Perhaps it was the initial threat of cancellation that made my ALA Midwinter experience so endearing. Regardless, it brought about a renewed love for libraries and for all the amazing work of librarians, ALA members and staff, and for the organizations that support and sustain that work. Wearing more “hats” than ever, I traveled through the conference with others committed to showcasing and sustaining rural libraries, public access technology, workforce development efforts, youth literature, and equity of access for all! The weekend was a poignant reminder of just how grateful I am to be in a profession committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to public resources and services. I’m sending this conference report/love letter out to all who share this commitment, but especially to those of you who were back at your libraries doing the great work you do so well!
Directly from the airport, I joined attendees at the OCLC Americas Regional Council Symposium unfortunately too late to hear keynote Sara Lacy (recordings now available for all speakers at symposium) but glad to have heard OCLC’s Cathy De Rosa, share a preview of librarian perception data collected in a recent OCLC Membership Survey (See Public Libraries Snapshot of the data). Thanks to Jamie LaRue for highlighting from his notes some of the very interesting librarian perspectives on their library priorities, how they stay connected, and where they think OCLC should focus efforts. With WebJunction webinars near and dear to my heart, I was particularly pleased to see confirmation of my gut feeling that library staff are more often using webinars to stay up to date and to connect with others. Of the public library responses, 43% of library directors, 50% of managers, and 52% of librarians use webinars to support their ongoing learning and development. We’ll be sure to let you know when the full results of the survey are released.
Day two began with a visit to the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) Advisory Committee meeting. I was very excited to hear from other committees that work with the OLOS office and especially looking forward to the upcoming release of a new toolkit focused on adult literacy. I also learned about an ALA grant project with Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the American Dream Starts @ your Library project, which has enabled libraries around the country to develop and implement programs engaging English language learners in their communities.
Later that morning, I led the ALA Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee (RNTLOAK) meeting where we shared an update on the distribution and promotion of the recently updated Small but Powerful Toolkit for Winning Support for your Rural Library revised in collaboration with OLOS, RNTLOAK and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL). If you haven’t yet explored the toolkit and want to learn more, check out last month’s webinar. We also talked about our committee’s ALA Annual plans and are very excited to be co-sponsoring two programs in Anaheim with OLOS, ARSL and the American Indian Library Association (AILA). The two programs will explore Advocacy and Fundraising for your Rural or Tribal Library and Building and Sustaining Strategic Plans and Partnerships in your Rural or Tribal Community. And thank you to Stephen Matthews, our committee’s ALA Executive Board Liaison, for sharing the opportunity made available by Annual Conference planners for attendees to present or facilitate outside of traditional program presentations. Learn more and submit a proposal for a Conversation Starter or Ignite Session before February 19.
Following a lovely Saturday lunch with Texas librarians (at Cindi’s Deli, where I ate lunch on Sunday too! mmm), I attended a forum and group discussion on the Edge Initiative, a national effort to introduce benchmarks for high quality public access technology in libraries. The session included a “sneak peek” at a draft of the benchmarks and some insightful and engaged table discussions. Thanks to PLA’s Mary Hirsch and TechSoup’s Sarah Washburn who both provide a summary of their table’s discussions. WebJunction’s Kendra Morgan shared a bit about our involvement in the initiative in December and we’ll keep you posted on next steps!
Project Compass staff wrapped up the day with a state library focus group to share year-two outcomes of Project Compass and to get input on one final event we’re planning for the spring: a national convening of librarians focused on responding to economic impact on communities, supporting 21st century skills development and building sustainable partnerships. We’ll have more details very soon!
The OCLC Update Breakfast was, as always, very informative, even to this OCLC staffer! I just have to share one cool project from the OCLC Research folks, the WorldCat Identities Network, a new way to visually explore the interconnectivity and relationships between WorldCat Identities.
The climax of my love letter comes with Sunday afternoon’s Small but Powerful Forum, which brought together a small but powerful group of attendees representing state libraries, regional trainers, rural librarians, and my good friends from TechSoup for Libraries, to hear from Dr. Robert Martin about UNT’s powerful PEARL project, Tina Hager about her powerful Texas rural library collaborations with community partners and more on the Small but Powerful Toolkit for Winning Support for your Rural Library. But if you know me at all, you know the table discussions, world cafe-style, are always my favorite part of a conference. The all-too-short time to brainstorm the “core qualities of rural leadership” was a good start, but we’ll have to keep the conversation alive!
Early Monday morning, I felt honored to be invited to join in the great Midwinter tradition, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at this year’s Sunrise Celebration, Honoring a Legacy that Still Inspires. On behalf of RNTLOAK and ARSL, I was invited to join many other association, committee and round table leadership in a presentation of quotes from King’s legacy, inspirational speakers, and always my favorite, some singing! I touched base with folks who are co-chairing this fall’s 2012 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) in Kansas City. I attended the first ever JCLC conference in Dallas, and similar to the ARSL conference, it is an intimate but powerful gathering, with a focus on exploring issues of diversity in libraries.
And since I was up at that hour, I was lucky enough to attend the Youth Media Awards, the “Oscars” of libraryland. You may not know that I came to libraries as a children’s bookseller with my first ever library job as a children’s services substitute. It was a real treat to sit amongst the thousands of youth librarians gathered for the exciting event, knowing they’ve probably read most all of the books and have already done the work of getting the outstanding books into the hands of readers. You can watch the webcast of the event or videos of the winning authors and illustrators. I have enormous respect for all who bring these works of literary and visual art into being and for the committees who award them the recognition they deserve.
I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures this time round, but I do recommend browsing the ALAMW12 pool on Flickr to catch a glimpse of the love in the air.
As Louie Schwartzberg says, “we protect what we fall in love with” and so, may we continue to protect what we love, including our libraries.
It’s hard to believe we’re packing for travel to Dallas next week! We hope to see you at some of these Midwinter events where you’re sure to find WebJunctioneers:
OCLC Americas Regional Council Annual Member Meeting and Symposium
Friday, January 20, 12:00-5:00 pm
Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom EFG
Open to all! Join your OCLC member colleagues for a fast-paced, informative afternoon. We’ll start with a light lunch at noon. After a brief welcome from ARC Chair William Maes, you’ll hear a dynamic keynote presentation from author and TechCrunch Senior Editor Sarah Lacy, who will speak on “Mining the Fault Lines: Big Collaboration on a Richter Web Scale,” with Q&A to follow. Barbara Preece, ARC Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, will give a membership update, followed by roundtable discussions. Then, OCLC senior managers will share membership survey results and present on the Cost Sharing Models Task Force’s recommendations. The afternoon concludes with a social reception with the OCLC Board of Trustees, OCLC senior managers and Americas Regional Council Ambassadors.
ALA Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee (an open meeting)
Saturday, January 21, 10:30 am-12:00 pm in room D169
The ALA Committee on Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds (RNTLOAK) reviews issues and challenges facing rural, native and tribal libraries of all kinds, collaborates with ARSL and other ALA units addressing the needs of rural communities and serves as an advocate for and partner with libraries serving rural, tribal and native populations. All are invited to join this open committee meeting to discuss current initiatives and ongoing activities. There are opportunities for non-committee members to become involved in working groups and your input is encouraged and welcomed!
The Power of Cooperation at Webscale: OCLC’s Strategy for Public Libraries
Saturday, January 21, 10:30 am-12:00 pm in room C155
What is Webscale and how can it help public libraries? If you interested in finding out how OCLC is working with libraries to create a shared future through the power of Webscale and OCLC’s WorldShare services, which include the OCLC WorldShare Platform that facilitates app-sharing, data sharing and collaboration across the library community, please join us for this session.
Cathy de Rosa, OCLC Vice President, will discuss our future strategy and how it relates to what is important to public libraries. You will learn how OCLC’s WorldShare strategy can help your library to be more efficient so that your staff can spend more time serving your community. At the session, you will also receive a copy of OCLC’s latest report, Libraries at Webscale.
Update on the Edge Initiative
Saturday, January 21, 1:30-3:30 pm in room A130/131
Join the Edge coalition for an update on the development of public access technology benchmarks that will help you strengthen the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of public access technology services in your libraries.
The Edge update will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center, Room A130/131. This forum will provide an overview of Edge, share early feedback from the field, and provide opportunities to give input on the beta benchmarks (the first version which will be pilot tested in the coming months) and the tools libraries will need to utilize the benchmarks.
OCLC Update Breakfast
Sunday, January 22, 7:00–8:00 am
Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom EFG
Join OCLC and members for breakfast and an update on OCLC activities from Jay Jordan, President and CEO. Then, share roundtable conversation with colleagues who share your interests, hosted by OCLC staff.
Small But Powerful Forum
Sunday, January 22, 1:30-3:30 pm in room A308
Join rural library leaders in a conversation about advocacy, leadership and the newly revised “Small But Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library,” at a special forum during the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting. Sponsored by the ALA Committee on Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds, the ALA Committee on Library Advocacy and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, the Small but Powerful Forum for Winning Big Support for your Rural Library will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22 in room A308 of the Dallas Convention Center.
The forum promises to be a powerful and practical discussion for those committed to building and sustaining support for rural libraries. To maximize time and takeaways, the session will employ the World Café method of hosting large group dialogue, including presentations from rural library leaders and an opportunity for attendees to break into small group rounds covering a range of specialized rural library advocacy and leadership topics. At the conclusion of the session, attendees will share their insights and lessons learned with the larger group.
Featured presenters will include Jennifer Peterson, chair, ALA Rural, Native and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds Committee; Tina Hager, retired library director (Texas); and Dr. Robert S. Martin, professor emeritus in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University and PEARL (Promoting & Enhancing the Advancement of Rural Libraries) team member.
“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.
You may say I’m a biased ARSL board member, but after attending my third Annual Association for Rural and Small Libraries Conference, I stand by my word that this is the best library conference around. Every moment I was awake, I was inspired, motivated and entertained by 300+ of the most amazing librarians in the country. The conference program was packed with sessions filled with practical and actionable ideas for staff working in rural and small libraries. Our WebJunction table in the exhibits area provided us with an opportunity to connect with folks excited about WebJunction. And the many meals and hallway conversations let me reconnect with some of my favorite people in libraryland. As others have said, the conference feels like a small town, with potential conversations, or certainly warm hello, around every corner. [Picture above: So pleased to spend time with my fellow JP, Jennifer Pearson of Geek the Library fame!]
But don’t take my word for it! Guest bloggers have been posting to BlogJunction this week with their ARSL experiences and with reflections on attending the Project Compass workshop held just before the conference. Nearly 50 librarians from around the country gathered for the workshop that Betha and I had the pleasure of facilitating. As we worked through the Project Compass curriculum, attendees worked together to create a new list, Ideas for Workforce Recovery from Small but Mighty Libraries. Jami Carter, from the Tooele City Public Library in Utah, shares how the workshop provided her with terms, ideas, and collaborations to affirm and expand the work their library does to serve the community:
And be sure to explore all the other great conference coverage out there:
Thank you to conference planners, presenters, and participants for yet another fantastic ARSL conference. I hope to see some of you again next year in Raleigh, North Carolina!
[Jamie Matczak, from the Nicolet Federated Library System, Green Bay, WI, participated in the Project Compass Workforce Recovery workshop before the ARSL conference. The patron story that Jamie relates took place shortly after the conference and reflected a key message of the workshop training—to help patrons uncover their skills and learn new ones.]
I work for a library system, so I don’t get a lot of interaction with patrons. I do volunteer (when I can) for my neighborhood library, usually helping patrons with using the internet or laptop basics.
On Tuesday, I helped a woman named Rita. She is a retired widow, age 75. She had never used a computer or the internet before, but she wanted some part-time work at the local Kwik Trip. When she went to the job fair at Kwik Trip, they gave her a newspaper clipping with a web address and told her to apply online. She told them she didn’t know how to use a computer, and the Kwik Trip folks told her to “go to the library. They will help you.”
She was very nervous and quiet. Because of a medical condition, her hands shake. She kept apologizing for this, and I said, “no problem, let’s work on your application.” She did not have an email address, so I set up a gmail account for her. Her work experience prior to retiring was working for our Norbertine Center in town, which we also call The Abbey. She was a cook for 20 years. Most days she would cook and clean for 40 priests/fathers, two meals a day. On weekends, she would cook for up to 100 of them, and sometimes she only had one other person helping her.
We started working on her application. I had never worked with someone who had zero computer experience, so this was new for me, too. Because she had never used a computer and did not have familiarity with the keyboard, I did all the typing. We probably would’ve been there for hours if I had let her, so in the interest of time, she dictated and I typed. I told her that we could set up separate sessions for going over email, the mouse, computer basics, etc. We worked through the application. Rita was never late for work in the 20 years she worked at the center. She had a clean record and was willing to work any hours.
When we got to the section of “other skills,” she said she didn’t have any. Then she said, “Well, my husband and I did own a restaurant, but that was 20 years ago.”
I said, “how long did you own this restaurant.”
“About 30 years,” she said.
“Rita!” I said. “You owned your own business? Did you supervise? Manage? Do payroll? Those are all great, valid skills!” She confirmed that she did all of that, without a computer of course, but she still knows those things.
It took us close to an hour to finish, which is how long my sessions usually run. We we finished, she started getting out her wallet and asked what I charge. I told her nothing. This was something I do as a volunteer, and it’s what libraries are all about. Then she asked if she could give me a tip! I laughed and said “no.” She had tears in her eyes and said “thank you” about 20 times. I told her she could let the staff know when she wanted to meet again, and I would help her with other things.
I started tearing up on my walk home. It was definitely one of those “ah ha!” moments for me. It made me grateful for the skills I had and happy that I could help someone else.
I really hope I can help her more, and it would be awesome if she got this job. :)
How do library trustees get trained? How are director and trustee roles defined to ensure a healthy library organization? How are trustee relationships cultivated both in and outside the library circle? Join us on September 14, 2 pm Eastern, for The Rural Library Trustee: Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships, a webinar exploring these and other questions related to library trustees that will provide you with practical ideas and tactical strategies to support and advocate for your library organization as a trustee, or library director in a small or rural community. This webinar is brought to you by ARSL (Association for Rural and Small Libraries) and featuring presenters: Sally Gardner Reed, Executive Director ALTAFF (Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations); Kim Armentrout, Library of Virginia; and Jim Minges, Director of the Northeast Kansas Library System.
The Secretary of Agriculture announced in a 1/26/10 press release that the department has designated $100 million in USDA Rural Development Community Facilities funding for public libraries. The program will provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities.
For more information on the program and how to apply, see the USDA Rural Development fact sheet.
Applications are handled by USDA Rural Development field offices. To reach the USDA Rural Development contact for a specific state, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ – adding the two-letter initial of the state to the end of the URL.
This is a press release from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)–with my boldface added:
WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced that it has awarded the first four grants under NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program to fund activities in California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Vermont. The program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will increase broadband access and adoption through better data collection and broadband planning. The data will be displayed in NTIA’s national broadband map, a tool that will inform policymakers’ efforts and provide consumers with improved information on the broadband Internet services available to them.
“Broadband will bring many benefits to the Nation, such as job creation and innovation, but these benefits have been delayed by the lack of comprehensive, reliable data on the availability of broadband service,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “This program addresses an important need and will provide a valuable tool in bringing broadband and jobs to more Americans.”
NTIA received applications representing all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia to participate in the program, meaning that all governments that were eligible to apply for grants did so, whether directly or through a designated entity. The agency is currently reviewing the remaining 52 applications and expects to continue announcing awards on a rolling basis throughout the fall.
A summary of the four awards announced today is as follows:
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is awarded approximately $1.8 million; the Indiana Office of Technology (IOT) is awarded approximately $1.3 million; the Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. (e-NC Authority) is awarded approximately $1.6 million; and the Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI) is awarded approximately $1.2 million to collect and verify the availability, speed, and location of broadband across the states of California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Vermont, respectively. This activity is to be conducted on a semi-annual basis between 2009 and 2011, with initial data coming available in November 2009 to inform broadband policy efforts. Awardees are to present the data in a clear and accessible format to the public, government, and the research community.
The CPUC is also awarded $500,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in California over four years, bringing its grant award total to approximately $2.3 million. In addition, the e-NC Authority is awarded approximately $435,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in North Carolina over five years, bringing its grant award total to over $2 million.
“The four award recipients submitted well-formed proposals that are both fiscally prudent and serve as a model for others,” Strickling added. “We are committed to making the program succeed nationwide and will continue to provide guidance to applicants where necessary to help them improve their proposed projects.”
NTIA noted that the four award recipients submitted grant applications that met or exceeded program requirements in all areas. For example:
Data Collection: While all four recipients plan to collect data directly from broadband providers, each also described plans to collect or utilize data from other sources. Examples include wireless propagation models, speed tests, online and field surveys, and drive testing. Recipients also plan to use existing datasets that were developed for other purposes but are valuable for broadband mapping, including orthophotography, parcel maps, and E911 datasets.
Verification: The recipients will use multiple verification methods, and each also plans to use independent verifiers to conduct data verification work.
Collaboration: Recipients demonstrated that the relevant state agencies are committed to the success of the project and plan to be actively engaged in its leadership. Each recipient is collaborating with other state partners, resulting in plans that are unique to each state’s needs and capabilities. In addition, while current Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and/or broadband resources vary by state, recipients described how their projects will integrate and leverage existing capacity.
The State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program is a matching grant program that implements the joint purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA). The program will provide grants to assist states or their designees in gathering and verifying state-specific data on the availability, speed, location, and technology type of broadband services. The data they collect and compile will also be used to develop publicly available state-wide broadband maps and to inform the comprehensive, interactive, and searchable national broadband map that NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by February 17, 2011.
The national broadband map will publicly display the geographic areas where broadband service is available; the technology used to provide the service; the speeds of the service; and broadband service availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings. The national map will also be searchable by address and show the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding census block or street segment.
Awardees are required to contribute at least 20 percent non-federal matching funds toward project costs. In addition, while the BDIA mandates that each state may designate only one eligible entity to receive funds under the program, each state’s applicant will be carefully evaluated and must meet the standards described in NTIA’s Notice of Funds Availability for this program in order to receive funding.
U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on communications and information policy. For more information about the NTIA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov.
Library Journal’s annual Best Small Library in America Award, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was created in 2005 to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000. Register now for Wednesday’s free webinar with Nancy Rosenwald, the library director of this year’s winner, the Union County Carnegie Library of South Carolina. The library was recognized for its transformation into an “inclusive, modern, service-oriented, community center”. Come hear how the strategies and tactics applied over the past 3 years have brought renewal to library services in this tiny community in spite of its high unemployment rate and the library’s shoestring budget. Nancy will be joined by Library Journal’s Executive Editor, Rebecca Miller who will provide an overview of the nomination process and details for next year’s award. You’ve got until November 2 to nominate your favorite U.S. small library!
In September of 2007, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) was a new organization. Having just separated from Clarion University because of the impending retirement of Professor Bernard Vavrek, and the university’s subsequent decision to discontinue the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship, ARSL’s 12-member board was meeting that fall for the first time. According to Patty Hector, 2008-2009 ARSL board president, “We were fairly overwhelmed by the massive amount of activity that needed to be addressed and decisions that needed to be made in a very short period of time.”
About this same time, WebJunction approached ARSL with the offer to use follow-on funding from the Gates Foundation’s Rural Sustainability Project. The idea was to support ARSL’s website on WebJunction.org, and make WebJunction tools available to the ARSL board at no charge. The board accepted the offer of support as they helped the association get off the ground. Since then, ARSL has been using the webjunction.org/arsl page as their primary home page, along with ARSL BCR pages that allow memberships and conference registrations to happen as a link to that page.
I’ve worked closely with the team who managed our Rural Library Sustainability project since its inception, and served on ARSL’s board as an ex-officio member since February. In my time with ARSL’s board I’ve had a unique opportunity to observe an exciting time in the history of their organization’s development. Every member of the ARSL board has made great strides in developing an organization that’s truly poised and responsive to the rural and small library members they serve. It has been a great pleasure to get to know the ARSL board members and to be a small part of this work.
Two years later, ARSL is no longer a new organization. They have many things well-established now and are looking to step out into new directions. One of their areas of focus over the coming year is to look for ways to define their unique identity, and to be more responsive to their members. One way they plan to do this is to launch an all new, independent website. The vision for this site is that it be a dynamic space that captures ARSL’s personality and mission in a way that is appealing and relevant their members. Elements of this website, including the new ARSL logo, were unveiled at their annual conference this weekend.
Please visit their new website at http://www.arsl.info.
We are very excited about this development for ARSL and look forward to seeing the new site evolve. We also look forward to finding new ways to partner with ARSL in the coming year, as we each strive towards a common mission of working together to meet the needs in small and rural libraries. Co-sponsoring webinar programs is one idea, but there are so many other possibilities.
WebJunction will continue our focus on public access computing support for rural and small libraries. We’ll publish our Rural Update with news and announcements of special interest to those working in small and rural libraries. We’ll also keep you posted when we have rural-focused programs, webinars, or new content posted to the site. WebJunction will remain a great resource for people to find and connect with one another to support whatever you’re working on in your library. If you have ideas for topics, programs, or other things you might need, as always, please let us know.
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.
Coinciding with National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Joan Frye Williams kept the opening session rolling by encouraging the 280 attendees here to practice their best “Ahoy”, “Avast”, and “Aye”. One example of the laid-back, easy feel this conference always seems to deliver. Day one in Sacramento was full of tips, tricks, laughs, and fun. The presenters have shared their hand-outs and presentations with everyone, and they are available on the ARSL site. So if you’re not here with us, pull some of those slide decks and follow along at home.
A theme running through the first day’s sessions is to meet your members and guests where they are…go with their strengths and experiences. Williams told folks to emphasize their mainstream convenience (“Librarians are the only one’s who like searching. Everyone else likes finding.”), and stop thinking of them as clients and patrons (See: aforementioned members and guests). Bill Harmer stressed the importance of thinking like an entrepreneur, and getting out there. His mantra: “Don’t ask permission.” Just be passionate and connect with your community. Try new things. A senior “lock-in”, and a free monopoly tournament for seniors are two of the many examples he gave of connecting with that important segment. His slides give recipes for many of the successful programs that made Chelsea District Library the Best Small Library in America.
Finding a place at the table for everyone in your community is really the key task of those who work in libraries. Williams told folks: “Allow others to work at the top of their game rather than trying to prove you are at the top of yours.” That’s what everyone here is working on: How can I better serve my youth, my seniors, my tech savvy, etc. Which really comes down to leadership. Leaders don’t need to have the world know they are at the top of their game. They just act it. They succeed when those around them succeed.
Library board culture rules! So where does yours fit on a six-point continuum, from passive to passionate? At the July 31st “Motivating Your Board” webinar, most participants chose the middle ground.
Boards listen to three proven motivators—lawsuits, money and facilities. Trustee Jim Connor told how a meeting room policy caused a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court. Partnerships should include for-profit entities, too. And whether you repaint, remodel or get a new building, you’ve boosted the library’s and the board’s image.
Transitioning from one board to another can be thorny. The previous Aztec, NM advisory board loved high-profile partnerships that got national kudos. The new board worried about being over-extended. To bring the new board on board, director Leanne Hathcock:
One bonus for having a passionate board? It makes recruiting the trustee skill set you need easier!
I think there’s still time for one more Top 5 list as we come to the end of Birthday Week. Heck, my 3 year old still thinks that any package that comes in the house is a “present”, even though he celebrated his birthday at the end of April. So here are a few thoughts on the Rural Library Sustainability Project and five points to ponder:
1. It’s about connecting. The one thing that stands out from the hundreds of workshops and thousands of library staff coming together over the past few years, is that the connection is everything. There is no magic potion to address the sustainability challenges and struggles that libraries face around the country, but learning from colleagues and knowing that others face similar challenges is comforting and empowering. The Library Connections Brainstorm lists many of the ways our workshop participants decided they would stay connected to colleagues and information. Take a look and see how many of these you use.
2. Are we on the same page? No two towns and no two libraries are alike. While one town may have tons of community support but not enough space, the other may have a brand new spacious facility, but an indifferent community. The Rural Library Sustainability Continuum introduced common language and levels at which a library can begin to assess where they stand, and more importantly, which areas of sustainability they may want to try to address.
3. Just Act. John Wood, in his PLA address, talked about his staff living by the philosophy of GSD – Get Stuff Done. The Action Plan we introduced in the workshops was built off this same mantra. There’s no need to create elaborate plans that take days to develop and months or years to come to fruition. Start with the baby steps. Success begets success. However, you want to look at it, there is huge truth to the notion that just moving and “showing up” creates amazing results.
4. The Beat Goes On. When 6,000 individuals take a day out of their lives to connect with one another and strategize on the futures of their communities and libraries, the results are impressive. All of the Brainstorms from those workshops are available today and are ripe for the picking. Also, the Online Course, which replicates what we tried to do in the live workshop, is available for free and can be taken at any time. Lastly, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries is now actively involved with our Rural Community of Practice, and will continue delivering fresh content, and encouraging lively discussion and sharing of best practices for years to come.
5. It really comes down to the people. The best part of my day is gaining inspiration from all of you. Getting to work with the Brenda Hough’s and Carla Lehn’s of the world is a great fringe benefit. Seeing our workshop participants nudge the trajectory of their communities by implementing a small tip or strategy introduced to them in one of our workshops or webinars is what it’s all about.