Author Archives: Abby Ebach

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

Looking to upgrade from your normal library book sale? Check out some of these online e-sellers to sell your gently used donations or weeded materials:

 

Book seller General Info Fees and Commission
Ebay
  • Insertion fee—Free for up to 50 auction-style listings per month; $0.35 per item or $0.99+ for “buy it now” listings
  • Final (Closing) Fee: 12% (maximum fee $750)
Biblio

 

  • Specializes in rare & out-of-print books, partnership with independent booksellers
  • Sellers must maintain an inventory of at least 200 titles at all times
  • Sellers must process orders within 3 business days
  • 12% commission + payment processing fee ($40 max/$0.25 min), no monthly listing fee

OR

  • 8% commission + payment processing fee, flat monthly fee based on the number of books listed (fee is $10/month for 0-10,000 listings). If no orders are placed in a month, seller will receive a rebate of monthly fees that can be used to purchase books on Biblio.
Better World Books

 

  • Libraries collect and package weeded or donated books to send to Better World Books
  • They sell “sellable” books on 23 different online markets
  • Anything they can’t sell is recycled
  • No contracts or service agreements unless requested
  • No fees or commission from Better World Books
  • Libraries get paid a percentage commission based on sale price of their materials—commission is paid to libraries quarterly (rolls over to next quarter if less than $50.00)
  • Shipping fees are covered by Better World Books upfront.
Amazon
  • Sellers’ items appear in website product listings along with Amazon’s listing
  • Only items that match an existing listing in Amazon’s product catalog can be sold on Amazon Marketplace.
  • Sellers are notified by email when an item sells & the order is posted to your seller account
  • https://amzn.to/2VVqokq
  • No subscription fee
  • Referral Fee (Commission)—15% for books, music, video & DVD
  • Variable closing fee: $1.35 per item for books/video; $0.80 per item for music
  • Fixed Fee: $0.99 per item
  • Closing Fee: $1.80

 

Alibris

 

  • Items are listed on Alibris and its partner sites—Barnes & Noble, Amazon, ebay, Half, Books-a-Million, etc.
  • Seller enters an ISBN or UPC, the item’s condition, and selling price; the Alibris catalog system fills in the rest of the listing info
  • Application Fee: $19.99
  • Subscription: $19.99 annual fee plus $1.00/item
  • Commission: 15% commission on each item sold ($0.50 minimum, $60.00 maximum)
    • Commission is 20% or 15% + $0.25 (whichever is greater) if your item sells on one of their affiliate sites
  • Closing Fee: Assessed on the cost of shipping (not assessed if the item is shipped to the Alibris processing center) $1.60 standard shipping
AbeBooks

 

 
  • Subscription fee: Based on the amount of books listed
    • 0-500 books, subscription fee is $25.00/month (whether you sell anything or not)
  • Commission: 8% on the total item amount for each item sold
  • Payment service fee: If the seller has set up to accept credit card payments through AbeBooks, there is a payment service fee of 5.5% of the total item amount
AbeBooks Book BuyBack Program
  • Can sell just a few things at a time to AbeBooks, rather than setting yourself up as a seller
  • Enter ISBN, title, etc. to match your item to a listing in their catalog; their site will tell you how much they’ll pay you for the item
  • Accept buyback price, add to cart, and choose how you want to be paid
    • Options are by check or to a PayPal account
  • The site generates a shipping label for you to print out—they pay the shipping
 

Grants for Libraries

KINDER MORGAN FOUNDATION

DEADLINE: JANUARY 10, MARCH 10

Kinder 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.

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

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 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.

Girls Who Code

The North Dakota State Library is excited to announce its partnership with Girls Who Code. Girls Who Code brings computer science opportunities to elementary, middle, and high school girls in your community—no coding experience is necessary to facilitate a weekly club.

After signing up, facilitators will receive access to the club curriculum completely free and can learn to code right alongside the students.

3–5th grade club: This club is run similar to a book club and does not need computer access. Books are provided for free. Check out the sample curriculum here.

6–12th grade club: This club does require computer access for each participant. To view the learning platform and sample curriculum, follow the instructions below.

  1. Visit the online learning platform, Girls Who Code HQ
  2. Create an HQ Account by clicking Sign Up and “I want to start a club or I want to volunteer for a club.” This does not obligate you to host a club.
  3. Click on the different icons to learn more about the clubs.

To learn more about the Girls Who Code organization, you can check out these links: Overview; Club Summary

To apply to host a club, click here. Remember to indicate North Dakota State Library as your partner affiliation.

For more information, please contact Abby Ebach at aebach@nd.gov or 701-328-4680.

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.”