Brooklyn Public Library and the Affordable Care Act


Today marks the opening of nationwide health insurance exchanges that serve as a component of President Obama’s health care reform. Among other initiatives, Brooklyn Public Library is maintaining a website on the Affordable Care Act. To assist with providing information and assistance about plan coverage, enrollment and eligibility, New York State has disbursed $27 million in grants to In-Person Assistors and Navigators. One Navigator organization, the Brooklyn Alliance, will provide in-person assistance at several Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) locations this week.

East Flatbush Library
9612 Church Avenue at Rockaway Parkway
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Tuesday: 1–7PM

Flatbush Library
22 Linden Boulevard at Flatbush Avenue
Languages spoken: English
Tuesday: 1–8PM

Greenpoint Library
107 Norman Avenue at Leonard Avenue
Languages spoken: English, French Albanian, Italian
Wednesday: 12–7PM
Thursday: 12PM–7PM

Kings Highway Library
2115 Ocean Avenue (near Kings Highway)
Languages spoken: English, Russian, Romanian, Cantonese, Mandarin, French
Monday: 1–8PM
Tuesday: 10AM–6PM
Wednesday: 10AM–5PM
Thursday: 10AM–5PM
Saturday: 10AM–3PM

Mapleton Library
1702 60th Street
Languages spoken: Russian, Romanian, Cantonese, Mandarin
Tuesday: 1–8PM
Wednesday: 10AM–5PM
Thursday: 1PM–8PM
Saturday: 10AM–3PM

Marcy Library
617 Dekalb Avenue at Nostrand Avenue
Languages spoken: English
Tuesday: 1–8PM

Sunset Park Library
5108 4th Avenue at 51st Street
Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin
Tuesday: 12–8PM
Wednesday: 10AM–6PM
Thursday: 1PM–8PM
Saturday: 10AM–4PM

To find other Navigator organizations and events, visit the New York State of Health website.




Operation Medical Libraries


According to a recent New York Times article, nearly three decades of war and religious extremism have devastated medical libraries and crippled the educational system for health professionals in Afghanistan. Medical texts, in particular, were singled out for destruction by factions of the Taliban (1996-2001), because anatomical depictions of the human body were considered blasphemous.

Valerie Walker, director of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of California, Los Angeles, is helping to lead an ambitious effort by American doctors and nurses, both civilian and military, to restock Afghanistan’s hospitals, clinics and universities with medical textbooks and other reference materials.

The project, called Operation Medical Libraries, began in 2007 with a plea for books from a UCLA medical graduate serving in the Army. It has since been embraced by 30 universities and hospitals, more than a dozen professional organizations and scores of individual health professionals.

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan Photo: CDR R. Wesley Farr, MC, USN

Donors can contribute directly by visiting the project’s Web site, finding a military volunteer’s address, then shipping the books on their own. Books on biology, chemistry, anatomy, medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacology and physical therapy are all in demand — especially those published in the last five years.

How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries: A Study


The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries (pdf), is based on the first large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. A few statistics from the report here (based on a 12-month period):

  • 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half of these users filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
  • 37 focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third of these users sought out doctors or health care providers. Of these, about half followed up by making appointments for care.
  • 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.
  • Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.

My personal favorite:

  • Nearly two-thirds of library computer users (63 percent) logged on to help others.

Do Young Adult Library Services and Collections Support Access to Teen Sexual Health Information?


“How Young Adult Libraries Support Teen Sexual Health” is the title of a presentation curated by mk Eagle, a librarian and recent presenter at Sex::Tech 2009, which lends insight and resources pertaining to youth, technology, and library access (or lack thereof) to sexual health information. Says Eagle: Folks from all over the map in universities, non-profits, health departments and more came to share the exciting work that’s being done where sexual health and technology collide to serve teens. And guess what? Some of that work is happening in libraries. (For the text accompanying this presentation, please see Sagittarian Librarian.)

Other presentation titles from Sex::Tech:

Do Teen Sexuality + Adult Anxiety + Digital Technology = Public Trouble?

Finding Youth in Their Space: Using Social Networking Sites to Connect Youth to Sexual Health Services

Media Portrayals of Online Youth: What They Are and What You Can Do about It

Influential Nonprofit, Libraries for the Future (LFF), Closes After 17 Years



Citing budget pressure, the nonprofit organization, Libraries for the Future (LFF), has announced that the current economic climate has made it impossible to continue. The recent news is, indeed, a tremendous loss to library advocates everywhere.

Influential in its advocacy efforts for libraries nationwide, LFF oversaw the birth of programs that have run in close to 400 libraries in 33 states; the good news: most will continue to run. Middle Country Public Library (NY), for example, will continue to oversee Family Place Libraries, a network of children’s librarians “who believe that literacy begins at birth, and that libraries can help build healthy communities by nourishing healthy families.”

Other programs include Lifelong Access Libraries, which focuses on active older adults, and the Wellness Information Zone, which aims to support free, reliable consumer health information. LFF also trained many librarians to achieve EqualAccess Libraries, a program that addressed “this ever-changing digital age.”

Begun as an advocacy organization in 1992, LFF produced three important publications aimed to help advocates make the case for libraries including, Long Overdue, a national public opinion study, Worth Their Weight: An Assessment of the Evolving Field of Library Valuation, and Act for Libraries, a library advocacy web site.

Beyond Books: Libraries Support DIY Home Improvement


New York: Reverse the global trend toward the corporatization and consolidation of seed resources!

The Hudson Valley Seed Library exists to create an accessible and affordable source of locally-adapted seeds featuring over 50 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers; a viable small-scale and regionally-based seed production network. Growing seeds in your home garden and learning how to save seeds from the plants you grow is a way to practice frugality, develop regional food security, and enjoy being active and outside more often!



California: More seeds, do-it-yourself crafts, woodworking, and more!

The Tool Lending Library, of Oakland Public Library, currently offers over 2700 tools available for loan, as well as books and how-to videos. The tools can be used for a variety of purposes, including carpentry, gardening, plumbing, and electrical work. The Tool Lending Library also offers workshops based on the interests and needs of patrons. Past classes have included plumbing repairs, power tool safety, working with the router and basic electrical repairs.

A project of the Richmond Rivets in collaboration with the Richmond Public Library, the ‘Richmond Grows Seed-Lending Library’ opens in May 2010 and allows the public to borrow seeds for free, hoping that borrowers will donate seeds back to the library following harvest. It is believed to be the only seed-lending library currently operating in a public library in the U.S. The Seed-Lending Library is also a fiscally sponsored project of Urban Tith and can accept tax-deductible donations through them.

Reflections on Librarianship


The following is a letter which was recently posted to the ALA Council List by PLG member Elaine Harger in which she reflects on where libraries, specifically public libraries, fit into the communities in which they are situated. She brings important questions to the table with regard to the roles and responsibilities held by both individual libraries and larger library affiliated institutions in light of economic and environmental disaster. Please read as food for thought and thank you to Kathleen de la Peña McCook for making this available to the broader PLG community!

Dear colleagues,

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about all the suggestions made this past week regarding topics for discussion at the Membership Meeting at annual. I have also been thinking about ALA and librarianship in general in regard to environmental issues and have yet another idea to add to the hopper.

How do we make libraries relevant in the face of ecological degradation and disaster? For instance, did libraries in New Orleans inform their users about the probability that a hurricane like Katrina might cause the kind of damage that it, in fact, did? It was well known to civil engineers, journalists and others that a big hurricane would devastate the region, but did libraries ever highlight that information so that people might be better prepared? And, what role did libraries in wealthy areas play in fostering a spirit of civic unity with people in poor areas? How did libraries inform users of the likelihood of massive numbers of people becoming refugees? And, what should a library’s responsibility be in the face of the ecological stresses scientists are now warning us about? What is ALA’s responsibility as a leader within our profession? These are not academic questions — each one of our communities is vulnerable and we are all interconnected in vital ways. I think it is time for a discussion of these issues, as they are at the heart of a conversation that the entire nation needs to engage in. Yes, we can discuss what we’d like to see an Obama administration do in regard to libraries, but we need a _vision_ of the direction librarianship must head toward in the face of environmental (and economic, social and political) problems before we can take a wish list to the new president.

Librarianship needs to take a good, hard, eyes-wide-open look at where we are physically, historically and morally in order to transition the profession to meet the pressures of a future the likes of which we’ve never seen. If we are to make good on our promises to bear witness of what happened in New Orleans, then we need to reflect on what our responsibility is in preparing our own users and communities for the “disasters” that await us. We can certainly “hope” that President Obama will lead us in the right direction regarding these matters, but we really should be proactive and let him know that we have been thinking about the role librarianship could play in the transition to a more just and healthy world.

This afternoon I read an essay by Arundhati Roy entitled “Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?” In it she makes a special point about honorable people who get elected to positions of power. I highly recommend this essay, which can be found at:

We can’t passively “hope” for a better world, we need to be that change, and in order for this to happen within librarianship we need to do some serious reflection on where we fit into society, what that society is truly like and what we would like it to become.

All my best,

Elaine Harger