National Library Week: Transforming Libraries

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National Library Week: Transforming Tomorrow

Librarians are stepping up to take on new roles—and are transforming their communities in the process.

Recent changes to the social landscape have provided unique challenges for libraries. One such issue is the increased call for inclusion. New library signs emphasize that all are welcome, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors that can stir feelings of alienation. Empathy and a dedication to providing all visitors with a safe space has prompted librarians to create special displays to assure those in the LGBT community, immigrants, and others that they are not alone. Also, in keeping with their central mission, libraries are expanding LGBT-themed materials available to patrons.

After-school programs give younger patrons a place to relax, socialize, and learn without fear of being judged or ostracized. The often calm atmosphere helps teenagers feeling especially vulnerable focus on connecting with kind and tolerant peers or engaging in MakerSpace activities in dedicated library spaces.

A new coding initiative is also sweeping through libraries, encouraging girls to build their STEM skills in preparation for productive future careers. Some libraries are hosting STEM contests that ask the girls to build STEM projects designed to meet environmental, energy, and/or health needs.

Kindness clubs make libraries even more welcoming. In one example, students committed to spreading kindness have hidden encouraging sticky notes for those who need a smile.

Libraries are also responding to the rise of “fake news.” Librarians are using information literacy programs to help patrons make informed decisions in these changing times. Brodart Graphic Novel Specialist and Selector Katherine “Kat” Kan says, “Our students need to know how to recognize fake news, how to evaluate internet sources to find the most useful/factual sources for their research. They need to start learning it while in middle school.”

From career counseling to summer reading programs, to activities for seniors and even hands-on life skills training for children with special needs, libraries are implementing programs that inform and also help build relationships among patrons. In essence, libraries everywhere are evolving beyond their traditionally perceived function as book repositories and becoming centers for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. While it's true that technology is helping to expand the role and reach of modern libraries, it is individual librarians who are the real drivers of change and transformation in the communities they serve.

Libraries are constantly evolving. The theme of this year’s National Library Week (April 9-15) is “Libraries Transform.” With librarians using their unique skills to transform a new generation, the future is in good hands.

Additional Resources:

What kind of library environment are you creating? Click here to find out:
https://www.glsen.org/article/libraries-safe-spaces

On how to incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion in an academic library: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/equity-diversity-inclusion-dispatches-acrl/

For a list of webinars, LibGuides, and other resources about fake news, try http://www.programminglibrarian.org/articles/fake-news-library-round

Public Libraries Online has an article featuring creative ways to fight fake news. http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2017/02/creative-ways-to-fight-fake-news/