Category Archives: Outreach

2016 ARSL Conference

arslOn October 26-29, I had the pleasure of attending the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) 2016 Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. This was my first national library conference, and what a conference it was! Each day was full of interesting speakers and great sessions.

Perhaps my favorite moment from the conference occurred during Will Weaver’s speech. Weaver is the author of Red Earth, White Earth, A Gravestone Made of Wheat and Other Stories, Saturday Night Dirt, and Striking Out. In his speech, Weaver talked about the importance of libraries and how they have influenced him over the years. He held up a book at one point, and confirmed with the crowd of librarians that it was indeed a library book. He admitted he has the tendency of accidentally stealing library books when he visits them for various engagements. As it turns out, a librarian from the library to which the book belonged was in attendance! As the audience roared with laughter, Weaver had the librarian come up to the front and he returned the book to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed each keynote speaker, and I don’t think there was one session I regretted attending. If anything, I regretted not being able to attend more sessions!

I attended two sessions on programming. One was on teen programs and the other was on how to utilize your community for library programs. The session on teen programs, presented by the librarians at the North Loan City Library in Utah, offered some great ideas: Nerf gun events, teens volunteering at the library to earn points, forming a teen advisory board, and creating an email list just for teens so they can stay up-to-date on what teen-related things are happening at the library.

The mining your community session, presented by the librarian of the Stanley Community Library in Idaho, was just as beneficial. Every community has its gems so utilize them! For example, if someone in your community knits as a hobby, ask this person if he/she would come to the library and host a program on kitting; or if someone is a toy collector, set up a display or have the person come in for a lecture on their history. Some of the great program topics from this session included knitting, adult coloring, lectures, writing classes, music, car maintenance, photography, and cooking.

Librarians are often seen as the people who know everything. As a result, we are likely to receive technology questions that we may not know the answer to, or perhaps the patron is not being receptive. One session on patron technology training tips addressed this. Some of the tips from this session included identify yourself as a technology trainer and do the best you can, create a plan, take deep breaths, narrate your process to the patron, focus on quality, create teachable moments, and implement a resource guide.

Another session, presented by California librarian/ trainer Crystal Schimpf, covered the basics of digital storytelling for libraries and how it can be used for advocacy. Technology is ubiquitous in today’s world so it makes sense for libraries to use it to promote themselves and reach patrons. Libraries can make videos that highlight a database, give a virtual tour, or provide a crash course on services. The sky is the limit! The session stressed that videos should be short but fun. When creating videos you will want to create goals, pick your video platform, write scripts, log your shots, and get the necessary equipment and software (which can be done at a relatively low cost). Once the videos are done, share them on social media and get them out there as much as you can.

One of the more entertaining sessions was presented by Harmony Higbie, director of the Underwood Public Library in Underwood, ND. The session was on Kahoot, a modern twist on trivia. Kahoot can be played for free on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Kahoot can be used in the library for trivia, book clubs, and more! For more information on Kahoot, visit their website: https://getkahoot.com/

In addition to the before mentioned sessions, I attended two sessions relating to digital preservation. If you would like more information on this area, review the services offered by the Internet Archive. You can also contact the State Library’s Digital Initiatives coordinator.

There were around 500 librarians from across the country at the ARSL conference, and I was lucky to meet some of them and hear their stories. One of the librarians I met was from beautiful St. George, Utah, which is where the ARSL conference will be in 2017. The librarian will be the co-chair for the 2017 conference, and he had some great things to say about the St. George area (he even showed me a picture of the view from his backyard to prove his point).

If you are interested in attending the ARSL conference, I would highly encourage you to do so. You can learn more about ARSL and the annual conference at their website: http://arsl.info/

If you have any questions or would like more information on the ideas and conference sessions I shared, feel free to contact me.

Community Celebrations

Library-logo-blue-outlineOften we assume that everyone in town knows about the library. However, many times people in town don’t know what the library offers beyond books. Sometimes reaching new people requires leaving the library and getting out into the community. Here’s how a few North Dakota libraries have gotten the library involved in local community events:

SUMMER

  • Edna Ralston Library’s chess club participated in the parade for Larimore Days.
  • McVille Community Library hosts an event to kickoff McVille Days, bringing in a special speaker and then serving dessert to celebrate the Library’s anniversary. The Library also holds an ice cream social fundraiser during the McVille Days Car Show. As one of the few places with air conditioning and public restrooms, plus all the McVille High School trophies and class pictures, the Library is a big draw.
McVille's ice cream social for McVille Days

McVille Community Library’s ice cream social for McVille Days

Fall

  • Walhalla Public Library held a silent auction during the Walhalla Giant Pumpkin Fest that raised nearly $3,000 for the library.
  • The Heart of America Library in Rugby participated in “Trunk or Treat” for Halloween sponsored by the Rugby Jaycees. They were “Library Lady Bugs” and handed out bookmarks and candy from the librarian’s decorated VW Beetle.
Trunk or Treating in Rugby

Trunk or Treating in Rugby

WINTER

  • The McVille Community Library participates in Winter Fest, a community celebration held the last Sunday in November to usher in the Christmas season.  The Library hosts a meal, provided by volunteers who love to cook and bake for the Library. The board and volunteers serve the meal, and the Boy Scouts bus tables. There are a variety of events – pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Bingo, Cookie Walk, Silent Auction – which all take place in the city auditorium above the Library, so it is a great opportunity for the Library to have a fundraiser.

How does your library get involved in the community? Share your stories in the comments!

 

Pirate for a Day

pirate shipThis week I’m highlighting the “Pirate for a Day” program that the Walhalla Public Library hosted at the end of October. I thought it was such as great idea that I wanted to share it with everyone with the hope that it might be a program you could replicate in your community!

Walhalla citizens Crystal and Dale Anderson organized the “Pirate for a Day” program, which acts as the story time theme for the week, a community event for all ages, and a fundraiser for the library all in one fabulous program! So how exactly does this amazing program work?

  • Have patrons purchase a “treasure map” at the library for $1.00; Walhalla also offered temporary tattoos for $0.25 and eye patches for $0.50.
  • Patrons get the map stamped by local businesses and return it to the library by the deadline to be entered in the prize drawing.
  • Have the deadline for the prize drawing coincide with a pirate-themed story time. (Check out this list of pirate book ideas for your story time!)

The Walhalla Public Library had map available Wednesday through Friday, with the deadline the following Tuesday, but you could adapt the schedule to whatever works for your schedule. Additional preparation on the part of the library would require asking local businesses to participate, making a map, and getting a prize donated.

pirate for a day

Kids dressed up for pirate story time

(For more photos of Pirate for a Day and all of the library’s fall programming, check out the photos in their Fall 2015 Facebook album.)

This type of program is a fun way to get your entire community involved, and perhaps reach community members who may not yet be library patrons. Has your library done any community-wide programs? Share your ideas in the comments!

Summer Summit Community Partnership Resources

SummerSummit logoEarlier in August I presented on the topic of community partnerships at our annual Summer Summit workshops, so I thought I’d highlight a few of the resources I covered for those who were unable to attend. At the workshops, Mary discussed community engagement and the report “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” from The Aspen Institute. I focused on the first “Strategy for Success” from the report, which is “Aligning library services in support of community goals.”

In order to identify community goals, it’s helpful to get out into the community and talk to other organizations because “libraries that are valued by their communities involve the people, local groups and government agencies in developing services and programs.” This isn’t something you just add to your list of things to do. It’s a crucial task that must be incorporated into your broader strategic plan. If you missed our Summer Summit on strategic planning, you can still access the resources to help you get started. Continue reading

Get Ready for Library Card Sign-Up Month

PEANUTS_WEB_PSA_336x280September is Library Card Sign-Up Month! Library Card Sign-Up Month is a great opportunity to encourage your community to visit the library and get a card, but really it’s an ideal opportunity to highlight your resources and services and generally raise awareness about the library in your community. It doesn’t do you much good if people get library cards but never use them to access library resources! If you haven’t started getting ready, check out ALA’s site for resources to supplement your campaign.

Snoopy is the 2015 mascot, and you can download a poster to print as well as images you can use online. ALA also offers a press release and PSAs you can use. There is also a recorded webinar you can listen to, and be sure to read the comments in the chat box for even more ideas – you can skip right to the 26 minute mark to read the transcript of the brainstorming session. The Peanuts Movie comes out in early November, so this is perfectly timed to capitalize on all the Snoopy movie marketing as well! Remember, this is the time to get out of the library and into the community so that community members who aren’t already visiting the library will stop by to see what you offer.

How do you celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month? How is your library “cooler than cool”? Share your ideas and strategies for a successful campaign!

Turning Outward to Better Understand and Serve your Community

transformingLibrariesThinking about revising your library’s strategic plan? Wondering how you can do more to better understand the communities you serve? In need of more informed advocacy and outreach? Consider utilizing the Turning Outward workbook from Transforming Libraries. It is a collection of tools designed to help libraries strengthen their roles as community leaders and bring about positive change in their service area.

The workbook is laid out as a 90-day plan, which sounds daunting at first, but it’s broken down into manageable installments. Since this step-by-step process was developed by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation in partnership with the American Library Association, you know it will be effective.

I do recommend reading through the entire workbook before you begin tackling the project, however, as this will ground your understanding of the process and assist with keeping things flowing forwards smoothly. There are a few awkward moments in the workbook, like where you’re asked to discuss aspects of the Cycle of Public Innovation graphic several pages before it appears. Knowing this in advance will keep you from getting hung up on such inconvenient details.

The entire workbook is available as a PDF online, free of charge right here.

You can learn more about Transforming Libraries and the Turning Outward program on this site.

Licensed under

“The Cycle of Public Innovation” by the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation used under CC BY NC SA 3.0 license.

 

Community Tool Box

toolboxWe all want our libraries to be more than just repositories for books – we also want them to be thriving centers in the community. However, it can seem like an overwhelming task to actually develop connections in the community.

That’s where the Community Tool Box can come in handy. Brought to you by the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, the Community Tool Box is a “free, online resource for those working to build healthier communities and bring about social change.” It breaks down each step of the process for you.

There is a helpful guide to getting started, outlining the process with links to related resources:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Act
  • Evaluate
  • Sustain

The Learn A Skill section can guide you through chapters relevant to exactly what you need assistance with in your community. There are also Toolkits for specific activities, each with an outline and several examples.

These resources are not specifically tailored to libraries; however, if you attended the Summer Summit symposiums this year, you’ll notice that they focus on several topics that were discussed:

What’s going on in your community? What would you like to see happen? Share your stories in the comments!

Historypin

historypin

Many of you out there may be familiar with Pinterest as a way of sharing ideas, crafts, photos, etc. Have you heard of Historypin? It is the same concept but people pin items of historical interest. Anyone can start an account–individuals to institutions. If the location of a photo is known, you enter that info and additional metadata. It then gets pinned to a map where you can explore an area’s history through user submitted items. You can narrow your search results by year and subject. ND mapHistorypin also includes ideas for projects that can involve schools, your local community, and libraries and archives. This can be a fast and easy way (and FREE) for small historical societies or public libraries to showcase some of their collections.

If you or someone you know is interested in such a project but don’t know how or where to get started, please contact me 701-328-4629 or sbaltzer@nd.gov. My middle name is digitization (just kidding–it’s much less exciting than that).

Library Bike Rides

This summer, blue-stamp-logo-with-tail-105I rode my bike to work. I only live two miles from the State Library, so it is not a challenging commute. It was definitely a great way to spend a little more time outside while the weather was warm.

Recently, I learned about Cycling for Libraries, “an international cycling conference for librarians and library lovers,” which “aims to advocate libraries and increase awareness of the valuable services and resources that libraries offer to the community.” This year, the main tour took place in France, but there were also local tours in Texas and Tennessee, in partnership with the library associations in each state.

With Bike the Border and CANDISC, North Dakota is no stranger to long bike rides, but these lengthy rides are not for everyone. However, you may be able to implement a shorter bike ride in your community while still raising awareness about the library, and raise some money for the library as well, if you organize a fundraising bike ride!

The International Bicycle Fund has an outline of what you’ll need to do to organize a fundraising bike ride. The Alliance for Biking and Walking has a much more in-depth guide to help prepare you and assist you with every step of the process. Bike riding season is drawing to a close in North Dakota, leaving you plenty of time to prepare for next year!

How do you think this work in your community? Do other organizations in town have biking fundraisers? Share your thoughts in the comments!

State Library Partners with Zoobean

Zoobean-LogoHave you been looking for ways to connect with library patrons who have young children? Have you been looking for ways to reach parents of young children who are not already library users? Beanstack may be the perfect solution for your library!

Beanstack is a service provided by Zoobean that recommends books to parents for children specifically from birth to 8 years old. Parents sign up for an account using an email address (no library card required) and then set up a profile for each of their children, indicating each child’s age, interests, and reading level. Beanstack then emails the parent with a personalized book recommendation for each child on a weekly basis. Each recommendation can be linked to your catalog if you own the book. While Beanstack has compiled a list of recommended books, you and your staff can add books to the list as well, if you do not own the titles Beanstack recommends, or if you simply want to supplement their recommendations. There are also themed learning guides which provide suggested activities, discussion starters, and multimedia resources. Themed learning guides are accessed with a library card number, thus drawing in parents who don’t yet have a library card.

While there is no cost to parents to use this service, the library purchases accounts on their behalf at $1 per account annually, in groups of 500 accounts. More accounts can be added at any time. In partnership with the State Library, Zoobean has offered to waive the set up fee for North Dakota libraries that sign up for Beanstack by October 30.

Zoobean was founded by Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Google’s former Head of K-12 Education, and Felix Brandon Lloyd, Washington D.C.’s Teacher of the Year for 2000-2001, when they became parents themselves. For more information on working with Zoobean, please contact Felix at felix@zoobean.com.