I just returned from the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago, and, as always, I left with renewed admiration for everything librarians do for their communities. Every single local politician who wants to defund the community library on the uninformed theory that they’re not needed anymore needs to come to ALA and let librarians teach them a thing or two.
Librarians, as you all know, are asked to do so much more than shush patrons and lead them to the newest James Patterson book. Librarians are also:
- Technology wizards;
- De-facto daycare providers;
- Career counselors;
- Social services providers;
- Local historians and archivists;
- Experts in real vs. fake news;
- Immigration law consultants.
And, of course, so much more. About that last item on immigration: I attended a fascinating forum at ALA, attended by librarians from across the country in rural and urban areas, about the services they’re providing for immigrants and refugees in a panic because of Trump administration policies. Librarians are helping immigrants and refugees know their rights and assist in naturalization. I’ll have a more in-depth report on that in the coming weeks.
Also, a first-time attendee was the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. They’re working on a four-year project with librarians to search their archives and look at how the Holocaust was reported in their local papers at the time. What was known and when? I’ll follow up on that, plus more on university libraries working with professors on affordable textbooks, and whether the local library should be involved in the Little Free Libraries trend.
We also decided that Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden is an absolute rock star in the book world, she should never, ever leave her post, and we should probably keep it a secret from You-Know-Who that there is not only an actual Library of Congress, but an African-American woman is running it.
Also at ALA, we honored the best indie publishers and authors with our INDIES Book of the Year Awards. Take a look at all the winners. We also named Restless Books as publisher of the year for their work in giving immigrants a voice. We Love You, Charlie Freeman, by Kaitlyn Greenidge, won our Editor’s Choice Prize for Fictionl and Lois Lenski: Storycatcher, earned Editor’s Choice for Nonfiction. We’ll write more about our INDIES winners in July.
Howard Lovy is executive editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow him on Twitter @Howard_Lovy