The library community had a message for the Trump administration this week: well done! That's because the administration this week nominated Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library executive director R. Crosby Kemper III to be the next director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency from which nearly all federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums flows. Librarians this week roundly praised the choice.
“The next leader of IMLS needs to highlight the many ways America’s libraries and museums bring opportunity for all. ALA believes Crosby is the right person to shine that spotlight, and we are pleased to endorse him to be the next IMLS director,” said ALA President Wanda Brown in a ringing endorsement. “One thing is certain: Crosby knows his community and has done a good job bringing in a diversity of programs so there is something for everyone in Kansas City. He will bring that community work, along with his business acumen and extensive museum experience, to bear at the national level."
Kemper's path to public library leadership is quite a story, as this 2016 KCUR story details. A book lover born to a prominent family, Kemper exchanged his role leading the family banking business for a life of community service, taking over as executive director of Kansas City Public Library in 2005, after he spent some time consulting for the library. It's been quite a career since. As the ALA endorsement notes, during Kemper's tenure KCPL has gone on to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.
When confirmed, Kemper will succeed Kathryn Matthew. The IMLS Director is appointed for a four year term, with each leadership term rotating from library to museum professional. Kemper’s nomination will be reviewed by members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, who will then refer the nominee for confirmation by vote on the full Senate floor.
Now, if only Kemper could persuade the Trump administration to stop trying to eliminate the IMLS.
The local Kansas City Star adds a little local color to Kemper's nomination. "The Kemper name in Kansas City is synonymous with banking: family members created both Commerce Bank and United Missouri Bank, now known as UMB," the report notes. "He’s also well known in Kansas City for vocally criticizing public incentives that aid private developers."
The headlines continue to flow over Macmillan's e-book embargo, but now two weeks in, it remains to be seen how the policy and the backlash will play out in practice. As we've reported, a growing number of libraries are vowing not to buy Macmillan e-books, while Macmillan executives are sticking to their plan for now. But in an interview this week with Marketplace, the always thoughtful Jessamyn West succinctly puts her finger on why many librarians think it is unlikely that Macmillan’s embargo will ultimately prove workable. "I don’t understand what the problem was, originally," West says. "I don’t understand why they are looking to libraries and saying, 'oh, well, we know you want to buy dozens, if not hundreds, of copies of these books right after they come out. But instead, we think we’re going to put the squeeze on your patrons, and in fact, on one of our sources of free advertising now that there’s fewer bookstores, and not take your money in order to try to make it this other way.”
Here's an interesting report, from Colorado Politics. When James LaRue retired after 24 years as director of the Douglas County (Co.) Library, the Douglas County Library Board of Trustees surprised him by renaming the Highlands Ranch branch in his honor. And now, they've surprised him again, by taking his name off the library.
From Patch.com, a library assistant at the Elmont Library in New York is charged with stealing $262,190.20 from the library over a six year period. And, you have to wonder how she got away with it for so long. Prosecutors say that one of the assistant's duties included preparing payroll, and, starting in 2012, she simply began adding money to her own paycheck, labeling it "other compensation." And no one apparently noticed. For six years.
From the Daily Herald, you may have heard about children's author Robin Stevenson, who last month was suddenly disinvited from giving a talk to elementary school students about her book Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change, described as a collection of stories about the early lives and role models of 16 historical and contemporary figures. Stevenson wrote a widely circulated letter citing a parent complaint over a chapter on pioneering gay rights activist Harvey Milk as the reason for the cancellation. School officials initially said the cancellation, just hours before the talk was set to begin, was administrative in nature. But school officials this confirmed to the Daily Herald that they called off the event because stories in the book about gender identity "caused concern."
From the New York Times Magazine, a thought-provoking piece on the state of the internet.
Not to be missed: Library Journal's outstanding look at the year in library architecture. The libraries featured are breathtaking, and the editors at LJ have done incredible work presenting them.