Ten Stories That Shaped 2009

It's time to take another look back at the notable headlines of the past year.

10. Censorship Lives On

We may as well get this permanent entry out of the way. Aside from the usual headlines, some of the more peculiar stories involving censorship included Harvard literally barring books, prisons banning political titles, librarian self-censorship, G. W. Bush giving J. K. Rowling the cold shoulder, and a jab over the hypocrisy of "banned" books.

9. E-Books and Orwell

News flash: widespread electronic book adoption is just around the corner. Well, maybe not, but upgrades in e-book technology continue along with new releases of Amazon's Kindle, Sony's Reader, and Barnes & Noble's nook. However the most important e-book story of the year would have to be Amazon's deletion of an illegal copy of 1984 (it slipped through their store) from customers' Kindles.

8. Decline of Newspapers

Dwindling newspaper subscriptions are so prevalent they've become the butt of jokes. But where will free aggregators rip off paid stories from? Even Reading Rainbow fell victim to the winds of change this year. What's next, school libraries?

7. Whither Wikipedia

Yes, the site's still around, but growing pains and a loss of volunteers have raised some questions about the future of the encyclopedia. I guess a project with the goal of "every single person on the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge" is bound to encounter some bumps in the road.

6. Aren't We Cool?

Libraries with video games are nothing new; I played games on a computer in a public library thirty years ago. But like the "Librarian Shushes Stereotypes" headlines of the past decade, all of a sudden libraries offering video games (and comic books) to patrons has become big news.

5. Judith Krug, 1940-2009

The American Library Association lost a lion with the death of Judith Krug, a fervent campaigner against censorship.

4. Bookless School Library

What better way to make your mark than plan a school library with no printed books. A private boarding school in Massachusetts is doing just that. Given that this approach is a little imbalanced these days, it is still a sign of things to come?

3. Google Books Settlement

The Google Book Search settlement agreement is a significant case regarding the future of digital copyright law and how libraries + capitalism = controversies.

2. New Moon Mania

Although the series has garnered mixed opinions, the appeal of Twilight to teen readers is undeniable. Many libraries capitalized on this phenomenon with events related to the New Moon film debut.

1. It's (Still) the Economy

Many stories on these lists are repeats, but for the first time ever, there's the same top story two years running: money woes for libraries. This fall the Philadelphia Free Library had to threaten to close to get a budget. Many other libraries have closed or had significant cutbacks. Here's hoping these stories come up less next decade. In the meantime, happy furlough everyone!

For the nostalgic: 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008


In Number 10-you mention Librarian Self-Censorship-but if I remember correctly, the two were not professional librarians.

Ranking the Google Book Settlement below some ephemeral teen fiction trend shows an enormous bias in favor of public libraries in this list. The GBS settlement will have widespread impact on all libraries, public and academic, whereas the Twilight stuff is absolutely irrelevant, and certainly not "top 10" material, to academic, corporate, or other special libraries.