Best Books of 2016 & Best Forthcoming Books of 2017

Looking for a good book to read? Looking for a book to recommend to a patron? Looking for some books to add to your library’s collection? If so, here are some great lists for you!

2016 has come and gone. With the end of one year and the beginning of another, we can look back on the best books from 2016; and we can also look ahead with anticipation to some new books in 2017. Review the categories in the lists below to find the perfect book for you, your library, or your patrons.

2016

2017

Services for Homebound Patrons: Part 2

Once you’ve decided which services you want to offer to homebound patrons, how do you find the people who might qualify and are interested in these services?  Homebound patrons aren’t going to be coming through the doors of the library, so how do you get the information out to them?

Some groups and government entities that may be able to help spread the word about the services you are offering include:

Disability Groups
Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Meals-on-Wheels
North Dakota Human Services
Religious Institutions
Senior Centers
Support Groups
Veterans Affairs
VFW Halls

Some of them may even be willing/able to help get the items to the homebound patrons while delivering their own services.  Depending on your community, there are probably many other ways to get the information out, but this is just to give you a launching point.

Also, make sure to utilize your city’s newspaper and calendar of events to get the information out to those who have a need for your services, along with getting it on the radio and on the community access channel on television, if possible.

A toolkit that you may find helpful when starting a homebound program is the Homebound Program Toolkit.  This document gives advice on the pros and cons of the different delivery methods, policy development, planning the program, and marketing the program.  It also includes forms that you will probably need when setting up the program, including a reader profile, participant application, and route schedule log.

Also, a great resource for your patrons (whether they are homebound or not) who are unable to read standard print materials due to a visual, physical, or reading disability is the Talking Books program.  If you or your patrons have any questions, you can find more information available online (http://library.nd.gov/talkingbooks.html) or by calling 1-701-328-1408 or 1-800-843-9948.

Services for Homebound Patrons: Part 1

The main priority of libraries is to provide services for the people in their community. Libraries do a lot for the patrons who use the library by providing programs and items that can be checked out. How do libraries make sure these same services are also available to the patrons who are unable to leave their homes?

Homebound patrons can include those who are temporarily or permanently confined to their homes due to illness, disability, surgery, age, etc. They may be feeling isolated and bored and in need of the services that your library can provide. Some of the ways that you can provide services to homebound patrons include:

Mail delivery. Staff members can select items based on the patrons’ interests or the patrons can request specific titles and send them through the mail.

Home delivery. Staff members or volunteers take items directly to the patrons’ houses on a regular schedule. If you go this route, make sure to have rules/policies to make sure that the patrons are providing an appropriate and safe environment for the staff/volunteers and that the service can be suspended if unsafe/inappropriate conditions exist (threatening behavior, wearing revealing attire, unconfined pets, etc.).

Delivery with other services. Find a service that already delivers and see if they would be willing to deliver books, as well.  One service you could check with is Meals-on-Wheels.

Book discussion groups. If the patrons give permission, the library could connect patrons with each other so they can discuss books and other interests they share.

Special interest visits. Library volunteers can visit the homebound patrons and discuss hobbies, interests, etc. The volunteer could also record the experience as part of an oral history project for the library.

What types of services does your library provide to homebound patrons?

Check back next week for the next part in Services for Homebound Patrons, where we will discuss how to figure out who your homebound patrons are and how to make them aware of what the library can offer them.

“We’re Closed” signs

454736426_1280x720The holiday season is upon us and, with that, your library will probably be closed at some point to give employees time with their families. With the holiday season comes winter weather.  Unfortunately, the snow and cold has already set in and libraries around the state have had to be closed due to the weather.

When letting your patrons know the library is closed, whether it is scheduled because of a holiday or last-minute because of bad weather, be sure to remind them that the online library resources are still accessible 24/7. Just because they can’t go into the physical building, doesn’t mean they can’t reap the benefits of all the online resources that your library is providing.  They can still access TutorND, Universal Class, OverDrive (if your library provides it), etc.

If your library has a website or Facebook page where you can post about the closure(s), be sure to provide direct links to the online resources available at your library. If you are posting a sign on the library’s door, include your website’s url with information on how to access the online resources.

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.

Additional weeding resources:

 

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.

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: