Friday, November 16, 2018

Report: The State of Digital Preservation 2018: A Snapshot of Challenges and Gaps

This fall, Ithaka S+R issued a report entitled, "TheState of Digital Preservation 2018: A Snapshot of Challenges and Gaps" which was developed based on a series of interviews with leaders in the field and authored by Oya Rieger.  Rieger wrote on the report's webpage:
Ithaka S+R is interested in exploring the current landscape of digital preservation programs and services in order to identify research and policy questions that will contribute to the advancement of strategies in support of future scholarship. To this end, during June and July 2018, I talked with 21 experts and thought leaders to hear their perspectives on the state of digital preservation. The purpose of this report is to share a number of common themes that permeated through the conversations and provide an opportunity for broader community reaction and engagement, which will over time contribute to the development of an Ithaka S+R research agenda in these areas.
The report is 16 pages in length and available for download.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

#NYLA2018 : Budgeting Skills for Public Library Managers

Rochester NY buildings
Chris Finger,  the library director from Geneva Public Library, gave a presentation on the library budget and budget process. This was geared for someone who is new at budgeting, however, there were useful takeaways for anyone.

In a public library, the library board of trustees and the library director share responsibilities for creating the budget, developing scenarios, thinking about funding increases, planning budget priorities, tracking expenses, and presenting the budget to the public. The board of trustees as fiduciary responsibilities for the library, while the director is the person who is steeped in the day-to-day details. 

The board of trustees and the library director need to understand the budget process and the details of the budget.  Finger suggested that the director become immersed in the budget details. That person need to understand all of the items int the budget and should read every financial statement.  When possible, he suggested that the director shadow budget experts, as one way of gaining more knowledge.

Finger wants library directors to understand what they control in the budget.  In other words, are there specific line items that can be controlled, rather than items (e.g., heat) which the library cannot control?  He asked us to consider what control should look like.  He also suggested that we not nitpick the small items, but look at those larger items, which have a greater impact on the overall budget.

Finger talked about where the funding comes from and used his library as an example.  He noted that taxes are the library’s most stable income source.  The library has no control over other funding sources, such as grants.

In thinking about the budget and seeing support for it, Finger wants library directors to be a voice of reason be an advocate for change, and be willing to speak out on your budget needs.  You should look at the budget and determine those areas for which your funders will be willing to provide stable support.

In terms of friends groups and foundations, Finger suggested that the library be honest about what its needs.  Can the group give you the money to address your needs?  That might be different that what its funding has been used for in the past.  He said that the true value of a friends group is its goodwill and its ability to be an ambassador for the library.  Yes, it raises money, but it does much more than that.

Finger advocated for creating multi-year budget scenarios, so you can see how funding changes will impact future years.  That would also allow you to show how increased funding, for example, would impact what the library would be able to do in future years.

In planning the budget, don't just rely on last year. Consider what is changing.  But rely on last year over your intuition. Don’t guess.

Finger believes in looking at where money needs to be spent.  For example, don't consider replacing a broken desk as being a luxury item. That is something which needs to be done and funding should be spent on it.  Also don't use the budget to pit departments against each other, if at all possible. Make the budget something everyone can support.

Friday, November 09, 2018

#NYLA2018: Libraries are for Everyone

Andrea Snyder from Pioneer Library System (OWWL) gave this presentation.

Snyder referenced:
  • Images from
  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.  The quote she used was, “I’m a traveler, not a map maker.”
According to Snyder, OWWL covers four counties, approximately 300,000 people.  Demographically the area is 90% white, 95% born in US, 12% identify as having a disability.
Libraries are for everyone
Is the "library for everyone" a token phrase? What does it really mean?  OWWL fully acknowledges the changes that are needed and sees this as an aspiration.  They support and push their libraries (friends groups,etc.) to learn change policies, and create inclusive environments.  It is hard and messy.

What did they do?
  • They did a branding campaign - lawn signs (English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic). Mugs,  Buttons, T-shirts and Lanyards
  • Professional development opportunities. If libraries are all about education, library staff need to doing professional development, too.  Topics included:
    • Implicit bias
    • Cultural humility - through conversations and constant learning, I can get to to know you as a person.  This is built upon work by Julianne Moseley, who came out of the healthcare field.
    • Safe zone training - creating a safe space for LGBTQ
    • Sessions on substance abuse and what library staff can do
    • Digital inclusion 
    • Supporting job seekers
    • Collection development
  • Collection development
    • More audio books 
    • Concept of windows (into a life that is not like me) and mirrors (reflecting what you are like)
    • Book bundles
  • Poverty simulation
  • Palmyra Community Library and Family Promise(R)
    • For homeless families
    • Case management 
    • Volunteers at the library and night to stay with families living in the library at night
    • Palmyra is chartered as a Public Special  Library District
  • Kids Reads Free Pilot Program
Other ideas:
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable 
  • Purchase books that refl3ct the greater world.
Andrea Snyder What Andrea Snyder presented was impressive. Clearly PLS is a taking an aggressive pace on all of this and is a system worthy of being watched.

Updated: Nov. 16, 2018

#NYLA2018 : Nazis in the Library

Sara Dallas was the moderator and Nick Buron (Queens Library) and Patty Utarro  (Rochester Public Library/ Monroe County Library System) provided their prospective.  The overarching questions was, "Are libraries truly neutral and open to all?"

Are libraries neutral?
Buron - 50% of the Queens borough was born outside of the US.  We don’t welcome people who themselves re not welcoming.  He believes that the organization is, but that the people,who work in it are not.
Utarro - As safe and as neutral as can be.  She recognizes that people are need to deal with everyone in the same way,  it that is hard for people to do.  It takes fortitude to work in a library and be public facing.  It may not be a role for everyone.  You have to be able to put aside your feelings. They Library belongs to the people in the community.

What would you do if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) asked about the programs at your library or just showed up?
Buron - The Library is open to all, which means all.  Programs are publicly known.  ICE or other law enforcement may come into the library and you don’t know they are there.  You need to talk with your staff in advance to know why the library’s procedure is.
Utarro - The mayor has issued information to help local government. The library should contact the mayors office if ICE shows up.

How do you make sure that your staff have the tools and the knowledge to handle a situation?
Utarro - You need to have a good form of communication with your staff.  Communicating in this area should be the same as how you communicate in other areas.

What would you do if a patron asks for holocaust denial information?
Utarro - You don’t know why the person wants the information.  You shouldn’t make assumptions. You should help the person.  Your staff should have the flexibility to step away, if they are uncomfortable, and allow someone else to help the patron.  You the library cannot refuse to help the patron.

Should you find the most verifiable sources in this instance?
Talk to the person about verifiable sources and turn it into a moment of learning.

If someone asks about how to build a bomb?
Buron - It is information that is “out there.” What type of bomb? Yes, answer the question.  

Is part of the problem staff morale?
Utarro - Yes, staff are seeing and dealing with really awful things every day.  Staff are getting emotionally burned out. 
Buron - They are seeing fewer reference questions and dealing with more public conduct issues.

How do you respond to people who tell you why they want the information?  For example, a person wants info to convince a child that the child is not gay?
Buron - You almost don’t want to know why the person wants the information.  It is a chance to talk about reputable sources.  Talk about the facts.

Comment - Be aware that some of those awkward questions are being asked by students who are doing assignments.

Should you treat these questions as readers advisory?  
Buron - Yes, your collection development policy should collect a range of materials, including both sides of an issue.
Utarro - The collection and your programs should not be homogeneous.  You should stimulate public discourse.

Comment - Ask for the context.  Then talk about the type of information that is available to use in that context.

Question - How does this square with Title IX and creating a safe workplace?
Utarro - Referenced Feb. 16, 2007 news story that was done on Rochester Public Library.  It was a situation that was causing workplace harassment.  They instituted a filter, with the caveat that adults could ask that the filter unblocked.  Computers have privacy screens.
Buron - “The Freedom to View” - Do we provide access to porn? People can use the WiFi and their own devices to view whatever they want.  Desktop computers do have filters.

Does the answer change if it is a child or young adult?
Utarro - Unsure how she would respond.  She later noted that teen librarians in Monroe County are not mandated reporters.
Buron - Treat the person respectfully.  Treat it as a teaching/learning opportunity.  If someone says they are going to harm themselves, that is a situation that you should act on.

Comment - Through the reference interview, you learn to confront your own assumptions.

Meeting rooms 
Buron - You need good meeting room policies. If you don’t want singing, then don’t allow it for anyone.  Queens has an open door policy; there are no closed meetings.
Utarro - Have your meeting room policy vetted by an attorney.  
Dallas - Flyers should say that the program is not sponsored by the library.

Comment - All activities stay in the meeting room. No handing out materials or asking for money.

Is it practical to enforce these policies?
Buron - Make a policy that is not subjective.  Don’t trust a specific group more than another.
Dallas - You can be sued if you don’t implement the policy equally.

Utarro - Mental Health.  Difference. Flexibility. Mindfulness. Training doesn’t always work. Staff doesn’t always know what triggers them.

Are you asking librarians to act like parents?
Utarro - Stop saying that we don’t act like babysitters or parents, because in reality we do. We need to change how we staff our libraries to do this work.
Comment - You May  not be a parent, but you are a neighbor.
Art - Their are policies that are publicly available, which you can refer to.

Is the library liable, if someone acts on what they learn in the library (e.g., suicide)?
Buron - What we do has ramifications. It is more important to be a trusted location, then to do what people like.

#NYLA2018 : Some of My Day 1 and 2 Notes

Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Laws, Robert Freeman
Freeman is the Executive Director of the NYS Committee on Open Government.
This could be a very boring topic but Freeman kept it lively with his humor and music quotes.
I learned that library board of trustee meeting are governed by the type of library it is (in NYS) and the law that corresponds. Freeman mentioned the Freedom of Information Laws and Section 268 of the Education laws.  These laws govern when laws need to be open to the public, rules around announcing meetings, etc.  
Some specific thoughts:
  • Executive sessions require a vote of the majority of the board (not just those that are present).
  • You cannot schedule an executive session, because going into an executive session depends on the vote.  The agenda can note that an executive session is anticipated.
  • Sunlight is the best disinfectant.  In other words, being transparent is preferred.
  • Email is not subject to opens meeting law.  It is not simultaneous communication.
  • Simultaneous communication would be subject to the open meetings law.
  • It is a good practice to have dedicated email for board business.  Email is subject to FIOL (Freedom of Information Law).
  • NYS law contains a definition of what a record is.
  • Opens meeting law given the public right to be there, but gives says nothing about their right to speak.  You can establish reasonable rules that allow people to speak equally.   If the board allows positive comments about its staff, it must allow negative comments.  The board is not obligated to respond.  “Thank you for your comment.”
  • Records retention requirements established by the State Archives.
  • Minutes of open meetings -minimal requirements - summary of actions taken, votes. Made available within two weeks. Nothing in law says that minutes must be approved. No need to include verbatim comments in the minutes.Must keep records (somewhere) of how people voted.  Recordings of meetings must be kept for four months.
  • No law about agendas.
  • If there is discussion, materials should be available in advance.
  • Cannot participate by phone.
I Still Don’t Want to Talk About It - This continues to be one of my most favorite NYLA sessions.  One topic that caught my attention was about leaves of absence for those with health concerns.  The Guide for the Family and Medical Leave Act is a great resource for understanding this. If you are a person, who thinks you will need to take a family or medical leave, or someone who has staff who are asking for a leave, this is a resources to consult.

Serving Refugees: Working Together as a Community - What was important about this session was understanding what process refugees go through, in order to come to the U.S., and then what resources are available to them once they are here.  The screening process includes:
  • 8 different government agencies
  • 5 separate background checks
  • 4 biometric security checks
  • 3 in person interviews
 Once families are in the U.S., the government resources for them are quite defined and limited.  Other not-for-profit agencies step in to help, including English language skills.  
Becoming a U.S. citizen is not easy and the test costs $725.