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PUBLIC LIBRORieS

EDITORIAL
EDITOR: Kathleen M. Hughes

PL Editor

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Liz Boyd, Susan Dowd, R. Toby Greenwait, Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, Nanci Milone Hill, Joanne King,
Kevin King, James LaRue, Jessica Moyer, Tanya Novak, John Spears,
Kaite Mediatore Stover, HeatherTeysko

HUGHES

KATHLEEN M.

New Year =
New Possibilities

ADVISO R Y COM M ITTEE


Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, Palo Alto (Calif.) City Library (Chair);
Stephanie Chase, Hillsboro (Ore.) Public Library; Loida A. Garcia-Febo,
Brooklyn, N.Y.; R. Toby Greenwalt, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Brian A. Guenther,
Oakland, Calif.; Kevin King, Kalamazoo (Mich.) Public Library; Portia
Eileen Latalladi, Chicago Public Library; Norman L. Maas, Norfolk, Va.;
Jill Porter, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, Mich.; Celise Ann
Reech-Harper, Beauregard Parish Public Library, Deridder, La.; Mary E.
Rzepczynski, Delta Township District Library, Lansing, Mich.; Kirstaine
A. Smith, Buffalo, Minn.; John Spears, Salt Lake City (Utah) Public Li
brary; Nick Donald Taylor, Arapahoe Library District, Centennial, Colo.
PLA PRESIDENT: Larry P. Neal, D irector o f the Clinton-Macomb
(Mich.) Public Library, lneal@ cmpl.org

Welcome to the final issue o f volume 53!


Throughout this issue, we examine in

PUBLIC LIBRARIES (ISSN 0163-5506) is published bim onthly by the


American Library Association (ALA), 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611.
It is the official publication o f the Public Library Association, a division
o f ALA. Subscription price: to members o f PLA, $25 a year, included

SUBSCRIPTIONS
Nonmember subscriptions, orders, changes o f address, and inqui
ries should be sent to Public Libraries, Subscription Department,
American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611;
1-800-545-2433, press 5; fax: (312) 944-2641; subscriptions@ ala.org.

Contact Kathleen at

novative ideas and programshopefully


they'll trig g e r fresh thinking and inspire

khughes@ ala.org.

you to make 2015 your library's best year


ever. And we know resolutions often get a
bad rap, but they can also serve as inspira
tion. Check out "New Year, New Library!"

Kathleen is currently

(page 9) fo r a list o f library resolutions

reading My FavoriteThings

to stim ulate new and different ideas. We


love this idea! Visit Public Libraries Online

by Maira Kalman.

in membership dues; to nonmembers: US $65; Canada $75; all other


countries $75. Single copies, $10. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago,
IL, and at additional mailing offices.
POSTMASTER: send address changes to Public Libraries,
50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611.

Editor's Note

(w ww .publiclibrariesonline.org) to read
articles) online and add your library's own
this article (and all o f the issue's feature
resolutions in the comments. O ther good stu ff in this issue:

"Library Services fo r the 'New Normal' o f M ilitary Families"a look at


how one library decided to boost services fo r its large population o f
m ilitary families;

"M ental Health Training in Public Libraries"a library director's story o f


how he came to perceive patrons w ith mental illness in a new way and
instigated an enhanced level o f service to the group; and

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MANUSCRIPTS
Unless otherwise noted, all submissions should be sent to www
.editorialmanager.com/pl. See www.pla.org fo r submission instruc
tions. For queries/questions, contact Kathleen Hughes, khughes@
ala.org.

"Innovation Expo"a look at an annual Maker Expo held at Enoch Pratt


Free Library in Baltimore.

Also don't miss James LaRue's Perspectives column on executive transitions; Toby
Greenwalt's dissection o f the future o f libraries in The Wired Library; and John
Spears' Forward Thinking column in which he details Salt Lake City Public Library's
current proposal to keep the doors of its main library open 24/7, a drastic increase in
its service hours th a t some in the com m unity say is com pletely outside the library's
mission.
O f course, we love stories like these all year longso if your resolution is to get
published in 2015, consider w riting an article fo r PL. Check out our guidelines at
w ww .ala.org/pla/publications/publiclibraries/writeforpl o rju s t drop me an email fo r
more inform ation, a!

IN DEXING/ABSTRACTING
Public Libraries is indexed in Library Literature and Current Index to
Journals in Education (CUE), in addition to a number o f online services.
Contents are abstracted in Library and Information Science Abstracts.

MICROFILM COPIES
M icrofilm copies are avail
able from University M icro
film s, 300 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann
Arbor, Ml 48103.
2014 by th e American
Library Association

October 27, 2014


MIX
Paper from
responsible sources
www.fsc.org

FSO C101537

All materials in this journal


are subject to copyright by
the American Library Association and may be photocopied fo r the
noncommercial purpose o f scientific or educational advancement
granted by Sections 107 and 108 o f the Copyright Revision A ct o f
1976. For other reprinting, photocopying, or translating, address
requests to the ALA Office o f Rights and Permissions, 50 E. Huron
St., Chicago, IL 60611.

PUBLIC

Letters to the Editor

LIBRARIES

When I received my September/October issue o f Public Libraries, the featured article


th a t I was most interested in was "Urban Youth and Public Libraries." I thought that
it would be very relevant to my position as a youth collection development librarian,
and became very excited to see that my library, New Orleans, was one o f the three
researched. But as soon as I started reading about Crockett's research method, I grew
concerned. Crockett described Memphis, Baltimore, and New Orleans as "roughly
the same size." Memphis, w ith over 650,000 residents, and Baltimore, with over

continued on page 8

www.pla.org

PLA News
Ferguson Public Library
to Receive Special
Recognition at ALA
Annual 2015
PLA, with support from Library Systems
& Services, LLC (LSSI), will honor the Fer
guson (Mo.) Public Library and its director,
Scott Bonner, during the 2015 ALA Annual
Conference in San Francisco. This special
recognition will commemorate the library's
steadfast provision of services to the pub
lic during the 2014 civil unrest in Ferguson.
The library will receive a $1,500 check from
LSSI, while PLA will support Bonner's travel
to the event. The presentation of the gift
will take place at a PLA event during the
conference. More information will be avail
able soon at www.pla.org.

PLA Receives Grant


to Further Develop
Performance Measures
for Libraries
PLA has been awarded a grant of $2.9 mil
lion from the Global Libraries Program at
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for
the development of performance out
come measures. This grant will enable
PLA to accelerate development of its Per
formance Measurement project and build
an active community of informed users.
This project will develop simple surveys
libraries can use to collect patron out
comes. Related training and support tools
will guide libraries in using outcome data
for advocacy, planning, and decision-mak
ing. By collecting outcomes, participat
ing libraries will be able to demonstrate
the real difference they make in the lives
of patrons and the vital role they play in
healthy communities.
Building on the work of the Presidential
Task Force on Performance Measurement
(PMTF), established in 2013 and charged
with "develop(ing) standardized measures

PLA Midwinter Institute

not what they do. Library Journal calls this


approach "a 21st-century model worthy of
study and consideration by every library in
America, if not the world."
The institute will offer a chance to ex
plore, discuss and practice proven tech
niques to redefine libraries in a new, in
novative way; align your library with what
the community values mosteducation;
incorporate intuitive, value-enhancing
words into your everyday lexicon; height
en your library's visibility and stature; and
develop strategies that you can integrate
immediately into your work.
Gross led the transformation of HCPLS
to its current prominence as a renowned
educational institution, alongside the re
gion's schools, colleges, and universities.
She has presented more than fifty work
shops, seminars, webinars, and keynotes,
drawing the participation and input of
thousands of library professionals from
forty-two states and more than a dozen
countries around the world. Combining
these experiences, she authored Trans
forming Our Image, Building Our Brand: The
Education Advantage (ABC-CLIO, 2013).
Registration for the PLA Midwinter
Institute is available with or without an
ALA Midwinter Meeting registration. Get
more information and register at http://
alamw15.ala.org/register-now.

PLA is offering a thought-provoking insti


tute at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting.
Who We Are, What We Do, Why It Mat
ters: Our Distinctive Purpose" will be pre
sented by Valerie J. Gross, president and
CEO, Howard County (Md.) Public Library
System (HCPLS), from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
on Jan. 30, 2015. This interactive day will
highlight a simple strategy that will make
libraries and library professionals indis
pensable for centuries to come. Attendees
will learn how a growing number of librar
ies are repositioning themselves as a key
component of the education enterprise,
alongside schools, colleges and universi
ties, by simply changing what they say

"What You Said" is a new section of PLA ENews, with member responses to a ques
tion posed each month. Our most recent
question was "What's the funniest ques
tion you've ever been asked by a patron?"
Some of your replies include:

"Do you have the book Men Are


from Mars, Women Are from
Venice?"Ruth Arnold, director,
Staunton (Maine) Public Library

"Our patrons, who receive holds


notices by email, are sent a cour
tesy reminder three days prior
to an item being due. Recently a

of effectiveness for widely offered pub


lic library programs and promot(ing) the
training for implementation and use of
the measures across public libraries," this
project aspires to drive a widespread shift
in the field towards consistent collection
of outcomes data. After conducting an en
vironmental scan and surveying the field,
the PMTF identified core services areas to
address: digital inclusion; civic/community engagement; early childhood literacy;
economic development; job skills/workforce development; summer reading; and
education/lifelong learning. In 2015, an ex
panding number of libraries will be invited
to participate in testing the next genera
tion of survey tools.
Carolyn Anthony, PLA past-president
who established the PMTF, stated, "The
rewards for collecting outcomes are im
mediate: for staff members who will see
the value in the outcomes for people
served, for managers who have a tool for
continuous innovation and improvement,
and for the library that can clearly dem
onstrate to budget-conscious civic leaders
the real value it is delivering to the com
munity."
For more information, contact PLA at
(800) 545-2433, ext.sPLA, or pla@ala.org.

P U BL I C LI BRARI ES

New in PLA E-News

NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

PLA News

patron requested email reminders


on overdue materials every day
until she returns them ."Mary
L. Cantwell, manager, Roosevelt
Thompson Library, Little Rock
(Ark.)

"Many years ago I was asked by


a student: How much does the
state of Alabama weigh? Alas, I
was never able to find the answer
orfigure out how to come up with
an answer. I hope the teacher who
gave the assignment was able to
help the student figure it out."
Deborah L. Dubois, outreach dept,
manager, Mansfield/Richland
(Ohio) County Public Library

"I work at the WillaCather Branch


of the Omaha Public Library
and say that when I answer the
phone. One time someone asked
to speak to 'Mr. or Mrs. Branch.'
I also had a customer call and
want a book with photographs of
Queen Elizabeth I."Evonne
Edgington, manager/librarian,
Willa Cather Branch o f the Omaha
(Neb.) Public Library

"Sixth grader: Do you have a


video of Lincoln giving his Get
tysburg Address? I want to show
it to the class as part of my history
a s s ig n m e n tMichael Gelhausen,
director, Jack Russell Memorial
Library, Hartford (Wise.)
PLA E-News is a perquisite of PLA
membership. Get more information and
join PLA at www.pla.org.

PLA Fall Meeting Update


During PLA's Fall Board of Directors Meet
ing, the board reviewed the PLA strategic
plan (www.ala.org/pla/about/strategicplan)
operations and is pleased to report that
PLA is well positioned to help our mem
bers manage today's fast-changing public
libraries.
Two vital new resources the PLA Board
wanted you to be aware of are: (1) the
Trends Report: Snapshots o f a Turbulent
World (www.districtdispatch.org/wp-con
tent/uploads/20i4/o8/A LA _Trends_R e
p ort_P olicy_R e volu tion _A ug i9_ 20 i4.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

pdf) prepared by the ALA Office for Infor


mation Policy (OITP) and (2) the Aspen
Institute's Rising to the Challenge: ReEnvisioning Public L/6rar/es(http://csreports
.aspeninstitute.org/Dialogue-on-Public
-Libraries/2014/report). The Trends Report
reviews both major disruptions and new
opportunities for public libraries and is a
must-read for learning about key trends
and challenges facing libraries. Aspen
Institute's report highlights four strate
gies for success that communities need
to address to keep libraries strong for the
future: (1) aligning library services in sup
port of community goals, (2) providing ac
cess to content in all formats, (3) ensuring
long-term sustainability of public libraries,
and (4) cultivating leadership. PLA is well
represented on advisory committees for
both the OITP trends (Vailey Oehlke, PLA
president-elect) and Aspen Institute (Pam
Sandlian Smith, director-at-large) reports.
Both initiatives are funded by grants from
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
PLA President Larry Neal and the board
welcome your comments and feedback.
Please do not hesitate to call PLA at (800)
545-2433, ext. 5028 or email pla@ala.org.

PLA Sponsors 2015


ALA Emerging Leaders
PLA is pleased to sponsor Anna Coats and
Carmen Sanchez as its representatives for
the 2015 ALA Emerging Leaders program.
"PLA is focused on helping develop the
next generation of public library leaders
and is very pleased to support the Emerg
ing Leader program," said PLA President
Larry Neal. "We look forward to the posi
tive contributions of this year's cohort and
wish to congratulate Carmen and Anna on
their achievements."
The ALA Emerging Leaders program is
a leadership development initiative that
enables newer library workers to partici
pate in problem-solving work groups, net
work with peers, gain an inside look into
ALA structure, and have an opportunity
to serve the profession in a leadership ca
pacity. "I am so excited to be a 2015 ALA
Emerging Leader and honored to be spon
sored by PLA," said Coats, head of youth

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

services at Livingston (N.J.) Public Library.


"I am looking forward to meeting all of the
Emerging Leaders in person at ALA Mid
winter in Chicago and working together."
Sanchez, library technician at Rancho
Cucamonga (Calif.) Public Library, said
"I'm thrilled to have been selected as one
of ALA's Emerging Leaders! I'm looking
forward to the opportunity to connect and
work alongside librarians who share my
passion and commitment for serving our
communities and contributing to our pro
fession." Anna and Carmen will each re
ceive $1,000 to attend the 2015 ALA Mid
winter Meeting in Chicago and the 2015
ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco,
where they will participate in Emerging
Leader activities. In addition to their par
ticipation at the conferences they will also
benefit from networking and online learn
ing activities. The program concludes with
a poster session presentation to showcase
the results of their project planning work.
Learn more about the Emerging Lead
ers program by visiting www.ala.org/edu
cationcareers/leadership/emergingleaders
or email PLA at pla@ala.org.

Using ACRLMetrics
and PLAmetrics
Both the Association of College and Re
search Libraries (ACRL) and PLA provide
important data services. For library man
agers and administrators, the key to the
data's usefulness is knowing how to ex
tract and apply the most relevant informa
tion to managing a library and improving
accountability. Peter Hernon, Robert E.
Dugan, and Joseph R. Matthews' Manag
ing with Data: Using ACRLMetrics and PLA
metrics, published by ALA Editions, is a
companion volume to the authors' earlier
book Getting Started with Evaluation. This
guide illustrates how to use the data to
support value, collection use, benchmark
ing, and other best practices. This book is
an important resource for academic and
public library managers, administrators
and library trustees,
Managing with Data: Using ACRLMet
rics and PLAmetrics is available from the
ALA Online Store at alastore.ala.org. SI

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Presidents Message

PLA President LARRY


P. NEAL is Director of the
Clinton-Macomb (Mich.)
Public Library.

Contact Larry at lneal@cmpl.org.

Larry is currently reading How


Google Works by Eric Schmidt and
Jonathan Rosenberg.

Re-Envisioning
Public Libraries

Ithough I have to admit feeling a bit self-conscious about wearing Mickey


Mouse ears with a tassel after recently "graduating" from a workshop at the
M Y Disney Institute (Dl), the training from that day was nothing to laugh about
and really got me thinking about the Aspen Institute's (Al) "Rising to the Challenge:
Re-Envisioning Public Libraries" report released in October. 1 Disney's workshop was
targeted to a broad range of attendees from the private and public sectors with a
focus on leadership, creativity, and innovation. Al's report is focused on public librar
ies and offers a call to action for library leaders, policy makers, and the community.
The following are some of the interesting parallels I observed between the two in
stitutes.
Dl: "Don't be afraid to cannibalize your own business in the name of progress.
Innovation is as much about what you discontinue as what you continue or cre
ate . " 2 Remaining relevant has been on libraries' radars for the past twenty years
with the rise of the Internet and then e-books. While libraries have done a great
job at adopting and integrating these into their core service offerings, the no
tion that anything is sacred or forever is a tough one to move beyond.
Will the physical book someday end up on our "stop doing" list?
Dl used the example of Kodak, whose core business was selling
film for cameras. Rather than leveraging their lead in the de
velopment of digital cameras, Kodak clung to film and the
rest is unfortunate history. Al suggests that library leaders,
"Define the scope of the library's programs, services and of
ferings around community priorities, recognizing that this
process may lead to choices and trade-offs." and simply to,
"Deploy existing resources in new ways."
Although Walt Disney has been gone for nearly fifty
years, the company that still bears his name today contin
ues to be a remarkable success story. Yet, even as iconic as the
company has become and the traditions it has sparked in gen
erations of visitors, from a business perspective it must continue
to reinvent itself.
Dl: "You can't allow tradition to get in the way of innovation. There's a need
to respect the past, but it's a mistake to revere your past. " 3 We are in an experience
economy where it is imperative to orchestrate memorable events for consumers of
products and services. We are moving from transactional experiences to transfor
mational experiences. Al recommends, "Change long-held rules and operating pro
cedures that impede the development of the library's spaces and platform." How are
we transforming the lives of our users and when was the last time we made a library
policy shorter rather than longer?
Of course few corporations are better at marketing and telling a story than Dis
ney. As noted in the Dl workshop, "Research suggests that it is much easier to re
member stories than it is to remember facts." For far too long the library community
has relied on telling its story of success through transactional data, circulation, door
counts, computer sessions, and questions asked. Thanks to the leadership of imme
diate PLA Past President Carolyn Anthony, the Performance Measurements Task
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

Presidents Message

Force is working diligently to prepare tools


for libraries to better measure impact and
outcomes (more to come on this in 2015).
Al calls library leaders to, "Measure library
outcomes and impacts to better demon
strate the library's value to the community
and communicate these outcomes to key
partners and policy makers," and to "Com
municate the library's story of impact di
rectly to the public, partners, stakehold
ers and policy makers. Include the new
vision built on the library's people, place
and platform assets." Needless to say we
have a lo tto learn about collecting stories,
measuring impact, and then using them to
influence decision-makers about support
of the librarywhether voters, elected of
ficials or municipal administrators.
Dl: "To be successful in a changing econ
omyto ensure that people can perceive
the world in new ways, recognize patterns,
make connections between seemingly
unrelated details, ask probing questions,
and generate new ideasorganizations

must combat the tendency towards leftbrain dominance and foster whole-brain
thinking." This statement reminded me of
how library-centric our worlds are. It is re
markably easy to forget the broader com
munity around us that we serve. We think
that because we post a sign in the library
or send a newsletter to every home about
a service that these will become top of
mind to the members of our community.
Likewise, many often limit thinking within
the library bubble we live in rather than the
community as a whole. Al advises, "Engage
the community in planning and decision
making, and seek a seat at tables, where
important policy issues are discussed and
decisions made." I would further challenge
everyone to take it a step further as some
one recently wisely advised me, "Don't just
seek a place at the table, set it so that you
don't end up on the menu."
I encourage everyone to read the Al re
port and call to action. You may also con
sider signing up for the Dl blog.4 As Walt

Disney once said, "Whatever we accom


plish belongs to our entire group, a tribute
to our combined efforts." I am confident
that together we will rise to the challenge
of re-envisioning public libraries. Si

References
1.

Amy K. Garmer, Rising to the


Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public
Libraries, a report o f the Aspen
Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries,
Oct. 2014, accessed Dec. 4, 2014,
http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org
/documents//AspenLibrariesReport
.pdf.

2.

Pete Pachal, "How Kodak Squandered


Every Single Digital Opportunity
It Had," Mashable, Jan. 20, 2012,
accessed Dec. 4, 2014, http://mashable
.com/2012/01/20/kodak-digital-missteps.

3.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of the


Walt Disney Company.

4.

Talking Point: The Disney Institute


Blog, https://disneyinstitute.com/blog.

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Advertiser Index
ALA-APA....................................................................................... 33
Baker & Taylor.................................................................. back cover
Illinois Library Association................................. center catalog insert

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

VO LUM E 5 3 , NUMBER 6

Oxford University Press.................................................................. 25


PLA............................................ inside front cover, inside back cover

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Verso

Guest contributor AMY KLOSS is a paraprofessional at Lakewood (Ohio) Public Library.

Contact Amy at andrewkluga@


aol.com.

Amy is currently reading The


Essential Ellen Willis edited by
Nona Willis Aronowitz.

Shelving: A Task
Whose Time Has
Gone?
asked a friend the other day to describe the kind of person who works in a library.
"Well," she said. "A woman. Probably middle-aged." I then asked her what this
librarian does, and she started talking about owning a lot of cats. We didn't get
to the frumpy outfits she wears while reading cozy mysteries and watching MasterpieceTheater, but I'm sure that was coming.
"No," I said. "At work. In your mind's eye, what is this librarian doing at work?"
The answer? Sitting behind a desk. There's certainly plenty of time behind a desk in
a library job, but I've long known and have recently become even more aware of the
physically taxing nature of library work.
I recently began shelving trucks of books as part of my regular duties. I've shelved
beforeDVDs and a few books here and therebut taking a full truck up to the
stacks and putting them on shelves was often assigned to pages, usually high school
students working part time. Shelving seems like one of the more basic tasks of li
brary workfind the right spot, place the book there, move along, repeat. Little did
I know.
Recently assigned to shelving, I chose a truck that seemed to have been ignored
and thought, "Why is this one still sitting here after so many days?" Apparently my
coworkers knew more than I, because after I pushed the fifty pounds of books up
stairs and along the aisles, I was happy I'd been working out regularly. Then came
the search for the exact place for each book. As an average sized woman, I can just
reach the top shelves if I stand on my tippy toes and reach up, and of course there's
the bending down to the floor for the low shelves. Add to that the very large tomes
(do librarians secretly hate art books and cookbooks?) I'm carrying and shifting if
necessary. After an hour or so of reaching, squatting, and lifting heavy books, my
usual thought is, "This shelving is kicking my ass."
But the physical difficulty is only part of it. Add to that the mental energy and
visual acuity needed. Some of the books are very old with spines that are hard to
read. Then there's determining the exact location of call number 791.4302808664.
It comes before 791.43028092 but after 791.43028085. Wait, these are out of order.
Should I put them back in order, or will that put me too far behind?
All this being said, I don't mind shelving, as long as it doesn't go on too long. I
like physical activity and sitting behind a desk can be tiresome. There's something
meditative in working alone on a task with a definite beginning and end, and placing
items in order offers a certain satisfaction. Plus, I love books, and being surrounded
by so many is soothing and inspiring. Knowing the library's collection is also an ad
vantage when helping patrons.
But the physical difficulty of moving around so many objects of varying shapes
and sizes has made me consider the relative ease of access offered by e-books. It
would certainly be physically easier to look up a call number and send a digital book
to a patron through a computer. No one has to leave his desk. But will we lose some
thing important when the tangible is gone? Is a lack of physical activity really that
great? I imagine a population of WALL-E characters, floating around on personal

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

Verso-Shelving: A Task Whose Time Has Gone?

transportation devices, staring at screens.

patrons probably find getting books out

collection w ith the ease o f a digital one.

If we lose the ability to browse a physical


collection o f books, will we lose some

a challenge as well. Better ergonomics


could ease the physical challenges inher

For now, I'll consider shelving part o f


my weekly workouts. And the next tim e

thing more valuable than ease o f access?

ent in book collections. Or maybe technol

I think libraries could do better. If I

ogy has answers th a t will someday com

you ask th a t nice lady behind the desk at


the library a question, check out her bi

find putting the books away a challenge,

bine the pleasure o f browsing a physical

ceps. You m ight be surprised. HI

Letter to the Editor-continued from page 2

620,000, are substantially larger than New

The A uthor's Response

tober 2013. I also did a keyword search by

Orleans w ith our 343,000 residents (2010

While I appreciate your factual assessment


th a t the City o f New Orleans population

tion w ritte n by Myers, which is not much

is smaller than the cities o f Baltimore and


Memphis, the reasons the cities were cho

different than the 102 results I earlier re


ported. The emphasis o f the research was

sen was not due to th e ir population statis


tics but the shared demographics in th a t

on the number o f titles, not the number o f


copies o f each title .

they are m ajority African American and


struggle w ith issues o f poverty, unemploy

In addition, the subject category "graphic


novels" was used as a subject term to de

ment, and young black men who are both

termine the number o f titles in each library


system's catalog targeted to adolescents.

els fo r young adults, but I knew th a t number

the perpetrators and victims o f violent


crime. Since the original paper was short
ened fo r publication, this inform ation may

to be much higher. Currently there are over


5,000 titles under the "graphic novel young

not have been clearly stated in the article.


The main point o f my research was to

adult" collection code, and over 9,600 circu

find out w hat services and programs were


targeted to urban youth at the three library

Census). New Orleans also has four fewer


library branches than Memphis and nine
fewer than the Enoch Pratt Free Library sys
tem. I was surprised that the visual represen
tations o f the numerical data th a t Crockett
included were not at all weighted to account
forthese differences in size.
Then I looked closer at the numerical
data. Crockett reported that New Orleans
Public Library (NOPL) had 1,158 graphic nov

lating copies o f graphic novels. Although the


data in this article was obtained about a year
ago, I doubt th a t we've increased our num
bers by th a t large o f an amount. The same
goes fo r W alter Dean Myers books; Crockett
reported NOPL having "111 copies," and I

author and found 105 books in the collec

Under a keyword search in www.neworleans


publiclibrary.org, I found 1,277 titles for
"graphic novels." In October 2013, when I
conducted my original research, I discovered
1,158 titles.
I am very proud o f the New Orleans Pub
lic Library System because I am a product

systems in order to positively enhance li


brary service to the targeted group and

o f it. I was born and raised in New Orleans.

increase the future success o f urban m inor


ity youths. In view o f the size o f the City o f

I stand by my results, but I am certainly


willing to learn about resources th a t you

New Orleans, the results were positive and

have at your disposal th a t were perhaps

see th a t we have 380 copies. The online pub


lic access catalog, which Crockett used to

showed th a t the library's collection were


meeting the needs o f urban youth.

not available to me at the tim e I studied


your library's website. I don't w ant the

report these numbers, brings up 102 results


when you search fo r Myers as the author,
but there are multiple copies o f books under
many of those records.

As stated in the research, I conducted


my analysis based on an analysis o f the
three systems library websites. As a condi
tion o f the research, I was not supposed to

mechanics o f my study to overshadow the


message th a t libraries have a tremendous
opportunity to improve the trajectory o f ur
ban males by embracing them and putting

While I understand th a t the aim o f the


article was not to contrast the collections

contact the library systems. I independent


ly studied the three library systems' online
public access catalog fo r enabling books

enabling books into th e ir hands. I look fo r


ward to hearing back from you and working
together to prom ote a profession th a t we

recommended by authors Alfred Tatum,


Sandra FHughes-Hassell, W alter Dean M y

both love.Carlos B. Crockett, Reference


Librarian, Terrebonne Parish Main Library,

ers, and Coretta Scott King award winners.


Linder a keyword lim ited by "targeted

Houma (La.), ccrockett@mytpl.org HI

o f the three sample libraries, I must take


issue w ith w hat is an inaccurate represen
tation o f our holdings. These discrepancies
and inaccuracies are a distraction from the
much more im portant issue o f improving
collections and services fo r urban youth
Kacy Helwick, Youth Collection Develop

to adolescent" in www.neworleanspublic
library.org fo r Myers, I discovered 137 titles,

m ent Librarian, New Orleans Public Library,


khelwick@nolalibrary. org

which is not much different than the 111


titles th a t I initially discovered back in Oc

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Verso

JULIE BIANDO EDWARDS is Ethnic Studies


Librarian and Diversity Coordinator for the
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at
the University of Montana. MELISSA S.
ROBINSON is Head of the Peabody Institute
Library's West Branch Library and KELLEY
RAE UNGER is Community Relations and
Public Programming Coordinator, Peabody
Institute Library, both in Peabody (Mass.).

Contact Julie at julie.edwards@


umontana.edu. Contact Melissa at
mrobinson@noblenet.org. Contact
Kelley at unger@noblenet.org.
Julie is currently reading The
Name o f the Rose by Umberto Eco.
Melissa is currently reading Paris
ig ig : Six Months That Changed the
World by Margaret MacMillan.
Kelley is currently reading The Lion,
the Witch and the Wardrobe by
C. S. Lewis.

New Year, New


Library!
anuary is resolution time. Everywhere you turn you'll find tips and tricks for mak
ingand keepingresolutions to make you your best self ever. The New Year
gives us an opportunity to make changes, firm up resolve, try new things, and
generally set off into the future on the right foot.
But while you're pondering "Diets that Really Work" and "10 Great Ideas for Orga
nizing Your Home," why not look at ways you can resolve to make this year the best
ever for your library? The New Year is a perfect time to look at what you're doing,
what you want to be doing, and how you can get there. It is a great opportunity to try
new things and to reconsider the way you, and your community, view your library.
We've developed the following twelve "resolutions" to help you start thinking
about your library in new ways. Our goal is to create more community-centered li
braries and librarians, and the focus in the resolutions below is on how you can con
tinue turning your library into a vital and involved community institution.
We've organized these resolutions so that they start with a reorientation of the
way we approach our jobs, move on to specific ways to do our jobs, and then end
with advocacy and attitude. They all take work, and some take a radical rethinking
of how we see ourselves and our institutions, and how we prioritize our day-to-day
jobs. In some cases, adopting a resolution in order to make your library thrive as
a community-centered institution will mean reconsidering job duties, reorganizing
your structure, or reevaluating your mission. In other cases, adopting a resolution
will mean getting out of your library and into your community in new ways. Often, it
will mean venturing out of your comfort zone, challenging your employees, or push
ing your local politicians.
All of this is hard work, and we know that some libraries are already struggling
with budget cuts and staff shortages, among many other challenges. If your library
is stretched thin, get creative in how you approach these resolutions. You may need
to reconsider what you're doing and let go of what is obsolete or doesn't serve your
community anymore. That way, you can make room for what is relevant and truly
beneficial to the people you serve. Remember, just like all the diet and fitness advice
we see this time of year, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for libraries. Give your
self permission to only do what works for your community.
So, let's start this New Year with energy and vision! A great way to begin is to
check out these suggestions for moving your library forward one month (or step) at
a time.
l . You're not in it for the information. Libraries will always be about infor
mation, but we need to start prioritizing the fact that we're also in the com
munity building business. Feed kids, collaborate with local organizations,
help people find jobs, consider how you can affect the social climate of your
community. Yes, we offer books and computersbut we offer a heck of a
lot more, and our worth will increasingly be in what we can offer our com
munities to help them grow and thrive.
2. Worry less about trends and more about your community. In our struggle
to make libraries' relevance evident to all, we need to be sure that we are
not hopping on (and off) every bandwagon that shows up in library journals
and conferences. Not every library needs a makerspace or an e-reader

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

V erso-N ew Year, New Library!

3.

4.

10

lending program. But every com


munity does need thoughtful
librarians who take the time to
assess their community and dis
cover creative ways to serve their
patrons. It's good to be aware of
current trends in libraries so you
can imagine the possibilities, but
just because something is getting
a lot of buzz doesn't mean it's the
right fit for the unique collection
of people who make up your com
munity.
Stick the surveys in a drawer
and get out into the community.
Surveys are oneitool for gathering
feedback, and when used judi
ciously they can be helpful. But if
we depend solely on surveys to
paint an accurate picture, we will
end up with a narrow and shallow
view of our communities. Surveys
also limit the potential responses
you can solicit and do little to en
courage creative thinking. A better
option is to combine your survey
results with robust involvement
in the community. Join organiza
tions, serve on committees, and
talk to people whenever possible.
Librarians who are embedded in
the work and concerns of a com
munity have a much better view
of their patrons' lives, needs, and
interests than those looking at
statistics collected from a survey.
Hire for vision and fit, not skills.
In our experience, it is much
more important to find library
staff members who believe in the
mission and vision of the library,
and who can adapt easily into the
culture of public programming
and outreach, than it is to find
someone who perfectly matches
the technical skill set you want.
New hires can always be trained to
do library tasks. So in interviews,
lookforthe softer skills like ability
to think creatively and critically,
willingness to work flexible sched
ules in orderto accommodate
outreach, and a true belief in the
philosophy of libraries as com
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

5.

6.

munity engagement institutions.


These qualities, not just a technical
understanding of libraries, are the
most important when it comes
to creating community-centered
institutions.
Make programming a job require
ment. To create a truly commu
nity-centered library, you need to
provide opportunities for people
to connect, explore, and learn
together. Assigning this job to one
person won't work. It takes a team
to offerthe variety and volume
of events that should happen in
a library, especially if that library
wants to be a true hub of the city or
town. Some libraries have dedi
cated programming librarians, and
we are huge supporters of having
someone in that role to plan the
majority of events and coordinate
other staff members involved in
programming. Still, we feel that
it is essential that every librarian
hired forthe library's full-time staff
be eager and willing to participate
in these activities. Perhaps your
reference librarian would like to
offer some technology classes,
or your head of circulation would
love to share his or her gardening
knowledge. Time off the desk to
do different things is good foryour
staff and benefits patrons too.
With a greater number of program
mers, programs can happen at a
wider variety of times, and cover
a broader selection of topics. Both
of those things add up to reaching
more community members.
Use what you have . . . and find
what you don't. Limited funding,
space issues, constantly changing
technologies ... so what?You have
what you need: your staff, patrons,
and community. Among them are
grant writers, creative minds, and
specialized skills forthe sharing. All
you need to do is ask, make a plan,
and get to work. In other words,
stop getting hung up on those
things that are a struggle for all
libraries, and do something!

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

7.

8.

Learn a new skill. Just because


you don't know how to do some
thing now, doesn't mean you can't
learn. Sign up for an introductory
class, attend a workshop (and we
don't mean at a library confer
ence or library consortium!), or
develop a new hobby. Learn to
do something that will help make
your library the best it can be. For
example (directors, we're talking
to you), allow your staff members
the time to do things like take
graphic design classes to improve
library publicity; get certified
in yoga instruction so that they
can teach classes to kids at the
library; or attend weekend classes
to learn things like silk screening
or quilting, so that they can offer
library programs on those topics.
Why outsource web design and
PR, or hire presenters multiple
times, when you can train staff
members once and get these jobs
done in-house? In addition, staff
members will stick around longer
because with the variety of skills
they get to explore at work, they
will never get bored with their jobs.
This is a move that is good for your
community and also generates
enthusiasm in your staff.
Remember the magic. Remem
ber watching Sesame Street and
learning about community help
ers? Looking at libraries through
the eyes of a child can help bring
you back to basics in terms of
both what we do (introduce
peopleincluding kidsto books
and the world) and why it is so
important (is there a more magi
cal time than story hour?). It is so
easy to get overwhelmed with the
day-to-day operations of a library,
not to mention the budgetary and
political pressures often involved
in our work. Why not organize a
"community helper" day in your
library for kids and their parents?
Invite teachers, firefighters, postal
workers, bakersanyone who
contributes to your community.

V erso-N ew Year, New Library

9.

Encourage them to talk about


not just what they do, but how
what they do contributes to the
com m unity. . . and join in. It will
be a great way to remind yourself
of the good work you're doing,
share that enthusiasm with other
"community helpers," and recon
nect with the essence of library
services!
Be political. One of libraries'
greatest strengths is that they are
non-partisan. However, they can't
afford to be apolitical. Librar
ians need to be involved in local
politics, not to negate their role as
equitable institutions, but to join in
the critical conversations of their
communities. Develop relation
ships with politicians and don't
be afraid to let them know how
their actions affect the people you
serve. When a sticky community is
sue presents itself, offer the library
as a partner to help tackle it. In ad
dition to serving your community
in a valuable way, if you are seen as
a problem solver, you will be much
less vulnerable when it comes to
budget cuts and will have more
leverage if you need community
support for a capital project. Be

proactive now so that the ground


work is in place when you need it.
10. Claim your seat. Once you get
political, make sure that you are
advocating for libraries all the
time. And when you have a spot at
the table, don't waste the oppor
tunity. Always make sure you have
something to say, and be willing to
say it! Get yourself on agendasat
city council meetings, one-on-one
meetings with the mayor, business
council or Chamber of Commerce
meetings, and social organiza
tions. Give updates about the li
brary, even ifnooneasksforthem .
Show up prepared, highlight what
you do forthe community, and
don't be afraid to ask for support.
11. Send library advocates out
into the world. It can be a great
morale boosterto hear someone
from outside the library rave
about how wonderful libraries
are. But every time one of these
speakers presents the keynote at
a conference, we can't help but
think it would be more valuable to
libraries to send these super fans
to talk to stakeholders, funders,
and others who aren't librarians.
Librarians already love libraries.

Let's send our supporters out into


the world to spread the gospel of
libraries far and wide.
12. Don't be content with just
patting yourself on the back.
Libraries are great. Your library is
doing wonderful things for your
patrons and your community
and you are changing lives. But
don't be satisfied with where you
are today. Resting on our laurels
won't get us anywhere. We must
continue to grow with and for our
communities. Challenge yourself
to go farther, do more, and do
it better. Be willing to be critical
of the way things are. We're not
talking about being negative and
nitpicking, but rather about hon
estly assessing the ways libraries
can improve. Be attentive when
you receive constructive criticism
from patrons and stakeholders.
In fact, seek out those who can
tell you the truth about what the
library could be doing better.
Community-centered libraries
must be forward thinking. Enjoy
today's success, but always ask
yourself "What's next?" HI

NEH Grants ALA $1.5 Million for Latino Americans Programming Initiative
The American Library Association (ALA) has been granted nearly $1.5 million by the National Endowment forthe Humanities (NEH)
in support of "Latino Americans: 500 Years of History," a public programming initiative for libraries and other cultural institutions.
Latino Americans: 500 Years of History will support the American public's exploration of the rich and varied history and experiences
of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries and who have become the country's largest minority
group, with more than 50 million people.
The funding received by ALA will be passed on to libraries, humanities councils, and other nonprofit organizations to hold public
film screenings, local history exhibitions, multimedia projects, and other programs about Latino history and culture.The cornerstone of
the project is the six-part, NEH-supported documentary film Latino Americans, created for PBS by theWETA public television station.
"Lifelong learning is a critical part of what libraries offer, and ALA is committed to helping libraries fulfill that mission through
quality programs like Latino Americans: 500 Years of History,"said Keith Michael Fiels, ALA's executive director. "I am so pleased that,
thanks to NEH's support, this initiative will reach hundreds of thousands of Americans."
Additional information and application guidelines for Latino Americans: 500 Years of History will be released in February 2015. The
grant will be administered by ALA's Public Programs Office.
At $1,484,032, ALA's grant was the largest of 233 humanities grants, totaling $17.9 million, announced by NEH on December 9,
2014. Get more information at www.ala.org/offices/ppo. HI

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

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11

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Tales from the Front

Contributing Editor
BRITTA KRABILL is Head
Librarian/Library Director
forColumbia (III.) Public
Library.

Contact Britta at brittakrabill@


columbialibrary.org.

Britta is currently reading Salvage


by Alexandra Duncan.

Tales from the Front focuses on best practices


and innovative ideas from libraries nationwide.

I Work at a Public
Library
ustomer service can be one of the most challenging aspects of the job for
frontline staff, but it is arguably the most important part of a patron's library
experience. Whether someone continues to use the library depends greatly
on the type of service he or she receives from the staff. I've seen patrons literally cut
up their library cards and demand to be deleted from the library database after be
ing given poor service. I've also seen patrons whose conversations with library staff
are the only interaction they have with other human beings, and they depend on the
library to remind them that they're not alone. Even those patrons who challenge us
deserve the best service we can give, and those are the experiences that often give
us the best stories. Gina Sheridan, a librarian at the St. Louis County (Mo.) Public
Library (SLCPL), has curated (and categorized into classes) a collection of strange,
humorous, and heartwarming public library patron interactions in her new book, /
Work at a Public Library: A Collection o f Crazy Stories from the Stacks. 1
After becoming a public librarian in Fresno (Calif.), Sheridan found that her friends
enjoyed hearing stories about what was going on at work. After having an encounter
in 2010 with a patron who dubbed herself "Cuckoo," she started writing down her
own experiences with patrons on a Tumblr blog (http://iworkatapubliclibrary.com) in
order to keep track of her interactions with her more memorable patrons.2The blog
started to take off and other library staff from across the country began submitting
their own stories and experiences. Not only did the blog inspire the book, but it also
won the RiverfrontTimes' Best Blog St. Louis 2014 award.3
Both the blog and the book are kept as anonymous and as neutral in tone as pos
sible. However, the stories require no spin in order to entertain the reader. For ex
ample, who of us has not had to deal with unrealistic expectations from patrons?

Library, Margaritas
A sweaty patron walked up to the desk on a very hot day.
Patron: Where is the margarita machine?
Me: [chuckles]: That's funny; it is hot out there.
Patron: [Stares at me with a straightface.]
Me: Oh, did you think we had margaritas? Did someone say we had margaritas?!
Patron: [Keeps staring.]
Me: I'm sorry. We don't serve margaritas at the library.
Patron: [Turns around and walks away.Y

Not only do patrons occasionally come into the library looking for something
we just can't provide, but it can also be difficult interpreting what they tell us they
want. All of us, whether professionals or paraprofessionals, have undoubtedly had
to use our reference skills to determine whether or not a patron is asking forthe item
they've envisioned.
12

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53. N U M B E R 6

Tales from the Front

A C ollection o

Ocean, The
Patron: Would you please order me a
movie called The Ocean?
Me: Sure! Is that the exact title?
Patron: Yes . . . well, maybe.
Me: Is it a movie about oceans?
Patron: I'm not sure.
Me: Can you describe it?
Patron: No, a friend just recommended
it.
Me: Do you think you are referring
to the marine animal documentary
called Oceans?
Patron: No, I'm sure it's a real movie,
not a nature movie. My friend said there
were three parts.
Me: It wouldn't happen to be Ocean's
Eleven, would it?
Patron: That's it!5

Even when our experiences seem more


like a storyline from Parks and Recreation
than actual occurrences in a public library
environment, there are those interactions
with patrons that let you know that you're
appreciated, and that the work you do is
important. Sheridan devotes an entire
chapter to them at the end of her book,
appropriately titled "809.9339: Volumes of
Gratitude."
Thanks, Giving
Today around noon, a man I didn't
recognize came into the library with
several huge platters of food from a
local restaurant.
Man: I thought I'd cateryourstaff's lunch
today! [Places platters on the counter.]
You all helped me apply for a job last
year when I was at my lowest. Well, I got
the job and never forgot it. I wanted to
do something for you.

Sheridan inspired me to
write down some of my own
stories from the past nine
years as a public librarian. I
don't want to forget the feel
ing I had when a previously
grumbly and very intimidat
ing gentleman thanked me
profusely for providing him
with the books he needed
to start his own computer
repair business. And now
that I can look back on it with
humor, I definitely want to
remember all the details I
can about the time a patron
lodged a formal complaint
about me with my supervi
sor because I was not fluent
in French. Remembering how I've dealt with
patrons in different situations in the past
helps with developing more successful cus
tomer service strategies, for use in future
interactions.
Keeping track o f the interactions we
have with library patrons is important.
Certainly, it's nice to have qualitative in
formation for when you need to make a
point to a grant committee or your board
of trustees. Also, we can share these expe
riences with future librarians and library
workers to help them have a more realis
tic idea of what it's like in the field and the
type of customer service skills they'll be
expected to develop.
More importantly, stories like this re
mind us why we do what we do, show the
rest of the world just how important li
braries are, and prove that the stereotype
of library workers sitting around all day,
stamping books or playing with puppets,
is completely untrue. 91

from th. c" * i r tori,.


O tacks

G in a

S h e rid a n

/er of her

References
1.

Gina Sheridan, I Work at a Public


Library: A Collection o f Crazy Stories
from the Stacks (Fairfield, Ohio: Adams
Media, 2014).

2.

Sheridan, interview with the author,


Oct. 29, 2014.

3.

RiverfrontTimes, "Best Blog St. Louis


2014: 1Work at a Public Library," Sept.
2014, accessed Nov. 7, 2014, www.river
fronttimes.com/bestof/2014/award
/best-blog-2448689.

4.

Sheridan, / Work at a Public Library, 57.

5.

I Work at a Public Library blog, "Ocean,


The," Feb. 20, 2014, accessed Nov. 7,
2014, http://iworkatapubliclibrary
.com/post/77278675779/ocean-the.

6.

Sheridan, / Work at a Public Library,


143-

Me: [Thanking him with tears in my eyes,


and then he quickly leaves. ] 6

F O L L O W P L ON T W I T T E R @P U B LI B O N LI N E

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

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13

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Perspectives

Contributing Editor
JAMES LARUE is CEO,
LaRue Associates
Consulting, in Castle
Rock (Colo.).

Contact James atjlarue@jlarue


.com.

Perspectives offers varied viewpoints on subjects


of interest to the public library profession.

Executive
Transitions
The Interim Director

James is currently reading The


Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and
Stephen Baxter.

t's inevitable. Directors come and directors go. And now, the long heralded re
tirement of one generation of leaders (Baby Boomers), and the rise of two oth
ers (Gen-Xers and M illennial), is finally materializing. We're about to see a lot of
change in the nation's libraries.
In this column, we look at an option that may be of interest to boards, retired
directors, associate directors, ambitious or curious staff, and freelancers: the interim
director. This is the person who agrees to fill the gap between one appointed director
and another.
Wicky Sleight offers a solid introduction to the issues, packed with insight and
good advice. I was particularly taken with her presentation of the practices of in
terim ministers. I also think the options to "clean it up, shore it up, keep it up, ramp
it up, or start it up" provide a powerful lens for the examination of organizational
needs. Also, as Sleight demonstrates, the "interim" director may well become the
new director.
Brenda Cams offers a deeply felt meditation on a situation that is not unique.
As many of us have learned, sometimes the "fit" between director and board goes
south in a hurry, and it can be painful for all parties. So what do you do after you lose
a job, and take that hit in confidence? One answer is to step in and help another in
stitution get back on its feet after its own rocky executive transition. In the process,
there just might be a kind of redemption and rediscovery.
Finally, I tapped my relationship with my own interim successor to meet deadline
(and will try not to rely on Douglas County [Colo.] Libraries in the future!) to tap Ro
chelle Logan for her thoughts from someone who didn't want the permanent job, but
was distinctly intrigued to try it. As always, she came through for me. I spent a lot of
time in my last years as director thinking about "succession planning"which in my
view requires providing a "deep bench" of potential candidates and team skills. Then I
let it goand it's a pleasure to watch (from a distance!) that executive transition unfold.

Hiring an Interim Library Director-Why, When, and How


W i c k y S l e i g h t , D i r e c t o r , M a r s h a l l ( M o .) P u b l i c L i b r a r y ,
WICKY@MARSHALLMOLIBRARY.ORG

When and how to hire an interim director? Every situation is different and there are
no clear-cut guidelines. When a library director resigns abruptly, or is asked to resign
immediately, there is probably a need for an interim director. However, if a direc
tor gives at least six months to a year notice, usually with the intention of retiring,
14

P U B L IC L IB R A R IE S

V O L U M E 53 . N U M B E R 6

Perspectives

that director then becomes in essence an


interim director.
According to Dan Bradbury, managing
partner of Bradbury Associates/Gossage
Sager, a library executive recruiting firm,
it takes an average of six months for a li
brary board to find and hire a director. The
process entails choosing a search firm;
semi-finalist and finalist candidate inter
views; and the time the new candidate
may be required to give to his/her current
employer. The board also has to take into
account the time of year. "It is difficult to
get commitments to convene a volunteer
committee either in August (a popular
family vacation period) or the week of
Thanksgiving through the first of the new
year," Bradbury said.1
Given that hiring the library director
is one of the three most important func
tions of a library boardthe other two
being making certain that the library has
sufficient funds with which to operate and
setting policiesthe board must engage
in serious soul-searching and planning as
to hiring an interim director. Should the in
terim director be a current staff member?
If so, should it be a staff member who is
possibly interested in applying for the di
rector position? If the library is very small,
with the director being the only profes
sional librarian, there may be no internal
candidates. Or should it be a staff member
who is neither qualified nor interested in
the permanent position? If a staff member
serving as interim directorthen applies for
the permanent position, he or she should
be required to apply and interview along
with other outside candidates.
Many consultants will state that the li
brary should be cautious about using an ex
isting staff member as interim director. Tim
Wolfred, senior projects director at CompassPoint Nonprofits Services in San Fran
cisco, said, "If you are looking fora culture
shift, an internal person usually can't do the
job, because he or she is part of the status
quo."2 He also points to the awkwardness
that can arise when an internal interim
moves back into his or her previous role.
It is interesting to note that, in some
denominations, churches require that
interim pastors not take the permanent
position. These interims must go through

"interim training" and they receive cer


tificates stating that they are qualified.
Of course, one of the main differences be
tween interims in churches and libraries is
that interim pastors receive either housing
or a housing allowance. Most public librar
ies would not be in a position financially to
provide this.
If the board decides to hire an interim
director from the outside, there are sev
eral options. Bradbury Associates can
provide a list of possible candidates who
are qualified and interested in serving as
an interim director. Many of those on the
list will be retired and/or do public library
consulting. Pro Libra Associates is a library
service company located in New Jersey,
which was founded by a professional li
brarian in 1975. It provides many services
to libraries, including securing interim di
rectors. The interim director is an employ
ee of Pro Libra and the library pays Pro Li
bra, which in turn reimburses the interim.
Pro Libra provides a checklist of duties for
the interim. The goal is to make the transi
tion from interim director to a permanent
director as seamless as possible.
What should the Board of Trustees ex
pect from the interim and what should an
interim director expect? The first order of
business, after choosing the interim, is to
provide a contract. The library attorney
must be involved in this process. The con
tract will usually include:

date of commencement of the


interim directorship;

duties and responsibilities, such


as general operation of the library
and consulting with the Board of
Trustees during the interview and
selection process for the perma
nent director;

working hours;

vacation and sick leave;

compensation amount - usually


the interim will not be entitled to
any health, dental, hospitaliza
tion, life or disability insurance
benefits, retirement or pension
fund and any increase in the
monthly contract amount;

to the extent permitted by law,


the interim agrees to waive his/
her rights underthe state's workPUBLIC LIBRARIES

ers' compensation law and the


right to apply for unemployment
compensation upon termination
of the contract;

professional development respon


sibilities;

prior notice required to terminate


the contract, usually thirty (30)
days; and

signature of the interim and the


president of the Board of Trust
ees.
As stated previously, during the plan
ning process of hiring, the Board must
engage in serious planning with goals set
for the interim director. They will need to
prepare a checklist for the interim, includ
ing the necessary paperwork. This may
include copies of the library policies and
procedures; a list of staff members with
job descriptions; up-to-date strategic
planning documents; recent annual re
ports; demographics of the community;
newsletters and other external commu
nications; reporting requirements to the
state library and other entities; and expec
tations for community involvement such
as with the local chamber of commerce.
The Board also needs to take stock of
their expectations, in addition to the ulti
mate hiring of a permanent director. The
interim director should be given a clean
and clutter-free office space in which to
work. He or she should be expected to
interview as many staff members as pos
sible to learn their role in the library and
what they see as strengths and weak
nesses of the library. Every Board member
should also be interviewed by the interim
director as soon as possible.
To borrow from the Transformation
Ministries Interim Period Ministry Objec
tives, the Board could place everything
the library does in one or more of these
categories:

CLEAN UP: Messes that need to


be cleaned up; things broken that
need fixing.

SHORE UP:Things in declinethat


need to be stabilized and reener
gized.

KEEP UP: Things now okay need


ing to be maintained at the same
level.
NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

15

Perspectives

RAMP UP:Things going okay that


can be improved and make even
more impact.

START UP: Things that don't exist


(at the present time) needing to
be started.3
I am currently serving as director of the
Marshall (Mo.) Public Library and have
been since January 2013. Prior to that, I
served as interim director beginning in
September 2012. I was, in fact, the first
director, starting the library in 1989 and
serving until 1994, when I took a position at
another public library. So I have some un
derstanding and underlying knowledge of
the community, the users, the library facil
ity (the library is still in the same location,
the basement of City Hall, although it has
now expanded to cover the entire base
ment), and the collection (some of which
was purchased under my previous watch).
As the interim library director, my
first goal was to CLEAN UP. A volunteer
had been working here for more than
ten years. She had a key to the library
and would be here every morning before
I even got to work. She was preparing in
come taxes for clients, using library office
equipment and space, during the time she
was "volunteering." My goal was to clean
up this problem before the permanent di
rector was hired. It took several months,
but this problem was resolved.
My second objective was to SHORE UP
the financial situation. When the library
was established in 1989, it was financed
through a twenty-cent property tax. Since
that time, the tax has been rolled back to
sixteen cents. The overall budget is insuf
ficient to provide even minimal services
to the community. As the interim direc
tor I made initial efforts to get a state law
passed which would allow the Board to
go to the voters for a sales tax to support
the library. Since then, the law was passed
and has recently been signed by the gover
nor. Of course, the major workto receive
enough yes votes from the votershas yet
to be accomplished. But my initial efforts to
shore up the finances have been successful.
When the time comes to hire a new
library director, the Board and staff must
look upon this transition time as a positive
opportunity for growth and a new direc
16

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

tion. The decision to hire an interim direc


tor, the choice of that interim, and the ori
entation provided will ensure a stable and
successful future for the library.

References
1.

Dan Bradbury, email interview with


the author, July 13, 2014.

2.

The Bridgespan Group, "Interim


Leadership: Looking Beyond the
Executive Director," 2009, accessed
July 14, 2014, www.bridgespan.org
/Publications-and-Tools/Hiring-Non
profit-Leaders/Hiring-Strategy/Interim
-Leadership-Looking-Beyond-ED.aspx
#.U8P6sPldWAY.

3.

Transformation Ministries, "Guidelines


fo rth e Calling and Role o f the Interim
Pastor," July 2012, accessed Dec. 4,
2014, www.transmin.org/files/TM%20
Documents/Calling%2oand%2oRole%
20of%2olnterim%2oPastors%202oi2
.pdf.

Bridging the Gap and Enjoying


the Adventure
B r e n d a Ca r n s , F r e e l a n c e L ib r a r ia n ,
F o r t Co l l in s (C o l o .),
b r e n d a _ c a r n s @ y a h o o .c o m

I didn't just need a job, I also needed a


challenge. My seven months as interim di
rector for Wilkinson Public Library (WPL)
in Telluride (Colo.) provided both and was
also a transformative experience for me.
Three years earlier my contract as execu
tive director for the newly launched Fort
Collins (Colo.) Regional Library District
had not been renewed.
Here's how that happened. Declining
sales tax revenues led to a downward spi
ral in the Fort Collins city library budget
and, as city library director, I volunteered
to organize the necessary political sup
port, enlist dedicated volunteers, and find
funding which paid forthe successful cam
paign to form a library district and provide
3 mills of new property tax revenue to
support it. After twelve years as the direc
tor, ten for the city library and two for the
library district, it was devastating when
the new district's governing library Board
turned me out to pasture.

VO LUM E

53.

NUMBER 6

I lost my self-confidence, discounted


the value of my thirty years of library man
agement experience, and became serious
ly depressed. My friends tried to help but it
was obvious that I profoundly missed my
job. I took up hobbies with a vengeance:
drawing, painting, knitting, quilting, gar
dening, training horses, and I even placed
first in several local art competitions. I also
volunteered at the state college archives,
helped establish a new international mu
seum, and raised fundsto expand the local
seniorcenter. Still, I felt lost.Then I noticed
an ad for an interim library director in Tel
luride. It looked like the ideal job for me,
but it was short term, an eight-hour drive
from Fort Collins, and I hadn't worked for
three years.
I searched the Internet to learn more
about the job, the library, and the reason
the Board was seeking an interim rather
than a permanent director. I read newspa
per articles, letters to the editor, looked at
the minutes from the Board meetings, re
viewed budget documents, and became fa
miliar with the library's website. It felt great
digging out the facts, analyzing the data,
and formulating some ideas to address the
problems I uncovered. I learned that the
resources needed to put things right were
there and thought I could help turns things
back around. Would I be a viable candidate
fo rthe position after my three-year hiatus
and was I willing to relocate for half a year if
hired? I decided I had to try.
The interview process was intense but
fun! I was well prepared because of all the
information I gleaned from my research.
The process included informal dinner meet
ings that provided gourmet fare at a few of
the fabulous restaurants that abound in
Telluride. I was wowed by the panoramic
night views from the ski gondola connect
ing Telluride with Mountain Village, the sec
ond largest town in the district. I was also
thrilled when I was hired forthe job. Since I
interviewed in August 2013 and a new bud
get had to be adopted by December 15, it
was necessary to quickly organize my move
there. I began on September 30, 2013, and
finished on May 5, 2014. I accomplished
every major task the board, staff, and com
munity members identified. It took lots of
hard work but wasn't difficult for me.

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individual use.

Perspectives

The library's problems came about in


the following way. With plunging property
values, library income fell more than 27
percent. The prior director recommended,
and the Board approved, a 2013 budget
that included closing the library on Sun
days as one of the ways to address the
budget shortfall. This remote enclave re
lies heavily on the library as its community
center and the main source of free, high
speed Internet access. It is tremendously
popular. WPL has been rated a five-star
library for the past six years in the Library
Journal Index. Staff attrition also made up
a large part of the cuts designed to work
toward a balanced budget. Fortunately,
there were also considerable savings from
prior years which will help to offset some
o f the shortfall for the next several years
when it is hoped that the property tax rev
enues will return to former levels.
The Sunday closure outraged some
very vocal members of the community.
There were numerous letters to the editor
of the local newspaper criticizing library
management. Ten o f the library's twentyseven staff members resigned, and morale
was low among those who remained. Even
a library survey asking the community for
its preferences became a huge topic of
public discussion and criticism. The library
director was let go and the Board and re
maining staff were left to work out solu
tions. The Board decided to hire an interim
directorto address the problems, calm the
waters, and assist in hiring the next direc
tor. This is where I entered the picture.
I found that the breach between the li
brary and the community largely resulted
from a lack of meaningful communica
tion prior to the budget crunch. There
fore, the Board, staff members, and I did
everything we could to educate district
residents about the budget shortfall, what
was needed to reinstate Sunday hours,
and the impact this would have on other
valued services. At every step, we repeat
edly solicited public input. I also imple
mented a high degree of participatory
management and put heavy emphasis on
improving internal communication. I tried
to listen far more than I talked.
We reopened on Sundays; staff mem
bers felt supported and even received a

small cost of living increase; we updated


the library's strategic plan, which allowed
us to look forward. By working with com
munity members, we restored the positive
relationships with district residents. The
staff became empowered as active part
ners in solving the most obvious problems
caused by the budget shortfall, namely
fewer staff members and less money to
spend on programs and collections. A
new director was indeed hired, is doing a
great job, and continues the positive trend
established during my months of service.
The process was really quite simple be
cause everyone wanted the library return
to its former place of high regard.
I enjoyed being part of this vibrant
and unique place and received significant
validation and recognition each day I was
there. The positive experience started with
my first interview and continues to this
day in the ongoing friendships I formed.
Being an interim director allowed me
to be myself because I knew what my stint
as director was and what I was there to ac
complish. I had the support of a capable
Board and the benefit of a very effective
staff. This allowed me to simply work to
wards specific goals. Every day I renewed
my commitment to authentic communi
cation and it worked well.
In my interview, one staff member pub
licly asked me why they should trust me.
I answered from my heart that it is the
director's job to create an environment
where staff can succeed, and as a team we
would restore the community's support
for the library because I could see this was
the shared value of the staff.
At my farewell breakfast another em
ployee was speaking about the impact I
had during my time there. She said I treat
ed them like I really cared about them;
not like someone who was just there for
a short time. Frankly, I reminded myself
nearly every day what a unique opportunity
I had for self-actualization and fulfillment
and consciously tried to grow as a person
in every way possible. This was one of the
ways I chose. The staff and the community
responded well to my commitment to open
and ongoing communication.
I also enjoyed the unique experiences
offered by living in a fabulous ski resort in
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

this remote Southwest Colorado county. It


was a healing experience and I consciously
took every opportunity to feel the magic
and power of the place, the people, and
the relationships that I encountered. My
depression disappeared and my self-con
fidence rebounded. There was an added
health benefit since I walked the threequarter-mile distance to work each day
through the picturesque historical district
and was able to step outside my front door
onto a groomed cross-country ski track
whenever I wanted. I lost a few pounds
and firmed up considerably. The area
abounds with hot springs, nearby historic
towns, and Native American sites, such as
the Mesa Grande Anasazi ruins and Can
yon of the Ancients. I took short field trips
nearly every weekend! This provided more
opportunities for spiritual growth.
This experience reinforced to me that
I am still the skilled, capable person that
chose librarianship as a career to make
the world a better place. I had been lim
iting my opportunities by focusing on my
one negative experience in Fort Collins,
instead of the many successes I have had
there and in prior jobs. It is most important
to stay true to what I believe, and the Telluride experience shows me how simple it
can be if I remain focused on success and
on helping others.

My Time as an
Interim Director
Rochelle Logan, A ssociate Director
of Support Services, Douglas
County (Colo .) L ibraries,
rlogan @ dclibraries.org
It was one of those conversations I never
wanted to have with Jamie LaRue, my
boss, friend, and director at Douglas
County (Colo.) Libraries (DCL). In October
2013, he called me into his office to let me
know he was planning to retire in January
2014. We had often chatted about the pos
sibility of our retirements coinciding since
we are the same age. Fie decided to beat
me to the punch.
Did I want to put my hat in for the job?
No. Flaving worked for such a visionary, I
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

17

Perspectives

didn't think I was the right one to follow


in Jamie's footsteps. But I was willing to
serve as the interim director until our
Board could find a suitable replacement.
Why would I want to take on a job like
this while still doing my "regular" job? It
seemed daunting and scary, yet intriguing
to try. What's the old saying about scaring
yourself at least once every day? This op
portunity did just that.
Colorado can't be much different from
the rest of the country in that we are see
ing a lot of retirements in senior adminis
tration positions. The Baby Boomers are
making their exit. At DCL, the Board didn't
want an Interim who was interested in the
job permanently. So when Jamie asked
me if he could recommend me, I was flat
tered. I thought about it for a very short
time, talked to my husband and quickly
said yes.
I thought it would be a good learning
experience and having been at DCL as an
associate director (AD) for thirteen years,
I had the most seniority on our District
Roundtable. After watching Jamie for so
many years, I thought I had a handle on
the level of responsibility, the number
o f meetings I would have to attend, the
email load, and the amount of commu
nity involvement I would need to add to
my daily responsibilities. It probably isn't
a surprise that I only understood a fraction
of what would come. Not only did my cal
endar and email inbox fill up, but also my
brain was full, full, full.
First was working with our Board of
Trustees. Just around the time Jamie was
retiring, we welcomed two new Board
members. So, not only did I have to orient
them, but also we were jumping into the
middle of hiring a new director after twen
ty-three years, with the formidable task of
replacing a leader who took us from being
the worst library in Colorado to a nationally
recognized district.
Jamie gave the Board three months'
notice so they could start the director
search. By January 2014, when Jamie left,
we were just starting the interviews. So I
thought I would have two or three months
as interim. That was very optimistic! It
took another six weeks for the Board to
finish interviewing candidates and offer
18

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

the job to Bob Pasicznyuk. Bob was in


Iowa as director of the Cedar Rapids Public
Library. Ittoo k anotherthree months after
his initial offer for him to arrive at DCL.
In the meantime, one of our other ADs,
David Farnan, decided to take a director
position in Boulder. David and Jamie had
been working together on the beginning
of our new library building projects. We
are building three new libraries in Parker,
Castle Pines, and Lone Tree. I had to take
over the lead role of this massive under
taking. We were at the point of interview
ing and hiring architects and still had one
intergovernmental agreement to com
plete. Yes, I lost sleep over these develop
ments.
Both David and Jamie were also very
active in the community. I've lived in
Douglas County for more than twenty-two
years, but didn't have nearly the number
of contacts among the county leadership
as these two had. With the new building
projects in progress, I had to get out and
reassure municipalities and citizens that
we were on track with it all and that the
new library campaign (No Leaf Unturned)
was moving forward. Our big Architect
Showcase in early April 2014 had to hap
pen, where city and county leaders could
hear presentations from architect finalists.
I'm pleased to say we were able to carry it
off and hire some of the best architects in
Colorado.
So, I had to figure out howto work with
new and standing Board members to hire
a director; keep them informed and get
approvals as needed for contracts; hire
architects; and attend to the regular busi
ness of the library. The new Board mem
bers needed an understanding of gover
nance (as they all do). This took me some
time since they were eager to learn more
and were going directly to the ADs and by
passing me to orient themselves on library
business. The ADs came to me with this
problem.
Here isthe next hiccup I hadn't thought
throughhow to "manage" my peers, the
other ADs. Let's face it, when you are in a
temporary position it is awkward to sud
denly be the boss of the people who were
your contemporaries. I was lucky though.
Jamie hired some amazing, talented, pro

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

fessional people in these positions. They


all stepped up to help me. At our District
Roundtable meetings, it didn't feel weird
to be running things. The ADs had already
been taking turns running these meetings
when Jamie couldn't attend. This time, my
turn just lasted a little longer. We've all
been working together for years and I'm
happy to say we still are.
Before I assumed the interim job, my
thought was to keep this big ship cruis
ing in the same direction, not to make
any changes. Well, that didn't happen! I
had to appoint an interim AD of branch
operations since David Farnan had left for
Boulder. Again, I was lucky that we have a
deep bench and could appoint one of the
branch managers to the position.
As associate director of support servic
es, I had been wanting to change a "rule"
Jamie had instituted about e-book pur
chases. He didn't do this sort of thing often,
but when Random House started charging
exorbitant prices for their e-books, he told
us not to purchase an e-book over $50. This
was a rule I didn't agree with and told Jamie
frequently what I thought. Well, once I had
the interim job, I removed the rule and told
the collection services manager to use her
best judgment on a title-by-title basis to se
lect bestsellers that our patrons want, even
if they were more than $50.
I knew that taking the interim job
would take some toll on my "regular" staff
and I had to be as present as possible to
keep things healthy and rolling along in
my various departments. My staff had to
do a lot more on their own and occasion
ally helped me out. I needed trusted peo
ple to talk to while on this journey. Besides
the ADs, I talked to my staff for ideas and
reality checks. I needed to be sure I wasn't
letting anything important drop.
We have more than three hundred
people working at DCL at seven branches.
Reality checks were imperative to me.
Communication at a district that is geo
graphically dispersed is a challenge un
der the best circumstances. I needed to
be sure everyone knew that I was taking
care of things and had the support of the
ADs and management team. One impor
tant responsibility of the director affecting
staff members is paying attention to win-

Perspectives

ter weather. Should we have a late start


or be closed when a blizzard is in the fore
cast? Should we close early? This is one of
the first questions I got when I attended
branch staff meetings.
One heartwarming aspect of my role as
interim director was to hear touching sto
ries from staff about patron encounters.
It occurred to me that the Board would
benefit from hearing some of these sto
ries so I decided to gather narratives from
staff. I told one story at each Board meet
ing at the end of my director's report. The
staff seemed to enjoy gathering stories,
sending them to me, and knowing I would
choose one each month to highlighttothe
Board. I enjoyed this, too. I heard some
wonderful accounts of staff going the ex
tra mile to offer exemplary service.
In early May 2014, Bob Pasicznyuk ar
rived to assume the director position. It
took me one morning to get over feeling

a little lost and emotional about my time


as interim. Knowing that we were in good
hands and that I did my best during the
previous four months helped.
The difference between me and some
one else, at a different library, taking on an
interim role was that I have been at DCL
for the long haul. I know the community,
the people, and the job, but I also had to
make itw orkso I could go backto being an
AD again once the term was over. I feel a
comm itmentto DCL. I love the culture and
people and I am committed to the service
we provide.
Looking back on those four months, I
learned that being the director flexed dif
ferent muscles. I had to think differently
and do what was right for the whole. There
were times when I didn't know everything
and still had to make the best decision
with the information I had and use recom
mendations from trusted staff. It was re

ally interesting to get to that level of com


prehension. We always hear that leaders
view things at the 35,000-foot level. Well,
it is so true! It is also true that I couldn't get
everything done. I had so much more to
prioritize and some things fell off the ra
dar completely.
Would I recommend that others take
on the role of interim director? Yes, try
it if you have the curiosity, the will, and
the support at work and at home. Make
sure you are ready to cope with the un
expected, the sleepless nights, and the
sheer volume of what needs to be done.
It is rewarding and a big education, espe
cially if you think you might like to make
this a career path. For me, I will remem
ber the moments when staff members
I didn't know very well privately told
me I was doing a good job. That was pre
cious. H!

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preceding twelve months.
EXTENT AND NATURE OF CIRCULATION
("Average" figures denote the average number o f copies printed each issue during the previous twelve months. "Actual" figures denote actual numbers of copies
o f single issue published nearest to the filing dateJuly/August 2014 issue.) Total number o f copies printed: Average, 10,147; Actual, 10.223. Sales through dealers
and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other paid distribution outside USPS: Average: 342; Actual: 353. Total paid and/or requested circulation: Average,
9,241; Actual, 9,411. Free distribution by mail, carrier, or other means, samples, complimentary and other free copies: Average, 408; Actual, 257. Total distribu
tion: Average, 9,991; Actual, 10,021. Copies not distributed: office use, leftover, unaccounted, spoiled after printing: Average, 156; Actual, 202. Total (previous
tw o entries): Average, 10.147; Actual, 10.223.

PUBLIC LIBRARI ES

N OVE MB ER/ DE CEMBER 2014

19

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

The Wired Library

Contributing Editor
R. TOBY GREENWALT
is Director of Digital
Strategy and Technology
Integration, Carnegie
Library of Pittsburgh.

ContactToby attheanalogdivide@
gmail.com.

Looking at the
Future of Libraries
"A library is a collection of possible futures."John Barth, Browsing1

FollowToby on Twitter
@theanalogdivide

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

he future of libraries is a lot like my office clock. It has your standard 1-12
numbering around the outside edge of the device, along with an inner ring
that marks off the minutes in five-minute increments. Each hand ends in a
circle, and you can read the clock by checking to see which numbers are inside each
circle. In order to do so, you've got to realize that the hour hand is the bigger of
the twocountering more than 1,000 years of conditioning telling us which clock
hand is which. The clock is a subtle reminder about disruptive thinkingreversing
the conventional wisdom that frames our approach toward many of the issues we
face in libraries. How do we create content instead of just collecting it? Can we pro
vide grants instead of seeking them out? Is it possible fortechnology to drive people
to our physical spaces in addition to our virtual real estate? Flipping these scripts is
the key to healthy creative destruction, and might just help push libraries forward.
The future of libraries isn't having any of that. If you follow the tech world,
then you know that "disruption" is one of its core tenets. From taxicabs to drinking
glasses, every new startup seems to be targeting yet another mundane concept. De
spite the industry's exponential growth and unbridled enthusiasm, there's a creep
ing suspicion that we've hit peak innovation. In a world where everyone's a disruptorand has written a "future of libraries" think piece of their owndoes the term
"disruption" actually mean anything? When tiny supercomputers reside in three out
of every four pockets, 2 how can a public library make people feel more informed, en
tertained, and connected? The next big thing isn't out there. It's in all of us. With the
raw materials for digital connection, curation, and creation becoming more evenly
distributed, this is the moment for libraries to take advantage of their roles as com
munity connectors.
The future of libraries is a firestarter. We've talked a lot this past year about
kickstarting innovation, both in terms of staff capacity and among our users. Every
book, answer, and program can provide the spark for someone to start something
big. (At least, that's what we like to tell ourselves.) Digital tools can help us bring
each of these sparks out in the open, turning each individual spark into opportunities
for collaboration and skill sharing among our audience. As we build this connective
tissue, it'll be on us to make sure the quarter of the population without ready ac
cess to bandwidth is left out. The relationships have to come first. Once those are in
place, it'll be time to start exploring ways to deliver these services through technol
ogy.
The future of libraries is a ripping yarn. In most cases, the relationship between
library and user ends at that initial spark. We don't often get to see the final product
that comes from that initial checkout or reference transaction. Sharing our users'
creation stories is key to documenting the library's role in the act of knowledge cre
ation.

Toby is currently reading Get In


Trouble by Kelly Link.

20

The Wired Library explores web topics relevant to


public librarians. Your input is welcome.

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

The Wired Library

The runaway success of the Serial pod


cast serves to demonstrate just how com
pelling an ongoing narrative can be. By
stretching out the story and ending each
installment at just the right moment, the
producers have brought an incredible story
to the ears of millions. We may not be able
to go as in-depth (and hopefully not as
dark) as Serial, but the act of documenting
the ongoing process of knowledge creation
can provide compelling new reasons for
people to follow library activities. The con
tinuous bite-size nature of most social me
dia channels was made for this. Converting
our patron's efforts into an ongoing narra
tive can help us show our work and provide
additional sparks to outside observers.
The future of libraries is a developing
collection. While the stories we tell might
help to capture the quantitative data,
we're going to need to continue to take
a deliberate look at what measures con
tinue to make an impact in our communi
ties. Using open data tools to synthesize
our disparate statistical silos will be key
to sorting through all the noise. By finding
new ways to cross-reference these mea
sures with one another, it'll be possible to
identify new correlations between library
use and community development.
This continues to be daunting, but we
don't have to do this alone. With proper
anonymization measures in place, we can
build open datasets, offer code reposito
ries, and allow more members of the pub
lic to experiment with library software.
This can provide a natural jumping-on
point for groups like Code for America
a national initiative devoted to cultivat
ing greater public participation with com
munity open data projects. Trading the
library's reach for this local expertise can
be one way to facilitate ongoing improve
ments and building new literacies.
The future of libraries might get a
little weird. In the effort to push things

forward, we can't forget to have a little


fun. Our collections have always harbored
quirky or outright strange titles. (The
same might be said for our patron bases,
as well.) It's always been a point of pride
for us to champion undiscovered gems.
Similarly, injecting a little oddity into our
online presence can provide a little extra
garnish to the overall library story. For ex
ample, the Orkney Library's (in Kirkwall,
United Kingdom) @orkneylibrary Twitter
account3 is living proof that a taste for the
absurd can help to raise one's visibility.
The future of libraries isn't always
going to get everything right. By this
point, the concept of "fail quickly" is get
ting to be about as cliche as "disruption."
The idea of building steady improvements
through constant iteration is gaining trac
tion. But it's tough to take such risks, espe
cially for public institutions that likely face
strict scrutiny from their taxpaying user
base. Risking failure with public funds is a
tremendous leap. Just as one should focus
on failure as a learning tool, it's possible to
trade on trust to get members of the com
munity on board with seemingly "risky"
ventures. By keeping the risks small and
the process transparent, libraries can give
their users a better understanding of why
they're trying something neweven if
things don't always work out.
The future of libraries is human. Keep
ing the focus on the people and the com
munity serves as our strongest hedge
against the ebbs and flows of technology.
We can't predict the next big thing, nor can
we be ready forthe next big tech bubble to
burst. But once again, it's in the ways we
build strong ties with our public that will
open the doors to technological insight.
As long as we keep an eye toward building
continuity in our relationships, we'll be able
to develop the right tools for our audience.
The future of libraries is nothing with
out a strong present. During his keynote

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

address at the Next Library 2014 confer


ence,4educator John Palfrey spoke of cre
ating a "new nostalgia" for libraries. While
libraries are known to generate fond senti
ments in large portions of the population,
it's often steeped in the traditional notions
of books and quiet. Given all the changes
taking place in our institutions, perhaps
we should look into transferring those
warm fuzzies into something that better
reflects current library practices.
This certainly won't be the last piece
you ever read on the future of libraries.
Everyone has an opinion on the topic, and
that will continue to evolve over time. But
I like to think Palfrey has a point: feelings
about the future can't get started until we
shape hearts and minds in the present.
Shaping those feelings now is a gift we
pass along to our future selves, as

References
1.

John Barth, Browsing (Chestertown,


Md.: Literary House Pr., 2004).

2.

"ComScore Reports September 2014


U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market
Share," comScore press release, Nov.
6, 2014, accessed Dec. 14, 2014,
www.comscore.com/lnsights/Market
-Rankings/comScore-Reports-September
-2014-US-Smartphone-Subscriber
-Market-Share.

3.

Alan White, "Here's The Story Behind


Orkney Library's HilariousTwitter
Account," BuzzFeed, Dec. 1, 2014,
accessed Dec. 2, 2014, www.buzzfeed
.com/alanwhite/real-talk-who-doesnt
-dress-as-whitesnake-once-a-week.

4.

Sanhita SinhaRoy, A New Nostalgia


for Libraries: DPLA Chair John Palfrey
Discusses the Role o f Libraries in
the Digital Age," American Libraries
Magazine:The Scoop blog, June 24,
2014, accessed Dec. 14, 2014, www
.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blog
/new-nostalgia-libraries.

N O VE M BER/DECEM BER 2014

21

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Fundraising Beyond Book Sales

Contributing Editor ANN


MCKINNON is Director
of Communications and
Marketing forThe Friends
of the Saint Paul (Minn.)
Public Library.

Contact Ann at ann@thefriends


org.

Ann is currently reading How It


Went Down by Kekla Magoon.

Farewell
This is the last "Fundraising Beyond Book
Sales" column. Thanks to Library Strategies,
a consulting group of The Friends of the
Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Library, for their
expert advice and timely columns over the
past few years. H!

22

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Fundraising Beyond Book Sales shares innovative


fundraising strategies for public libraries.

Social Media and


Online Giving
hen Library Strategies Consulting Group agreed to take over this column
more than a year ago, there was little direct correlation between social
media and online giving. Those of us in the fundraising world and library
professionals everywhere "knew" that we should have an active, ongoing presence
on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (among other social media channels), but we
weren't sure exactly how those conversations and shared images could translate
into donations to our library, its Foundation, or Friends. We used social media and
email to engage with our friends and followers, to promote our mission and tell our
stories, and to drive users to our website where (we hoped) they would eventually
make a charitable gift.
Simply tweeting, "Support your local library. We need the books." was not get
ting us far in ourfundraising goals.
But in the last couple years some new trends directly linking social media and
charitable giving have emerged. Enter the Ice Bucket Challenge. As I write this ar
ticle, more than $115 million has been raised for the ALS Association (ALSA), which
fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) by
funding research, supporting people with the condition, and fostering government
partnerships. All that money was raised with a viral social media campaign. The fig
ure is especially impressive when you consider that the ALSA raised just $2.8 million
during the same period last year, according to a statement released by the organiza
tion.
Celebrities and everyday people who were just learning about the progressive
neurodegenerative disease took on the stunt, which required either pouring a buck
et of ice water over your head or making a donation. Many participants did both.
The campaign ignited the imagination and support of more than three million
donors, and of those, approximately two-thirds are new donors. The brilliant twist in
the campaign is the online videothe moving selfie. We're living with a generation
that loves to document everything and watch itself online endlessly.
Just pouring a bucket of ice water over your head is not particularly helpful or fun,
but recording and posting it online, and challenging your friends, family, or peers to
do it tooor make a donationcan be. The campaign has raised awareness of the
disease to a level not seen since the "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech
delivered seventy-five years ago, when Lou Gehrig retired from the New York Yan
kees at age thirty-nine, after being diagnosed with ALS.
Once a person accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge, they often enlisted the aid of
able-bodied assistants, prepared their camera and ice water, got set, pressed record,
and, just priorto or immediately afterthe big sploosh, challenged at least one other
person to do the same within twenty-four hours. Ideally, they then wrote a check (or
went online to donate) to ALSA.
The smart people at ALSA got the participation of some big-name stars right
out of the gate, which led to more stars and celebrities being involved from the

V O L U M E 53. N U M B E R 6

Fundraising Beyond Book Sales

beginning. Justin Timberlake challenged


Jimmy Fallon, David Beckham challenged
Leonardo DiCaprio, and David Spade chal
lenged "Dr. Dre with his new Beats mon
ey," before donating $100,000among
the highest individual donations made in
the campaign.
Within the spirit of the Ice Bucket Chal
lenge is friendly competition. T-Mobile
president and CEO John Legere was one
of the first corporate heads to accept the
challenge with a personal gift, and he
passed the challenge on to his peers at
other wireless networks.
Former President George W. Bush re
luctantly accepted the challenge from his
daughter Jenna Bush Hager, after many
other challenges went unanswered. In
his video, he looked into the camera and
said, To all of you who challenged me, I
do not think it's presidential for me to be
splashed with ice water, so I'm simply go
ing to write a check." As he began to write,
former first lady Laura Bush dumped ice
water on him, and added, "That check is
from me! I wouldn't ruin my hairstyle."
Bush then went on to challenge former
President Bill Clinton; joking that his gift
for Clinton's sixty-eighth birthday, which
was the following day, was "a bucket of
cold water." President Barack Obama
declined Ethel Kennedy's ice bucket chal
lenge, though a White House spokesman
said Obama would donate money to an
ALS charity. Mission accomplished.
Another relatively recent development
in the growing interactivity between social
media and online giving is the local, state,
or national day of giving. In Minnesota,
nonprofits have the annual Give to the
Max Day (GTMD). A collaboration among
several groups and led by the Minnesota
Community Foundation, mid-November's
GTMD uses innovative technology and
creative ideas to "help generosity soar
to its full potential." An online forum en
gages donors by raising awareness of the
event through massive social media ef
forts. Smaller nonprofits, which may lack
the fundraising resources of larger organi
zations, have come to bank on the hoopla
to catch the attention of potential donors.
A somewhat similar model can be seen
globally on GivingTuesday, which is known

as a day for giving back. Launched in 2012


by New York's 92nd Street Y, in partner
ship with the United Nations Foundation,
this year's Giving Tuesday occurred on
December 2. Charities and donors around
the world came together for a common
purpose: to celebrate generosity, to give,
and to tell everyone they could about how
they gave. By using hashtags when social
sharing, we expand awareness of events
like #GivingTuesday and #GiveToTheMax
Day and challenge our friends and family
to join us in supporting our causes.
Giving Tuesday offers shared tools and
resources to help nonprofits make the
most of the day by enriching their web
sites and social media presence in creative
ways. GTMD uses a shared website (www
.GiveMN.org) that processes all donations.
Organizations register and set up their
pages well in advance, and begin plan
ning their social media strategy. On Give
to the Max Day, donors can log in once
and give to all their charities throughout
the day, tracking their giving, scheduling
donations, and even setting up ongoing
contributions. Individuals can also create
fundraising pages fortheirfavorite causes,
with donations going directly to the non
profit.
On GiveMN.org, donors can find their
favorite causes, or search by keyword or
category and browse the results. Orga
nizations that offer a matching gift chal
lenge get extra attention, so asking a
major donor or board member if they're
willing to let you use their year-end gift to
leverage additional donations is a great
strategy. Who doesn't love an opportunity
to double their impact?
Sending out requests to previous do
nors on your Facebook page, Twitter feed,
or website isn't effective at attracting new
individual givers, therefore many nonprof
its depend on GTMD for the expanded
reach. Most participating organizations
report healthy upticks in new donors. Each
year has seen an increase in the number of
donors and in the total value of donations
in the state. On GTMD 2014, GiveMN.org
reported that more than 62,000 people
donated a record-breaking $18.3 million
to Minnesota nonprofits and schools dur
ing the 24-hour online give-a-thon. This
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

represents a 20 percent increase in the


number of donors compared to GTMD
2013, which raised $17.1 million.1
Appealing to both donors and the or
ganizations dependent upon their sup
port, GiveMN provides tools and resourc
es to make charitable giving a smooth
and simple process. Throughout the year,
GiveMN.org showcases ideas to inspire
great giving, and in the months leading up
to GTMD, they host informative webinars
to assist organizations and page sponsors
in making the most of the annual day of
giving.
GTMD can be a lot of fun, the orga
nizers say. "Donating to a cause you love
should be a joy ride, not a guilt trip." In
past years, one donor was randomly cho
sen every hour to have $1,000 added to
their donation, creating a big incentive for
donors to give even a modest amount to
a cause. Nonprofits that raised the most
won corresponding prize grants for each
of the top ten spots on four leader boards
(small, medium, and large nonprofits and
schools).
For nonprofits, GivingTuesday.org and
GiveMN.org provide the tools needed to
share their stories, connect with more
donors, and accept and track charitable
contributions. As these movements contin
ue to grow in the United States, countries
around the world are leading their own so
cial fundraising movements and creating
their own culturally specific initiatives to
encourage giving.
According to a 2013 online giving study
by Network For Good, which examined
nearly $1 billion in online giving to more
than 100,000 different nonprofits:

30 percent of annual giving occurs


in the month of December;

10 percent of annual giving occurs


on the last three days of the year;

branded giving pages raise six


times more in contributions than
generic giving pages; and

online giving (by dollars) on


December 31 is concentrated
between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.2
So now that you're sold on the idea of
social giving, what are the best practices?
1. Brand consistency across all chan
nels is crucial. Your donors will feel
NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

23

Fundraising Beyond Book Sales

more

2.

when

a gorilla costume to be creative. It

they see th a t your fundraising page

comfortable

giving

can be as simple as showing some

o f the day to post instant videos or


graphics acknowledging randomly

looks just like your website, your


newsletter, your Facebook profile,

personality. Speak directly to your

selected gifts in fun and creative

audience. Let them know how

ways. People will be delighted

and your print materials. Don't


make them guess w hat you mean

much fun you are and how much

to see themselves or their dona

you care. Remember th a t the ben

tions called out, and they'll have

or who you are.

e fit o f being online is th a t you can

something fun to share with their

Tell a great story. Go beyond the

always edit and refresh at no addi

friends, leading to yet more dona

boilerplate

language

and

liven

things up. Never forget th a t you

3.

5.

tions, and more fun.

Let people know w hat you've

The Internet offers an infinite number

w ant people to click and donate

already accomplished and how

and share. Does your story inspire

their support will help you do

o f ways to spend one's tim e, and unlimited


means o f marketing your library's mission.

them to do that? And when you're

even more. Putting extra thought

W ith people spending more and more tim e

running a social media campaign,

into your donation form can help

online every day, your social media pres

ask your donors to share th e ir ex


perience w ith th e ir friends.

contributors understand the d if


ference they'll make w ith their

ence and website must offer compelling

Check for spelling errors, typos,

contributions. Tooting your horn is

and accurate links. Make sure


your logo and photos display cor

also helpful when you want donors


to share your good w ork w ith their
friends.

rectly.
4.

tional cost beyond staff tim e.


6.

Remove those th a t are

stretched out or don't look crisp.


Stay fresh. It's hard to get excited

7.

virtual world you have endless op


portunities to try different things.

raising page is a first impression


fo r many donors. Look your best.

Take advantage o f the tools and re


sources offered by GivingTuesday

Look into the camera and smile!


Replace your old photos w ith new

.org or ideas you see on GiveMN


.org. And as w ith any experiment,

ones periodically.
Find creativity in simple things.

not everything will be a success,


but the more you try, the better

songwriter, or make your execu


tive director walk around tow n in

people show and share their support, fill

References

Test, revise, and test again. In the

about stale content. Your fund

You don't have to be an artist or

experiences th a t consistently engage sup


porters. Social media is a great way to let

1.

"Record-Breaking $18.3 Million Raised


on Give to the Max Day: GiveMN and
Kimbia Partnership Grows Online
Giving for Minnesota," PR Web press
release, Nov. 19, 2014, accessed Dec.
14, 2014, www.prweb.com/releases
/20i4/ii/prwebi2337338.htm.

2.

The Network For Good Digital Giving


Index, 2013 Year in Review infographic,
accessed Dec. 14,2014, w w w i
.networkforgood.org/digitalgiving
index.

your odds of getting it right.


8.

Remember to thank your donors.


Use th e m o m e n t u m and Ze itgeist

ALSC, CBC Announce Day of Diversity: Dialogue and Action


The Association fo r Library Service to Children (ALSC), in collaboration w ith the Children's Book Council (CBC), w ill be hosting a Day
o f Diversity: Dialogue and Action in Children's Literature and Library Program on January 30, 2015, in Chicago. This invitation-only
event will bring together leaders in children's literature and literacy to discuss strategies fo r ensuring th a t all children have access to
diverse literature and library programming. The keynote address will be given by Camila Alire, ALA past-president (2009-10).
The importance of ensuring th a t our children have access to literature th a t reflects the diversity and common plurality of our world
cannot be overstated," said ALSC President Ellen Riordan. "By bringing librarians, publishers, authors, book sellers, educators, and
nonprofit leaders together fo r the Day o f Diversity, we'll have a chance to openly discuss strategies in which we can all work together
to better serve and support our children." Robin Adelson, executive director o f the Children's Book Council & Every Child a Reader, said
"CBC Diversity has been a leader in bringing the conversation about diversity in children's books and publishing to the forefront over
the last three years. It's now tim e to move from talk to action and we are looking forward to seeing w hat can happen when the various
constituencies . . . work together. We are grateful to ALSC fo r spearheading this im portant move forward."
Those attending the 2015 ALA M idwinter Meeting are invited to learn more about the Day o f Diversity and to lend their own voice
during the Diversity Matters: Stepping it Up W ith Action! News You Can Use session. This session will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. CST
on Sunday, February 1, 2015, in McCormick Place West W i83b. Additionally, ALSC will also be hosting at least tw o online comm unity
forums or webinars in the months following the Day o f Diversity; in order to ensure th a t the Day o f Diversity discussion and outcomes
are presented to a broader audience. To learn more, visit ALSC's website a t www.ala.org/alsc. HI

24

P U B L IC L IB R A R IE S

V O LU M E 53, NUMBER 6

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Forward Thinking: Library Trends and Innovation

Contributing Editor
JOHN SPEARS is Executive
Director of Salt Lake City
(Utah) Public Library.

Forward Thinking focuses on public library trends


and innovation.

Open All Night


Contact John atjspears@slcpl.org.

John is currently exploring the


world of graphic novels and read
ing Climate Changed: A Personal
Journey through the Science by
Philippe Squarzoni, Unterzakhn
by Leela Corman, and The Ency
clopedia o f Early Earth by Isabel
Greenberg.

ne of the most productive actions anyone who works in a library can take is
to put themselves in the role of a library user and attempt to see the library
through that person's eyes. Start from where the public parks and take their
path into the library. Enterthroughthe public entrance, not the staff entrance. Look
at the signage and the layout of the building, not from the perspective of someone
familiar with libraries, but from the perspective of someone who may be visiting
your library (or any library) for the first time. It is often very enlightening what you
may learn.
Recently, Andrew Shaw, communication manager for Salt Lake City Public Li
brary (SLCPL), engaged in a similar mental exercise to describe how our users might
use our main library at various times and the activities that might occur. He detailed
an hour-by-hour listing of possibilities, including:

9:00The Lord o f the Rings movie marathon begins in the auditorium. Sixty rabid
fans file in to take the journey.
10:00Six Salt Lake Community College students gather in a meeting room, draw
ing figures on a whiteboard and quizzing each other on compounds.
11:00Three local entrepreneurs gather and put the finishing touches on their busi
ness plan.
1:00A dishwasher gets off work from a downtown restaurant. He wanders in to
check his email and check out a magazine before heading home.
2:00A University of Utah history student edits her essay for the fourth time.
3:00A homeless teen discovers his new favorite CD in the local music collection
and asks a librarian to find the artist's next concert.
4:00A traveler comes in to print off her boarding pass for a 7 p.m. flight.
These may seem like very traditional activities at any U.S. public library, but this
exercise was done for a very non-traditional audiencethose who would use a li
brary overnight. SLCPL is currently proposing to keep the doors of its main library
open 24/7, a drastic increase in its service hours that some in the community say is
completely outside its mission. Those who would be served during this time (shift
workers, students, night owls, and many others) are saying that they will finally be
equals to those who live a 9-5 existence and be included in the library's mission to
be "a dynamic civic resource that promotes free and open access to information,
materials and services to all members of the community to advance knowledge, fos
ter creativity, encourage the exchange of ideas, build community, and enhance the
quality of life."
There are still many steps necessary to take this from the conceptual stage to
reality, and it is possible that it may be stopped at the completion of the needs as
sessment, community forums, required budget amendment, or fundraising that has
been promised. Personally, I am excited at the opportunity to provide "Library Ser
vice for Everyone" (our unofficial tagline), but as with all innovations, there are les
sons that have been learned, and this article is not about what a 24/7 library will look
like. It is, instead, about the unfolding process of reaching that goal.

26

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

Forward Thinking: Library Trends and Innovation

Recognize Shared Goals


When They Occur
The concept of a 24/7 library is not new.
Many academic libraries never close their
doors during the weeks around finals, and
a smaller number remain open aroundthe-clock for longer periods of the year.
College students do not live by a normal"
schedule, and academic libraries have
served these users by offering their servic
es in the hours that are convenient. Over
my career, I have often worked with users
of public libraries that would be much bet
ter served by overnight hours as well, and
it has always been in the back of my mind
that, perhaps, public libraries should fol
low the lead of the academic community
in this regard. Two things, though, always
stood in the way: (1) funding and (2) the
assumption that there would be little or no
use during the overnight hours.
On September 18, 2014, three mem
bers of SLCPL administration met with
three community advocates to discuss
their request to open the doors of the
main library overnight for a very specific
demographic group: homeless teens.
They were willing to bear the costs for this,
but we were uncomfortable with serving
such a limited audience and had prepared
a counterproposal for a two-year pilot of
24/7 library service that would be open to
all, paid for by private and corporate do
nations raised by these community advo
cates. Their goal of providing a safe and
comfortable (non-shelter) environment
for homeless teens would be realized, as
well as our goal of broadening service to
the entire community.
A third goal could also be realized, and
this would be key in getting approval from
the Salt Lake City Council for an appro
priation of the funds raised. Salt Lake City
has several planning documents, including
its Downtown Plan (1995), CreatingTomorrow TogetherCommission Report (1998),
and its Downtown Master Plan (currently
in draft form for consideration in 2015),
that contain copious references to city
government's desire to create a "vibrant
downtown center 24/7," to have a down
town that is "teeming with people 24/7,"

to ensure "a city that is alive at night,"


and to provide "activities, attractions,
and amenities for its 24-hour population."
Three groups (the library, the city govern
ment, and the three community activists)
had distinct but overlapping goals that
could all be realized through one innova
tion: 24/7 library service.

Frame the Conversation


and Respect Perspective
As conversations with staff ensued, one of
the most important lessons learned con
cerned how to frame conversations. As
with anything new, it is an automatic and
reflexive action to retreat to the framework
in which you are most comfortable. Admin
istration tended to discuss 24/7 library ser
vice in terms of community impact; middle
management tended to discuss it in terms
of staff workload and balancing compet
ing objectives; and frontline staff tended to
discuss it in terms of how it would be imple
mented. Unless a clear framework was es
tablished for whether the why, the how, or
the what was being discussed, these con
versations quickly became frustrating for
all involved, with administration wishing
that staff would get out of the weeds, and
staff wishing that administration would
come down from its ivory tower.
Innovation can be uncomfortable and
frightening. For administration, it can be
frustrating to be immediately peppered
with logistical questions, and for staff it
can be frustrating for those questions to
remain unanswered as the larger concept
is examined. It is only through truly un
derstanding that all of these perspectives
are valid and come from the same place
(a desire to best serve the public), albeit
a different perspective, that productive
discussion can be had. Establishing at the
outset of every conversation what is to
be discussedthe why, the how, or the
whatis imperative.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Make It Relatable and


Easily Understood
As the conversation moved into the public
sphere, it became apparent that I cannot
talk in sound bites. As a friend and men
to r of mine once said, "John never says in
ten words what he can say in fifty." De
scribing what an innovation might mean,
how it should occur, and the steps that are
required to bring it to fruition can quickly
degenerate into an overly complex de
scription of outcomes, procedural/ policy
changes, and mechanics. There are audi
ences for whom this may be appropriate,
but they are rare.
As an example, an amendment to our
budget will be required for 24/7 library ser
vice to proceed. When asked about this, I
would often launch into a mind-numbing
explanation of the library's budget, city
council's legislative calendar, and the mu
nicipal appropriations process.This did not
help our cause; Andrew gently suggested
a different answer: "We are simply asking
for council's permission to spend the pri
vate and corporate donations that will be
raised. No tax dollars will be used for this
pilot project." The reaction of thinly veiled
suspicion that I had typically received was
quickly replaced with one of understand
ing and excitement.
There are many other aspects of our
unfolding journey towards 24/7 library
service that could be described: trying to
overcome the relentless comparison of the
main library to a homeless shelter, allevi
ating the concerns of downtown residents
regarding security, and the successful gar
nering of support from the police chief,
service agencies, and downtown business
organizations. Library service 24/7 may be
innovative, but it is also remarkably tra
ditional. Libraries exist to serve their us
ers, and any innovation should be seen in
this light. We will continue to do what we
do, and often the changes that we make
are simply a recognition that society has
changed, and we need to change with
it. Library service 24/7 is such an innova
tionit is not a change in what we do, it
is merely a change that will allow what we
do to finally reach everyone, a!

NOVEMBER /DE CEM BER 2014

27

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individual use.

FEATURE

Library Services for the


New Normal of Military
Families
By Jennifer Taft & Cynthia Olney
umberland County (N.C.) Public Library and Informa
tion Center (CCPL&IC) serves the county that is home
to Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations
in the US.1With more than 60,000 service members
stationed at Fort Bragg,2 a large number of Cumber
land County's residents are directly experiencing our country's
longest-sustained deployment in the history of the all-volunteer
force.3
In 2013, CCPL&IC committed to learning more about the coun
ty's military families and finding ways to serve them. We conduct
ed a community assessment of the military community, using a
process closely aligned with the values described in the American
Library Association's (ALA) Libraries Transforming Communities
initiative.4 We refer to this project as a "military community as
sessment" instead of a "needs assessment." Rather than focus on
the needs of the community's military families, our interviews and
focus groups explored the aspirations and priorities of the com
munity, which we defined as service members, their families, and
local organizations that want to support them.

There were two reasons we believed the ALA's "turning out


ward" approach was particularly effective for our project. First,
military family members are strong and resilient. We knew most
would not talk about their needs. Instead, our goal was to learn
how we could provide opportunities to enhance their ability to
cope with the struggles of modern military life and improve the
quality of their lives.
Second, Cumberland County is strongly committed to its
military community and there are many organizations, both on
post and off, that provide a range of services to military person
nel and their families. In fact, in 2008, the county declared itself
the world's first sanctuary for soldiers and families.5Through the
library's involvement with some of these organizations, we knew
a number of professionals with a sophisticated understanding of
the challenges faced by military families. Their experiences with
outreach to military families meant they could articulate the bar
riers to reaching them. We wanted to understand the priorities of
these military-serving organizations and explore collaborations
that would support their efforts as well as our own.

Engaging With the Military Community


About the Authors
JENNIFER TAFT is a Reference Librarian at the Harnett County
Public Library in Lillington, N.C. CYNTHIAOLNEY isActing
Assistant Director of the National Network of Libraries of
Medicine Outreach Evaluation Resource Center in Seattle.

O
28

Contact Jennifer atjtaft@ harnett.org. Contact


Cynthia at olneyc@uw.com.

Jennifer is currently reading The One and Only by


Emily Griffin. Cynthia is currently reading My Stroke
o f Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill
Bolte Taylor.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

To initiate engagement with the military community, the library


joined the Fayetteville Community Blueprint Network, with more
than fifty-five local organizations that provide community support
for service members, veterans, and their families.6 Many profes
sionals who work in these organizations are members of military
families themselves, either as active-duty or retired service mem
bers, spouses, or children of military parents. The library aware
ness coordinator actively participates in meetings and events
sponsored by the network and its member organizations.
In April 2013, CCPL&IC hosted a community forum on posttraumatic stress (PTS), which featured a one-hour discussion
with panelists who had expertise with PTS through professional
or personal experiences. (There is momentum within the m ili
tary community to drop the word "disorder," with many arguing
that stress is a normal reaction to m ilitary conflict.7)The enthusi-

Library Services for the New Normal of Military Families I FEATURE

astic attendance persuaded us to pursue


a thorough community assessment to
learn what the library has to offer to the
local m ilitary community. CCPL&IC ap
plied for and was awarded a Library Ser
vices and Technology Act (LSTA) grant
in July 2013 through the State Library of
North Carolina. The library's community
assessment was conducted by a military
family project team of library staff mem
bers, led by the library awareness coor
dinator and supported by the project's
evaluation consultant, to collect informa
tion about the military community and
develop marketing and programming
strategies fo rth is population.

Community Assessment
Methods
We collected most of our data through key
informant interviews and focus groups. For
this project, seventeen individuals were in
terviewed who had ties to the Fayetteville
military community. Fifteen were mem
bers of military families. They were either
active-duty service members or veterans
themselves, or were spouses or children
of active-duty or retired service members.
Eleven of these fifteen interviewees also
worked at military-supporting organiza
tions, so they could talk about the experi
ences of other military families as well as
their own. Interview data were supple
mented through reviews of scholarly lit
erature and reports from sources such as
the Department of Veterans Affairs and the
U.S. Army.
Members of the Community Blueprint
Network were instrumental in helping to
recruit interview participants. Library staff
members with ties to the community also
helped to identify interviewees. To supple
ment the interviews, the library awareness
coordinator and evaluation consultant met
with two groups with strong ties to the mili
tary community. They visited a Mothers of
Preschoolers (MOPS) program that met at
a local church, where approximately 70 per
cent of participating mothers were military
spouses. They initiated informal discus
sions with military mothers and collected
additional information with an informal
questionnaire.

As a validity check, key findings from


the interviews were presented to the Liv
ing in the New Normal Committee (LINN),
a steering committee for the Forward
March conference held annually in Fay
etteville. The conference is designed for
behavioral health and other professionals
who work with military children. The ad
visory group is comprised of representa
tives from community organizations that
work with military families. Committee
members confirmed most of our conclu
sions and provided excellent insight into
ourfindings.
The information collected through
this process helped the library's project
team understand which library programs
and services would be of most interest
to military families. The team identified
potential marketing strategies that could
effectively target this community. It also
developed ideas for new programs as well
as partnerships with other community or
ganizations.
The marketing and program strategies
were then presented to an advisory group
of representatives from organizations that
either provided services to military families
or organized cultural events in Cumberland
County or Fort Bragg. Some of the advi
sory group members had participated in
our focus group and key informant inter
views, but others were formally introduced
to the library's military family initiative for
the first time. Through their feedback, the
library was able to develop a concrete plan
for its military community project.

What the Library Offers


the Military Community
The interview process did teach CCPL&IC
an important lesson about the concerns
and priorities of military families. Due to
the enthusiastic participation at our PTS
forum, we anticipated more requests for
programming related to this and other
war-related mental and emotional health
issues. We learned, instead, that there is a
more universal disruptor to military fam
ily life: the military deployment cycle. The
deployment cycle affects every family of
active-duty service members, regardless
of rank.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

During the past ten years, deployment


has been a constant state for many mili
tary families. Some service members have
experienced five or more deployments.8
The cycle has three phases. The first is
pre-deployment, during which families
prepare for the departure of the service
member. Phase two is deployment, when
the service member leaves and the spouse
is left to function as a single parent. Phase
three is re-integration, when the returning
service member and family must recon
nect. Experts call this lifestyle of constant
adaption to stress and loss as the "new
normal,"9but spouses say that subsequent
deployments do not get easier over time.
In fact, the stress is cumulative.
There were common themes among
the military spouses about theirfam ily pri
orities that help them cope and adapt to
living in an almost-constant deployment
cycle:

The top priority o f most military


parents is the well-being o f their
children. Our key informants
from military-serving organiza
tions told us that military parents
were averse to seeking help for
themselves, but they did seek
programs for their children.
The parents we interviewed
corroborated this observation,
expressing minimal interest in the
adult-oriented library activities
but requesting more information
about child and teen programs.
Parents were most interested in
library story hours for their young
er children and evening lock-ins
for teenagers. While they valued
opportunities for their children to
interact with nonmilitary peers,
they also recognized that their
children benefited from spending
time with other military children
who understood their experi
ences.

Family events. Military parents


also valued family-oriented
events that allowed family
members to spend unstructured
time together. They talked about
attending outdoor festivals held
in downtown Fayetteville, as well
NOVEMBER/DE CEM BER 2014

29

FEATURE | Library Services for the New Normal of Military Families

as military-sponsored retreats and


camping trips offered to couples
and families. The organizational
representatives confirmed that
their family events were very
popular, particularly those that
were free and held outdoors.

Career and educational information


fo r transitioning service members.

Transitioning service members


were the other group identified as
potential users of library services.
While the military provides strong
support to transitioning service
members, some may feel selfconscious researching their plans
to leave the military on-post, in
close proximity to other members
of their unit. Interviewees urged
the library to emphasize that it
could provide information for
service members because many
might assume that the library's
resources do not address the
special circumstances of those in
the military.
We did ask directly about the need for
information or programs directed toward
sensitive topics such as PTS and domes
tic violence. Most people we talked to
thought that the library should provide
information about sensitive topics. How
ever, our interviewees all warned that
such issues are still stigmatized within the
military ranks, in spite of high-level efforts
within the military to counter such nega
tivity toward individuals suffering from
such conditions. Our interviewees sug
gested attracting members of the military
community to the library through childoriented and family-oriented programs
and services, then discreetly offering in
formation about PTS and sensitive topics.
For example, shortcuts to local services
could be placed on computer desktops
and printed brochures could be offered
through library kiosks that have informa
tion about a broad range of services for
military families.

30

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Collaborating with
Military-Serving
Organizations
Representatives from military-supporting
organizations had excellent insight into
working with military families, in part be
cause they themselves were active-duty
or retired military members or military
parents. They told us that their main chal
lenge was reaching the geographically
dispersed military community, which was
spread throughout Cumberland and other
counties. While statistics for Fort Bragg
were not readily available, national sta
tistics indicated that approximately go
percent of military families live off-post.10
Our key informants estimated that Fort
Bragg's statistics are comparable. They
saw opportunities to leverage the library's
resources to improve their organizations'
contact with the geographically dispersed
military community.

Meeting Space
Representatives expressed the most in
terest in this library resource, particularly
those who worked with on-post organiza
tions. They were keenly aware that most
military families lived off-post and only
ventured onto the installation for very
special holidays or occasional visits to
the commissary. The location of library
branches throughout the county would
provide more convenient access to the
majority of military families. The repre
sentatives also said that their organiza
tions could make use of meeting rooms
with videoconferencing, allowing them to
make on-post meetings more accessible
to the off-post members.
The library's physical space had other
advantages over on-post meeting spaces.
The library is known to serve all commu
nity members, regardless of their social
rank. This characteristic of "neutral space"
was appealing to organizations that host
groups convening service members of dif
ferent military ranks and their families.
For example, the Army's Family Readi
ness Groups (FRGs) are organized for
all members of a deploying unit. These
groups include soldiers of all ranks, family
members, volunteers, and civilian employ

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

ees. They meet throughout the deploy


ment cycle, allowing for communication
between FRG members and the chain
of command, as well as mutual support
among families sharing a common expe
rience. Membership in FRGs is automatic
for soldiers and families, but participation
is voluntary.11
Military leaders know some of the bar
riers to keeping families involved. First,
most families find coming to post to be
inconvenient. Second, while rank is not
recognized within FRGs, it may be difficult
for FRG members to overlook the differ
ence in rank. Our interview participants
believed that the off-post library branch
locations not only could make meetings
convenient for FRG members, but they
also could provide neutral space that mini
mizes the influence of rank.
Military leaders believe that families
cope much better when involved in these
groups, but meeting on-post is inconve
nient for most families. Holding meetings
at public library branches addresses both
of these issues.
In addition, the library is not associated
with negative health issues or social prob
lems that might impact, for example, mili
tary organizations that work with service
members who have mental or behavioral
health issues. As one key informant stated,
hospitals and mental health facilities are
for people who have something wrong with
them. Libraries are for people who want to
learn something and become empowered.

Information Outpost
Military-serving organizations also need
off-post venues for promoting their servic
es and requested that the library establish
information kiosks for their print informa
tion. They also suggested placing shortcuts
to their websites on some of the library's
public computer terminals. The library
could include signage directing military
family members to resources of interest to
them. Information related to sensitive top
ics should be interspersed with information
about more neutral topics.

Venue for Sharing Experiences


Representatives also thought the CCPL&
1Ccould be an excellent host for events that

Library Services for the New Normal of Military Families | FEATURE

recognize and share information about


the extraordinary service of military mem
bers and their families. Book author visits,
displays, and social events with military
themes would allow the broader commu
nity to celebrate its military community.

Planned Programs
and Services
Based on the feedback collected through
this assessment, the library established
four primary goals for its military commu
nity initiative:

Collaborate with local organiza


tions to promote library and
community information, services,
and programs of interest to the
military community.

Improve military family mem


bers' access to information that is
important to them.

Provide a venue for family mem


bers to find programs and social
experiences that will allow them
to connect with each other and
the broader community.

Build appreciation in the local


community for the strength and
sacrifice of its service members
and families.
To pursue these goals, the library com
mitted to remaining active in the Commu
nity Blueprint Network. Network mem
bers can provide invaluable assistance
to the library with any military-oriented
project we undertake. Our involvement
in this network seems to be central to our
success.
The library also pursued opportunities
for potential collaborators who emerged
during the community assessment proj
ect. In particular, this project successfully
raised our visibility with representatives
of on-post organizations who have re
quested information about our meeting
space and talked with us about placing
information at our library branches. The
library awareness coordinator has already
responded to requests for information
about these services.
We also have become more success
ful in participating in on-post activities. In
the past, we found it difficult to find the

appropriate contacts to participate in the


various fairs and events held on the instal
lation. As a result of contacts made during
our community assessment, CCPL&IC es
tablished a solid relationship with a repre
sentative from Army Community Services
(ACS). We now attend the ACS's monthly
orientation offered to new soldiers and
their families. A CCPL&IC representative
provides a short briefing about services of
fered at CCPL&IC and how newcomers can
get a library card.
The library celebrated the Army's
239th birthday in June, with sixty to sev
enty community members attending. Fort
Bragg's Child, Youth and School Services
had an exhibit booth at the birthday par
ty, as did the Red Cross. (Representatives
from both organizations participate in the
Community Blueprint Network.) The local
newspaper covered the event.12
The library staff has developed other
ideas that we are considering. Listed be
low are a few projects under consider
ation:

Sesame Street "Talk. Listen.


Connect "Several interviewees
suggested that the library inves
tigate Sesame Street's popular
"Talk. Listen. Connect." outreach
initiative to help children cope
with deployment, combat-related
injuries, and the death of a loved
one.13Through this initiative,
Sesame Street offers videos,
storybooks, and workbooks for
military families going through
difficult transitions. The library
will look into purchasing some
of these materials. We also hope
to contract with Sesame Street
to send a character for a military
family event.

Military STEM projects. The library


participates in the annual North
Carolina Science Festival and may
incorporate a military-related
program into its STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics) theme. This event is
geared toward teenagers.

Military book discussion group.


The library may seek funding to
purchase a military-themed Great
PUBLI C LIBRARIES

Books anthology forthis discus


sion group.

Author visit. CCPL&IC may invite


North Carolina poet laureate
Joseph Bathanti, who wrote a
poem titled "Fayetteville" that
was inspired by a recent visit to
the area. The library is exploring
ways to memorialize and display
the poem.

Add exhibits or demonstrations


fo r transitioning soldiers to the
library's annual job fair. The library
may contact the Army Career
and Alumni Program (ACAP) to
participate in a library-hosted job
fair. ACAP provides transition and
job assistance to soldiers and their
families.

Exhibits o f community members'


items. We are discussing a "Things
They Carried" exhibit of service
members' personal war pieces,
loaned to us by military families.
We might add stories from the
owners about these pieces that
could be displayed or posted
online.

Exhibits from Fort Bragg muse


ums. The John F. Kennedy Special
Warfare Museum and the 82nd
Airborne Division War Memo
rial Museum have both agreed
to lend museum pieces to the
library. (The library will have to
demonstrate that it has adequate
security and display cases for
these pieces.)
At the suggestion of health profes
sionals who participated in interviews and
focus groups, the library plans to provide
professional development to its staff.
Representatives of military-support orga
nizations suggested that the library staff
become more aware of military culture,
including how to "speak Army" so they can
converse with members of the local mili
tary community. The library's connection
with organizations that have school-based
programs for military children will allow it
to identify professional development re
sources.

NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

31

FEATURE | Library Services for the New Normal of Military Families

Lessons Learned
Less than one percent of our nation's pop
ulation serves in the United States mili
tary.14 In spite o f the public's current level
of love and respect for its service mem
bers, the military and nonmilitary sectors
of our population are becoming increas
ingly more isolated from each other.15We
learned, through our assessment project,
that CCPL&IC can serve an importantfunction in bringing together military and civil
ian members of our community through
events that recognize and celebrate the
extraordinary services of these individu
als. We can provide ways for military fami
lies to share their stories with each other
and their nonmilitary neighbors.
We believe that other public libraries
throughout our nation are well positioned
to reach out to military families and cel
ebrate their service. Some public libraries
have a large military installation in their
service areas. Others may have families
of reservists and National Guard members
interspersed throughout their neighbor
hoods. Like our library, military-serving
organizations may need meeting space,
kiosks, and computer terminals to con
nect with these families who are facing
the difficult challenges of modern military
life. For those public libraries that want to
reach out to military families, CCPL&IC of
fers the following lessons learned:

Work with other organizations


that want to serve military
families. It can be a challenge to
connect with installations, but
networking is the best strategy
for doing so. People who work
with community-based organi
zations often have connections
on-post and can help you navigate
the bureaucracy.

Be patient and persistent in con


necting with on-post organiza
tions. The military is actually quite
progressive and dedicated to
addressing the needs of military
families. On-post organizations
are aware that military families
live mostly off-post and seek
locations to provide resources and
host events in the communities
32

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

where their members live. If you


can connect with organizations
that support children and families,
doors will open. Just realize it
might be easier for these orga
nizations to come to the library
rather than for the library to par
ticipate in on-post activities.
Military families take pride in
being independent, so focus on
their strengths. Find events that
recognize their sacrifice and allow
them to tell their stories.
Provide information about sensi
tive topics, but offer it discretely
and situate the information so
that military community mem
bers can find it without assistance.
Use signage that leads them to
resources of interest. Include in
formation about sensitive topics,
such as PTS or domestic abuse,
among wellness materials on, for
instance, yoga or massage.
Also, use signage and otherforms
of publicity to let military mem
bers know you have resources
specifically for them. They often
do not expect civilians who do not
work on the installation to under
stand their special circumstances.
Find ways to let them know you
have resources and show how
reference librarian assistance can
be useful to them.
Promote children's services to
the military community. Parents
are very concerned about their
children's welfare and will come
to the library for services for their
children. Once the parents are in
the door, they may find resources
that will be of use to them as well.

very difficult to find interviewees associat


ed with enlisted service members or veter
ans. We assumed that active-duty families
would be the easiest to reach and attract,
so we decided to focus our initial efforts on
this group. As we further develop our mili
tary family program, we may find it nec
essary to talk with members representing
veterans and enlisted service members.
Our library found the community as
sessment process to be an excellent op
portunity to learn about our military com
munity, promote our services and make
contact with other organizations that may
become invaluable partners in our efforts
to reach our military families. We recom
mend other public libraries get involved
with this strong and resilient community
that serves our country with great sacri
fice. 01
The m ilitary community assessment proj
ect was supported by grant funds from the
Institute o f Museum and Library Services
under the provisions o f the federal Library
Services and Technology A ct as adminis
tered by the State Library o f North Carolina,
a division o f the Department o f Cultural Re
sources.

References
x.

2.

Ibid.

3.

Colonel Stephen J. Cozza and Richard


M. Lemer, "M ilitary Children and
Families: Introducing the Issue,"
Military Children and Families 23,
no. 2 (Fall 2013), accessed Nov. 10,
2014, http://futureofchildren.org
/futureofchildren/publications
/journals/article/index.xmPjournalid
=8o&articleid=587.

4.

American Library Association,


"Transforming Libraries. . . Continued:
The Next Chapter in the Evolution
o f Librariesand ALA," American
Libraries 43, no. 5/6 (May/June 2012),
accessed Nov. 11, 2014, www
.americanlibrariesmagazine.org
/article/transforming-libraries
-continued.

5.

"Sanctuary (fact sheet)," overview

Conclusion
We want to note some limitations to our
data collection. The majority of our mili
tary spouses were wives of active-duty ser
vice members and their service members
tended to be officers. A few interviewees
from military-serving organizations were
veterans or worked with veterans, but
they still talked mainly about the needs of
active-duty military families. We found it

VO LUM E 5 3 , NUMBER 6

MARCOA Publishing, Inc., "My


BaseGuide: Fort Bragg Digital
Relocation/Welcome," accessed June
17, 2014, www.mybaseguide.com
/army/63/fort_bragg.

Library Services for the New Normal of Military Families | FEATURE

o f the Army's Army and World's First


Sanctuary for Soldiers, Sanctuary
Press Room, accessed June 17, 2014,
http://fayettevillewantsyou.com
/pressroom/content/factsheets
/sanctuaryfactsheet.pdf.
6.

7.

Frequently Asked Questions,"


Fayetteville Community Blueprint,
Give an Hour, accessed June 17, 2014,
http://connected.giveanhour.org/show
/community-blueprint-in-fayetteville.
MarkThompson, "The Disappearing
'Disorder': Why PTSD is becoming
PTS," Time (June 05, 2011), accessed
July 24, 2014, http://nation.time.com
/2011/06/05/the-disappearing-disorder
-why-ptsd-is-becoming-pts.

8.

Cozza and Lerner, "M ilitary Children


and Families."

9.

Jackie Lyden, "M ilitary Families Learn


to Live with the 'New Normal,'"

Budget and Finance


Management of Technology
Organization and Personnel
Administration
Planning and Management
of Buildings

Now is the

National Public Radio, Mar. 21,


2009, accessed June 23, 2014,
www.npr.org/templates/story/story
.php?storyld=io22ii294.
10.

Office o f the Deputy Undersecretary


o f Defense, "Overview, Military
Housing," accessed June 17, 2014,
www.acq.osd.mil/housing/housingioi
.htm.

11.

U.S. Army, "Fort Bragg Family


Readiness Group," accessed June 17,
2014, www. bragg .army, mi l/82nd/ibct
/Pages/frg.aspx.

12.

Jadyn Shambaugh, "Library Marks


Army's 239th Birthday with Family
Program," Fayetteville Observer (June
15, 2014), accessed June 24, 2014,
www.fayobserver.com/news/local

/article_e5C5bf79-fdef-5d5a-go3c
-5274ec85cbfa.html.

Current Issues
Marketing
Fundraising/Grantsmanship
Politics and Networking
Serving Diverse Populations

13.

Sesame Street Workshop, "Arming


Military Families w ith Love, Laughter,
and Practical Tools for Deployment,"
accessed June 23, 2014, www.sesame
workshop.org/what-we-do/our
-initiatives/military-families.

14.

Alyson Hurt, Erica Ryan, and JoElla


Straley, "By the Numbers: Today's
M ilitary," National Public Radio, July 3,
2011, accessed June 17, 2014, www
.npr.0rg/2011/07/03/137536111/by-the
-numbers-todays-military.

15.

Karl W. Eikenberry and David M.


Kennedy, "Americans and Their
Military, Drifting Apart," NewYork
Times (May 26, 2013), accessed
June 23, 2014, www.nytimes.com
/2013/05/27/opinion/americans
-and-their-military-drifting-apart
.html?pagewanted=all&_r=o.

ALA'APA

the organization for the


advancement of library employees

to invest in

Certified Public Library Administrator* Program


If you have...
An MSLS degree (ALA-accredited, or accredited by the national body of another country)
cpla@ala.org

At least three years of supervisory experience

800-545-2433, X2424

...would you like to say the following at your next staff meeting?
Our library received a grant based on m y project for a CPLA course.
I conducted a staff study and created individual development
plans for each o f my direct reports.
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Apply at h ttp ://a la-ap a.o rg /c ertifica tio n .

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PUBLIC LIBRARIES

N O V E M B E R /D E C E M B E R 2014

33

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

FEATURE

Mental Health Training


in Public Libraries
By Josh Berk
hen I was a kid, one of my favorite "dad at
work" stories was about the time a homeless
guy tried to kick him. My dad was a library
director, a job that required a lot of manage
ment and administrationtwo words that
meant nothing to me a child. What exactly did he do all day? But
the homeless guy storythat I could understand. This man was
washing his socks in the library's bathroom sink despite having
been told repeatedly to stop. Dad was called and the guy lost it.
He tried to kick him, so my dad, like any sensible person, fled. The
guy gave chase and dad was able to outrun him and duck behind
a steel door. (In my mind the guy was always barefoot because
his socks were in the sink, though I was never able to confirm this
detail.) Regardless, the guy kept kicking the steel door until the
police hauled him away.
Everything about this story cracked me up. It made being a li
brary director sound a little like being Batman. As I said, I was a kid.
Now, years later, I have the same exact job as my dad. It's not
just that I'm a library directorI literally sit in his chair at the Beth
lehem (Pa.)Area Public Library (BAPL). Does it still make me laugh
to consider dad running from a person trying to kick him? Sure, I'm
only human. But also I realize that the issues of homelessness and
mental illness in public libraries are serious business. This article is
about how I sort of inadvertently became somewhat of an expert
on the topic and what we're trying to do about it here in my little
corner of southeastern Pennsylvania.

About the Author


JOSH BERK is Executive Director at Bethlehem (Pa.) Area Public
Library.
ContactJoshatjberk@ bapl.org.

Josh is currently reading Laughing at My Nightmare


by Shane Burcaw.

34

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

To back up slightly, I'd like to point out that I have worked in


public libraries for long enough to have seen a little of everything.
However, my first job as a library director was in the small town of
Nazareth, Pennsylvania (population 5,746). It's a beautiful library
in what was formerly an old mansion. I loved coming to work ev
ery day in such a lovely place. It wasn't just the library that was
charmingthe town itself seems to exist outside of the twentyfirst century. I was repeatedly told by residents and staff and
board members alike that "Nazareth is Mayberry."
The real town and the fictional TV Mayberry have their simi
larities (Mayberry's population was listed at 5,360 on the sign by
the train depot), though of course I witnessed plenty to dispel the
notion that any real-life place can be crime-free and relentlessly
friendly. Still, it was a peaceful and amiable place to work. I was
there for two years when I was given the opportunity to move a
few towns over to become library director in a much bigger library
in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It's not a giant megalopolis by any
means, but Bethlehem is approximately thirteen times bigger
than Nazareth (population 74,982).
That means that while Bethlehem is certainly charming in its
own right, it is also a city. That means city opportunities and also
city problems. One of the first things I heard whispered before
even taking the job was that BAPL, located downtown, had a
problem. Well it had several problemsfunding problems, politi
cal problems, building problems, leaky roofs, and busted chairs
but the same can be said in I'm guessing 100 percent of public li
braries. The problem I heard whispered about in Bethlehem was
the homeless problem.
"No one wants to go there anymoreit's creepy."
"Don't go down to the bathrooms alone."
"There are long lines of homeless waiting outside every morn
ing."
I heard about drug deals and public drunkenness, about hor
rible smells and, yes, that people were still doing their laundry
in the sinks. It wasn't just local librarian scuttlebutt; it was (kind
of) big news. Numerous articles in local papers were written and
Salon.com even mentioned BAPL in a March 2013 article, "Public
Libraries: The New Homeless Shelters."1
I wondered if it was as bad as I was hearing. I knew Bethlehem
well, having lived there most of my life and visited the library
many times. I knew Bethlehem had never really recovered from

Mental Health Training in Public Libraries | FEATURE

the closing of the steel plant many years


ago. Like most American cities of all sizes,
there are large concentrations of poverty
and a shortage of resources. But it has a
charming Main Street and many flourish
ing businesses and dozens of successful
festivals.
When I began as library director, I be
gan talking to staff and patrons alike. I was
asked several times in newspaper inter
views what my priorities were. Each time I
answered that it wasn't about my priorities,
it was about the priorities of the communi
ty. It wasn't just a lineI meant it. I wanted
to see what the community wanted out of
its library and how I could make that hap
pen. What they wanted, in no small mea
sure, was to feel safe in the library.
I maintained my opinion that it wasn't
as bad as it was perceived. But perception
has a way of becoming reality. If people
felt unsafe in the library, maybe the li
brary would become more unsafe. And if
the perception was that it was a place no
one wanted to go, no one would want to
go there! I had a pretty lengthy to-do list
before I even sat in Dad's old chair, but I
decided that making efforts to address the
"homeless issue" needed to be at the top
of the list.
Like any librarian might, I began with
some research. I discovered first of all, un
like many cities of similar size, that there
is no year-round homeless shelter. There
are emergency winter shelters, veteran's
housing, and some facilities providing
housing for youth and/or families, but
nothing like the rescue missions or other
facilities for single homeless individuals.
The city became home to several home
less camps, many people literally living
underthe bridges. A nearby church served
free lunches, making the library an ideal
place to spend the day.
I had been trying hard to limit my "out
of the library" days for the first few months
at least in order to learn the operations
(and try to remember everyone's names).
But when I saw an announced workshop
titled "Out of the Shadows: The Library
as a Center of Mental Health Literacy" I
knew I needed to attend. This event was
cosponsored by the Lackawanna County
(Pa.) Library System, The Commonwealth

Medical College, and the National Net


work of Libraries of Medicine and there
was a great list of speakers.
I must pause here to note that I am well
aware that the "homeless issue" is not the
same thing as the "mental health issue,"
but they are certainly interconnected. Re
search shows that between 15 and 40 per
cent of homeless individuals have some
form of mental illness.2The lowernumbers
include homeless children and families
whereas the higher end numbers focus on
single adults. And the homeless individu
als who were making the library "scary"
probably weren't the down-on-their luck
guys passing time reading magazines. I
decided fairly quickly that they weren't "a
problem." If people were in fact uncom
fortable seeing them, well, there wasn't
all that much I could do about it. I'd love
to solve the homeless problem in the city
(and the world!) but it's a fact of a society.
Criminal activity, such as drug deals or
public intoxication, are dealt with quickly
by a call to the police. It is certainly some
thing for which we should have no toler
ance. But complaints about the homeless
started to bother me more than the home
less did. How did these "regular patrons"
know that these people were home
lessthe fact that they were unshaven,
unshowered, and maybe wearing dirty
clothes? You should see me on my days off.
It's a wonder I haven't gotten kicked out of
Lowe's. Life in a city, and life in a public
librarythere are going to be people you
don't like looking at. There may even be
people you don't like smelling. (Again: see
me on my days off.) In truly outrageous
cases where a public health risk was ob
served, our staff would politely ask them
to leave. Otherwise, the segment of the
population I decided to focus on were the
mentally ill.
It certainly seemed like an event worth
attending and I hoped I would come away
with some information to help me slay (or
at least scare off) the large dragon on my
to-do list. I made the drive from Bethle
hem to Hershey with Matt, one of our in
formation technicians, and we met one of
our branch librarians there as well.
The presentation was interesting and
enlightening. There was a range of speakPUBLIC LIBRARIES

ers including librarians, doctors, medical


librarians, and aspeakerfromthe Pennsyl
vania Behavioral Health and Aging Coali
tion. I gathered a great deal of interesting
data and tips. (When dealing with an emo
tional patient: Stop, Breathe, and Reflect
before speaking. MedLine Plus has great
mental health resources.)
But the most important piece of infor
mation I ended up going home with was a
phone number.
As Matt and I talked on the way home,
we discussed what we had heard. We also
talked a lot about baseball and rock 'n'
roll and poetry and baseball again (there
was a lot of traffic) but mostly we talked
about what we had heard. We agreed that
the library was already pretty good at re
sources. Great, actually. If an individual
came into the library asking for informa
tion on any disorder or condition under
the sun, we'd find some information on it.
If an individual came into the library ask
ing to find out about medication or doc
tors or therapists or clinics or any related
question, I was quite confident that our
Information Department would make sure
they didn't leave empty-handed.
But what about those who weren't
asking for help? What about the mentally
ill man talking to himself in the stacks?
What about the paranoid woman in a
panic about how Microsoft is stealing her
emails? What about all the people who
need help but don't know they need help
or who might be refusing help for any
number of reasons? I reflected on the
fact that we were not very good at deal
ing with these types of patrons. I became
a little embarrassedat my own behavior
and the behavior of my colleagueswhen
I reflected on how library staff dealt with
these patrons. We joke, we give them
nicknames, we shoo them out the door,
we call the police. Mostly we just ignore
them and hope they'll go away.
More and more, we need to accept that
they aren't going anywhere.
The phone number that came in so
handy was the number for the county
mental health office. I recommend that
every public library make the call that I
did. I didn't have an agenda in mind when
I called. I just wanted to learn more. I just
NOV EMB ER /DE CEM BER 2014

35

FEATURE | Mental Health Training in Public Libraries

said "I'm from the public library and I'd like


to know if our organizations can work to
gether." From there, a number of interest
ing things happened.
The helpful staff of the county mental
health office put me in touch with a group
called Recovery Partnership, "a safe, cul
turally sensitive environment for individu
als in Northampton County who are coping
with or recovering from mental illness."3 In
addition to these services, they host free
mental health sensitivity trainings. I im
mediately signed myself up for the next
training that coincidentally was scheduled
just days after I called. This training was far
different from the one focused on the li
brary. I was the only "library person" there.
I was, in fact, the only library person ever to
sign up for the training. (Each of the speak
ers noted this fact and I felt kind of proud
each time.)
The speakers discussed various diagno
ses, stigmas, and the process of involun
tary commitment known as 302. I did not
leave there an expert on mental health
by any means, but I did feel as though I
had a better understanding of how some
one with schizophrenia experiences the
world, for example, and what resources
are available to the library. I learned that
Crisis Intervention can be called instead of
the police if an individual seems in need of
mental health services but is not a threat.
I learned that it is unreasonable to try to
reason with someone in the midst of a
paranoid delusion and that a person with
schizophrenia is not dangerous the vast
majority of the time. I also learned that
their delusions are as real to them as the
physical world we observe is to us.
I decided I needed to offer this train
ing to my entire staff and contacted one
of the speakers for a continuing education
session to be held at my library. I decided
to open it up to other public libraries in the
area and the response was overwhelm
ing. Clearly this was a topic that struck a
chord! We had more than fifty librarians
and other library staff attend from ap
proximately a dozen area libraries. The
speaker was Andrew Grossman from NHS
Human Services. Grossman is a passion
ate defender of the rights of the mentally
ill and constantly reminded us not to use
36

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

terms like "schizophrenic" as nouns. The


person is not the disorder. The person is
a person. That person has schizophrenia,
just as other individuals have arthritis and
don't have to deal with the stigma of be
ing dismissed as "an arthritic."
We received many requests for Gross
man's contact information in the days and
weeks following the presentation. Librar
ies all over wanted to host him, leading me
to believe that a program on understand
ing mental illness is a field of study that
should be offered to all public librarians.
My own education continued when
I had on opportunity to attend a hear
ing at City Hall seeking input on the city's
strategic plan, specifically on the section
dealing with issues of affordable housing
and homelessness. There I met Pamela
Lewis, a case manager for Restoration
House Apartments at New Bethany Minis
tries. She's a passionate advocate for the
homeless and someone who has worked
"in the trenches" for twenty years. Sadly,
from her view the situation is only getting
worse.
"Basically, supportive services money
that used to go into mental health to help
people through mental health treatment
on a consistent basis is no longer there,"
Lewis said. "The supportive services mon
ey has gone to the jails.'"'
In other words, the case workers and
other public health officials who were
available to work at clinics and shelters
and otherwise make sure that mentally
ill individuals were taking their medica
tion, seeing a doctor, having access to ser
vicethose jobs have been eliminated. "It
is now looked at as criminal to have men
tal health issues," Lewis said. "Same with
homelessness. It's viewed as a criminal is
sue. All the money has been put into the
criminal system. If you're on the street,
you'll be arrested. If you're mentally ill and
act out, you don't go to a clinic, you go to
jail. While you're in jail you get treatment,
but when you get released, what hap
pens?"
"You have a lot of untreated, unstable,
unmedicated individuals walking around
our society, and our streets," Lewis said.
And we have them walking around our
libraries as well. What can we do to serve

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

them better while also making our librar


ies safe and welcoming to the entire com
munity?
I talked to one of the attendees at our
session a few weeks after hearing Gross
man's presentation. She was obviously
still fired up about it and reported that her
colleagues were as well. This was Audrey
Kantner, coordinator of youth services at
the Easton Area Public Library.
"We see people with obvious mental
health needs every day," Kantner said.
"It just touched on the iceberg. I felt like
[Grossman] had a lot of knowledge that
was difficult to sum up. As someone who
really needs tips on helping people that I
know absolutely nothing about, I felt like I
needed more training."5
Asked for some specific areas that
would make her task easier, Kantner of
fered several suggestions:
1. Better coordination with the
agencies that serve the mentally
ill population. Contact the library
with information about specific
clients if possible. Leave a contact
on who to call if needed. "I don't
want to be the person who kicks
someone out for swearing to
themselves when there could
have been a strategy or m e th o d something betterthat I could
have done," Kantner said.
2. More education. "I've had train
ing in dealing with children with
special needs, but not specifically
with mental health," she said.
"It is a realm of education that is
lacking in public librarians and I
know that there is a great desire
among public librarians to learn
more. It's not that our library staff
doesn't have the desire to learn,
it's that they don't know where to
learn or how to learn."
"I've worked in three different public
libraries. Library staffand patronsare
afraid of people exhibiting these behav
iors. And as librarians we want to help but
we don't know how to help everybody. It
just goes to show that librarians need to
know everything and, well, we're working
on it," Kantner added.

Mental Health Training in Public Libraries I FEATURE

Quick Facts about Mental Illness

Conclusion
Since the day we were all trained, there
have been instances of mentally ill patrons
at my library and I do believe that the staff
handled these situations better than they
would have previously. They were able to
recognize a patron who was devolving into
a paranoid state and know that the County
Crisis social workers were just a phone call
away. They knew that, if necessary, they
could call the police and a person could be
302'd for his or her own good. I knew that
I could call the county to ask for informa
tion on individuals whom I felt could use.
Caseworkers have offered to come meet
these individuals in the field, to try to con
nect them to the services they may need.
Library staff may also be a little more
relaxed around patrons exhibiting signs of
mental illness. They recognize, as Grossman taught us, that most people with
schizophrenia are not dangerous and pose
no threat to themselves or others. They
have every rig htto be in the library as any
one else. If they seem odd or somewhat
disruptive, well, that's part of life in a pub
lic library. Patrons as well as staff would do
well to accept that.
Finally, remember that it is important
to move away from identifying a per
son by his or her illness. Instead of "here
comes that schizophrenic," try thinking
"here comes a library patron who needs
my help." SI

Affects approximately one in five


American families
Signs and symptoms of thought
disorders:
0
Bizarre dress
0
Easily agitated
0
Social isolation/not easily
engaged in conversation
0
Delusions
0
Repetitions of a certain
behavior
0
Disorganized/illogical think
ing
0
Paranoia
0
Inappropriate affect
0
Hallucinations
If an individual is experiencing
hallucinations:
0
Do not dismiss them as
"not real"; to the individual
experiencing them, they are
very real.

This is the individual's


reality. Help them try to
navigate it, do not neces
sarily try to change it.
Signs and symptoms of mood
disorders:
0
Profound sadness
0
Inappropriate affect, or no
affect at all
0
Changes in eating and
sleeping habits
0
Feelings of helplessness
and/or hopelessness
0
Suicidal ideation or suicide
attempts
0
Hyperactivity
0
Agitation/ restlessness
0
Grandiosity/delusions of
grandeur
0
Impulsiveness; engagement
in reckless activities
0
Poorjudgment
0
Rapid, ramping speech
0
Sense of being invincible

Sidebar information from a 2014 handout presented by Andrew Grossman, administrator, Northampton County
(Pa.) Mental Health. Used with permission.

"Five Myths about Am erica's Homeless,"

References

Washington Post, July 11, 2010, accessed


1.

Evelyn Nieves, "P ublic Libraries:The

Dec. 14,2014, w w w .w ashingtonpost.com

New Homeless S helters," Salon.com,

/w p-dyn/content/article/20io/o7/o9/A R
20a0070902357.html.

Mar. 7, 2003, accessed July 9, 2014,


www.sal0n.c0m/20a3/03/07/public

3.

_libraries_the_new_hom eless_shelters

We A re," accessed Dec. 14, 2014,

_partner.
2.

Recovery Partnership w ebsite, "W ho


w w w .recoverypartnership.org.

National Alliance on Mental Health,

4.

"M ental Illness Facts and Num bers,"


Mar. 2013, accessed Dec. 14, 2014,
w w w .nam i.org/factsheets/m ental
illness_factsheet.pdf; Dennis Culhane,

Pamela Lewis, personal inte rview w ith


the author, Aug. 18, 2014.

5.

A udrey Kantner, phone interview w ith


th e author, Aug. 15, 2014.

VISIT FACEBOOK. COM/ PUBLI CLI BRARI ESONLI NE

P U B L IC L I B R A R I E S

N O V E M B E R / D ECE M B E R 2 0 1 4

37

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

FEATURE

Innovation Expo
Create and Collaborate in Maryland
By Liz Sundermann
he second annual Innovation Expo was held in May
2014 on a spring Saturday in Baltimore. The pub
lic day-long event featured a keynote speaker from
the inspiring Chattanooga (Tenn.) Public Library
(CPL), a library-staff-only training opportunity, and a
5,ooo-square-foot exhibit hall full of hands-on learning opportu
nities from museums, academic institutions, makerspaces, public
libraries, and more.The event, subtitled "Create and Collaborate,"
was a creative collaboration in and of itself.

Developing an Idea
The state library agency in Maryland is housed in the State De
partment of Education as the Division of Library Development
and Services (DLDS). In 2012 DLDS staff began laying the ground
work to help bring the spirit of the maker movement to public li
braries statewide.
Nini Beegan, DLDS's project coordinator, first came across this
concept during a 2005 Library of Congress episode on C-SPAN.
During the episode, Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for
Bits and Atoms at MIT, challenged librarians to consider fabri
cation in public libraries as a means to bring people together to
solve community problems. In 2010, Beegan attended BetaScape,
a tech offshoot of the popular Baltimore art festival ArtScape.
She talked with people who had built 3D printers using materials
they had ordered from MAKE magazine while her children eagerly
launched handmade rockets into the sky. This experience remind-

About the Author


LIZ SUNDERMANN is Youth Services Coordinator at the
Maryland State Department o f Education, Division of Library
Development and Services.

O
38

Contact Liz at lissa.sundermann@maryland.gov.

__________________________________
Liz is currently reading Mind in the Making: The
Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by
Ellen Galinsky.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53. N U M B E R 6

ed her of Gershenfeld's challenge; inspired, she began to explore


ways that DLDS could help Maryland libraries use the maker
movement to further their community-building work. Beegan
met with local makers to explore potential library partnerships.
This conversation marked the beginning of DLDS's partnership
with makers in support of Maryland's public libraries. Later, when
PLA's 2012 Virtual Conference included a session about making
and public libraries, DLDS knew that it was time to act.
DLDS decided to host a Maker Meet-up in fall 2012 to be fo l
lowed by a hybrid event for library staff and the public in the
spring of 2013. Beegan conducted an Internet search for makerspaces and hacker spaces to find more local contacts. She quickly
discovered Michael Smith-Welch, an Artist-in-Residence at the
American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore; Smith-Welch was
using his background in education and art to set up a makerspace
in Takoma Park (Md.). He introduced DLDS to Matt Barinholtz,
director of then-fledgling FutureMakers, a mobile maker and ed
ucation lab that uses children's innate love of tinkering to teach
youth of all ages the core values of traditional crafting, contem
porary design, and futuristic digital fabrication. As the newly hired
youth services coordinator at DLDS, I helped keep our team's ef
forts aligned with STEM education initiatives. DLDS reached out
to other makers and do-it-yourselfers, and we established a group
that included academics, tool librarians, video game designers,
and others. In the fall of 2012, we hosted a Maker Meet-up. One
hundred library administrators, public service staff, systems staff,
and others met with our group of makers at the West County Area
Library of the Anne Arundel County public library system. The day
included a keynote, lightning presentations, hands-on maker fun,
and plenty of time for questions and answers. The packed meet
ing room buzzed with energy, and great ideas were developed as
library colleagues and makers conversed. DLDS set up a Maker
Meet-up electronic mailing list for interested library staff to con
tinue their conversations.
We returned to the idea of sharing these great learning op
portunities with the public; we wanted to provide a venue for
library staff and the public to interact within the context of the
maker movement. We knew that in order for maker events, mak
erspaces, or even isolated programs and classes to be truly suc
cessful, we would need buy-in from library administrators, public
service staff, and technical services staff. But what kind of event

Innovation Expo | FEATURE

could generate this buy-in? In the fall o f


2012 there had been a few libraries na
tionw ide th a t had held Mini-Maker Faires,
which are maker events officially endorsed
and branded by MAKE magazine. The
brand is very successful, and we thought
th a t the cache it carried fo r individuals in
the maker com m unity m ight help us find
quality exhibitors, as well as giving the
event some instant legitimacy in the eyes
o f the public. We postulated th a t it would
be more efficient to w ork w ith an exist
ing tem plate th a t was known to produce
successful results. We filled out the ap
plication, entered into negotiations w ith
MAKE, and began to consider options fo r
a suitable venue.

Planning and Logistics


We were determined to hold the event in a
library. We wanted public libraries to prog
ress in their role as physical, collaborative,
hands-on learning spaces, and holding
the event in a library would allow both the
public and the librarians to witness this in
action. Our first choice was the Maryland
State Library Resource Center (SLRC).
SLRC provides cooperative, cost-effective
resources and services fo r Maryland li
braries and their customersthey are the
resource arm of the state library. SLRC is
physically located at the Central Library o f
the Enoch Pratt Free Library (EPFL) system
o f Baltimore, and has a collection and cus
tom er base typical o f any large urban public
library. SLRC's presence means th a t EPFL's
Central Library also has deeper research
resources and statewide and national cus
tomers who utilize them . The library is
housed in a beautiful block-long building
with neoclassical influences. Built in the
1930s, the library features large display
windows and a street-level entrance to en
tice passersby. It also has a large central hall
th a t houses a computer commons, a grand
piano, several book displays, an inform a
tion station, a laptop lounge, and the circu
lation desk. It is a wonderful place to hold
events and it is regularly used fo r concerts,
weddings, graduation ceremonies, speaker
events, and fundraising galas. In addition to
the library having advantageous architec
ture, it is located in central Maryland, mak
ing it an ideal spot fo r a statewide event.

Barinholtz from FutureMakers worked


closely w ith me to craft a preliminary ex
planation o f the event to share with the
library's administrative team. We had no in
terest in just "using the space," but instead
wanted to work in full partnership w ith the

the generosity and the organic collabora


tive process th a t went into developing this

library. We hoped to ensure th a t the event


was something that would be a success for
their regular customers and staff as well

bilities fo r our event in term s o f physical


space. MAKE had been very concerned

as fo r the people who would be travelling


across the state. As we worked w ith the
administrative team o f EPFL/SLRC, it be
came clear th a t the partnership w ith MAKE
was not in our best interest. The primary
reasons were financialMAKE charges a
fee to use their brand, a cost that is often
defrayed through ticket sales and vendor
license fees. Events sponsored by DLDS,
SLRC, and EPFL are always free to library
staff and members o f the public, and we
didn't w ant to charge the exhibitors since
we w ouldn't be allowing them to sell any
thing at the event. Additionally, the more
we dug into the details o f the planning
process, the more our event deviated from
a Mini-Maker Faire both in scope and in
tent. We let our contact at MAKE know that
we were backing out, and parted on good
terms. There have been very successful
Mini-Maker Faires held at public libraries
before and since, but we have never re
gretted this decision. Our event was being
carefully crafted to fit a variety o f needs
and expectations, and it needed to be cus
tom -built. I continue to be astounded by
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

event th a t is largely about collaboration


and the free exchange o f ideas.
A fte r we ended our partnership w ith
MAKE, we began to explore the possi

th a t we d idn't have a large outside space


to w ork w ith; we contacted the city and
discovered th a t it wasn't te rrib ly d ifficult
or expensive to shut down the block o f
street behind the library. Although this
would have undoubtedly added to the fes
tival atmosphere and to the types o f ex
hibits we could offer, we decided to forego
the outdoor space. It would have cost
quite a bit to rent the tables and tents,
and the city charges extra if the event re
quires electricity. In the spirit of equality of
access we would still not have been able
to sell anything, including food or bever
ages. We probably would have needed to
hire additional security. We also thought
about holding exhibits throughout the li
brary rather than only in the central hall.
This idea, too, was eventually dismissed.
Wesley Wilson, chief o f SLRC and EPFL's
Central Library, and DLDS agreed th a t we
wanted to keep the event manageable
we thought it would be far better to plan
a smaller, more predictably successful day.
If the event was a hit and we decided to
hold it annually, there would be tim e to
expand later.
NOVEMBER /DE CEM BER 2014

39

FEATURE | Innovation Expo

Ensuring that event attendance was


appropriate for the venue size was a ma
jo r concern. We didn't want 6,000 people
waiting in line outside the building caus
ing security issues and general mayhem,
but we also wanted to be sure that peo
ple showed up. We didn't want to spend
months planning only to have an enlight
ened individual with a 3D printer sitting in
a corner of the exhibit hall making whistles
for a handful of random passers-by. We
needed to send out a call to makers and
figure out what kind of publicity we want
ed. Barinholtz and I looked at the security
waiver from MAKE and consulted with the
library administrators about what kind of
exhibits they were comfortable having in
this historic library space. We worked with
the library to find out how much electricity
and Wi-Fi bandwidth would be available.
We came up with a list of requirements
that we sent out along with the call for
makers, so that potential exhibitors would
be able to make an informed decision
about whether or not this event would be
a good fit for them. We also let them know
up front that they would not be able to sell
anything at the event. In order to partici
pate, exhibitors had to agree not to utilize
items that emitted noxious or danger
ous fumes, open flames (circuit soldering
was permitted), fuel-powered projectiles,
large power tools or machines, items that
40

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

emitted smoke or particulates, weapons


that could cause injury, and anything that
could be considered dangerous in a large
room full of people. We welcomed ques
tions. We set up a Google form for regis
tration. In addition to the usual contact
information we asked for the age-range
of the intended audience, the number
of power outlets they'd need access to,
and the type of interactive elements that
would be included in their exhibit.
After we came up with the perfect
name, Innovation Expo, we had a personal
contact who is a design graduate student
create a logo. We used this logo on all
promotional items for the expo, includ
ing the one-inch buttons worn by all the
exhibitors. We created a Facebook event
page, and EPFL hosted a dedicated infor
mation page for the event which included
links to the exhibitor application and the
Facebook page. The library's design de
partment used the logo to create a large
window banner that was displayed promi
nently on the front of the building. DLDS
spread the word through statewide library
communications, and the panelists shared
event details with the maker and educa
tion communities. I spent some time do
ing Internet searches and setting up faceto-face meetings with local makers.
As these preparations were underway,
it became clear that holding the expo in a

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

large public library had some hidden ben


efits. The library already owned all of the
display tables and chairs for exhibitors
that we needed, so we didn't have to rent
furniture. They have a full-time profes
sional security staff which, along with the
exhibitor waivers, allowed us to keep our
focus on the event itself rather than secu
rity logistics. The library has a large audi
torium, as well as more intimate meeting
rooms. These physical amenities made it
possible to hold library staff trainings and
host a keynote speaker presentation as
parts of the event. Barinholtz suggested
that we ask Corey Fleischer if he would
be interested in giving the keynote ad
dress. Fleisher was a thirty-year-old senior
mechanical engineer at Lockheed Martin
and a contestant on (and later winner of)
the Discovery Channel's Big Brain Theory.
Fleisher was also an avid supporter of
makerspaces. He was excited about the
event and agreed to both present the
keynote and run an exhibit showcasing an
adult-sized working go-kart that is con
trolled by a Wii remote.
Beegan facilitated the library staff train
ing portion of the day, which featured a
panel discussion with Michael Smith-Walsh;
Barinholtz of FutureMakers; Jan Baum, the
director of Towson University's Object Lab;
Ben Walsh, director of Pure Bang Games
and the founder of BetaScape; John Shea,
director of the Station North Tool Library;
Gary Mauler, founder of Maryland's RobotFest, which is held annually at the National
Electronics Museum in Linthincum, Mary
land; and Mary Murphy from the Center
For the New American Dream. Library staff
who had been motivated by the Maker
Meet-up and kept their excitement stoked
by participating in the resulting electronic
mailing list were excited to have their wellformulated questions answered by the di
verse panel. Together they planned their
own maker events, programs, and classes.
Fleischer's keynote was well attended,
and the expo was deemed to be a success
by the library staff and customers who
attended, the exhibitors, and the staff at
SLRC who had worked during the extra
busy Saturday. Everyone agreed that it
would be held again the following year.

Innovation Expo | FEATURE

The Second Annual


Innovation Expo
Because we had already worked out the
logistical challenges we focused our time
on fine-tuning the event in 2013-2014. The
public and library staff had largely been
introduced to the concepts of the maker
movement. Bre Pettis, founder of MakerBot, one of the most popular brands of
consumer 3D printers, was interviewed
by Martha Stewart. Dale Dougherty, the
founder of MAKE magazine and the inven
to r of the Maker Faire, spoke at the Ameri
can Library Association's 2013 Midwinter
Conference. Maryland public libraries had
embraced the movement and hosted cre
ative maker programs, hired FutureMakers to provide hundreds of classes across
the state, held their own public maker
events, and, in some cases, had even
drawn up plans to build their own makerspaces. People were definitely still inter
ested in experiencing the movement, but
they no longer necessarily had to come
to the Innovation Expo to do that. We felt
that the tagline from the first Expo, "DIY in
Maryland," wasn't exactly the message we
wanted to convey. The DIY movement is
definitely something that libraries should
be involved in, but we wanted the name
of the Expo to encompass more than that.
We felt that "Create and Collaborate" was
a better fit.
While the county library systems
plunged forward with the maker move
ment, DLDS began deeply investigating
public libraries' relationship with educa
tion. The 2013-14 school year saw the
rollout of Maryland's new Career and Col
lege Readiness standards in all public K-12
schools. Citizens, librarians, and educators
were all new to the standards, and strug
gled to figure out how best to implement
them and discern what that implementa
tion meant to communities. As I met with
colleagues at the State Department of
Education and traveled to various library
systems throughout Maryland, I began to
think about the education that children re
ceive in public school. Maryland has been
rated as having the best public schools in
the country for several years in a row, but
that doesn't mean that each individual

school provides the same level of oppor


tunity or that there isn't valuable learning
that takes place elsewhere. In fall 2013, I
read an article in WIRED magazine about
a teacher in Mexico who got astounding
results from his students by letting them
study what they wanted to learn.1 I do
not think that public schools in the United
States will everfully embrace this method,
nor do I think that it would necessarily be
appropriate for them to do so. However,
the kind of learning that was discussed in
that article, and that I subsequently read
about in a variety of studies, is precisely
what public libraries can offer. As I spoke
with state leaders in other out-of-school
time educational enterprises and contin
ued to follow the latest education trends,
I discovered that this kind of learning is
particularly valuable and hard to find in
the STEM sector. Students are, for exam
ple, rarely given the opportunity to take
computer programming courses until high
school. This is a gap that public libraries
can fill. FutureMakers had already been of
fering digital classes and workshops along
with theirtraditional crafting experiences.
Why not add another degree of complex
ity without taking away the joy of tinker
ing? Why not offer our youth the opportu
nities to create their own video games in
our libraries instead of just playing them?
Barinholtz arrived at this same conclusion
independently and FutureMakers began
adding more computer science programs
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

to their roster of curricula. New technical


education organizations in Maryland were
forming at this time, too. I met Gretchen LeGrand, the director of Code in the
Schools at the Maryland Out of School
Time (MOST) network's STEM Sympo
sium. Her nonprofit is helping Maryland
schools offerfun and interactive computer
coding classes to elementary and middle
school students. I asked if they'd work
with public libraries, and the response was
a definitive, "yes." I discovered that CPL
had held a citywide coding camp in 2013.
I started to think about the possibility of
doing something similar at the state level
in Maryland.

Education Is a Key Focus


This new idea helped us to develop a fresh
strategy for the 2014 Innovation Expo.
Instead of focusing purely on maker cul
ture, we focused this year's event on ser
endipitous STEM learning for all ages. In
stead of adding exhibitors, we narrowed
the field. Some of the organizations we
invited included: The Maryland Science
Center, The Baltimore Underground Sci
ence Space (BUGSS),The Prototyping and
Design Lab from the University of Mary
land, FutureMakers, Code in the Schools,
The Baltimore Robotics Center, and The
Digital Harbor Foundation. In 2013, each
exhibitor had one table; this year, each
exhibitor had several tables where they
offered unique but thematically similar
NOVEMBER /DE CEM BER 2014

41

FEATURE | Innovation Expo

projects. Some of the activities included:


learning how to solder circuits, playing a
fruit keyboard, designing and 3D printing
an iPhone case, electro-etching your own
drawings into dog tag necklaces, design
ing levels of a video game, extracting DNA
from strawberries, bio-painting, operating
robots, and more. Because we have been
rolling out statewide Minecraft programs
in public libraries, we also set up a Minecraft Zone where people could play the
game in a world designed specifically for
the Expo. Carroll County Public Library
provided a Minecraft Craft table that al
lowed participants to make a variety of
Minecraft-themed jewelry, artwork, and
other analog objects.
Teen and youth services librarians from
all corners of the state came to participate
in a library-staff-only workshop presented
by Justin Hoenke from CPL. He told them
that youth services is often the driving
force behind library innovation, and of
fered them some practical ideas for en
gaging young people. The reviews of the
workshop were overwhelmingly positive,
and he stayed in the auditorium for a long
time chatting and answering questions.

Hoenke also provided the keynote, "Cre


ate and Collaborate and Be an Awesome
Person for Your Community," in which he
discussed the importance of forming eq
uitable community alliances and how to
leverage library programming as a posi
tive change-agent for communities. This
year we added an after event called After
the Expo, which was held at the Baltimore
Robotics Center. At the event, state library
staff, the exhibitors, and other out-ofschool time and STEM education organi
zations were invited to discuss future li
brary and community involvement in tech
education.
The second annual Innovation Expo was
also a success. The exhibitors, library staff,
and members of the public all commented
that it was inspiring to see so many diverse
people enjoy learning together. Through
out the day exhibit stations were per
petually populated by people of different
ages, cultural, and economic backgrounds
working together. We were all delighted
by the exceptionally high ratio of entire
families who engaged in the projects as
teams. The visiting library staff members
were pleased with the number of concrete

programming ideas they walked away


with, and were excited to see how much
energy the customers exhibited while
working on the various learning projects.
Library customers had fun engaging with
new ideas and technologies, and parents
were enthusiastic about the level of fam
ily engagement engendered by the event.
The exhibitors had fun engaging with cus
tomers in new ways, and were glad to have
the opportunity to learn more about part
nering with public libraries. In his exhibitor
evaluation, Tom Burkett of BUGSS wrote,
I really liked the way the public engaged
in all of the activities, not just ours. I think
the Innovation Expo is a great forum for
makerspaces and educational programs in
general." Si

Graphic Novels Reading List-2014 Update Available


In 2011, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Quicklists Consulting Committee
created a list of core titles that can be used when starting or maintaining a children's graphic
novel collection. The intended audience is librarians selecting books for inclusion in public li
braries serving elementary school-age children. Updated in November 2014, these Graphic
Novel Reading Lists are available for students kindergarten to second grade, third to fifth
grade, and sixth to eighth grade. PDFs of the book lists are available online in full color and
black and white and are free to download, copy, and distribute.
"Graphic novel" here is defined as a full-length story told in paneled, sequential, graphic for
mat. The list does not include book-length collections of comic strips, wordless picture books, or
hybrid books that are a mixture of traditional text and comics/graphics.The list includes classics
as well as new titles that have been widely recommended and well-reviewed, and books that
have popular appeal as well as critical acclaim. The Quicklists Consulting Committee identified
the best books currently available, and updates the list annually to add great new releases and
remove titles that have gone out of print.
Visit www.ala.org/alsc/graphicnovels2014 for more information and to see the lists. 0 !

42

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

Reference
1.

Joshua Davis, "How a Radical New


Teaching Method Could Unleash a
Generation o f Geniuses," WIRED (Oct.
13, 2013), accessed Dec. 4, 2014, www
.wired.com/2013/10/free-thinkers.

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

By the Book

Contributing Editor
CATHERINE HAKALAAUSPERK is Executive

By the Book reviews professional development


materials of potential interest to public librarians,
trustees, and others involved in library service.

Director o f the Northeast


Ohio Regional Library
System and the owner of
LibrariesThrive Consulting.

If you'd like to w rite a review


or if there's a new book you'd
like to see reviewed here, please
contact Catherine at chakala
ausperk@ gmail.com.
Catherine is currently reading all
o f J. A. Jance's Joanna Brady
mysteries.
Editor's note: Public Library Association policy
dictates th a t PLA publications not be reviewed
in this column. Notice o f new publications from
PLA w ill generally be found in the PLA News
section o f Public Libraries.

Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books through


Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting and Props
By Julie Dietzel-Glair / Chicago: ALA N eal Schuman , 2013 / 216P. / $55
ISBN-13: 978-1-5570-810-8 / LC: 2012040993
Most children's librarians who provide storytimes fo r preschoolers recognize the impor
tance o f changing things up by putting songs and action rhymes between stories. But
the approach Dietzel-Glair is advocating is a bit different; she demonstrates the ability
to move during the story itself. Many librarians provide a craft after storytime, but this
approach incorporates a movement activity while reading the story. Dietzel-Glair de
scribes six types of motion: art, games, movement, music, playacting, and props.
Many options included fo r each type o f m ovem ent make these suggestions prac
tical to incorporate into everyday practice. Following a description o f the type o f m o
tion, an annotated bibliography gives instructions fo r a related m ovem ent activity.
Five hundred picture books published since 2000 are included. Many o f these books
will be familiar, making it easy to incorporate this approach into existing storytim e
plans. For example, children color parts o f the body (provided on an art outline) as "I
A in 't Gonna Paint No More!" is read aloud, they search fo r m ittens w ith "The Missing
M itten Mystery," and rub th e ir tum m ies to "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!"
Dietzel-Glair also includes great tips fo r introducing this approach, which will be
new to many audiences, such as practicing the motions ahead o f tim e, using a bell
or signal when it is tim e to listen to the story or return from a game, and other man
agement hints. As the author notes, this approach is not meant fo r every book read
during a storytim e, but a really innovative idea to energize storytimes. Additionally,
this method naturally incorporates Every Child Ready to Read 2 principles such as
talking, singing, w riting, and playing. Listening fo r a certain cue to play an instru
ment or do a motion also helps to capture a child's attention.
Indexes by title , author, and subject make Books in Motion an easy to use tool
once you understand the approach. Tw enty-four art outlines fo r use in adding art
m ovem ent are also included. This book is a valuable addition to children's librarians
wanting to try new things or looking to reinvigorate their storytim es.Robin L. Gib
son, Youth Librarian, Westerville (Ohio) Public Library

Beyond Book Sales: The Complete Guide to Raising Real Money


for Your Library
Edited By Susan Dowd / Chicago : ALA N eal-Schuman , 2013 / 304P. / $75
ISBN-13: 978-1-55570-912-9 / LC: 2013017139
According to Beyond Books Sales: The Complete Guide to Raising Real Money forY our
Library, the days o f random book sales and baked goods drives are over. This book
claims to have resources fo r any size library and at all levels o f fundraising experi
ence. The book covers a plethora o f topics, but each chapter has a similar form at: a
definition o f the topic being discussed, how one goes about organizing or achieving
it, the pitfalls and potential rewards, and how various types o f libraries can accom
plish this topic or activity.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

o v em

er /

EC e m b E R 2 0 1 4

43

By the Book

One characteristic that make this text


user friendly are the "Words to Know"
sections that are pulled off to the side of
the main body of text. These explain im
portant buzzwords or concepts that the
author has used. For example, there is an
explanation of the difference between a
restricted and an unrestricted monetary
gift. This feature allows for a broader use
of this resource. It's not only for librarians
and library staff, but for the average pa
tron that often ends up in Friends of the Li
brary groups. Much of this book is written
for people that aren't librarians and have
never worked in a public library, which ex
plains why Beyond Book Sales brings up
seemingly obvious points about library
fundraising; like the effect a personalized
or handwritten letter can have on your po
tential donors.
This publication not only touts the
benefits of Friends' activities and various
types of fundraising, but it also presents
the challenges that certain types of activi
ties can come with. Chapter 11 discusses
the process of membership programs,
where the author lays out the pros and
cons of such a fundraising activity. It is this
objective stance that makes Beyond Book
Sales one that should be acquired at state
library agencies and larger public libraries.
Though it focuses on public libraries, there
are tools that would be useful to other
nonprofit groups. For example the confus
ing world of online giving that has begun
to take root for most nonprofits is made
manageable with the tips and suggestions
provided by this text.
One of the most valuable aspects of
this resource is the "Fund-Raising Tool
kit," which includes, but is not limited to,
templates and samples of policies, letters,
and worksheets. The examples of materi
als reproduced are beneficial to the read
ers, though they would be more useful in
color. One point that is hammered home
throughout the text is the final senti
ment in the afterword: "If you finish this
book with just one thought, it should be
that successful fund-raising stems from
healthy, mutually valued relationships"
(p.163). The book breaks fundraising down
to step-by-step processes and often tries
to cover multiple types of libraries, from
44

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

large complex Friends groups to smaller


ones doing minimal fundraising. There is
something for everyone in this book. It is
a valuable resource for any Library Friends
Group or Foundation and a recommend
ed purchase. Even I learned a few new
tricks!Lacy Ellinwood, Library Consul
tant, Mississippi Library Commission

Library Planner is a high-quality resource


that any library contemplating major reno
vations or even complete replacement will
want to read first. The ideas and checklists
will be invaluable to making your building
of the future one that will sit easy in the lo
cal environment.W. Keith McCoy, Assis
tant Director, Somerset County (N.J.) Library
System

The Green Library Planner


By M ary FI. Carr / La n h a m ,M d .:

Planning Our Future Libraries:


Blueprints for 2025

Scarecrow Pr., 2013 / 136P. / $75

ISBN 13: 978-0-8108-8736-7

Edited by K im L eeder an d Eric Frierson

LC unavailable

Chicago -. ALA Editions , 2014


144P. / $48 / ISBN-13: 9780838912072

While there are many books already about


designing the library beautiful, there is
precious little on how to create (or re
create) an energy efficient, low environ
mental impact library. This book is an ex
cellent guide to how to build or renovate a
library with a green philosophy.
Carr, an experienced library manager,
leads the readerthrough a thought process
about the human impact on the remain
ing resources the world has to offer, and
how our public buildings suck up so much
energy and nonrenewable materials. The
author then gets us to consider the major
parts of a building: lighting, water, the ma
terials used in construction, and so on. She
is also good about pointing out the options,
such as siting a building facing this way
rather than that makes a difference.
Each chapter ends with discussion
questions, and many include checklists to
help the reader decide among the options
available. While technical in many parts,
it is not difficult to read, nor is it preachy
about the need to build more thoughtfully.
Two items that would have added to
the value of this title would have been a
glossary of all the organizations and key
terms that pepper the text. A second ben
efit would have been a chapter on politick
ing for a green library. In the face of those
who just want the cheapest library, or who
believe that "green" is only a liberal scam,
some suggestions for countering those ar
guments would have been helpful.
While expensive (as most limited mar
ket library science titles are), The Green

LC :2013028246

VOLUME 5 3 , NUMBER 6

In the library of 2025, some readers will


see a reflection of their libraries and oth
ers a draft for their aspirations. A minority
will resist the necessity of sharing control
of library collections, services, building de
sign, and purpose. While the fundamental
principles of libraries may not change, the
way they are expressed in a successful fu
ture will require librarians to be relational,
nimble, outward-focused, collaborative,
supportive of innovation, convenient, and
deliberate about trusting their patrons in
designing the libraries' future.
This book is thoughtfully divided into
four sections. In the first, "Embracing Par
ticipation," Brett Bonfield and Dave Harmeyer encourage librarians to form con
nections with users, related agencies, and
individuals based on mutual customers
and goals. Future-minded librarians will
partner to plan services without regard
to the physical, technological, political,
financial, and philosophical barriers that
currently exist. It will be as vital for librar
ies to help users create solutions to life's
puzzles as it is to give them access to col
lected resources.
"Reimagining Spaces" begins with
an intriguing psychological assessment
about the connection between space,
what fills space, and identity (personal
and institutional). In response to the
feared loss of tangibles, Ben Malczewski
assures us that books and other symbols
are actually experiences that can be repli-

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

By the Book

cated as content is reformatted and space


is repurposed. Krisellen Maloney's faculty
commons is already reality in progressive
academic libraries. Park rangers are the
model for Hugh Rundle's/ree range librarianship, practical extensions of outreach
that are embedded in unexpected places.
"Building New Infrastructure" is a call
to action for advocates, administrators,
and governing bodies. Megan Hodge em
phasizes anotherthread in the bookthat
librarians and libraries must be active par
ticipants in their future, creating and de
signing solutions rather than reacting and
accepting. John Chrastka outlines new
funding models and how a National Li
brary Card might be implemented.
Finally, "The Global Future" reminds us
of the disparities and challenges in staff
ing school libraries in developing nations,
which are familiar even in parts of devel
oped countries with similar struggles.
Ten years from now is near, not re
mote. Specific scenarios are transferable
across library types, inspiration to think
outside of library walls. The book will pro
vide some clarity for libraries with blurry

vision, and essays are well-cited for those


who want more ideas. I recommend it
for librarians who are dissatisfied with in
e rtia Jenifer Grady, Executive Director,
Tenn-Share, Nashville, Tenn.

Transforming Young
Adult Services
A nthony Bernier, Editor / Chicago:
ALA N eal-Schuman , 2013 / 280P . / $ 6 5
ISBN-13: 9 7 8 -1 5 5 5 7 0 9 0 7 5
LC:2 0 1 3 0 1 4 6 5 1
The field of library and information sci
ence has long struggled with the defi
nition of young adults and how to best
serve their needs in libraries. Transforming
Young Adult Services advocates fora redef
inition of youth and how libraries can posi
tively respond to the challenges of serving
teens. A series of essays by library school
academics, practitioners, and others en
gaged in serving youth discuss the histori
cal background o f the field of young adult
services, marginalization and inclusion of

Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a

youth, development, and intellectual free


dom issues.
The recognition of "adolescence" as
a specific time in an individual's life is a
concept that emerged approximately 150
years ago. One of the issues facing libraries
and library educators is the notion of young
adulthood. Many librarians serving this age
group realize that the term "young adult"
is a misnomer that teen and tween differ
entiate between childhood and adulthood.
The essays stress the need for more teen
input and focus on the development and
delivery of services, programming, and lit
erature for them. Shifts in the dynamics of
how teens are served have been observed
and the authors recommend strategies and
best practices for libraries to increase their
relevance to teens.
Public libraries and librarians serving
teens will find this a valuable tool to re
evaluate current services and attitudes to
ward young adult services and implement
necessary changes needed to make the
transformation.Rhonda Puntney Gould,
Owner/Library Consultant, Gould Library
Consulting a!

L/ibrary-New from ALA Editions

"But this is how we've always done it!" Objections to taking a fresh tack are about as common as budget shortfalls, and the two are
more closely related than you might think. At the Craighead County (Ark.) Jonesboro Public Library (CCJPL), Ben Bizzle and his col
leagues defied common practices by using creative risk-taking in marketing and outreach to transform their library into a dynamic
institution that continues to grow and thrive. In Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a Library, published by ALA Editions, Bizzle and
co-author Maria Flora share techniques for success alongside a provocative marketing philosophy that will spur libraries to move
beyond their comfort zone. Focusing on creative ways to pull patrons in rather than just push the library out, this book:

steers libraries towards defining their brand, explaining why it is crucial to meeting the needs of their users and potential
users;

offers strategies for getting stakeholders on board and engaged, including how to address budgeting concerns; and

demonstrates the importance of the library's website as the digital "main branch" of the library, with guidance for creating
and promoting it.
Bizzle is the director of technology at CCJPL. He is a 2013 Library Journal Marketing Mover & Shaker and part of CCJPL's 2013
John Cotton Dana Award-winning creative team. He is also a national speaker, library marketing consultant, and the founder of Library
Market. Prior to joining the library team, he spent seven years as a technologist in the health care industry, eventually becoming the
director of information technology, responsible for the technology infrastructure for four hospitals in Arkansas, Alabama, and Geor
gia. Flora is an award-winning journalist and writer who resides in Brookland (Ark.). Visit the ALA Online Store (www.alastore.ala.org)
for more information. SB

FOLLOW

PL

ON T W I T T E R @P U B LI B O N LI N E
PUBLIC LIBRARIES

NOVEMBER /DE CEM BER 2014

45

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

N ew Product News

Contributing Editor
HEATHER TEYSKO
is Assistant Director
of Innovation and
Development and
Contributing Editor
TANYA NOVAK is Member
Services and Outreach
Manager for Califa, a
nonprofit membership
cooperative serving
libraries in California.

Contact Heather at hteysko@


califa.org. Contact Tanya at
tnovak@califa.org.

Heather is currently reading The


Lost Art o f Dress: The Women Who
Once Made America Stylish by
Linda Przybyszewski. Tanya is
currently reading Wabi-Sabi: fo r
Artists, Designers, Poets & Philoso
phers by Leonard Koren.

New Product News delves into the world of library


vendors and products to find the standouts that
combine innovation and quality.

RefTracker Express For Small and Medium-Sized Libraries


RefTracker Express is a pared down version of Altarama's RefTracker. It is designed
for small to medium-sized libraries that want a way to manage and track their in
formation request services whether it is via in person, phone, email, Internet, chat,
or text. After completing a short planning guide, Altarama will provide you with a
ready-to-use system that requires minimal staff setup time and training and no IT
involvement.
It is a cloud-based (no software to download) product. It is hosted and adminis
tered by Altarama so library staff members do not have to worry about upgrades or
periodic system tuning. It comes with three preconfigured forms: (1) a customized
request form for a variety of request types that can be adjusted to your needs at no
additional cost; (2) a comments and suggestions form: and (3) a standard simple
request form that can be inserted into library webpages.
A built-in report writer helps analyze the statistics. More than a hundred differ
ent reports can be created based on the requests submitted to the system, and the
reports can be broadcast to screen or exported.
One license allows for an unlimited number of staff login accounts with 1-5 con
current users for one institution. Staff can access RefTracker Express at their desk,
at a service point, on a mobile phone, or with a tablet. The entry level cost for set
up and one license is $2,500. If you find you need additional features Altarama can
upgrade the system to meet your needs.
To learn more, visit www.altarama.com/RefTracker-Express.

More Self-Publishing Options for Libraries


In our last column, we talked about some o f the new self-publishing tools for librar
ies; including SELF-e from Bibliolabs and Library Journal, and the new partnership
between FastPencil and Recorded Books.
There is another option that we chose to go with for the enki Library, our own
hosted e-book platform built in partnership with Contra Costa (Calif.) County Li
brary. California-based self-publishing platform leader, Smashwords, will set up
free, branded publishing portal sites for any library that wants one. Patrons will be
prompted to create a free Smashwords account and upload their book with cover
art.
Items that come through the branded link may be tagged as originating from
your library. The titles may then become available through the distributors with
whom Smashwords has partnerships such as OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor, so
if you use any of those, you are able to make the titles available via those platforms.
You simply need to send Smashwords some text and cover art/logo for the portal
page.
See how Los Gatos (Calif.) Library publicizes its partnership with Smashwords at
www.losgatosca.gov/1968/eBook-Self-Publishing-Partnership and see the library's
branded portal page at www.smashwords.com/signup7lgpkyes.
Contact Jim Azevedo of Smashwords atjim@smashwords.com to get the setup
information.

46

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

New Product News

Foreign Films and


Documentaries
If you are looking fo r foreign language
film s and documentaries, or providing
access to classic films, there are tw o new
streaming video services, Digitalia and Cri
terion Films, from Alexander Street Press.

Digitalia Film Library


Digitalia, a provider o f Hispanic e-books,
journals, and educational multimedia pro
grams, has introduced a film library o f Span
ish and other European language films.
The library currently includes more
than 500 film s and documentaries from
1919 to 2013 w ith more titles to be add
ed as they become available. There are a
number o f award-winning feature films
such as Zona Sur (2009) from Bolivia and
Todos Tus Muertos (2011) from Columbia
and film s th a t are difficult to obtain in the
United States.
The film library is divided into seven col
lections: (1) Argentine Cinema, (2) Europe
an Cinema, (3) History, (4) Latin American,
(5) Nature and Wildlife, (6) North American
Classic Cinema, and (7) Travel Documenta
ry. The collections are subscription-based;

Kurosawa, and Orson Welles. In addition to

and Houston (Tex.) Public Library.

feature films, the collection includes docu

"So far this year thousands o f graphic

mentaries and popular subgenres such as

novels, manga, and comic books have been

French NewWave, Italian Neorealism, and


New German Cinema. Some films include

checked out via Comics Plus: Library Edi


tion," said Josh Elder, account director at

audio commentaries by filmmakers and


scholars, restored director's cuts, deleted

Comics Plus: Library Edition and founder

scenes, documentaries, shooting scripts,


early shorts, and storyboards.
The collection is available in full or in
the following micro-collections: American
Documentaries, American Independents,

o f Reading W ith Pictures. "Boopsie is the


perfect partner to help expand this even
further, and we couldn't be more excited to
be partnering w ith them ."1
Library-branded mobile apps from Bo
opsie w ork on all m ajor mobile operating

American Mid-Century, A rt Cinema o f the

systems and are used by more than 2,500

1980s and 1990s, The British Collection, Cult


Classics, The Eastern European and Russian

libraries worldwide. Boopsie will be selling


subscriptions to Comics Plus: Library Edi

Collection, The Films o f Ingmar Bergman,


French New Wave Collection, the German
Collection, the Golden Age o f French Cin

tion to all libraries, regardless o f w hether


they have a Boopsie app since the sub
scription can be delivered through desk

ema: Volumes la n d 2, Italian Cinema, Inter


nal Silent Cinema, The Japanese Collection:

top browsers as well.

Volumes 1 and 2, Modern French Cinema,


Silent Films from Charlie Chaplin and Harold
Lloyd, World Documentaries.
This is a subscription-based service
w ith 24/7 access to unlim ited users w heth
er in the library or not, so your patrons
always have access to the content. A li
brary's authentication options are via IP,
referrer URL, username/password, library

a library may subscribe to the full collection


o rto individual or multiple collections.
There is unlim ited access to content

card, or Shibboleth, and they are offering


a thirty-day trial if you'd like to test it out.
To learn more, visit http://alexander

and unlim ited concurrent users. The films


can be accessed rem otely and can be

street.com /products/criterion-collection.

Libraries purchase 2,500 credits th a t are


metered out to library users uniform ly over
a twelve-m onth period. One credit allows
patrons to check out a comic, and tw o cred
its enable access to a graphic novel. These
digital items are available on an easy-toaccess digital bookshelf and automatically
returned after seven days. Most libraries
buy multiple blocks o f credits and add addi
tional blocks as demand fo r digital comics
and graphic novels grows.
"Libraries are excited about being able
to meet the needs o f the Kids, Teens, and
Young Adult markets in innovative, easyto-use ways with content th a t generates
excitement about the library," said Bryan

viewed on mobile devices. The subscrip


tion also includes Public Performance
Rights (PPR).

Comics Plus: Library Edition

To learn more, visit w w w .digitaliafilm


library.com.

Mobile app creator Boopsie is entering


into new territory with a digital comics and

Criterion Films

graphic books products in partnership with


Comics Plus: Library Edition. Comics Plus

Alexander Street Press is offering the Cri


terion Collection, an online streaming col
lection o f 300 o f Criterion's most im por

offers more than 10,000 digital comics to


libraries, accessible via the Boopsie mobile
app or the traditional library website.

ta n t and influential films.


The Criterion Collection covers the his
to ry o f cinema throughout the tw entieth

Comics Plus: Library Edition is an online


streaming service th a t provides libraries
w ith access to thousands o f digital graphic

century, from early silent films such as


Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) to re
leases from contemporary filmmakers such
as Gus Van Sant and Guillermo del Toro. It
also includes films from directors such as

novels, comic books, and manga at a percheckout price w ith simultaneous circula
tion to virtually any mobile device, tablet,
or PC. They currently have a number o f ac
tive libraries, including Kitchener (Ontario)

Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira

Public Library, York County (Pa.) Libraries,

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Murray, director o f accounts at Boopsie.


Our team will be helping libraries market
this new service directly to library patrons
in order to further help libraries reach new
users and get the word out to their commu
nities about digital comics."2 S I

References
1.

"Comics Plus: Library Edition,"


accessed Dec. 19, 2014, www.boopsie
.com/boopsie-stars/comics-plus.

2.

"Boopsie Partners with Comics Plus:


Library Edition to Provide Enhanced
Access to Digital Comics and Graphic
Novels to Libraries," accessed Dec. 19,
2014, www.boopsie.com/comics-plus
-library-edition-digital-graphic-novels
-for-libraries.

N O VE M BER/DECEM BER 2 0 1 4

47

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.

Under the Radar

Under the Radar is where youll find books, movies, and other media of note that
might not be getting tons of publicity, but your patrons are sure to be interested in.

New York State of Mind


This month, it's Kaite's turn to shill the pop culture o f her home state
o f New York.
s far as Jessica is concerned, New York City is where Law
& Order (1990-2010) takes place and upstate New York is
home to J. R. Ward's vampire warriors, The Black Dagger
Brotherhood. But New York is home to more characters than just
sardonic detectives and tortured vampires. These are their stories.
Before Disney and Mayor Giuliani gentrified Manhattan's
Times Square, Damon Runyon glorified the golden-hearted gang
ster and marriage-minded chorus girl in his short story collection
Guys and Dolls (1929). Runyon's ear for the tone and phrasings of
the gentlemen bootleggers of Broadway paved the way for the
staccato rhythms of Winter Santiago and her peeps in The Coldest
Winter Ever (1990), set in Brooklyn's projects.
There's plenty of drama outside the bright lights of the big
city. Head east to Long Island and meet the young teen lovers,
Rick and Sheryl, who play out angst on a 1960s Shakespeareansuburban split-level in Alice McDermott's That Night (1987). A pas
sionate hood bellows his undying love for a naive bobbysoxer and
a well-manicured front lawn becomes a battlefield for a genera
tional culture clash.
Head upstate to Cold Falls and meet the
seven gay men who gather at the Engine
Room, the only gay bar for miles. John,
Russell, Mike, Greg, Stephen, Simon, and
Thomas trade tales of woe and bemuse
ment about love lives, family ties, religion,
and gay marriage in Looking fo r It (2004).
There's horror in them thar Catskills, too.
Anthony Izzo's Evil Harvest (2007) popu
lates the bucolic town of Lincoln with evil
monsters masquerading as law abiding citi
zens, including the town's police chief.
Not quite as evil, but equally terrifying, is New York City's iconic
subterranean transit system, the subway. Randy Kennedy has col
lected stories about the underground regulars and their fascinat
ing experiences in Subwayland: Adventures in the World Beneath
New York (2004). Meet the Mercury Men, the first two guys to
paint themselves silver and stand silently in the midst of all the
city's chaos. The fare-hopping pigeons who take the A train to
Beach 25th Street station. The woman who spent her four-train
ride listening to a litany of differences her lawyer boyfriend recited
as if giving state's evidence. As the train pulled into the City Hall
station, she realized they were no longer a couple.

48

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

V O L U M E 53, N U M B E R 6

Want to get to know New York City in under two hours without
leaving Kansas City? Pick up A History o f New York in 101 Objects
(2014). From bagels to mastodon tusks to a Checker cab, it's al
most like being there.
New York always plays a role in every
movie in which it is cast. The city falls
under the spell of a giant moon, and an
extended family of passionate Italians
in Brooklyn are Moonstruck (1987) in this
romantic comedy classic. In true, "only in
New York" fashion, a cop without cash tips
his diner waitress half of his lottery ticket if
it pays out. It Could Happen to You (1994)
how every New Yorker starts a shaggy dog
storyis a sunny, blue-collar fairytale. A
funny "cause it's not you" tale is computer programmer Paul's ex
citing, frightening, life-threatening romp through the After Hours
(1985) streets of the city's edgy side.
The soundtrack of the city will always include Billy Joel, one
of Long Island's favorite musical sons. Start with his Grammywinning album, 52nd Street (1978). Or rock out to The Ramones
(anything for that New York street punk feel) or feel the melan
cholia drip through Don Henley's "New York Minute" (1989) and
understand that you don't have to be in a New York state of mind
for everything to change in a New York minute. H!

Contributing Editor
KAITE MEDIATORE
STOVER (left) is Director
of Readers' Services at
Kansas City (Mo.) Library.
Contributing Editor
JESSICA MOYER (right)
is Assistant Professor,
University of Wisconsin-

Contact Kaite at kaitestover@gmail.com; contact


Jessica atjessicaemilymoyer@gmail.com.

Copyright of Public Libraries is the property of American Library Association and its content
may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright
holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for
individual use.