Libraries and Social Justice

Libraries have always been institutions of cultural heritage. They foster the preservation of diverse histories and the advancement of social justice. In fact, libraries have become key supporters of social justice movements. It was even the theme of the 2015 Association of Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) conference. These centers for learning, inclusion, and community cater to people of all backgrounds and have recognized the importance they play in furthering the rights of different groups. Libraries have taken on the responsibility of meeting changing community needs as leaders of cultural change in society.

Libraries and Cultural Preservation

More often than not, these victors do not come from low-income areas and instead they are members of the majority community. However, there are institutions in place that work to help support, document, archive, and restore historic and cultural histories of minority communities. Libraries play a significant role in preserving knowledge and cultural heritage in society. There are massive collections of records, history, and other valuable reference materials that libraries collect in order to ensure that the stories of their communities are saved. They help ensure that the voices of all communities are represented.

How Do Libraries Expand Access To the Arts?

Libraries play host to a variety of community needs. They provide access to information and technology, open up spaces for collaboration and escape, and implement programs and events that enrich the community. In times when STEM related subjects are emphasized, libraries make sure to cultivate and support art in their communities. Libraries work hard to support local artists, curate spaces that encourage art, and contribute to building an awareness and appreciation of the arts. Many libraries serve as incubators for creative minds. These important spaces have demonstrated their capabilities and innovation in supporting art in communities. Here a just a few of the ways libraries help expand access to the arts: Follow EveryLibrary On Twitter!

How Do School Libraries Prepare Students For Success In College And The Workforce

Public libraries are instrumental supporters of learning and development at all levels. This is no different for students entering college and going through fields of studies that will impact their futures and careers. There is an array of resources available and support provided by public libraries to high school students making important decisions about their next steps as well as those developing crucial habits and skill sets that they will carry with them throughout college and into their careers. Libraries are a beneficial resource and librarians can teach skills to help students gather and evaluate information needed to face decisions from step one. This ensures that students are prepared from the application and decision making process to their first day in a new workplace. Here are just a few ways libraries play pivotal roles in the college search and admissions process:

Do You Know What Librarians Know?

Librarians know things! This was brought home to me when I read The Oxford Guide to Library Research by Thomas Mann and the The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating by Steven Kerry Brown. Like private investigators, librarians have a body of tangible knowledge that is unique to us. For a private investigator, tracking people down starts with knowing which resources to use; certain databases are better for certain queries, while for some it’s best to deal with other people. Part of a PIs trade is knowing which is which. In seeing libraries as community centers and librarians as generalists, we often forget that a degree in library science (an MLS, or MLIS) is meant not simply as a path to a professional job, but as a symbol that librarians have specific knowledge, and that knowledge is real.

Public Libraries Make People’s Lives Better

Despite the obvious missions of public libraries, the unmeasured and often unmentioned return-on-investment with regards to them is the affect they have on the quality-of-life of the population they serve. Individual and group happiness are only recently becoming viewed as valid economic indicators, though positive psychology, the study of happiness and the causes of positive life experiences, has been a growing movement within psychological research for over a decade (see the Positive Psychology Center’s list of readings). With all the news about depression and stress rates in the United States soaring, it makes sense that a counterbalance is offered. To that, and into the general fracas I am throwing my unscientific opinion that public libraries have an important role to play in both the physical and mental health of communities.

How Libraries Support Nonprofits

Local libraries are immersed in their communities and, in many cases, will work with and support non-profits on a local and national level to bring about impactful change. There are many non-profits located in your local community that benefit from the resources and support that libraries provide. Libraries have a lot to offer-just look at the endless stories of library and non-profit partnerships that have emerged throughout the years.

For the Best Free Genealogy Websites, Start at Your Library

Genealogy is the study of lineages and family histories and is a topic that comes up at one point or another in a person’s life. Whether due to sheer curiosity or specific interests in family origins, the search through one’s genealogy can be a big task to take on. Genealogists spend extensive amounts of time using oral interviews, historical records such as birth, death, or marriage records, forensics and genetics, the census, and many other research materials. Luckily, the public library makes the search easier for researchers and those interested in their family history. There are plenty of genealogical resources available for free through local and state libraries as well as databases and trained librarians that can aid in this discovery process.

Part of the Gig Economy? Grab a Library Card!

If you’re like the 57.3 million Americans who work as independent contractors and freelancers, you undoubtedly have a work-life that differs greatly from a standard nine-to-fiver.  And while your workflow may be atypical, access to quality resources doesn’t have to be. Improve your gig game at the local library. Here’s how:  

Library Databases Really Have It All

A Basic Review A database is a collection of items organized in a computer and made searchable. Unlike search engines, which use advanced coding and digitized spiders to collect and allow users to search for information, databases use human beings. Think of a search engine as a huge collection of file cabinets with everything the search engine collects and a database as a smaller, more organized set of file cabinets dedicated to a single topic and organized by humans. This gives them far richer resources for research but demands more consideration by the user to get the most out of them. Because humans organize them, databases lack the ability to ‘guess’ your query the way Google can, and therefore, more thought is needed to organize your searches. This lack of guessing means that the search must be stripped down to the fewest words possible to express the main idea.