Category Archives: Library Administration

Homeless in the Library

Public libraries are much more than places where an elderly woman, with horn-rimmed glasses and her hair in a bun, shushes you every time you even think about speaking (common misconception). Libraries are community and cultural centers where individuals gather to explore, interact, learn, and read.

Also, libraries are often havens for people with nowhere else to go. Public libraries can be sanctuaries for the homeless. Libraries are a safe place for them to use the computers, read, attend programs, learn, utilize library services, etc. (which are the same reasons everyone else visits the library). Libraries have a responsibility to serve the homeless that come through their doors and treat them like any other patron.

According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Services and Responsibilities of Libraries, ALA “promotes equal access to information for all persons, and recognizes the urgent need to respond to the increasing number of poor children, adults, and families in America… Therefore it is crucial that libraries recognize their role in enabling poor people to participate fully in a democratic society, by utilizing a wide variety of available resources and strategies.”

The Federal definition of a chronically homeless person is “either (1) an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, OR (2) an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition who has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years,” and homeless is defined as “a person sleeping in a place not meant for human habitation (e.g. living on the streets, for example) OR living in a homeless emergency shelter” (Defining Chronic Homelessness: A Technical Guide for HUD Programs).

So with all of that in mind, here are some great resources for libraries on providing services to homeless patrons:

State Resources

ALA Resources

Other Resources

Articles

 

NDLCC Standards Compliance: Weeding

Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the November 2016 issue of Flickertale)

This is part of our ongoing series regarding compliance with the ND Library Coordinating Council’s Standards for Public Libraries. This month we will focus on weeding.

Weeding your library, similar to weeding your garden, is vital if you want your collection to thrive and grow and produce good fruit. I know many librarians who are reluctant to weed. “Someone might want this” is the cry of these librarians. And that could be true, someday someone might want that material. If so, chances are good that you’ll be able to get the item through InterLibrary Loan. The fact that someone, someday *may* check out an item is not a good justification to keep it on the shelf. Each item needs to earn its space in your collection.

Statistics show that when you weed your collection, circulation naturally increases. I have personally experienced this multiple times. Once you pull out the items that aren’t circulating, people can find the gems that were hidden by the bulk. There are standard criteria that you should consider when weeding, such as number and last date of circulation, condition, age of the item, other items in the collection that are similar or on the same topic, availability through ILL, historical significance or local interest, and for nonfiction, the accuracy of the information. Personally, I always employee the “smell test” if an item is older and it smells musty or makes me sneeze when I sniff it, the item is pulled. Part of weeding is also identifying items that are out-of-date but still valid to have in the collection in an updated version. The Continuous Review, Evaluation, and Weeding method (CREW), developed by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, is the gold standard for weeding. You can download a free copy of the CREW manual at http://bit.ly/2fwM266. We strongly urge libraries to utilize the CREW manual when weeding.

At the Mountain Plains Library Association conference in October, I attended a fabulous session on the politics of weeding or in other words how to not get caught up in a weeding scandal. Our patrons may not understand the need for weeding our collection. The presenter, Mickey Coalwell, suggested taking a proactive approach when undertaking a weeding process by writing an article in the library’s newsletter about why we weed and how it is necessary to not only add to the collection, but also remove items for the various reasons stated above.

Mickey also stressed that libraries need to have a weeding policy in place. Weeding should be an ongoing function of the library. It is often when the library undertakes a massive weeding process that the community gets outraged. The “whistle blowers” are often staff, trustees or volunteers that don’t understand that the weeding process is a core function of the library. Each of those groups should be trained on the “whys of weeding.” You should know your weeding policy as well as you know your library’s elevator speech. You also want to make sure that you are following local and state policies for disposal of public property.

Once you’ve withdrawn the items from your collection, what do you do with them? One option is to allow the public to purchase them through a book sale or book cart. You can work with Better World Books or other similar entities that will attempt to sell them on your behalf and will share a portion of the proceeds. Goodwill Books may be willing to pick them up and resell what they can, recycling the other items. You may be able to work with physicians’ offices, oil change places, and similar businesses where people typically have to wait to set up a “Take and Read” service. Recycling, after the covers are removed, is another option for disposal.

Weeding is an essential function of the library and one that all libraries should undertake. Corinne Hill, Director at Chattanooga Public Library, summed it up best when she said “weeding is a complex issue. That’s why it’s done by the professionals.” If you have questions about weeding, please contact your Library Development Specialist. If you’d like assistance with getting the ball rolling, I have assisted a number of libraries with weeding projects during “Librarian for the Day” visits and would love to help you out as well.

NDLCC Standards Compliance: Strategic Plan

Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the October 2016 issue of Flickertale)

This is the ongoing series we have on compliance with the ND Library Coordinating Council’s (NDLCC) Standards for Public Libraries. The standards are effective July 1, 2017, and public libraries must be in compliance with the standards in order to apply for NDLCC grants.

One of the standards for all libraries is to have a 3-5 year strategic plan on file with the State Library. Many people are intimidated by the idea of writing a strategic plan, assuming the process to be complicated and difficult to undertake. While certainly some processes are more complex than others, the process can be simple depending on the needs of the organization.

When the State Library decided to create a strategic plan last year, we opted to work with a facilitator. We did an all-day retreat with our staff, off site. We also conducted a staff survey to help narrow the topics to be discussed at the retreat. By the end of the day, we had identified three priorities for the State Library to focus on. Administration then worked with our facilitator to identify objectives that would be used to measure progress of the goals. Library Vision 2020 and our Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) 5 year plan round out the documents that make up our strategic plan.

Hiring a facilitator is one method that can be used to develop a strategic plan. Larger organizations often find it useful to work with an outside facilitator. Libraries that work with a facilitator may opt to utilize surveys, focus groups or a combination of both to help inform the development of the plan.

Smaller libraries may not find the use of a facilitator to be necessary or an option. You can still conduct a patron survey. You can develop the survey using the free version of Survey Monkey, Google forms or another method. The survey can be shared with patrons that come into the library and on the library’s website. Focus groups are also a very useful way to gather information about the community’s needs and wants from the library.

A very common place to start the strategic planning process is to conduct a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to the organization while opportunities and threats are usually external. When identifying your library’s strengths, questions to ask include what do you do better than anyone else, what can you offer that no one else can and what do others see as your strengths? When identifying your weaknesses, ask what can you improve, what should you avoid, what do others see as your weaknesses? To identify opportunities, look at trends in both the library world and in your community, region and state. When looking for threats, identify what obstacles the organization faces, who your competitors are and what they are doing better than you; again, remember to look at the local, regional and state communities. These are samples of questions you can look at; they are by no means exhaustive. Once you’ve completed the SWOT, you can identify the weaknesses you want to work on and the opportunities you want to take advantage of.

There is no prescription for how long your strategic plan should be. Typically, a plan has three to five goals, with measuring objectives for each. Wendy Wendt, director at Grand Forks, refers to her strategic plan as a roadmap and points out that you will not necessarily complete every single item in the plan. I think that’s useful advice to remember. You want the plan to be obtainable while challenging your organization to grow.

While you are creating your strategic plan, it is the perfect time to examine your vision and mission statements to determine if they still work or if they need to be updated. A mission statement should be short enough that everyone associated with the organization, including trustees, can remember it. The mission statement can be full sentences or a series of short bullet points. The NDSL mission statement is “Making connections, strengthening communities, impacting lives”. This statement guides us when planning services and programs and helps us determine how to use our resources. That is the goal of a mission statement- to help guide the organization in the use of resources while conveying the message of what the organization is about. The NDSL Vision Statement is “providing pathways to information and innovation”. The vision statement is what you do while the mission statement is how you’ll do it.

Your Library Development Specialist can assist you with your strategic plan, from assisting you with conducting focus groups, drafting a survey or reading through the plan and making suggestions on ways to improve the plan. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can assist in any way. You can also visit our website at http://library.nd.gov/strategicplanning.html where we’ve pulled together a variety of resources on strategic planning.

I love strategic planning and would be happy to read your plan or answer questions on the process. If you would like me to assist with a focus group or help you conduct a SWOT with your board, please invite me for a Librarian for a Day; you can contact Cheryl Pollert to schedule a visit at cjpollert@nd.gov.

NDLCC Standards Compliance: Programming for Teens and Adults

Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the September 2016 issue of Flickertale)

libraryThis  is  our  continuing  series  on  compliance  with  the  North  Dakota  Library  Coordinating  Council’s  Standards  for  Public Libraries. This month, we are going to focus on library programming, one of my passions. I absolutely love library programming for all ages. In today’s busy world, libraries are serving the needs of their patrons in new and traditional ways. Library programming has increased as has attendance.

The standards for public libraries indicate that libraries serving a populations of up to 12,500 should provide programs for all ages. For the libraries serving populations over 12,500, there are a specific number of programs required for each level- kids, teens and adults.

Many of our ND libraries offer programs for kids. More libraries are offering programs for adults; including everything from coloring clubs to books-in-bars book clubs to craft programs. Some of our libraries offer summer reading programs for all ages while others offer summer reading programs for kids and teens and a winter reading program for adults.

I think it’s important to offer programs for all ages.  As libraries continue to strive to prove their value and relevance in the “Google era”, it is one way to meet the needs of the community. Programs will bring different people into the library and will get people talking about the library.

I am going to focus on adult and teen programs because our ND public libraries have a good handle on offering kids programs. If you’re struggling with how to start expanding your programs to include adults or teens, consider offering some programs that are open to teens and adults. Craft programs are one type of program that you can easily include both age groups in. When the State Library recently held our Pokémon Go event, we had people of all ages in the library; and the different age groups participated in all aspects of the program. If you have an adult coloring group, why not open it to teens?

If you are struggling to serve teens, consider partnering with the local school district on something. Perhaps a book club that is held at the school but run by the library. Stock up on duct tape and have a drop-in “build a something”, a wallet for example, from duct tape.

Consider offering adult programs beyond just a book club. There are lots of ideas for adult programs. One program that I wanted to implement at my last library (but left before I got the chance) was a “cooking club”. Choose a different food group each month, such as soups, and each person makes a sample and brings it to share. The library can share the resources that they have that tie in with the food group; be creative and think beyond cookbooks. A friend of mine did this at her library and patrons were very responsive.

Programming doesn’t have to be hard or onerous on the librarian. Don’t feel like you have to provide all the programs either. If you know someone with a hobby, invite them in to do a library program for you. If you ever want to bounce ideas for library programs, give me a holler, as it’s one of my favorite topics to chat about. You can also visit the Field Notes blog (https://ndslfieldnotes.wordpress.com/) where you will find a plethora of posts about library programs.

NDLCC Standards Compliance Resource Links

Whether or not you attended one of our recent Summer Summit meetings, I wanted to ensure these resources were readily available and in one convenient location. If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your friendly Library Development Specialist here at the North Dakota State Library!

NDLCC Standards Compliance: ADA

Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the August 2016 issue of Flickertale)

This is the continuation of our series on compliance with different parts of the North Dakota Library Coordinating Council (NDLCC) Standards for Public libraries. We believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance is one of the areas that libraries may be more in compliance with than they realize. We don’t have any attorneys on staff at the North Dakota State Library (NDSL) so we can’t give you legal advice, but we will share our interpretation of what it means to be ADA compliant as well as resources you can consult on your own. We recommend that you also consult an attorney if you have questions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and amended in 2010. From www.ada.gov, the ADA “prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.”

State and local governments must operate services, programs, and activities so when viewed in its entirety, are readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. Older buildings may need to be altered to ensure accessibility.

Buildings that are new construction or altered must come into compliance with ADA requirements. The compliance standards, as well as applicable dates (1991 or 2010) can be found on www.ada.gov.

If you have questions about ADA compliance, please contact your Library Development Specialist.

Additional Resources:

NDLCC Standards Compliance: Board Orientation

Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the July 2016 issue of Flickertale)

This month, we are going to explore another of the NDLCC Standards: Board Orientation. As a former library director, a former public library trustee and a former regional library system trustee, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a strong orientation for new board members.

It is critical that you share important information with trustees from the get-go. While orientations may vary some from library to library, there are some crucial elements that should be included. It is important to share the library’s vision and mission statements so that trustees understand the values and culture of the library. If your vision and mission statement don’t reflect the organizational values and culture, it may be time to look at an update to both statements. It is also important to share the library’s budget and a copy of all library policies.

I liked to create a binder for trustees that included our vision and mission statements; copies of the current policies; an organizational chart; the budget; an overview of the responsibilities of trustees and the responsibilities of the director; a copy of the most recent library newsletter; a welcome letter from the director; a schedule of board meetings; an address list of all board members, which also included terms; and a copy of the minutes from the last three meetings. Also included was an overview of open meetings and other pertinent local, state and federal laws.

I believe that the library director should conduct the orientation with assistance from the board president. It is also appropriate for the director to conduct the orientation on his/her own. I do not recommend that the board president present the orientation without the director.

As a trustee who was also a library director, it was important for me to have an orientation so I would know how that board operated. As a new trustee on the Regional Library System board, I needed to know the committee structure, expectations and responsibilities of the trustees. It was important for me to learn from the organization’s perspective what the role of the trustee was for that particular organization and how business was conducted at the board meetings.

Compliance with the standards by July 1, 2017, will be required for any public library that wishes to apply for Library Vision grants. If you need assistance creating an orientation for new board members or have any questions about the standards, please contact your Library Development Specialist. If you’re not sure who your LDS is, you can find out here: http://library.nd.gov/fieldservices.html

NDLCC Standards Compliance: Reader’s Advisory

Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the June 2016 issue of Flickertale)

After this year’s public library annual report, Library Development Manager Eric Stroshane completed an analysis of how our public libraries are doing in regards to being in compliance with the North Dakota Library Coordinating Council (NDLCC) Standards for Public Libraries. There are categories that all libraries are in compliance with. We are going to highlight the areas that don’t have 100% compliance.

The first topic we are going to write about is Reader’s Advisory. Reader’s Advisory (RA) is the act of recommending both fiction and nonfiction titles to patrons through direct and indirect methods.

books1[1]Direct is pretty straight and word forward. A patron asks for a good book, a mystery book, a self-help book… insert any request here. A librarian or staff member directs the patron to one or more titles that will fit their needs. Indirect includes everything from book displays to booklists/pathfinders to bookmarks.

In 2014, Library Journal published an article entitled “The State of Reader’s Advisory.” They identified four points of service where RA takes place:

In-person RA takes place 85% of the time at the reference desk and 59% at the circulation desk. Self-directed RA is also highly popular, with 94% of libraries creating book displays, for example, and 75% offering book lists. Book-oriented programs are widespread, too: the survey shows that book clubs (89%) and author visits (86%) are held at most libraries. The fourth point of service was digital: 79% of libraries provide read-alikes or other such tips on their websites, and a little less than half, recommendations via social media.

You can read the rest of the article at: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/02/library-services/the-state-of-readers-advisory/#_

I’ve taken advantage of RA via social networking several times and I love it. I’m not sure if any of our ND libraries are offering this but if you are, please be sure to let me know. One way to provide RA via social networking is to ask a reader to provide the last title they’ve read and then librarians recommend 3-5 titles based on that title. Another is to share book reviews via Twitter or Facebook. I know we do have some librarians doing this.

I think more of our libraries are providing Reader’s Advisory Services than indicated by the annual report. Hopefully, this article has helped you better identify the ways that you are providing RA that you didn’t identify as such.

If you have questions about the standards, please contact any member of the Library Development Team.

Back to the Basics — Supplies!

Adapted from Aston Garner's Pencil Bucket (https://secure.flickr.com/photos/26187880@N03/9453126721/in/photostream/) under CC BY-NC 2.0 license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/).

Adapted from Aston Garner’s Pencil Bucket under CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

If you work in a library, you know you need certain special odds and ends to continue to function smoothly.

Sometimes you can get by with gumption, duct tape, and chutzpah, but for those occasions when you need something you can’t make yourself, turn to one of these fine sources:

General Library Supplies (anything from shelf labels, to book drops, carts, and furniture)

Library Cards and Barcode Labels (ND, SD, and MN only)

Mailing Supplies

Archival Storage and Mending Needs

Microform Reader/Scanners and ND Newspaper Microfilm

Library Security 101

American Libraries Live is a fantastic streaming video series, presented by ALA and American Libraries magazine. Each live broadcast focuses on a different timely library-related topic, with experts in the field serving as moderators and panelists. I had the chance to tune in for the session for the month of May, which focused on library security. There was a great deal of great information, and I thought I’d share the main points I was able to take away from the session.

  1. Security is everyone’s job. Whether you work in a large enough library to have dedicated security staff, or you are a solo librarian in a rural library, it is everyone’s job to ensure the safety and security of library patrons and the library building. We as library staff should take the time to walk around and take stock of what’s going on the building, check the dark corners, and just generally be observant of who’s in the building, what they’re doing. There isn’t always going to be a “good citizen” who will come and report to you that something is going on. We need to be the collective eyes and ears to make sure the library environment is safe for everyone within it.
  2. Post the library’s code of conduct in plain view. It’s tough to enforce rules that people don’t know about. Plus, just knowing the rules helps modify people’s behavior before they ever venture into unacceptable behavior territory.
  3. Write an incident report every time staff has to deal with a security issue in the building. It’s beneficial to have a record of what took place, who was involved, and how the issue was resolved. Having all the information helps library administration to have the back of the staff, and helps the staff as a whole debrief after the incident, to review what happened and how staff responded.
  4. We need to rethink the idea of the “difficult patron.” We all have patrons we think of as difficult for one reason or another, those patrons who interfere with the ability of others to enjoy the library. One of the panelists suggested thinking about these patrons not as “difficult,” but rather as “challenging.” Everyone has the right to enjoy the library within the parameters of the code of conduct, and it can certainly be difficult to deal with those people who choose not to operate within those parameters. The panelist expressed the thought that using the word challenging instead of difficult reframes this in a more positive light. We can work with challenging people to bring them into the fold of those who use the library without interfering with the library use of others.

American Libraries Live is a really great resource for library staff in all types of libraries. You can view the webcasts live, or watch the archive of the presentations any time, all at no charge. Check out the archive and view the schedule for future webcasts at http://americanlibrarieslive.org/blog.