Author Archives: Abby Ebach

Your Library Has What?! A Guide to Libraries of Things

Libraries have circulated books since the 19th Century, and, as AV materials became available, so did the ability to circulate music and movies (in whatever format was currently available). In the past 5 years, however, there has been an uptick in libraries circulating materials considered “non-traditional.” Patrons of libraries with a “Library of Things” may find themselves checking out Halloween costumes, snowshoes, artwork, instruments, or any number of things their heart could desire. Libraries around the globe are doing what they can to help provide their communities with items to make their every-day lives easier.

Many librarians are scared to take on this new collection since it seems so unprecedented, but fear not. We have collected tips and tricks from around the library-sphere (and internet) to help make the plunge a little bit easier. Read on to have your fears put to rest.

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Grow Your Graphics Collection!

Looking to beef up your Junior and YA graphic novel collection? Below you will find some authors that consistently have popular work, lists curated by ALA, YALSA, Common Sense Media, and more, and a list of some stand-out series and stand-alones that are great starting points for your collection.

Authors to watch:

  • Ben Hatke
  • Jarrett J Krosoczka
  • Jen Wang
  • Jennifer L Holm
  • Katie O’Neill
  • Nathan Hale
  • Raina Telgemeier
  • Shannon Hale
  • Ursula Vernon
  • Victoria Jamieson

Readers Advisory Lists: 

Highly Recommended Series and Stand-Alones:

  • Abigail the Snowman by Roger Langridge
  • Alabaster Shadows by Matt Gardner
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
  • Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Berrybrook Middle School by Svetlana Chmakova
  • Bone by Jeff Smith
  • Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice
  • Compass South by Hope Larson
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Emmie and Friends by Terri Libenson
  • Hilda by Luke Pearson
  • HiLo by Judd Winick
  • Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt
  • Jellaby by Kean Soo
  • Knights of the Lunch Table by Frank Cammuso
  • Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman
  • Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
  • Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Mega Princess by Kelly Thompson
  • Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton
  • Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez
  • Olga by Elise Gravel
  • Owly by Andy Runton
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
  • Princeless: Jeremy Whitley
  • Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly
  • The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner
  • The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
  • The Chronicles of Claudette by Jorge Aguirre
  • The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo
  • The Girl Who Owned a City by O. T. Nelson
  • The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
  • The Time Museum by Matthew Loux
  • The Witch Boy by Molly Knox OStertag

Dealing with Difficult Patrons

Getting to know your patrons is an important part of being a librarian. Regular patrons develop a strong relationship with their librarian and are likely to advocate for the library in the community. But for every super awesome patron, there is bound to be one that is a little more difficult. Classic examples of difficult patrons are easy to come by; they may have a strong body odor, talk too loud, run, bring their bike into the library, ignore all social cues, walk behind the reference desk, or expect you to remember their Facebook password among other things.

So, how do you deal with a difficult patron effectively? The first step is to make sure that you have policies in place and that you enforce them equally across all races, social classes, genders, and ages. Too often, policies are written as a reaction to difficult patrons. Save yourself a headache and write policies now. This will assure that you aren’t targeting one specific patron by writing a “no brushing your teeth in the 2nd sink of the upstairs men’s restroom” policy.

Make sure you treat your patrons with kindness when addressing them about a breach in policy. Librarianship is a customer service profession and responding in a condescending tone may only escalate the situation. Stay calm—especially when it feels like it would be easier to blow up.

Below are some webinars and readings that can help you learn how to cater your approach to dealing with difficult patrons. Hopefully these prove beneficial, but it may help to look at other communication or customer services training depending on your specific issues and library.

Webinars:

Some light reading on the topic:

  • https://bit.ly/2NE2kd7 This website provides scripts and tips for common library patron issues. The webinar through ALA is linked above (as is the book which is available through ILL.)
  • Difficult Patron Behavior: Success Stories from the WebJunction Community: https://bit.ly/2LK5Xho
  • Technology, Road Rage, and Customer Service: https://bit.ly/2NGJSAT
  • The case studies at the end of this PDF may be good discussion points. https://bit.ly/2uMJHNa

Online Courses through Universal Class:

The Basics of Mills and Home Rule

Have you heard your Library Development Specialist say that you’re a “Home Rule City” and didn’t have any idea what that meant? You’re not alone. 88% of public libraries in North Dakota reside in a city or county with a home rule charter. Let’s break it down—

Typically, city and county governments need to follow the basics of state law, but if the municipality has passed a home rule charter, they are given freedom to implement ordinances in regards to finances, property taxes, and other taxes as laid out in NDCC 40-05.1-06. This means that, if specified in the home rule charter, a municipality may levy more than 4 mills for library service. (The 4 mill levy limit is prescribed in NDCC 57-15-06.7 and 57-15-10. There are additional constraints if you are funded by both a city and a county or a multi-city agreement.)

Regardless of home rule status, if you want to increase your mill levy for the library, you need to follow the process laid out in NDCC 40-38-02 #5. This includes either a motion of the governing body or a petition of residents to move the issue to a vote. In order to pass, 60% of qualified electors need to vote in favor of increasing the levy for public library service.

For a quick rundown of what a mill is and how it is calculated, check out the ND Association of Counties’ article Understanding Property Taxes.

As always, please remember that all cities and counties handle their money a little bit differently, and ND State Library staff are not lawyers. Any questions regarding interpretation of Century Code or mills should be addressed to your municipality’s attorney or auditor respectively.

Online Book Sales

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It can now be found on the North Dakota State Library’s LibGuides: https://library-nd.libguides.com/publib/weeding

We’d hate to see you leave empty-handed, so here is an image from the Gordon and Emma Anderson Collection on Digital Horizons.

Man with dog and skunk

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.

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:

Annual Evaluations

Thank you for visiting.

This resource has moved!

It can now be found on the North Dakota State Library’s LibGuides: https://library-nd.libguides.com/publib/evaluation

We’d hate to see you leave empty-handed, so here is an image from the Gordon and Emma Anderson Collection on Digital Horizons.

Emma Anderson walking a skunk

Book Drops: Options & the NDLCC Standards

NDLCC Standards

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

A book return may be a drop box, basket, return shelf, or some other receptacle located either outside of the building or in another location that allows patrons to return library materials outside of the library’s open hours.

Book Drop Alternative

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.

Teamwork Training

Working with a team can sometimes be difficult. However, it’s one of the most important things we do as librarians. Working together with staff, the public, and local government is an integral part to success for your organization. Below are trainings and webinars to help you and your staff to train to work better as a team.

Universal Class is an online database provided through the state library. Any North Dakota resident can create an account using a library card from their local public library to take the training classes for free. They can be taken for PD credit with tests and a completion certificate or informally without the tests and certificate. Once you make an account, you’ll be able to see the length of each course in hours and sessions as well as a syllabus. Here are a few courses that are relevant to training and working well as a team that can help boost a staff member’s willingness to work with others on their team:

If you have any questions about Universal Class, you can contact the state library at 701-328-4622.

 

Webjunction webinars:

“Our personalities affect how we view and relate to the world. Each of us have different learning and communication styles, fears, insecurities, and defense mechanisms. This presentation will provide you with the tools to recognize your own and others’ differences and become more aware of how they affect your relationships with customers and co-workers.”

“We are all so busy! Who has time to deal with conflict? When conflict occurs, and we are confronted with a colleague, library patron, supervisor, or board member who is frustrated and upset, it can be tempting to identify a quick fix. However, when we do take the time to practice clear communication to uncover what people really need, we can get to better outcomes. Healthy communication involves actions that show you are really listening, communication with people who are angry or upset in a way that their needs can be addressed and resolved, and knowing your own emotions and needs and effective ways to express them. Practicing healthy communication skills will boost your self-confidence and contribute to a happier workplace.”

“Don’t let the pressure of working at the library bring you or your staff down. People want a work environment that is challenging, encourages trial and error, and makes them feel that they matter. It’s time to make the workplace exciting again, all throughout the library’s culture. Here are some things to do to make work fun again.”