The Best Indie Book Project in America

Most people are familiar with bestseller lists from those listed on news websites like The New York Times Bestseller List or those associated with other organizations like Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble, or even Amazon. These books, written by popular or up-and-coming authors, are usually noted for the top-selling status and become very well-known to the general public. On the other end, Independent (Indie) authors have much less recognition for their works. They usually don’t have the same level of exposure as authors with major publishing companies backing them. The Indie Author Project (IAP) works to feature books published by independent authors and creates collections of indie bestsellers and award-winners to showcase to the public. IAP encourages and helps facilitate strong relationships between authors, local public libraries, and readers.

The Edible Alphabet

Libraries have a vested interest in promoting literacy and language skills. Many librarians out there go well above and beyond to find ways to engage their communities and deliver those skills. Case in point: The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Edible Alphabet program. The Edible Alphabet is an English Language Learning (ELL) program offered to people for whom English is not their native language. While ELL programs are fairly standard across the country, the Edible Alphabet takes a different approach: The program (in non-pandemic times, anyway) takes place in a kitchen, where participants prepare and eat new recipes, while working on their English skills both for following the recipe and for socializing with each other.

Dolly Parton (and Local Pediatricians) Put Reading First

Early literacy interventions are crucial when it comes to making sure children are equipped with the experiences needed to tackle school, careers, and life challenges down the road. A variety of programs work to make sure that children and their families are getting access to books and resources and do a great job of engaging them when it is important. Recent studies have even shown the impact when programs work together to accomplish these goals. Researchers combined Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) and Reach Out and Read (ROR) to examine the effectiveness this combination has on kindergarten readiness assessment scores (KRA). They implemented this at urban primary care sites the ROR serves. What they discovered was that combining literary guidance at pediatric clinic visits while also introducing more books into the home was beneficial to improving kindergarten readiness. Researchers found that health care providers end up playing an important role when it comes to helping patients prepare for school.

Cooking with the Library

If it doesn’t seem logical to connect cooking with libraries, we have some news for you: Not only is it logical, it’s popular, even during the pandemic. Libraries across the country offered in-person cooking classes before COVID, and many of those have gone digital, providing much-needed fun, distraction, and camaraderie during lockdowns. Garden City Public Library in New York has Summer Recipes with Chef Rob Scott, a series of cooking demonstrations complete with recipes; St. Louis County Library combined book groups with mocktail recipes; The Verona library system in New Jersey has virtual kids’ cooking classes; and in Springfield, Massachusetts, the library coordinates an email-based cooking club. These are only a few examples of what’s out there. To learn more, we spoke with Stacie Larson, director and CEO of the Maitland Public Library in Florida, and Kami Bumgardner, youth services assistant in Maitland, about the cooking programs they offer and why they’re important. Maitland had an active roster of cooking classes long before the pandemic arrived. “They were in person, and in a very makeshift way,” said Larson. “We have these six-foot resin tables, and at their very highest level, they’re kitchen-counter height. We would put two of those together at the front of the room. We’ve improved since then. But in 2013 we had a three-burner hotplate, variable heat, an electric skillet, two toaster ovens and microwaves. In 2014, we got a grant to build a proper demonstration kitchen. It’s got a two-burner induction range built into the counter. We set the tables up facing into the kitchen, but it’s got an actual oven and an actual range. it doesn’t wobble when you chop vegetables.”

Publishers Are Wasting Your Tax Dollars on Ebooks.

Not only are eBooks easy to access, their portability and lightweight format allow people to bring piles of their favorite reads everywhere and hold a large number of books in the collection without worrying about the space. Libraries have played a major role in giving people access to ebooks. These books are loaned out to library patrons just like physical copies of titles and that means community members who struggle with access or even those that just want to try out a new book can easily do so through their local public library. However, libraries and academic institutions have faced a series of challenges when it comes to maintaining their ebook collections and it all stems from their relationships with publishers. Publishers are charging libraries an exorbitant amount for access to ebook titles which ends up coming out of your taxpayer dollars. Libraries are meant to be places where community members can seek help and resources without worry of financial barriers or judgement. With the way agreements are trending, tax dollars are directly being used to subsidize publishing companies rather than contributing to the community in other useful ways.

School Libraries are the Only Thing that Matters

Schools that have high-quality library programs and library staff benefit the entire student body. Student achievement is at all time highs when care and consideration is put into a library’s collection, staffing, and funding. 

Find Healthcare Information At the Library

A public library is the place to go to find resources. What many don’t realize is that it can also serve as one of the community’s public health hubs. For those who are looking for health information, wanting to get simple health checks performed, or even connect with community health resources, the public library is the place to visit.

Summer Days: A History of Summer Reading in Libraries

Summer equals long days, blooming gardens, shorts, cookouts and, in most libraries across the country, the summer reading program. For two months libraries devote significant amounts of time and energy to getting patrons of all ages to spend part of their summer getting lost in a book. The roots of this idea go back almost a hundred and forty years and spread like wildfire across the country, surviving all the twists and turns of history. Take a journey to see how this program became a cornerstone of library programming.

Libraries for Tweens — Tips from the Librarian

The years between being a child and being a teenager can be a confusing and difficult time. Parents of tweens may find their children struggling with the transition to more complicated coursework, new responsibilities, and learning how to grow up. Libraries are a helpful resource for children of any age and are a source of community support for those who need it. Libraries have dedicated programming and staff just for tweens. They help them stay on top of reading, find new interests, and explore a variety of topics and technology. For parents that have reluctant learners or readers in the house, the library is also one of the best places to reference. Parents will come to find that library visits will show their adolescents the fun side of reading. Here are some tips and tricks for how to implement the library into your household schedule and your tween’s life.

Libraries Help Preserve Histories with Memory Labs

Making memories is nothing new, and the ability to save those memories and preserve them for future generations is something that libraries are experts in. Memory Labs are sprouting up at libraries around the country with the main purpose of helping community memories digitize their personal memories. These labs are stocked with the technology, equipment, and expertise needed to guide people through the process. Memory Labs are do-it-yourself spaces where the public can come in and use state-of-the-art and rare equipment provided by public libraries to work on personal archiving projects. They are easy and convenient to use and just another way that libraries are providing a useful service for their patrons. Several of these initiatives were started by the Memory Lab Network (MLN) and have led to dozens of library partnerships across the United States.