Monday, December 31, 2018

Wrapping up 2018: Copyright, Research, Getting Things Done, and More

Keep It SimpleI always feel as if I should do a year-end blog post that wraps up the year. So here it goes.


These are the stories which stand out to me and the Digitization 101 blog posts which go with them.
Looking ahead to 2019, the next edition of Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators: Creative Strategies and Practical Solutions by Kenneth Crews will be released.  The delay in publication has worked in our favor as he has been able to incorporate recent changes in U.S. copyright law into this edition. 

Do I still blog about digitization? Yes, there were some blog posts about that this year.  I should really rename this blog, but too many people know it as Digitization 101.


I announced earlier in December the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative, which began earlier in the year.  The number of things we could do keeps growing, which is a happy problem to have.  We are not working with individual libraries, but rather want to focus our efforts on research that will help all libraries.  Thanks to everyone - too many to name - who has been enthusiastic about this. Thanks also to MSLIS students Heather Elia and Sabrina Unrein, who have been working with me, and to Georgia Westbook, who will begin working with us in January.


I am blessed every year to be able to attend several conferences in person.  This year was no different.  Below are those conferences and links to my posts about them. 
  • ALISE 2018 Conference - The next ALISE conference will be in September 2019 in Knoxville, TN.
  • Special Libraries Association Upstate NY Chapter Spring Conference - The next Upstate NY Chapter spring conference will be April 12, 2019 in Syracuse, NY.
  • Joint Conference of Librarians of Color Conference - The next JCLC will be in 2022.
  • New York Library Association Annual Conference  - The next NYLA conference will be  November 7-10, 2019 in Saratoga Springs, NY.  At the 2018 conference, I was honored to have been selected as the 2018 NYLA Dewey Fellow representing the Leadership and Management Section (LAMS). Thank you, LAMS, for your recognition of the work I have done in and for the library community.
If you have followed my conference attendance over the years, you'll know that which conferences I attend has shifted.  I think that shift is natural for many professionals as our information needs change and we need to connect with different communities.  I'm sure there might be some changes in 2019.

Getting Things Done

For several years, I have had a paper-based work journal and a paper to-do list, which I carry everywhere.  The work journal contained notes from meetings. The to-do list contained a super long list of work-related items to get done, along with important personal items.  I have roughly followed the David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology, since obtaining the audiobook in 2010 (blog post).  Over the years, I've listened to many of the GTD podcasts and tried to implement key parts of the process with moderate success.

At JCLC, I went to a standing room only session on using bullet journals (blog post), because I'm interested in anything that could make my to-do list better.  The bullet journal combines my to-do list with the journal, and make both more usable.  Here are the things I like about the bullet journal:
  • It focuses on creating a daily to-do list, which draws items from a separate to-do list for the month.  This means that I am focused on what I need to get done today and what I can get done today.  If I don't get something done, it is easy to migrate it to the next day, if necessary.
  • There is a place to put to-do's that are in the future. GTD would refer to these as the "someday maybe" list.  However, these future to-do's are placed in specific months. So I can easily capture, for example, something that is a to-do in April.
  • As part of the bullet journal, you create an index, which is built as you use the journal.  This is so simple, yet it is something I hadn't thought of!
  • The journal becomes a place to collect thoughts on specific ideas or projects, and you can do that in a more organized manner.  One suggestion I saw was to start compiling notes on a project at the end of the journal and work forward.  So I'm doing that with my notes for the iSchool Public Libraries Initiative.  All of my notes are in one spot at the back of my bullet journal.
  • I feel more organized, because I am more organized.
  • By creating daily to-do lists and capturing information on what I've done in a specific day, it is apparent how much I cannot fit into one day.  This was important to re-learn.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of videos on the bullet journal method. Some people treat their bullet journals like an art projects and those videos are "nice", but I really like people who are less interested in making their bullet journals pretty and more interested in making them functional.  A great place to start learning about them is the web site by bullet journal creator, Ryder Carroll.

Since I began my bullet journal in October, I am not starting a new journal for 2019.  However, later today I will review my to-do list and create my to-do list for January 2019, and do some other setup tasks so that I'm ready for January 2.  That setup will likely take me 30 minutes and in some ways will be similar to the GTD weekly review.

Reclaiming My Time

In 2017, U.S. Congressional Representative Maxine Waters uttered the words "reclaiming my time" during a Congressional hearing.  Those words sparked social media posts and Internet memes.  As I think about 2019, those words capture something I need to do; I need to make sure I'm using my time wisely.  I need to reclaim time that isn't focused on my goals or top to-do's, and I need to ensure that I have time to relax.  With the Internet, 24-hour news cycles, the ability to work (or take classes) at any time, our lives are as if we are all living in New York City - the city that never sleeps.  In other words, it is easy to do-do-do, yet we know that taking breaks from "the noisy confusion of life" is necessary.

What will this reclaimed time look like?  My hope is that work will shift into more normal work hours and time for non-work activities will be when other people are available!  (As an academic and consultant, I can tell you that work time can become all the time, and that isn't healthy.)  Wish me luck!

Over 14 Years

This blog is over 14 years old with 2,841 posts in total. While I don't blog as incessantly as I did in 2005 (528 posts), I'm please that I added 93 blog posts this year.  Blogging here is one constant in my life and something I hope to have more time for in 2019.  I want to do more posts again were I'm doing original writing, and not just reporting on what others are doing.

Okay, that's my 2018 wrap-up.  How was your year?

FTC Disclaimer: Digitization 101 is an Amazon affiliate and receives a small commission if you purchase a product or service from an Digitization 101 Amazon link. (Trust me, I'm not getting rich off of Amazon.)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Podcast: The Year’s Best from CCC’s Velocity of Content Blog

Beyond the Book logo
Beyond the Book did a 10-minute episode on what happened this past year in copyright through the "eyes" of the Velocity of Content blog.  One the year-in-review podcast are Jill Shuman, Chuck Hemenway, and Chris Kenneally, all from the Copyright Clearance Center. For me, this was a great was to remember what all had occurred in 2018 with copyright, and hear if I had missed anything.

Library Copyright Policies

3D Broken Copyright from ccPixs.comThere is the saying that "fences make good neighbors."  Well, I think policies make good work (or learning) environments.  Like fences, policies help you understand what is acceptable.  They act as landmarks, showing what is "in bounds" and what is not.  Like a fence, a policy can be made flexible in the moment (I'm thinking of wire fences that I've bent in the past, so I could climb over).  Also like a fence, a policy can be changed (like a wire fence becoming a stockade fence).

Libraries write and enforce many policies and some libraries have policies regarding copyright. Sadly, there are libraries which do not have any sort of copyright policy in place.  While a library might think that it isn't necessary, having a policy that defines responsibilities of the library and its users can create a useful "fence" which can inform everyone's actions.  This might be especially helpful for library staff, who may not be copyright experts, but who do need to use the law responsibly.

In my graduate class entitled Copyright for Information Professionals, I had students construct a copyright policy for the library of their choice. I have them consider several sections, knowing that this policy is likely longer than one they might construct for an actual library.  However, I want them to consider - and demonstrate proficiency - in several areas.  The elements of the policy are (in brief):
  • Name and location of the library
  • Mission of the library
  • Purpose of the policy
  • A list or overview of the relevant sections of copyright law, which affect this library 
  • General  copyright rules which the library follows
  • Specific rules or guidelines used by staff  in their work for the library or for patrons
  • Advice – for users and staff – on seeking / copyright clearance
  • A disclaimer
  • Who to contact about copyright matters
  • An FAQ (frequently asked questions) 
I can imagine you are looking at that list and yelling, "you don't need all of that!"  As I said, this is an assignment and what you would do in an actual library would undoubtedly be different.  However, as you look at that list, the important questions for you to ask are:
  • Does my library have a copyright policy?
  • Does it provide information that creates the guidance which staff and users need?
  • Does the policy reflect good copyright practices?
  • Is the policy being followed?
Perhaps your library has some work to do.


Friday, December 21, 2018

The Public Domain is About to Get Bigger on January 1

1923 photo of three young women
1923 photo of three young women
1923.  That is the year we all have memorized about which items are in the public domain and which are not.  However,  that date is no longer the dividing line.  The Smithsonian Institute proudly proclaims:
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, all works first published in the United States in 1923 will enter the public domain. It has been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S.
The article later says:
We have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age. The last one—in 1998, when 1922 slipped its copyright bond—predated Google. 
 Cornell has already updated its Copyright Term and the Public Domain chart.

Is everything created in and before now part of the public domain?  No.  If you look at the Cornell chart, you will see that there are still some materials under copyright protection. Those will eventually enter the public domain, but not right now.

Every year from now on, more works will enter the public domain.  Imagine when those works from 1929 enter the public domain, and being able to read more about the impact of the stock market crash.  Imagine the 20th century history that we will have available. It has been said that the 20th century is missing from the Internet.  Having these works enter the public domain will make the 20th century more relevant.  Perhaps with more history available, we will stop repeating our mistakes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

iSchool Public Libraries Initiative (IPLI)

Sometimes one forgets to share good news. As the saying goes, better late than never!  This announcement was originally posted on the SU iSchool web site on Nov. 9, 2018.

A new School of Information Studies (iSchool) initiative is serving as a discovery zone for public library innovation, a hub for student inquiry on librarianship topics, and a means to circulate new ideas and research findings to public library professionals.

The newly established “iSchool Public Libraries Initiative,” (IPLI) led by Associate Professor of Practice Jill Hurst-Wahl as director, has several key purposes. She says it creates an intellectual home for iSchool faculty and students who want to research public library topics and apply the knowledge they discover. Secondly, the initiative offers iSchool master’s-degree Library Information Science (MSLIS) students and others a faculty-supported research hub focused on topics in their field. In a third vein, students and faculty are helping public libraries build added capacity for innovation by sharing the information research projects uncover.
Jill Hurst-Wahl

Ideas Are Welcome

At a time when public libraries face mounting operational and community-support challenges, ideas on how to innovate new offerings are most welcome, according to Hurst-Wahl. “Public library staff often lack time and resources, and consequently they may make decisions with a limited amount of information. Many times, especially with smaller libraries, they don’t have the luxury of sitting around and doing deep thinking about what they can offer. I felt that a group of researchers could provide better information and distribute it so that it is available to libraries, providing information about projects and programs that are in use and that are successful.”
The initiative’s goals include:
  • Researching the state of public libraries and their communities, with a focus on information needed by decision-makers and advocates
  • Compiling and disseminating information about how libraries are innovating, helping them build their capacity to do so
  • Applying iSchool research (such as issues about information privacy and the use of technology in marginalized communities) to the public library setting
  • Developing white papers, trade and scholarly articles, webinars, and presentations on innovation for the public library community’s use
  • Offering classes and professional development programming for library staff, administration and trustees on various topics, including collecting and using data to support public library activities.


Student Projects Underway

Two iSchool MSLIS students are each working 20 hours a week there as research assistants through Wilhelm Library Leadership Award scholar funds, and they have several projects underway.

Heather Elia’s main focus is a national survey of innovative public library programs, especially those that don’t involve books and that are conducted outside of the library building. She’s scouring news articles, library newsletters, academic journals, conference agendas and other sources to source ideas that have been tried, tested and importantly, documented so that others can reproduce them.

Elia and first-year MSLIS student Sabrina Unrein also are working with EveryLibrary Institute, the non-profit research arm of the EveryLibrary, a national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries. They have obtained information from state libraries and library associations across the United States about the array of legal (governance) structures public libraries use, and are producing a catalog of those models. That information will be used to help libraries understand which legal structures have more stable funding and better funding increases over time.

A third effort, now in the literature-review phase, looks at the creative ways libraries are supporting the health and wellness needs of their communities, from providing information to hiring nurses and social workers on the library staff. Unrein, who has experience as a web developer, also is designing content and a web presence for the initiative and looking at ways to distribute project findings.

The IPLI also has several other projects under consideration and is in discussion with potential collaborators.

Student-Led Agenda

Hurst-Wahl says the Initiative is designed to let students lead the research agenda. “I’m really empowering them to look at this as ‘our’ research and not just ‘my’ research, permitting them to tackle the subjects that are of interest to them, then having them figure out the ways they want to push out what they’re learning.”

Both Elia and Unrein are happy to be involved in the startup effort of the governance model project. “I would have expected something like this would have already existed, so it’s filling a big gap in resources,” Unrein reflects. “Anything to make public libraries better is a good thing. I’m looking forward to seeing what shape it takes because it’s so new, and it can go anywhere and that’s exciting.”

Elia says the initiative is widening her professional scope at a good time, just before she begins work in the library field. “I want to go into public librarianship. I think it’s important that there’s a way for public libraries to share with each other and I’m hoping that’s what this will be. Most people may only have opportunity to get to know one public library. With this initiative, we get to know a lot of different things about a lot of different libraries, and that’s only going to make the experience richer and give me a broader perspective.”

Monday, December 17, 2018

Joining the EveryLibrary Institute Board of Directors in 2019

EveryLibrary Institute logo
In November, the EveryLibrary Institute NFP - the non-profit research companion to EveryLibrary - announced its new Board of Directors, who will take office in January.  I'm pleased to be among an interesting and active group of library supporters, who are joining the board.  Who is the EveryLibrary Institute (ELI)?
The EveryLibrary Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works to systematically address the slide in public opinion and support for library funding among the American electorate by partnering with foundations, philanthropic organizations, associations, non-profits, and academic institutions to enhance public perception of libraries and librarianship through research-driven direct engagement with American society.
As a board member, what will I be doing? Well...
The board is charged with supporting and extending the EveryLibrary Institute’s core mission to understand and improve public and voter perception of libraries and librarians. Their role will include setting strategic priorities for the Institute’s research, publishing, training and programmatic agendas, along with building partnerships inside and outside of libraries for success.
I have already been collaborating with EveryLibrary Institute on gathering and analyzing public library data. I look forward, in my role on the board, in helping ELI collaborate with other researchers on data that will help public libraries understand the public's perception of them.

Thanks to John Chrastka, for inviting me to join the board. He has already hosted board orientation events and our first board meeting is scheduled for late January.  Clearly he will put us to work fast!

Friday, December 14, 2018

States' Rights and Copyright

Bill of Rights
In the United States, December 15 is Bill of Rights Day.  The Amendment X states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This is referred to as states' rights. States' rights have been in the news this year, and likely every year, for those rights which the States control related to individuals in each state (e.g., healthcare).  Besides the rights which are reserved for the States, it is important to recognize which rights the U.S. government delegated to itself through the Constitution.  One of the rights under the federal government controls is:
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries
Yes, copyright!  I am wrapping up my graduate copyright class and am thankful that I only needed to teach one law (federal) and not 50 different state laws.  At the federal level, copyright is simple, complex, freeing, constricting, and fun.  This year, there were important changes in copyright law, including the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act and the Music Modernization Act. I'm glad that these changes apply across the U.S. equally because of Amendment X.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Webinar Recording Available: Moving Your Services into Your Community

PCI Webinars provides continuing education for library organizations of all types and sizes.  In October I was honored to give a webinar for them on "Moving Your Services into Your Community."  PCI archives all of their webinars and this one is available for viewing.  This is a useful topic for those interested in or tasked with building relationships with their broader community, including community organizations.  The webinar can be purchases for online viewing.


We’ve heard the refrains of eliminating the reference desk, embedded librarians, and the like. We also hear of the need to get out into our communities. Yet meeting our community members where they are – not where we are – is still a challenge.

If we are free to move about our communities, and deliver services outside of the library, what might that look like? What innovative or imaginative twist can we use, which will spark the community’s attention and interaction? How can we assure that our efforts are accomplished in both safe and respectful ways?

After this webinar, participants will be able to:
  • Explain the value of moving services into your community
  • Propose activities which move the library out into it community
  • Consider safe and community needs in creating a safe space outside of the library

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.