Want to Raise a Reader? Libraries Can Make It Easier

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben may have been cautioning Peter Parker about the moral obligations that go along with stepping into the role of a web-slinging vigilante, but it’s easy to see how these words could also resonate with new and expecting parents. It’s never too early to start reading to your baby! You are your child’s first and most important teacher. If you have fun and create positive associations around books, your child will likely feel the same way! Make your home a learning zone: Talk! Write! Read! Sing! Play! As a children’s librarian, I’ve been delivering messages like these for years at storytimes, family workshops, and community outreach events. But as a person preparing for her first child, I’ve started to hear these words in a new way.

The Only Free Place in Town

Does your club need a meeting space? Would you love access to free, local resources to support the needs and interests of your group? Your local librarian has the answer! Years of experience as a public librarian taught me that while many people in the community are aware that their library provides free programs, fewer people realize that their library can usually provide space and resources for their own programs and activities. Many groups use libraries as meeting places and have awesome experiences! Though libraries generally have plenty of meeting space, you should communicate your needs to your library before you plan a meeting there to make sure.

Report: The Connection Between Crime and Illiteracy is Clear!

It is a common refrain that a lack of access to education is one of the major contributing factors to incarceration in the United States. What is not as commonly discussed is the direct impact that reading and literacy skills specifically have on levels of incarceration and crime rates and the impact that library funding has on decreasing crime rates in our communities.

Start Your Business at the Library!

Are you one of those people who spend all day at your current job dreaming about running your own business? You have a surefire product or service idea… but it’s just an idea. Normal people don’t just start a company, right? And besides, who would even know where to start? Well, did you know that thousands of Americans start very profitable businesses with the help of their local library?

What the Heck is Fake News? (Something everyone should know by now)

Sigh. It’s been years and people still don’t understand what “fake news” is. In October 2019, this was brought to the fore by Citrus County Commissioner Scott Carnahan (video here) — who in my mind immediately became known as “Fake News” Carnahan — when he refused to sign-off on the library’s request to renew a New York Times digital subscription for the public because it was “fake news,” declaring, by way of reasoning, that he supported Trump. Sigh. It’s been years and people still don’t understand what fake news is. For example, “Fake News” Carnahan thinks that Donald Trump knows what it, which is a joke because Trump thinks it’s a term for anything with which he disagrees. Following in his mentor’s footsteps: Carnahan dislikes the NY Times so it must be fake news! Imagine all the fake news coverage of why “Fake News” Carnahan’s personal tastes shouldn’t determine what the library buys complete with fake words like ethics, censorship, and ignorance.

Teens Make a Difference as Volunteers

Teen volunteers saved summer at my library. With their help, I was able to put on large-scale messy shaving cream painting projects, sign up more families for summer reading, prepare construction vehicle felt pieces for future storytimes, gather ideas for tween programs, and so much more. Teen volunteers lend their time and abilities to the library, making our libraries and the communities we serve all the better for it. When potential volunteers come calling I am always grateful for their interest, but I am also cautious. Even before teens submit paperwork, I generally ask a few questions to get a sense of their expectations and where their interest is coming from. I’m not looking for word-perfect answers — many teens have had little to no job interview experience and I wouldn’t expect that of them. I also don’t expect teens to be super polished or experts in etiquette — different people come from different backgrounds and it takes time to learn what comes with entering a workplace environment.

The Library is Empty. Your Move! (A Thought Experiment)

This is a thought experiment. There are a lot of conversations in our culture about what a library is, what it’s becoming, and what it should be. Let’s imagine that the library is empty. Is it a room of books? No. Is it a place where the librarian provides research assistance? No. Is it a makerspace? No. Is it a co-working space? No. Does it lend out tools and toys? No. Well, maybe. But it depends on you! The library is empty and you need to fill it. What is the first thing you do? Do you envision a building? A bookmobile? Is it even a container? Maybe your library starts with a librarian on a laptop in a coffee shop. Maybe it’s a dirt circle in the park. Where do you begin?

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.