REPORT: IMLS – Annual Report Fiscal Year 2017

By | 2017-11-25T15:03:37+00:00 November 25th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|


2017 Performance and Accountability Report for the Institute of Museum and Library Services | NOVEMBER 15, 2017

“When IMLS was created in 1996, lawmakers cited “great potential in an Institute that is focused on the combined roles that libraries and museums play in our community life.” The agency has carried on that charge, serving the needs of museums and libraries across the United States and its territories. IMLS designs grants and programs for libraries of all types: public, research, academic and tribal; and museums of all disciplines: history, botanic gardens, aquariums, science and technology centers, children’s museums, and zoos. As a federal grant making agency, IMLS continues to serve as the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations…

We’ve started the Community Catalyst initiative, exploring the readiness of museums and libraries to adopt adaptive, collaborative models. In the past year, we offered a special funding opportunity, Activating Community Opportunities Using Museums/Libraries as Assets, to enable museums and libraries to test new approaches to working with their communities to bring about positive change around a shared vision or goal. Community Catalyst calls upon libraries and museums—anchor institutions within their communities—to engage in proactive, creative and adaptive collaborations in support of community development and revitalization. This process seeks to encourage libraries and museums to look broadly for partners to achieve greater impact and reach in to their communities, partners such as local governments and service providers, educational institutions, local businesses, and philanthropic investors.”

Kathryn K. Matthew, PhD
Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services

All the programs support the following goals, as stated in the updated IMLS statute (20 U.S.C. § 9121):
• to enhance coordination among federal programs that relate to library and information services;
• to promote continuous improvement in library services in all types of libraries in order to better serve the people of the United States;
• to facilitate access to resources in all types of libraries for the purpose of cultivating an educated and informed citizenry;
• to encourage resource sharing among all types of libraries for the purpose of achieving economical and efficient delivery of library services to the public;
• to promote literacy, education, and lifelong learning and to enhance and expand the services and resources provided by libraries, including those services and resources relating to workforce development, 21st century skills, and digital literacy skills;
• to enhance the skills of the current library workforce and to recruit future professionals to the field of library and information services;
• to ensure the preservation of knowledge and library collections in all formats and to enable libraries to serve their communities during disasters;
• to enhance the role of libraries within the information infrastructure of the United States in order to support research, education, and innovation; and
• to promote library services that provide users with access to information through national, state, local, regional, and international collaborations and networks.

Many museums and libraries carry out their missions in ways that extend beyond traditional formats and objectives, often serving their cities and towns as enablers of community vitality and co-creators of positive community change. IMLS is helping to identify and support conceptual frameworks and successful approaches that support this type of work through its Community Catalyst Initiative. This initiative calls upon libraries and museums to engage in collaborative arrangements that facilitate and support local community development and
economic revitalization. Libraries and museums are encouraged to identify and leverage local assets, along with their own resources and competencies, to achieve greater impact and
reach in their communities.

IMLS also manages a federal statistical program, which identifies national trends and the public use and effectiveness of museum, library, and information services. The statistical survey
programs provide reliable and objective data in a wide variety of formats used by policy makers and practitioners to inform policy decisions. For example, these data are used by policymakers at the state and local levels to compare conditions in libraries of comparable sizes, by researchers to analyze and improve the state-of-the-art public librarianship, and by private companies seeking reliable national, state, and local statistics for developing business plans and marketing strategies within the library sector of the economy. These statistical survey programs include:

• The Public Libraries Survey, which provides information on key metrics of library health and services across the United States and the outlying territories, and tracks trends in libraries. In addition to the longstanding library data collections efforts, IMLS uses other federal data to analyze how public libraries serve their communities, and produces a report of overall findings, research briefs highlighting topics of general interest, and a public use data file.

• The State Library Administrative Agency Survey, conducted every two years, which describes information the current state and health of state library administrative agencies. IMLS produces a summary report of the overall survey findings an a public use data file, which are used by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, federal policy makers, government and library administrators at federal, state, and local levels, researchers, and the American Library Association.

During natural disasters, museums and libraries often serve as community resources, gathering places, and as providers of information, and if their facilities are intact, they can play crucial
roles in recovery efforts. This includes:
• Serving as places of physical refuge and sources of Wi-Fi, internet access, phone access, and electricity;
• Providing help, advice, and information about recovery assistance such as registering with FEMA and hosting financial planning seminar;
• Serving as safe gathering places during times of crisis, using arts and cultural assets to help with recovery, healing, and building resilience;
• Serving as gathering places for FEMA workers, Red Cross workers, and others who needed physical headquarters for their relief work;
• Serving as sources of volunteer networks that are familiar with community needs; and
• Serving as important partners in creating community plans for emergency preparedness and disaster response.

Strategic Goal 1:
IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities
and our global society.
Objective 1.1: Invest in projects that provide inclusive and accessible learning opportunities to individuals of diverse geographic, cultural, special needs, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Objective 1.2: Support communities of practice that draw on current research and evaluation literature to develop effective informal and formal learning experiences in museums and  libraries.
Objective 1.3: Facilitate partnerships among museums, libraries, and other education providers to expand learning opportunities for the public.
Objective 1.4: Support the training and development of museum and library leadership to meet the needs of diverse publics in a rapidly changing environment.

Strategic Goal 2:
IMLS promotes museums and libraries as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.
Objective 2.1: Invest in projects that strengthen the role of libraries and museums as core components of a broader community learning and service infrastructure.
Objective 2.2: Partner with other federal agencies to leverage the resources of libraries and museums in advancing national priorities, including education, health, disaster preparedness, digital literacy and economic and workforce development.
Objective 2.3: Ensure that public and private sector leaders have the information they need to make strategic policy and investment decisions that leverage the infrastructure and expertise of museums and libraries.

Strategic Goal 3:
IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum and library collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage.
Objective 3.1: Support the care and management of the nation’s collections, both material and living, to expand and sustain access for current and future generations.
Objective 3.2: Develop and implement a nationwide strategy to expand public access to the information, meaning, and content found in museum and library collections. The mission of IMLS is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. We provide leadership through research, policy development, and grant making.



REPORT: Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change: Community Catalysts (2016)

By | 2017-11-24T21:22:49+00:00 November 24th, 2017|Categories: Collaborations/Community, Reports/Plans|

Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change:
Museums and Libraries as Community Catalysts

The report includes case studies and a discussion of conceptual frameworks that can guide libraries, archives, and museums that seek to spark catalytic change in their communities.

The report is divided into the following sections:
• The Introduction traces the increasing importance of anchor institutions (typically universities and hospitals) to contextualize the evolving efforts of museums and libraries and the broad content areas in which they are expanding their activities. It also presents the social wellbeing and collective impact frameworks that are referenced throughout the document.
• The Continuum of Museum and Library Community Initiatives describes the types of efforts that can improve social wellbeing for residents. This section catalogs key considerations for museums and libraries as they design community-focused efforts.
• Understanding Assets and Challenges, and Evaluating Impact summarizes effective methods for assessing community assets, needs, and approaches to evaluating the impact of museum and library efforts to promote the wellbeing of their communities.
• Building Capacity to Support and Spark Change reviews the requisite skills and competencies required of community-centered institutions and provides considerations for obtaining them through staff development, hiring practices, or partnership.
• The Conclusion summarizes key themes from each section to highlight opportunities for museums and libraries to catalyze change in their communities going forward.

A. The Dimensions of Community-Focused Initiatives
The range of ways museums and libraries advance social wellbeing can be plotted along three main dimensions that are generally independent from each other:
• The relationship between an individual initiative and an institution’s established activities and spaces;
• The relative formality of a partnership, when there is one; and
• The museum’s or library’s level of involvement.
For purposes of this document, “partnership” refers to relationships where a museum or library voluntarily joins with at least one other entity, and each partner shares responsibility and resources for achieving mutually identified goals. Partnerships are distinct from other less structured collaborations, in which museums and libraries contribute to broader community-driven work, but their participation is mandatory, or there may not be shared responsibility, goals, or resources (e.g., renting space, or compulsory participation in a municipal initiative). In many cases, museums and libraries may engage members of the public without the support of another organization.

Community-focused efforts thrive when commitment to them permeates all organizational levels, and lines of responsibility for creating and sustaining initiatives are clear.

Considerations for Designing and Sustaining Community-Oriented Initiatives
A common set of considerations guides museums’ and libraries’ decisions to participate in the community-oriented efforts reviewed in this study. These include: institutional support for testing and managing new initiatives, the process through which goals are set, the ability of an initiative to adapt to changing circumstances over a lifecycle, and how roles and responsibilities are defined. Within each of these areas, museums and libraries face challenges and are presented with opportunities to find new ways to advance their institutional missions through collaboration and outreach that enhance the wellbeing of people living in the communities they serve.

Community-focused efforts thrive when commitment to them permeates all organizational levels, and lines of responsibility for creating and sustaining initiatives are clear.

The pursuit of catalytic community-oriented initiatives has pushed institutional boundaries toward meeting specific needs, both through traditional activities10 and a more fundamental shift toward collaboration, reflection, and community-driven programming.11 At many museums and libraries this has entailed a top-to-bottom assessment and even reorganization of community-engagement and partnership practices, while others have made more minor adjustments. In interviews, museum and library staff consistently highlighted the need for high-level institutional support for community-oriented work and partnership formation. Consistent messaging from the director and board level about the importance and intent of these activities is essential to a truly community-focused orientation. There is also a need for clarity about where authority and responsibility to begin and sustain initiatives lies. In some library systems, branch staff are instrumental in piloting new ideas, while in others there is a more centralized approach. No matter what the decision-making structure looks like, it should be clearly communicated. Adequate resources are essential for departments or individuals tasked with outreach, so that they can develop, monitor, and adjust their work. Without sufficient financial means and staff time, efforts can quickly falter.

Reputational risks associated with moving into new content areas can be managed so that community trust is enhanced rather
than compromised.
Museums and libraries often prize their particular reputation in a community. Some are proud to be seen as purveyors of accurate and trusted information, honest brokers in sensitive matters, or protectors of cultural heritage. Some institutions see themselves as advocates for critical issues. However, as institutions become more involved in initiatives addressing potentially contentious matters, they expose themselves to a greater level of public scrutiny and reputational risk. The director of the Topeka Shawnee Public Library acknowledged that as the library has become more involved with local economic development efforts, she and her staff are continually challenged to maintain their institutional position as a site for the free exchange of competing ideas, even when this may conflict with personally held beliefs. Each institution must carefully consider whether and when it is appropriate for them to take positions about matters of public concern, such as education or immigration policy, when doing so may expose the institution to diminished public trust or reputation.

Museums and libraries face practical constraints that can limit their ability to engage with members of the public and partner with
external groups.
“Getting away from the desk”—both moving around the building and getting outside of it—has become a mantra for some community-facing institutions, but breaking the habit of staying within arm’s reach of a collection or database can be hard.13 Officials at several institutions emphasized the importance of attending a variety of community events to demonstrate engagement, but this can also put a strain on staff resources. For example, a group of branch librarians at the Free Library of Philadelphia received extensive training related to business services. Ideally, these librarians would attend networking events and commercial corridor association meetings to connect with the entrepreneurs they hope to serve. In the library field this is typically called “embedded librarianship.” But often there is not enough staff coverage at the branches to allow librarians to be offsite.
At other institutions, staff noted that community events are frequently held at night or over weekends, requiring staff to put in additional hours beyond their standard workday. Having sufficient staff levels and flexible schedules that allow individuals to swap out traditional hours of operation for evenings and weekends can support efforts to connect more deeply with the community and help mitigate burnout among staff who spend a lot of time offsite.

Initiative planning and management includes testing new ideas, transitioning to new phases, and sustaining efforts as they evolve over time.
Community initiatives tend to follow a similar path: big idea, planning, launch, growth, and sustained operation or sun-setting. Not all initiatives will be lasting, nor should they be. As one museum official put it, “We start each pilot with a question” to guide the work. Starting small with pilots or informal partnerships creates learning opportunities that require minimal resources and minimal risk. Even after a program has entered full implementation, it may need to adapt to changing needs or resources.
In Massachusetts, the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Apprenticeship Program was developed in response to a citywide call to action to address the low graduation rate and high youth unemployment rate. Since 2010, the program has provided disadvantaged students with opportunities to enhance their academic skills and knowledge, develop professional skills, and gain exposure to higher education and different career paths. Since its inception, the Whaling Museum has maintained a close partnership with New Bedford High School through a consistent and rigorous application process and established sustainable levels of annual enrollment: 18 students per year. To date, every student who has participated in the program has graduated from high school.

As program participants began graduating from high school and transitioning to college, Whaling Museum staff realized their graduates needed ongoing support to successfully make this transition—a well-documented phenomenon among disadvantaged and first-generation college students across the country.14 In response to this ongoing need, the program is pursuing opportunities to expand its support to graduates during their first year in college. Like many programs, the Apprenticeship Program is principally supported through grant dollars, challenging program staff to continually write successful grant applications. The program’s expansion to first-year college students makes the museum eligible for additional funding streams focused in this area. In this way the Whaling Museum is enhancing its services for New Bedford youth and creating an opportunity to become more financially sustainable.

Partnerships are most effective when they are developed strategically, with clearly defined roles for each partner that account for their particular capacities and resources.
When it comes to partnerships, museum and library staff have acknowledged becoming more deliberate in identifying partners with specific, complementary skill sets or resources (e.g., neighborhood relationships, content expertise, and financial stability), with whom they could effectively share goals and responsibilities. Some institutions even use set criteria to evaluate potential partnerships to assess their own capacity to partner on a given effort, their potential partner’s limitations, and other relevant considerations.
These evolving approaches are being developed in response to the fact that partnerships can put stress on limited resources—particularly time—and create tension related to communication, expectations, and conflicting institutional cultures, all of which need to be managed.15 Initiating partnerships with clearly defined roles for carefully selected partners can increase the value of working together and also mitigate potential rough spots down the road.

Museum and library staff may consider the following types of questions during partnership development, as applied to their own institutions and potential partners as well:
• How does this partnership advance each partner’s institutional mission?
• How does this partnership address an unmet need in the community?
• Does this partnership expand access to community members who are not yet engaged with the institution?
• What unique contributions does each institution bring to the partnership?
• Does each institution have the capacity—skills, time, financial resources, space, etc.—to meet their commitments to the partnership?
• Does each institution have the capacity to manage the partnership?
• How and when could a pilot initiative transition to a sustained partnership?
• What evidence would prompt this transition?
• How will the partners assess the results of their combined efforts—
for their institutions and the community?

Dimensions of Social Wellbeing
• Economic Wellbeing: material standard of living— income, education, and labor force participation;
• Economic and Ethnic Diversity: the extent to which certain income levels and ethnic groups are concentrated or mixed in a place;
• Health: physical and mental health status as well as access to care;
• School Effectiveness: the degree to which the local school environment is conducive to learning— student achievement, dropout rates;
• Cultural Engagement: opportunities to experience one’s own cultural legacy and those of other residents;
• Housing Quality: physical and financial conditions associated with shelter—crowding, code violations, and relative cost burden;
• Political Voice: freedom of expression and involvement in the democratic process;
• Social Connection: the presence of nonprofit organizations and cultural resources that connect at an institutional level, and the level of trust and neighborhood participation that underlie face-to-face relations;
• Environment: the quality and risks of the physical environment—the presence of parks and open space, heat vulnerability, and environmental hazards;
• Insecurity: threats to physical security—violent and property crime, social tensions.

Report by Reinvestment Fund Policy Solutions with  support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


Occupational Outlook Handbook: Librarians (2016)

By | 2017-11-24T16:12:31+00:00 November 24th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Statistics, Trends|

Excerpt: Employment of librarians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Communities are increasingly turning to libraries for a variety of services and activities. Therefore, there will be a continuous need for librarians to manage libraries and help patrons find information. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries are able to provide children with information they often cannot access from home. In addition, the increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for librarians in research and special libraries, where patrons will need help sorting through the large amount of digital information.

However, budget limitations, especially in local government and educational services, may limit growth for libraries and librarians.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians,
on the Internet at

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016
25-4021 Librarians

Administer libraries and perform related library services. Work in a variety of settings, including public libraries, educational institutions, museums, corporations, government agencies, law firms, non-profit organizations, and healthcare providers. Tasks may include selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials; and furnishing reference, bibliographical, and readers’ advisory services. May perform in-depth, strategic research, and synthesize, analyze, edit, and filter information. May set up or work with databases and information systems to catalogue and access information.

National estimates for this occupation
Industry profile for this occupation
Geographic profile for this occupation

REPORT: From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America [2008, OCLC]

By | 2017-10-29T20:02:04+00:00 October 29th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America

OCLC was awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore attitudes and perceptions about library funding and to evaluate the potential of a large-scale marketing and advocacy campaign to increase public library funding in the U.S. The findings of this research are now available in the OCLC report, From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America.

Our hypothesis:
U.S. public libraries are facing marketing and advocacy challenges that have been faced by other ‘super brands.’ Lessons learned and successes achieved can be applied to increase library funding. Utilizing marketing and advocacy techniques targeted to the right community segments with the right messages and community programs, we can improve the state of public library funding.

Among the findings from the report:

  • Library funding support is only marginally related to library visitation
  • Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support
  • Voters who see the library as a ‘transformational’ force as opposed to an ‘informational’ source are more likely to increase taxes in its support

The report suggests that targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries.

Copyright © 2008, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.
6565 Kilgour Place
Dublin, Ohio 43017-3395

REPORT*: Re-Envisioning the MLS The Future of Librarian Education

By | 2017-10-28T14:51:46+00:00 October 28th, 2017|Categories: Keystone Piece, Philosophy/Principles, Reports/Plans, Trends, Uncategorized|

This is a keystone piece* to the library profession – because of its importance, it is reproduced fully from Public Libraries Online
Full article:

Re-Envisioning the MLS The Future of Librarian Education
by John Bertot, Lindsay Sarin, & Paul Jaeger on January 6, 2016

About the Authors

JOHN BERTOT is Professor, LINDSAY SARIN is MLS Program Manager, and PAUL JAEGER is Professor, iSchool, University of Maryland College Park. Contact John at at Contact Lindsay at Contact Paul at

John is currently reading What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Lindsay is currently reading My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Paul is currently reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

This article first appeared in PUBLIC LIBRARIES NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

The last several years have been marked by a number of societal changes that include, but are not limited to, the shifting nature of our economy, the workforce skills needed to succeed in a reinvigorated job market, advances in technology, the evolving nature of information, transformations in education and learning approaches, and the rapid demographic shift occurring in our communities.1 Any one of these challenges can have a significant impact on individuals, communities, and institutions. Collectively, the shifts are seismic and impact how we learn, engage, work, and succeed moving forward (see “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Issues, Considerations, and Framing” for additional details). Public libraries in particular have been deeply affected by the changing social, economic, technological, demographic, community, and information landscapes—so much so that various initiatives are exploring the future of public libraries.2 Exploring the future of public libraries, however, also requires us to consider the future of public librarians—and how we prepare them for a dynamic and evolving service context.

Public libraries are in transition, bridging the print, physical, digital, and virtual worlds. We have entered an “anytime, anywhere, any form” mode of meeting the information and other needs of our communities. As we go through this transition, some services are in decline, such as reference (see figure 1). Circulation and visits per capita are declining to more normal rates after a notable spike during the recessionary years (see figures 2 and 3). Time will tell if these will fall further. The future, however, seems more focused on community engagement (see figure 4) as programs and program attendance increase substantially. Interestingly, there is less demand for public access computers (see figure 5), but that may reflect increased device ownership by individuals who use a public library’s Wi-Fi connectivity. These trends reflect newly released findings from a Pew survey of library users that indicate a decline in library visits in the last year by those sixteen and older, from 52 percent in 2012 to 46 percent in 2014.3

Figure 1. Reference Transactions Per Capita 2003-2013 by Population Served Figure 2. Circulation Per Capita 2003-2013 by Population Served Figure 3. Visits Per Capita 2003-2013 by Population Served Figure 4. Program Attendance per 1,000 Population 2004-2013 by Population Served Figure 5. User Sessions Per Capita 2008-2013 by Population Served On the one hand, public libraries are honoring their tradition of providing access to materials in various formats as they have done since the mid-1800s. On the other hand, public libraries now ensure that their communities are digitally ready and inclusive, have access to and help with a wide range of social and government services, can respond to and recover from disasters, benefit from new and innovative services through partnerships with other community institutions, and receive social justice.4 All of these currently evolving and expanding contributions of public libraries to their communities represent a critical opportunity to re-envision and recreate not only the public library, but also the master of library science (MLS) degree program to both prepare students for the shifting roles that public librarians now play and ready them to be change agents and drivers of social innovation in their communities once they are in the field.

Launching the Initiative

It is in this context that the University of Maryland iSchool’s MLS program in conjunction with the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) launched our three-year initiative to Re-Envisioning the MLS.5 The initiative sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is the value of an MLS degree? In particular what is the value of the MLS:
    o In a climate in which public library leaders indicate that they are specifically seeking non-MLS (and its variants) librarians and there are reductions in librarian staff (see figure 6)?
    o At a time when higher education is more expensive than ever?
    o At a time when the value of advanced degrees writ-large are being questioned?
  • What does and should the future MLS degree look like? But also, asking is there a future for the MLS degree—and if so, what is that future?
  • What are the competencies, attitudes, and abilities that future library and information professionals need? And, how do we incorporate these into an MLS curriculum?

Firgure 6. FTEs per 10,000 Population 2003-2013 by Population Served

We also asked more specific questions related to the University of Maryland’s MLS program.

The Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative was designed as a three-year undertaking involving:

  • Year 1: community and stakeholder engagement, discussion, and thought-leader presentations to identify key issues, trends, needs, concerns, challenges, and opportunities;
  • Year 2: review of findings, curriculum and program design, and community and further stakeholder engagement based on the key findings from Year 1 activities; and
  • Year 3: operationalization and implementation of a re-envisioned MLS that reflects Year 1 and 2 efforts.
    Although the effort focused on what graduates will need from four years out and beyond, we do not view this as a “one and done” initiative. There will be continual stakeholder and student engagement as part of an ongoing program evaluation and as part of our ALA accreditation reporting and reaccreditation processes in the years to come to ensure that our program reflects the existing and emerging needs of libraries and the communities that they serve.

The Process

The Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative involved multiple activities that included:

  • The creation of and active engagement with the MLS program’s inaugural advisory board.
  • A speaker’s series, which brought in influential members of the information community who provided thought-provoking views on trends, current and future issues, and challenges and opportunities in our field (see for archives and summaries).
  • Engagement sessions, which were dialogues between students, staff, faculty, and the broader public about selected topics for consideration in relationship to MLS programs (see for archives and summaries).
  • Stakeholder/community discussions, which included numerous regional visits throughout Maryland, discussion sessions with the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators (MAPLA), attendees of the 2015 Maryland Library Association conference, the Division of Library Development and Services (Maryland’s state library agency), the State Library Resource Center (Maryland’s State Library), the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH), and regional libraries throughout the state to engage information professionals from around the state in this dialogue.
  • Blog entries, which documented progress, summarized presentations, and offered insights based on what we had learned along the way.
  • The development of a white paper, which identified key issues, trends, and developments and their potential impact on information organizations and professionals.
  • Environmental scanning and research, which included reviewing key studies, analysis, data, and reports—particularly those focused on the future of information professions and information organizations such as libraries, archives, and museums.

These efforts provided multiple perspectives and inputs that informed the findings from the initiative. We do acknowledge, however, that though our efforts were extensive, they were not exhaustive and thus there are limitations to our findings.

Not the First (or the Last) Discussion

The topic of the changing nature, or lack of changing nature, of library and information science (LIS) education is an almost constant in the library community. Our field has a long history of self-reflection and self-doubt about the education programs preparing them for the profession. This is despite the fact that formalized education programs for librarianship date back 130 years in the U.S., and that the standardized MLS, and its name variants, degree are now more than fifty years old.

In 1985, a library school professor created “An Anthology of Abuse” documenting the different criticisms of library education, ranging from the perceived limitations of the faculty to the perceived limitations of the curriculum to the perceived limitations of the students.6 The list was expanded only a few years later.7 In more recent years, books have suggested that the problems of library education are rooted in a lack of attention to theory, too much attention to theory, too much emphasis on research, and the design of the MLS degree itself.8 There has even been a book arguing that a library education should be done in an apprenticeship model outside of the university and focusing only on books.9 In recent years, blogs and social media have expanded the discussion. The library school student-created and run blog, Hack Library School was founded to create a venue in which current students could learn how to best “hack” their own education. Annoyed Librarian also critiqued the value of library school.10 Hiring Librarians, a blog created as a result of a “frustrating job hunt,” has discussed LIS education and/or library schools many times including an interview where the anonymous academic librarian interviewed specifically said, “do not go to library school.”11 The American Library Association (ALA) and Association of Library and Information Science Educators (ALISE) have also had a series of ongoing discussions regarding the future of LIS education including the Library Education Task Force Report, a publication of the ALA’s Core Competencies of Librarianship, a set of revised ALA Accreditation Standards, and an Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded project at Simmons University.12

For all of the perceived problems over time with library education—and the MLS in particular—it is hard not to look at the discourse and conclude that the library profession tends to see the “new” as a crisis. Outcry over newspapers, recorded music, films, and the Internet and their potential threat to librarianship as a profession and libraries as an institution are easy to point to as examples of threats to libraries and librarianship.13 In 2005, Andrew Dillon and April Norris applied the term “crying wolf” to describe the seeming need for librarianship to incessantly fret about education in the field and suggest that the perception of crisis is a way to avoid substantively changing.14 This avoidance of evolving was labeled the “panda syndrome” in the 1990s, reflecting an animal that has notably failed to evolve to its own detriment.15 In short, instead of perceiving changes and challenges in society and technology as opportunities to evolve and improve education and the impacts made by MLS program graduates, many in the field react to each change or challenge as “an existential crisis that threatens the nature of the field.”16

Public libraries have been especially involved in the discussion on the future (or lack of future) of LIS education. Based on our engagement sessions, regional site visits, a large group discussion with the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators, our MLS Advisory Board meetings, and other activities, several public library systems in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia region indicated that they are not—or will not be—seeking MLS/MLIS-degreed professionals in the same numbers because of funding concerns and/or that their current and future community needs call for more than what current MLS/MLIS programs teach their graduates. Rural libraries (and librarians) in particular noted that they typically have one MLS librarian and that fact was not likely to change. Further, in some circles, a discussion has begun as to whether an MLS degree is needed to serve as a professional librarian—with some indicating a desire to change state policy and law, if necessary, to pursue such a change.

It is within this context that the below summarizes and presents the findings from the Re-Envisioning the MLS report. The full report with its findings is available here. Or here. The article concludes with a series of recommendations for LIS educators and programs, ALA accreditation, practice, and employers.

The Shift in Focus to People and Communities

Discussions on the “big shift” in libraries have been dominated by digital technologies and content—mobile, broadband, public access technologies, digital resources such as e-books and licensed resources, building national digital platforms, streaming content, content creation, and more. Though the “digital shift” is significant, another major shift that has occurred over the past decade, perhaps influenced by the digital shift, is a change in focus for public libraries from their holdings to the individuals and communities that they serve.

Public libraries have been on the forefront of the user-centered design approach for information resource and service development as part of the curriculum for decades; however, the LIS education system has been focused primarily on library-centric user design based on a set of pre-determined standards, services, and operations. The shift articulated as part of the Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative is more fundamental, and involves actively meeting user needs at the point of need (just-in-time) to enable the meaningful transformation of the individual rather than through more passive interactions without determining if the individual can actually use the information to meet his/her needs.

Increasingly, people come into the library with life issues such as access to food, social services, and/or health insurance. The passive or transactional approach provides information and a description of resources. A proactive and individual/community-centered approach would be having on-premise social services, public health specialists, interactive STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) makerspaces, and other more interactive and immersive services that facilitate the transformation (learning, skills, meeting the life need) of the individual. We have seen public library systems using this approach including the hiring of social workers at various urban library systems, the Baltimarket program, summer lunch programs for children, and many others.17

Core Values Remain Essential

Participants in the Re-Envisioning process indicated that what distinguished the MLS from other professional degrees was a set of values that framed who we are as information professionals but also what we are to our communities. In short, these values determine “what it was to be a librarian,” as emphasized by library leaders in one focus group. Participants across a variety of focus groups emphasized the following core values:

  • Access: ability to access information freely and in a manner suited to an individual’s needs and abilities.
  • Equity: access to information and resources regardless of the information professional or user’s beliefs, race, ethnicity, gender-identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or abilities.
  • Intellectual Freedom: free and open access to information without censorship or restrictions.
  • Privacy: ensuring the confidentiality of user and staff personal information as well as the information and resources they seek, use, transfer, and so on.
  • Learning: providing instruction and educational resources that promote education and meaningful learning in an inclusive and equitable manner.
  • Community: seeking to understand and serve the needs of the specific community being served while maintaining the values of access, equity, intellectual freedom, and privacy.
  • Inclusion: providing information services at all ability levels and regardless of those factors outlined in the value equity.
  • Human Rights: supporting and promoting human rights directly and indirectly by equipping community members with the skills and resources necessary to pursue greater equality in various arenas.
  • Social Justice: providing free equitable access to information that promotes the user’s ability to gain equal economic, political, and social rights.
  • Preservation and Heritage: providing current and future access to records, both analog and digital. Embedded in this is the need to safeguard against inequitable or privileged selection or destruction of materials based on prejudiced, privilege, or inequitable biases or assumptions.
  • Open Government: ensuring transparency, public access to, and participation in the creation of government information.
  • Civic Engagement: providing access and meaningful learning opportunities that foster participation in issues or processes affecting the community served.

These values focus on ensuring that all individuals can seek opportunity and success through information.

Competencies for Future Information Professionals

Participants indicated that MLS programs must, at a minimum, provide their graduates with the following competencies through coursework, application, and practice. The competencies identified are highlighted by quotes from participants during the Re-Envisioning process:

  • Ability to lead and manage projects and people, even if graduates do not intend to become a supervisor, director, or manager. “If I could tell someone going into librarianship one thing it would be: expect to be a manager; you’re going to end up managing whether you want to or not.”—Librarian
  • Ability to facilitate learning and education either through direct instruction or other interactions.
    “I want my staff to be facilitators.” —Public Library Director
  • Ability to work with, and train others to use, a variety of technologies. “Staff need to be both up on the latest technologies and be able to help individuals use those technologies”—Academic Library Director
  • Marketing and advocacy skills. “Marketing ‘writ large’ not just to other librarians or the users we have.”—Librarian
  • Strong public speaking and written communication skills. “No more people who only want to hide in the stacks.”—Public Librarian
  • Strong desire to work with the public in general and a wide range of service populations in particular. “We have to be dynamic ‘people-persons’ and be comfortable with a BROAD spectrum of people.”—Library Staff
  • Problem-solving and the ability to think and adapt instantaneously. “I want a risk-taker. It doesn’t have to be perfect to get started.”
    —Library Manager
  • Knowledge of crisis management techniques and social services training. “You never know what you’re going to encounter, and you need to train your students to ‘expect the unexpected’ and be prepared for it.”—Director
  • Knowledge of the principles and applications of fundraising, budgeting, and policymaking skills. “As a director I had to go back to school to learn finance, budgeting, fundraising, the policymaking process, etc.”—Director
  • Relationship building among staff, patrons, community partners, and funders. “We don’t have to, nor can we, do everything. What we can do is partner with others who can help us achieve our goals and the goals of the community.” —Librarian
  • Documentation and assessment of programs. “Just like schools we have to be able to show funders their return on investments.”
    —Youth Librarian

These competencies emphasize three underlying aspects of MLS education: people, technology, and information—but expand to include knowledge of organizations, management, leadership, policy, collaboration, communication, communities, and data. Simply put, graduates need to understand—and be comfortable with—the broader ecosystem in which they provide information services and resources.

The Elephant in the Room: Is an MLS Still Relevant or Necessary?

With the changing nature of libraries, archives, and other information organizations—and their roles in the communities that they serve—the inevitable question of whether an MLS is still relevant or necessary arose throughout the entire Re-Envisioning process. Discussions of this topic were both passionate and conflicted. The following summary attempts to capture the various expressions on both sides of the debate:

  • There was a sense that an MLS is not required—nor perhaps desirable—for all aspects of library work. For example, having human resources, business managers, communications staff, information technology staff, web designers, and other operations staffed by those with expertise and relevant degrees was preferable.
  • Most participants indicated the need for MLS-holding individuals for leadership positions in libraries. An MLS imparted not just skills and an understanding of librarianship and the information professions, but also core values such as intellectual freedom, privacy, access, equity/social justice, open government/civic participation, and learning as articulated above.
  • Some indicated that the field needs to look more broadly than an MLS and seek those with:
    o education and/or instructional design degrees for digital readiness, literacy, and instructional activities;
    o design degrees for “making” and creative activities;
    o social work experience for increasingly social service-related services;
    o knowledge of public health for a range of health information-related initiatives; and analytics for “smart community,” hacking, coding, and other data-related initiatives.
  • Some insisted that the MLS degree was essential, and not just about skills, foundations, and principles, but also signified the importance of the library and information professions and individuals with the degree as professionals.
  • Others indicated that what makes successful information professionals was less about aptitude (which could be taught) and more about attitude, particularly those who wanted to engage the public, were outgoing, innovative, creative, and adaptable.
  • Those in rural and small public libraries indicated that MLS-holding professional librarians, due to pay scales and other constraints, would never be a majority of their workforce and thus they actively engage in a range of paraprofessional recruitment and training.
    The varied views were not a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the open and candid debate around the need for an MLS “no matter what.” There is an increasing acknowledgment that those with other degrees and skills might meet various needs better and that our libraries should be open to those with a range of degrees other than the MLS. Thus the key question that emerged was: What makes the future MLS valuable and valued?

Opportunity for All, Access for All, or Something Else?

Though our libraries have long stood for, and information professionals value, social justice and equity of access, the growing “gaps” (income, education, literacy, employment/employability), combined with the erosion of a public sphere that provides robust social and other services to assist those in need, is impacting and challenging the ability of information organizations to respond in ways that meet the needs of a range of underserved populations. This creates numerous tensions articulated in part below:

  • Librarians want to serve those in need, but feel ill-equipped to deal with the numerous challenges that individuals often face including mental health, physical health, law enforcement, language, family challenges, and other challenges that may require addressing before librarians can offer assistance.
  • Librarians often still focus on the information transaction and need as they were trained to do, while the individuals seek a more immersive and transformative experience (for example, successfully attaining health insurance, pursuing educational goals, successfully attaining access to food and shelter, getting a job, and so on). The ability of librarians to meet these often time-consuming life needs, while also trying to serve others, is a large challenge.
  • The demands of the increasing number of those in substantial need—or lacking in skills and abilities for success in the twenty-first century—is constraining resources and services to the broader community. Some indicated their concern that service to the un- and underserved, though a core value to libraries, is impacting who uses, or is willing to use, the available services, resources, and facilities of public libraries.
  • The growing disparities in income, opportunities, and education manifest early (for example, Pre-K, in schools), can continue into adulthood, and is witnessed in a range of ways in libraries—for example, literacies (basic, information, civic), digital readiness, workforce skills. The cycle is exceedingly difficult to break, and is a constant presence in the provision of information services and resources as librarians seek to “meet users where they are.”

The tension between the growing gaps, wanting to help those with acute needs, not having the resources or skills to, and questioning whether this is an appropriate role for libraries and librarians was a recurring theme. Further, an emergent topic was whether in the name of inclusion, focusing efforts substantially on challenged populations has led other populations who were once frequent library users (for example, families with young children, children/young adults who might otherwise use a library after school) to stop coming to or at least limiting their use of the physical library space. Even with these tensions, the prevailing sentiment from librarians was, “If not the library, then who?”

Social Innovation and Change

A common theme that emerged through the Re-Envisioning initiative was a vision of libraries and librarians as community change agents that can roughly be expressed as: Strong libraries empower their communities and enable individual change, growth, and transformation.

Though expressed in a variety of ways, participants offered a number of terms as part of this vision: innovators, entrepreneurs, disrupters, change agents, facilitators, partners, and leaders, to name some. After some discussion and expansion, participants described a vision for libraries and librarians as critical leaders of social innovation in their communities.18 By forming partnerships, for example, with health care providers, government agencies, workforce development agencies, food service agencies, faculty, research centers, telecommunications carriers, utility companies, schools, local businesses, and more, libraries are essential catalysts for creative solutions to community challenges in a wide range of areas such as health, education and learning, economic development, poverty and hunger, civic engagement, preservation and cultural heritage, and research innovation. Through leveraging trust, expertise, infrastructure, information resources, space, community centrality, cultural awareness, an appreciation of and for diversity, and other assets, libraries and librarians are the “lubricant” in their communities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Engaging in social innovation activities also enables our organizations to provide opportunity for all in ways that they (nor any other entity) could not do on their own.

Issues and Recommendations

Table 1. Areas for MLS Curriculum Development

The Re-Envisioning process identified the above, and other, findings that have implications not just for the University of Maryland’s MLS program, but also for MLS programs in general, libraries, and professional associations. Though just the first year of the process is complete, there are a number of paths forward for LIS education. Future considerations include:

  • Creating curricula that reflects current and emerging trends and realities. Adapting curriculum, learning outcomes, professional development opportunities, and recruiting to better reflect the core values and content areas identified during the re-envisioning process (see table 1). There is a need to integrate these values, skills, and competencies into all aspects of MLS education from degree requirements to ongoing professional education that occurs post-graduation. In addition, there is a need to focus library education more on creating curricula and extracurricular activities that prepare students for the realities of what libraries and librarians actually do, rather than what we think they should do based on standards and professional practices of the past. The Internet, political changes, economic changes, and other social forces have changed what libraries—especially public libraries—do. Emerging trends in technology, demographics, workforce needs, “smart” communities, and other key areas also force us to consider to what public libraries should transform—while at the same time ensuring that public libraries meet the needs and expectations of individuals and their communities.19 Courses in areas of advocacy, education, leadership, technology, data analytics, social innovation, and social justice, among others, need to become more readily available to students in library education programs. Though some may not value or buy into the shift some libraries have taken to become community hubs for education and learning, inclusion, community building, and social service provision, these activities are increasingly central to the mission of public libraries.20 Preparing students to be leaders, advocates, and social innovators—through coursework, continuing education programs, and other activities—for their institutions and their communities is necessary for the sustained health of institutions, the professional success of MLS graduates, and for ensuring opportunity for all in the communities that libraries serve.
  • Engaged and qualified faculty. There are many accredited MLS programs from which students can choose. These programs are embedded in a variety of academic units, and coursework is available in multiple modes—online, in person, or hybrid. The issue in the future is less the availability of MLS education than access to an engaged and qualified faculty and leadership that: (1) values the MLS degree as part of the academic unit; (2) seeks to leverage the increasingly diverse disciplines represented on faculties (for example, computer science, information management, human-computer interaction, learning sciences) to benefit MLS programs; and (3) is connected to the profession and professionals.
  • Research that informs. Scholars also have important contributions to make to the MLS degree. For a field in which so much of the work is professional in nature, it is ironic that research about MLS graduate education has been fairly limited.21 Faculty charged with preparing future librarians could be much more committed to researching, evaluating, and creating innovative approaches to the formal and informal education of MLS students. We need to better understand the service context of public libraries, the communities that public libraries serve, the needs (not just information) of individuals who use (and do not currently use) public libraries, and the extent to which our programs and courses prepare graduates to become public library professionals and leaders. By also studying the public library as a social, learning, engagement (and other dimensions as identified as part of the Re-Envisioning the MLS initiative) institution, we can use that knowledge to enhance our MLS programs and practice.
  • Professional organization support for library education. Professional organizations need to increase their focus on how well they are supporting library education programs in preparing their students for the needs of today and tomorrow. ALA accreditation, for example, is a cumbersome process for institutions and the standards themselves are slow to adapt. Even though ALA has recently revised the accreditation standards, the revision and review process needs to be more agile. Beyond accreditation, the preparation of library school students and young professionals for success in the field is a place in which professional organizations could contribute even more to the long-term health of professionals through mentoring, networking, and continuing education.
  • Rethinking hiring expectations. Many new library graduates are limited in the number of jobs (and here we reference only entry-level positions) for which they can qualify because organizations are crafting positions that require a set of qualifications that new graduates simply cannot meet, most typically multiple years of experience. A tight job market has created a “buyer’s market” but this does not mean that employers should shut out new graduates. As we learned from discussions with recent graduates and alumni, they will, and are, going elsewhere—in some cases leaving the profession entirely. A library may benefit in the short term from hiring only experienced librarians but this strategy will impact our libraries in the long term if no, or few, new graduates are brought into the fold. Employers may better serve their own institutions and the field as a whole by looking to fill positions with a greater balance of experience, innovation, and new graduates.
  • Co-Creation, not Confrontation. Underlying the discussions and site visits with librarians was the sense that library schools, in part,
    were not providing the kinds of graduates they needed for today’s (and tomorrow’s) libraries. But this discussion always seemed a bit “you [iSchools, MLS programs] and us [libraries, professionals]” in its tone. The future rests with strong collaborative development of our curriculum—from courses to experiential learning. Co-creation of curriculum and professional practice opportunities can yield great synergies:
    public libraries would have access to new professionals who meet their needs and the needs of their communities, MLS programs would remain current, and students would have access to relevant leaning experiences and knowledge. The language of “we” is powerful and necessary and through it we all benefit.

The qualities that make libraries so unique and important in their communities can be summarized in four verbs: inform, enable, equalize, and lead.22
These attributes of libraries can also serve as guiding principles for rethinking library education and how we prepare and support students for their careers.

Individual public libraries are often most impressive in the speed with which they can adapt to changing community needs. Library education, professional organizations, employers, and scholars have to become similarly adept at the changing expectations for and capacities of libraries. Horrigan notes, public libraries are at a crossroads.23 So too is MLS education. As the Re-Envisioning the MLS project shows, there are a number
of paths forward for improving the entire process of educating new library professionals to be ready to contribute to their organizations, communities, and society as soon as they graduate. This will require, however, the conviction to make bold changes to ensure the continuing relevance of our field. Our students, our professionals, our organizations, and our communities are all depending on it.


  1. American Library Association, “State of America’s Libraries Report 2014,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  2. Amy K. Garmer, Aspen Institute, “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015; American Library Association, “Trends Report: Snapshots of a Turbulent World,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  3. John B. Horrigan, Pew Research Center, “Libraries at the Crossroads,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  4. Paul T. Jaeger, et al., Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014); John Carlo Bertot, et al., 2013 Digital Inclusion Survey: Survey Findings and Results. (College Park, Md.: Information Policy & Access Center, University of Maryland College Park, 2014); Paul
    T. Jaeger, et al. Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion (Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015); Kim M. Thompson, et al., Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion: Information Policy and the Public Library (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).
  5. John Carlo Bertot, et al., “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations” (College Park, Md.: College of Information Studies, 2014), accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  6. Samuel Rothstein, “Why People Really Hate Library Schools: The 97-Year-Old Mystery Solved at Last,” Library Journal 110, no. 6 (April 1985): 41–48.
  7. April Bohannan, “Library Education: Struggling to Meet the Needs of the Profession,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 17, no. 4 (1991): 216–19.
  8. André Cossette, Humanism and Libraries: An Essay on the Philosophy of Librarianship (Duluth, Minn.: Library Juice, 2009); Michael Gorman, The Enduring Library: Technology, Tradition, and the Quest for Balance (Chicago, Ill.: ALA Editions, 2003); Richard J. Cox, The Demise of the Library School: Personal Reflections on Professional Education in the Modern Corporate University (Duluth, Minn.: Library Juice, 2010); Boyd Keith Swigger, The MLS Project: An Assessment After Sixty Years (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield).
  9. Juris Dilevko, The Politics of Professionalism: A Retro-Progressive Proposal for Librarianship (Duluth, Minn.: Library Juice Press, 2009).
  10. Annoyed Librarian, “Okay, Who Cares if Library School is Easy,” Annoyed Librarian blog, Oct. 25, 2010, accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  11. Emily Weak, “Do Not Go to Library School. Librarianship is a Dying Profession,” Hiring Librarians blog, Jan. 14, 2014, accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  12. American Library Association, Library Education Task Force, “President’s Task force on Library Education Final Report,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015; American Library Association, “ALA’s Core Competencies of Librarianship,” accessed Dec. 22, 2015; American Library Association, Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association, “Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies,” accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Simmons College, “Envisioning Our Future and How to Educate for It,” (2015), accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  13. Alexis McCrossen, “One More Cathedral” or “Mere Lounging Places for Bummers? The Cultural Politics of Leisure and the Public Library in Gilded Age America,” Libraries and the Cultural Record 41, no. 2 (Spring 2006): 169–88; Jean L. Preer, J. L. (2006). “Louder Please: Using Historical Research to Foster Professional Identity in LIS Students,” Libraries and the Cultural Record, 41, no 4 (2006): 487–96.
  14. Andrew Dillon and April Norris, “Crying Wolf: An Examination and Reconsideration of the Perception of Crisis in LIS Education,” Journal of
    Education for Library and Information Science, 46, no. 4 (Fall 2005): 280–98.
  15. Stuart A. Sutton and Nancy A. Van House, “The Panda Syndrome II: Innovation, Discontinuous Change, and LIS Education,” Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 40, no. 4 (Month or Season? 1998): 247–60.
  16. Paul T. Jaeger, “Looking at Newness and Seeing Crisis? Library Discourse and Reactions to Change,” Library Quarterly 82, no. 2 (April 2012): 289–300.
  17. Jon Bowman, KWGN Colorado, (2015, July 7). “Denver Public Library Hires Social Worker.” KWGN Colorado, July 7, 2015, accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Mark Jenkins, (2014, August 27). “D.C. Adds a Social Worker to Library System to Work with Homeless Patrons, Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2014, accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Scott Shafer, “Urban Libraries Become De Facto Homeless Shelters,” NPR, April 23, 2014, accessed Dec. 13, 2015; Patrice Chamberlain, P. (2015, March 17). “Summer Meal Programming at the Library,” Public Libraries Online, March 17, 2015, accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  18. James A. Phills, et al., “Rediscovering Social Innovation,” Stanford Social Innovation Review (Fall 2008), accessed Dec. 13, 2015.
  19. American Library Association, “Trends Report: Snapshots of a Turbulent World”; Horrigan, “Libraries at the Crossroads. Pew Research Center.”
  20. Lynn Westbrook, “I’m Not a Social Worker: An Information Service Model for Working with Patrons in Crisis,” Library Quarterly, 85, no. 1 (Month or Season? 2015): 6–25.
  21. Cox, The Demise of the Library School:
  22. Bertot et al., “Re-Envisioning the MLS: Findings, Issues, and Considerations.”
  23. Horrigan, “Libraries at the Crossroads.”

REPORT: Ready to Code Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through Libraries

By | 2017-10-28T00:51:03+00:00 October 28th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

Ready to Code: Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through Libraries
by Linda Braun and Marijke Visser

“Beginning in January 2016, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) (with funding from Google K-12 Education Outreach) launched the Libraries Ready to Code project. This project marked the beginning of an investigation into the current nature and scope of computer science (CS) activities in public and school libraries for youth starting at the earliest ages through high school.

With 500,000 current job openings in the field of computer science, all 115,000 of the nation’s school and public libraries are crucial community partners to guarantee youth have skills essential to future employment and civic participation. To discover how libraries support computer science, coding, and computational thinking skills acquisition by youth, the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy initiated a year-long “Libraries Ready to Code” research project. Research identified priority areas including securing additional funding, professional development opportunities for library staff, and broader strategic partnerships. This report explores these priorities and highlights recommendations.

It is a crucial time for this investigation. Librarians know they have a unique role to play in ensuring young people of all ages participate in creating communities that are  economically and socially robust. This report investigates how libraries can build on and strengthen that role. As noted in the 2016 Aspen Institute report, “Libraries in the Exponential Age,” “Library practices have traditionally been centered on the work of building and maintaining collections, and interactions with users and other institutions have been largely transactional although this is beginning to change. As the role of the library evolves beyond access and lending to providing a platform for learning, innovation and creativity, libraries need to think in dramatically different ways and develop new approaches to their work in line with this changing role.”

Key Conclusions (Spring 2016)
• Librarians should be confident in their preparedness to teach coding
• Library coding activities/programs should focus on building skills for the future

American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) advocates for public policy that supports and encourages the efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic information resources as a means of upholding the public’s right to a free and open information society.

REPORT: State Library Administrative Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2014

By | 2017-10-28T00:26:17+00:00 October 28th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

State Library Administrative Agencies Survey: Fiscal Year 2014

This report issued August 2016 contains data on state library agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for Fiscal Year 2014.

The data includes state library agency identification, governance, public service hours, service outlets, collections, library service transactions, library development transactions, services to other libraries in the state, allied operations, staff, income, expenditures, and electronic services and information. Data for the State Library Administrative Agency Survey is collected every two years.

Summary: “One of the most substantial findings of this report is the continued decline in total revenues to SLAAs. This decline coincides with the Great Recession and has continued through FY 2014. In FY 2014, total SLAA revenues equaled $1.1 billion, coming from federal, state, and other revenue sources; this total represents a 17 percent decrease in federal revenue, an 11 percent increase in state revenue, and a 13 percent decrease in other revenues when compared with FY 2004. Yet, the pattern may be changing, as total revenues increased by 5 percent from FY 2012 to FY 2014.

The decline in total revenues for SLAAs coincided with a reduction in staff. The number of FTE staff positions declined by 22 percent from FY 2006 to FY 2014. This staffing contraction was greatest for library services, which declined by 26 percent during this eight-year span. In contrast, staffing declines in library development were the smallest, at 10 percent from FY 2006 to FY 2014. Within the groupings of states, the reported relative loss of FTEs behaved as expected, according to the patterns of revenues and expenditures.”

Institute of Museum and Library Services
955 L’Enfant Plaza North SW, Suite 4000
Washington, DC 20024-2135
202-653-IMLS (4657)

REPORT: Re-Envisioning the MLS: Issues, Considerations, and Framing

By | 2017-10-27T23:55:01+00:00 October 27th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

Full Report:

Re-Envisioning the MLS:
Issues, Considerations, and Framing
College of Information Studies
University of Maryland College Park

Key Trends
The trends discussed are grouped into the following categories:
§ Technology: The continuing implications of rapid advances in how we use technology to engage with, access, and share information are currently unknown. However, libraries and cultural institutions must prepare for these changes to adequately serve community needs.
§ Data and Analytics: Open data, open government, and community challenges in areas of health, education, workforce, environment, and various other key issue areas increasingly rely on data in a variety of formats. Moreover, they rely on a range of analytics skills, from data curation, manipulation, analysis, and visualizations. The role of libraries in local data infrastructures will take on increased significance.
§ Learning: Learning strategies are changing as evidenced by the move of a majority of states to the Common Core. So too are the types of knowledge and skills that our learners
require so that we have life-long learning and skills development opportunities. Increasingly this means more STEM, digital technologies, digital literacy, data, visualization, coding, hacking, etc. At the core is the need to build inclusive opportunities for continual learning.
§ Demographics: The US is undergoing significant demographic shifts that will influence the configuration of the communities we serve. Population growth, an aging public, and
increased diversity will all contribute to changing demands for information services, content, and engagement.
§ Policy: Current policy decisions being made at the international, national, state, and local levels will have significant impacts on the future of technology, education, equity, and
many other aspects of society. These decisions hold great potential to dramatically affect the role of cultural institutions in the community and challenge long-standing library
§ Resources: Libraries exist in an environment of increasingly limited resources; tight budgets, environmental shifts, and increasing strain from growing population will necessitate operational changes in the coming years.

Presented September 30, 2014, to:
MLS Advisory Board
College of Information Studies
University of Maryland College Park

Annual Report of OCLC 2016-2017

By | 2017-10-24T23:06:20+00:00 October 24th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

2016-2017 OCLC Annual Report:

“What started in 1967 as a dream for a few academic libraries in Ohio is now a reality for thousands of libraries worldwide and the millions of people we serve.

As a nonprofit global library corporation, our goal is to achieve an operating income over time that ranges between 2% and 4% of revenues. This approach ensures that OCLC remains financially sound and can make ongoing investments in technology, research, and development required to meet the needs of our membership. Historically, we have achieved this goal through revenues in line with the cost to deliver services, plus interest and dividend income from our investment portfolio.

As noted in last year’s report, OCLC has operated at a loss due to restrained price increases combined with heavy strategic investment into new services, as well as technology upgrades, facility renovations, and a staff resource realignment. Dividend and interest income from the investment portfolio has enabled OCLC to partially offset these operating losses.

Unlike other library services organizations, we reinvest all of our income into new products and programs rather than distributing funds to shareholders or business owners. Our revenue stream from library services and the investment portfolio provide a stable cash flow that allows for strategic capital investments while supporting the long-term viability of OCLC.”

Some highlights:

• There were more than 274 million page views on™, making library collections findable and accessible around the world.

Advancing the National Digital Platform identifies the extent to which public libraries are digitizing their collections and how they can work cooperatively.

• With Demystifying IT, we helped archivists achieve a better understanding of how information technology professionals work so that they can be more effective collaborators.

• The Relais™ International team joined OCLC in January 2017. Relais D2D, the market-leading consortial borrowing solution, provides key features such as requestability logic, which facilitates the highest fill rates in the industry.

• More than 15,000 learners used the WebJunction Catalog of library courses and webinars during the year.

IMLS: Grant-Making Activities and Processes (2017, Robin L. Dale)

By | 2017-10-17T01:17:48+00:00 October 17th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

Statement of Robin L. Dale, Deputy Director for Library Services, Institute of Museum and Library Services Before the Committee on House Administration

Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 4 – Federal Depository Library Program

October 11, 2017

Good morning Chairman Harper, Ranking Member Brady, and Members of the Committee. On behalf of Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, I want to thank you for this invitation to submit testimony before the House Committee on Administration as you examine the modernization of the Government Publishing Office (GPO).

I first would like to take a moment to give you a brief overview of IMLS, where I serve as Deputy Director for Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the Federal agency with primary responsibility for ensuring the availability of museum, library, and information services to meet the essential needs of the people of the United States. IMLS is an independent grant-making agency and the primary source of Federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. Of the $231 million appropriated to IMLS in Fiscal Year 2017, $215.3 million was directly awarded to eligible institutions to support museum, library, and information services. The agency carries out
its mission through grant-making, research and data collection, and leveraging our investments through strategic Federal, state, and local partnerships.

IMLS was created with the passage of the Museum and Library Services Act of 1996 which, as amended, authorizes the agency to award financial assistance, collect data, form strategic partnerships, and advise the President, Congress, and other Federal agencies on museum, library, and information services. The agency consolidates Federal library and information services programs dating back to 1956, and Federal museum programs dating back to 1976.

IMLS ensures critical access to and development of library services throughout the United States, its territories, and Native American tribes, pursuant to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), 20 U.S.C. 9121 et seq. IMLS also supports critical library services initiatives that facilitate innovation and workforce development through competitive grant programs.

Full document


Strategic Plan: CT State Library, 2015-2018

By | 2017-10-17T00:30:11+00:00 October 17th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

Connecticut State Library
Division of Library Development
Strategic Focus Plan

Developed by the Division of Library Development Staff
Vision Statement

What’s changed at DLD?

For libraries to thrive in the current information-rich, knowledge-based society, the Division of Library Development must concentrate its work in areas that meet the current needs and priorities of libraries and the people they serve. The Division’s key principle is to work together with our colleagues in the Connecticut library community toward the common goal of making libraries “a trusted community resource and an essential platform for learning, creativity and innovation in the community.”(Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries, Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute, October 2014, page iv)

The Division of Library Development engaged in a strategic planning process in the Winter/Spring of 2015 to produce goals that would guide the Division through the next several years. Drawing on our participation in the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries we identified six areas which will receive significant organizational focus and allocation of resources:

  1. Platform
  2. Education
  3. The Seven Literacies
  4. Place
  5. Advocacy
  6. Strategic Communication

While this plan moves the Division in some important new directions, it is not meant to be a comprehensive catalog of all DLD activities. Rather this plan concentrates on identifying the strategic focus areas our services were built on in the past and will be built on in the fu-ture. And within these focus areas we identify the specific objectives we intend to reach in the next few years. Our overall goal is to adapt thoughtfully to the emerging challenges and opportunities that we face as a state agency and find meaningful ways of helping libraries provide innovative services that meet changing community needs.

How do we deliver?

Engage and Empower through


Overall Success Indicators

  • Library professionals across the state will have access to DLD resources and services regardless of location, time restrictions, job status, experience, or position.
  • CT Libraries will have the tools and resources to develop into start-up incubators.



constantly evolving; the way the Division delivers resources and services must transcend the traditional methods.
Objective 1: Build a flexible digital portal that meets the needs of the library and greater CT community.
Objective 2: Support a diverse range of digital initiatives that empower CT libraries as incubators for creativity.
Objective 3: Foster enthusiasm and support for the platform through meaningful engagement and consistent communication.

Success Indicators

  1. The platform sparks a continuous flow of ideas for new services and new ways of delivering services.
  2. A process is in place to incorporate these new ideas in the platform’s development plans.



enhanced by technology to foster more dynamic training, brainstorming and creativity among CT librarians who will feel empowered to engage their communities.
Objective 1: Be the incubator for knowledge and creativity through interactive learning.
Objective 2: Recruit for a dynamic catalog of “experts”—home grown and beyond—with diverse backgrounds and unique skill sets to meet the knowledge requirements of the library community.
Objective 3: Be accessible; deliver education in a variety of formats and platforms to engage the broader CT library community.

Success Indicators

  1. Library staff at all organizational levels and with diverse learning styles demonstrate a measurable increase in knowledge and understanding of library related facts, skills and issues.
  2. Content of DLD training meets the professional development needs of the library community and is developed based on their feedback.
  3. CT library community turns to DLD for inspiration, knowledge, and resources that improve their skills and enhance job performance.




  • Early Literacy – CT families will have the knowledge and support needed to foster early literacy skills in their young children. Children will start school with early literacy skills necessary for grade-level success.
  • Basic Literacy –CT residents’ literacy rates will be raised, fostering a trained and skilled workforce that contributes to the economic growth and development of com-munities and the state as a whole.
  • Digital Literacy –CT residents will be empowered to access information electroni-cally, use and share information, create original content, evaluate the value of infor-mation, and make informed decisions to fully participate in a digital society.
  • Financial Literacy –CT residents will have the knowledge and skill to become in-formed consumers, grow and manage wealth, and foster innovation and entrepreneur-ship, which will contribute to the economic development of their community and the state as a whole.
  • Health Literacy – CT residents will be able to manage their well-being and will be empowered to become effective partners with their healthcare providers.
  • Civic/Social Literacy – CT citizens will have the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives, participate and contribute effectively in their community, and con-nect with one another through dialogue.
  • Legal Literacy – CT residents will have increased access to justice and have the knowledge and skills they need to effectively navigate the legal services and resources available.

Objective 1: Create an interactive toolkit specific to each literacy, with enhanced links to critical resources, and integrated into all aspects of consulting, training, and outreach activities.
Objective 2: Continue to develop strategic life learning partnerships to foster empowerment, independence, and self sufficiency in each of the seven literacies.
Objective 3: With strategic partners, develop innovative and comprehensive learning modules to fully engage DLD staff and CT librarians in the seven literacies.

Success Indicators

  1. All public and school librarians are aware of the literacy toolkits and learning modules available from DLD.
  2. Library staff has the training and tools to assess their own understanding of the seven literacies and have access to resources to improve their knowledge.
  3. Libraries are able to offer their patrons resources and services in any or all of the seven literacies using DLD toolkits.




both physical and virtual; it establishes personal connections, provides an anchor to the library community, creates a connecting location, and engages librarians to share, network, create, and so much more.
Objective 1: Develop a plan for a model interactive, flexible, incubator space to engage the library community in learning, collaboration, and creating activities.
Objective 2: Focus existing and future space on services – consulting, training, digital creator labs, demonstration areas and programming.
Objective 3: Space as a platform to foster digital initiatives as well as a mobile space to engage the library community anywhere in the state.

Success Indicators

  1. DLD will develop implement a mobile lab with “try-it-out” maker concepts, new technology, and trainers to visit and engage librarians throughout the state.
  2. DLD will have a modern, well-equipped, central location from which to offer state-of-the-art professional development, consulting, and digital information services.
  3. DLD space will serve as a model for CT libraries and will inspire construction grant projects that design library space using these same principles.




training and resources are critical to ensuring the long- term sustainability of all libraries.
Objective 1: Develop the tools – resources, training, best practices, model programs—for libraries to “tell their story”.
Objective 2: Engage in ongoing outreach and consulting to empower the library community to feel confident in telling their story.
Objective 3: Foster strategic partnerships to leverage libraries as essential organizations in the community.

Success Indicators

  1. Connecticut librarians are comfortable and confident in explaining the significance and importance of their libraries to their community.
  2. Libraries will tell their stories with statistics using tools provided by DLD.
  3. Libraries will be sought out by community organizations and municipal departments and agencies as partners to meet and align services with community needs.




critical to all of the strategic focus areas; should be meaningful and consistent.
Objective 1: Develop a unified, clear message about who we are and what we do.
Objective 2: Deliver the message through personalized consulting with each DLD staff being responsible for engaging a specific regional area.
Objective 3: Continually evaluate and refine the message to ensure that DLD is maximizing PEOPLE, PLACE and PLATFORM to inform, engage and empower the CT library community.

Success Indicators

  1. Librarians are well-informed of the resources and services available to them and the various platforms which they can access these resources.
  2. Librarians are familiar with DLD staff and are fully aware of their expertise, skill sets and consulting areas.
  3. Librarians feel comfortable and confident in their ability to contact DLD staff for advice, consulting, training, or other assistance as needed.
  4. Present a unified social media voice, not just to pass information along but to put information in context and offer further assistance.

Connecticut State Library
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

The mission of the Connecticut State Library is to preserve and make accessible Connecticut’s history and heritage and to advance the development of library services statewide.

CHART: COPYRIGHT TERM and the Public Domain in the United States

By | 2017-10-15T01:14:01+00:00 October 15th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Tools|

This Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States chart was first published in Peter B. Hirtle, “Recent Changes To The Copyright Law: Copyright Term Extension,” Archival Outlook, January/February 1999. This version is current as of 1 January 2017. The most recent version is found at For some explanation on how to use the chart and complications hidden in it, see Peter B. Hirtle, “When is 1923 Going to Arrive and Other Complications of the U.S. Public Domain,” Searcher (Sept 2012). The chart is based in part on Laura N. Gasaway’s chart, “When Works Pass Into the Public Domain.”

The goal of the Copyright Information Center is to provide Cornell faculty, staff, and students with Cornell-specific and general information about copyright. The Website serves as an information clearinghouse and contains Cornell policies, general information, reference materials, and information on the University’s copyright awareness and education programs.

Cornell University Library
Amy Vanderlyke Dygert, Director of Copyright Services
Chloe McLaren, Digital Programs Associate
Oya Y. Rieger, Associate University Librarian, Scholarly Resources and Preservation Services

EU PUBLIC LIBRARIES Country Factsheets

By | 2017-10-15T00:42:21+00:00 October 15th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Statistics|

By empowering individuals, Europe’s 65,000 public libraries build stronger communities and change lives.

The goal of the Public Libraries 2020 programme (PL2020) is to raise awareness about the importance of public libraries as modern learning hubs close to citizens and (potential) learners. Public libraries have been expanding their role in local communities enormously over the last decades – many of them now help people develop their digital skills, advance or acquire other skills (such as literacy) through various lifelong learning opportunities and offer a neutral and trusted space for people to create, learn, and connect.

The PL2020 programme is run by The Reading & Writing Foundation (in Dutch: Stichting Lezen & Schrijven), which was founded in 2004 by H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands with the aim of structurally solving illiteracy in the Netherlands. Over the course of the years, The Reading & Writing Foundation has also started working towards this goal internationally. We bring literacy problems to the attention of both the general public and politicians, as well as offering nationwide support to hundreds of municipalities, institutions, companies, teachers and volunteers in the education sector.



Reading & Writing Foundation
Avenue de Broqueville, 40
1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert

REPORT: Libraries at the Crossroads (Pew, 2015, disruption and aspiration)

By | 2017-10-12T20:47:27+00:00 October 12th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

Libraries at the Crossroads
September 15, 2015

Report Extract: “American libraries are buffeted by cross currents. Citizens believe that libraries are important community institutions and profess interest in libraries offering a range of new program possibilities. Yet, even as the public expresses interest in additional library services, there are signs that the share of Americans visiting libraries has edged downward over the past three years, although it is too soon to know whether or not this is a trend.The data paint a complex portrait of disruption and aspiration. There are relatively active constituents who hope libraries will maintain valuable legacy functions such as lending printed books. At the same time, there are those who support the idea that libraries should adapt to a world where more and more information lives in digital form, accessible anytime and anywhere.

The big questions: What should happen to the books? What should happen to the buildings?

Two key questions highlight the challenge library leaders face. First, what should libraries do with their books? Some 30% of those ages 16 and over think libraries should “definitely” move some print books and stacks out of public locations to free up more space for such things as tech centers, reading rooms, meeting rooms and cultural events; 40% say libraries should “maybe” do that; and 25% say libraries should “definitely not” do that.

Since 2012, there has been Growing Public Support for Libraries Moving Some Books and Stacks to Create Space for Community and Tech Spacesan uptick of 10 percentage points in those saying libraries should “definitely” move some books and stacks (20% v. 30%) and an 11-point downtick in those saying that should “definitely not” be done (36% v. 25%).

The second key question is: Should bricks-and-mortar libraries have a smaller physical footprint in their communities? A majority do not think so. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those ages 16 and over say libraries should “definitely” have more comfortable spaces for reading, working and relaxing. This represents a modest increase in this view since 2012, and it suggests that libraries still occupy a prominent spot in people’s minds as a place to go.

What people do at libraries

For those who have visited a public library in the previous 12 months, traditional activities such as checking out a book or getting help from a librarian are somewhat on the decline.

  • 66% of those who visited a library in the past 12 months say they borrowed print books, compared with 73% who did in 2012.
  • 42% of recent library users have asked the librarian for help, down from 50% in 2012.

At the same time, the number of library users who value the library as a place to simply sit and read, study or access media has increased a little. Some 53% of those who used a library in the past 12 months used it as a reading or studying locale, up from 49% who said this in 2012.

Some 16% of library users in the past Print Book Borrowing and Use of Librarians for Reference Help Has Dropped a Bityear have attended a meeting there, down somewhat from 23% who did this in 2012.

Borrowing printed books is more likely to be the province of the well-off and well-educated: 80% of the library-using college graduates and 76% of those in homes with annual incomes over $75,000 say they did this in the prior year. These figures are well above the 66% result for all Americans ages 16 and older who used a library in the past 12 months. African Americans (50%) and Hispanics (58%) are somewhat less ardent book borrowers.

Getting help from a librarian, by contrast, is something for which the library users with lower household incomes and African Americans are more likely to do. Some 52% of African Americans and 49% of those in homes with annual incomes below $30,000 have done this, compared with 42% of the general library-user population.

And using the library as a place to sit, read, study, or watch or listen to media is something library users who are young, Hispanic and lower-income Americans do more often. Compared with the 53% overall figure for library users, 73% of those in the 16 to 29 age group, 67% of Hispanics and 64% of those whose annual incomes are under $30,000 have done this.”

This report was made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the project from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This report is a collaborative effort based on the input and analysis of the following individuals. Find related reports online at


REPORT: Libraries 2016 (Pew) Library Non-Users

By | 2017-10-12T20:05:12+00:00 October 12th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans, Trends|

Libraries 2016
September 9, 2016
By John B. Horrigan

Report Extract: “Libraries have been in flux since the dawn of the digital age. They face changes in the materials they provide, in use of their services, in the composition of their patron populations, and in demands for new services. It is a set of disruptions as far-reaching and disorienting as the changes that are occurring in the news media as the nature of news is redefined and its distribution mechanisms are revolutionized.

Nearly half (48%) of Americans visited libraries in the past year. Roughly a third (32%) say they have used libraries at one time or another, though not in the past 12 months. Additionally, one-in-five (19%) say they have never visited a public library or a bookmobile. This has been a persistent trend in Pew Research Center surveys for five years, and we consistently see patterns in who these non-users are and how their views about libraries differ from more recent library users.

Those who have never been to a public library are more likely to be male (24% have never been to a library), ages 65 and older (26%), Hispanic (32%), black (28%), high school graduates or less (29%), or living in households earning less than $30,000 (27%). At the same time, the data show there are members of other demographic groups that have had no direct experience with libraries, including: 11% of those with college degrees and 12% of those in households earning $75,000 or more. Additionally, one-in-six parents of minor children (17%) say they have never been to a public library.”

This report was made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the project through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.Pew Research Center is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder.

TOOLS: Advocacy Tools for Librarians: How Americans Value Public Libraries (Pew)

By | 2017-10-12T20:48:48+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Categories: Marketing, Reports/Plans, Tools|

The Internet & American Life Project of the Pew Research Center has produced a series of reports presenting new research on library services, trends in reading habits and patron needs in the digital age. This three-year research program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and informed by an advisory group, focus groups and surveys of library users, non-users, and librarians.

Report: From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers (March 2014)
Advocacy Toolkit (doc) | Advocacy Toolkit (pdf)

Report: How Americans Value Public Libraries in their Communities (December 2013)
Advocacy Toolkit (doc) | Advocacy Toolkit (pdf)

Report: Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading (May 2013)
Advocacy Toolkit (doc) | Advocacy Toolkit (pdf) | WebJunction Webinar

Report: Library Services in the Digital Age (January 2013)
Advocacy Toolkit (doc) | Advocacy Toolkit (pdf) | WebJunction Webinar

Report(s): Libraries, patrons, and e-books (June 2012) and The rise of e-reading (April 2013)
Advocacy Toolkit (doc) | Advocacy Toolkit (pdf)|

REPORT: December 11, 2013 Full Report PDF
Summary: How Americans Value Public Libraries in their Communities
By Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell and Maeve Duggan
Public Libraries’ Importance and Impact
Importance of public library services

Extract: Overall, 91% of Americans either have ever used a public library or said another household member uses a public library.4 We asked these respondents who have personal or family experiences with libraries a series of questions about how important they consider various library services, including various library resources and activities.

There are notable patterns in many of the answers about the importance of library services among those who have personal or family experiences with public libraries. In general, women, African-Americans and Hispanics, adults who live in lower-income households, and adults with lower levels of educational attainment are more likely than other groups to say these services are “very important.” Those ages 30-64 are more likely than younger or older respondents to say many of the services are “very important,” as are parents with minor children. Urban residents with library experiences are more likely than rural residents to say some services are “very important” to them.

Adults 65 and older are the age group most likely to say that none of these library services are very important to them, and generally rate most services as less important overall. For instance, among those ages 65 and older with some public library experience,65% say that having a quiet and safe place to spend time at the library is important to them and their families overall, compared with 75% of all respondents who say this is important.

Copyright 2017 The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center. The Center is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts

REPORT: National Policy Agenda for Libraries (ALA, 2015)

By | 2017-10-11T03:06:40+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Categories: Philosophy/Principles, Reports/Plans|

The Policy Revolution! Initiative

Excerpt: “The goals of this national policy agenda are to change the conversation about libraries—from a nostalgic character in our history to an essential player in our nation’s story—and to help focus and guide the library community’s collective outreach to key decision makers and influencers.

Our strategic approach is to focus on the high-level “Library” story rather than on the silos of academic, school, public, government, and special or other libraries. We do so to create more holistic policy solutions and harness the power of our diverse community. Moreover, many decision makers and influencers do not understand or care about our silos—rather, the brand is “library” insofar as a brand exists.

Libraries serve communities in diverse and interdisciplinary ways through essential services. Several of these essential service areas intersect with national priorities, and provide us with a unique opportunity to influence policy. These areas include: education and learning; employment and entrepreneurship; health and wellness; access to government information and services; and preservation of the nation’s digital heritage and history.

We outline seven areas where policy change is needed: Library Funding; Balanced Copyright and Licensing Frameworks; Systems for Managing Digital Content; Privacy and Transparency; Equal Access to Robust Broadband; Strengthening Library-related Functions in the Federal Government; and A New Generation of Library Professionals.”

An executive brief of this National Policy Agenda for Libraries is available:

If you have questions about the Agenda, contact the Co-principal Investigators Alan S. Inouye ( and Larra Clark ( at the American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy, Washington, D.C.

© 2015 American Library Association

REPORT: State of American’s Libraries, 2017 [ALA]

By | 2017-10-09T23:03:08+00:00 October 9th, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

Extract: “In the 21st century, libraries of all types are responding to the changing social, economic, and political impacts of living in a digital society. Academic, school, and public libraries provide services that empower people for change. Library workers’ expertise, combined with dynamic collections and digital resources, help individuals develop new skills, communicate with others through new technologies, and help make their communities better places to live.

Our 9,082 public libraries play a vital role in such community services as early childhood literacy, computer training, and workforce development. In addition, they provide a safe place for everyone, reflecting and serving the diversity of their communities in their collections, programs, and services. The thousands of public libraries in towns and neighborhoods across the United States invite community conversations and actions that further understanding and address local needs.

Public libraries are committed to ensuring a safe place for all that reflects and serves the diversity of the nation in their collections, programs, and services. The thousands of public libraries in towns and neighborhoods across this country invite community conversations and actions that further understanding and address local needs.”

Contact: Macey Morales
Deputy Director, Public Awareness Office
American Library Association

American Library Association. The State of America’s Libraries 2017: A Report from the American Library Association. Kathy S. Rosa, ed. 2016. Full report:


REPORT: Rising to the Challenge [Aspen Institute, 2014]

By | 2017-10-05T00:33:28+00:00 October 5th, 2017|Categories: Philosophy/Principles, Reports/Plans, Trends|

From the 2014 archives…

Rising to the Challenge is the culmination of a year-long exploration and examination of the challenges and opportunities facing communities and their public libraries as society moves deeper into the digital era. It projects a new vision for public libraries and promotes new thinking about libraries, their critical assets, new networked forms and the essential role they now play in providing opportunities for individuals and communities to succeed in an economy and society that reward learning, creativity, innovation and social connection. Rising to the Challenge addresses key strategies for building strong libraries and communities, and offers a series of action steps for those who are motivated by the Dialogue’s vision to get started in their own communities. View the digital report at

The emerging value proposition of the public library is built around three key assets— people, place and platform:

PEOPLE. The public library is a hub of civic engagement, fostering new relationships and strengthening the human capital of the community. Librarians are actively engaged in the community. They connect individuals to a vast array of local and national resources and serve as neutral conveners to foster civic health. They facilitate learning and creation for children and adults alike.

PLACE. The public library is a welcoming space for a wide range of purposes—reading, communicating, learning, playing, meeting and getting business done. Its design recognizes that people are not merely consumers of content but creators and citizens as well. Its physical presence provides an anchor for economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and helps to strengthen social bonds and community identity. The library is also a virtual space where individuals can gain access to information, resources and all the rich experiences the library offers.
In the creative design of its physical and virtual spaces the public library defines what makes a great public space.

PLATFORM. The public library is user-centered. It provides opportunities for individuals and the community to gain access to a variety of tools and resources with which to discover and create new knowledge. The platform enables the curation and sharing of the community’s knowledge and innovation. A great library platform is a “third place” —an interactive entity that can facilitate many people operating individually and in groups—and supports the learning and civic needs of the community.

REPORT: Role of Libraries in Advancing Community Goals

By | 2017-10-03T11:47:10+00:00 October 3rd, 2017|Categories: Reports/Plans|

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), in partnership with the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and the Public Library Association (PLA), conducted a nationwide survey in the spring of 2016 focused on the evolving role of public libraries in advancing community goals. The survey was returned by 1,927 chief administrative offices of local governments.

This effort was undertaken to better understand how public libraries can be leveraged to advance community goals and how government agencies can partner with library leaders to better engage, inform, and empower residents. The survey was conducted in follow-up to ICMA’s 2010 Public Library Initiative Survey.

Public Service and Civic Engagement: Some 39% of all respondents said libraries should definitely provide a forum for convening public discussions. For respondents living in places with 100,000 or more people, 60% said this. Fewer (24%) said libraries should support the provision of public health services, but 33% in large population areas (100,000+) said this.

Education: Clear majorities said libraries should definitely coordinate with local schools to provide resources for kids and provide online learning experiences, with 73% and 57% saying this, respectively. For coordinating with local schools, 81% of respondents living in places with more than 100,000 people cited this as a definite priority and 85% of those living in places between 25,000 and 50,000 in population. For online learning, 70% from large population centers (100,000+) say this. Additionally, half (50%) said libraries should definitely provide “makerspace” tools for community members, with places with larger populations (100,000+) and those from the mid-Atlantic region more likely to say this (63% and 64%), respectively.

Workforce Development: Respondents see workforce development as less of a definite priority than some other areas. Some 32% say libraries should definitely provide training, technology, and resources for job-related skills. And 31% say libraries should coordinate with local employers for matching residents to employers’ needs. Respondents from larger communities (100,000+) were, by 15 and 13 point margins, more likely to cite those items as definite priorities.

Economic Development: In the economic development realm, relatively few said libraries should definitely wade into this area. Some 22% said libraries should definitely provide information on how to start a business, though nearly twice of respondents (40%) who live in areas with more than 100,000 people said this. A similar number (23%) said libraries should definitely provide a workspace for mobile workers or entrepreneurs, though 32% of those in large (100,000+) areas said this.

These are partial results – full report here:





Key Reports