Thursday, January 30, 2020

#ALAmw20 Day 4: Advocacy, Wrap-up, and EveryLibrary Institute

Making the News: Library Advocacy and Local Media

Speakers: Shawnda Hines (moderator), Christi Buker, TyLisa Johnson, John O'Brien

Christi Buker (Pennsylvania Library Association):
  • Use traditional advocacy and social media
  • Make sure their legislative community is fully engaged
  • Focused your limited time and resources
  • The Pennsylvania Library Association  (PLA) have created handout that provide information on the good, bad, and what’s possible (the ask)
  • In 2018, PLA focused on awareness
  • In 2019, PLA focused on positive revenues within the state
  • Suggested that you get your county to acknowledge National Library Week
  • Do media training
TyLisa Johnson (journalist):
  • Use data to supplement stories on people. Marry anecdotal stories with data.
  • Educate your journalists about the library
John O’Brien, (Pennsylvania State government staff):
  • Revenues have not recovered from the Great Recession
  • There is a lot competing with libraries in the budget
  • Libraries must prove their worth
  • What is your return in investment?



Book Nook inside the Reading Terminal Market Like other associations, American Library Association is a period of change.  Our reliance on our professional associations is different than it was, partially due to the Internet (for training and information) and the economy.  The fact that our vendors (sponsors) have consolidated hasn't helped either.  This all has placed financial pressure on ALA.

I have not tracked information on how ALA might change in the future. My impression is that is still being worked through.  However, ALA has announced that it will be changing its Midwinter event in the future. So this may have been the second to last one.  According to information posted to Twitter, total attendance for this Midwinter was 8,099 (2020). This is compared to 9,211 in 2019 (Seattle) and 8,036 in 2018 (Denver). These registration numbers are similar to the Midwinter conferences in the early 1990s.

ALA still does important work for our libraries across the U.S. and in other countries. ALA accredits our MSLIS programs. ALA advocates for our libraries and sets standards.  No matter what happens in the months to come, ALA will still be an important force.

EveryLibrary Institute 

I ended the conference by attending a meeting of several board members for EveryLibrary Institute (ELI). (Yes, I'm on their board.)  ELI conducts research on libraries, which libraries can then use to help discuss their value with their constituents, political representative, and those who vote on library budgets.  ELI's available research includes a Library Funding Map, information on U.S. Library Funding Change Rate, and the Crime and Library Report. They also push out relevant information produced by other organizations.  If you are interested in understanding or articulating the value of libraries, check out EveryLibrary Institute.

ELI also does training for library staff to increase their political literacy skills. If you're approaching a vote on your library's budget, you might want to top-off your political literacy skills through a workshop or webinar.

EveryLibrary Institute is interested in understanding why people vote for or against library budgets. You might think that you know exactly which way people lean politically and how that impacts their vote on a library's budget, but it is much more complicated than that.  We know that it would help every library vote across the U.S. and so one of things we discussed is how to fund and support this research. If you know of an organization - or group of people - that would be interested in funding this work, please contact John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney.

The Art of Philly

Philadelphia has increased the amount of public art on its streets and in its airport.  Here are a few pieces for your enjoyment.

Mural on Sansom Street by Amy Sherald
Mural on Sansom Street with the theme of biochemistry
Art sculpture at the Philadelphia International Airport made from suitcases
Mural on Arch Street near Convention Center with the theme of water

#ALAmw20 Day 3: Tech Trends, Future of Libraries, and More

LITA Top Technology Trends

Speakers:  Ida Joiner (moderator), Victoria Blackmer, Marshall Breeding, Elisandro Cabada, and Alison Macrina

This Top Tech Trends session was focused on privacy.

What is causing the privacy concerns?
  • Internet of things - the connection of the entire world 
  • Inclusion of sensors in many things that are collecting personal data
  • Not all libraries have secure websites - what a person does on a library's website should be private
  • A need for libraries to use more encryption
  • A recognition that a library's website may be secure, but the ads on it track user activity
  • Analytics which capture user information
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality
  • Data storage
  • Facial recognition - they have been some conversations about using facial recognition instead of library cards
  • Consumer surveillance devices
  • Vendor privacy issues
  • People using Alexa, etc., for quick reference questions
  • The use of drones
Libraries cannot assume that others will figure this out in a way that suits them and their patrons.  Libraries need to get involved and assure that the privacy concerns of their community are being met.

Libraries at the Nexus of Migration

Speakers: Julie Botnick, Derek Johnson, Alex Gil Fuentes, Adriana Blancarte-Hayward, and Christian Zabriskie

Lots of good information in this session and a resource list.  One effort mentioned was the Nimble Tents Toolkit, which is library people combining their efforts on specific, quick response initiatives. Another effort was "Torn apart / seperados". Volume 1 is a "rapidly deployed critical data & visualization intervention in the USA’s 2018 'Zero Tolerance Policy' for asylum seekers at the US Ports of Entry and the humanitarian crisis that has followed."  Volume 2 is "a deep and radically new look at the territory and infrastructure of ICE’s financial regime in the USA. This data & visualization intervention peels back layers of culpability behind the humanitarian crisis of 2018." why are libraries getting involved?  Libraries are trusted spaces in their communities. They are welcoming places for everyone.  Libraries offer information, programs, and resources to everyone. We often do civic engagement because we want to help our communities improve.

What specifically are we doing?
  • Providing health information in multiple languages
  • Focusing on offering inclusive materials
  • Training ourselves to do this work and then building capacity
  • Learning about cultural competence and practicing cultural humility 
  • Building collection in non-English
  • Creating program in other languages
  • Providing access to legal resources
  • Giving information to help people know their rights
  • Holding town halls
The work these groups - and others - are doing is admirable and needed.  Let's urge other public libraries to get involved.

FUTURE-READYing Your Library: Preparing for the Future Today

Speaker: Marcellus "MT" Turner

Marcellus Turner is the Executive Director and Chief Librarian of the Seattle Public Library.  During his introduction of the topic, he said that this might not be what people expected and that it was okay to get up and leave.  That made me even more intrigued!

MT and Seattle Public Library are preparing the library of today for tomorrow.  While Seattle Public is well-known, that library was built to be the library of tomorrow, but rather to liberate our ideas about what a library can be.  Now SPL is working hard to figure out the trends that point to the future needs and what the library must do to meet those needs.  The goal is to be proactive, rather than being reactive.

Our Opportunity to Become Future Ready
Thinking Out Loud

SPL has been  on this project for about 18 months and are now at a point where they can begin sharing information. They are still gathering information and do want to engage a futurist, so the work is not yet done. They hope in sharing that they can also learn from others.  MT promised that as they continue to learn, they will continue to share.  He noted that they have hired a policy officer to help with this effort.
Steps SPL is using

MT showed us this information on their strategic direction, noting that what they do will touch on these three areas: Individual, Community, and the Institution. 

SPL Strategic Direction

This was an interactive session.  When we sat down, MT gave each of us a color-coded card, which related to 12 different areas.  These are areas that other industries are thinking about, and he emphasized that we need to think about them too. The areas are:
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Future of Work and Education
  • Changing Demographics
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Corporate Influence and Consumer Expectations
  • Climate Change
  • Growing Inequality and Inequity
  • Urbanization and Density
  • Institutional Trust, Privacy, and Big Data
  • Library as Concept
  • Librarianship and Staffing
  • Customer Service and Engagement
This was a session where my mind was fully engaged and I wished it could have gone on longer. Yet my notes are minimal.  Not every library has the funding and support to engage in strategic thinking like this and so it was inspiring to hear from a library that can take the time and resources to do this.  I cannot wait to hear what MT and SPL learn.  I do hope that some of those lessons will come while my own public library is working on its strategic plan!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

#ALAmw20 Day 2: Sustainability, Diversity, Change, and More

Sustainability Is Now a Core Value. So... Now What?

Speakers: Rebekkah Smith Aldrich and Matthew Bollerman

As the session description says, "In 2019 ALA Council voted to make sustainability a core value of librarianship. So what's next? How do we embed this new core value in our work as a profession, in our libraries, and in our association?"

Smith Aldrich and Bollerman took turns talking about sustainability.  They noted that we - as individuals - want the people we care about the most to have the best possible lives...and that we want the same for our communities, too. Sustainability is one way of providing the best possible future for those around us and our communities. As libraries, however, we are late to this game.

Smith Aldrich and Bollerman are working to get sustainability as a topic in the MSLIS programs and in ALA accreditation. They noted that three MSLIS programs have already inserted sustainability into their coursework (Syracuse University, San Jose State Univ., and Rutgers).

Image of the triple bottom lineThey see sustainability as having a triple, interconnected impact, which they call the triple bottom line:
  • Environmentally sound (earth)
  • Social equitable (people)
  • Economically feasible
ALA has adopted 52 recommendations related to sustainability (2018) and provides information about this in a guide and elsewhere (like the Sustainability Round Table). Smith Aldrich and Bollerman recognize that using sustainability thinking can feel overwhelming, so they encourage people to empowered to start small.
They provided examples of what organizations are doing, including the City of Santa Monica (CA) Ofice of Wellbeing.

One final thought was that we all should be advocates for the ground we are on.  For me, that thought of focusing on the ground we are on, makes this all even more important.

Making Real Change: Moving beyond the Interpersonal to Create Actual Diverse, Inclusive, and Equitable Environments for Both Library Users and Employees

Speakers: Erin Elzi and Elia Trucks

Anti-oppressive practices (AOP) grapple with power inequities that uphold structural forces like racism and sexism. Librarianship has primarily focused on individual expressions of AOP. However, AOP must include institutional and ideological change, which can be more challenging.

This session will discuss the AOP framework, explore examples of AOP in libraries, and give participants tools for starting larger conversations at their own institutions. Participants will discuss what their institution is doing that focuses on the individual, and explore how theories of organizational change can be used towards institutional AOP.
First of all, it is important to note that their resource list is available and is being updated.  That resource includes a link to their presentation slides.

Second, a significant part of this session was conversation at our tables, where we talked about our institutions and other situations.  I wrote down these things to remember:
  1. Archives save the past, but do not confront it.  We need to confront and discuss the past, not just preserve it.
  2. We need to do bystander training.  People may not naturally know what to do if they witness bias or racism.  By stander training can help.
  3. People need training on how to talk about race, gender, etc.  This should include discussion and training related to pronouns.
  4. Some of the events we hold in our libraries should include a training element for staff.  For example, staff may need training in order to support a controversial event or an event that new for them and the library.  A colleague at my table mentioned the need to hold conversations and training with staff ahead of a drag queen story time event.  Staff may not have interacted with drag queens and may not know how these story times can open positive conversations about gender and gender

Big Shifts: Libraries, Collections, Networks

Speaker: Lorcan Dempsey

Academic libraries increasingly define themselves in terms of student success, research support, and community engagement. We are seeing a major shift from the centrality of the collection, to services and to deeper engagement with changing research, teaching, and learning practices. This presentation will frame important changes, identify patterns in library responses, and discuss how they can use trends to their advantage. It will draw on an extensive record of OCLC Research work on the future of libraries, on the shifting boundaries and character of library collections, on research support, on library collaboration, and on the shift to open.

Map of geographic regions with large print collections

Dempsey said that we used to have limited resources and an abundance of attention.  This is when you needed a lot of patience to locate needed information.  Now we have an abundance of resources and a deficit of attention. Everyone wants information quickly.

Dempsey moved quickly through his presentation and my notes feel very incomplete.  I want to note, though, that he mentioned: 
  • Pluralizing collections
  • Analyzing collections at scale
  • Optimizing collections
  • The rise of the collective collection  
  • Shared collection
  • Specialized collection
  • Facilitated collection
He said how we have moved from owned collection to collective collections:
  • From owned collections to
  • Borrowed collections to
  • Licensed collections to
  • Demand driven collections to
  • Shared collections to
  • Facilitated collections to
  • The collective collections
We need to understand the impact of our networked and digital environment on our collections, our staff, and the users of those collections.  We now have a blurring of workflow and a complex research infrastructure.

Finally, the identity of our libraries has been tied to their collections.  That is no longer true. Rather we need to focus on the services that bring those collection to those who need them, and on the needs of our communities. This will impact how we talk about how collections, our work, our budgets, etc.  In this environment, people skills are move important.

From Non-Voters to New Voters: How Libraries Can Engage Their Communities in the 2020 Elections and Beyond

Speakers: Nancy Kranich (moderator), Gavin Baker, Kendra Cochran, Maggie Bush, Jean Canosa Albano, Michelle Francis. Abby Kiesa

All of these speakers talked about how they have taught other about voting in our elections. 

  • Talk with people about the daily impact of their vote (or their decision not to vote).
  • Education whomever comes to a program on voting.  It does not matter how many people come, because even educating one more people is important.
  • Focus on young people.  People who vote once are likely to continue to vote, so getting young people to vote could launch them to become life-long voters.
  • People need to learn that they have a voice and power.
  • People's traumatic interactions with the government can stop them from voting.
  • Basic information about voting (where, how to, etc.) can be very helpful.  Some have held dry runs, e.g., taking people to where the polls will be, showing them in advance how to use the voting equipment, discussed who is on the ballot.
  • Civic education is important.  Educate people on the law.
  • Educate people about the issues.
  • Hold sessions on what is it like to run for office.
  • Host events so people can meet and greet the candidates.
  • Train your staff to do voter registration.
Helicopter book storage and seating area from Brodart

#ALAmw20 Day 1: Wes Moore, the Exhibit Hall, and Librarians of the year

I have returned from attending the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia. It was a packed four days for me and I'll be providing highlights in several blog posts, beginning with this one about day 1 (Friday, Jan. 24).

Opening Keynote

ALA President Wanda Brown opened the conference.  In her remarks, Brown noted that "we are the heartbeat of our communities."  That is something that we - libraries and library staff - know, but is something that our communities rediscover on occasion and then think that this relationship between us and them is new.

Wes Moore leaving the Convention Center
Wanda Brown  introduced Wes Moore, who was our opening keynote.  This was the second time that I've been able to hear Wes Moore speak and he was as engaging as he was at IFLA.

Moore began by talking about his early life and his connection to the public library. When he was  in fifth grade, he read at a third grade level.  His mother used Brown's love of sports to connect him with books, and his love of reading was born.  (That first book was on the Michigan Fab Five.)

He then talked about writing The Other Wes Moore, which was a book about individual choice and societal dynamics. He then moved to talking about his upcoming book, Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City, which is about the protests and activities in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.  Moore calls this a story about poverty.

Freddie Gray had led a tragic life. He was born underweight to a mother who was an addict, and that means he was born an addict.  He got lead poisoning from his environment before he was 2 years old.  Freddie's life did not get better and it was not a peaceful one.  Moore believes that the week Freddie Gray was in a coma may have been the most peaceful week of Gray's life.  That is heartbreaking.

Moore asked if poverty was the cause of the problem's in Freddie Gray's life or the result. Then he wondered:
  • How did we get here?
  • What do we do next?
Those are questions, I believe, for which we are still seeking answers.

Important to Moore - and to the story - was the location and role of the Enoch Pratt Library. That library is in the area that was racked by protests, yet it was untouched.  People in the local community viewed it as a meeting place and a place that tried to lift people up.  Moore said that we (library workers) are where the people are, and that our role is to help those people realize that they are not alone.

Wes Moore left us wondering what we each can do in our own way to make the world a better place, and to heal the pain. As I look at our communities - no matter their economic status - this is a question we all should be wrestling with.

The Exhibit Hall

Indie Press Collective bag
I know that an important funding stream for an association is its conference and that the vendors are critically important to that. So I do believe in going to the exhibit hall.  I'm always pleased to see new products and will send relevant info to colleagues, when I can.  And yes, the exhibits can just be fun!

On Friday, one booth that stood out to me was the Islamic Circle of North AmericaThey had copies of the Quran and other books available for free, and were more than willing to talk about Islamic culture.  I'm heartened to see exhibitors like this, who are at the conference to extend the educational content into the vendor area.

Short Edition had short story dispensers around the conference site.  These dispensers contained locally-curated content of one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute stories.  A dispenser in the exhibit hall contained comics and stories specifically for young adults.  I was fascinated and printed several stories over the four-day event.  Yes, I am reading them.

Colleagues wondered if this functionality could be done using existing technology and whether children/young adults would print many stories - creating piles of papers - without reading them.  I agree that both questions are good ones.  Concerning too many people printing stories, I'll note that I saw very few people printing stories, which felt strange since most people at the conference would describe themselves as readers. I do think this functionality could be quite interesting in some environments.  I hope I run across one again, so I can print/read more!

Booth backdrop for the Islamic Circle of North America

Library Journal Librarians of the Year

Christian Zabriskie and Lauren Comito receiving the Librarian of the Year Award
Friday evening, Christian Zabriskie and Lauren Comito - founders of Urban Librarians Unite - received the Library Journal Librarian(s) of the Year Award.  The more I get to know Christian and Lauren, the more impressed I am with their work.  If you are unfamiliar with them, please read the LJ article.

Christian is now the executive director of the Onondaga County Public Library (system), where I am now the president of its Board of Trustees.  I am thrilled that he is in Syracuse and that I'll be working with him in the weeks and months to come.

Monday, January 06, 2020

January - May 2020: Travel, presentations, and other stuff

Cafe au lait and Beignets at Cafe du Monde
This is what I'm doing in the coming months.  If we end up in the same location, let's meet for coffee!


Currently, I have only one conference on my schedule:


I'm teaching the following this winter and spring:
  • Copyright for Information Professionals (IST 735) - Jan. 13 - Apr. 28 (asynchronous online, credit-bearing graduate course)
    Basic ideas, concepts and perspectives of management as they apply to the information professions. Students learn to understand and apply basic principles of organization theory and behavior and managerial techniques needed to improve organizational effectiveness. This course is offered through Syracuse University.

  • US Copyright Law in the Library: A Beginner's Guide (ALA eCourse) - Feb. 2 - Mar. 15 (asynchronous, non-credit-bearing)
    The library is a hub of content, all of it subject to copyright law. The legal reality of copyright is dynamic—changes in technology have created a landscape that is constantly adapting and can be difficult to predict. If you don't have any formal training in copyright law, it can be intimidating to know how to answer your patrons' copyright questions and to know what you can and cannot do with your library’s content and resources. It can be tough to understand the line between providing information and answering a legal question.

    In this eCourse, you will be guided through the basics of copyright law and provided with the foundation to become your library's copyright expert.

    Each week, you'll learn how copyright law informs what libraries, library staff, and patrons can do with their materials and how you can stay up-to-date as this area evolves. You'll be able to check and affirm your knowledge through focused self-assessments.  This asynchronous eCourse is offered through ALA Publishing.

  • The Public Library as Institution (IST 600) - Mar. 25 - June 16 (online with synchronous and asynchronous components each week)
    This credit-bearing course covers the unique aspects of public libraries include structure, governance, funding, and community interactions. In addition, public libraries are impacted by many societal concerns. This course prepares students to examine and support those areas of public librarianship. This course is offered through Syracuse University.

  • Productivity 101 - May 14, 9:00 a.m. - 12 noon, SCRLC offices in Ithaca, NY
    Productivity. It's important, but we often struggle with how to stay organized so that we are productive. We struggle with email, time management, and managing workloads. We want to delegate tasks, and even say "no" to some, but we struggle with the best way of doing that. In this interactive workshop, you will learn and use methods for these areas, and become more productive. Both paper and digital methods will be discussed.

Other Stuff 

OCPL Central LibraryFirst, I am now the president of the Onondaga County Public Library Board of Trustees.  It is a honor to be able to serve this library and the OCPL system in this way (32 libraries in total)! 

Second, in 2017, I became involved in the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival. This is a continuation of the campaign begun by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After the 2016 elections, I wanted to get involved some how in making a difference in our country. Like many others, I looked for an effort that resonated with my values.  I particularly wanted to get involved in something locally. This is where I''m donating my energy working with the NYS Poor People's Campaign and the CNY organizing committee.  Why am I posting this here? Because I just want to share something that is important to me.