The Institute of Museum and Library Services this week announced the 10 recipients of the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums. The awards will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C., on June 12.
The winners were selected from 30 national finalists, representing a broad range of institutions, including two Native American Tribal libraries, a research Library, a Civil Rights Museum and a handful of public library systems. And at a time when the Trump administration continues to propose the elimination of the IMLS, perusing the lists of nominees and finalists, as well as the 10 award winners, is an important reminder of how much good work the agency supports in communities across the country.
Among the winners: the New Haven Free Public Library (Connecticut), which was nominated for the honor by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy. In a statement, Murphy praised the library for "going above and beyond to offer 21st century programming to fit the diverse needs of the New Haven community."
NHFPL director Martha Brogan told PW that the national recognition was “affirming and uplifting,” but shifted the attention back to the community the library serves. “We wholeheartedly share this award with the diverse community of New Haven residents, who eagerly give back and co-create a bright future for our city with the library,” she said.
“I’ve heard the phrase ‘people’s university’ to describe the New Haven Free Public Library, its collection, its programs, and its services,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp at a press conference this week, adding that the library serves as a showcase not only for what the city of new Haven can be, but the nation—a place that "welcomes those in all walks of life without judgment about age, race, cultural, or economic background, where anyone can pursue his or her interests, abilities, and talents.”
No question, NHFPL worked for the honor. In 2017, the library began a yearlong effort to train the majority of its staff in "21st-century library leadership skills," Brogan told PW. And, an in-depth Community Needs Assessment (CNA) helped the library to “uncover the community’s aspirations and motivations,” and to develop a “visionary and adaptable” five-year strategy to better serve the city's diverse residents. “The staff are attuned to the myriad of needs that arise in an urban environment," Brogan says, whether "job application assistance, basic necessities, the latest book or movie, or social connections.”
Meanwhile, though the national spotlight on NHFPL is appreciated, it’s the local appreciation that seems to most please Brogan. She shared with PW a message from a patron upon hearing of the library's award: “Congratulations, you certainly deserve this award and have created amazing changes and programs for all our families in New Haven. Thank you for your dedication and care towards creating a great public university for the residents of New Haven.”
NYPL Taps Brian Bannon for New Post
School Library Journal reported this week that the New York Public Library has hired Chicago Public Library director Brian Bannon to be the first Meryl and James Tisch Director of The New York Public Library. In this newly-created position, Bannon will be tasked with overseeing the city's 88 neighborhood branches, as well as expanding NYPL's programs and educational initiatives. The position was chartered with a $20 million gift from the Tisch family. Bannon will reportedly start in December.
Bannon is widely regarded as an innovator who is credited with transforming the Chicago Public Library since his appointment in 2012. Indeed, at the Digital Public Library of America's DPLAfest hosted at the Chicago Public Library last month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel dropped by to talk about Bannon's great work, and the city's pride in its libraries.
“Throughout my career, I have followed The New York Public Library and view it as the gold standard of what is possible in libraries, a powerful example of how legacy institutions can adapt, change, and thrive,” Bannon said in a statement. “I am excited about the institution’s direction, and am thrilled to build upon the great, innovative work already happening—especially now. I believe that we are just starting to see the full potential of public libraries.”
Back to the IMLS, the hard work of library supporters is paying off: Despite the Trump Administration's third proposal to eliminate the agency, the House Committee on Appropriations this week passed its FY2020 funding bills, which include a $25 million increase in IMLS funding with $17 million in funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the amount ALA officials requested in its “Dear Appropriator” letter. In addition, the House markup includes a $2 million increase for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. The increases bring overall IMLS funding up to roughly $267 million. This is great news that reflects the great work of the nation's libraries, and library supporters. The hard work is far from over, however. The Senate is up next, and ALA officials are urging advocates to stay engaged.
The upcoming ALA Annual conference in Washington D.C. is shaping up nicely. This week, ALA announced a bold-faced name will address librarians at the conference: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The session will be moderated by Jill Santopolo, Associate Publisher of Philomel Books, publisher of Sotomayor's forthcoming book Just Ask!
NYPL's new director may his work cut out for him, as Crain's this week featured an editorial on a proposed budget cut for NYPL. "The cuts come just as we need to be strengthening libraries' fiscal backbone. Instead of reducing hours, we should be increasing them to include nights and weekends to accommodate working people who might otherwise be unable to seek their assistance."
From Nashville Public Radio, the city of Nashville celebrated the centennial of its historic East Branch Library this week, built in 1919, and one of two remaining Carnegie public libraries in the city.
Via The New York Times, Facebook's co-founder Chris Hughes is now calling for the company's breakup. "For too long, lawmakers have marveled at Facebook’s explosive growth and overlooked their responsibility to ensure that Americans are protected and markets are competitive."
Is Amazon spying on your kids? NBC News reports on Amazon's alleged privacy infractions, via its Alexa service. "Advocates say the kids' version of Amazon's Alexa won't forget what children tell it, even after parents try to delete the conversations. For that and other alleged privacy flaws they found while testing the service, they're now asking the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to investigate whether it violates children's privacy laws."
NJ.Com has a guest editorial on The Highland Park Public Library, which is embroiled in a controversy over a children’s book author whose appearance was canceled amid calls that the author and her book are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.
Via Gary Price at InfoDocket, some news on the open access front: Springer Nature is soliciting feedback on how accelerate the transition to open access.
And, from the Scholarly Kitchen more insight on the University of California's decision to end its subscription deal with Elsevier.
And, from the Fatherly blog, good advice on how to find good stuff for your kids. "Ask the children’s librarian. These people are warm, absurdly knowledgeable, and, above all, patient. Most importantly, they have time on their hands to know about things that you don’t know; specifically what’s good with kids’ books right now."