Carol Smallwood just published Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook. The book includes 66 focused snapshots of outreach in action, reflecting the creative solutions of librarians searching for new and innovative ways to build programs that meet patron needs while expanding the library’s scope into part of the community.
Archive for the ‘Winter 2010’ Category
Aurora, Colorado, February 2, 2010 – BCR and LYRASIS are pleased to announce that they are exploring the potential for a closer relationship that would better serve members of both organizations. Building on their previous cooperative efforts to offer digital and preservation services, the Boards of the two organizations are discussing a variety of options that would allow both BCR and LYRASIS members to take advantage of the unique offerings of each organization.
Brenda Bailey-Hainer, President & CEO of BCR, says of the new development, “I am very excited about the opportunities that these discussions offer. BCR members would not only continue to have the outstanding services that BCR has always provided, but would also benefit from the rich array of additional services and resources from LYRASIS."
“BCR has many innovative programs and services. LYRASIS members have asked how we can partner with BCR and bring these programs to our region. We are very excited about what this potentially can mean to our members and how it will complement our programs and services,” says Kate Nevins, Chief Executive Officer of LYRASIS.
As discussions evolve, the Boards of both BCR and LYRASIS will evaluate available options and determine a path for action. Both Boards are committed to ensuring continued high levels of service and expanded programs for all members, while at the same time gaining the efficiencies offered through economy of scale.
DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 10 September 2009- Job seekers have packed libraries around the country during recent months, searching online job sites, building resumes, taking interview classes, and making use of a wide range of other employment services and resources. More help is on the way. Through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), WebJunction, the online learning community for library staff created by OCLC, a nonprofit library service and research organization; and the State Library of North Carolina (SLNC) have launched a one-year initiative to gather and share best practices for providing library-based employment services and programs to the unemployed.
"We know that libraries are making important contributions to the nation’s economic recovery, and IMLS is committed to helping those libraries help their communities get back to work," said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, IMLS Director. "We admire this grant because of the educational opportunities it will provide and the relationships between libraries and economic and workforce development agencies that it will foster."
"In North Carolina, we have established real collaborations in communities across the state between public libraries and local workforce development organizations, which together support job seekers in everything from basic computer skills to applying for jobs online," said Mary L. Boone, State Librarian of North Carolina. "We are delighted to partner with IMLS and WebJunction to share what we have learned with our colleagues around the country." The State Library of North Carolina was one of the state library agencies that stepped forward earlier this year to coordinate a highly successful statewide library education program in response to the economic downturn. Members of SLNC’s staff who were instrumental in that state’s success will contribute significantly to the national project.
The partners will develop and host an online training module—available to everyone—that adapts the workshop curriculum and experience. A core feature of the program will be online conversations at webjunction.org for state library administrators to explore new ideas for supporting local public library staff to deliver workforce services. All regional workshops and the online training module will be supported by follow-on programming. This will provide participants with the resources and support they need to assist local public libraries as they respond to urgent patron demands.
"Severe unemployment strikes at the core of any community, and libraries work hard to respond to these community needs," said Cathy De Rosa, Vice President, Marketing, OCLC. "We are pleased to work with IMLS and the State Library of North Carolina to help respond to those needs. This program allows us to support communities and individuals working to cope with unemployment and to support libraries as they work to provide essential infrastructure and services for national economic recovery."
Project goals include dissemination of services, programs, and partnerships to support the unemployed; greater capacity in state library agencies to support their local public libraries; and broader understanding and support outside the library field for the workforce development role that libraries have in responding to the crisis.
Additional IMLS resources:
Libraries to the Rescue is a set of five podcasts, including one by Mary L. Boone, State Librarian of North Carolina, that focuses on how libraries are helping citizens access all types of employment assistance. A list of Online Resources for Libraries and Jobseekers is available here.
Serving Patrons in Tough Times: Forming Collaborations with Outside Agencies in Order to Bridge the GapWednesday, March 31st, 2010
By Chuck Steinbower, The William K. Willis School, Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility, Ohio Department of Youth Services
Last year, I was able to conduct an extensive humanities program that exceeded my wildest expectations. I was able to conduct five author vistas, three artist visits, plus other programming through a variety of financial resources. This year due to financial restraints, I have been forced to be more creative in order to bring quality programming to my institution.
One way I’ve done this is by partnering with the school’s career-based intervention teachers to bring in volunteer speakers to talk with our youth about various career opportunities. So far, a veterinarian has come to talk about the veterinarian field as well as working in associate degree level positions within the field. Due to the success of this talk, we will be contacting a local associate degree college to discuss with youth further possibilities in the pet field as well as other associate degree level positions. Two individuals working in a local physical therapy office were invited to participate in a discussion with students about careers in the physical therapy field. One of the teachers, who will be retiring in the coming year, brought their class into the library to hear the program and was pleased to discover what avenues they could personally pursue in an associate level program as they pursue a second career after retirement. I am presently pursuing having professionals in the counseling field, barbering and flower arranging come to talk to my students about their vocations. I have been able to invite these speakers to speak for free. I’ve also seen they have good impact on the youth in my school. In addition to having outside speakers come talk to our youth, I have been able to work with the Central Office Education Administrators to have the Ohio Career Information System (OCIS) installed in all of our institution’s libraries within our district. This service is at a very low cost and helps youth see what jobs they may like to pursue.
Another way I have stretched limited resources is by establishing a link with The State Library of Ohio Library Consultants. One of the consultants is on our Library Advisory Committee and provides several ideas for programming. The consultant helps me locate grants and aids to instruction. For example, we are currently waiting on the result of a Library Services Technology Act Mini-Grant that would enable the library to have the federal government pay for an author visit while the library would purchase the author’s books for each student. The library would also collaborate with the English teachers on a report about the books. The State Library consultants also introduced me to the idea of having authors talk to the youth via Skype, a free service that allows calls over the internet, which we may pursue in the future. The State Library also has a “Choose to Read Ohio” program, which enables libraries to apply for grants and use author toolkits and more resources, which in turn can be used cooperatively with classroom teachers.
I have also established contact with the young adult services administrator at the local Delaware County District Library. She too is on the Library Advisory Council and has co-written a grant to the Oprah/American Library Association Great Reads Program. This program provides books to youth for book discussion programs. Two authors of the books that we have read agreed, free of charge, to do a phone conference with our book discussion youth. An additional source of funding has come from the Delaware County District Library’s Powell, Ohio Branch Friends of the Library Group. They collectively decided to donate funds for the purchase of books for book discussion groups that are in addition to the books provided in the Oprah program. Instead of buying Christmas gifts for each other, the Friends Group decided to use the money to buy books for our kids; several of who have never received a book as a gift before.
We have established a partnership with The Ohio Sate University Wexner Center for the Arts and their Education Outreach Administrator. This would enable a professional artist to come to our institution and work with our youth in conjunction with their Mark Bradford exhibition, which will take place this May. The Outreach Specialist has worked with us in the past in two previous outreaches that have been incorporated into our curriculum. The two previous outreaches concerned media literacy and working with an Andy Warhol exhibition. These have been unique opportunities for community participation working hand in hand with classroom teachers and librarians. This outreach has been funded through the generous gifts of those who support The Wexner center and its educational outreach.
I have established a link with the preschool-12th grade outreach librarian from The Ohio State University who is also on the Library Advisory Council. They have helped proofread grants and documents as well as introducted a connection between our secondary students and college. We are exploring ways that the local university can help provide a meaningful transition to college life. We have also established a connection between the local university’s Storytelling Festival and our school which will enable the youth to experience a nationally known storyteller first hand. The storyteller will also work with our teachers to help the students further develop written and oral expressive skills.
For the second year in a row, The Ohioana Library has agreed to provide for an author to visit our institution in conjunction with their Ohioana Author Festival. Their Annual Author Festival, which also features works by Ohio authors, grows exponentially every year, and as part of the festival, they select institutions for author outreaches the day before the festival. Last year, our youth heard Erin Lynn, due to the generosity of The Ohioana Library, and we are excited about the author which will be coming this year. It is also very fortunate that the executive director of The Ohioana Library worked previously with the Ohio Department of Youth Services so she understands the particular needs of our youth.
Finding funding for programming can be challenging. But it can be overcome with persistence, networking, and being in the right place at the right time. One should not get too frustrated at the lack of funds and obstacles that preclude the existence of programming. If one is persistent and creative, one can find a way around the obstacles in order to get things done.
By Catherine Greene, Miami Country Day School
Libraries, whether they are public, school or private, are experiencing budget cuts and reduced staffing along with the pressing need for expanded services. Our present economic times demand belt-tightening, creativity and prudent fiscal decisions. Financial planning in administering a private school library can be daunting in the best of times. Whether present budget issues revolve around database pricing, technology, book purchases or periodical subscriptions, some form of seriously reduced spending is reality. But what about issues that are more subtle, more cosmetic and, from the perspective of young patrons, more important?
One dilemma we faced was the pressing need to re-upholster fourteen barstool chair seats for six high top tables in the middle/upper school library. Our necessity-driven solution was to issue an all-school request for used jeans—all sizes accepted. Had we anticipated the huge response, we would have limited it to certain grades.
Library staff members each took a large bundle of jeans home for washing. We later sorted them by size. Our school nurse purchased a heavy duty needle for her sewing machine, cut the jeans and proceeded to mix, match and include pockets and special designs for the barstool chairs. The one stipulation from the library staff was that all pockets be sewn closed.
The results exceeded expectations. Students loved the new chair seats. When they first saw them, they searched for “their” jeans. The staff is also no longer concerned about pencil or ink marks—we now have a reserve supply of jeans for years of upholstering projects.
By Erica MacCreaigh, Correctional Libraries Senior Consultant, Colorado State Library
Of the more than 1 in 100 American adults currently behind bars1, 95% will eventually be released. Of these, nearly 50% will return to prison within 3 years.2 This rate of recidivism produces devastating social consequences for victims, offenders’ families, and offenders themselves.
As conditions of their parole, most ex-offenders are expected to obtain a state identification card or driver’s license, find a place to live, get a job (which usually entails securing a means of transportation), and attend parole-related meetings, all within a few weeks of release. For long-term success in the real world, many ex-offenders also need mental health and addiction recovery care, as well as financial assistance to pay for prescriptions, food, and clothing appropriate for employment. Meeting all of these needs means navigating a bewildering sea of social services, often with little guidance from social workers, re-entry specialists, and parole officers with overwhelming case loads.
Libraries help simplify the reentry process for ex-offenders by collecting and packaging information about their communities’ social services in one convenient location. New York Public Library, Newark (NJ) Public Library, Monroe County (NY) Library System, and Hennepin County (MN) Library maintain web pages and/or print resources for prisoners reintegrating into the community. Non-library agencies producing similar material include the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the United Way of Greater Cleveland (OH), and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.
Now, an ongoing Colorado State Library project seeks to provide a similar information resource to ex-offenders in the city and county of Pueblo, Colorado.
Tentatively entitled The Pueblo Community and Prisoner Reentry Resource Guide and slated for publication in spring 2010, this pocket-sized booklet highlights several prominent Pueblo agencies offering services to ex-offenders. Thoroughly researched and compiled by recent University of Denver SLIS graduate, Melanie Colletti, and edited by Colorado State Library Correctional Libraries Senior Consultant, Erica MacCreaigh, the guide provides contact information for local agencies equipped to help ex-offenders obtain identification, housing, job skills, food, clothing, health care, and substance abuse support groups. For agencies easily accessible by the Pueblo mass transit system, bus route information is also included.
Colletti and MacCreaigh have partnered with Colorado Department of Corrections staff for assistance with graphic design and formatting. Les Reynolds, graphic arts instructor at the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Colorado, has enthusiastically undertaken the design of the guide as a real-world project for his offender students.
Distribution is expected to begin in spring of 2010. Plans are underway to provide the guide for free through a variety of outlets, including the branches and satellites of the Pueblo City-County Public Library. Department of Corrections reentry specialists may also assist with distributing the guide.
New York Public Library’s Connections 2010: A guide for formerly incarcerated people to information sources in New York City and The Job Search (pdf)
Newark Public Library’s Prisoner Re-entry http://nplwebguides.pbworks.com/Prisoner+Re-Entry
Monroe County Library System’s Making moves: A handbook for ex-offenders returning to the Rochester, NY and Monroe County area December 29, 2009 at http://www3.libraryweb.org/uploadedFiles/MCLS/Central/Departments/Extension_and_Outreach/Making%20Moves.pdf
Hennepin County Library’s Freedom Ticket http://www.hclib.org/pub/info/Outreach/freedomticket
Peeples, Carol and Christie Donner. Getting on After Getting Out. (Denver, CO: Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, 2007).
United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Going home to Stay: A guide for successful reentry for men and women http://www.211cleveland.org/pdfs/communityreentry.pdf
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s The Essex County smart book: A resource guide for going home http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/OTS/PDFs/090311/090311_Essex_Co_Smartbook.pdf
 Pew Center on the States, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008 (Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, February 2008).
 Rosten, Kristi L. Fiscal Year 2007 Annual Statistical Report. (Colorado Springs, CO: Colorado Department of Corrections, 2008), p. 72.
Tools for Tough Times: Arizona State Library and Archives launches New Resource for People Affected by the RecessionWednesday, March 31st, 2010
By Ted Hale, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
The Tools for Tough Times website is a one-stop site providing links that can help all Arizonans during touch economic times. Included are tools for work, parents, finances, housing, health and specific tools for seniors. Janet Fisher, Director of the Law and Research Library for the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, said: “Since its introduction and promotion to libraries in April, 2009, this website has been added to training sessions by libraries in some of the rural areas of the state. As government services are changing, the site is updated. One distinct advantage is that the site is Arizona-specific. We’re letting communities add local government and non-profit resources as they know best what their community needs are. On the other end, we’re maintaining active links to state resources, revising the list as programs cease and as other options and alternatives need to be found.” Proof of the initial success of the program is that other libraries are linking to the site.
Fisher states “our program was modeled on the New Jersey State Library’s Get Help! program which we became aware of in early 2009. We adapted the model to encompass Arizona-based resources and local/state pass-through programs. We also expanded the scope of the site to include parenting, healthcare, tools for seniors, and a tool addressing what to do with pets when you are no longer able to care for them. The whole concept is to convey that the library is an anchor institution in most communities and should be considered as a first response not only in times of crisis but at all times. We offer knowledgeable, skilled individuals who provide information virtually and physically, provide help during immediate times and in the long-term, and in many languages and formats.”
The State Library is in a unique position to collaborate with state agencies. It is the oldest cultural institution in Arizona (1864) with a long history of state-wide collaborations in the public interest. The Tools for Tough Times program is one of the latest offerings that addresses a strong current need for this information. Since its inception in April 2009, the site has registered 8,215 users. Usage continues to grow and it is our vision that once the economic downturn levels out the site will remain relevant for Arizonans.
New York, NY – December 17, 2009 – A report released from Ithaka S+R, Documents for a Digital Democracy: A Model for the Federal Depository Library Program in the 21st Century , examines the essential role of the Federal Library Depository Program (FDLP) in distributing, providing access to and preserving government documents and how the transition of government information from print to digital impacts the Program’s long-term approach and sustainability. Commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), the changes articulated in the report are urgently needed as FDLP and other libraries strive to ensure long-term, no-fee public access to government information.
“The FDLP was created when government information was printed and when members of the general public needed local access to documents. Times have changed and without a system-wide transformation of current practices, the ability to effectively distribute, provide access to and preserve this essential information is in jeopardy,” said Brinley Franklin, Vice Provost, University of Connecticut Libraries and President of ARL. “An efficient, up-to-date, coordinated program to ensure preservation and access, for both print and digital materials, is needed so the Program can continue to provide the permanent, no-fee public access that is so vital to the public and public understanding of our government.”
Ithaka S+R interviewed nearly 90 individuals, including librarians from 40 institutions, in order to understand a broad range of perspectives on the pressures facing the FDLP. “We found that the Federal Depository Library Program faces a range of challenges,” stated Roger C. Schonfeld, co-author and Manager of Research for Ithaka S+R. “Users increasingly prefer to access government information digitally, and participating libraries are feeling pressure to alter their approaches as incentives to continue to preserve print information decline and they struggle with how best to serve changing user needs. We hope this report helps to catalyze further action to create a better system for the future.”
The report offers a new vision for a system-wide framework that emphasizes the digitization of historical collections to enable dramatically expanded access to this material, greater flexibility in collection management, improved coordination of new government publications by the Government Printing Office (GPO) to ensure that access and preservation needs are adequately addressed, and an expanded role for librarians that emphasizes helping the public to locate, access, and use the wide range of information available. The report stresses that preservation and information integrity, along with advanced access services, should be achieved both through formalized partnerships between the GPO and select libraries and archives and through decentralized approaches.
The importance of transforming the FDLP for the public should not be underestimated. "Immediately following the signing of our Declaration of Independence, horses galloped to the thirteen colonies with typeset copies of the document detailing the birth of a new nation safe in saddlebags. Taxpayers of the 21st century deserve the same no-fee access to government information using the best technology available today and for tomorrow,” commented GladysAnn Wells, Director and State Librarian, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records and COSLA Past President. “This Report sets the stage, makes solid recommendations, and empowers the work that must be done."
By Carrie Banks, Brooklyn Public Library
According to the New York City Department of Homeless Services, 36,961 peopleï¿½including approximately 19,838 childrenï¿½were homeless in New York City on January 6, 2010. The number of people of all ages who are homeless in New York increased 15% over the last year. In this time of great need for so many people, libraries are well positioned to help.
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has a proud history of serving people who are homeless, and we are rising to this new challenge. Traditionally, BPL has provided deposit collections for shelters, worked with daycare programs at shelters and provided residents with information about all of our programs such as job placement assistance, literacy, and children’s programs. We have been sending Kidsmobile, our children’s and teen bookmobile, to shelters for at least six years. We also conduct workshops on library services and early literacy for shelter residents and staff. But we are always looking for new and better ways fulfill our mission of serving all Brooklynites.
In June 2005, BPL’s Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs began a partnership with New York Cares, an agency that mobilizes volunteers citywide, to implement Shelter Storytelling, a new model of service for BPL. New York Cares recruits volunteers to visit three family shelters one Saturday a month. These volunteers perform crafts with the children, bring them to the library, and then treat them to pizza. At neighborhood libraries, children’s specialists read to the children, make sure they have library cards and help them find books and the volunteers help them read. The children also get to choose Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) books to keep. Roughly 350 children were served by this partnership in 2009. BPL has increased the number of shelters we serve by two and the number of individuals by 274% in the most recent quarter. We are currently negotiating to add a fourth shelter with this model, bringing the total number of shelters served by the Child’s Place to seven.
The primary goal of the Shelter Storytelling program is to encourage families to come on their own to the library between the group visits. We hoped to see results within six months of the first group visit, but were pleased to see them within one month, when a mother and her son came to return books and take out new ones. We have received anecdotal evidence that individual children are reading more and doing better in school.
Another goal is to provide some much-needed stability in the children’s lives. These children live in temporary housing, often far from the neighborhoods they are familiar with, and have usually been to more than one school. Libraries are not an obvious recreational choice for children living in shelters, who often read below grade level. The Shelter Storytelling program helps introduce these children to libraries, which can serve as a constant in their lives, because wherever they go in New York City there will be a library nearby. We know from staff reports that families who have moved on from the shelters continue to use the library.
After we had been offering the Shelter Storytelling program for a year and a half, the children brought us homemade holiday cards. One child, who could neither read nor write, drew a picture of a snowman, a Christmas tree, me, a reindeer, and a fox. The fox had been featured in the story I had told the previous month. Darryl, a third-grader who was just beginning to read and did not yet write, dictated the following for his card.
“I thank you for letting us come to your nice library. My Name is Darryl. I want to have a good Christmas. My name is Darryl and I like your library. It’s special because I like going to libraries. It’s fun.”
As the number of children, families and individuals who are homeless has increased in Brooklyn, and in New York City as a whole, so has the demand for all types of social services, including library services. And we continue to get new requests. One more sits on my desk as I write this. Even as the economy continues to worsen, our history and mission leave us well poised to meet these needs.
By Judy Hoffman, North Suburban Library System
On January 20, 2010, Illinois’ regional multi-type library systems sent a message to supporters to “go forth and rally online to get Systems their overdue state funding.” In just over 24 hours, 10,000 library supporters sent more than 20,000 e-mails to the offices of the Illinois Governor and the Comptroller, demanding payment of fiscal year 2010 funding.
Funding for the Illinois Library Systems (ILS) comes in the form of an annual grant from the Illinois Secretary of State based on appropriations from the General Assembly. Since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 2009, the Illinois Library Systems had not received any of their authorized funds.
By the morning of January 22, most of the systems had reported receiving a partial payment from the state. The systems received 35% of the 50% that should have been received by December 31.
Origins and model for e-mail campaign
The e-mail campaign to the Governor and the Comptroller was modeled after a successful effort in Florida to save state funding for public libraries. The May 2009 campaign, lead by the Florida Library Association, was centered on an “Email the Governor” website/service provided by the Southeast Florida Library Information Network (SEFLIN). Tom Sloan, director at SEFLIN during the Florida campaign, is now in Illinois, serving as executive director for the DuPage Library System.
The fiscal crisis in Illinois is considered the worst in the nation after California. Illinois has a $13 billion shortfall for a $26 billion dollar budget. System funding in Illinois has been flat for 18 years. The January 20 e-mail rally was the second leg of a funding campaign that began after the ILS funding was cut 16.5% in August. At first the budget was cut 50%, but the Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White was able to revise his budget and move monies around to reduce the cut to only 16.5%.
“Immediately after the August budget cut, I asked our staff to build the framework for a statewide advocacy campaign,” said Sarah Long, executive director, North Suburban Library System (NSLS). “Not one legislator we spoke with had anything positive to say about the near or long-term future budget. There was no time to waste.”
NSLS staff created the Save Illinois Libraries website and supporting Facebook fan page, and then worked with the other systems and the Illinois Library Association to get state legislators up to speed on the cuts. Legislators were asked to sign a pledge to oppose any additional cuts and restore appropriated funds when additional state funding becomes available in the future.
“We didn’t get the overwhelming response we expected,” said Long. “We were challenged to get the ear of the legislators amongst the many organizations also suffering from state budget cuts.”
Campaign will need to continue to keep ILS doors open
By January 1, 2010, most of the regional systems had to consider more drastic measures to keep their doors open. Service cuts and layoffs were widespread. NSLS had to take out a loan, adding a 6% loan interest to the burden.
All services the ILS provides to member libraries are in danger, but the one the member libraries are most anxious about is the ILS delivery service that supports interlibrary loan and reciprocal borrowing. Last year ILS trucks delivered over 28 million items between libraries around the state.
Illinois Library Systems partner with the Illinois State Library to coordinate special library services for the blind and physically disabled, including free talking book and Braille service. This popular resource is also teetering on the brink due to delays in payment from the state. The program has only received 3% of its state funding this fiscal year.
Through the campaign, the public learned how libraries depend on the ILS to negotiate discounts for the wide range of online resources that many would not be able to afford to purchase on their own. The campaign was covered by broadcast, print, and online media throughout the state.
I believe this effort signals a new era for regional library systems,” said Joe Harris, executive director, Shawnee Library System. “We worked together fast and focused, bringing an unprecedented level of recognition around the state – both from the public and the media.”
“This is only a reprieve. The fight to keep our doors open is far from over,” said Beverly Obert, chair of the Illinois Library System Directors Organization, and executive director of the Rolling Prairie Library System. “Where will the remaining 65% come from this fiscal year? We’ve looked at the well from where the rest of our funds should come-and it is almost dry. The campaign will continue until our funding is restored.”
By Diana Reese, ASCLA Vice-President / President-Elect
At ASCLA’s annual leadership meeting, members introduced a large number of ideas to each other in a short amount of time. Likened to speed dating, members had only 10 minutes to respond to each of four “scenarios” before moving on to “meet” the next idea-generating scenario. The scenarios were created from ideas and issues generated at the 2009 Leadership Meeting.
The questions posed in the scenarios prompted participants to think of ASCLA in new ways. How could ASCLA expand its reach to be more inclusive? How could ASCLA’s structure and leadership be streamlined to make the association more responsive and efficient? How might ASCLA’s responsibilities be redefined to make it more meaningful and useful to its members?
There were common threads that ran through all of the scenario discussions. A majority of participants favored dropping the “multi-type” libraries terminology in favor of more inclusive language that allows for consortia and cooperative memberships. Many felt ASCLA is burdened with too much bureaucracy; these individuals envision an association whose members are able to focus their time and energies on products and results, not on process.
Given the almost universal “match” of participants with the idea of dropping the “multi-type” libraries limitation, the Board of Directors voted to redraft the by-laws accordingly and submit the changes to the membership for a vote in the 2010 elections.
The Executive Committee and Board of Directors will continue to examine the results of the 2010 Leadership Meeting to plan the association’s future. Even if you were not able to attend the Midwinter Meeting, ASCLA leadership wants to hear your thoughts. Please share them with us on ALA Connect. We want ASCLA to be your perfect match!
By Brenda Bailey-Hainer, ASCLA President
Almost daily the media broadcasts stories about how library funding has been cut or is in jeopardy. These generally dismal funding trends in public libraries were summarized recently in Library Journal by Norman Oder.1 Itï¿½s clear that many public libraries have already cut easy budget targets such as spending for conferences, travel, and education. Others are implementing tough decisions like closing down branches or cutting hours and services. Staffing costs already have been reduced in more than 40% of libraries through staff reductions and wage freezes.
Once the easy cuts have been made, by necessity libraries must turn to more challenging ways of cutting costs. Stronger cooperative efforts can offer an opportunity. Roy Tennant, in a blog post, The Decade of Massive Cooperation, noted that librariesï¿½ best hope is to take advantage of the ï¿½efficiencies and opportunities that massive cooperation provides.ï¿½ Economy of scale in cooperation is important, but the purpose and achievements of the organizations Tennant mentions illustrate that the quality of the structures used to shepherd cooperative efforts is just as critical.
A recent report issued by La Piana Consulting, Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector, offers ideas on how nonprofits can improve services through new kinds of cooperation. While this report has a significant focus on charitable nonprofits, the main ideas are applicable for all kinds of nonprofits, including professional associations, consortia, and individual libraries and cultural heritage institutions.
The five trends described in the Convergence report relate to demographic shifts, technological advances, organizational structures enabled through networks, a rise in civic engagement, and the blurring of sector boundaries.ï¿½ More importantly, however, the report covers key competencies that nonprofits must develop to survive and thrive in the future. From the report, these are:
- leadership, management, and workforce development
- tools and technologies
- partnerships and organization structures, and
- role for funders.
Looking in new ways at partnerships and organizational structures is particularly relevant for ASCLA where we have sections for cooperatives and state library agenciesï¿½organizations that specifically foster collaborative work. The existence of cooperative library organizations such as LYRASIS, Orbis Cascade Alliance, Urban Libraries Council, and Western Council of State Libraries, illustrates the propensity of all types of libraries to cooperate.
As organizations, we all vie for increasingly diminishing pools of funding. Perhaps collaboration rather than competition is a better use of our scarce human resources. But how can we expand on the existing models? We need to become more knowledgeable and open to the new kinds of cooperative and collaborative organizational structures that are available to us.
The Convergence report leaves us with this thought:
In this changing environment, transformation is not optional.ï¿½ The future will demand a collective rethinking of what it means to be an organization, how individuals define their work, and how best to compete and partner across many permeable boundaries. (p. 6)
Just as individual libraries are struggling with cuts and problems, likewise cooperative organizations are struggling as well. Cooperation is a central part of the ASCLA division. After all, ASCLA is the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies. But this tendency to cooperate must undergo a metamorphosis that goes beyond existing models and creates new partnerships that cross sectors. Itï¿½s time to make more of cooperation and focus on the quality of the experience and the results to be gained.
During the recent ALA Midwinter conference in Boston, ASCLA members attended a leadership session designed to identify new ways in which ASCLA might organize itself in light of current economic, social, demographic and technological trends. The results of this meeting are chronicled in a [report link to Finding your Perfect Match: Speed Dating at the Midwinter ASCLA Leadership Meeting] in this issue of Interface. Consider these ideas with an open mind.ï¿½ Letï¿½s embrace new structures that will make ASCLA an integral part of support for cooperatives and help them be fit to thrive.
 Norman Oder, ï¿½Permanent Shift.ï¿½ Library Journal (January 2010): 44-46.