Notes from “The Library as Catalyst for Civic Engagement”

Notes from Bill Ptacek’s article “The Library as Catalyst for Civic Engagement”, Sept 1st, 2013 issue of Library Journal

People used to come to the public library to get service.

“As communication and digital technologies become even more pervasive, libraries will be required to provide content that can be used on whatever is the ‘device du jour.’ ”

“As libraries become less about physical access to information, they are more likely to be valued for their importance to the community–as gathering places for civic, educational, and social engagements.”

Librarians will spend “more time acting as consultant to the general public. Librarian as information expert will become librarian as psychologist or sociologist.”

“In the future, libraries will be less about services and more about how to be of service. Research on patron interests and behavior patterns will be crucial to this effort, and libraries will have to be adept at marketing and customer-insight techniques.”


Lyn Hopper on a…

Lyn Hopper on advocating for your library: “…I should be able to answer the question, ‘So what?’ (So what if more people are visiting? So what if they are attending more programs or checking out more materials?) We need to be able to tell our funding agencies and others what impact the library has on individuals and the community.”

R. David Lankes on crafting our advocacy messages: “We should be asking how libraries help our communities thrive. If we can put together that vision in a compelling way, people will support libraries out of self-interest, not out of pity, charity, or a sense of obligation.”

Hopper, L. (2013, May/June). Planning to thrive: Sustainable public libraries. Public Libraries, 52(3), 26-28.


Censoring a graphic Graphic Novel

How graphic is too graphic? A library director in Greenville, SC has taken a graphic novel, “Neonomicon” by award-winning author Alan Moore, off the shelves after a patron complained about its “offensive” content. The library went through its formal process of review by a committee who recommended that it stay in the library’s collection. But the library director has the final say: she opposed the committee’s recommendation and chose to “de-select” the book.

Is this library director right? Should she go against the committee’s well-thought-out and well-researched decision to keep the book? Having the book on the shelf is not the same as reading it. There are many controversial books in libraries, ie. Fifty Shades of Grey, that patrons can make their own decisions about. I believe that libraries have a duty to their patrons to provide stories that are from all areas of life, whether or not they may be offensive to some groups of people. Now that I am working in a public library and on the front lines of service, I see that it may be very tricky to decide on objections to the collection. For example, should we keep books that are about Neo-Nazis and their beliefs? On the one hand, it could be a very objective look at Neo-Nazism for people who may be doing a research report or project on hate groups in America. On the other hand, the book may be seen as subversively promoting Neo-Nazi values which I suspect many people would object to. Where’s the line? It’s hard to tell.

ImageFrom the graphic novel “Neonomicon”

Every $10 invested in PA public libraries, $55 returned to taxpayers

A 2006 statewide survey conducted by the University of North Carolina in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh concluded that for every $10 invested in public libraries, $55 is returned to Pennsylvania taxpayers.

If public libraries didn’t exist, the study said, the economic loss to our communities across the Commonwealth would total nearly $1.34 billion. That’s 5.5 times what we dedicate annually in local, state, and federal taxes for public libraries.

From the PA Forward website, a campaign started by the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA)