Mobile hotspot lending

Whether you live in an Indiana city or county, you may not be connected to the internet. It is estimated that 27 percent of the population has no internet access. We know that 27 percent disproportionately effects lower income individuals in the cities and the countryside. Opportunities to connect to the internet have been available in 236 public libraries in Indiana for some time. The internet access has been inside the library, but there is a need for access outside the library walls.

The landscape for internet connection has changed over time. People still visit the public libraries for internet use, but now they are bringing their own devices, such as cellphones, laptops and tablets. People can connect to the public libraries wireless network. There is now another service available in some libraries: mobile hotspots. This lending service permits citizens of Indiana to access the internet outside of the library on their own device. No longer are people limited to libraries hours, but have access 24/7.

Why is this service important? Because increasingly school assignments are accessed and completed with the internet, job opportunities are found online and many government services are on the internet.

Several libraries in Indiana have rolled out mobile hotspot lending programs. Numerous vendors offer the hotspots and libraries are encouraged to explore their options. Sprint is the vendor on state contract, so if you are interested in offering the devices in your library contact the Sprint government sales representative for state pricing. Here are the contacts:

Brian Ferguson
Public Sector/Business Solution Account Manager –MI/IN
Government/General Business – Business Sales
(260) 348-6096

Mark D. Smith
Enterprise & Public Sector – Indiana
(317) 438-3334

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie, library development librarian and eRate coordinator. For more information, contact the Library Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or via email.

INSPIRE gets a makeover

INSPIRE, our statewide collection of databases, is celebrating its 20th birthday, and for a gift, we’ve given its homepage a fresh new makeover.

The new interface is powered by EBSCO Stacks and has a clean “tiled” appearance featuring some of our most popular resources, including:

  • Rosetta Stone
  • Consumer Reports
  • Health and Medicine
  • Test Preparation
  • Current News
  • Historic Newspapers
  • Digital Collections
  • Genealogy

Library users and staff can select one of these pre-selected topics and quickly navigate to that area. These databases will rotate as needed, and we welcome any suggestions you may have. There is also a scrolling menu of other subjects (e.g. biographies, business and student resources) below the tiles.

The search box and results page have not been changed, and you can easily start your search by typing in keywords in the box at the top of the homepage. If anyone prefers the previous interface, that can still be accessed here or by clicking on the TeachingBooks.net and Newspapers.com graphic on the new homepage.

Watch for new “how-to” videos, as well as an updated FAQ page, coming later this year.

INSPIRE is free for use for all Indiana residents, and is made possible by the Indiana General Assembly through Build Indiana Funds, The Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, and in partnership with the Academic Libraries of Indiana.

This post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office. For more information on INSPIRE, visit here or send an email

SDC recap and the origin of the Public Library Annual Report questions

If you’ve had the “pleasure” of filling out the Public Library Annual Report on behalf of your library, you know it can feel like every question that could ever be asked about your library, short of carpet colors, is included. Weighing in at around 800 questions, it’s easy to assume that questions are added indiscriminately; easy, but wrong.

Turns out, those questions have been argued about, agonized over and analyzed down to the syllable. Discussions of semantics and statistics are at the heart of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Annual Meeting of State Data Coordinators (SDCs). For three days, SDCs from each state and American territory are invited to discuss the process and methodology behind the Annual Report in an attempt to maximize the value of the survey.

Functional and decorative; a tiny sample of notes from sub-group meetings

This year’s meeting of minds took place December 5th – 7th in sunny Phoenix – except it wasn’t all that sunny. The home-state SDC was more than happy to let the visitors know that the streak of 100-plus rain-free days ended with our arrival. After kicking off with a morning session aimed exclusively at SDCs hired within the last year, the meeting began in earnest with the afternoon arrival of the remaining SDCs. Introductions made and pens and laptops at the ready, the group settled in to listen to updates about the survey collection tool and forthcoming data element reviews.

And what reviews they were. From the 8 a.m. working breakfast straight through until 5 p.m. quitting time, breakout groups discussed problematic data elements. “Is it accurate? Is it relevant?” became our mantra. We threw back the coffee. What was unique about the data each question generated? Was it clearly understood? Was there more coffee? Did this question generate information used by librarians and stakeholders? Is there seriously only decaf left right now? Were we collecting what we thought we were? How is decaf supposed to help us get through this? When the dust cleared, we were left with mountains of compiled notes and a plan of attack for those who would ultimately decide which elements remained, which were eliminated and which needed tweaked.

Because our libraries are evolving, our survey needs to evolve to reflect the changing services. The SDC meeting is a direct response to the challenge. Those 800 questions aren’t as static as they first appear, we promise. Might I suggest coffee to help you get through it?

This blog post was written by Angela Fox, LSTA and federal projects consultant, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Library Development Office at (800) 451-6028, or via email.

ISL program helps connect incarcerated with family, build literacy skills

Since 2000, the Indiana State Library (ISL), in partnership with the Indiana Department of Corrections, has supported the Read-To-Me program. The objectives of Read-To-Me are as follows:

  • Break the cycle of incarceration and low literacy
  • Educate parents to become their child’s first teacher
  • Instruct parents in the use of children’s books to teach the children in their lives
  • Make personal connections with the children during the period of incarceration

Through the program, incarcerated individuals are able to select books to read aloud and send recordings of the readings to family members, whether it’s children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.

Terry Black processing materials for the Read-To-Me program.

The program was spearheaded by passionate and resourceful former ISL librarians like Marie Albertson and Marcia Smith-Woodard. I now currently serve as the lead coordinator. There are currently five Indiana correctional institutions participating in the program, serving both men and women. I work with the program coordinators inside each of the participating facilities providing the books and supplies needed to record them.

Most books are donated to the state library. Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funds cover the purchase of CDs, DVDs or Hallmark Recordable books, as well as the shipping materials and postage for each book. A publishing company provides many chapter books and teen-level books. However, donations of new or slightly used preschool level or early reader books are always appreciated.

Materials coming in and going out.

The service is in high demand and growing. In 2016, over 421 incarcerated individuals read and recorded for their children. Within the first nine months of 2017, I have mailed 502 packages.

According to the on-site coordinators, incarcerated individuals and their families are appreciative of the service. Here are some recent anonymous comments:

“My children love the attention I give to them and I’m amazed by the questions they ask. Plus, they are growing, regardless, and the personal connections help their understanding in my incarceration.” – CIF

“It made a difference in my life because I’m showing my sons that I still love them no matter what and I’m still here for them. My love will never change how I feel about them.” – Westville

“I was shy to read; especially into the camera, but now that I did this for my kids I feel a lot better about it.” – Westville

“My grandchildren love seeing me on the big screen TV and when I am reading to them it brings back memories to them. We used to read books all the time.” – Madison

“The Read-To-Me program has kept my grandchildren busy for hours, not only enjoying the story, but remembering the times that I’ve read to them in the past. It keeps us in touch with each other on a different level, and for that, I am grateful.” – Madison

“This program has allowed me to build a relationship with my grandchildren, some I have never met. They can hear my voice and get the opportunity to get a book read to them by their grandma/nana. It has been a true blessing. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program.” – IWP

After 17 years of the program, I think the program is going very well. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Hopefully, we can continue to support and educate parents to be better readers for themselves and for the children in their lives. I hope to find new avenues to increase interest in the program with positive promotions and incentives. The program could benefit from more funding to provide better quality equipment and supplies. Finally, our goal is to expand the program to the state’s juvenile facilities in some way.

Read-to-Me is supported in part through an LSTA grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This blog post was written by Terry Black. Black is the administrative secretary for the Statewide Services Division. She can be reached at via email

Indiana State Library welcomes new public libraries and federal programs consultant

The Indiana State Library welcomes Angela Fox as the new public libraries and federal programs consultant. As liaison to the IMLS public library programs, she’ll be fielding questions on LSTA grants and the annual public libraries report. Additionally, she’ll work in conjuncture with others in the LDO to provide training to public library staff.

Angela has a vested interest in public libraries, having spent the last fifteen years as an employee with the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. She’s worked a variety of jobs within that system, most recently as the children’s and teen librarian at a large branch location. When she’s not getting lost in the tunnels beneath the state library, she enjoys reading narrative nonfiction, walking the world’s sweetest dog and trash-talking opponents in her fantasy-football league.

Angela can be reached via email or by calling (317) 234-6550.

This blog post by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director.

NOW Courier visit

In preparation for the approaching 2017-2018 INfoExpress year, Indiana State Library (ISL) staff visited NOW Courier, the state’s vendor providing statewide library courier service. ISL and NOW staff meet regularly throughout the year to discuss issues and upcoming changes affecting service, such as SRCS and the revised library standards.

During our most recent visit to NOW, their CFO and customer care team heard many of the concerns libraries have shared with us over the past two months related to late or missed deliveries, missing parcels or driver problems. NOW staff assured us they will continue working to make INfoExpress a reliable and trustworthy service for our 381 participating libraries, schools and universities. In fact, NOW delivered over half a million parcels to Indiana libraries in the past year.

Did you know your NOW Courier delivery driver is a busy independent contractor? In addition to books, NOW Courier drivers also deliver office supplies, pharmaceuticals, payroll information and even mail shipped through DHL. NOW Courier even facilitates the delivery of vital organs and blood to hospitals, though those would never be on the same route as your books.

Following the meeting, NOW Courier Customer Care Manager Nick Brownlee showed us around their Indianapolis hub. In these pictures, you can see the book parcel sorting tubs and shelves for the various routes in Indianapolis and around the state. While the warehouse was quiet at 2 p.m, he said it’s a bustling place from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. as drivers work overnight to sort and prep the parcels for each route’s deliveries.

We hope you have enjoyed this peek into the logistics of shipping your books!

This blog post by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director. For more information or questions regarding INfoExpress, contact David Michael Hicks at (317) 232-3699 or email dhicks@library.in.gov.

Indiana Memory – Digital Public Library of America Fest 2017

The second annual Indiana Memory – Digital Public Library of America (IM-DPLA) Fest is set for Sept. 8, 2017 at the Indianapolis Public Library Central Branch. IM-DPLA Fest is a free, one-day conference running from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The fest was created to address topics on digitization and provide networking opportunities for those interested in working on digital projects. Past attendees include representatives from large public universities, public libraries and small cultural organizations. Everyone interested in digitization is welcome to attend.

This year’s keynote speaker is Kendra Morgan. She is a senior program manager with the Online Computer Resource Center (OCLC) and the co-author of the recently published report “Advancing the National Digital Platform: The State of Digitization in the US Public and State Libraries.” In addition, there will be several other presentations on topics in digitization. The lightning talks and poster session will highlight different digital projects from around the state. Proposals to participate with a lightning talk or poster session need to be submitted by June 30, 2017. See the IM-DPLA blog for more information about submitting a presentation, lightning talk or poster.

“Advancing the National Digital Platform: The State of Digitization in the US Public and State Libraries,” by Kendra Morgan and Merrilee Proffitt was release in 2017. It can be downloaded as a free pdf from the OCLC website.

Registration, and a more detailed schedule, will be announced at a later date on the IM-DPLA blog. So, whether you’re a seasoned digital veteran or just dreaming of acquiring your first flatbed scanner, we look forward to seeing you at the 2017 IM-DPLA Fest!

This blog post by Jill A. Black, a library technician with the Indiana Memory Project. For more information contact the Library Development Office (317) 232-3697 or ldo@library.in.gov.

Federal dollars for local broadband connection at Indiana public libraries

Have you heard the phrase “Think globally, but act locally?” Nowhere is that more evident than in your local public library. Your public library provides you access to the internet either through the library computer or your own device. From your local library you can access the world through their broadband connection. The public libraries broadband connection is supported by the federal eRate program that helps with cost control as public libraries share their cost information.

The public libraries’ demands for internet access by the public increases each year; so the cost is ever increasing due to increased bandwidth demands. Each year the demands on the eRate federal dollars grows. In the beginning, libraries had speeds of 56 k. This is no longer the norm. The American Library Association and Federal Communications Commission are recommending speeds of 100 MB for rural and 1 gigabyte for urban libraries.

Whether it’s megabytes or gigabytes, the federal eRate program supports your local broadband costs. The current federal year for broadband funding support is July 2016 through June 2017. To find the figures on those dollars benefiting Indiana, visit www.usac.org/sl and use the FRN Status Tool.

Doing a search on Indiana public libraries gives the figures for 2016 and 2017 and shows a total of a little over four million dollars support for Indiana public libraries broadband services. That represents over 150 public libraries. Remember that is not the total cost, but represents the federal support for your local internet connection in the state of Indiana. So remember when you access the internet at your local public library there is both local and federal support in actual dollars for a robust broadband connection.

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie, library development librarian and eRate coordinator. For more information, contact the Library Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email statewideservices@library.in.gov.

Are you being served? Library cards for non-residents

In the Library Development Office (LDO) we occasionally hear from an Indiana resident who has moved into an unserved area. An unserved area is an area where there is not a library district. Though you may be in an unserved area, there are options for library service through a contract or non-resident fee. A one-stop guide highlighting the locations of Indiana libraries is the library districts map issued by Indiana Business Research Center. The map is found here.

If you are not a resident of a library district, non-resident cards are available from each of the 237 public libraries. The fees vary based on the library’s per capita expense for the service population. For service, choose the library closest to you and find out the non-resident fee. As mentioned, fees vary, but average between $56 to $70 per year.

Sometimes a township has contracted with a nearby library for service, which means the township may take on part, or all, of the cost of the library card. Please contact your local officials to see if they offer library cards to a nearby library.

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie, library development librarian and Professional Development Office (PDO) librarian. For more information, contact the Library Development Office (LDO) at (317) 232-3697 or email statewideservices@library.in.gov.

Expanding computer access for Indiana libraries

Since 2011, the Indiana State Library (ISL) has partnered with Net Literacy to offer free, rebuilt computers to libraries in Indiana. Net Literacy is an Indiana-based organization first founded in 2003 by a central Indiana middle-school student, Daniel Kent. The original purpose of this organization was to assist senior citizens by having middle and high school students teach the seniors how to use computers. The group accepted donated computers which the students rebuilt and donated to senior centers to allow them computer access. By 2010, Net Literacy had increased computer access and skills for over 50,000 senior citizens.

Unloading the truck.

Student volunteers strip down and rebuild the donated computers and dispose of the unusable pieces in an EPA-compliant manner preventing computers and monitors from being delivered to landfills. Net Literacy is a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) and installs Microsoft Windows, Open Source and other software on these computers.

Ready to roll.

In 2011, Kent approached ISL about providing refurbished computers to libraries who needed more public access computers. The computers come ready to set up with Windows 7 Professional, a minimum of 2GB ram, a 40GB or larger hard drive, a DVD drive, antivirus software and an Ethernet card, making them internet-ready. These computers come with a flat screen monitors and all of the required cables, mice and keyboards.

Unloaded and waiting to be tested.

Twice each year since that time, ISL has issued an open call to all public, institutional and other Indiana libraries to request these free computers. The requirements are simple: The requests are limited to libraries in Indiana, the computers must be used to assist the public and the library should be willing to pick this equipment up from the state library whenever possible. Since 2011, this partnership between the ISL and Net Literacy has made over 1,400 free, rebuilt computers and monitors available to libraries in Indiana.

Marcus Bullock, a Project Search intern, makes sure the computers are in working order.

For more information about this partnership or instructions on how to request Net Literacy computers, please contact the Library Development Office.

This blog post is by Steven J. Schmidt, Library Development Office supervisor. For more information, contact Steven at (317) 232-3715 or send an email to StatewideService@library.in.gov.