Community Support at the Ferguson Public Library + Resources for Learning and Teaching About the Recent Events in Ferguson, MO

ferguson1While area schools cancelled classes for the day following a grand jury’s decision not to indict white police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, the library pledged to open its doors and provide lunch for schoolchildren. The library’s director, Scott Bonner, said that the library was slowing filling up with children this morning, and described the atmosphere as a “mix of emotions.” He said, “I’ve had one or two people come in and just basically cry to me because of what happened last night, how they’re feeling about it and how tough it is for them,” he told TPM. “And we’ve had a whole lot of volunteer teachers come in here with this drive to help people, bring that kind of optimism in.”




Related to libraries and education, I received an email from an instructor today asking, “What can educators and students actually do to affect change in Ferguson and beyond?” I sent her a link to a collaborative online document, Teaching #Ferguson #sschat Resources, a collection of teacher-recommended materials and teaching strategies ranging from pre-k to college-level. I have since also found a relative document, Teaching About the Jordan Davis Murder Trial, which includes lesson plans for high school students. The first document includes curricula and resources for answering questions such as how has media bias influenced understandings of Ferguson? What historical/civic issues could help provide context for the events in Ferguson? How can teachers address social justice issues (police brutality, racial/economic discrimination, etc) related to Ferguson? Regardless of where and how you teach, I hope instructors everywhere will accept the challenge of helping students understand how to think critically about systems, power, and the media.


Please consider donating to the EveryLibrary Rapid Response Fund!




EveryLibrary is a nonprofit social welfare organization chartered to work exclusively on local library ballot initiatives. How? By training library staff, trustees, and volunteers to plan and run effective Information Only campaigns; by assisting local Vote Yes committees on planning and executing Get Out the Vote work for their library’s measure; and by speaking directly to the public about the value and relevance of libraries and librarians.

EveryLibrary’s Rapid Response Fund is designed to address the single most significant problem in library advocacy today: no one is funding direct outreach to the public or stakeholders when a crisis hits libraries. Too many times, the urgent and necessary calls-to-action issued by local stakeholders are unable to reach activists and constituents because no one is advertising or marketing those calls-to-action. Whether the stakeholders are a group of staff, the local trustees or Friends, an ad hoc community of advocates, or an established trade or professional association, their legitimate voices for the library need support.

From their website: Our Rapid Response Fund is designed to amplify the voices of local library advocates during a crisis by supporting paid ads for outreach and action.  In setting up the Rapid Response Fund we will not attempt to replace or supplant the legitimate local advocates; rather, we will apply best-practices to market them through social media.  The Fund will allow us to drive traffic to their calls-to-action by both new and existing constituents and advocates.  EveryLibrary will not set the agenda or create the calls-to-action.  That responsibility still resides with the local advocates.  They are closer to the issue and are already trusted in their community.  We will work to spend the Rapid Response Funds in a way that creates success through broad-based or targeted advertising that produces measurable results.   

The Rapid Response Fund will put money to work to get the advocacy message in front of the right people and “bring them out” for the library. Please consider donating today! You can also visit for a list of the campaigns and to see how your donation will impact the future of library funding across the country.

Have you seen LA Public Library’s “Shades of LA” archives?

The Los Angeles Library’s “Shades of LA” photo archive contains more than 10,000 images of black, Latino and Asian-American families throughout Southern California dating back to the early 20th century. Here, librarian Kathy Kabayashi explains the very deliberate process of gathering so many images from people’s private archives as part of this grass-roots community history project.

Kate Spade’s library-themed (card catalog) iphone case and clutch aren’t cute to me. This is why.



Perhaps you don’t spend too much time thinking about libraries as spaces that jump start early literacy, inspire art, or provide free resources to those that can’t afford their own personal (private) everything. Maybe you don’t even know where your local branch library is, because you have no immediate “need” for it. Oh but how much do you love that cutesy iphone cover that looks just like those old catalog cards?! Like so many things, what you are not supporting in your local community is marketable and wearable just the same.  I don’t buy it.

Jessamyn West says more on this topic, with some good points to boot:

[Because] The word library is evocative of a whole bunch of things, from now stretching deep into the past. It has gravitas and comes with a bunch of associations that you can sort of get for free by linking your thing to libraries. Except libraries aren’t free. And the work that goes into keeping them running (which is a lot more than keeping a bookshelf stocked) is complicated, sometimes thankless and under attack from people who think somehow that libraries are not fashionable enough, not hip or current enough, that our day has passed. So please feel free to quit sending me this iphone case, as much as I love it, and think about why New York loves this sort of thing and is trying to sell off their library real estate in New York City and gut the stacks.

Help Save NYC Libraries with a Phone Call? Yes Please!!! 311 Call-In Days 6/20 and 6/21



[Save NYC Libraries Re-post]

The NYC budget decision is coming down to the wire now, people! Thank you so much for your support so far. We appreciate you signing the petitions, camping out with us at the Read-In, and all the other great stuff you’re doing to help save NYC libraries.

We’re going to ask you to do ONE LAST THING this year to help prevent library funding cuts before the budget is finalized (which might be as early as next week – yikes!)

Just like last year, we’re holding an official “311 Call-In Day” so that the mayor’s office gets inundated with phone calls in support of NYC libraries.

This small action has a BIG impact because 311 tracks the comments and tells the mayor about the issues that concern people the most. Imagine if Mr. Bloomberg got A MILLION comments just about library funding. Would he be able to justify closing them down THEN? Pshaw! (Okay, maybe a million calls is a stretch. But it’s nice to dream!)

Here’s what you can do:

On either Thursday, June 20th, or Friday June 21st (or both!), call 311 at any time and tell the operator you’d like to make a “budget comment.” Then you can make a statement regarding library funding. If you want to keep things simple, here’s a sample script: “I believe closing any libraries in NYC is unacceptable and I’m calling to request the complete restoration of library funding.” Easy as that! And it feels so good.

If you don’t live in NYC, you can call 212-NEW-YORK (or 212-639-9675). In addition, the TTY Number is 212-504-4115.

Want to connect with other library supporters? RSVP to make your phone call over on Facebook!