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.

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: