ALA releases 2020 State of America’s Libraries report

CHICAGO – Today the American Library Association (ALA) released its 2020 State of America’s Libraries report, an annual summary of library trends released during National Library Week, April 19 – 25, that outlines statistics and issues affecting all types of libraries during the previous calendar year.

Although the report focuses on 2019, libraries are shown to be on the frontlines addressing societal and community challenges – a role they are certainly playing during the COIVD-19 pandemic today. Many libraries serve as first responders who take on roles outside of traditional library service that support patrons’ needs and community development. Functioning at various times as career counselors, social workers, teachers and technology instructors, library staff give special care to adopt programs and services that support the most vulnerable and curious.

The report found that the popularity of libraries in 2019 continues to soar. According to a recent Gallup poll, visiting the library is the “most common cultural activity Americans engage in by far.” In 2019, US adults reported taking an average of 10.5 trips per year to the library, a frequency that exceeded their participation in other common leisure activities like going to the movies, a museum or the zoo.

The best proof that public libraries are about more than just books is their evolution into libraries of things, offering nontraditional collections that are community-specific and imaginative. The wide array of items available to check out includes mattresses, dolls, bicycles, binoculars, and accordions.

Our nation’s academic libraries have a major impact on student success. Statistics gathered by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of ALA, demonstrate how academic libraries support many types of high-impact educational practices (HIPS) that have beneficial effects on student retention, graduation rates, time to graduation and grade point average. Academic library staff provided instructional sessions (both face-to-face and electronic) to more than 7 million students. More than 57% of the almost 800,000 instructional sessions were digital or electronic.

School librarians have focused on instructing students in information literacy to ensure they are ready to use data in decision-making. The perception is that youth growing up with access to ubiquitous technology can easily and effectively use data; however, a recent report on data literacy found that “60% of US workers 16 to 24 years old—people who had been raised surrounded by technology—are overwhelmed by the data they must read and analyze as part of their jobs.”

Additional report findings illustrate a 17% increase in the number of books targeted for removal or restriction fueling library staff efforts to protect the freedom to read. Hundreds of attempts from the public to remove or restrict materials, cancel programs, and dismantle displays and exhibits took place in public, school and academic libraries. The majority of library materials and services targeted for removal included or addressed LGBTQIA+ content.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Overall, 566 books were targeted. Here are the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2019,” along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

1. “George,” by Alex Gino

Reasons: to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”

2. “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out,” by Susan Kuklin

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased

3. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

4. “Sex is a Funny Word,” by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

5. “Prince & Knight,” by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis Reasons: featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint.

6. “I Am Jazz,” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

7. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood

Reasons: profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

8. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Reasons: referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

10. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole

Reason: LGBTQIA+ content

Access to a video announcement and infographics regarding the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019 are available at ala.org/bbooks/freedownloads. Previous lists of Top 10 Most Challenged Books dating back to 2001 are available at ala.org/bbooks/top.

Other library trends are available in the full text of the State of America’s Libraries 2020 report, available at http://bit.ly/soal-2020 .

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is observed each April by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country. National Library Week celebrations include National Library Workers Day, April 21; National Bookmobile Day, April 22, and Take Action for Libraries Day, April 23. For more information on National Library Week, please visit ILoveLibraries.org/NLW or follow #NationalLibraryWeek.

American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.

IMLS Announces New Stimulus Funding for Communities Across America

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced measures to award the first $30 million of $50 million appropriated to the agency in the CARES Act.

The $30 million in the funding phase announced today will be distributed to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and the Freely Associated States based on population. The agency is allocating these grants through its most significant in-place funding vehicle for all states and territories, State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs), who are encouraged to use all available mechanisms to reach museum and tribal partners, as well as traditionally eligible libraries.

These funds are in addition to previously announced measures to support the urgent needs of museums, libraries, their staff, and the communities they serve. On April 6, IMLS authorized new flexibilities for its nearly 1,300 open awards in response to the impact of COVID-19.

“Together, we must address this challenge in the places most affected by coronavirus,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “This pandemic has highlighted the fact that people in rural and tribal communities, as well as those in high-poverty areas or remote regions lacking access to broadband, have been disproportionately affected. We must target these funds to provide job, health, economic, and other high-impact relief, and this funding round focuses on providing efficient, urgent help to citizens across the nation.”

States and territories will be able to use the funds to expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide technical support services to citizens to address digital inclusion efforts and related technical support, using the following types of data to prioritize efforts:

  • Poverty/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Unemployment; and
  • Broadband availability.

“The urgent expansion of broadband access and digital services enables people to connect to the health, community, government, and job information so critical today, and to the other programs and services that play an enhanced role in the current health emergency,” said Kemper. “While we are distributing these funds through State Library Administrative Agencies, we urge museums and related organizations to partner with libraries in this vital endeavor.”

The state allotment tables can be viewed here; IMLS will provide additional details and anticipated timelines of this funding availability directly to SLAAs. The agency also plans to announce additional measures to aid museums and libraries, both through its current funding and that received through the CARES Act.

More information is available at imls.gov/coronavirus. For the latest information, subscribe to IMLS news updates.

Updated information from IMLS/CDC

Hello Library Directors,

I hope this Monday finds you and yours well. Today I’m just passing along a couple of resources. First, from the CDC/IMLS webinar this morning, please visit this page https://www.imls.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-updates for information from IMLS.  It includes the links that the CDC referred to in the presentation this morning. A recording of the presentation will be posted there when available. There were a couple of takeaways from the session: first, be in close contact with your local public health authority as you are decision-making; second, hand hygiene is critically important; third, the CDC does not consider library materials to be at high risk for transmitting the virus. However, if you are particularly concerned about specific items, use an approved cleaner and disinfectant to the extent that the material allows, and if additional concerns, quarantine materials for up to 24 hours.

 

This next resource is from Gigabit Libraries Network. They are hosting a series of webinars on digital services that you may find of interest. You can access the first one (Internet Access) at this link: Recording from 3/26: Part 1: Internet Access– https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XscwnzAB0-36z7DiM7ct7G2BDl7_d3AF/view

 

Finally, I’ll be sending along a Skype invite for an MDE  meeting with library leaders on Thursday at 1pm.  Please feel free to forward it on to others who may be interested or want to have a conversation.

 

With my warm regards,

Jen

Jennifer R. Nelson

Director, State Library Services and Charter Center

651-582-8791 |  jennifer.r.nelson@state.mn.us

ALA Recommends Libraries Leave Wi-Fi Open During Closures

The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board released the following recommendation on March 23 to libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Our current crisis demands extraordinary measures. As most states and the federal government declare states of emergency, we appreciate that libraries and other public facilities have closed temporarily to support critical social distancing efforts. Our top priority and concern is the health and safety of our library staffs and the diverse communities we serve.

As we stated last week, service and stewardship to our communities are core to the library profession. We continue to see this every day even as library buildings close to the public but often sustain or grow their virtual services and resources freely available to all.

But we also are painfully aware that America’s 16,557 public library locations are essential nodes in our nation’s digital safety net—connecting people with no-fee access to computers and the internet, lending internet hotspots and devices, and providing digital literacy training and expansive learning and enrichment digital collections for all ages. The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting this safety net and spotlighting the persistent digital gaps for more than 20 million people in the United States, including millions of school-age children and college students forced out of classrooms and many more workers also displaced.

Libraries can and should leave their Wi-Fi networks on even when their buildings are closed wherever possible. As we have noted to the Federal Communications Commission, ALA believes a 2010 order from the commission permits this use without jeopardizing E-Rate funding that many public libraries and schools rely on to sustain and build their broadband capacity. In these unprecedented times, we should take whatever steps we can to leverage our resources to maximize benefit to our communities—particularly for those with the fewest resources.

ALA has long been at the forefront of promoting broadband equity for all and continues to work in coalition to expand the capacity of libraries, schools, colleges and universities, and other community anchor institutions to strengthen our digital networks. We will continue to advocate for digital inclusion for all today and in the future.

Scholarship Report: Beth Anderson – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Beth Anderson – Director, Preston Public Library


How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

Being a library director at a small library I’m involved in all aspects of the library. I looked for sessions that related to our library. The exhibits helped me find new products.

 

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

It is really hard to pick a favorite session. There were a few session that were really good. The one on dementia gave many ideas for hosting programs at the library and going to senior facilities. The other one I really liked was called Bringing Technology & Arts to Senior Adults. We do have an aging population and I would really like to find ways to engage them in various activities. This session talked about STEAM, Arts and Technology for Seniors. All these activities help to increase socialization. Virtual reality was found to bring memory recall!

 

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

The PLA conference this year was all about diversity and inclusion. It was about helping people access the information and resources they need. It emphasized the acknowledgement of experiences different from your own, and showing respect to those different from you. In the various sessions and interactions, there was always an element of openness and acceptance, even down to the books in the publishers’ booths. I have always felt a bit of pride working for the library because aside from the emergency services, it’s a place for everyone, no exceptions. It was nice to be reminded of the privilege we have of being a part of that type of service to our communities. The conference this year was an inspiring reminder of that. It feels good to return home with new energy and excitement for the job.

 

What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

Only one idea!! There is so much I hope to implement, but i know that realistically I need to focus on only a couple right now. For our library I think going to one or both of the assisted living homes may be best but I do plan on talking to them also to see if it would be feasible for them to bring the residents in their van to the library. Whatever we do I would like to partner with those places to provide them with additional activities.

 

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this conference. There is so much to learn, so many new ideas.

ALA Executive Board Recommends Closing Libraries to Public

The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board released this statement March 17 in support of libraries and library workers during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The ALA Executive Board unequivocally stands in support of the safety and well-being of library workers and the communities we serve. To protect library workers and their communities from exposure to COVID-19 in these unprecedented times, we strongly recommend that academic, public, and school library leaders and their trustees and governing bodies evaluate closing libraries to the public and only reopening when guidance from public health officials indicates the risk from COVID-19 has significantly subsided.

It is very difficult for us to put forward this recommendation. Libraries pride themselves on being there during critical times for our communities. We are often the only institutions to remain open during times of crisis. Service and stewardship to our communities are core to our profession.

We have weighed the situation of our country and what has happened in other countries around the world. The health of our library workers and the communities we serve is of utmost and equal importance. Libraries are by design unable to practice social distancing to the degree recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities. Keeping libraries open at this time has the potential to harm communities more than help. We underscore the importance and need to come together in this crisis and commit to ensuring our libraries, which provide so many important services to our communities, do not serve as vectors for a fast-moving pandemic.

Libraries are responding creatively and proactively to this crisis. School libraries in many states have closed along with schools and many have plans to provide online classes to students. Public libraries are making virtual resources available and considering other ways they can help during the crisis. Academic libraries are providing online services and access to resources. All libraries are working with their school administrators, governments, boards, and university administrations to determine critical services and closures following local directives.

Additionally, and in alignment with our companion organization, the ALA–Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), we encourage libraries to ensure that all library workers receive fully paid leave, including health coverage, while libraries are closed.

Although closing a library is a local decision, we urge library administrators, local boards, and governments to close library facilities until such time as library workers and our communities are no longer at risk of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The ALA Executive Board is committed to supporting our library workers, ALA members, and the communities we serve during these challenging and uncertain times.

For more information about ALA resources on COVID-19, visit www.ala.org/tools/atoz/pandemic-preparedness.

SELCO Seeks Researcher for History of SELCO Region

SELCO has been awarded a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society for the research phase of a history of the SELCO region to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary in 2021.  The SELCO Board of Directors is accepting proposals from interested and qualified individuals to conduct the research.  The Request for Qualifications and Proposal can be found HERE.  Any questions may be directed to Krista Ross, SELCO Executive Director at kross@selco.info or at 507-288-5513, ext. 3.

CANCELLED: YSIE Spring Meeting

Due to low ability to attend, the Spring Youth Services Idea Exchange (YSIE) meeting set for Friday, April 12, 2019 has been cancelled.  Thanks to all who responded if they could attend or not.  A Doodle poll will be forthcoming to help determine a reschedule date.  If you have any other questions regarding YSIE, please contact our Consulting department.

New Help Desk Starts on Monday, March 18

SELCO is launching the new Help Desk on Monday, March 18, 2019.

So what’s the new Help Desk going to look like?

  • Extended Help Desk Hours:  M-F 8:30 am to 7 pm and Saturdays 9 am to 1:30 pm
  • “Emergency” Help Desk call hours outside of regularly scheduled HD hours  (we’ll be working with you to define what “emergency” means, so just use the “urgent” definition for now)
  • Dedicated Help Desk staff:  Bob Olson ( M-F 8:30-2 & every other Saturday) and Emmanuel Deng (M-F 2-7 & every other Saturday)

We’re excited about the potential of this new Help Desk structure to provide a more consistent experience for all, identify patterns and needs more quickly.

I would encourage everyone to reach out with any questions or concerns that you may have.  Your feedback is very important!

CANCELLED: All Delivery Routes on 2.25.19

Due to the poor driving conditions and road closures, delivery has been cancelled for all routes on Monday, February 25th.  We thank you for your understanding.  If you have any questions, please contact the SELCO office.