Best Library Stories of 2021 So Far
Libraries show there are still some amazing events happening in the world. From budget cuts to pandemic closings, there are a lot of negatives that can overshadow the work that is being done on a daily basis for communities across the country. Sometimes all we need is a break from social media feeds to dive into some feel-good stories. While the year is still months from over, let’s take time to touch on some of the successes that the library community has experienced so far.
Library fines are detrimental in multiple ways and can be hard to manage especially for people with low-income backgrounds. The Salinas Public Library is changing their system by allowing all library cardholders to erase their fines through reading. $5 in fines is removed for each day of reading which means patrons can be alleviated of fines they’ve built up.
2021 School Librarian of the Year
A school librarian in Louisiana and a teacher-librarian in Hawaii received Scholastic’s 2021 School Librarian of the Year Award. They both put in many hours towards centering literacy opportunities for students throughout the pandemic. Both Amanda Jones and Diane Mokuauhave had over two decades of experience in education and have been especially innovative in engaging students. They are awarded a cash prize as well as materials for their respective libraries.
Bearded Dragons in the Library
Lizards are becoming a popular pet for libraries this year, not only because they are easy to manage but also because these fun reptiles help attract new and old readers into the library. Bearded dragons in school libraries have been teaching students about research and responsibility and have been helpful in getting them excited about the library.
IMLS National Medal Winners
This year, six museums and libraries were selected for the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service. This is the highest honor in the country that is only awarded to exceptional libraries and museums. Libraries honored this year include the Cabell County Public Library, Highwood Public Library, and Memphis Public Libraries.
Digital Learning Site for Educators
K-12 educators are now able to use a dynamic digital resource center that allows them to search museum content by subject and grade. This was originally an IMLS grant-funded pilot program that was created to strengthen the capacity of the museum’s abilities to serve the education community.
Serving Spanish-Speaking Patrons
Yakima Valley Libraries serve a diverse population in Washington state. They are especially conscious of residents who speak different languages. During the pandemic, they implemented multiple services, resources, and programs to keep everyone connected. These included an online Spanish book club, online socials, and cultural events, and even phone-a-story programs for those without the internet.
National Librarian Day
There is always a good reason to celebrate librarians. Many aren’t aware, but National Librarian Day occurred on April 16 and it gave people another chance to recognize librarians for the hard work they do in keeping their libraries running and organizing programming that engages and benefits the community.
Free Summer Lunch Programs for Kids
San Jose Public Libraries opened up its free summer lunch program for the sixth year in a row at four of their library branches for kids, teens, and any adults that come in with them. These meals are placed near the front of the library alongside craft bags. These are provided for any who come through the doors and the libraries also have accommodations in place for non English speakers.
Libraries have always found a way to be innovative especially in trying times. Public libraries have figured out how to continue providing essential services to their patrons through the pandemic. With uncertain hours and limited services, they’ve found a way to modify access by implementing virtual deliveries and contactless pickups.
Librarian of the Year Award Winner
The Librarian of the Year Awards Committee selected both Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran and Maria F. Estrella as recipients of the award which is presented annually to recognize outstanding librarians that have done extensive work in advocating for Spanish-speaking and Latino communities. They are presented by REFORMA and chosen for their leadership and contributions to the organization and their communities.
The IMLS announced millions of dollars in grant awards for African American History and Culture (AAHC) along with the announcement that the grantees will match the money being awarded. This goes towards the work that institutions are doing to promote African American heritage which is critical to celebrating American history.
These recaps are meant to show that there are still good events that have come out of this year. While there is still much to sort out when it comes to supporting libraries and handling a global pandemic, there is some hope in knowing that people continue to be passionate and creative towards advocating for others.