New state law changes provisions related to employing minors

There are a number of benefits to having teenagers in the workforce, a couple of which are that it tends be cheaper for the employer than hiring adults, and it gives the teenagers some work experience and connections that could be valuable later in life. However, it is important to balance the needs of employers with the needs of the teenagers, who may still be in school. There are both federal and state laws in place that provide some basic guidelines for employers when it comes to teen employees.

Image Credit: Child Labor Laws by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Image Credit: Child Labor Laws by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act sets wage minimums, work hours and safety requirements for workers under the age of 18 who are working in jobs that are covered by the law. For information on the Fair Labor Standards Act as it applies to minors, click here.

IC 20-33-3 is the chapter of Indiana state law that traditionally covered employer limits on employing students. However, the part of the law where you will find these limitations has moved from Title 20 (Education) to Title 22 (Labor and Safety).

In the 2020 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly made a number of changes to Indiana’s laws related to employing students, only one of which was moving the teen labor laws to a different part of the code. A few of the additional changes are as follows:

The Bureau of Child Labor is now called the Bureau of Youth Employment. Work permits are no longer required for students who are not Indiana residents, or for home schooled students, or students enrolled in a career and technical education program. However, working hour restrictions still apply. Break requirements have been eliminated. Working hour restrictions for 16 and 17-year-old students are the same now. Work permit termination notices are no longer required to be sent to the school upon worker termination. Minors less than 16 years old may not work during school hours. Employers who employ at least five minors age 14 to 17 must register with the Indiana Department of Labor and a minor may not work in an establishment that is open to the public after 10 p.m. or before 6 a.m., unless another employee who is at least 18 years of age also works with the minor.

The Indiana Department of Labor has a summary  document available that describes some of the additional changes. To read about all the changes, review SEA 409 in its entirety.

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia.

2020 census operations continue; self-response deadline extended

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic created delays in the Census Bureau’s 2020 census operations, the 2020 census continues to move forward. Because of the pause due to the pandemic, it is important for librarians to get the word out that it’s not too late to participate in the census. U.S. residents now have until Oct. 31 to use self-response methods to complete the forms for their households.Beginning on Aug. 11, the Census Bureau plans to send out workers for the non-response follow-up part of census operations. Census workers will be clearly identified as they go door-to-door to visit homes. They will operate through Oct. 31 to help residents complete questionnaires until every household is counted.

This means July is a key month to remind library patrons to count their own households before a census worker comes to their door. Librarians can instruct patrons to follow the steps below in order to help them complete the census:

  • Go to the Census Bureau’s online portal and enter the Census ID they received in the mail. If they don’t have a Census ID, click the button that says Start Questionnaire, then click the link that says “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” and follow the prompts.

OR

  • Call the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020 for English, or at 844-468-2020 for Spanish. For deaf assistance and languages other than English, see responding by phone.

OR

  • Fill out the 2020 Census form they received in the mail and mail it back.

It’s that easy, and it should only take 10 minutes!

It is important to continue providing information about the 2020 census to ensure a complete and accurate count of our communities. This once-per-decade count will determine political representation, federal and state funding and planning decisions for the next 10 years. Find outreach materials on the Census Bureau’s website and Indiana’s 2020 Census website.

Library patrons might also be interested in 2020 census jobs being offered by the Census Bureau. Patrons can apply for jobs here.

The State Data Center at the Indiana State Library is here to help you with questions and further outreach through Oct. 31. Contact us here.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Government Information Day virtual conference

Save the date! The Indiana State Library and INDIGO are pleased to announce that Government Information Day will take place on August 6-7. The conference will now be held virtually. The two-day event will feature seven programs promoting government information literacy and resources. The conference is free to attend. Public librarians will be eligible to earn LEUs for each session. This is the fourth Government Information Day, but the first in a virtual format.

Additionally, Federal Depository Library Program libraries in the west are hosting the “Western States Government Information Virtual Conference” on August 5-6. As such, both groups are working together to promote both events as part of Government Information Week. There is now an opportunity for librarians to view government information themed presentations Wednesday,Thursday and Friday, with a regional coordinators meeting on Tuesday. The first week of August will be referred to as “Government Information Week.”

Click here to register. Attendees will have the ability to register for as many or as few sessions as they desire. Below is the schedule for GID2020, along with session titles and a brief description of each talk. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Brent Abercrombie, Indiana Regional Depository librarian and GID Planning Committee chair.

Government Information Day 2020 virtual conference schedule:

GID2020 titles, presenters and descriptions:

“What does climate change mean for Indiana?”
Presenter: Melissa Widhalm, Operations Manager, Purdue Climate Change Research Center
Our climate shapes our lives. The ways we build our roads, manage our farms, move our water and use energy are all influenced by our unique Indiana climate. But our climate has been changing, and it will continue changing in ways that affect our productivity, our safety and our livelihoods. We need to know what climate change means for Indiana. Led by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment provides the latest scientific research to help Hoosiers understand and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. This presentation will highlight results from the IN CCIA analysis.

“Data.Census.gov”
Presenter: Katie Springer, Data Center Librarian, Indiana State Library
In March of 2020, the Census Bureau’s data portal for the last few censuses, American FactFinder, ceased to exist. This means no more long lists of complicated geographies to sort through! This also means we’ll have a brand new system to learn. The new dissemination platform is at Data.Census.gov. This session will demonstrate the new platform. The session will explore the new way to search for census data and learn how to filter searches, download and modify tables and view maps. “Put on your learning caps!”

“Legal Research Basics for Librarians”
Presenter: Cheri Harris, Certification Program Director and Legal Consultant, Indiana State Library
This presentation will help library workers answer legal research questions from patrons and will also help them assist patrons who are doing their own legal research. Starting with an overview of different types of legal authority, the presentation will help distinguish between primary and secondary authority. Strategies and tools for finding state and federal statutes, regulations and case law will be reviewed. Paying special attention to Indiana materials, a demonstration on how to use a variety of free websites to conduct legal research online be shared. Finally, the session will conclude with tips for how to stick to conducting legal research and avoid providing legal advice.

“Statewide input with local impact”
Presenter: Ashley Schenck and Tyler Brown, Indiana Management Performance Hub
Indiana Management Performance Hub provides analytics solutions tailored to address complex management and policy questions enabling improved outcomes for Hoosiers. MPH empowers its partners to leverage data in innovative ways, facilitating data-driven decision making and data-informed policy making.

“Hindsight is 20/20 in 2020”
Presenters: Chandler Lighty, Executive Director, Indiana State Archives; Claire Horton, Deputy Director, Indiana State Archives; and Meaghan Fukunaga, Deputy Director for Electronic Records, Indiana Archives and Records Management
The Indiana Archives and Records Administration turned 40 in 2019. Hear about the current state and future plans for the State Archives. Learn about the archival collections and services, and how IARA staff can assist public library patrons with their information needs.

“Harrison’s Republic and the Spirit of Democracy”
Presenter: Charles Hyde, President and CEO, Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
“An American citizen could not be a good citizen who did not have a hope in his heart.” With this ringing invocation, the 23rd President called the United States of America to higher purpose, and helped set it on course for the modern era. While his signal leadership is under known, there is no mistaking his spirited advocacy of some of the most important policies that have come to define our country legally and spiritually over the past century. The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site carries on this legacy in innovative, impactful and engaging ways, with unexpected relevance to conversations our country is having today.

“Publicly Available Information Resources on U.S. National Security”
Presenter: Bert Chapman, Government Information, History, and Political Science Librarian, Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies
This presentation will describe how to find and use publicly-available information resources. It will stress the constitutional foundations of U.S. national security policy and present examples of U.S. national security literature through annual defense spending bills, materials from U.S. armed service branches, congressional oversight committees and various intelligence agencies.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library federal documents coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at 317-232-3678 or via “Ask-A-Librarian.”

What is a library roundtable?

Roundtable defined
What comes to mind when you hear the words “library roundtable?” Is it a round table in a library? No, that’s not quite what I’m talking about. Does it have something to do with King Arthur? Not really, but the symbolism of the legend of King Arthur’s famed table could lend itself to our modern idea of a library roundtable.

So, what are library roundtables? Generally, a roundtable is defined as “a conference for discussion or deliberation by several participants.” In the library world, not unlike the table in King Arthur’s court, all members of a roundtable are of equal status and no one is at the head of the table.

Library roundtables have been going on for many years throughout Indiana. Traditionally, library roundtables are discussion groups that meet in person. Members of these groups are comprised of library staff with similar jobs.

Benefits of library roundtables
There are many advantages and benefits of being a part of a library roundtable group. They’re a great way to network with your professional peers. These connections can be beneficial to your current and future career opportunities. These groups are also effective for discussing ideas, problems and plans. They can act as a pseudo support group if you need a sympathetic ear, as sometimes there are private and sensitive issues that you don’t want to put on a public forum. Roundtables should be a no judgement zone where you can hear differing opinions and views. Insights and experiences from your peers are invaluable. They also provide an opportunity, in an informal setting, to share knowledge, ask questions and discuss solutions at a deeper level than in a formal training or conference setting. It’s a wonderful forum for brainstorming, connecting and sharing programming ideas.

An extra bonus of library roundtables are visiting other libraries. This is a wonderful opportunity to see how other libraries are set up and organized. I love visiting libraries to see what furniture they have, what colors they chose, what their displays look like. You can get awesome ideas to take back to your library.

Who can attend a library roundtable?
Pretty much anyone working in a library can attend a library roundtable. There are roundtables for library directors, branch managers, children’s, circulation, IT, reference and teens. Before attending, check with your department head or director first to make sure that your current job could benefit from participating and that attending works with staffing considerations. There are established roundtable groups all over the state of Indiana. The Indiana State Library has a list of most of the roundtable groups that are currently meeting. If you have a question about roundtables, you can contact your regional coordinator or children’s coordinator and they can connect you with a group.

What if I’m not able to leave my library to attend a roundtable?
Many library roundtable groups have been meeting virtually using networking software such as Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Google Meeting or Microsoft Teams. Some networking software is free – with time restrictions – and others are subscription based. Equipment recommended for virtual roundtables include a device with a camera, microphone, keyboard and speaker. The camera and microphone are not entirely necessary, but essentials are a keyboard, to be able to participate in chat and a speaker, to hear what others are saying. Whatever virtual networking software you have access to, you should be able to use them on a tablet, laptop or smartphone. Along with your discussion, maybe think about adding a virtual tour of your library.

There have been quite a few new virtual roundtables established recently: adult services, bookkeepers, children’s, library directors, games and gaming, marketing, programming, teen and a new webmasters group, which is currently in the works. A grievance I’ve often heard is, “I wish I could attend the roundtable that was posted on the Listserv, but it’s at the opposite side of the state.” With the virtual meertings, you no longer have that travel barrier. We have compiled a new list of the virtual roundtable groups.

LEU information
Library Education Units may be earned by attending roundtable discussions. If your library job is classified to earn LEUs, page 12 of the Indiana State Library Certification Manual for Public Library Professionals spells out the parameters:

  • 1 LEU per roundtable attended.
  • LEUs are capped. Earn up to 10 LEUs per five-year certificate period attending professional roundtable meetings.
  • Professional roundtables do not require prior LEU approval from the Indiana State Library.
  • The host library shall create and award LEU certificates for all attending library professionals

Note: Only individuals holding a five-year certificate are eligible to count LEUs from professional roundtable meetings.

Click here for a sample roundtable LEU certificate. If you have further questions about certification, please contact Cheri Harris, certification program director.

Interested in hosting a roundtable?
If you’d like to start or join a roundtable that doesn’t already exist, you can contact your regional coordinator or children’s coordinator from Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office. They will assist you with getting a roundtable started.

Being a meeting leader does not require a lot of time, and Indiana State Library staff are here to assist with organizing and publicizing the first meeting. Roundtables are usually a collective effort with everyone contributing. Often, attendees take turns hosting.

Your primary responsibilities would include:

  • Setting the first meeting date.
  • Setting up the meeting in your meeting software.
  • Setting a general topic of discussion for the first meeting.

Articles about roundtables
Finally, here are some articles you might find helpful in your roundtable research:

“How to Run a Successful Roundtable Discussion”
“The Roundtable discussion: What, When Why”
“13 Tips for Planning and Hosting Successful Roundtables”

You can also find this information on the newly-created Indiana Roundtable Discussion Groups for Library Staff page on the Indiana State Library website.

This post was written by Northeast Regional Coordinator Paula Newcom, Professional Development Office.

Celebrate Juneteenth with books for young people by Indiana authors

Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19 annually, celebrates the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation across the United States. While all enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared to be legally free on January 1, 1863, in practice many slaves in western states were not free until years later. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas were finally made free by executive decree. Juneteenth has been celebrated for over 150 years.

Celebrate this Juneteenth by reading the Emancipation Proclamation available through the National Archives or by learning more about this holiday through the National Museum of African American History. Honor African Americans by reading books by African American authors.

The Indiana Young Readers Center has put together this list of books, new and old, so that people of all ages can engage with rich stories for everyone told by African Americans with Indiana connections.

“I See the Rhythm” text by Toyomi Igus, with paintings by Michele Wood

Winner of the 1999 Coretta Scott King Award for outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values, this primer of history is told through the amazing art of Hoosier Michele Wood and the exuberant verse of Toyomi Igus. Read this book to experience the rhythm of African American history.

“The Music in Derrick’s Heart” by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert, illustrated by Colin Bootman

Looking for a picture book? This is a sweet story about Derrick who is aching to learn how to play the harmonica from his uncle, Booker T. Children will love hearing about Derrick’s passion and how he tapes his harmonica to his head and his heart when he sleeps. Dr. Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert is from Marion, Indiana and is the author of several children’s picture books including “Papa’s Mark,” “The Shaking Bag” and “Off to School.”

 

“Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children” by Mari Evans, illustrated by Ramon Price

Nursery rhymes, with their simple words and sing-song rhythms have enthralled and excited youngsters for centuries. But most of the best-known rhymes reflect a limited Western perspective. “Singing Black” is a charming collection of original short poems by award-winning poet and writer Mari Evans that draw their inspiration from black culture. Evans made her home in Indianapolis for nearly 70 years.

 

“The Usual Suspects” by Maurice Broaddus

If you are in the mood for a good middle-grade mystery, look no further. Thelonius Mitchell is tired of being labeled. He’s in a special education class, separated from the “normal” kids at school who don’t have any “issues.” When a gun is found at a neighborhood hangout, the school administrators start their inquiries right in Thelonius’s class. Thelonius feels the injustice deeply and sets to work right away to solve the mystery. Maurice Broaddus lives and works in Indianapolis and is the author of several books for grown-ups as well as children.

 

“Tyler Johnson Was Here” by Jay Coles

A stunning young adult novel about police brutality in modern American. When Marvin Johnson’s twin brother Tyler goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on him. But what starts out as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler is missing and Marvin wants nothing more than to find his brother alive and safe. The chilling truth is that Tyler is dead; shot and killed by a police officer. Author Jay Coles wrote this book based on true personal events. Jay Coles lives in Indianapolis and is also a teacher and musician.

 

“The Season of Styx Malone” by Kekla Magoon

Looking for a summer friendship story? Meet Caleb and his brother Bobby. They are excited for a whole summer of exploring the woods when they meet newcomer, Styx Malone. Oozing cool from every pore, Styx convinces the two brothers to help him pull off the Great Escalator Trade – exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their final goal. But, as one thing leads to another, the boys seem to know less and less about their new friend. Award-winning author Kekla Magoon grew up in Indiana and is the author of many books for young people including “How It Went Down,” “Shadows of Sherwood,” “X: A Novel” and “The Rock and the River.”

“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed that she’s too black, too poor and too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern town. But it’s okay – she has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever – one that revolves around financial aid that unexpectedly falls through. Liz is devastated until she remembers that her school offers a scholarship for the prom king and queen. This brand new book by debut author Leah Johnson is a number one new release on Amazon. Though Johnson currently lives in Brooklyn, New York she was born and raised in Indianapolis and is a tried and true lifelong Hoosier.

 

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Introduction to Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at the Indiana State Library includes an estimated 3 million manuscripts in 5,200 different collections ranging from the early 15th century to present day. People often ask, “What is the earliest item in your collection?” Believe it or not, the earliest items are cuneiform (kyoo-nee’-uh-form) tablets dating from 2350-2000 B.C. The division hosts many more treasures, including Civil War-era letters and diaries, family papers and the records of many political figures from the Hoosier state.

Uruk votive cone, circa 2100 B.C.

Our unit comprises of four full-time staff, two volunteers and one part-time contract position. We provide reference services, instructional sessions, scanning and photocopying, collection guides and digital resources for anyone to use. The Manuscripts Catalog, a new database to search our collections, allows patrons to receive generated citations, print PDF versions of collection guides and request materials using an online form.

Rare Books and Manuscripts staff at Crown Hill Cemetery, 2019. Left to right: Lauren Patton, Bethany Fiechter, Brittany Kropf and Laura Eliason.

In 2018, the division was awarded a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant to digitize the papers of Will H. Hays. Hays served as the Republican National Committee chairman during 1918-21, campaign manager for President Warren Harding in 1920 and later became president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922-45, where he established the Hays Code of acceptable content for motion pictures. Providing digital access to this collection will enable researchers unlimited access, leading to more research and discovery across multiple disciplines. To view our progress, visit the Will H. Hays digital collection.

Lucille Ball and Will Hays at the Film Critics Circle Reception, 1940.

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division continues to acquire material defining Indiana’s history and culture. Help us preserve it by donating to the collection. For more information, visit our new Donating Manuscripts page.

For more information, please contact  Rare Books and Manuscripts at 317-232-3671 or via email.

Reducing barriers to access: Fine-free libraries

If you’ve ever accidentally kept a stack of books for an extra week, or needed an additional few days to watch a borrowed DVD, you’ve felt the pinch of the resulting library fines. While fines might be as little as a dime a day for a book, they seem to accrue exponentially. Not only are fines an annoyance, but they can be a legitimate barrier to service. Every day at circulation desks across the state, public library users are denied borrowing privileges, sometimes years after accruing fines, because of balances owed for overdue or long-lost items.

There are many reasons patrons acquire fines. For some, it’s simple forgetfulness. For others, it’s a larger issue stemming from life circumstances like a lack of transportation, work schedules or changes in housing. For example, when moving between families, foster children may forget to return borrowed books from their previous library. Or when packing up and leaving a precarious living situation, people may need to leave their library materials behind.

What if there was a way for library users to start over from scratch? Or what if there was more leniency for people who needed to keep books an extra week or so? Luckily, over the past years, there has been a nationwide push toward eliminating library fines, and the push isn’t only coming from library users, but the librarians themselves.

In Indiana, over 20 public library systems have opted to go fine free. This includes but is not limited to: Kendallville Public Library, Evansville Vanderburgh County Public Library, West Lafayette Public Library, Monroe County Public Library, Vigo County Public Library, Owen County Public Library, Morgan County Public Library, Anderson Public Library and more. Many more library boards are considering the move, especially after the Chicago Public Library boldly made the move in October 2019. The Indianapolis Public Library recently stated that in an effort to provide equitable service they are suspending the accrual of all fines and fees until further notice. Each library’s policy varies, and some fees may still exist for extremely overdue, damaged, or lost items, so please check with your local library for more details.

But don’t libraries need the money? While the public might perceive library fines as a major source of income for the library, they’re not. In Indiana, about 87% of a library’s budget comes from local sources like property taxes.1 Of the nearly $400 million in total revenue Indiana libraries received in 2019, only $6 million – about 1.5% – was received from fines and fees. Additionally, many systems have practiced writing off “uncollectable” fines over the years. At times, the cost of recovering materials or lost items can cost more than the materials are worth in staff time and collection service fees. Losing materials has always been a cost of doing business.

Some opponents to the fine-free library movement believe that fines and due dates teach “responsibility,” and not having them will encourage patrons to ignore due dates and hoard library materials. What some libraries are finding is the opposite. When fines are eliminated, not only are older materials are being recovered, and most items are still coming back before they are considered lost.

As a patron, what should you do if you have a large amount of library fines, but your library hasn’t eliminated fines? Try reaching out to the director or circulation manager at your library. While each library’s policy varies, some libraries offer the ability to reduce or waive fines and lost book fees in some situations. Some libraries periodically offer “amnesty” weeks where the fines on any books returned are forgiven. Some even offer opportunities to pay down fines with canned good donations or by tracking time read to “read off fines.” Some libraries write fines off as uncollectable over time, so the fines you thought you owed may have already been eliminated years ago. Please don’t let the $17 in fines you racked up in 1993 deter you from checking out all that’s happening in today’s public libraries.

1. 2018 Indiana Public Library Annual Report

This post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office, Indiana State Library.

Toucan Tuesdays author interview series to start this month

Do you love authors? The Indiana Center for the Book is excited to announce an opportunity for you to learn more about Indiana authors through their new initiative, Toucan Tuesdays at 2:00! Join us on the Indiana State Library’s Facebook page on select Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Eastern Time for a weekly Facebook premiere party to watch the newest installment and share your comments in real time. You do not need to have a Facebook account to watch the videos.

Each video features an Indiana writer being interviewed by the Indiana Young Readers Center’s chatty correspondent, Sammy the Interviewing Toucan. Join us for one or more of these premieres:

June 9 – Barb Shoup
June 16 – Maurice Broaddus
June 23 – Skila Brown
June 30 – Rob Harrell
July 7 – Peggy Reiff Miller
July 14 – B. A. Williamson
July 21 – Michele Eich
July 28 – Meg DamakasAfter making their premieres on social media, the full interviews will be available to stream on the Indiana State Library’s YouTube page.

If you are an Indiana author and are interested in being interviewed, please reach out to Suzanne Walker. We are interested in authors of fiction and poetry for all ages.

We hope you can join us!

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Romm and Nicholson: The book thief and the Hoosier author

Book inscriptions are a common find among the thousands of volumes held by the Indiana State Library. Some are mundane: An author’s hastily scribbled signature dedicated to a fan or a generic holiday greeting from the previous owner’s grandmother. Others are more intriguing and can lead a researcher down some interesting paths. Within a collection of books by Hoosier author Meredith Nicholson are five bearing inscriptions to a certain Charles Romm, Esq. A few of these books also have typed letters from Nicholson directed to Romm at an address in New York City pasted within the inside cover. So who exactly was Charles Romm?

A quick internet search led to the book “Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It” by Travis McDade (ISLM Z1029.M33 2013).1 The answer, in short, is that Charles Romm was a prominent New York bookseller who specialized in rare and valuable editions, while at the same time helming a wide-reaching gang of book thieves who plundered libraries of their literary treasures, which he later sold to his customers.

While it is impossible to ascertain that the Charles Romm referenced in the Nicholson inscriptions and correspondence is the same Romm described in McDade’s book, it seems highly likely that both men are the same person. Romm’s New York bookstore was located at 110 4th Ave. The address Nicholson sent his correspondence to was 224 E. 12th St., a mere two blocks away. Moreover, some of the correspondence speaks of publishing and other literary concerns, indicating that Romm was somehow involved in the business of books and not merely a fan. It is unlikely that Nicholson, who was a best-selling author in the early 20th century, knew anything of Romm’s more underhanded dealings and merely assumed he was corresponding with one of New York’s most preeminent booksellers.

Letter from Nicholson pasted inside the cover of “The Madness of May.” The Mayfield-Thompson feud is also mentioned in a biography of James Whitcomb Riley.2 Riley publicly accused the poet Mayfield of plagiarizing fellow Hoosier author Thompson. However, another source3 indicates that Frank Mayfield was a pseudonym used by Daniel W. Starnes and not, as Nicholson states, by Thompson himself.

The more unsavory side to Romm’s business is as fascinating as it is upsetting. His book theft “gang” consisted of men who would go to public libraries and universities, pose as patrons or students and either steal books directly from the shelves or borrow them and never return them. According to McDade, “There was no collection of books too small to escape the attention of the gang. From archives to athaneaeums, from local libraries to historical societies, the men in the ring scouted, indexed and pilfered them all.”1

Clipping from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), Jan. 5, 1932. Available from newspapers.com.

Many libraries attempted to counter this type of theft by moving their more valuable items to closed stacks and non-circulating collections. However, this only caused Romm’s thieves to pivot operations and they managed to continue their thefts through careful observation of libraries, librarians and security systems. Eventually, the law caught up with Romm and in November of 1931 he was indicted on grand larceny charges. He ultimately ended up serving a little over a year in New York’s notorious Sing Sing prison before dying a couple of years after his release.1

Inscription from Otherwise Phyllis (1919). “Inscribed with all good wishes, and with my thanks for his kind interest in my work, to Charles Romm, Esq.”

It is unknown why Nicholson inscribed so many books to Romm. Perhaps Romm truly was a fan of Nicholson’s work. Or perhaps – and this seems more likely – he sought inscriptions on first editions to make them more desirable for his customers. Whatever the reason, it seems remarkable that this small set of books all bearing inscriptions to Romm has managed to stay together for almost a century, making their way from Nicholson in Indianapolis to Romm in New York and somehow making the trek  back again to Indianapolis, ultimately to reside in the Indiana State Library.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

[1] McDade, Travis. Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

[2] Van Allen, Elizabeth J. “James Whitcomb Riley: A Life.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

[3] Zach, Karen Bazzani. “Crawfordsville, Athens of Indiana.” Charleston, SC: Aracadia, 2003.

Firefly season – Voting, summer reading challenges, nominating and more!

Children’s librarians across the state of Indiana know May as Firefly voting season. For the past five years, May has been the month that libraries have showcased the five nominated picture books through programs, displays and outreach, leading up to inviting their youngest patrons, ages 0-5 to vote on their favorite book to win the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Like most things in 2020, this year the voting season for the Firefly Award will be different.

Voting for the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award has been extended until July 31
Libraries now have the opportunity to offer the Firefly program virtually and as a part of their summer reading programs. Libraries are welcome to showcase the Firefly program in whatever way they choose using the following resources:

Virtual Viewing: Patrons can view all five books through recorded videos available on the Indiana State Library’s Firefly website. The videos will be available until July 31, at which time they will be taken down.

Virtual Voting: After patrons have viewed the books, either in person, or through the recorded videos, they are welcome to use the online voting form to record the votes of any members of their household ages 0-5. An effort should be made to limit votes to one vote per child.

Program Guide: Every year the award committee collects craft ideas, activities, songs and rhymes to support each book. These are perfect for patrons to do while at home or for children’s librarians to use in virtual storytimes. The 2020 Program Guide is available for download here.

Libraries and childcare providers may collect votes in any manner of ways. They can encourage their customers to use the online form or they can collect votes themselves and email their tallies to Suzanne Walker at the Indiana State Library. Tallies will be accepted until July 31. If libraries choose to collect votes themselves they might do this through hands raised during a virtual storytime, phone calls, email or even snail mail.

In addition, libraries are encouraged to offer Firefly voting directly through their summer reading programs, either as a challenge in their online reading platform like Beanstack or READsquared, or as simply a task that patrons can complete for a prize or incentive. This is the first year that the Firefly deadline has been extended to coincide with summer reading. It is a great opportunity to engage the public in these quality picture books while at the same time providing virtual content for summer reading.

How to add the Firefly Award to your Beanstack Summer Reading Program
The Indiana State Library recognizes that Beanstack is just one option for tracking summer reading participation online. We offer these directions as a guide and perhaps as inspiration for any library who is using Beanstack or any other online summer reading platform. These directions are being included as a courtesy and should not be considered to be an endorsement of Beanstack or any other summer reading tool.

Creating a Beanstack Learning Track to feature the Firefly Award is a great way to get your young readers connected to this fantastic program! You’ll need a title, a description which you can copy from the Firefly Award website, badge details, patron details – where you can set age limitations for our 0-5 year old customers – and then you’ll add the activities. Each book can be a separate activity with a link URL to the video. The sixth activity of your learning track will be the link to the voting site. Beanstack has some helpful tools for learning how to build your program. Learning tracks are covered here.

For a step-by-step guide to adding the Firefly Award to your Beanstack Summer Reading Program download the Firefly Beanstack Activity Badge put together by the North Manchester Public Library. Alternatively, you could offer the Firefly as its own program. Directions for that are here.

New Facebook Group
The Firefly Award Committee has started a new Facebook group for any librarian or childcare provider who works with the Firefly Award. The purpose of the group is to share ideas and inspirations and to generally support each other and the book award. You can find the group by searching for “Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award.” Once you have located the group, click Join Group to request to join.

Nominating Titles for 2021
This summer, not only do we want you to keep the votes coming, we are also starting to collect nominations for the 2021 Firefly season. Nominations will be accepted from June 1-Oct. 1, 2020. We recognize that it may be difficult for libraries to access new picture books this year due to budget constraints. We encourage librarians who can to go ahead and nominate several titles.

If you work with youth in a library, either in a school or in a public library, you are eligible to nominate as many titles as you wish. Nominating is easy. Just send an email to Suzanne Walker. Include in your email: title, author, illustrator and publication date.

Criteria for book nominations are as follows:

  • Must be published by July 1 of the current year, or any time in the previous year and still be in print. Currently, this ranges from Jan. 1, 2019 to July 1, 2020.
  • Possess strong child appeal.
  • Demonstrate three or more of the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read®: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing.
  • Have artistic quality with text that supports the illustrations or a compelling narrative provided by illustrations.
  • Diversity and inclusion are encouraged.

The nomination pool will be narrowed down to five titles by the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee by January 2021. More information on ballots and how to vote will be available in early 2021.

Watch for Fireflies
Finally, we are entering the outdoor evening firefly season in Indiana. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Say’s firefly is one of the earliest emerging fireflies in Indiana and may be seen from early May through mid-July. What better tie in for the Firefly Award program than actual fireflies?

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.