Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Waterloo Region Record: Not just books — Kitchener Public Library puts a social worker on the shelf

By Catherine Thompson | December 13, 2016

The library has always loaned books, videos and even CDs that offer guidance and advice on everything from how to manage money to how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Now, the Kitchener Public Library's Central branch is offering a little bit more: a trained social worker who can give advice and guidance, offer a friendly presence and a sympathetic ear.

Kym Bohachewski admits many of her friends and colleagues were skeptical when she said she would do a work placement at the library as part of her requirements for a master in social work at Wilfrid Laurier University.

It's actually a logical fit, said Laura Reed, the library's manager of children and teen services. "We're a public building and we see a good cross-section of society," Reed said. "Our role is to make sure people can find what they need."

People come to the library for all kinds of things: to access computers for free, to get help filling out applications or e-documents, to search for housing or to get resources if English isn't their first language. A social worker could help any of those clients, Reed said.

"People find their way here not because it's a library but because it's a warm place, it's a welcoming place, it's a place to bring your kids to read a book," Reed said. "Over the years we've always gotten questions around, 'I have nowhere to stay tonight' or 'Where can I get a hot meal?' We'll be able to not just answer those questions but be able to add some support."

Social workers have in-depth knowledge about what's available to help people in the community, and they have skills in helping figure out what they need, Bohachewski said. "I've got the time to sit down and talk with somebody who maybe isn't quite sure what's available or what they need."

Her placement, which runs three days a week until April, includes training library staff in how to recognize when a library customer may need help with a bigger issue; outreach with community agencies to help the library figure out how it can best meet the needs of clients such as women staying at a shelter, or homeless men. That work could include helping people sign up for library cards, or even offering library tours for groups from the House of Friendship or OneROOF youth agency, or even organizing pop-up libraries at community agencies.

Having social workers at the library is still fairly unusual, but is something that libraries across North America are trying. The first was probably in San Francisco in 2009, while Edmonton Public Library was the first Canadian library to bring in a social worker in 2011, Bohachewski said.

"Libraries are increasingly a hub for the community, meeting different community needs," said Nancy Schwindt, the field education co-ordinator at Laurier who helped set up the placement. "This is just an extension of work we do with, for example, community centres, with drop-in centres, all those sorts of agencies."

To read the original article, please visit

TheGuardian: Library cuts harm young people's mental health services, warns lobby

By Danuta Kean | Friday January 13, 2017

Public libraries’ significant role supporting the mental health of young people risks being undermined by swingeing budget cuts forced on local authorities, the head of their professional body warned this week. He added that, if funding is not protected, the work of libraries as frontline information resources for young people in need will be pushed on to the already overstretched police, health and social services.

It is estimated that one in 10 UK children experience mental health problems, as do one in four adults. Nick Poole, head of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals (Cilip) providers, told the Guardian that cuts to local library services would “continue to bite the availability of dedicated resources such as advice on anxiety, stress, exams and bullying”.

He warned: “Under-investing in our libraries simply pushes costs elsewhere and means that a young person growing up today has less help and is more vulnerable to the impact of mental health problems on their life.”

His comments follow prime minister Theresa May’s announcement this week of a raft of measures to “transform” attitudes towards mental health, including an extra £15m for community care, extra training for teachers and improved workplace support.

Wellbeing initiatives run by libraries around the country include the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians’ autism–friendly libraries, the Cilip-backed reading for pleasure and empowerment scheme as well as yoga and mindfulness sessions run as part of Oldham libraries’ mental health and wellbeing support. Birmingham, Devon and Bolton city councils are also among library authorities that run dedicated mental health services.

The Shelf Help scheme, which is dedicated to children and young people and was launched in 2016 by the Reading Agency, provides a list of 35 books selected by mental health experts and young readers that range from self-help and information guides to comics, memoirs and novels including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Subjects covered range from body image to depression and self-esteem.

Suffolk library authority said that 68% of the books on the scheme had a 30% or higher loan status than other stock. Last year, 10,000 wellbeing inquiries were handled by the county’s libraries. Although it did not have an official breakdown of who sought help through its branches, Sarah Lungley, mental health and wellbeing coordinator, said anecdotal evidence suggested that the majority of enquiries came from concerned parents of young people experiencing difficulties.

“We are in a really good position to connect people to the help and services that they need,” Lungley said. “I would like to think that the powers that be recognised the role of libraries in helping vulnerable people. A lot of people in the community who struggle with mental health will be left vulnerable and lonely if their local library shuts.”

Poole added: “Children, young people and their parents are simply going to find it harder to find a well-stocked library where they can find information about the issues they face.” Without access to professional librarians trained in mental health resources, he said, those struggling would be more reliant on unmediated internet searches to gain information. “As a parent myself, I would be worried about my children using Google like that.”

Public libraries have been caught in the crossfire of a ferocious funding battle being fought between local councils and central government. Official figures released at the end of 2016 revealed that library budgets had fallen by £25m in a year, as a result of councils raiding their resources to shore up frontline services such as social care.

According to an annual survey of library authorities in the UK undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa), total expenditure for the sector fell from £944m to £919m over the year, a 2.6% fall. Over the same period, 121 libraries closed, taking the total number open down to 3,850.

Before Christmas Poole predicted that over the next five years, a further 340 libraries will face closure if proposed cuts go ahead. Libraries in Warrington, Lancashire, Edinburgh, Denbigh and Swindon are among those facing the most severe losses.

Poole said: “We have to find a way of making our political stakeholders understand that a big part of what libraries do is making sure that people with a whole range of issues feel safe and can access information.

“If we remove that function from communities, all you are doing is pushing those library users on to the police and healthcare professionals. If Theresa May isn’t aware of that, her comments are nothing more than an empty soundbite.”

Fifteen-year-old Josh is adamant that his local library has saved his life. A year-and-a-half ago, school felt like a prison for him, as he struggled to keep up with his classmates due to a variety of issues including severe anxiety and Irlen syndrome, a problem that affects his ability to read and process information. He was also suspected to be on the autism spectrum.

Two years earlier, anxiety attacks and vulnerable feelings had begun to make him dread each school day. “School became an oppressive place to be,” he says. “I was scared and upset and everything just became too much. Everything made me worried and afraid.”

The troubled teen was not a victim of bullying, but the normal noise and chaos to be found in any classroom were a daily nightmare he had to confront.

Only one place made him comfortable: his local library. “The library was a calm, quiet and safe place for me to be,” he says.

Already a regular user, Josh welcomed the available support and guidance when he needed it. Based in a deprived part of Suffolk, his library benefits from a coordinated county-wide health and wellbeing policy funded by the Mental Health Pooled Fund, which is a combination of Suffolk County Council and Suffolk’s Clinical Commissioning Group.

He was eventually allowed to swap school days for days in the library – and the impact on his learning has been considerable: “Because I don’t have to go into school much, I use the library to do my revision. It’s quiet and I find it much easier to study. I am relaxed and calm when I am working because I can take as much time as I want without being constantly rushed.”

When stuck on a difficult maths or English problem, librarians are at hand to guide him towards answers. “They have really supported me,” he says. “They are always there to talk to and help me through a basic part of a question and then will find me a book to help me with the rest. It has given me a lot more confidence.”

A sign of how positive an experience it has been for Josh is that he has now begun volunteering, leading groups of eight to 12-year-olds who have been bullied by older children. “I wanted them to get off the street and come into the library and have a safe space to be,” he says. His idea was to set up an after-school club; by the end of 2016, 20 children were attending every Wednesday.

“It’s great,” says the teenager. “It has given them their own space where they aren’t being picked on by the older children. Before it was a struggle to talk to people because it really scared me. But now I am much more calm and confident.” He smiles: “I seem to be smiling a lot more and am feeling a lot better about life.”

To read the original article, please visit The Guardian.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Toronto Public Library names its most popular books of 2016

By Quill & Quire

The Toronto Reference Library (TPL)

The country’s largest library system has released the lists of its most-borrowed titles of 2016. A number of the year’s biggest Canadian books proved to be just as popular with Toronto Public Library patrons as they were with retail customers and award juries:

Top 10 overall fiction

  1. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  2. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  3. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
  4. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
  5. The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
  6. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  7. The Widow by Fiona Barton
  8. The Whistler by John Grisham
  9. The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
  10. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Top 10 non-fiction

  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  2. The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son Talk About Life by Anderson Cooper
  3. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
  4. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer
  5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  7. The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha
  8. Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the At of Organizing by Marie Kondo
  9. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  10. Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan

Top 10 Canadian

  1. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  2. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
  3. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
  4. The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
  5. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  6. The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
  7. Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
  8. When the Music’s Over by Peter Robinson
  9. The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay
  10. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
CBC also has the scoop on the Vancouver Public Library’s most in-demand books of the year‚ which include Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North AmericaWab Kinew‘s The Reason You Walk‚ and Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground.

Source: Quill & Quire 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ranganathan on shyness: Get over it!

29 November 2016

Advice from the father of library science

In 1931, S.R. Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian who is widely regarded as a founder of modern library science, published his seminal work, The Five Laws of Library Science. His five principles about managing the library get most of the publicity, but tucked away on page 65 is a gem of a quote sometimes overlooked but extremely important in our fast-changing world.
“If you want to be a reference librarian, you must learn to overcome not only your shyness but also the shyness of others.”

Ranganathan used this quote to describe behavioral change librarians needed to make in his day, when they were transitioning to serving readers from preserving books. No longer were readers considered a nuisance—they became the focus of the library. Librarians had to lose their shyness and come out from behind the desk to serve users, as well as overcome any reader shyness.
As we in the library community wrestle with change management, Ranganathan’s words ring as clearly today as they did 85 years ago. You can’t be shy when tackling change. Change requires a boldness that leaves reticence behind in order to embrace something new.

Getting a formula for change

Last month, I had the honor of hosting the 12th annual OCLC Contact Day in the Netherlands. More than 300 members from across the country came together in Utrecht for one day to discuss change—what it means to us as both professionals and individuals.

Ben Tiggelaar, well-known Dutch publicist, trainer and researcher on behavioral sciences, was our keynote speaker that day. He shared his insights on the psychology of change and led us through the process of change as well as how to deal with the continuum of change in our day-to-day lives.
Appropriately, Ben used Ranganathan’s quote on shyness to introduce his five steps for adapting to change:
  • Formulate goals as ‘learning goals’ and not as ‘performance goals.’ Behavioral change starts with a succinct, easy to repeat, emotionally compelling message framed as a learning objective.
  • Define the desired behavior. Successful change requires clear steps anyone can take—simple, actionable steps without elaborate new processes.
  • Start with the ‘bright spots.’ In most cases our brain exaggerates the negative. List the advantages on a whiteboard and place reminders at the point of action to help make the jump to a new behavior.
  • Organize support and a ‘safe’ environment. Successful change requires many people working together—a community designed to partner with individuals and inspire each other.
  • Realize that you’re never finished! Changing behavior is not a one-time decision. It’s an ongoing campaign that requires enlisting your heart and mind every day.

Coming together to support one another

Ben’s presentation hit home with attendees, who had identified transparency, listening and warmth as the behaviors they would like to see more of in their libraries. Here’s what a few of them said:
  • From a public library staff member: I feel the need for change, but how can I change when I’m the only staff member in this little library and my other colleagues work at different locations?
  • From an academic librarian: I love to change, but I do not want ‘to be changed.’
  • One of our members said that implementing a new library system is often a key driver for changing workflows.
  • And a public library director asked how OCLC can help public libraries change from the traditional lending library—a perception that’s still in the minds of many users—to a community library where people get support for their personal development.

Well, that’s where our library cooperative shines. And why we come together every year at Contact Day. This annual gathering has grown into one of the biggest events for the Dutch library community because of the desire to support one another in our quest to lead the library profession forward. We are a community that shares knowledge and knows that, collectively, it’s easier to change together.
Change can be intimidating even when you know it’s needed. It means uncertainty, especially in times like today, when it seems unending and unrelenting. But with the support of colleagues and the strength of a community, this very difficult task becomes doable.
S.R. Ranganathan knew it. And our members know it as well.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Kitchener Public Library wi-fi lending program doubles reach thanks to donation

Sandvine donates 20 hotspots to library to help meet demand


Dec 28, 2016 10:48 AM ET
By CBC News

Kitchener Public Library has expanded its wi-fi hotspot lending program thanks to a donation of 20 devices by local tech company Sandvine. (CBC News ) 

A popular wi-fi lending program at Kitchener Public Library has received a boost thanks to a donation from a local tech company.
Sandvine has donated 20 hotspots to the library, doubling the number of devices the library can lend out.

Mary Chevreau, CEO of Kitchener Public Library, said they knew there was a demand for the program when they started it.

"But we were amazed with the response from our library users," she said in a release about the Sandvine donation. "Not only does the long wait list for our few hotspot devices prove this, but sadly, it also illustrates the very real digital divide that exists in our technology-focused community."
The company helps people around the globe access free internet, so they wanted to do something for the people in Kitchener, said Dave Caputo, CEO of Sandvine.

"Waterloo Region is flourishing thanks to the power of the internet, and KPL's wi-fi lending program plays an important role in ensuring that anyone in the region can have access to the empowerment it provides," he said.
 Kitchener Public Library users can borrow these Wi-Fi LTE hotspots for up to three weeks. The library was the first in Canada to offer the hotspots on loan. (Rogers)

In October 2015, the library became the first in the country to lend out wi-fi hotspot devices much the same way people borrow books, magazines or DVDs. Staff started the program because statistics showed 23 per cent of people living in Waterloo region did not have internet access.

"It's a real range of people that are looking to use the internet outside of library hours and in most cases it's people who cannot afford the internet," Lesa Balch, the senior manager of service development at the Kitchener Public Library, told CBC News in January.
'Not only does the long wait list for our few hotspot devices prove this, but sadly, it also illustrates the very real digital divide that exists in our technology-focused community.' - Kitchener Public Library CEO Mary Chevreau on the popularity of their hotspot lending program
The devices, also called internet sticks, are so popular, they are rarely on the shelf for long once they are returned.

"It might sit on the shelf for an hour or so and it's checked out again," Balch said, noting people watch the holds list and as soon as their name pops up, they go into the library. "They're never sitting on the shelf, they're always checked out."

KPL won the the Ontario Library Information Technology Association project award from the Ontario Library Association early in 2016 for the initiative.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Saskatoon Library Launches Read for Reconciliation Space

January 5, 2017
By Lisa Peet

 Hide cutting at opening of SPL’s Reconciliation Reading Area (l-r): Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Executive Director Harry Lafond, Kelly Bitternose (survivor), Eugene Arcand, SPL Board Chair Candice Grant, Elder Walter Linklater, Elder Maria Linklater and Carol Cooley CEO and Director of Libraries for Saskatoon Public Library.
Photo credit: Eagle Feather News
Since the last of Canada’s Indian residential schools closed in 1996, the nation has been attempting to shape a response to the legacy of abuse that the residential school system—which removed native children from their homes and families—inflicted on its Indigenous Peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), established in 2008, spent seven years assembling documentation from survivors and working to build awareness of these abuses, ultimately issuing a series of Calls to Action at the end of 2015. Since that time a number of institutions have implemented programs to advance the national movement toward reconciliation, including the establishment in 2015 of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), hosted by the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. In February 2016 the University of Saskatchewan joined eight other post-secondary institutions in partnership with NCTR to make some five million electronic records on the subject accessible.

Now Saskatoon Public Library (SPL), Saskatchewan, has become the first public library to incorporate a space permanently dedicated to truth and reconciliation. On November 21 SPL’s Frances Morrison Central Library opened the Read for Reconciliation reading area, which includes a full set of the reports compiled by the TRC over five years, plus a variety of books about Canada’s history of residential schools, as well as an extensive reading list on the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada on its homepage.

The space currently holds more than 1,200 volumes devoted to reconciliation—adult fiction, nonfiction, and poetry both by and about Indigenous Peoples, as well as information on the history of residential schools and the reconciliation movement and an original boxed copy of the TRC report. This is supplemented by more than 9,000 volumes on the subject within the SPL system. In addition, the space will host programming focusing on healing, truth, and reconciliation.

“Other organizations in the community, for instance the school boards and hospitals, have all done work toward reconciliation,” explained SPL director and CEO Carol Cooley. “But it’s not as public as a public library can be. We can impact every neighborhood and we can insure that we raise the profile of the issue and continue to educate our public, because even in Canada not a lot of people were aware of residential schools and the impact that they had on our Indigenous population.”

The Indian residential school system was a network of government-funded boarding schools across Canada which housed indigenous children ages six to 15, many of them forcibly removed from their families and tribes, in an attempt to assimilate them into what was then considered the dominant Canadian culture. From 1876, when Canada’s Indian Act was passed, until 1996, approximately 150,000 native children were placed in residential schools.

Separated from parents and siblings and forced to abandon their culture, religion, and language, most children in the system received inferior education, nutrition, and health care; physical and sexual abuse was rampant, and parental visits were heavily restricted. An estimated 6,000 students died while in residential schools. The system has been linked to a legacy of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse, chronic medical conditions, and suicide among its survivors.

“Apartheid in South Africa was modeled after the residential school system,” said Cooley. “It was a pretty deliberate cultural genocide.”

The TRC, funded by the 2007 settlement of a class-action lawsuit, was established in 2008 by parties of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement as part of an ongoing attempt to respond to this trauma. The King’s University College of Edmonton, Alberta, held an interdisciplinary conference on Truth and Reconciliation in January 2008, and that March, Indigenous leaders and church officials toured the provinces to promote the TRC’s formation. In June, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal public apology on behalf of the Canadian government.
Between 2008–13, the TRC gathered statements from survivors across the country. The resulting report collecting these stories and a series of historical documents ran to more than 4,000 pages. With the report’s publication in 2015, the NCTR was established, with the mandate that former students and their families, as well as researchers and the public, have access to the history of the residential schools so that the legacy of colonialism will not be forgotten. It opened in November 2015, and holds both physical material and digital archives. In December 2015, the TRC issued 94 Calls to Action in order to begin to redress the damages in an ongoing way, and to advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.


Eugene Arcand 
Photo credit: Eagle Feather News

SPL is a partner in Reconciliation Saskatoon, a partnership between the City of Saskatoon, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, and some 30 community groups. At the first meeting she attended Cooley met Lorna Arcand, who introduced her to her husband, Eugene Arcand, a Cree from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan who spent 11 years in the residential school system. He has worked with the Saskatchewan First Nations community in a number of capacities for the past 37 years, and is one of ten residential school survivors to represent Saskatchewan on the TRC Survivor Committee, helping to gather testimonies. He currently sits on the TRC governing circle at the University of Manitoba. Cooley invited Arcand to speak at SPL, and while organizing the lecture details, the idea of the Read for Reconciliation room was born.

Arcand had been presented with five complete sets of the TRC report and Calls to Action, and he proposed donating one set to the library and establishing a space devoted to reconciliation. Cooley had been considering a similar idea for the library. “So it was a nice dovetailing between our readiness to take those steps and Eugene’s desire, as well, to further this cause,” explained Cooley.

The space was set up simply, with several tables arranged in a circle, conducive to both research and reflection. The documents donated by Arcand are prominently displayed in a box wrapped in red broadcloth and tied with black ribbon, “to represent the dark era and the blood that was shed,” explained Cooley. The volumes were blessed in a ceremony and are for display only, but the library has full copies of the report and Calls to Action, which can also be accessed online. (Arcand has also donated copies to SaskPolytechnic, the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Board, and the Saskatoon Public School Board.)

The opening was attended by residential school survivors, as well as Cooley, SPL Board Chair Candice Grant, Saskatoon mayor Charlie Clark, and Office of the Treaty Commissioner Executive Director Harry Lafond. Attendees joined to cut a piece of hide, and Elders Walter and Maria Linklater offered a ceremonial smudge and prayers. The event was an emotional one for many there. “We’ve been forced to remember in a short period of time what we spent a lifetime trying to forget,” Arcand told LJ. “That’s the best way I can put it.” But the library’s contribution to the effort has been met with warm approval.

“I’m proud to be a part of working with [SPL staff],” said Arcand. “Because they really do understand. They really do engage. They take our thoughts and our words and implement them and you know, that’s a new step in this country.”

Cooley hopes to bring a digital component to the collection as well. The library is in the process of developing an Indigenous services strategy, as a component of its most recent strategic plan involves honoring Indigenous perspectives. “It is a significant pillar to our plan,” Cooley told LJ. “We are making a very public commitment to reconciliation, in large part because it is needed and important, but with Saskatchewan our indigenous population is growing and if our province is going to be healthy and vibrant…we need to really put action behind the call to action, rather than just symbolic gestures and words.”

In addition, Arcand has suggested taking photographs of residential school survivors, displaying them in the library’s gallery, and eventually holding them in SPL’s local history room. Cooley agrees: “Gradually the survivors are going to pass on, and this would be a good way to capture a visual component.”

For now, however, the area is busy every day. “There’s a peacefulness in that space,” said Cooley, describing visitors stopping to catch their breath when they first see it—“not because it’s incredibly large, and it’s not as beautiful as we would make it in a new central library. But it’s a statement.”




 SPL director and CEO Carol Cooley and SPL board chair Candice Grant in the 
Reconciliation Reading area 
Photo credit: David Stobbe /

While SPL used no additional funding to establish the space, Cooley told LJ, the library has a firm commitment to furthering reconciliation awareness. Plans to hire an Indigenous services coordinator are in the works, and SPL will be allocating funds specifically for its Indigenous collection and program development. All SPL employees have taken Aboriginal awareness seminars.

The system also recently received approval to double the hours of two branches serving the area’s largest Indigenous populations—one of which is to be renamed for Freda Ahenakew in February. Ahenakew, a Cree mother of 12, returned to high school at the age of 38, and went on to receive several graduate degrees, eventually becoming a researcher of Indigenous languages, prolific academic author, and professor of native studies. She was awarded two honorary Doctorate of Law degrees, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Education, and the Order of Canada and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit; at the time of her retirement in 1995, Ahenakew served as the Director of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. A new SPL building, completed in December, was named the Round Prairie Branch in honor of the Métis community that originally occupied the area.

The Calls to Action for reconciliation are national, Cooley noted, and she feels that other libraries could institute similar programs easily. “I know not all communities have large populations of Indigenous Peoples, but I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to understand the impact of residential schools and the intergenerational trauma,” she told LJ. “I think that understanding helps remove the judgment about Aboriginal Peoples and some of the mental health and substance abuse issues that they face…. I think public libraries, for adult populations, can play that educational role.” SPL is also working with the Canadian Federation of Library Associations to create a set of best practices for libraries that want to initiate reconciliation work.

Because of its ongoing work, SPL has been called “the rock star of reconciliation,” said Cooley. “That’s great, but I hope one day we get to a place where the library isn’t the rock star of reconciliation, and these things aren’t so remarkable, but are part of everyday life.”

“The effects of colonization and…genocide have to be addressed, and have to be addressed by my people, but you can’t do it alone,” added Arcand. “We have nowhere to look but up, and look forward to changing things.”

Source: Library Journal 

Monday, December 19, 2016 Libraries Are Boldly Innovating to Meet the Needs of Changing Communities

By Anna Pratt
November 26, 2016

Grassroots groups rallied around the New York's 42nd Street Library, a famous research institution, to ensure that its sizable collection stays put. (Photo: Stephen Weppler [CC-BY-NC])

More than a decade ago, the city of Lafayette in the greater San Francisco Bay Area did some soul-searching about the fate of its library. With a population of just a little more than 25,000, the city had outgrown the tiny 1960s building within a decade. The library's structure was falling apart, which was especially problematic in earthquake country. As the conversation about building a new library ramped up, Steve King, a longtime resident and small business economy researcher, wasn't so sure a brick-and-mortar library was even needed -- not with the Internet seemingly taking its place. The way he saw it, you could find much of the same information online as you could at the library -- anytime, without even leaving the house.

Since then, King has reversed his stance on the subject. He and his wife helped fundraise for a new library. He attends concerts and lectures in the space, and he can often be found coworking there. He likes to settle into a nook overlooking a landscaped area -- a "nice, quiet place to surf the web," he says. King is not alone. The new library is packed from morning till night, the crowd turning over by the hour.

The facility is now far more than just a traditional library. When it opened in 2009, the space's name was changed to the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, which alludes to a mission that goes far beyond book lending. For starters, the library moved to a busier, more centralized location in Lafayette -- it's within walking distance for schoolchildren and seniors -- and, quintupling in size, the center now has ample room for performances (complete with a Steinway grand piano), presentations, meetings, classes, studying, and hanging out. "It was organized around being a community center and learning center rather than a library only," says King, adding that the project has been "hugely successful."

Even the City Council meets at the library, which lends transparency to its members' deliberations. The place gets plenty of foot traffic, with a cafe, bookstore, the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation headquarters, and the Lafayette Historical Society all housed in the center. It demonstrates that people "still feel the need and want to be around others," as opposed to just Googling things at home, says Steven Falk, the city manager who describes it as a "shared learning experience."

The Lafayette Library and Learning Center is one of many libraries around the U.S. and the world that are reshaping themselves, inside and out, to meet the changing needs of their communities. Although the idea hasn't quite gone mainstream yet, libraries are becoming increasingly important in cities, both as physical spaces that are open to all and for the wide-ranging resources they offer. Literacy and books haven't gone by the wayside, but libraries are also tackling other types of learning, and in some cases, even taking alternative forms: becoming "learning centers," going "bookless," creating tool libraries and Libraries of Things, providing other types of materials to check out or access, and "popping up" in unorthodox locales.

For example, in Santa Monica, some public library staffers headed to the beach with a load of books to set up a temporary pop-up library that included an assortment of beach reads. At the Cleveland Heights–University Heights Public Library, staff deliver free books via bikes as part of their Book Bike program. The bikes are used for "outreach to schools and community events where we give away free books and other materials," says the library's spokesperson Sheryl Banks.

The Challenges of a New Era

As libraries work to reinvent themselves, they're up against the challenges of aging infrastructures, shrinking budgets, and shifting public perceptions about the necessity of libraries in an Internet age. Over the past year, the American Library Association (ALA) has ramped up its Libraries Transform campaign to spread the word about how libraries are rising to the occasion.

As library systems recalibrate themselves -- each at their own pace -- they typically need more communal space and better technology. But old buildings may not be ideal for setting up broadband access.

Sari Feldman, the ALA's president and executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, in Parma, Ohio, says there's a trend to renovate or replace library buildings, but this is dependent on taxes from cities or counties. "It's not an easy change to make -- to offer 21st-century library services using digital tools and space for innovation and content creation," Feldman says.

To keep pace with the times and to figure out how best to serve their users, library administrators are zeroing in on what's happening in their communities to determine community strengths and how they can nurture and leverage them. "That's where learning becomes so critical," Feldman says.

A Big Idea

In Lafayette, the state-of-the-art library is a modern-looking structure of stone, wood, and glass gracefully blending into the hillside. The $50 million facility, nestled in the heart of the city, feels like a spacious campus, with several interconnected buildings. But the impressive layout is not the whole story, King says.

"I don't think that's the magic of it," King says. "You could do this in a much dumpier building …[even] a converted warehouse, and it would be every bit as good."

King attributes the project's success to the Glenn Seaborg Learning Consortium -- a mix of public and private sector partners that frequently draws marquee names to the suburban center: master gardeners, Pixar animators, famous authors, and well-known jazz artists. The collaborative approach makes for a strong, diverse lineup of programs throughout the year.

The consortium came together organically while the library was still in its conceptual stages. As is the case in so many other cities, the Lafayette library was always susceptible amid funding shortages, according to Falk. Every time there was a budget crisis, the easiest thing was to cut back on libraries, including both their maintenance and services. "They were viewed as nonessential compared to courts, police, and fire [departments]," Falk says.

In the 1990s, a budget crisis rolled through California, and county government was hit hard. Around that time, Contra Costa County, where Lafayette is located, “decided to get out of the business of owning libraries,” Falk says, adding that it didn't want to be solely responsible for all the branches countywide. The city agreed to support the Lafayette location, knowing that it needed a major upgrade. This sparked a larger conversation with the community, and the city began estimating redevelopment costs.

As the city explored ideas for a new library, officials knew they needed a "big idea to capture the imagination of potential donors," Falk says. "The idea that it would serve as a repository for books wouldn't cut it -- not in this day and age of Barnes and Noble and Amazon and the Internet, with almost instant access to anything."

Early on, physicist and library board member Roger Falcone brought up the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California. It had a basement full of interesting relics, such as an astronaut suit and an insects collection -- paraphernalia that Falk says "might make for great traveling exhibits at the library." Library planners asked the museum if it would want to partner. When administrators agreed, the team brainstormed other organizations that might want to join.

Eventually, the Lafayette Library and Learning Center signed on a dozen science and cultural institutions that now comprise the consortium. The consortium provides programming, publicity, and other forms of support to the library. "Every single institution we contacted thought it was a good idea," Falk says. "I think that's the biggest thing we could learn from it -- the whole idea of nonprofits working together through a region to leverage assets to benefit each other is very powerful."

As proof of the appeal of the project, one in every four households in Lafayette contributed to the library's fundraising effort.

The Center of Experience

The Lafayette library's rustic-looking interior, which features wood rafters overhead, was inspired in part by the renowned Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite. Designers had fun with it in other ways as well. They installed a constellation of circular windows in the children's area that looks like the Big Dipper. Elsewhere there's a solar fireplace, display space for "Old Betsy," a Model T fire truck dating back to 1962, and an artistic nod to the Periodic Table of Elements that honors the late Glenn Seaborg, a Lafayette resident and chemist who discovered 11 of the elements, including plutonium.

The Lafayette Library and Learning Center has a rustic elegance inside.
The Lafayette Library and Learning Center has a rustic elegance inside. (Photo: ALA Student Chapter at San Jose State University [CC-BY])

Amy Garmer, who heads the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries in Washington, D.C., says the revamping going on in the physical space of libraries, including that of Lafayette's, is a testament to how the homogenous, Carnegie Library-style layout -- with a reference desk here, copy machine there, and so forth -- is on its way out.

Examples of forward-thinking libraries run the gamut: The Southeast Branch of Nashville Public Library, which is in an old J.C. Penny Co. store shared by a community center, has a 24-hour lobby. At the East Roswell Branch of the ­Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, a covered bridge leads visitors to a space that seems to blend in with the trees. And, Denver's Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Branch underscores sustainability themes with a three-story "plenum wall" that "acts as a light, water, and air filter for the building," according to Madden Constance Design Studio, a designer on the project. Each of these libraries has been featured by American Libraries magazine as a part of its annual design showcase.

Despite the flurry of activity in libraries today and their historical importance, administrators are still struggling to convey their relevance to stakeholders and secure funding. Libraries are routinely on the chopping block. Working hours are often limited -- evening and Sunday hours can be especially tough to come by. And staffing is regularly subject to reductions. In some places, libraries are simply closing their doors.

This is an all-too familiar saga in New York, where, in recent years, a number of the city's libraries have been imperiled by government defunding and real estate deals, leading some branches to downsize, consolidate, close, or work with fewer resources. The Donnell library was sold to a developer in 2008 and later torn down, resulting in much hand-wringing. It was recently reincarnated as the 53rd Street Library -- a basement space with a fraction of its former holdings.

Several grassroots citizen groups have worked to stop a plan to rid the city's famous 42nd Street research institution of seven floors of books. Reporter Scott Sherman described this tug-of-war in his 2015 book, Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library.

Libraries in the city are struggling to make a case for themselves, despite the fact "the city's libraries have more users than major professional sports, performing arts, museums, gardens and zoos -- combined," according to a 2015 story in the New York Times.

Part of the problem is that politicians and other decisionmakers are still operating under a 20th-century notion about what libraries have to offer, and "that makes them seem irrelevant," Garmer says. She chalks it up to the idea that they may not be using the library themselves or may not have school-age children who go to the library.

Garmer sees plenty of parallels to her previous line of work in journalism. Just as in that industry, which is exploring new models to redefine itself and remain relevant, there's plenty of experimentation happening in libraries nationwide. Likewise, their long-term sustainability remains an open question.

The Aspen Institute, which hosts forums around the country about the future of libraries, began this dialogue back in 2013. The institute wanted to explore what's happening in libraries and where they're headed in the long term, as well as provide support for the ever-changing information needs of communities.

At the same time, the Gates Foundation had a global arm focused on raising awareness of the transformation of libraries and creating an understanding and common vision for them. The Aspen Institute and Gates Foundation teamed up, in hopes of making an impact on libraries to help make them sustainable. Since then, the situation has improved as more libraries realize the need to align themselves more directly with their constituencies -- but there's still plenty of work to be done. Over the past few years, the Aspen Institute released several reports about re-envisioning libraries and making them "centers of innovation." The institute's latest report describes how libraries can work with the community at large to leverage human capital or find strength in new partnerships.

"People from different walks of life come together, and new ideas can emerge," Garmer says. "How does the library now become the center of experience, bring value to the community, build on what it has?"

For Susan Hildreth, a professor at the University of Washington Information School and former director of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), this means libraries need to be more comfortable with community engagement. They need training on this front. Some nonprofit organizations, including the ALA and Harwood Institute for Public Innovation in Washington, D.C., have teamed up to provide support.

Similarly, the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums program has doled out competitive grants for the creation of "innovative teen spaces" in libraries, which specifically relate to learning in the realm of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In St. Paul, Minnesota, a $100,000 grant from the program paved the way for a unique partnership as the library collaborated with the city's Parks and Recreation department on a lab known as Createch, which is housed in a community center.

Createch, which is dubbed a "creative tinkering space for teens," provides a space for teens to gather, access various tools, and connect with mentors. At the lab, the lines between the library and the park space are blurred. The roles of the staff overlap as well. Typically, government offices are siloed and don't necessarily work together, but Createch has changed that.

"I feel like the library and park interaction changed how we think about it," says Hildreth, explaining that the two offices generally have different mindsets and cultures. "This digital lab brought them together."

This sense of reinvention is seen in academic libraries, as well. The Shapiro Lab at the University of Michigan was "founded on participatory design," says Justin Schell, who runs the lab, which is focused on providing an engaging space, services, and support for undergrads. "It's not just you building something for the user, expecting them to use it the way you want, but instead, working with them every step of the way," says Schell. "It's about always engaging people every step of the way."

The old library model, where people came in just to borrow books, or lingered to study quietly, was rooted in the 19th century. Now, there's more of a back-and-forth happening and the public has a voice in the aesthetics and functions of libraries. This way, users feel more invested. Likewise, the job of librarians is to facilitate people's work, which involves a more meaningful interaction with library users.

Thinking Collaboratively

For Bonnie Tijerina, a librarian based in New York and the founder and annual coordinator of the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference in Austin, Texas, the evolution of libraries is an energizing topic. A handful of years ago, Tijerina was inspired to start the Library Idea Drop House after she attended the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference. Tijerina wanted other librarians to get a taste for what was being discussed at the conference, so she rented a house in the area and invited the library crowd to stop by and talk shop.

Right away, the Library Idea Drop House was a hit. Early on, as librarians gathered, a decision was made to livestream the salon-style talks to the broader community. It was so popular that Tijerina has resurrected the Library Idea Drop House -- a play off the library term, "book drop" -- annually for the past several years. The house is about "how to start changing the mindset, a cultural change in libraries," she says.

Although separate from SXSW, the house draws a sizable crowd from the conference. It offers a welcome reprieve, says Tijerina. People can settle in on the couch and participate or just listen in as all kinds of interesting conversations take place.

"The main objective is to nurture connections, change the conversation, and get people to see how libraries fit into the bigger picture in terms of technology and its impact on society," she says.

Supporting the New Workforce

At the Lafayette library, there are a variety of resources for jobseekers and small businesses, including a monthly social media program about using social media platforms to effectively market and grow a business. The series is the result of a partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce.

Volunteer opportunities at the library, for students aged 13 and up, give young people work experience. "The level of training we provide, the discipline we're instilling is helpful when they're applying to colleges or trying to nab their first paying jobs," says the library's executive director Beth Needel.

She adds that the space "augments learning in the community" and gives people a place to go.

"It's what libraries do best," she says. "Being responsive and understanding who their patrons are and providing programs and training of greatest interest [to the community]."

This community responsiveness was especially important and evident at the height of the Great Recession: As layoffs mounted, libraries all over the nation formed job clubs. Job seekers received help writing business plans and resumes, and landing job interviews. Libraries became a key meeting place for entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop shops, says Sari Feldman of the ALA, explaining that this service ushered in a new era for libraries wherein "learning and ideas and creativity are exchanged, not just held." These clubs afforded (and still do) a valuable opportunity to network.

Now, many libraries, big and small, are going beyond job clubs, establishing business centers and coworking spaces. Miguel Figueroa, who helms the Center for the Future of Libraries, which opened in May 2014, hopes that libraries will continue to be seen as important "third spaces," in between home and work, where people have the freedom to engage in public programs, lectures, book discussions, slow reading, and adult coloring. "More libraries are investing in those unplugged, digital detox activities," he says.

More libraries are reaching out to millennials, offering special happy-hour programs at local bars and eateries. These provide spontaneous access to anyone who happens to be around at that moment. In general, millennials are more open to novel, quirky experiences -- like bike or pop-up libraries -- than prior generations who view the library as a fixed entity. Millennials tend to enjoy the serendipity of a library in a surprising place, Figueroa says.

A Sense of Community Ownership

Since opening, the Lafayette community has taken ownership of its library and the number of people who come through its doors everyday has more than tripled. Falk explains that residents and others from surrounding areas hang out at the library, as opposed to a shopping mall, and that real estate agents point to the library as a selling point for the area. This is quite a turnaround for a once-fledgling and literally crumbling institution.

Lafayette's head librarian, Vickie Sciacca, who has been in the field since 1986, describes the library as a vibrant place to be every day where, previously, going to the library was a "very quiet, isolated experience."

"When people drive through here, they see [the library] as a testimony to what they believe and what they want to honor -- having multiple generations participate on a daily basis, with lifelong learning going on at the same time as storytime," Sciacca says.