Who is in charge at the public library?

Most public library patrons are familiar with the friendly people behind the reference desk, who help track down books and answer questions, and the smiling circulation clerks who make sure you get your “Harry Potter” holds. Occasionally, you might come into contact with the library director. You’ve almost certainly seen the director speak at a public, library-related event. Behind the scenes, however, there is a library board responsible for the governance of the library. The library board oversees the finance, policy and planning activities at the library. They also hire the library director, who keeps the board informed on finance, policy, planning and day-to-day operations.

How are these public library boards appointed? In Indiana, the library boards are appointed, not elected. In most cases, there are seven appointees, but four county contractual libraries have eleven member boards. Elected official bodies in the library district are in charge of appointments. For example, school boards appoint library board members.

Each public library has three board members appointed by the school authorities in the district. The next two board member appointments are selected by county authorities, such as council members or commissioners. Finally, the last two appointments, rounding out the seven-member board, vary based on the territorial composition of the library district. For example, the appointing authorities may be determined based upon whether the library is in one city or one township.

Board members serve for four year terms and the terms can be renewed, but they can serve no longer than 16 years. There are exceptions to this rule for the smallest of library districts where it can be difficult to find people to serve.

This is all covered in the Indiana Code IC 36-12 found here. The code also covers Indiana laws that guide the library board’s governance. For instance, the treasurer of the library board is the only paid board member, whereas all other board members receive no compensation.

I applaud the dedication of the appointed board members who work with library directors to provide library services to the Indiana community.

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

Innovative Library Program: Westchester Public Library’s MakerSpace Lab

Northwest Regional Coordinator Kimberly Brown-Harden recently had a conversation with Automation and Serials Manager Rhonda Mullin from the Westchester Public Maker Space Lab9Library in Chesterton, Indiana. They discussed Westchester’s innovative MakerSpace Lab and the impact it is having on both patrons and the library.

Kim: Can you give me some background on how the program was created?

Rhonda: Our library prides itself in offering the latest technology to our patrons. Because of this we saw a need to introduce 3D printing as well as a MakerSpace Lab. Unfortunately, space is very limited within our library. We did some serious brainstorming and decided to create space within an existing space. So we literally created our MakerSpace Lab within the space of another room. We hired a contractor who constructed an interior wall with a sound barrier, cut in a door frame and door, installed a peek window and trimmed it out. From there we outfitted the room with equipment and supplies. Continue reading

Library Personnel Connect at Indiana Library Federation Conference November 2015

The Indiana Library Federation connected library personnel for two days in November. The conference theme was “Strengthening Connections: Your Key to Success.” The keynote speaker, author Daniel Handler, emphasized his connections where he related his past experience reading local newspapers, and curiously reading unusual stories Not in Kansasthat may or may not be a lesson to the reader. The results are Daniel Handler’s Lemony Snicket stories, a “series of unfortunate events.” I give you a small sampling of fortunate events that started on Tuesday November 16, the first day of the conference.

“Arguing for Aristotle: Connecting the Evolution of Small towns and the Future of Public Libraries” by Zachary Benedict reinforced my belief in libraries as public spaces to make people happy, to assist the public with their inward development, where quality civic space and a good life are experienced. It was not all philosophical. 80% of libraries are in small towns of less than 25,000 people. So like Greek and Roman public spaces, public libraries need to be well designed and well intended.

This was followed by “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” a panel of library directors and technical service person discussed the implementation of broadband technology in their library spaces. Discussion began with what each library has in terms of technology infrastructure, what obstacles there are to overcome (more than money alone), what success looks like, and where to go in the future.

Wednesday, November 17, a packed room with a standing crowd enjoyed Laura Solomon presentation on “Absolutely Free (and Practically Unknown) Online Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed.” Some sites are for productivity but she closed the presentation with http://www.omnomnomify.com, an Internet tool to Cookie Monster your web pages. All of us need sites that can assist us in handling information but levity is good, too.

Participants laughed at themselves, recalled memories and experiences, and look to the coming year to implement what was learned in our conference connections.

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

Hartford City Public Library’s New Director Michele Ogle

Northeast Regional Coordinator Paula Newcom, and I recently visited the Hartford City Public Library and met the new director, Michele Ogle. Michele gave a tour of the building, a Carnegie library that has been remodeled and modernized. Patrons in the library were engaged in genealogy research while others browsed the book resources.

Michele Ogle_editI asked Michele about her journey to her present position. It is a return to her roots having grown up in Montpelier, Indiana. As a child she regularly visited the Montpelier-Harrison Township Public Library and as a teenager worked as a circulation clerk at the library. She also worked there in the summers between college terms, before deciding to pursue her Masters in Library Science.

Michele is excited about serving the population where she grew up. She finds it difficult to pick one favorite book but is partial to the Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Meeting non-famous people in history interests her, learning about how they lived and trials they faced. Other interests are playing videogames, gardening, all sorts of creative hobbies, and spending time with pets and her family.

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

Strategic Library Planning

PlanExcellence is a moving target in today’s world, where change is a constant. It requires vision and leadership to build a long range or strategic plan to navigate the future and incorporate change. The importance of planning is demonstrated by the detailed strategic plan requirements outlined in Public Library Standards. Continue reading

Free Internet?


One of the popular services in public libraries is access to Internet. Sometimes this Internet service is referred to as broadband. Broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access. Broadband includes several high-speed transmission technologies such as: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Cable Modem and fiber. Over half of the 237 Indiana public libraries have fiber optic service, with majority of other libraries supported by DSL and cable services. Patrons enjoy the high speed internet connection in the public libraries. Continue reading

Life as a new ISL Regional Coordinator

Paula Newcom 1
In November 2014, I began an exciting chapter in my career as a Librarian. I became the Northeast Regional Coordinator for the Indiana State Library. I have sixty libraries in the northeast region that I will eventually visit. During my travels I have been totally blown away with what I have seen at these libraries!!! Whether small, medium or large, all of these libraries are doing unique things and are a jewel in their communities. I want to do a brief recap of what I’ve done so far as a regional coordinator with the Indiana State Library:

Questions, questions, questions

I field questions from my region’s librarians and act as a liaison between them and the Indiana State Library. Similar to a typical Reference desk, I get all sorts of questions: from Centennial celebrations to how to work on a WordPress website. With every question that comes my way I learn something new, so keep the questions coming!!

Indiana State Library building Continue reading