This season of giving is a good time to reflect on inclusion, particularly how libraries reach out to underserved communities with their services. For libraries, outreach is about reaching out to those who don’t know how awesome the library is—to non-users and people with special needs that could be addressed by library services. In a renewed look at library outreach, we consider the what, why, who and how of outreach, with examples of three innovative programs. Read more »
The challenge to increase broadband connections and adoption is an action call to the entire nation. It has been likened to other large scale projects—the electrification project of the 1920s or President Kennedy’s quest to send a man to the moon in the 1960s. In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama urged the country to embark on “connecting every part of America to the digital age.” Later in the year, FCC Chairman Genachowski announced the sweeping Connect2Compete initiative to increase broadband connectivity and Internet access across the nation. The data show that nearly one-third of US households lack broadband access. The whole community of the United States needs to own the challenge and understand that the nation is stronger when every citizen is digitally empowered.
In Tuesday’s webinar, It Takes a Community to Bridge the Digital Divide, we heard the perspectives of three key “communities”—libraries, public administrators, and community non-profits. They each have a role to play in the implementation of the digital inclusion vision.
Mary Chute, deputy director for libraries at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), identified digital inclusion as a major policy area in the same way that transportation and highways are. IMLS is in the process of defining a Framework for Building Digital Communities, which defines the vision, the principles, goals and strategies that will help community leaders take action to foster digital inclusion.
Ron Carlee, chief operating officer, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), has been deeply involved in the development of the Framework guidelines, bringing the public administration perspective to the planning table. Ron acknowledged that digital inclusion is a large and complex challenge, that “no entity can do this alone, but any entity can be the catalyst.” He described the development process as a road map and a product of the best thinking by people from all over the country and from many different sectors.
David Keyes, community technology program manager, City of Seattle, added a more detailed layer from the perspective of a large city and a statewide community technology non-profit organization. At the ground level of implementation, David said that people get the concept but don’t necessarily know what steps to take to get there. Fostering collaboration and partnerships is one important strategy for building capacity and focusing the energy of the numerous organizations already in existence to help the disadvantaged.
An hour is so often too short. Although some participant questions were answered related to funding and the unique needs of rural communities, we ran out of time. If you have any responses to the following questions, please add your comments to this post.
Visit the archive page to:
Tuesday’s webinar on Organizational Storytelling for Librarians answered two burning questions about the topic: why the library should use storytelling and what makes a good story.
[Photo: Pawnee Story Bundle, courtesy of Kansas Historical Society]
First, the why.
“If you don’t tell your story first, someone else will.”
When you write your own story, you share your vision and select the elements that convey the vision most vividly. If you let someone else control the narrative, it will probably not be the picture you want to paint about your organization.
“Touch the heart to facilitate change.”
Facts, figures and dry logic don’t convince people to change. We all have “confirmation bias,” but stories can penetrate those entrenched beliefs.
“Stories are sticky.”
The brain is “neurologically organized to remember narratives” better than statistics and bullet lists. Even more so if the story engages the emotions of the audience.
“Stories build community.”
The concept of belonging to a community is powerful for people. When the library tells stories about its role in the community, it strengthens the ties among its members.
What makes a good story?
Most of us are not naturally gifted or trained as professional storytellers. Presenters Kate Marek and Chris Rippel both provided sound and reassuring advice for developing your ability to relate an effective story without formal training.
Kate outlined 7 basic ingredients for creating a good story:
Chris analyzed some of the key characteristics of story that draw us in and compel us to listen. I recommend reading his full article on How to tell library stories. Some elements that may be surprising include:
There’s much more to this story. To watch the entire webinar and connect to related resources, go to:
Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Leadership, Community, and Advocacy
“Size does not matter. Quality matters” (Susan Hill Pieper)
As an introduction to the revised edition of the popular “Small But Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library,” this one-hour webinar was indeed “Small But Powerful.” It packed a punch of great insights and ideas that will help small libraries stay strong, relevant, and vital to the communities they serve.
Jennifer Peterson, community manager at WebJunction, ARSL board member and chair of ALA Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee, kicked it off with suggestions for “amplifying the value” of libraries every day and everywhere through the use of technology tools and data resources. Reach beyond the library walls with cool tools like digital frame slide shows, social “satellite” sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), library calculators, and videos of non-library people expressing what they value about the library.
Susan Hill Pieper, director of the Paulding County Carnegie Library (OH), shifted the presentation into high gear with her no-nonsense advice and first-hand experiences that have built a community of patrons who “cannot imagine life without the public library” and will rally enthusiastically to support it. Counseling that “your library must show excellent service consistently” in order to garner ardent support, Susan discussed a host of strategies and tips for sustaining a “modern library”—no matter how small—and for broadcasting its value loud and clear. She urges libraries to be willing and ready to adopt new technologies but to examine them for relevance and meaning to each community. The audience appreciated her example of scrutinizing “self check-out” for its detraction from the one-on-one interactions that may be the soul of the rural community library.
Marci Merola, director of the ALA Office for Library Advocacy, wrapped up the session with a quick tour of the substantial aggregation of resources that ALA has amassed on behalf of library advocacy efforts. Their Advocacy University is a potent collection to get you amplifying your library’s value on multiple fronts.
This is just an appetizer for the full meal of possibilities. Go to the webinar archive page for:
[The following excerpts from the reports of three more participants in the Project Compass workshop before the ARSL conference affirm the power of the curriculum and the collaborative exchange of knowledge among rural library representatives.]
From Pamela Thompson, Director, Mason County Library System (WV):
As I attended the Project Compass workshop, I had mixed feelings about what our small library system could do in helping unemployed and small business entrepreneurship. With limited budgets I thought we were doing all we could to help our community. Unemployment rate is high in our county. After a half day in the Project Compass workshop I was wondering why we haven’t done more!! The ideas I brought back to Mason County were affordable and helpful to our community. I have already implemented various ideas at the libraries. I also realized that we are not alone in this “Not enough funding, what more can we do.” As I participated and listened to all the people we met, I realized that we all in rural libraries face the same problems, whether it be West Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Arizona, or wherever a rural library is located. By the time the day was over, I was more excited about returning to work to start sharing ideas and implementing programs in our system. After talking to the other WV libraries in our group, they felt the same way.
On returning to Mason County, I immediately came up with a game plan and talked to staff about what we intended to accomplish. In a week’s time we have two libraries with couponing stations, a couponing group in two libraries. Also will be attending County and Town meetings more often, allowing patrons to fax resumes free of charge, allowing patrons to print resumes free of charge and we will be starting a Computers 101 class twice a month at each library to help patrons get an email address, learn how to print resumes, or whatever the need is.
Thank you for the scholarship to allow us to attend an awesome workshop!!
From Hope Wilson, Fremont Public Library (IN):
The pre-conference workshop was inspiring and refreshingly well-organized. I had visited the Project Compass website before attending (before I was even aware of the conference) and had downloaded the Project Compass workbook for myself and the other two librarians on staff. The workbook is so resourceful that it can be a bit overwhelming. We were unsure as to where, when, how to begin.
Attending the workshop gave me the big picture. I now see that the resources are there when/if needed; for example, I don’t have to visit all the links in the manual before proceeding, because proceeding today is the important thing. I was able to return to my library and put some small things in practice immediately. Now, we offer free resume faxes and have purchased a new bulletin board just for local entrepreneurs. We can revisit the resources as we progress.
This workshop came at a great time for me as an administrator. We just added an online, self-paced computer training program and are asking the staff to improve their computer skills. Project Compass reiterated the need for them, as employees, to keep enhancing their own job skills.
I appreciated the positive, encouraging approach of the PC workshop. During my brief staff meeting I found that my employees felt good about what they are already offering and felt validated that their work is indeed a service in ways not considered before. For example, I don’t think that they thought of gardening programs as a help to the un/underemployed. Yet they well might be. This is not to say that the staff does not realize how much more we can do. They are looking forward to seeing the library meet the goals they suggested at our staff meeting.
The PC workshop was so beautifully organized and offered such great discussion ideas that I found it easy to pull out an hour’s worth for my staff. Next month I’ll be attending a six-county consortium where I’ll present a short summary to other directors. And next month we’ll have another staff meeting to measure our progress on Project Compass goals.
From Joan Pellikka, Outreach Services Coordinator, North Country Library System (NY):
We are a cooperative library system of 65 member libraries, all separate entities governed by their own boards of trustees. The largest library in our system serves a community of roughly 27,000; the smallest, 121. More than half of our libraries have annual operating budgets of less than $50,000; fifteen have budgets of less than $25,000. We have some of the poorest libraries in the State and everyone works very hard with limited resources. The ARSL conference offers programs tailored to meet the specific needs of the smaller, rural library presented by people who clearly understand that work environment.
My first day in Frisco, I attended the Project Compass workshop, which left me with a more focused direction for collecting and presenting workforce development resources on the NCLS web site. From there, my goal is to offer training for member library staff, who in turn will share these resources with the public. More importantly, I gleaned bits of information that will stay with me for a long time. The following quote was probably the most important thing I saw and heard at the conference:
Lifelong learning is not an option anymore; it’s a necessity. SMART is the new RICH.
~Bernie Trilling, 21st Century Skills
One librarian pointed out that this statement clearly illustrates the value of libraries at all times, not just in times of recession. Her comment, along with the quote, struck me very powerfully. Also during Project Compass, we viewed the video, Did You Know 3.0, which provided statistics that were, for me, eye opening. I am working on integrating both the quote and the video into advocacy efforts for our member libraries.
In the same session, we were reminded that it is so important to not make assumptions about job seekers. Highly skilled professionals such as physicians and pilots are finding themselves in situations where they must learn to assess their abilities and market them in another industry. We must be flexible and prepared to assist everyone with varying levels of expertise.
For the past couple of years, WebJunction has set up and maintained a presence in the major social networking sites; i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. (We have also set up a Tumblr page, but haven’t done anything with it yet). We have our Flickr page too, which we use to share photos. But other than putting little icons for those sites on our homepage and below our email signatures, we haven’t made a big deal about it.
Therefore, it has been interesting to see that even without putting a ton of effort into creating awareness of these satellite WebJunction communities, they have been steadily growing in numbers and activity. Last week we gained our 1,300th Twitter follower (with just a wee bit of prodding). Our Facebook page has 885 “Fans” (anyone else find that term embarrassing?) and our LinkedIn group has 531 members. And stuff is happening in these places: we’re swapping news stories and getting comments on those stories that deepen the perspective; questions of the “how does your library…?” type are getting asked and answered; and links to helpful resources are being exchanged. It has become obvious that social networking has taken root in the library profession. Actually, it appears to be flourishing.
It’s been fun to see all the activity happening in our little carved out niches within the social web, but we realize that many of our members are missing out on the information that is swirling through these satellite networks. In our member survey last year, 30% of you responded that you never use social networking sites. When possible, we bring the resources that are shared in those contexts to WebJunction, but we wouldn’t ever try to capture every rich remark, link, or connection that occurs.
So, it seems to me that our job is to better demonstrate what is happening on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other online spaces that you may find worth your while to check out.
To start, I’ll review each of the Big Three networks over the next few months, to give you some ideas of how you can target your social networking so that it helps you stay up-to-date with the news, people, and information that may be relevant to your profession. Stay tuned to BlogJunction and our Crossroads newsletter for this series.
The PNLA/WLA 2010 conference in picturesque Victoria BC provided my first opportunity to give a retrospective report on Project Compass, the year-long, IMLS-funded program to work with State Libraries and focus on building public library capacity to meets the needs of a workforce in crisis. After a whirlwind year, I could start to take a few steps back and look at what we (the big WE of state and public libraries all over the country) have accomplished in response to the economic downturn and the dramatic increases in demand for library services.
My slide presentation describes the scope, goals and phases of the overall project, and then focuses on the past, ongoing and future actions of the states represented at the Pacific Northwest conference—Idaho, Montana and Washington. To get the full-throated understanding of all the amazing work that State Libraries are doing, browse the list of Showcases presented by participants at the Project Compass summits. Nobody is resting on their laurels either, as evidenced by the list of projects that are being implemented in the coming year.
The most rewarding aspect of the year with Project Compass has been engaging in a vibrant knowledge exchange with the library community, not just with participants at the in-person and online summits, but with library people everywhere. From those who attended my conference session, I got to hear perspectives from the front lines and from rural libraries about what was needed to serve job-seekers. I hadn’t heard before about the need for wifi printers so users could print directly from their laptops and not have to queue up for the public computers. Or the need for space in small libraries; job-seeking can be an all-day effort and the job-seekers impact the tiny spaces of many rural libraries.
For ongoing connections, there is the community of practice for Workforce Resources on WebJunction. This section burgeoned since the start of the project. It is truly a community effort with lots of room for continued growth. If you’re on Twitter, use the #libs4jobs hashtag to broadcast news and events about the library-workforce connections. If you’re not a tweeter, you can still see freshly updated posts in the Twitter badge on the main section page.
Stay tuned for Year Two. Project Compass continues to augment public library services to the unemployed with a follow-on grant from IMLS.
Free 30-minute webinar series on three Tuesday afternoons in August: 17th, 24th, 31st
Communities across the country are pursuing a burgeoning strategy known as economic gardening, which works to stimulate the development of small business with the goal of growing a healthy, community-scale economy. Libraries can be key players in supporting and facilitating their success. This Libraries and Economic Development webinar series will expand your thinking about the powerful connection. Your host for the series is Shelley Walchak, a mover-and-shaker with the official title of Library Community Programs Senior Consultant at the Colorado State Library.
Webinar 1: How to Make Your Library Entrepreneur-Friendly
Tuesday, Aug 17, 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific
Christine Hamilton-Pennell literally wrote the book. She is an articulate proponent of libraries’ support for local entrepreneurs. Learn specific steps your library can take to connect with and support its local business community. If you’re at all intrigued by the concept of economic gardening, this webinar is a must-see. Hamilton-Pennell introduces the strategies and lays the groundwork for their practical application, which will be covered in the following two webinars.
Webinar 2: Turning Your Databases into Business for Your Customers
Tuesday, Aug 24, 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific
Your library may already have the tools at hand (or close by) to help stimulate economic development in your community and you don’t have to be a trained business reference librarian to use them. Presenters Terry Zarsky and Kathleen Rainwater will give a guided tour through the best databases for small business information.
Webinar 3: Going to Your Customer – Outreach and Strategic Partnerships
Tuesday, Aug 31, 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific
How do you let the business community know that your library is primed and ready to help? Presenters Suzanne Kaller and Colbe Galston will talk about how to get the word out to Chambers of Commerce, small business development centers, community groups and government entities.
For more information and to access archives and registration:
There are myriad ways in which libraries are helping people pull through the economic crisis. Recent reports verify this role. ALA’s State of American Libraries 2010 and the Opportunity for All report from the Gates Foundation/IMLS-funded US Impact Study provide statistical substance to what library staff know first-hand: “Recession drives more Americans to libraries in search of employment resources.”
WebJunction is building a community of practice around libraries and workforce recovery. We want to surface all the mega and micro resources, strategies, or stories to let the world know how libraries and their staff throw out the lifeline to the community in tough times.
Here are four ways to share what you know:
What is your story?
Workforce Resources will continue to grow. We welcome your contributions. Tell us what your library is doing to guide patrons toward recovery. Share your stories of patrons who were steered toward success with the help of the library.
Join us for a free webinar next Wednesday, July 22: Living Library Project: Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. The Living Library is a unique event that brings together people who have special interests, beliefs or experiences to speak with people from different backgrounds and share their personal story. In this innovative program participants can “check out” Living Books for a personal conversation. Both the Bainbridge Island and Santa Monica Public Libraries executed two successful Living Library events. The Bainbridge Island event covered such diverse experiences as life as a quadriplegic, a female police officer, a young gay man and an atheist. Santa Monica Public Library’s Living Books included a fat activist, a formerly homeless person, an ex-gangmember and a nudist. Join us for a free webinar with leads from these projects: Rebecca Judd from the Bainbridge Island (WA) branch of the Kitsap Regional Library System, and Julie MacDonald and Rachel Foyt from the Santa Monica Public Library in Santa Monica (CA). Hear how they planned and implemented the project in their libraries, and find out how you can create a Living Library in your community. For more information on the project see this BlogJunction post from last fall, listen to an interview with Ulla Brohed as she discusses the Malmö Living Library in Sweden, and explore Living Library documents from the Olympia Timberland Library. You won’t want to miss this one!
Mark your calendar on June 10 for this free WebJunction webinar with Nancy White, co-author of the forthcoming book Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities (with Etienne Wenger and John E. Smith). Nancy is recognized internationally for her research exploring online communities today, and in her work as a technology steward, designer and builder of online interaction spaces.
In this webinar, Nancy will focus on librarians as community technology stewards. She will offer practical steps for you to begin to understand your community, assess the technology needs of your community, and how to select, configure, and support the online technologies your community uses. Here’s a sample of her well-stocked slideshare account to give you a taste of her passion and commitment to building relevant online communities. The definition of ”technology steward” (slide 9 & 10 ) sounds so much like our work in libraries, that I’m sure there are many of us in libraryland who are eager to change our job titles!
I blogged about my CiL presentation back in March, after Sheila Kearns led me to the Digital Habitats project (thanks again, Sheila) and Nancy White commented on my post! So you can only imagine how excited I am to bring Nancy and her work to the WebJunction community and for the way it relates to technology stewardship @ your library.
It’s not too late to register for tomorrow’s Cookbook Celebration webinar with friends and contributors from the Maintain IT project. Why the celebration? Well, Sarah Washburn explains it best in her MaintainIT blog post earlier this month, to mark a time of transition for the project:
While grants have explicit start and end dates, the work we do at TechSoup to support libraries does not. TechSoup’s MaintainIT Project was funded by a 3-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that ended last month. It’s hard to believe that three years have passed, but March 31 just came and went, because nothing really changed for us behind the scenes of MaintainIT. And nothing much will, really…We’re continuing to support libraries and we’ll continue to share stories from libraries, so please stay in touch.
And we here at WebJunction would like to invite you to join the celebration as we honor the over 400 Cookbook contributors, share lessons learned from the project, and to let you know that the Cookbooks are alive and well on WebJunction. In addition to all three MaintainIT Cookbooks, WebJunction is home to the Cookbook Contributors Group, the collaborative group who uses and updates the Cookbooks.
You’re encouraged to join the group if you’re responsible for buying, supporting or maintaining your library’s technology, so you can continue to share your experiences, solutions and challenges with others. And we’re excited to provide a number of ways for folks to update and build upon the Cookbooks over time.
Please join tomorrow’s virtual celebration, where you’ll get top technology tips from library technology experts, hear what MaintainIT Project staff learned from their many conversations and library travels around the country, and learn more about how you can keep the Cookbook community alive on WebJunction.
In these tough times, there’s little more important than recognizing the efforts of so many people committed to sustaining strong and relevant technologies in our libraries, who have taken the time to share their experience and expertise so that all libraries might benefit. Here’s to all who have stopped “reinventing the wheel”!
First, a confession. I’ve been holding this list for months. Don Reynolds sent this to me back in the fall of 2008, and I’ve been meaning to post it ever since. Today, the guilt finally overwhelmed me, so I went in and checked all the links, tossed out or updated the bad links, arranged the list in chronological order from oldest to newest, and threw myself on the mercy of the court.
REPORTS ON CALCULATING A LIBRARY’S RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Compiled by Don Reynolds, Past President of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, and Director, Nolichucky Regional Library, Morristown, Tennessee
Updated February 20, 2009
Public Library Benefits Valuation Study. St. Louis Public Library, April 2001.
Library’s Contribution to Your Community. Illinois Regional Library Systems, 2002/3.
Libraries: How they stack up. An OCLC Report. OCLC, 2003.
The Economic Impact of Public Libraries on South Carolina. January 2005.
Taxpayer Return-on-Investment (ROI) in Pennsylvania Public Libraries. Pennsylvania Library Association, September 2006.
Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development. Urban Libraries Council, January 2007.
Worth Their Weight – An Assessment of the Evolving Field of Library Valuation. Americans for Libraries Council (Libraries for the Future), May 2007. Two notes:
1.) This report summarizes all the various valuation projects from around the country.
2.) I was having some trouble getting this to download, but was told by Libraries for the Future that the website issue is being addressed.
Vermont Library Association’s Library Use Value Calculator – What is your library worth to you? August 2007. (Note: Follows Massachusetts model.)
Return on Investment (ROI). North Suburban Library System (Illinois), 2008. (Note: Two calculators are available here, one for a library’s return on investment to the community, one for the ROI for an individual.)
Maine State Library’s Library Use Value Calculator. Updated 2008. Note: This approach also follows Massachusetts model.
I went to two presentations at ALA Midwinter that talked about situating libraries and librarians into their user’s online spaces. Both presentations made me reflect on outreach; of stepping outside the library walls to build relationships, of discovering the needs of the people using your library service, and of putting the library in front of people where they are getting their information needs met by other providers.
At the OCLC Symposium held on Saturday, David Weinberger (of Everything is Miscellaneous and Cluetrain Manifesto) and Nova Spivack (of twine.com and grandson of Peter Drucker) talked about the semantic web, and what it means for libraries. Both Spivack and Weinberger emphasized the power of the collective, and the importance of understanding the social graph. When asked by an audience member what it meant for information professionals, Weinberger said “you need to be in a smart network”, meaning, make sure you are on Facebook and twitter, or whatever relevant online community space there is. But make sure the people in your network are saying smart things, and pointing you to good information. You can check out the tweets of other attendees to get a sense of the lively conversation the talk engendered.
On Sunday, David Lee King, Cindi Trainor, and WebJunction’s own Rachel Van Noord gave a talk about putting the library into the online spaces where your users are and how to cultivate that online community space. David’s library in Topeka, Kansas is on Facebook and twitter with friends and use YouTube to share online book reviews and guides to using the library. But what he emphasized was that these tools are not just mechanisms to push out information, but are instead platforms for engaging their community members into a conversation with the library.
In the same talk, Cindi talked about how her library uses LibX, an internet broswer plug-in which literally situates library resources into online resources such as Wikipedia, Google Scholar results, and amazon and barnes & noble search results. Rachel ended the presentation by talking about the 5 principles of cultivating online community, re-emphasizing David’s point that conversation and leadership are keys to engaging people in the online space.