April 2019 Library Tech Newsbytes

A hand pulling a page out of a book

What's new in library tech! Welcome to our monthly collection of fun news items from wherever we find them.

This month we offer an overview of the "libraries as social services organizations" trend across the country, the super green library in Long Island, a heads-up on the Save the Internet Act of 2019, librarian David Lee King's emerging trends for 2019, and some day-in-the-life gems of life as a librarian from BuzzFeed. We hope you enjoy our batch of Newsbytes this time around!

The Trend for Libraries to Be Social Services Organizations

Very much in keeping with this month's TechSoup for Libraries theme on social services programming, Emily Nonko reports in Next City that up to 30 libraries nationally now have social workers on staff. Included are places like Chicago, Brooklyn, Denver, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. An article in the Chicago Tribune last year mentioned that Justine Janis, a clinical social worker at the Chicago library, was leading a national monthly conference call of social service workers on library staff.

Elissa Hardy heads up the extensive program at the Denver Public Library. They now have of 10, including four social workers and six peer navigators to support all 26 branch locations. Hardy explains the Denver program's rationale: "In social work we have this term called a 'protective factor.' The library is a protective factor for people, which is basically a place or a thing where we're helping to support people, and not change things negatively for them."

What the Lindenhurst Library Does to Be Super Green

Here's a great newbyte for Earth Day and Earth Month. Newsday reports that the Lindenhurst Memorial Library in Long Island, New York, has worked for three years to achieve Green Business Partnership status. The library board has adopted an environmental policy that ensures that they look at everything from energy consumption to the materials in the furniture they buy. The library did energy and waste audits, even looking through their trash to see if what was being thrown out could be recycled or reused. The library's recycled book initiative has recycled 40,000 books, saving more than 500 trees in two years. They have set up two water bottle refill stations and also started leaf composting, with plans to have composting in the staff break room. The library is also growing a vegetable and herb garden and giving away the produce.

ALA Advocates the Save the Internet Act of 2019 to Restore Net Neutrality

American Libraries magazine reported that on March 6, House and Senate Democrats introduced the Save the Internet Act of 2019 to restore net neutrality. Advocates in favor of net neutrality, including the American Library Association (ALA), are coordinating a digital push beginning March 11 in support of the bill. The Save the Internet Act, only three pages long (PDF), would reverse the FCC's 2017 ruling and reinstate essential protections from 2015. A federal law would put the issue largely to rest rather than seesaw back and forth as it has for so many years.

ALA has been on the front lines of the net neutrality battle for more than a decade. It has worked in coalition with other library and higher education organizations (PDF) as well as broader coalitions of net neutrality advocates. ALA and its coalition partners are asking supporters to tweet at members of Congress and ask them to support the Save the Internet Act of 2019 to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality rules.

David Lee King's 2019 Emerging Trends and Libraries

In early 2019, TechSoup for Libraries published our list of Library Tech Trends for 2019. David Lee King has come out with a great one as well. He is the digital services director at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library In Kansas. Here are the topics he covers:

His last category is particularly intriguing. It is about the role of robotics in libraries. David Lee King explains: "Not completely replacing jobs, but replacing human work with automated work:

  • Automated Materials Handling (AMH) systems — they presort returned items so people don't have to.
  • Online desk scheduling systems: Not quite AI yet, but some of these systems are smart enough to automatically schedule another person to work a desk when someone calls in sick, and it certainly keeps the schedule so you don't have to."

26 Moments Any Librarian Knows Too Well

Just for fun, check out these day-in-the-life gems courtesy of Arianna Rebolini of Buzzfeed. Here's a sampling:

  • When a patron wants you to find a book, based only on the vaguest detail
  • When you refuse to give up on a search, even if the patron asking is long gone
  • When you find the perfect source just after a patron has left
  • When that potty-training book comes back in, ah, not so great condition

Do you have a fun library tech newsbyte? Tell us about it in the comments section below.