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award, “Natalia is patient and generous with her time. In introducing students to archival materials, she helps bring those materials to life through creative activities and exercises. For example, for the past two years Natalia has facilitated an event called Glitter in the Archives that gives students and community members the opportunity to craft with copies of archival materials. This is just one example of the kinds of innovative and creative ideas that she brings to her work with library users.” READ MORE
Gone are the days of libraries being silent zones, used for studying or reading only.Enter the Bob Miller Middle School (NV) library, and you’ll find students working together on projects and teachers giving instructions aloud. Reading, researching and innovating intersect in this modern environment surrounded by books and technology. The blended learning space recently served as ground zero for a sixth-grade project in which students created advocacy videos about water conservation. “My role is to get teachers and students to a place where they can use those 21st century skills,” the school’s certified teacher-librarian, Scott Hensley, said. “I’m giving them the tools.”Hensley has served as the school’s librarian since the building opened 17 years ago — a time period marked by rapid technology improvements and increasing reliance on the Internet. Now, every student in this middle school carries a Chromebook.As far as Hensley is concerned, the digital age only exacerbates the need for a school librarian, which he describes as a position that far exceeds “book manager.” READ MORE
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