In the May newsletter I reported on attempts to ban or censor books in public and school libraries – a total of 729 books were banned in 2021. Most of these efforts are focused on books read by teens, so I was delighted to read about a teen-led initiative at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL). They created Books UnBanned to provide access to censored or banned books. Anyone in the country between 13-21 can register for a free digital library card that will give them access to BPL’s full eBook collection and learning databases. BPL has also compiled a list of banned and/or challenged books listing libraries where the books can be found. This is an outstanding initiative to counter the damaging restrictions on information access.
The Smithsonian Magazine highlighted Benjamin Hooks Library in Memphis, Tennessee, as the most innovative public library in the nation. In addition to checkouts for sewing machines, bicycle repair kits, and laptop computers, a space called Cloud 901 has a state-of-the-art recording studio staffed by a professional audio engineer, a robotics lab, a video lab where local teens have made award-winning films, a maker space, a performance stage, a hang-out area, and an art studio. Some ideas to consider for an Alameda City Library.
Finally, I have been a big supporter of the Library’s WIFI hotspot program that the City funded earlier this year. Now operational for a couple of months, it’s very popular with most of the hotspots checked out. We are hopeful that the City will fund additional hotspots with the next round of American Rescue Plan Act Funds.