Libraries Are About Choices, and That’s How it Should Be!

Reading library news on a regular basis is enough to make a freedom-loving person crazy; every week I read about seemingly regular people attempting to ban books or protest library programs! Understand, it’s not these people’s right to speak out that gives me the willies, it’s that their solutions all too often involve trashing books I might want to read and cancelling programs I might want to see. It’s that they’re attempting to slash at the self-determination of entire communities to satisfy their own morals or, worse, their personal tastes, and it is wrong! Libraries are about giving people the freedom to read and think without interference. They’re about giving people choices!

A Library Saved His Life

Ok, libraries are great — but saving a life? How is that possible? Libraries can’t rescue a drowning person from a lake or pull someone from a burning house. So, how can a library save a life? But in a recent keynote address to the American Association of Law Librarians, Georgetown University law professor Shon Hopwood explained how a library saved his life. His library story is about a highly specialized library — a law library. But not the kind of law library you might expect, in a law school library, or a law firm — this was a prison law library. And Hopwood was a convicted felon doing twelve and a half years for bank robbery.

Plurality Voting and How To Improve U.S. Elections

(The original version of this article was written by Aaron Hamlin, co-founder and executive director of The Center for Election Science; adapted for publication here with permission) What is “plurality voting”? Simply put, plurality voting is the voting method where voters choose only one candidate for a given political office, with the winner being the candidate with the most (or a “plurality”) of votes. Despite the fact that plurality voting has been the default method for American elections since the foundation of our Republic, many political scientists and other academics are increasingly convinced that plurality voting is actually a terrible voting method for modern representative democratic governments. Here are five good reasons why, according to The Center for Election Science, as well as recommendations for how we can improve our electoral process and enliven voter participation at the polls by embracing alternative voting systems.

The Secret to the Library of Things

Has marveling about how cool it is that the library lets you check out books for free ever led you to wonder if there was a place where you could borrow other things for no charge too? Well, wonder no more, because indeed there is! In fact, it’s actually not a different place — it’s just the same ol’ library again. Surprise! Calling these fascinating collections of non-traditional items the “Library of Things,” many libraries have begun to offer all kinds of stuff for check out in recent years in addition to the books, DVDs, and CDs that we’re all used to. Want some fresh toys for your child to play with this week? — go to the library! Can’t quite afford the newest instrument for your band yet? — go to the library! Super clear night on the forecast and need a telescope? — library again!

3 Ways to Beat The Summer Slide Without an Uphill Battle

It’s a quiet early evening at the library when a father and his soon-to-be eighth grade daughter approach my desk. I ask them how I can help and the father gestures meaningfully to the daughter. She shrugs and shakes her head. After a beat, he relents, “She needs help finding something to read over the summer so she doesn’t stop learning.” Most parents don’t state the underlying reason so frankly, but this scene is one that will repeat itself again and again throughout the summer at libraries across the country. And for good reason! For years, we’ve heard about research showing that reading ability and other academic skills can be lost without practice over the summer months. Forebodingly known as “the summer slide,” it makes perfect sense why an encouraging grown-up would find themselves in the library seeking “something” for their kid to read during the school break.

Five Reasons You Need to Visit Your Library Before Storming Area 51

Apparently, a lot of people are dying to know what’s going on behind the rickety gates of the mystery zone known as Area 51, and a bunch of them are finally doing something about it. While some of those people are curious to see them aliens, some are probably curious to know what wild and crazy technology the government has been keeping from us. Whether they’re after the little green people or hoping to discover an infinite beer mug (this is me, readers, I hope for this), there’s no way they’re going to succeed at storming a highly-fortified military facility without doing a little research at the library. Here are five things to do at the library before heading down to Nevada in September:

Public Libraries — a Great ‘Life Hack’ for Families

Have you ever heard the term “life hack”? Coined in 2004 by technology writer Daniel O’Brien, a life hack refers to a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Life hacks can save you time, money and aggravation — to use a video game metaphor, they are the hidden cheat codes for going about your everyday business. Whether you are a new parent, a grandparent or an adult caregiver, public libraries can be a great resource for families with young children. Not only can you find books, movies and other media for you and your kids to enjoy, but there is a veritable treasure trove of games, programs, activities and services that you can take advantage of as well. Think of your local public library as a life hack for parenting!

Taking Control of Your Health and Wellbeing Starts at the Library

When you or a loved one have received a medical diagnosis, navigating the world of health information available can be a confusing and frightening prospect. Fortunately, your local public library can help you during this difficult time by providing valuable assistance in locating relevant, credible and authoritative sources for consumer health information. Libraries also serve as community centers for wellness, public health services and health support, often partnering with local hospitals or regional and national public organizations to provide various kinds of outreach services to library users.

Does Your Teen Need Volunteer Hours? Hit the Library!

Does your teen need community service hours for a club, organization, to meet the requirements for a scholarship, or to boost their chances of getting accepted to college? Look no further than your local library! Your local library is the heart of your community where librarians strive to provide excellent educational, social, and career-boosting opportunities. Librarians want to do everything they can to help young people in their communities succeed.

What I Want My Son to Learn from Libraries

On this, my first Father’s Day, I sat down to reflect on what I would like to teach my son to help him be a good person in his life. Naturally, my thoughts drifted towards libraries, and not for nothing; libraries and librarians have had an essential positive influence on my life. Out of so much that I have received from the institution and its heroes, the ideas that stand out the most aren’t necessarily the ones I’ve gathered from a lifetime of reading. Certainly, those are in abundance, but it is the very values of libraries themselves that speak to my heart asking to be passed on: