Library Advocacy

It is important to always advocate for your library. Because more often than not, libraries easily fall victim to budget cuts (at every level – including federal and state).

There are common misconceptions that libraries are essentially museums for books, nobody uses libraries anymore, and everything libraries offer can instead be accessed online. These could not be further from the truth, but these misconceptions are often the reason libraries need to advocate. It is the responsibility of librarians to dispel these inaccurate misconceptions and to educate folks on the continued importance of libraries.

Advocacy should be an ongoing process, so libraries, librarians, trustees, and other library stakeholders need to be proactive with advocacy. But where does one start? Advocacy can be intimidating for some. Thankfully, there are numerous free resources available online to help you.

Great places to start (in no particular order):

Statistics, numbers, and data:

Statistics and fun facts are a sensible method to prove the worth of libraries. Statistics can be very eye-opening for people who may not know enough about libraries. For example:

  • In 2017, there were more people who visited North Dakota public libraries (2,162,559) than those who attended Minnesota Vikings games (1,099,905).
  • In the United States, there are more public libraries than McDonald’s or Starbucks.
  • Americans visit public, school, and academic libraries more than 3 times as frequently as they go to the movies.

Numbers can really drive the point home. However don’t use too many figures. That may overwhelm folks. Consider doing something fun with the data, like an infographic (which is brief and visual). To view the data from past annual reports, you can view the usage maps (see link below) or you can contact the State Library to get a copy of the raw data in an Excel Spreadsheet.

The State Library creates a fun infographic every year based on the data that is submitted by North Dakota public libraries on their annual reports. The infographics are available as PDFs on the State Library’s website (see link below).

You can also retrieve data and fun facts from national resources, such as ALA and IMLS (see links below).

Legislators:

It is important to know who your local, state, and federal legislators are in case you need to reach out to them. Be on friendly terms and have a positive relationship with your elected officials, as you want them to support libraries.

Importance of libraries:

North Dakota resources:

Additional resources from ALA:

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Grants for Libraries

KINDER MORGAN FOUNDATION

DEADLINE: JANUARY 10, MARCH 10Kinder Morgan Foundation provides grants in the range of $1,000–$5,000 to nonprofits, public schools, and private schools. The program must benefit youth in grades K–12 with an emphasis on academic or art education programs. Grant money may also be used for capital projects for public libraries only. For more information see http://bit.ly/2QdTp8e.
REIMAN FOUNDATION

DEADLINE: ONGOING
The Reiman Foundation accepts applications for grants with a focus on healthcare, education, the arts, and children. This application has no specific form and allows the applicant to provide the information they believe is most important to showcasing the intended project and the benefit it will provide. For more information see http://bit.ly/2REe6qF
ARTS IN EDUCATION COLLABORATION (NDCA)

DEADLINE: APRIL 1
Applications open January 1 for the North Dakota Council on the Arts grants. Grant applications should focus on establishing ongoing partnerships and collaborations between schools, communities, and other art resources or artists. Grant funds may be used for artist fees, administrative fees, and materials and supplies required for lessons and project implementation. However, the funds may not be used for field-trip-like activities, permanent equipment, or salaries. Matching funds are required.
See the NDCA website for more information: http://bit.ly/2QhpImQ
ACCELERATING PROMISING PRACTICES FOR SMALL LIBRARIES (IMLS)

DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 25
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is offering funding opportunities to strengthen the ability of small and rural libraries with awards that range from $10,000 to $50,000. There are three categories of grants: Transforming School Library Practice, Community Memory, and Digital Inclusion. There are two informational webinars for more information on December 18 and January 9. Please see the IMLS press release for more information: http://bit.ly/2Rxscd4.

The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has designed a grant
application for small and rural libraries. State Librarian Mary Soucie had the
opportunity to participate in the conversation around creating this grant package.
She encourages our North Dakota Libraries to consider submitting a grant. We
know there is a strong need for support amongst these libraries and we want
to thank IMLS for recognizing the need. A strong showing of applications will
confirm that this grant opportunity is meeting a need. Please contact your Library
Development Specialist, Assistant State Librarian Cindy Clairmont-Schmidt or
State Librarian Mary Soucie for assistance with or to read the grant application.

MY FIRST AASL NATIONAL CONFERENCE TRAVEL GRANT

DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 1
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is offering 30 grants for travel to its 2019 National Conference & Exhibition, which will be held November 14-16 in Louisville, Kentucky. The $750 grants for first-time attendees of the conference are sponsored by Bound To Stay Bound Books. Those interested in applying can access the application at www.ala.org/aasl/btsb_grants.

Coding, STEM, & STEAM Resources

Coding Resources

Coding Apps, Websites, & More

Coding Clubs

Coding for Girls

Hour of Code

STEM & STEAM Resources

Books: STEM, STEAM, & Coding

Community Organizations

Want to make your library more visible in the community? Flyers and social media posts tend to only reach the people that are already looking for library information, but one great way to grow that audience is to have library staff and board members become involved in community organizations.

Having a library presence in community organizations allows the library to reach a broader group of people and participate in other aspects of the community that people may not associate with the library. Offering public meeting space, resource collections, and volunteer opportunities are all ways that libraries can assist these organizations that they may not have thought of yet. Additionally, by broadening the network of people you talk to about the library, you expand your knowledge of the community’s needs and can work on creative ways to solve them using library resources and expertise.

Some possible organizations to join are the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Elks Club, Eagles Club, or Rotary. However, all organizations in your area that you think could benefit from a library staff or board member should be considered.

Libraries and Social Media

According to Merriam-Webster, social media is defined as “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).”

With social media, one can instantly connect with friends and family – or even complete strangers – no matter where they are located. Libraries can also take advantage of social media. It is a great tool for libraries to connect and engage with their community, as well as promote library services, events, resources, etc. Also, most social media platforms are free, which is valuable perk.

Examples of social media platforms that libraries use include more traditional ones, such as:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter

Other platforms that libraries use may also include:

  • Flickr
  • GoodReads
  • HistoryPin
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube

First and foremost, libraries should give serious consideration to implementing a social media policy. A policy can help outline guidelines on what and how to post, and help ensure libraries are getting the most out of their social media usage.

There are many resources available online regarding libraries and social media, and here are a couple terrific places to start:

Acquiring 501(c)(3) Status

Friends of the Library and Library Foundations are excellent groups to help raise money for your library. In order for these organizations to function optimally and to assist with the procurement of grants, it is encouraged for them to obtain a 501(c)(3) status. This means that they are viewed as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under IRS Code, Section 501(c)(3). Please seek the aid of an attorney or CPA to assist in the process of obtaining 501(c)(3) status as laws and common practices are subject to change.

The process to achieve 501(c)(3) status can take over 6 months to complete. The IRS has created a guide outlining the Life Cycle of a Public Charity that can help lead you through this process. In order to achieve 501(c)(3) status, the group must do the following:

  1. Create an organizing document that contains the following provisions. More information and sample documents can be found here.
    • Limit the organization’s purpose to one of the exempt purposes listed in Section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
    • State that the organization cannot engage in activities that don’t advance the exempt purpose.
    • State that the assets of the organization (money, property, etc.), will be dedicated permanently to the exempt purpose listed.
  2. Establish a Board of Directors and create bylaws for the group.
  3. Once the organization is legally established (see page 9 of IRS Publication 4220), obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS online, by mail, or by phone (1-800-829-4933). Applying for an EIN triggers filing requirements, so do not complete this step until you are prepared to move forward with your other forms.
  4. File Articles of Incorporation for the group with the State of North Dakota as per NDCC 10-33. The paperwork can be found here. There is a $40 filing fee that must accompany the completed form. The ND Secretary of State Office and other state agencies created a guide to beginning and maintaining a nonprofit corporation in ND that can be found here.
  5. Submit the IRS Form 1023-EZ or Form 1023 depending on your eligibility. Eligibility can be determined using the worksheet in the 1023-EZ directions. Directions for the forms can be found here (1023-EZ) or here (1023).

**You may be exempt from this requirement if your organization has gross receipts in each taxable year that are normally not more than $5,000. Please see http://bit.ly/2REnkD0 for more details.**

  1. Before the group can solicit contributions, it may need to be registered as a charitable organization through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office as per NDCC 50-22. That process can be found here.
  2. The organization will need to follow the tax-code for a 501(c)(3) during the time that their application is in processing. See the IRS page “Tax Law Compliance before Exempt Status is Recognized” for more information. All bank accounts, books, and records for the group need to be separate from the library’s records.

 

Once the group has acquired 501(c)(3) status, they will need to follow all state and federal filing guidelines to maintain that status. This includes the annual filing of Form 990 and other, unrelated income tax filings, state filings, charitable solicitations reporting, donation substantiation reporting, etc. Additionally, records should be kept for things such as executive compensation, transactions with board members, sources of revenue, accomplishments, expense allocations, details of investments, and organization structure. These things help assure that the group will maintain annual compliance. Most records of the 501(c)(3) group will be subject to public disclosure requirements.

 

Helpful Links:

New Items Added to Digital Horizons (September-November 2018)

The Digital Initiatives department has been keeping busy. Many items have been uploaded onto Digital Horizons the last couple months. Listed below is a highlight of new items added to the North Dakota State Library’s online collections. You can access the items featured below by clicking on them or by visiting the Digital Horizons website (where you will also find thousands of other treasures).

ND Memories

ND State Documents

ND County and Town Histories

ND School for the Deaf Banner

Grants for Libraries

Dollar signBank of the West’s Charitable Investments Program

Deadline: Ongoing 

Bank of the West supports nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life, particularly of low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. Public nonprofit organizations in the following counties are eligible to apply: Cass, Golden Valley, Griggs, Richland, and Stark. Grants are awarded for education and job training as well as for community and economic development.

Visit their site to find out more and to apply: https://www.bankofthewest.com/about-us/community-support/charitable-investments.html

Midco Foundation

Deadline: TBD

The Midco Foundation provides funding assistance to organizations that advance socially desirable goals in the Midco service area (which includes most of North Dakota from Anamoose to Zap). Eligible projects include facilities improvements, equipment, programs, and special projects, but not operational costs. The Spring 2019 grant application window opens the first week of December. Continue reading

Annual Evaluations

Annual evaluations of staff members are a necessary part of any well-run library. Not only do these reviews allow staff to reflect upon their previous year, but it also opens the door to establish future goals to work towards. Having a scheduled visit between employees and their supervisor lets them discuss their role openly and honestly in a more structured way than they may be able to in a different context.

It is important to note, however, that there should be no surprises during this review time. Any behavioral or work-related issues should be addressed immediately by a supervisor or, in the case of the director, the library board, as soon as they are discovered. These concerns can be addressed during the review as part of a reflection, but the employee should not be blind-sided by these issues.

Evaluations can be conducted many different ways. Some libraries are required to follow their city or county’s review process using their forms, and others have the freedom to adopt their own with board approval. All staff evaluations should be conducted by the staff member’s supervisor, and the director’s review is conducted by the board.

The evaluation process, ideally, has 3–4 steps:

  1. Self-evaluation

In the self-evaluation, staff members are asked to reflect on their previous year. This may be using a numbering system, a meets/exceeds expectations system, or free-answer system. Oftentimes, evaluations relate directly to the employee’s job description, but evaluations can be more general as well.

The self-evaluation will also typically ask the employee to create goals for the future and address their previous goals. To be the most beneficial, goals should be measureable and attainable. This means that instead of saying, “increase user engagement,” the goal would be, “increase user engagement by 12%” or, “increase user engagement by promoting databases twice a week.” From this example, then, the employee would keep track of user engagement throughout the year and then discuss the progress during their next evaluation. A common guideline is to make the goals SMART; Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

The director’s self-evaluation can also include a broader look at the library such as library highlights, issues of concern, and how the library compares to other libraries of a similar size.

 

  1. Supervisor (or board) evaluation:

The employee’s supervisor should fill out a similar form to the self-evaluation for each of their employees. For the library director, the board should do this portion. For example, if the employee’s self-evaluation asked, “Do you plan ahead with enough time to be able to effectively handle several projects and/or tasks at one time?”, the supervisor’s evaluation of the employee should read, “Does the employee plan ahead with enough time to be able to effectively handle several projects and/or tasks at one time.”

Supervisors should review the goals that the staff members identified to make sure they are SMART and be prepared to discuss them.

 

  1. Staff-evaluation (directors/managers only)

For a staff evaluation, staff members review their manager or director using a similar evaluation form to the self-evaluation. These reviews are submitted to the library board anonymously to provide feedback on the director. Since the library board is not often around during the day-to-day work at the library, staff are seen as a good measure of how a director is doing. Common questions that can be answered by staff better than a board member are questions about communication, timeliness, work-flows, and problem solving.

This type of evaluation is completely optional, and, if the board chooses to go this route, they need to remember the following:

  • Staff-reviews of the director should be read and understood as a whole rather than on an individual basis. This means that if one review indicates a poor communication style and the other seven indicate an excellent communication style, it is likely that one person had a bad experience and is using the evaluation process as a chance to air this grievance.

 

  • Staff should submit their evaluation of the director before their personal evaluation is reviewed. This way, they are unable to retaliate or bolster the director’s evaluation based on the feedback they receive during their review process.

 

  • The director’s evaluation should occur after they evaluate their staff members. This way, staff can be sure that the director isn’t retaliating against or favoring certain employees based on the results of the director’s evaluation.

 

  1. Evaluation review

The final step to the evaluation process is for the employee and the director (or the director and the board) to meet and discuss the evaluations. Typically the manager will go through each element and discuss what they rated compared to the employee. This is a time for both parties to discuss job satisfaction, goals, concerns, answer questions, compensation, and more.

The director’s evaluation review by the library board must follow open meeting laws which means it cannot be closed to executive session as per NDCC 44-04-17.1. For more information on Open Meetings in ND, see https://attorneygeneral.nd.gov/sites/ag/files/documents/Open-Meetings-Guide.pdf

Annual reviews should be signed by both the supervisor and the employee to confirm that they reviewed the document. The signature does not say that the employee agrees with their review, but that it was discussed. A copy of the review should be saved in the employee’s file.

Below are some examples of different library’s evaluations:

Self-Evaluations:

Self Evaluation

Self Evaluation2

Self Evaluation3

Self Evaluation4

 

Supervisor Evaluation:

Supervisor Evaluation

 

Evaluation of Director by Staff:

Director Evaluation—Staff

Director Evaluation—Staff2

Director Evaluation—Staff3

 

Evaluation of Director by Board Members:

Director Evaluation—Board

Director Evaluation—Board2

Director Evaluation—Board3

Book Drop Alternative

The North Dakota Library Coordinating Council (NDLCC) Standards for Public Libraries includes requirements for libraries having a secure, after-hours book return.

Book-returns can be expensive to purchase or replace. A Demco product, for example, can run $800–$4,000. We recognize that this price range isn’t possible for some libraries, so we have found a solution. Consider using an architectural mailbox like this one:

Book Return

The Elephantrunk Parcel Drop Box ranges in price from $220–$320 and comes in four different colors. It can easily be bolted into the cement outside of your library and treated like a regular book drop (at a fraction of the cost). This drop box satisfies the standard to have an after-hours book return at your library and allows your patrons to safely return their materials at their convenience.