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.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

#NYLA2018 : Keynote - Our Voices Together: How Conversations Create Change

Looking up inside the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch
This was an AMAZING keynote given by two women, who work in the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL).  Leah Esguerra is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). She is the nation's first full-time library social worker.  Jennifer Keys has been a Health and Safety Associate (HASA) since May 2017 at the San Francisco Public Library.  While working at a HASA at SFPL, she has successfully completed a course in Peer Counseling and is now a Certified Peer Specialist. Both are employed by the San Francisco Department of Homelessness, and are deployed in the library.  Jen is one of six (6) HASAs and there are plans to employ 10 more.
Leah spoke first about her role at SFPL as a full-time social worker.  She has worked there since 2009, serving the poor and disenfranchised. She noted that social work and librarianship are two different professional with similar missions.

In 2003, SFPL reached out to the City's Department of Public Health to discuss a need they saw in the city libraries.  Her first efforts were to have conversation with every branch and department at the library.  She learned that the library is a unique public place.  People come to libraries for many different reasons grounded in joy or pain.

Staff have different understandings of the community, including misconceptions.  Staff often have different levels of compassion. Part of her role is to do training for staff on a variety of topics.
HASAs (health and safety associates) have experienced some of the same issues as those they serve.  Because of their experiences, they are able to treat everyone without judgment.
Leah said she see everyone who walks into a SFPL Library is a potential client. Everyone’s story is different.  There is not one solution that fits everyone. Leah and her team of HASAs make themselves available to those who may need help, starting by introducing themselves and what they do. HASAs may see our those who need help. Discussions happen in quiet spaces, but will move to an enclosed, private space when confidential matters are discussed.  By using open, quiet space, the interaction is seen as less threatening.  They want people acknowledged, and helped, but not exposed (i.e., disrespected).
Each HASA works 4-5 hours per day, with the recognition that they have more work to do on themselves and need the time to do it.  They do cover hours during the evenings and weekends, and work at the main library and at four high needs branches.   Leah checks in with the HASAs at the start and end of their shifts.  Leah noted that the HASA program has become an employment program, and a way for people gain/transition to full-time employment.

Leah and the San Francisco Public Library has partnered with other groups, such as one that provides mobile showers. They bring services to the library so that people do not need to run around to so many areas to make those resources.

Since starting the program, 120+ assisted have gained permanent housing.
Many libraries are now doing similar work including Washington (DC), Denver, and Brooklyn.  One library in Arizona has hired nurses as part of their staff.

Jennifer is a heath and safety associate (HASA) and a peer advisor.  Her personal story is one of joy and pain, highs and lows.  She told the story of her family and of her life.  (I will not repeat the details here for fear of getting them wrong, and because I feel this is her story to tell.)  The impact of her childhood eventually let her to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  She became unemployed in 2008, which lead to her being homeless. 

Jen has now worked with SFPL for 1.5 years, where she works to help those who are going through their own difficulties.  She recognizes that those people need acceptance, respect, and compassion.  Her background allows her to do that with each person.

During the Q&A, Leah state the benefits of being part the Department of Homelessness, in terms of liability and insurance. She noted that their positions are fully funded and that the library pays for their services.  Yes, they follow HIPAA and the rules related to confidentiality.

At the start of her talk, Leah noted that she had spoken to many members of the media, but in terms of giving presentations, she had given those to small groups (15-30 people).  There were approximately 1000 people in the room (and it was standing room only).  It was the biggest group that Leah or Jen had ever spoken in front of.  It was a group that was quiet, because everyone was listening intently (and also likely on the verge of tears). And it was a group that gave Jen a standing ovation when she finished her talk; one that she deserved 10 fold!

Jeremy Johannesen, NYLA's Executive Director, calls every NYLA conference "the best conference ever!"  Well, this keynote was clearly the best keynote ever, because it wasn't theory or "pie in the sky", but about an issue that we are all dealing with. And it was given by two women whose stories are real and inspiring.  NYLA, thank you!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Lee Rainie and Trust, Facts, Democracy and Technology

Lee Rainie at Syracuse UniversityLast week, Lee Rainie - director, internet and technology, Pew Research Center - spoke several times at Syracuse University, including two public talks.  On Oct. 31, Rainie spoke on "Trust, Facts and Democracy: What the public is thinking in these tense times" (#TullyCenterRainie) and on Nov. 1 he spoke on the "Reckoning of Technology Companies."  As always, Rainie came loaded with facts, graphics, and stories.

There is much that I could write about what Rainie said, however, I encourage you to look at the research on the Pew website under "Internet & Technology".  There you will find publications, presentations, datasets and more.  What I do want to focus this post on is Rainie's response to a specific question.

Lee Rainie has been a frequent speaker at library conferences. With that in mind, I asked him a generic question about "access to information" and encourage him to take that question in any direction he wished.  Rainie listed off several things (not necessarily in order of importance):
  • People are turning to their mobile devices first for information.  Some of that information is being delivered with a geographic context to it.  In other words, you are receiving was is important to you in the geographic spot you're in.
  • People are relying on alerts to inform them of what is going on. Alerts are a big part of the systems we're now using.  Relying on alerts means that people are doing less browsing.
  • This is a rise in app usage (which goes along with the two points above), which also means that people trust apps. Trust was something Rainie returned to again and again in his presentations.
  • People are engaging in multi-screen experiences.  This might mean watching the news on one screen, for example, while surfing/searching on another in an effort to make sense of what is happening ("meaning making").
  • We're engaging in synthesized media experiences, which means that what we are receiving is being synthesized by someone or something.  "Someone" else is curating for us and deciding what we will see.
  • We are interacting with technology more by voice (voice interfaces). 
  • Print books - and to some extent print journals - have had a staying power that we did not anticipate. We assumed that digital books (ebooks) would become dominant, but that has not been the case.
One of the take-aways from Rainie's talks was that which social media platforms we're using is changing.  Usage is different by age group and area of the world (e.g., WeChat).  Some platforms, which we think are heavily used, aren't as popular as we think (e.g., Twitter).  Pew is starting to collect data specifically on YouTube and we can see from this chart how popular it is (U.S. data). If we are trying to deliver a message that we want heard, we need to seriously think of which platform the "receivers" are using.  For example, young people are turning away from Facebook, so if we're trying to reach them, we need to go where they are now.

Lee Rainie

My apologies for not having a clearer image of this slide.

Friday, November 02, 2018

The Durationator Facebook posts on the Music Modernization Act

It can be fascinating to see someone's comments, when that person is reading a news article, a book, or a piece of legislation.  That fascination is doubly good when the person is reading changes to Title 17, the U.S. Copyright Law. Someone at the Durationator® decided to give all of a peek into the comments and questions the person had while reading the Music Modernization Act.  The person wrote 16 posts on Facebook, which are available for anyone to read. I've listed them below with their links.

The posts are generally short, but they do give you an idea of the complexity of the Music Modernization Act and how much of Title 17 it touches.  This, of course, doesn't tell you everything you need to know about the MMA - in fact it may raise some questions - but that shouldn't stop you from reading them.

Post 1: Music Modernization Act of 2018 - Duration Terms
Post 2: Exclusive Rights for Sound Recordings
Post 3: Preemption
Post 4: [No post 4]
Post 5: The Classics Protection and Access Act, Section 1401
Post 6: The Classics Protection and Access Act, Section 1401(a)(2)
Post 7: The Classics Preservation and Access Act, Pre-1923 Works
Post 8:  Music Modernization Act of 2018 - Duration Terms Continued
Post 9: The Classics Preservation and Access Act, Fair Use
Post 10: Library Exceptions under Section 108
Post 11: First Sale Doctrine applies to pre-1972 sound recordings
Post 12: Classroom Uses
Post 13: Ephemeral Uses
Post 14: Section 108(h)
Post 15: Material Online
Post 16: Noncommercial Uses
Post 17: Summary

The Duratonator is the work of Limited Times, LLC, which grew out of work at Tulane University. Its has an advisory board, which include people I know to have sound copyright footing.