Posts tagged ‘Indiana’

What you can do for libraries

There’s a lot that libraries can do for you including providing fun programs, a quiet place to read or study, homework help, tax forms, technology training, free Internet access, and volunteer opportunities. But there’s something you can do for libraries–and they need your help.

I recently wrote about the trouble Indiana libraries are facing due to property tax caps and the cuts school libraries are facing in Monroe County. But yesterday delivered stunning, devastating news about New Jersey libraries: they’re facing a 74% reduction in funding.

The cuts, which add up to $10.4 million, could also cost New Jersey access to $4.5 million in federal matching funds which, among other things, currently provides internet access for roughly two-thirds of the state’s 306 public libraries.

That’s right: No Internet at the library. Never mind that the public library is the only free internet access in 78 percent of communities, according to the New Jersey Library Association; or that many state agencies have moved their forms on-line.

It’s especially disheartening that this news comes at the beginning of National Library Week. Especially through Internet access, technology training, and database access, libraries are becoming more important, not less. And while everyone needs to make cuts when state budgets get trimmed, libraries are being disproportionately targeted.

Yet another irony is that, of all the villains that have pushed New Jersey to the brink of financial oblivion, libraries simply aren’t one of them. Librarians aren’t represented by powerful unions. Their pay hasn’t escalated at 4 percent to 6 percent a year. Library funding at the state level has been flat for twenty years.

“We have never fed at the trough like public safety and education,” said Robert White, executive director of Bergen County Cooperative Library System, which represents 75 libraries across four counties. “And now we’re being punished for it.”

If you’re in the area, there will be a rally in Trenton on 6 May to demonstrate support for New Jersey libraries. You can also contact legislators, send a letter to the paper, or join supporters on Facebook at Save My NJ Library.

And since it is National Library Week, be sure to tell your own legislators that you support your library. If you’re in Indiana, you can do that online via the Indiana Library Federation. You can also take national action via the ALA website, where they’re asking you to talk to your senator by 14 April (that’s this Wednesday) to express your support for libraries before the Senate Appropriations Committee meets to determine funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program in its FY2011 budget.

You can also use the ALA’s Library Value Calculator to see how valuable your local library is to you as a patron–or to your community if you’re a librarian trying to defend your institution.

And finally, if you haven’t yet sent in your Census form, please do so. The number of people in your community determines how federal funds will be allocated, and your library is one of the organizations that will be affected by that funding. While it may not seem like one person really matters, when it comes to the Census, you do.

Share this post: add to del.icio.us post to facebook post to twitter

Advertisements

April 12, 2010 at 10:44 AM 1 comment

News: property tax caps and Indiana libraries, microfilm art, and YALSA mentoring

About two years ago, the Indiana legislature voted to institute a property tax cap of 1% for residential homes effective in 2010, and Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law. This is bad news for libraries because in Indiana, most of the library’s income is from property taxes (about 80%, in fact, according to the director of the Allen County Public Library). Budgets were cut, hiring was reduced, and cost-saving measures were introduced. The St. Joseph County Public Library said it’d cut all its Saturday hours. A year after the tax caps were announced and revenue cuts had begun, most of the library branches in Vigo County were closed. This fall the Anderson Public Library cut its hours. And yesterday, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) announced that they’d likely be closing six branches and cutting 55 jobs. Back in January one poll showed the governor’s approval rating was about 65% across the state with his highest rating (around 70%) in the Indy area, and about 73% of people approve of the tax caps. Libraries provide things like story times and recreational reading and fun programs, but we also provide absolutely essential resources like computer and Internet access and assistance in filing for unemployment online. I’m really hoping that when library services, hours, and staff get cut, people reconsider their approval of property tax caps, but since even cutting fire departments by about 30% hasn’t convinced people that the tax caps are a bad idea, I just don’t know how hopeful I can be.

In more cheerful news, IUPUI’s University Library recently got rid of about half of its microfilm collection and the librarian in charge of the weeding project, Mindy Cooper, was determined to keep it out of the landfill. According to Mindy, a lot of it went to students at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI, Indiana art teachers, and the Eiteljorg Museum, and one of the things it was used for was to make this collage by Alisa Nordholt-Dean at the Eiteljorg. What a neat reuse of discarded library materials!

Finally, the application process for YALSA’s mentoring program began on Monday (here’s the official blog post). They’re looking for librarians who’ve been working with teens in public or school libraries for at least six years to be paired up with new librarians and graduate school students to form a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. The application forms are due by 30 June and reference forms should be submitted by 7 July. Participants will be notified of their selection in mid-September. I’ve applied and I’m hoping to be selected, but regardless of whether or not I’m invited to participate, I think this is a really cool program and I’m glad YALSA is offering this opportunity not only for new librarians to have guidance, advice, and a source of encouragement, but also to give more seasoned librarians a chance to pass on some of their wisdom and learn new things themselves.

Share this post: share on delicious post to facebook post to twitter

April 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM 1 comment

Disappearing school libraries

I received an email today via the IU SLIS listserv about the continuing struggle against school funding cuts in Monroe County. An independent group is planning a rally on 10 April to recruit volunteers to pass a funding referendum. I haven’t been able to find freely accessible news posts about the rally, but most of the information is reproduced on the Bloomington Moms Meetup Group. The proposed funding cuts would, among other things, eliminate all elementary and middle school librarian positions, leaving just one high school librarian.

And Monroe County is not alone. It’s happening in Connecticut, in New Jersey, in Arizona, and in California, too. In fact, all across the country, school library services and staff are being cut or professional librarians are being replaced with paraprofessionals. This Google Map (created by someone listed only as Shonda) shows “a nation without school librarians”–places where certified school librarian positions are to be eliminated or where librarians will have to work across multiple schools. If this is happening near you and it’s not represented on the map, be sure to update it. And stop by and tell Edi of Crazy Quilts what school libraries have meant to you.

But most importantly, be sure to tell your local government and school board why school libraries matter. Start with “Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google” by Mark Moran for Forbes and Sara Scribner’s “Saving the Google Students” at the LA Times (thanks to Eilir for the links) and “Student Reading Skills Improve With Library Funding” by Jack Humphrey in the Indy Star. When funding gets tight, cuts are going to be made–but we can try to protect our schools and libraries for the demonstrable benefit they bring.

March 31, 2010 at 10:08 PM 1 comment

A visit to Carmel Clay Public Library

On Monday my Youth Services class took a field trip to Carmel Clay Public Library in Carmel, Indiana. We met with the Young Adult Services Department Manager, Hope Baugh, who–in addition to being a stellar librarian at CCPL–has been on the Alex Awards committee for the last three years. She told us about her department; did some storytelling (she told us a story about a man who marries a woman with a golden arm and the story of the little girl and the Gunniwolf and we were all utterly transfixed); gave us a tour of the library; and then answered our questions about her job, her library, and the profession.

CCPL’s YA department is–relative to other libraries I’ve gotten to know–huge. They have a full-time manager and a full-time librarian, both with their MLS degrees, and three part-time library assistants who don’t have MLS degrees. What a far cry from the “lone librarian” position in which most people working in YA find themselves! CCPL’s also noteworthy in that the reference desk handles all homework and research questions, leaving the YA desk to attend exclusively to teen patrons’ readers’ advisory needs. (The library also has an adult readers’ advisory desk that helps patrons with their recreational reading and even provides custom reading lists upon request.)

CCPL’s computing set-up is also unusual: they have computers scattered around the library, but their Internet access is restricted to the library catalog and the databases to which the library has access. It’s at the Tech Center that patrons can sign into a computer using their library card to get access to Microsoft Office and have unrestricted access to the Internet. CCPL has chosen to forego federal E-Rate funding to provide unfiltered Internet access to their patrons. I didn’t get this exactly right; please see Hope’s comment below for a correct (and detailed) description of their computer use policy and set-up. While there are more graduated levels of computer access than I described, the choice to have unfiltered computer access anywhere in the library still means CCPL has to give up federal E-Rate funding for their Internet and computer access.

We go to take a peek at some of the staff work areas and storage areas in the Youth Services department. Every staff member, even part-time library assistants, have their own workstations and work areas. And oh man, the materials they have for programs and storytimes! The back storage areas were full of plastic containers marked “FROGS” or “FEELINGS” or with different books, and inside were finger puppets and toys and craft ideas related to those themes and those books. And the room they use for storytime has wooden doors with little preschool people-sized doors in them for late arrivals!

Since our trip to Greenwood focused mostly on services for younger children, this visit focused on young adult services. Hope told us about her Teen Library Council, which was originally limited to 25 teens but has, under her guidance, expanded to 50 teens divided into two groups who meet separately on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The two different groups mostly work on their own projects, but they do a lock-in once a year as one big group and plan a big program for school-age children together once a year.

One of the other neat things that the TLC does is designate Choice Picks. At each TLC meeting, a notebook is passed around and teens write down a book they’ve read recently that they enjoyed and would recommend to other teens; once a book gets three votes, it’s designated a TLC Choice Pick, gets a special spine label, and is moved to a special shelving area.

Teens also have the chance to get involved with the library by leading a How-To Wednesday. Once a month, a teen volunteers to design a demonstration of a particular skill or craft (like origami, magic tricks, or juggling) and teach other teens to do it. They receive three hours of volunteer credit and get experience with planning an event. CCPL also has a recurring DIY Monday’ and Book Discussion Thursday in the teen lounge (a corner of the YA department with comfortable seating, tables, board games, magnetic poetry, and plenty of electrical outlets for laptops) that are fairly casual programming; the book discussions in particular require no reading ahead of time but provide teens with an opportunity to talk about books they’ve read and enjoyed recently or about certain topics like books that should be made into movies. Of course, food is always provided at these programs!

After our tour, Hope talked to us about some more “behind the scenes” sort of things. She went over the library’s book challenge process and talked about encounters she’s had with patrons who have been unhappy with a book in the library. She also told us about this great in-house database the YA department has been building over time with book summaries and “flags” that denote sexual activity, bad language, death, and other sensitive topics. I think that as librarians we’re always reading with an eye for that kind of thing (and for more general characteristics like appeal or certain kinds of characters or settings), and the database allows CCPL’s YA staff to easily know the content of books beyond what they’ve read.

I was impressed with the work that’s gone into CCPL’s YA department from having a surprisingly large staff that really enjoy working with teens to giving teens opportunities to shape the library for themselves and their peers. And I’m not sure it’s come out in this post, but I was also really impressed with the wisdom and professionalism that Hope has cultured over her years as a YA librarian. In her local work and her work with ALA and YALSA, she’s absolutely an asset to our profession.

March 10, 2010 at 11:01 AM 3 comments

A visit to Eckhart Public Library

I’ve written a little bit about my directed readings course this semester that I’m doing with Andrea Japzon and four other students in the program. On Saturday we took a trip up to the Eckhart Public Library in Auburn, Indiana to see their collections, work out some details of the project, and share our best practices research.

The William H. Willennar Genealogy Center
We started at the William H. Willennar Genealogy Center where we met Gregg Williamson, the Manager of Genealogical Services (and a SLIS-Indy grad!), who gave us a tour of their building. We started off with the print collection, which has the largest collection of genealogy materials dealing with DeKalb County, and includes yearbooks for local schools dating back to 1905, family histories for local families, phone books, and individual files of research people have done on their own families. They also have a large microfilm collection of local newspapers, microfilm readers and scanners, and computer stations where patrons can use online resources to do genealogy research.

The seating space in the main room of the Genealogy Center. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Part of the print collection. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Gregg then took us through the staff workspace and talked about the people who work at the Genealogy Center (they’re mostly part-time employees and volunteers) and showed us the basement archive and the permanent archive upstairs. The basement archive is mostly local newspapers; some date back to the 1800s, but the collection also includes recent issues as well. As Gregg explained it, we’re very fortunate to have those two hundred-year-old papers, and people two hundred years from now are only going to have resources like that if we save current newspapers now.

Archival boxes in the basement archive. Photo by Erin Milanese.

The Genealogy Center has a lot of really cool technology and tools; one of the ones I found the most interesting was the microfilm camera. EPL still sends some of its things out to be microfilmed since it’s such a labor-intensive process and they do depend so heavily on volunteer work, but there are some items that they scan themselves. I can’t remember what the exact claim to fame was, but this may be one of the only microfilm scanners in a public library in Indiana. It was something really impressive like that.

EPL's microfilm camera. Photo by Erin Milanese.

The upstairs archive is the permanent archive and contains records that are available upon request but aren’t immediately available to the public (e.g., old gradebooks from local schools). We had a short but interesting conversation about balancing privacy and access; Gregg said that rather than siding with archivists who’d be more interested in privacy and protection of the physical materials, he tends to err on the side of making things open to people, reasoning that it’s a public library, so their holdings should be open to the public. He did say that there are some things that aren’t available to the public at all because of privacy concerns, like old library card registrations from earlier decades that include people’s names and addresses.

We also got to check out the digitization lab. Alaina Ring is in charge of the metadata for the library’s photo archive and database and she walked us through the creation of a database record. The digitalization lab has some neat technology, too, including a 35mm slide scanner, and what’s really cool about it is that it’s open to the public. They’ve done a lot of grant writing to build their collection and the tools they have available to them. It’s really impressive.

Two of the computer workstations (and the slide scanner) in the digitization lab. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Our Project, People of Auburn
This trip also gave us all a chance to better understand the specifics of and our own roles in this project. The Genealogy Center already has an extensive collection of photographs and documents, but most of it is of historical materials–which makes sense, since the people who use the Genealogy Center are doing research into their family’s history or into local history in general. But in the same way that Gregg is saving local newspapers now for the researchers of the future, Andrea wants to start saving the digital content of today for the researchers of tomorrow.

What we’re hoping to do with this project is to target some people whose stories reflect what’s going on in the community now: the woman who owns a local cafe, a teenager growing up in Auburn, a prominent politician, the factory worker who recently got laid off because of the economic downturn. We’ll solicit from them real and digital objects that represent their lives in the community and then figure out how to ingest that content into the library’s digital collection (or find a home for it at the DeKalb History Center or return it to its owner after scanning or photographing it). We’d also like to collect oral histories (maybe even on video) and find a way to include those in the library’s database. After an initial pilot program this year, we’re hoping to expand the project to include more community members in future years, and to promote the collection during Auburn Pride Week.

Andrea’s big on co-created community resources and on knowledge exchanges, so since we (both we students and the public library) are learning from community members with this project, we’ll also be doing workshops this summer to give some knowledge back to the community. The library’s done programs before on creating scrapbooks and preserving photographs and they’ve brought in outside speakers to talk about preserving digital information, but we’re hoping to build on what they’ve done before to help teach people about collecting, organizing, and preserving their digital content. We’ll also do workshops on privacy and copyright issues when dealing with digital content.

During our discussions, I was thinking about the different people we’re going to recruit for the pilot program and it really struck me how people of different ages understand digital content in completely different ways. Most teenagers are very at home in a digital world and are very nearly swimming in digital content. But maybe there’s also an older person in the community who doesn’t have his own computer and comes to the library to check his email where his granddaughter has sent photos from her latest birthday party. He understands those digital photographs that just live in his inbox in a totally different way than the teen understands the photos he texts to his friends. I think I’d like to learn more about that.

Now that I’ve got a more detailed idea of how the People of Auburn project is going to go and I’ve actually seen the physical facilities and gotten to know the library a little bit, I’m even more excited about this project. I have to admit that normally I find genealogy and archives only mildly interesting, but the more Gregg showed us on Saturday, the more interested I got. They’ve got so many unusual and unique resources and technology. I’m also very excited about the team we have assembled for this project!

Back row: Andrea Japzon, Erin Milanese, Gretchen Kolderup, Alaina Ring, Gregg Williamson. Front row: Katie Nakanishi, Eve Grant. Not pictured: Angela Slocum. Photo by EPL's Gretel.

The Rest of the Library Campus
Eckhart Public Library is unusual in that it actually comprises three separate buildings all on the same street. We conducted most of our business on Saturday at the Genealogy Center, but we also visited the main library building and the teen library. Oh yes, EPL has a completely separate building for its teens–and it’s totally awesome. It’s open after school and on the weekends and it’s got comfortable furnishings, really striking light fixtures, computers, and a space for programming and games. Adults are only allowed in for fifteen minutes at a time if they’re not accompanied by a teen. When we walked into the building, the teens sitting at the computers turned around to stare at us; Darcy, the librarian I talked to, said that’s one of the things the teens like best about having their own space, feeling like they belonged and anyone else was an outsider. She did acknowledge that sometimes the people in adult services were too quick to send teens away from the main library building but said that overall, having their own space was great. I was impressed with how current their fiction collection was and how large their non-fiction collection (homework resources and teen-interest stuff like gaming guides and yoga books and things like that) was. I think it’s really important for teens to have their own space in the library–and it’s even better when they can have a space where they aren’t constantly being told to keep their voices down.

The outside of the Third Place, EPL's teen library. Photo by Erin Milanese.

We also visited the main library building, which was built in 1911 and is on the National Register of Historic Places and has a lot of interesting touches. It was originally going to be a Carnegie building, but Charles Eckhart, a local businessman, said he’d build the library on the condition that the contract with Carnegie be severed. The library has a fountain in the yard outside, stained glass windows, and a fireplace. It’s very comfortable and it really feels like a homey place the community can gather.

The fountain outside the main library. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Stained glass and bookshelves in the main library building. Photo by Erin Milanese.

I also took a trip downstairs to check out the children’s area. They have puppets and toys available for checkout and their storytime room is decorated with a Secret Garden theme and has an adjacent room with kid-sized tables for craft time. I was so impressed with the creative touches throughout the whole library. It seems like a really fun place to be able to go!

A tree in the storytime room in the children's department. Photo by Erin Milanese.

A Note to Current SLIS Students
EPL has internship opportunities available for SLIS-Indy students. If you’re interested in working in the Genealogy Center processing materials for the digital collection, in the teen library, for information services, or in technical services, email Gregg Williamson. Don’t forget that internship applications are due to Marilyn Irwin in the SLIS office by 15 March for the summer semester and 15 July for the fall semester.

March 2, 2010 at 8:36 PM 8 comments

Recent library blog news: Reading Rants and Let Me Think

Our trip to Auburn went really well on Saturday! I’ll be writing a post about it tomorrow. For now, just a few news items from the library blogosphere.

Reading Rants, written by Jennifer Hubert and designed by Andrew Mutch, is a collection of booklists and book reviews that’s been around since 1998 (first as a website and then in 2007 as a blog. They also published a book). Jennifer posted to YALSA-bk yesterday announcing that with the help of her 7th graders and Andrew, Reading Rants had gotten a template redesign.

There’s been some controversy in central Indiana recently: the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation announced budget cuts earlier this month that would eliminate school librarian positions districtwide. There’s been a trend recently toward having one licensed librarian provide library service to multiple schools in a district with assistants overseeing the individual libraries on the librarian’s days elsewhere, but these budget cuts would eliminate all librarian positions within the district. Mary D’Eliso–IU-Bloomington SLIS grad, former assistant manager of children’s services at Monroe County Public Library, current library media specialist at University Elementary School, and (former?) instructor of Children’s Literature at IU-Bloomington SLIS–started Let Me Think: Adventures in a School Library at the end of January and wrote in an email, “I was thinking that the main crux of our elimination was that people have no idea what actually happens in the modern school library, particularly in areas of teaching and curriculum.” She’s intending for Let Me Think to include lessons, displays, and events.

I mostly think of blogs as tools for aspiring and practicing librarians to find book reviews and get new programming ideas and as an online community for people in the profession, but they can also be public relations tools, showing non-librarians what we’re all about.

March 1, 2010 at 11:53 PM 2 comments

Older Posts