Category Archives: Public Libraries

The Library Digital Privacy Pledge of 2015

The Library Digital Privacy Pledge of 2015 focuses “on the use of HTTPS to deliver library services and the information resources offered by libraries. Building a culture of library digital privacy will not end with this 2015 pledge, but committing to this first modest step together will begin a process that won’t turn back.  We aim to gather momentum and raise awareness with this pledge; and will develop similar pledges in the future as appropriate to advance digital privacy practices for library patrons.” Visit Eric Hellman’s blog for more information on the Library Digital Library Pledge of 2015.

He invites all stakeholders and “everyone with responsibility for providing library services on the web, including publishers, systems vendors, librarians and scholars…to review the draft before it is finalized.”

If you or your library organization wishes to be added to the list of signatories, please send your contact information to pledge@libraryfreedomproject.org

Edmonton Public Library Bans Sleeping in its Branches

The problem isn’t the EPL’s ban on sleeping at its branches – it’s a lack of day shelters and affordable housing in Edmonton. In the daytime, Edmonton Public Library’s Stanley Milner branch has become a hub for homeless individuals in the downtown area. In addition to being one of the few safe and inclusive spaces downtown where they feel welcome, Edmonton Public Library has developed a variety of programs and services at Stanley Milner Library to assist this vulnerable cross section of the population and improve their overall well being.

 

Because there isn’t a daytime shelter where the homeless can sleep during the day, some have resorted to sleeping in the library. This week, EPL decided to ban sleeping in all of its branches after a series of incidents involving homeless individuals at Stanley Milner branch. While some members of the community are upset with the decision, this story demonstrates that there is a persistent demand for day shelters and more affordable housing in the city. Paula Simons puts it perfectly in her comment piece on this topic in the Edmonton Journal a few days ago:
“Certainly, vulnerable, exhausted people deserve a warm, quiet place to rest during the day. But it’s not sensible to expect the library to function as a homeless hospice. That’s not its function or its responsibility. It’s unfair to library staff and to other patrons. Meanwhile, when the library fills the service gap, it enables the city, province and not-for-profit sector to ignore the desperate need for a proper day shelter.” (Simons, 2015)

 

Below are links to the original story in the Edmonton Journal about EPL’s sleeping ban and Paula Simons comment piece on this issue:

 

Simons, Paula. (April 15, 2015) Simons: Doqntown Edmonton needs a day shelter, but the library isn’t it. Retrieved from:
Simons, Paula. (2015)(April 13, 2015) No-sleeping rule at public libraries unwelcome change for Edmonton’s homeless. Retrieved from:

We must defend public libraries from the threat of a market-based ideological framework

“It is clear that the dominant logic which governs this area of public spending is not characterised by a concern for inequalities, community and inclusive access to information and literature. Rather, it is the logic of market values, profitability and a concern for “getting a good deal for the taxpayer” which is the criteria upon which this area of public spending is being judged.”

The full article can be found here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/public-libraries-fiscal-pressures-political-choices-and-the-public-good/

 

International Community Responds to Ferguson Library

In the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, sociologist Michael Eric Dyson asked, ‘Where do we go after Ferguson?’ For some in Ferguson, the literal answer is the public library, helmed by a small but dedicated crew that chose to face the turmoil head-on and provide a refuge for all in need.

With a few powerful tweets, Ferguson Public Library reminded its city and elsewhere of precisely how much public libraries nurture and sustain their communities. Keeping the library open, Director Scott Bonner alongside his staff and volunteers are not only ensuring that everyday life-line services continue, but are also meeting unrest-driven needs on the fly. And inspired by those words and actions, an international community is cheering the library on, bolstering its efforts through words of support, donations, and other means.

Curious about Director Scott Bonner and Ferguson Public Library? Check out his recent IAMA (I am a/Ask Me Anything) on Reddit as well as NPR’s recent spotlight on the library. Want to support present and future programming and collections for Ferguson users? Donate money through the library’s website or head over to a wish list set up by a supporter through Powell’s Books.

Class and Library Usage in Canada

John Pateman, CEO / Chief Librarian of the Thunder Bay Public Library and member of the research team which produced “Open to All? The Public Library and Social Exclusion” (2000), recently wrote a short but interesting article on the impact that class has on library use in Canada. Published on the Ontario Library Association’s website Open Shelf, it refers to recent statistics of library users in Canada from the Canadian Urban Libraries Council which show that middle-class Canadians use libraries more than those who have a lower income. He argues that public libraries must do more to engage with all sections of the community to identify their unique needs and use this information to provide more relevant services. This will help libraries become more inclusive institutions and effective agents of social change.

Provincial Funding for Public Libraries on the Decline in Alberta

As Alberta’s new Premier Jim Prentice likes to say, the Government of Alberta is “under new management.” Hopefully, though not likely, the ‘new’ government, from the same party that has been in power for over 40 years, will reverse the recent trend of declining real investments in Alberta’s public libraries from the provincial government.

In 2006, the Province directly funded provincial library boards (removing funding to TAL, APLEN, funding for resource sharing, and SuperNet Connection Fees) to the tune of $7.49 per capita (provincial library statistics are available here http://www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca/plsb_statistics.cfm.

In 2011, direct funding to library boards was $7.76 per capita. While this is an increase of 3%,  Consumer Price Index data from Statistics Canada for Alberta notes that between 2006 and 2011, prices rose a total of 16%. Thus in real dollar terms, provincial support for libraries is down, and down significantly. A similar trend can be seen in other jurisdictions as well. For example in Ontario between 2011 and 2012, direct provincial spending on libraries fell (not just in real dollars, but in nominal dollars).

While declines in direct provincial funding to library boards is mitigated to a degree by increasing municipal funding, more downloading of the costs of library services to municipalities, puts libraries increasingly at the whim of local politicians and municipal tax bases that already finance a broad range of services (from roads and snow removal to police and firefighters). Perhaps the large public deficit in Ontario can partially explain declining provincial expenditures there, but why has Alberta, one of the most prosperous jurisdictions in the world, continued to let its share of financial support for libraries decline, in relative terms?

Hopefully the ‘new management’ in Alberta will realize the importance of investing in public libraries and significantly increase support for library boards and provincial library initiatives such as TAL. More likely, especially with declining oil prices, the Government of Alberta will continue to reduce its share of financial support for libraries. The recent Speech from the Throne noted, “Every effort of your government is focused on the fundamental goal of ensuring Albertans have the best quality of life possible.” It will be interesting to see if that quality of life includes provincial support for libraries.