Outreach and Diversity

2012 State of America's Libraries Report

Expanding literacy efforts for English-language learners

Francisco and Ingrid Maldonado of Benton County, Arkansas, became naturalized citizens at U.S. naturalization ceremony hosted at Bentonville Public Library.Francisco and Ingrid Maldonado of Benton County, Arkansas, became naturalized citizens at U.S. naturalization ceremony hosted at Bentonville Public Library.

The American dream became a reality at 73 public libraries in 24 states in 2011, as adult English-language learners completed American Dream projects in a program administered by the American Library Association.

The ALA’s “American Dream Starts @ your library” literacy initiative is devoted to developing innovative and exemplary literacy services for this group of adults and their families. American Dream projects unfolded in 2011 in libraries in large cities and rural towns in 24 states. The overwhelming majority of them (95%) used some or all of their funding to expand their print and digital collections, with print purchases outweighing digital by two to one:

In rural libraries, 60% of collection expenses supported print and 40% digital.

In urban libraries, 68% for print and 32% for digital.
In suburban libraries, 75% for print and 25% for digital.

American Dream libraries partnered with almost 400 local organizations, agencies, and businesses to achieve their program goals.
Rural libraries engaged the most partners, working with elected officials, school districts, literacy programs, faith-based organizations, and small businesses.
Suburban libraries partnered with educational organizations including literacy programs and local schools.
Urban libraries partnered most frequently with community-based literacy providers.

The libraries report that they are continuing to provide literacy services to adult English-language learners and their families by leveraging the social capital and community goodwill built during the American Dream Starts @ your library grant. The American Dream programs are also soliciting and receiving support under the Library Services and Technology Act, through reallocation of library funding, and from community partners and local funding organizations.

The American Dream Starts @ your library is funded by the Dollar General Foundation. More information is available at www.americandreamtoolkit.org.

53 members of underrepresented groups receive Spectrum scholarships

Spectrum Scholarship Program: The Future is Overdue, American Library AssociationFifty-three members of groups underrepresented in the library profession received scholarships in 2011 to help them pursue master’s degrees. The awards were made by the ALA’s Spectrum Scholarship Program as it continued its efforts to make the profession more accessible to members of ethnic and racial minorities and to strengthen the ALA’s outreach efforts to these underserved populations. Since 1998, the American Library Association has awarded more than 730 Spectrum Scholarships.

The Spectrum program also provides access to a network of library professionals, ALA support in finding a position in the field, and free admission to national and local professional development events.

Spectrum’s professional development and leadership components draw together advocacy efforts across many library organizations, providing a model and mechanisms by which they can diversify their membership and involve proven new leaders with diverse perspectives in their programs and initiatives. Eighty-five percent of Spectrum graduates are working full-time in a library or information setting; they include the library director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the manager of rare books and special collections for the Princeton University Library, the director of diversity programs at the Association of Research Libraries, and the librarian in a Bureau of Indian Affairs school in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

The Spectrum program received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support more scholarships in 2011 and 2012 and to provide more professional development opportunities to scholarship recipients, with a particular focus on developing their capacity to use technology to serve underserved communities.   

The ALA began a Spectrum Presidential Initiative in 2009 as a special campaign to raise $1 million for the Spectrum Scholarship Program. Through this initiative, ALA aims to meet the critical needs of supporting master’s-level scholarships for students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The Association expects to reach its fundraising goal this year.

The ALA’s Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal grant-making agency, which has allowed it to initiate a new round of fellowships. Under the new project, ALA will continue its efforts to recruit doctoral candidates from ethnically diverse backgrounds and work with participating academic programs to support their education and attainment of their degrees.

More information about the Spectrum program is available at www.ala.org/spectrum.

National Bookmobile Day rolls through second year

The second celebration of National Bookmobile Day on April 13, 2011, saw the first-ever inclusion of an honorary spokesperson, Audrey Niffenegger, library supporter and author of the illustrated novel The Night Bookmobile (though probably better known for The Time Traveler’s Wife)and Her Fearful Symmetry

The event recognizes the contributions of the nation’s bookmobiles and the professionals who make bookmobile outreach possible in their communities. Bookmobile use has surged during the economic downturn, paralleling the increased use of fixed libraries and often providing services not just to schools but to targeted groups such as senior citizen homes, preschool children, adult education centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, and even correctional facilities. The range of materials they circulate has expanded with their more varied destinations. Many bookmobiles have low floors for easy entry, and many also provide Internet access.

National Bookmobile Day is a collaborative effort of the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services, and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, and is intended to honor the nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who provide valuable and essential mobile library service every day.

Rural libraries win big support in communities

Small and rural libraries play important roles within their communities, and a new toolkit, “The Small But Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library,” is designed to maintain support for these institutions. The toolkit features strategies on advocating for and promoting library services to rural communities, tips for using technology in advocacy efforts, and examples of essential marketing and promotion tools. In addition to a print version, the toolkit is available for free download, both in regular and large print formats (details at www.ala.org/offices/olos/toolkits/rural).

In its first three months, librarians requested more than 1,000 copies of this free resource, and nearly 500 librarians registered for a free webinar developed around the toolkit.

Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Henrietta Mays SmithHenrietta Mays Smith

The 2011 winner of the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement was Henrietta Mays Smith, professor emerita at the University of South Florida School of Library and Information Science in Tampa, who was recognized for her life’s work influencing generations of library professionals and readers to embrace the full diversity of children’s literature.

Presented by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, the award is named in memory of children’s author Virginia Hamilton and is presented in even years to an African-American author or illustrator for a significant body of published books for children and young adults and in alternate years to a practitioner for substantial contributions to youth education using award-winning African-American youth literature. 

Rita Williams-Garcia, author of One Crazy Summer, and Bryan Collier, illustrator of Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, won the 2011 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. One Crazy Summer, published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins, tells the story of 11-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters as they travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to face the emotional challenge of reaching out to a distant mother and learn about a different side of the civil rights movement. In Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, Dave, a slave in 19th-century South Carolina, demonstrates extraordinary talent and skill to achieve creative success. At a time when it was illegal for slaves to read and write, the eloquent poetry on Dave’s remarkable pots provided inspiration and hope to those who had none.

Stonewall Book Awards

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the 2011 Stonewall Book Awards administered by the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table included the Stonewall Book Awards–Barbara Gittings Literature Award presented to Barb Johnson for More of This World or Maybe Another, published by Harper Perennial; the Stonewall Book Awards–Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award, presented to Emma Donoghue for Inseparable: Desire between Women in Literature, published by Knopf; and the Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award, presented to Brian Katcher for Almost Perfect, published by Delacorte Press.

Alire recognized for achievement in library diversity research

Camila Alire, dean emerita at the University of New Mexico Libraries and Colorado State University Libraries, was named the 2011 Achievement in Library Diversity Research Honoree by the ALA Office for Diversity. Alire’s contributions to the professional literature include titles on leadership and diversity, recruitment and retention of librarians of color, library service to Latinos and diverse populations, library marketing and advocacy, and disaster recovery. Alire has served as 2009–2010 president of ALA, president of the Association of College and Research Libraries, and president of the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (Reforma). She received her master’s in library science from the University of Denver and a doctorate in education from the University of Northern Colorado.

100,000-plus niños attend ALSC-sponsored events

Well over 100,000 people — mostly children — attended events sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) in 2011 under its El día de los niños / El día de los libros(Children’s Day / Book Day) program. More than 300 libraries took part, and the ALSC launched a new Día website in November 2011 that provides libraries with a free, downloadable resource guide containing programming for both public and school libraries, outreach, book lists, activity sheets, and resources for parents. The core objective of Día is to nurture children’s cognitive and literary development in ways that honor and respect their home language and culture.