Top 10 Library Stories of the Decade

As 2020 approaches, we here at RAILS wanted to jump on the best-of-the-decade bandwagon. From our own perspective, we've listed the top ten stories impacting libraries (in Illinois and beyond) chronologically, below.

Did we forget something? Are there other events that make your list? Login with your L2 password and post your suggestions in the comments below. Happy New Year!

A Merger Forms RAILS
In 2011, five library systems in northern Illinois merged into one consolidated system, Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). The five systems that were merged were DuPage Library System, Metropolitan Library System, North Suburban Library System, Alliance Library System, and Prairie Area Library System. The merger offered an opportunity to create more cost-efficient delivery systems and greater communication across libraries in Illinois.

Libraries Launch the Makerspace Movement
The 2010s saw widespread adoption of Makerspaces in libraries - collaborative spaces where community members can access to tools and resources to aid in the creation of DIY projects. These spaces have included everything from music and video production equipment, 3D printers, sewing machines, vinyl cutters, synthesizers and more to foster learning and creation in an informal environment. Chance the Rapper recorded his first mixtape 10 Day at the teen makerspace (the YouMedia Lab) at the Chicago Public Library in 2012.

Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project Debuts
In 2013 a group of library marketing professionals launched the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, which is an annual contest is designed to leverage the power of libraries to recognize excellence in self-publishing. The program has expanded to include fourteen territories, and is continuing to grow both nationally and internationally. In Illinois the project now includes contests for adult fiction and young adult fiction, as well as a manuscript contest for unpublished work. In 2015, this project was awarded a John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award from the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) division of the American Library Association (ALA).

Every Student Succeeds Act Includes Libraries
On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. This act features language that includes "effective school library programs" and their impact on student learning outcomes. This was the first time school libraries had been specifically included in education decision making and resource allocation.

Carla Hayden Named Librarian of Congress
On July 13, 2016, Dr. Carla D. Hayden was confirmed as the 14th Librarian of Congress for a 10-year term. Hayden was the longtime chief executive of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system in Baltimore and had served as the former president of the American Library System. Hayden is the first woman, and the first African American, to serve as chief executive of the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world.

Libraries Shine During Eclipse
When eclipse fever set upon the country in summer 2017, libraries where there to provide crucial support and services. Many libraries held eclipse-themed programming or brought in speakers to talk broadly about astronomy-related subjects. Some libraries dispensed eclipse glasses, while other circulated STEM kids related to this event. The eclipse was ultimately a great reminder that curiosity and wonder are alive and well at libraries around the country!

University of California Drops Elsevier
In February of 2019 the University of California, one of the largest research institutions in the world, walked away from their contract with Elsevier, one of the leading publishers of scholarly research. The University cited concerns over cost and open access as their main reasons for ending their relationship with Elsevier.

University of Chicago Librarian Defeats Jeopardy Champ
Emma Boettcher, user experience resident librarian at the University of Chicago beat longtime Jeopardy champ James Holzhauer on June 3, 2019. She won twice more, totaling over $97k in earnings. Boettcher is a big fan of the show and even wrote her master's thesis on using text mining to help determine the difficulty of Jeopardy questions.

Macmillan Embargoes E-books
In July of 2019 Macmillan Publishers, one of the "Big 5" publishers of popular books, announced they would embargo the sale of additional copies of library e-books for eight weeks after publication. ALA, ILA, and numerous library systems condemned the move, which limits libraries' ability to provide equitable access to information and resources. Macmillan's move comes on the heels of years of frustrations between publishers and libraries over e-book lending.

CPL Goes Fine Free
On October 1 Chicago Public Library System (CPL) became the nation's largest public library system to eliminate fines for overdue materials. The new policy also erased outstanding late-return fees on all patron accounts. Additionally, fine maximums which prevent patrons from checking out materials have been raised to $30 from $10. CPL is one of more than 200 public libraries taking part in a national movement toward abolishing overdue fines in order to increase equitable access.

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