The Topeka and Shawnee County Library team is continually developing approaches in services, programs, and collections that empower the citizens of our community. We believe the library’s role is to enable people to learn, connect, develop skills, and contribute to their community. In 2014, we surveyed 3,200 households to help determine specific needs, and received … Read more…

Understanding Community Goals Leads to Success for Libraries and Communities – A post from the 2016 Library of the Year

By Leah Sewell, Communications Editor, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Have you ever been on the other line of a survey call? I haven’t, personally, but I’ve often wondered if I would be a willing participant. Perhaps in the midst of a particularly juicy book, soaking up one-on-one time with my fast-growing 9-year-old or closely watching a new recipe simmer, what would compel me to answer the phone, but also to converse with a researcher for an indeterminate spell? Well, for one thing, I’d pretty much drop everything and let dinner burn to gab with any stranger, on the phone or otherwise, when the topic is libraries.

You see, in my career as the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s Communication Editor, I am enamored with the “public” part of the public library. How does the public feel about our services? How will they react to a minor or a major change? How can we woo them, engage them, help them feel a part the community through literacy and learning, and subsequently change their lives for the better?

My library is focused on the public and the public good. It’s asking the right questions, discovering people’s goals and needs and assisting them so they can reach them. Ultimately, it’s about making a difference in the community by working with our fellow citizens to make their lives better. That’s a good chunk of the reason why we’re the Library Journal / Gale, a part Cengage Learning 2016 Library of the Year. We have our ears to the ground.

When the 2016 Pew Research Center report, Libraries at the Crossroads, was released in September 2015, I wondered about the people on the other end of those cell phones and land lines. Those individuals that Pew cites variously as “a share of Americans” or “a majority of Americans,” or “low-income Americans” are real individuals with busy lives, loved ones and their own dinners to prepare. Yet, they all sat a spell to gab about libraries.

Read more…

Gale Supports Libraries During National Library Legislative Day

Posted on May 2, 2016

By Kristina Massari

Advocacy on behalf of libraries is at the core of everything we do at Gale – from our My Library Story website and our support for Library of the Year, to making sure the buses are running at ALA meetings and beyond.

We’re proud to support libraries and the ALA by participating in this year’s National Library Legislative Day (May 2-3).  Our representatives are meeting with legislators and staff on Capitol Hill to discuss the important issues affecting local libraries and to rally for federal support. We’re also proud to sponsor two first time National Library Legislative Day attendees from our home state of Michigan.

Read more…

Ferguson Municipal Public Library Named 2015 Library of the Year

Ferguson Public Library

By Kristina Massari 

loyFerguson Municipal Public Library of Ferguson, MO has been named the 2015 Library of the Year by Library Journal magazine and Gale, a part of Cengage Learning. The small suburban library rose above the chaos and stepped up to provide sanctuary and resources for all in a community in crisis, and remained steadfast to that call over months of duress. The library leadership’s modest “it’s what we do” stance resonated worldwide through social media and news coverage. It placed libraries in the center of the solution, and created a model for other libraries in communities experiencing strife.

Library of the Year is a prestigious recognition that goes to a public library that profoundly demonstrates service to community, creativity, leadership and innovation in developing community programs. Nominated by over 100 U.S. library leaders, Ferguson Municipal Public Library was recognized for its outstanding commitment to service and its extraordinary role as community anchor.

Read more…

Chattanooga Public Library’s First Career Online High School Student Graduates

Reprinted from Chattanoogan.com

Missy Forshee is the very first graduate of the new accredited high school diploma program for adults offered through the Chattanooga Public Library. Ms. Forshee was presented with her official diploma by Mayor Andy Berke on Tuesday, May 5 at 2 p.m. She celebrated at the library with her family and friends, including her daughter who is her motivation and inspiration to improve her life and earning potential. 

Read more…

Shifting Perception: Valued for what we do

Edmonton Public Library, 2014 Library of the Year

By Tina Thomas

Libraries have been at a crossroads of existence since I joined the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) five years ago – likely well before that and probably for many more years to come. In his article[1] outlining that “being essential” is not enough to sustain libraries, Rick Anderson highlights that an important thing libraries must do is provide value and a return on investment.

We know that if you ask 1000 people if they believe libraries are important the vast majority will say yes. But we also know that those same people may not know what the modern library does or even use the library themselves.

The challenge is libraries are often valued as an institution or idea, not for the services they provide. And, to Rick’s point, if the lofty idea of “essential” is all libraries have, we likely will be challenged to find support for the work we do in a sea of essential services.

Read more…