The Slow Burning Fire in the Libraries of America

One of the great tragedies of ancient history, memorialized in myths and Hollywood film, is the burning of the great library at Alexandria. But the reality of the Library’s end was actually a lot less pyrotechnic than that. A major cause of the Library’s ruin was government budget cuts. — GIZMODO And now we’re poised to repeat history in the United States. That’s because libraries in America have been allowed to slowly crumble. This is a result of being overlooked by city, state, and national governments for decades, facing budget cuts from all directions, and losing out on crucial funding needed to maintain their infrastructures. Libraries are an important community resource that serve diverse groups of people with varied needs. They are impactful in endless ways and can benefit the lives of millions who cross their doors. But, this critical public space could collapse, like the Library of Alexandria if it continues to be neglected and Americans will miss out on the incredible opportunities from libraries.

Results of FOIA Search in Lafayette

Campaigners on the ground in Lafayette have continued to make Freedom Of Information Act Requests of the Lafayette Parish Council. What follows below is a brief synopsis of the latest findings.

Libraries Helped Keep People Connected During the Pandemic

Libraries have been learning and adapting this past year throughout the pandemic just as the general public and other institutions have had to. There’s plenty to learn in the quarantine era from how to social distance and sanitize to virtual event planning to find ways to continue supporting their local communities. Since March of last year, libraries have really buckled down to ensure that the widened gaps in the community are filled. There are many wonderful libraries and library staff who are still working just as hard as ever to find innovative ways to serve the community and keep every connected.

Small Business Ideas for Teens from the Library

It is never too early to start looking into ways of building financial security. When teenagers look into building their own business, they are not only investing in their financial future but also opening up educational and learning opportunities. Jumpstarting a new business can be complex at any age. There are lots of factors and components that go into it. As a teenager there are also added obstacles because they are still minors and often do not have resources independent of their parents. Before getting started, a teenage entrepreneur needs to do a lot of research and find guidance on starting a business. The local public library is a great resource for many reasons. Libraries were created for everyone to be able to gain knowledge. Alongside the endless amounts of materials to browse on the topic, libraries also offer plenty of useful resources that teens can use to learn how to build and grow their businesses.

Small Business Idea for Teens from Their Public Library

Libraries are there to help teens discover and develop important skills that can help them become successful entrepreneurs in the future.

Libraries Help You Sell on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist

Those looking to step into the world of the gig economy can be reassured in knowing that there are helpful resources to walk them through this type of business. Libraries hold a wealth of information within their buildings. This knowledge comes in the form of print materials, internet and database resources, and well-trained librarians and the library’s connections to the communities. Libraries are here to serve the local public which means that these institutions are always looking for different materials to buy and classes to incorporate that may be of interest to patrons. Many are stepping into the roles of becoming their own businesses either through opening up a small business or through selling items on the internet. Platforms like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist are just a few of the many places where people head to begin their selling journey. The library is the perfect place for beginners to visit and in many cases will teach patrons how to sell on these platforms through step by step instruction. Here’s what you can look into at your local public library to start building your business acumen.

How Do Librarians Choose the Books?

Walking into a library, surrounding yourself with books, is a great comfort for many people. Ever stop to wonder how they get there? That task falls to the collection development librarian and/or department. They have the daunting task of deciding on what items will and will not mesh with their community, often areas with diverse populations and needs. Let us take a look behind the curtain at the process that fills those shelves.

“Sometimes Caring is Enough” and Other Library Wisdom to Enrich Your Life

It’s a cliché among library workers that books are part of the job but reading them hardly ever is. What is part of the job is working with people and technology to provide access to materials, including books. The things we do are often nuanced because people are complicated, and this nuance, along with the general nature of being information workers, is a ripe stage for developing wisdom for those that do their jobs in a mindful way (read: Those who pay attention!). I’d like to think that my two decades of work in various libraries have taught me some things. Here are nine pieces of wisdom I learned from working in libraries: Other people’s emotions are rarely about you “How do you stay so calm in these situations?” Asked one my regular customers after a particularly gnarly encounter at the reference desk, “I would’ve thrown a stapler at him!” Unfortunately, I’ve been asked variations of this question many times over the course of my career and the answer is simple: My job is to serve people and I can’t do that when I’m hollering back at them. Even if they insult me, threaten to get me fired, or tell me they pay my salary! (You wouldn’t believe how many times librarians get lambasted with that last one) Now, while there are limits to what I will stand, I remain acutely aware that people come into the library with all sorts of physical, emotional, financial, familial, difficulties — that guy wasn’t screaming at me because his hold hadn’t arrived; most people can wait a few extra days for the latest John Grisham, so he’s likely actually angry about, who knows, a fight with his brother. The real answer to how I stay calm is that I always keep in mind that bad behavior is rarely personal. It’s a lesson that I try to carry with me outside of library work, too. When I get poor customer service somewhere or the people around me are challenging in general, I remind myself that their emotions are their own and that I can only truly be responsible for how I act and react.

Library Makerspaces Spark Creativity

A makerspace may be something that has been on your radar lately. These innovative and collaborative environments are being incorporated into a variety of spaces. A makerspace can be big or small and hold any number of tools and materials for users to investigate and learn. The purpose of having a makerspace is to present people with an opportunity to explore their interests through hands-on, creative projects. Makerspaces create a culture of curiosity and creativity, encouraging its users to learn about a variety of technology as well as craft making. Creating a makerspace in a school library is especially beneficial for students. A makerspace placed in a library setting opens a whole new world of resources and exploration in students and can do plenty when it comes to their learning process. Because projects done in the makerspace are focused on student centered inquiry, this makes them ideal to implement in school environments.

Libraries Help Us Preserve Our COVID-Era Stories

Humans are natural storytellers. We know that history isn’t just the official accounts and what’s in the news. History, if properly told, is filled with stories passed down from people to people and through generations. Exploring stories throughout history teaches us a lot about how the world was. COVID-19 will make it in the history books as one of the largest public health crises the world has faced in the past century. But how did people living through it experience the events they witnessed, the emotions they felt, and how everything was affected by the shutdowns? Libraries are one of the key local organizations working to capture what life is like in pandemic times. Back in the early 1900s during the Spanish Influenza pandemic, there were not as many documented cases of personal experiences and ephemera. We do not know an extensive amount about what it was like for someone living through that time period. Institutions across the country and the globe recognize the importance of preserving these experiences this time through. That is why COVID-19 archives are popping up at institutions all over the world. By seeking the help of their local communities and historical societies, libraries across the nation and the world are creating digital and physical archives to document the effects of the pandemic on everyday life. These stories will all piece together to give insight to future generations on what this past year in lockdown has been like for different populations of people.