A One and a Two and…The Census and You: Why the Census Matters to Libraries

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Planning for the 2020 Census has been going on for years, but you could say that our latest national headcount officially began on January 21, 2020. That’s when Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr became the first person counted for the 2020 census. Nenguryarr, 90, lives in Toksook Bay, Alaska. She’s a member of the Nunakauyarmiut Tribe and speaks a language called Yup’ik. The Census counted about 600 folks that day based on the 2010 Census. You’ll have to wait a little longer for an exact count.

For the rest of us, the Census begins in earnest in March. In mid-March, about 95% of U.S. homes will receive a letter from the Census Bureau. The letter will encourage most shutterstock_1552032581recipients to fill out the Census online. In some areas where Internet access is known to be less ubiquitous, recipients will still be encouraged to respond online but will also receive a paper questionnaire. They also have the option to answer Census questions over the phone. Occasional reminders will be mailed several times through the end of April. Eventually, doors will be knocked on to get as many responses as possible.

There are lots of good reasons for libraries and librarians to be involved with the Census and the ALA has done a good job of explaining them. But briefly, libraries can offer Internet access, help diverse groups find useful information about the Census in the appropriate languages, and help to make sure that respondents don’t get scammed.

According to the New York Times, you can fill out the Census online in five Asian languages, and there are guides to the Census in about two dozen Asian languages. Paper forms will only be available in two languages, however: English and Spanish.

Of course, bad people will try to use the Census to get useful info for a variety of illegal activities, so make sure your patrons know the Census doesn’t ask for Medicare card numbers, full Social Security numbers, or bank or credit card account numbers. You can also assure your patrons that the Census doesn’t ask any questions about citizenship. Read more here.

shutterstock_237968428OK, so are there any other reasons why libraries and librarians should be good helpers and citizens when it comes to the Census? Well, yes, there are more than a billion additional reasons—and all of them are green. It’s estimated that’s how much federal money will be doled out to states for libraries, based on Census findings: $1 billion.

That’s still a fraction of all the federal money that will be divvied up over time based on the Census count for all sorts of things.

So whether you’re urban or rural, rich or poor, new to this country or descended from Pilgrims, the Census is very important. And when the counting is finally complete, there will be data, data, data. Many people, businesses, and organizations will use this information to make all sorts of decisions, from where to build or expand schools, to where the next shiny new grocery store will pop out of the ground.

Are you ready for the Census?

Additional resources:

U.S. Census Bureau Survey Participant Help Page

American Library Association Census Home Page

ALA Libraries’ Guide to the Census


Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

10 Deadlines Only a Librarian Would Understand

Deadline Comic

Image by Cartoon Resource


For librarians, deadlines invite a special chance to embrace the sometimes absurd—but always rewarding—task of meeting patrons’ unique and changing needs.

Here are 10 deadlines that only a librarian can fully understand.


1. Buy $100,000 worth of books in three days—but only titles NOT available in the U.S.

Overwhelmed with Books

Spanish Language Selector Nerissa Moran: “My funniest book deadline would be buying at the book fair in Guadalajara. Talk about a rush order!”


2. Become a master on The Masters as fast as humanly possible.

Golf Academy

Richard Hallman, M.Ln.: “Way back when I was a news librarian, we had many deadline requests.” Here’s one Richard remembers well: “Find out everything you can, as fast as you can, about everyone who’s a member of Augusta National Golf Club, AKA ‘The Masters’ golf club.”


3. Order at least 1,000 books per day.


Fern Hallman, M.Ln.: “This was back in the day, before Bibz and the World Wide Web (1988), ordering an average of 1,000 books per day for new library branches in Atlanta.”


4. Give children a library tour of a building you’re completely unfamiliar with.

Tour Guide Border

Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS: “The only crazy deadline I have faced would be: Show up as a substitute librarian at a branch and find out I need to take school kids on a tour in half an hour—but I’ve never been in this building before!”


5. Set up a camera to welcome students to school on live TV—with NO prior experience.

TV Studio Kid

Suzanne Hawley, MLS: “I was hired to open a new school… My attention was solely focused on unpacking and organizing the collection on the new shelves, as well as managing the set-up of computers in the library… The principal mentioned to me that I would also oversee a TV studio. Late on the Friday before the first week of school, she told me she expected to welcome students live on TV for their first day. I Had NO idea how to operate ANYTHING in a TV studio. Wearily, I unpacked the camera and tried, without luck, to figure out how it sent signals to the classrooms. Never underestimate a librarian! The principal was seen on the TVs in every classroom at 9 a.m. the first day of school.”


6. Find a way to wheel a TV downstairs for a group of toddlers—while the elevators are down.

Elevator Out Of Order

There is no limit to the lengths to which a librarian will go to help little ones gain a literary edge. Desperate times sometimes call for creativity. Luckily, librarian ingenuity often strikes at the eleventh hour. Never bet against a librarian under pressure.


7. Find 26 wine corks and make a pumpkin out of them. Post-haste.

Winr Cork Pumpkin

Autumn opens the door to all kinds of unique opportunities for librarians. And that means unique challenges. Programs like Wine-Cork Pumpkin Making provide a chance to feature special activities for adults, giving them a new excuse to visit the library.


8. Get told you have to create an escape room in time for the library’s grand reopening—and on a shoestring budget.

Escape Room

Escape rooms challenge those within to use problem-solving skills and sometimes motor skills to successfully unlock a door and emerge with a sense of accomplishment. Such a program, with adult supervision provided, could benefit library goers. Organizing the event, though? That’s a different challenge altogether!


9. Learn everything you can about ska, starting yesterday.

I Heart Ska Border

Maybe a fellow librarian was going to lead a program on ska featuring instruments the young attendees could make themselves. Unfortunately, she’s come down with a nasty bug and asked you to fill in. So you dive in and get to work. Librarians are masters of the impossible.


10. Dress up as a children’s book character when the person scheduled to play that character suddenly cancels.

Sailor Costume

There’s a unique adrenaline that comes with undertaking such a substantial feat with little to no prep time. But nothing beats putting a smile on someone else’s face or eliciting giggles.


This is just a sampling of the quirky obstacles librarians often face. Odds are, you have your own fun anecdote about a library deadline no one else would understand. We hope some of these have brought a smile to your face. Remember, you’re not alone!

Librarians Make Great “Jeopardy!” Contestants

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

Now in its 35th season, the popular game show “Jeopardy!” definitely has an appeal that some other game shows — Wheel of Fortune, for instance — don’t. That’s because it’s all about knowing stuff: Shakespeare, science, sports, American history, potpourri, and lots more.

If you’re a librarian, especially a reference librarian, you may have heard someone say, “I bet you’re good at ‘Jeopardy!’” once or twice in your career. The two librarians at my house stopped watching “Jeopardy!” a while back because it’s hard to eat dinner while screaming answers in the form of a question at the TV. The only way we could win would be as a team. I’d handle categories like World Leaders, while Fern would cover Show Tunes. We would just punt on Sports.

Many librarians love “Jeopardy!”, and since it’s on five nights a week, there have beenContestants No Numbers with Frame quite a few librarian contestants over the years. In 2017, American Libraries estimated around 150 had been on the show since 2005. The magazine interviewed 11 of them, including one with whom my sister went to high school.

The American Libraries article said that since 2005 there had been 30 librarian champions, and that librarian contestants had won close to a million dollars on the show. That was before the “Giant Killer,” Emma Boettcher, took down James Holzhauer back in June. She performed her heroic deed just as Holzhauer was about to eclipse Ken Jennings’ record winnings of a little over $2.5 million. So hopefully, Jennings sent her a nice thank you card, or maybe just a check. Librarians are so helpful!

Boettcher is a user experience librarian, a job title that I’m pretty sure didn’t exist back when I was in library school. She majored in English as an undergraduate, so Shakespeare and other categories like Literature and Theater were right up her alley. Oh, and also she wrote a paper about “Jeopardy!” while in grad school, “using text mining to find out whether the readability of the show’s questions could predict their difficulty levels.” Duh!

Is it hard to get on the show? Boettcher first tried out when she was still in high school but didn’t get chosen. Nevertheless, she persisted, and it finally paid off, to the tune of just under $100,000 this year. She’ll be on a “special “Tournament of Champions” show in the first half of November along with Holzhauer and some other smarties so stay tuned.


Jeopardy with Text

Would you like to be a “Jeopardy!” contestant? Start here by registering, then use the online materials, including practice tests, along with your own smarts and study up.

May the best librarian crush!


Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

Grant-Seeking 101

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

shutterstock_326576381Someday, when flying cars are rusting away in museums and the last sword has been beaten into whatever a plowshare is, there will be plenty of money available to libraries and librarians. Until then, librarians and the organizations that support them will probably have to keep looking everywhere for the funds needed to fix leaking roofs or buy 3D printers.

But the money is out there. It’s just a matter of knowing where—and how—to apply for it.

Show Me the Money

In addition to being a member of Brodart’s Collection Development team, I’m a librarian at Foundation Center South in Atlanta. FC is a nonprofit, headquartered in New York, which researches philanthropic giving, including grants awarded to libraries. Here are a few examples:

  • In 2017, in Vandalia, IL, the Charles Ruemmelin Foundation gave $750 to the Evans Public Library for “Children’s section shelving.”
  • In 2016 in Connecticut, the Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation gave $1900 to Morris Public Library for a color printer/scanner.
  • In 2015, in Los Angeles California, the Cathay Bank Foundation gave Friends of the Chinatown Library $13,000 to “Develop community awareness…” and “Raise funds for capital improvement….”

shutterstock_583376662That money can come from grants made by foundations and government agencies. Some foundations announce grant opportunities with deadlines. The ALA keeps a running list of such grants here: http://librarygrants.blogspot.com/. The blog is run by two librarians who wrote a book about getting grants for libraries: “Winning Grants: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians with Multimedia Tutorials and Grant Development Tools.”

Proposals: Prepare Your Outline and Find a Grantmaker

But there’s more money available to enterprising librarians who learn about the giving priorities of grantmakers and use that knowledge to craft proposals. Grant proposals are well-organized, well-researched arguments that say, in essence, “Here’s why you should give us a specific amount of money, and this is what we’ll do with it.” You can view a sample proposal outline here: http://www.hotwinds.com/Grant_Prop.html

shutterstock_500238862So how do you identify grantmakers with money to award? Many of you work in libraries that offer a richly gratifying database called Foundation Directory Online. Libraries all over the country make this resource available for free. Plug a zip code in here to find the nearest library to you: http://grantspace.org/find-us. FDO, as users call it, is produced by Foundation Center.

Foundations award grants to nonprofits. Most local library foundations and “friends of” groups are nonprofits. Foundations also give grants to government agencies, including schools and libraries.

Further Preparation and Tips

How to get started with that grant proposal? Use the database mentioned above. Read up on tips from successful grant writers like this librarian in Florida. http://renovatedlearning.com/2014/10/13/10-tips-for-writing-grant-proposals/. Check your holdings for books on grant writing and check out these two free classes you can take in person, live online or recorded from Foundation Center’s Grantspace web site:



There are plenty of additional resources on FC’s grantspace.org website.

Here are a few additional tips on securing grants:

shutterstock_113190907Start local: Most people believe you’re more likely to get a grant by hitting up foundations in your city, metro area or state.

Study up: Your grant proposal should send certain messages like, we read a lot about you, we know what you stand for, here’s how helping us helps you. Follow all of the grantmaker’s stated rules.

If at first you don’t succeed: Don’t be surprised or discouraged if your first proposal doesn’t get the green light. If possible, ask what you could have done differently. Try again with the same or another grantmaker.

So find those grantmakers, write your proposals, and don’t give up. The future is waiting—flying cars and all.

Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

Presidential Libraries

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.1200px-Seal_of_the_US_Presidential_Libraries.svg

As librarians, we naturally follow the ups and downs of libraries. Are budgets flat-lining? Are we having a mini-boom? If you build it, will they come? One kind of library seems certain to continue enjoying a slow and steady growth curve: the presidential library. We’ll probably keep electing presidents, and plans for new presidential libraries will probably continue to come along every four to eight years.



Model of The Obama Presidential Center

Many presidential libraries and museums have been built over the years, mostly with funding from foundations and private citizens. Herbert Hoover and every president since has had an official library. Richard Nixon has two libraries, one in Maryland and one in California. President Obama’s library is still in the works, but will be located in Chicago.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) manages all of the official presidential libraries, but there’s always a foundation involved in the development phase—conflicting agendas are not uncommon. This Politico article about how the Obama library will be different explains the complicated NARA-presidential library relationship much better than I can. Click here for article.

Why do we have presidential libraries? In addition to being museums and tourist attractions, they are repositories of all sorts of historic documents that are of interest to researchers. They can serve as a base from which a former president chooses to do whatever he (and, maybe someday, she) wants to do in his (or her) post-presidential life. NARA is most concerned about preserving presidential history and documents, but others involved may be more concerned with managing the president’s legacy and public perceptions.


Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum

Presidential libraries share a number of common features. In addition to the customary official displays, there are usually permanent and temporary exhibits about the presidency, history, and the First Lady. There are artifacts that you can look at but not touch, and often a replica of the Oval Office. This article reviews some of the more exotic holdings of these specialty libraries. Click here for article.

A visit to a presidential library could be a good way to get some ideas about new displays in your own library. You may not have the same budget to work with, but at least ideas are free. Politicians are prolific book writers, so perhaps there’s an opportunity to feature some tomes from local pols. What about displaying some non-literary items? Does your library have any kind of special collection? Maybe there are artifacts you could feature in a display case.

Let’s look at a few titles about presidential libraries:

Pres Libraries & Temples 2 Cover Combos

Presidents get to decide where their own libraries are built. Texas has the most presidential libraries with three. President Johnson and both Bushes have Lone Star State libraries. California is home to two, representing Nixon and Reagan. All the other states with presidential libraries are only home to one each for now, but one would assume that a Trump library will arise somewhere in New York someday, joining the Franklin Delano Roosevelt library, which is in Hyde Park.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, conveniently located near my house in Atlanta, has beautiful gardens, frequently hosts author events, and is even home to a Saturday morning farmers market.  They do not they sell peanuts.


Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum

Take some time to visit a presidential library in person if you get a chance.  And if you don’t find one nearby, this site from the National Archives includes a guide to all of the presidential libraries and museums.  It details their holdings and programs, provides links to their websites, and provides virtual visits. Click here for website.


Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

Some “Revolutionary” Books for Your Library

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.hamilton graphic-2

A popular show or movie can spur new interest in a wide array of older books. Although I am not a huge musical theater fan, I do live with one. Hardly a day goes by without a discussion having to do with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Hamilton.” And the coffee table book that bears the show’s name is on our coffee table!

Hamilton: The Revolution        9781455539741
Miranda, Lin-Manuel               04/12/2016


The idea for the show came from Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton. To paraphrase a little, it explains how the man whose face adorns the ten dollar bill – a founding father without a father – got a lot further by working a lot harder, being a lot smarter, and being a self-starter.

Alexander Hamilton              9781594200090
Chernow, Ron                        04/26/2004



Chernow also wrote a compelling biography about George Washington, the “Pride of Mount Vernon” and father of our country. Washington was Hamilton’s surrogate father, and Hamilton was his right hand man.

Washington: A Life              9781594202667
Chernow, Ron                      10/05/2010


In the show, Angelica Schuyler, Hamilton’s beloved sister-in-law, has been reading “Common Sense,” by Thomas Paine, when she declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and when I meet Thomas Jefferson I’m’a compel him to include women in the sequel!”

Common Sense                    9780062695529
Paine, Thomas                    06/06/2017

Federalist Papers Cover


Hamilton joined with James Madison and John Jay to write “The Federalist Papers,” promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, who was a non-stop writer, personally penned 51 of the 85 essays.

The Federalist Papers             9781631064241
Hamilton, Alexander              10/01/2017


Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, otherwise known as the Marquis de Lafayette, was America’s favorite fighting Frenchman and another fascinating character from Revolutionary times. Sarah Vowell put her quirky spin on his historic activities.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States             9781594631740
Vowell, Sarah                                                          10/20/2015

John Laurens Cover


Fans of the show and of history will want to know more about Hamilton’s good friend John Laurens, the man who promised to “sally in on a stallion with the first black battalion.”

John Laurens and the American Revolution        9781611176124
Massey, Gregory De Van                                        09/15/2015


Another notable line from the show comes when Hamilton asks, “Why should a tiny island across the sea regulate the price of tea?”

The Boston Tea Party: No Taxation Without Representation               9781499417265
Tovar, Alicia                                                                                              08/01/2015

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution               9780306820793
Unger, Harlow Giles                                                                                               03/06/2012

Tea Party + Tempest Cover Combo


The show-stopping moment comes from King George III, who is flabbergasted upon learning that his subjects have left him. He says, “What comes next? You’ve been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead? You’re on your own. Awesome. Wow. Do you have a clue what happens now?”

King George: What Was His Problem? : Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You …         9781250075772
Sheinkin, Steve                                                                                                                                  09/22/2015

The Founding Fathers vs. King George III: The Fight for a New Nation              9781482422177
Roxburgh, Ellis                                                                                                            01/01/2015

King George WWHP + Founding Fathers Cover Combo


Want to know more about the “damn fool” who shot Hamilton? Although this title is pure fiction, the main character is based on the very real Aaron Burr, and was used to develop the character in the show.

Burr: A Novel            9780375708732
Vidal, Gore                02/15/2000

Click here for an interesting article about Aaron Burr from Smithsonian.com



And finally, the dramatic finish:  “Most disputes die and no one shoots.”

War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Duel that Stunned The Nation           9781592408528
Sedgwick, John                                                                                                                                 10/20/2015

Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr: Duel to the Death        9781482422139
Roxburgh, Ellis                                                                           01/01/2015

  War of Two + Alex Ham vs Aaron Burr Cover Combo                           

“Hamilton” is in the midst of a sold-out national tour, with an educational component that is expected to reach nearly 100,000 high school students. Libraries can expect huddled masses yearning to read more.


Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

Oldies but Goodies Part 2 — Old Favorites

By: Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

Back to my favorite topic, old favorites for modern libraries.

y is for yesterdayWhen a new volume arrives in a beloved series, demand often rises for earlier entries in the series. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone “alphabet series” (so named because there is a book for every letter in the alphabet), is nearing its end. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan underscored the popularity of this series when she said, “Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters.” When the final book in a series is published, some readers like to start over again, reading from the beginning. This is a cue for librarians to check their holdings and reorder any missing titles or replace copies that are particularly dog-eared.

Library patrons often take a new interest in titles that appear on “best books” lists. One book that appears on many such lists is How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Originally published in 1936, this is a book that is still relevant today. It explains how to make people like you, win others over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. Hmmm…

how to win friends

Here’s what the New York Times said about the book on its 50th anniversary: Reluctant Dale Carnegie’s 50-Year-Old Classic

think and grow rich

“Think and Grow Rich” is another older title that is constantly coming out in new editions, updated versions and audio versions. Napoleon Hill explains that people can succeed in any line of work, and that they can do and be anything they can imagine. This one is a replica of the original 1937 edition:

by love possessed

One of my favorite assignments in library school was researching what was happening the week we were born. I will confess that I have never read this one, but the New York Times bestselling title for the week when I came into the world was “By Love Possessed,” by James Gould Cozzens (later made into a movie starring Lana Turner – Click here for details.) It’s still in print, and still listed in the latest version of H.W. Wilson’s Fiction Core Collection. Maybe this will inspire you to check out popular books from when you were born!

For reference:

  • Y is for Yesterday     ISBN: 9780399163852
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People     ISBN: 9781439167342
  • Think and Grow Rich     ISBN: 9780143110163
  • By Love Possessed     ISBN: 9780786705030


Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

Oldies but Goodies

Part 1 — Classics

By: Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

1984 covers 4I’m what you might call an old-school librarian. When I was growing up, my dad always encouraged me to read “important” books that would stand the test of time. Through my work as a Collection Development Librarian at Brodart, I often notice older titles that are still in demand at libraries across the country. Some of these titles are the kind of books they made you read in high school; the kind some libraries include in special groupings of “classics.”

What makes a “classic” a classic? There are as many answers to that question as there are readers. The simplest is probably one of the standard definitions of art: “I know it when I see it.” I’d say classics are often characterized by exceptional writing and universal themes. To illustrate, let’s look at two books, named below. Published in 1949, George Orwell’s “1984” has been described as a cautionary tale, a book that had to be written so that the things depicted in it would never come to pass. The book’s one-word title has been used endlessly to protest against many real and perceived wrongdoings. What’s the universal theme? I’m going to state it simply: “People want to be free.” Take another example: over the course of seven books and thousands of pages, what do we learn from Harry Potter? Love is stronger than hate. The message is timeless, straightforward—pretty simple stuff.

1984-HM-2Many classics have particular relevance to current events, like the recent interest in “1984.” I’ll let people draw their own conclusions as to how. This is a newly released edition, and the list price is, oddly enough, $19.84–ha!

1984     L H     Orwell, George Hardcover            9781328869333    
Fiction      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt                 04/04/2017



Sometimes an interesting older title will be released in honor of an anniversary. It’s hard to believe, but the 20th anniversary of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book is right around the corner. You can read about the new editions here:


Click above for article

Here’s one more great title of interest: “Millions of Cats,” by Wanda Gag. This picture book, written in 1928, is believed to be the oldest American picture book that’s still in print. It was a Newbery Honor Award winner in 1929. A bit of Brodart trivia about this title: It is the oldest title in Bibz with “hot” demand.


Click above for video

“Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats…”

Just for fun, you may want to watch this video of the book being read aloud, story time-style:



What are some older favorites at your library? Let us know! I’ll tell you about more of mine soon.

If you are a trendier librarian, or serve patrons who fit that description, keep an eye out for the upcoming post by my better half, Brodart librarian Fern Hallman, about the newest trends in “hipster” publishing. Stay tuned!

Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.