Archive for the ‘Libraries in the News’ Category

Carla Hayden Confirmed as Librarian of Congress

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Confirmed by a Senate vote of 74 to 18, Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore Maryland, is the new Librarian of Congress. She will be the first woman,  the first African-American and only the third librarian to hold that position.

As the Baltimore Sun reports, she won approval despite an effort to block it by the conservative Heritage Foundation, which accused her of making porn available in libraries by opposing the “Children’s Internet Protection Act” of 2002 because the technology at the time would also block legitimate research..

Many feared that the vote would not take place before the Senate adjourns for its annual summer recess, but it came just days before.

Politics and the Library of Congress

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

President Obama’s nominee for Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, testified and took questions for an hour yesterday during a Senate hearing.

The general tone of the hearings were polite but underneath were simmering concerns related to the U.S. Copyright Office and the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Asked if she would support a move to establish a copyright office separate from LC with its own director reporting directly to Congress, Hayden displayed what The Washington Post calls “polished political skills,” subtly indicating that she would work to find another solution, “I’m not able to at this point say that that would be the only way to accomplish what we all want.”

Author and copyright activist Cory Doctorow summarized the conflict on BoingBoing, pointing out:

“[the Library of Congress] Supervises the Copyright Office and sets the nation’s de facto IT policy … The RIAA [the trade group of the U.S. recording industry] has already gone on record as opposing Hayden’s nomination. The Hill people I know have told me that there’s concerted movement underway to rip the Copyright Office out of the LoC and put it under the supervision of Congressional committees whose members owe their position to generous contributions from the entertainment industry.”

Another hot button issue is the CRS. Dr. Hayden called the staff who work in that office “special forces” librarians but declined to commit to making public their reports to Congress public. They are currently available via private fee-based databases used by lobbyists. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Amy Klobuchar were particularly concerned about the practice of taxpayer-funded documents being withheld from the public.

Less contentious but still a hot topic is the library’s IT infrastructure, with several of the Senators, but most pointedly Senator Angus King, raising the issue around user experience issues. Dr. Hayden responded to most IT inquires by sharing that LC had recently hired a new Chief Information Officer, Bernard A. Barton Jr., who served as chief information officer and deputy administrator of the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). She also shared her plans to improve digitization and access technology and her goal of making the collections more widely available to everyone regardless of geography. The Washington Post notes that “a federal report last year found widespread failure in [LC’s] technology, causing problems for the Copyright Office and services for disabled readers and wasting millions in taxpayer dollars.”

Finally, in a move that seems designed to make conservative Senators more comfortable about confirming Dr. Hayden, she was asked about ALA positions related to The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and The Patriot Act. Again, her answers were carefully crafted. She responded to the CIPA question that there had “been quite a bit of just misinterpretation of [ALA’s] position during that time” pointing out the problems with early filtering technology and turning the question to her early career as a children’s librarian. Her response to the Patriot Act was that the library community was “concerned that in the quest for security and making sure that we were all safe that the public’s rights were also considered as well.” She continued that ALA “is very pleased at the progress that’s been made to balance security and personal rights.”

The committee is expected to vote on the nomination in the coming weeks and if it goes to the full Senate, that final vote would likely occur before the summer recess.

C-Span live-streamed the hearing, along with a transcript. Dr. Hayden’s opening statement is available online.

An Actual Librarian Nominated for
Librarian of Congress

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

President Obama nominates Dr. Carla Hayden, director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore since 1993, as the new Librarian of Congress, as announced in a White House press release today.

News stories report that if she is confirmed by Congress, she will be the first African-American and the first woman in that position. None so far note that she will  be only the second professional librarian appointed to that post (after Lawrence Quincy Mumford, who served from 1954–1974, once the director of the Cleveland Public Library as well as President of the ALA, a position Hayden also held). CORRECTION: Two librarians have held the post. Herbert Putnam, who held the post the longest, 1899 to 1930, was head of the Minneapolis Public Library as well as  Librarian of the Boston Public Library. He did not, however, have a library degree.

In a statement on Facebook, President Obama attests to the role Pratt plays in the community,”Last year, during the unrest in Baltimore, Dr. Hayden kept the doors of the Pratt open as a beacon for the community,”

He adds that she will bring an important skill to LC, “Her understanding of the pivotal role that emerging technologies play in libraries will be essential in leading the Library of Congress as it continues to modernize its infrastructure and promote open access and full participation in today’s digital world.”

The White House announcement also includes a video introduction to the nominee.

Ferguson Librarian Honored

Friday, December 19th, 2014


BookRiot named Scott Bonner of Ferguson Public Library the “Book Culture Hero of 2014” today, highlighting the library’s role of creating “a significant force for good in the community.” He tops the list that also includes authors Roxane Gay and Jacqueline Woodson.

As the national news media has reported, Ferguson Public Library stayed open during the riots over the decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown. The library offered space for classes to be held when schools were closed, provided free WiFi, and, as the library phrases it on their social media accounts,”a place for rest, water, and knowledge. ”

Donations to the library have been pouring in, almost matching the library’s annual budget.

THE LIBRARIANS Close The Library

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The Oregonian reports that Oregon City’s library was closed Wednesday and “you can blame it onThe Librarians.”

Not the actual librarians, that is, but the upcoming 10-episode TNT TV series, The Librarians, currently shooting in Oregon City and scheduled to begin airing in December.

The Librarian- QuestThe Librarians continues the TNT franchise of three movies, starring Noah Wylie as The Librarian. The first, broadcast in 2004, was Quest for the Spear. It was adapted as a graphic novel as was the second, Return to King Solomon’s Mines. The third, The Curse of the Judas Chalice, was released in 2008. All three movies were also released on DVD.

The new series uses the plural, as Wylie will be joined by others. According to the TNT press release,

The Librarians centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from the secret, magical reality hidden all around. This group solves impossible mysteries, fights supernatural threats and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world.

Solving impossible mysteries? All in a librarian’s days work.The other two tasks are not generally in the job description.

Libraries Save Lives

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

9780062218834Standing in the library that served as a “safe haven” to her and her four siblings (Middle Country Public Library on Long Island, NY) when they were the homeless children of a mentally ill and abusive mother, Regina Calcaterra talks to Inside Edition (video here) about her memoir of that time, Etched in Sand (HarperCollins/Morrow original trade pbk).

Amazingly, Calcaterra managed to not only survive, but to also put herself through law school and help her siblings who are now all doing well. She says she is very moved by “just the thought that my book may be in this library where I came as a kid who was impoverished and that one day one of these kids are going to be reading it too and figuring out how … they are going to be able to pull themselves up out and out.”

In the new issue of People magazine reviewer Caroline Leavitt writes, “Her book reminds us that it’s possible to suffer the unimaginable and still grow up to make a difference.”

Hero Librarians

Monday, August 12th, 2013

NPR’s Morning Edition today reports on the role libraries play during natural disasters, as part of their series on public libraries.

The story  features the many ways  NYPL helped residents during Hurricane Sandy.

The story notes a service that will be familiar to everyone in the profession. Librarians not only helped with practical issues, like handing out coats and showing people how to fill out emergency forms, but they also acted as “defacto therapists,” to those who need a sympathetic ear.

Libraries Behaving Like Bookstores? Amazing.

Friday, December 28th, 2012

bcpl-1The NYT  reports today that libraries are adopting the bookstore model, by stocking what readers want and offering bestsellers in quantity.

A brand-new concept?

Hardly, as a 1979 article from Publishers Weekly about Baltimore County Public Library’s move toward the “demand-oriented, public bookstore” direction proves (click here to view pages onetwo and three in full size).

It’s a good reminder as we head into the New Year that “everything old is new again.”

Our thanks to our friends at Publishers Weekly for permission to reproduce this story. In case you are wondering, the author of the piece, Kenneth C. Davis, went on to write the “Don’t Know Much About” series.

FIFTY SHADES Back on Brevard County’s Shelves

Friday, June 1st, 2012

This may be a historic moment. Public pressure has forced Florida’s Brevard County PL director to put Fifty Shades of Grey back on library shelves (the books were removed said the director, “because [the trilogy has] been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn”).

A local mother and he 16-year-old daughter considered this censorship and started a petition drive to return the books to the shelves.

The story is being reported in national news sources, including ABC News.

Meanwhile, Stephenie Meyer told MTV News that, even though Fifty Shades began as Twilight fan fiction, the two series are quite different genres.

NPR On Ebooks in Libraries

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

NPR’s Morning Edition today looks at the “promise and problems” of ebooks in libraries, focusing on New York’s Queens Borough Public Library. The NPR reporter describes the major problem this way, “libraries are struggling to stock ebooks. Most major publishers impose heavy restrictions or refuse to lend their titles. They are afraid that could undercut digital sales.”

The NYT on FIFTY SHADES In Libraries

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Two weeks after stories emerged about libraries removing copies of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy from their shelves, the paper of record takes a look at the controversy.

The story also reports that the National Coalition Against Censorship has organized several groups to oppose the decision to ban the books in Brevard County Public Library.  Last week, they sent a letter to the library’s board. The groups who signed the letter are:

American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression

Association of American Publishers

PEN American Center

American Society of Journalists and Authors

The Independent Book Publishers Association

National Coalition Against Censorship

More Libraries Withdraw FIFTY SHADES

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

An Associated Press story released late yesterday uncovers more libraries withdrawing a #1 NYT Best seller weeks after it first arrived in that spot, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Earlier in the week, the Palm Beach Post published a story about Brevard County withdrawing their copies. The AP reports that three other libraries have removed their copies — Gwinnett County in Georgia, Leon County, Florida and an unnamed library system in Wisconsin. The story is being picked up widely. A Google search on “Fifty Shades Libraries” returns over 300 hits, from to the UK’s Guardian.

The majority of the 345 comments on the AP story express opposition to the action, such as this one from “GolfingSusan”:

I am glad I have the freedom to buy a book if I want it because I sure as hell don’t want some librarian deciding what I should or shouldn’t read. It’s none of her business! Having been to the library often, I can safely say, I find a lot of the “selections” offensive. There are a lot crappy books in there no one wants to check out!

A Brevard County resident has begun an online petition to have the books reinstated. It has 327 signatures so far.

Brevard County Pulls FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The Palm Beach Post reported Friday that the Brevard County, Florida, public library system has pulled all but “a handful” of copies of Fifty Shades of Grey from their shelves (via E! Online). That handful must have been withdrawn since; the library catalog currently shows none of the titles in the trilogy.

Library Director Cathy Schweinsberg says the move was not a result of public pressure, telling the paper,

Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves. But we bought some copies before we realized what it was. We looked at it, because it’s been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn.

Many librarians tell us that the only public pressure they’ve received about the book has been in the form of long holds lists (in some cases, over 1,000 requests for the print version and an additional 550 for the eBook).

The paper notes, however, “While the naughty novel doesn’t check out with local library officials, a quick look at the Brevard system’s online catalogue reveals a solid stash of some of the most erotic and enduring literature,” such as The Complete Kama Sutra, Fanny Hill, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Fear of Flying, Tropic of Cancer and Lolita.

Taking it to the Public

Monday, January 16th, 2012

In a front-page article yesterday, the Washington Post highlights what librarians have been discussing for months; libraries can’t buy enough ebooks to meet demand, both because of “limited budgets” and because of “little cooperation from some publishers.”

Included is a chart that shows availability of best sellers in as ebooks in local libraries. Seven of the 20 titles are not available to libraries, most of the rest show heavy holds.



Monday, November 21st, 2011

A new series, Libraries in Crisis, debuted in The Huffington Post last week. As described by Books Editor, Andrew Losowsky, it will look at “how today’s libraries are about more than books [ed note; oops, someone neglected to communicate this to the logo designer]…how they can be a community resource where reliable information and guidance is provided, free of bias and commercial influence.”

The first article in the series, “Library Budget Cuts Threaten Community Services Across Country,” uses an image that does make the point that libraries “are about more than books” (from Gilpin County Public Library, Colorado):

Andrew Losowsky became the Huffington Post‘s Books Editor in August, an unexpected move for someone who has demonstrated a passion for print, specifically print magazines; he runs Stack America, which provides subscribers with a bi-monthly selection of the best of independent print publications and co-wrote the books We Love Magazines (Gestalten Verlag, 2007) and We Make Magazines: Inside the Idependents (Gestalten Verlag, 2009). His new book, however, Reading in Four Dimensions, is a self-published e-book about the future of books.