Indiana’s public library districts and the 2020 census

The 2020 census figures are in, and Indiana’s population grew by nearly a third of a million Hoosiers over the last 10 years. While many were hopeful this might be the decade Indiana would reach the 7 million mark, we fell short of that at 6,785,528 residents. Some of the largest areas of growth were in the donut counties surrounding Indianapolis – specifically Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Hendricks and Boone – as well as Tippecanoe, Allen and Lake counties.

What do the decennial changes in population mean for your local public library? Over the next year or two, some patrons and staff might see changes in hours or requirements for future hires. Public libraries in Indiana are required to meet a set of standards required by statute, based on the size of their population service area. These standards dictate levels of service, including the number of hours a library must be open, as well as minimum staff qualifications related to education and experience for professional positions.

In Indiana, public libraries serving over 40,000 residents are considered Class A libraries, while mid-sized libraries serving 10,000-39,999 residents are Class B, and those serving fewer than 10,000 are Class C libraries. Just for perspective, over half, or 128 out of the 236 public libraries statewide, are Class C libraries with the lesser requirements.

Indiana public library classes are reevaluated every 10 years following the decennial census. A change in service population can affect a library’s class size, causing the library to need to reexamine their service models to accommodate the new or lost residents. In 2020, five public library systems – Goshen, LaGrange, Newburgh Chandler, West Lafayette and Westfield-Washington – increased their class size, while four systems moved down a class. For those who moved up a class, some will find they need to increase their hours, and staff accepting new positions may need to meet minimum educational requirements set in Indiana’s certification rules. This information was communicated to the affected directors in a letter from the Indiana State Library.

Indiana public libraries receive a majority of their funding through property tax dollars, so changes in population may also gradually affect a library’s tax base. Areas that have lost population may subsequently have lost funding, which disproportionately affects the smallest libraries in the state, many of whom serve fewer than 3,000 residents.

Finally, individuals who do not live in a public library service area who purchase non-resident cards may find that their fee has changed. That is because each library’s non-resident fee is based on the library’s cost per capita in the previous year, which will now be based on the 2020 population.

A table showing service area population changes for each library district from 2010 to 2020 can be viewed here.

Evaluating the census data also gave STATS Indiana a chance to update the interactive map of public library districts and contract areas in the state, which can be viewed here.

A special thanks to Katherine Springer, state data coordinator, for her assistance collaborating with the Indiana Business Research Center to examine and compile the 2020 census data for libraries. Thanks also to Angela Fox for providing public library survey data that served as the basis for determining library districts.

Libraries with questions about their service areas can contact Jen Clifton in the Indiana State Library’s Library Development Office.

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

Maximize your borrowing potential through Indiana’s reciprocal borrowing program

Did you know that as a registered borrower at an Indiana public library, you may have access to the collections of over 170 other public libraries? This is possible through the reciprocal borrowing program, one of the best kept secrets in Indiana public libraries. This blog post will share information about reciprocal borrowing, as well as other options for borrowing from other libraries.

Statewide Reciprocal Borrowing Covenant
While “statewide” is in the name, we will add a disclaimer that not all 236 of the state’s public libraries districts are participants. However, there are 172 currently participating districts all over the state. If you are a patron of a participating library, you can show your home library card, in person, at any of the other participating libraries and receive a borrower’s card with reciprocal borrowing privileges. There is no cost to participate in this service unless you incur late or lost item fees for items borrowed. Please check with the circulation staff at the library you are visiting for details about what is available to reciprocal patrons. Some services, like access to e-books and interlibrary loan, may not be available to reciprocal patrons per local policy.

Local Reciprocal Borrowing Covenants
Some library districts have opted to partner only with nearby districts to extend borrowing privileges to the patrons of neighboring libraries. These may include county-wide agreements or agreements between libraries that are close in proximity to each other. While the Indiana State Library collects information on which libraries are participating in such agreements, the circulation staff at your library can give you the most up to date information about whether or not they have a reciprocal agreement with other local libraries. There is no cost to participate in this service, unless you incur late or lost item fees.

Public Library Access Card
If your library is not participating in either of these reciprocal agreements, you can purchase access to all of the 236 public libraries in the state through the Public Library Access Card program. With a PLAC card, a borrower can visit any of the state’s 236 public libraries and show their home library’s borrowing card to receive a card from that library. PLAC cards may be purchased at the circulation desk at any public library. The cost of a PLAC card in 2022 is $65 per person per year and cards may be used for 12 months from the date of purchase. Before purchasing a card, a borrower must first have a current borrower card (or paid non-resident card, if they live in an area with no library service) from a public library district. For more information on the PLAC program, visit this page.

Interlibrary Loan
If you are interested in accessing the books or media on shelves at other Indiana public libraries, but are unable to visit in person, enquire with your local public library about interlibrary loan or other borrowing options. There is a statewide network of delivery vehicles that transport library materials around the state daily.

Evergreen Indiana
Is your public library an Evergreen Indiana library? Then you already have access to most of the materials at other libraries at over 100 other Evergreen libraries. Simply request materials from other Evergreen libraries to be shipped to your home library, or show your green Evergreen Indiana card to borrow in person from other participating libraries.

Please note that while libraries are happy to share with other libraries, whenever possible, materials should always be returned directly to the lending library, or the library from which that item was borrowed in the case of interlibrary loans or Evergreen loans.

We are happy to let the secret out about these ways to maximize your borrowing power. Happy reading!

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director. She can be reached via email

Beyond books: “Libraries of Things” in Indiana public libraries

Books. Newspapers. Audio and visual materials. These are all things one would expect to find on the shelves in an Indiana public library. But did you know that many public libraries have been expanding their collections to lend non-traditional items, known as a Library of Things?

According to the Allen County Public Library’s website, a Library of Things is a “special collection of ‘things’ that you can check out with your library card. These items are meant to personally enrich your lifelong learning experience – whether it’s through interactive outdoor activities, baking, music or art.”

Greenwood Public Library Binge Boxes – Photo credit: Courtney Brown, Southeast regional coordinator

Over half of the public libraries in our state are offering additional materials. While their collections will vary, you might find:

  • Technology: Laptops, Chrome books, iPads and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, virtual reality (VR) headsets.
  • Crafting materials: Cricut and die cut machines and patterns, sewing machines, quilting and crochet materials, stamps.
  • Kitchen tools: Cake pans, cookie cutters, air fryers.
  • Audio and visual recording equipment, microphones, and light stands, karaoke machines.
  • Binge boxes: curated collections of books, movies and other materials about a topic.
  • Yard tools.
  • Tables and chairs.
  • Bicycles.
  • Seeds.
  • Passes to local attractions, including museums and pools.
  • Nature exploration/adventure packs: birding equipment, binoculars, telescopes.
  • Toys: Legos, puzzles, robots.

Kendallville Public Library – Snow shovel and homewares – Photo credit: Paula Newcom, Northeast regional coordinator

To see what your library offers, inquire with circulation staff or check your library’s website or catalog, including the Evergreen Indiana catalog. Some materials may require a rental agreement or deposit. Many materials are limited to a library’s own borrowers and are unlikely to transit or be available via interlibrary loan.

New Carlisle-Olive Township Public Library – Library of Things on display – Photo credit: Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator

Library staff interested in learning more about these collections may be interested in viewing this archived presentation for Indiana libraries, led by Dianne Connery, director of the Pottsboro Public Library in Texas, which is worth one LEU for Indiana library staff.

Enjoy exploring all your library has to offer beyond books!

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

Savings opportunities for Indiana libraries

Indiana Public Libraries can save money on commonly purchased goods and services by leveraging the power of quantity purchasing agreements. Here are several opportunities that libraries may not be aware of:

LibraryIndiana
LibraryIndiana is a purchasing portal created by the Indiana Department of Administration and Spendbridge for use specifically by Indiana Public Libraries. School libraries can make their purchases through K12Indiana.

LibraryIndiana allows users to shop statewide-negotiated contracts, organized into convenient online catalogs. Some of the items available through LibraryIndiana include:

  • DEMCO Library supplies – Library supplies, furniture, carts, books and more.
  • Office Depot – Office supplies, computers and electronics, cleaning supplies and more.
  • Verizon – Wireless plans and accessories.

There are even contracts for janitorial supplies, rental cars, maintenance and other services. There is no cost for libraries to use the portal, and they may even enjoy cost savings.

Library staff interested in browsing the offerings should send an email to request a login.

Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS)
The Midwest Collaborative for Library Services works with more than 70 library vendors to provide central licensing and discounted pricing on over 2,000 library products and services including databases, eJournals, eBooks, library supplies, software and equipment.

More than 200 Indiana libraries are currently MCLS members and can take advantage of these savings. For more information, contact Chrystal Pickell Vandervest at via email or at 800-530-9019 ext 401.

Indiana Department of Administration QPAs
Many of the State of Indiana’s general quantity purchasing agreements (QPAs) are open to other governmental units like public libraries. Some of the purchasing agreements include: interpretation services, office equipment and copiers, wireless service, and vehicles. A list of all current state QPAs can be browsed here.

NASPO
Finally, libraries who send a lot of books and packages out of state may be able to take advantage of reduced rates on small package delivery services through NASPO, the National Association of State Procurement Officials. FedEx and UPS currently have contracts to provide discount shipping services through the State of Indiana. More information can be found here.

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

Challenging Indiana library collections

Throughout 2021, various concerted efforts have been made nationwide to challenge and even censor library collections. Indiana libraries have not been exempt from these attempts. Some Indiana school board meetings have taken an unexpected turn from discussing operational and COVID protocols to attempts to gut school library collections related to hot-button topics like race or gender issues. Additionally, there was even an unsuccessful attempt at legislation that could have punished individual school and public library staff for distributing “harmful material” to minors.

Challenges to library materials have been around for as long as library collections have been around. Even in the late 19th and early 20th century, as most of Indiana public libraries were being formed, some protested fiction in public library collections, as novels were believed to be distracting and frivolous. More recently, attempts have been made to ban several books commonly regarded as classics, and even The Holy Bible made the list of top 10 challenged titles in 2015.

What is troubling about these efforts is that they go against the principles of libraries and librarianship, which is to provide free and open access to information, without judgment. One of the tenets of librarianship is the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which affirms:

…that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
  7. All people, regardless of origin, age, background or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom provides nationwide support, consulting and training for libraries facing collection challenges and works to track trends in challenges, geographically or title and topic-wise.

Public and school libraries are required by the Indiana Code and Indiana Administrative Code to have collection development or materials selection policies. Like other library policies, these policies are authored and enforced at the local level. Policies should include the rationale behind materials selection, in an effort to collect materials appropriate for the library’s own community, while being impartial and representative of all viewpoints.

Patrons or parents concerned with materials in their library’s collection are able to challenge materials. A library’s collection development policy should guide the process for challenges, reconsideration or withdrawal. Some libraries provide patrons with a paper or web form that can be completed and turned in to library staff. Others require the challenge be brought to the library or school board. While the public is welcome to challenge materials, withdrawal is rare, as it is likely the item was initially purchased in alignment with the library board’s policy. In some cases (e.g., for a children’s book including sensitive or mature topics) access may be restricted instead.

The Indiana State Library provides support and guidance to library staff in developing or revising their collection development policies and responding to challenges. Additionally, the Indiana Library Federation’s Legislative Advocacy and Intellectual Freedom Committees have been leaders in helping Indiana libraries face this year’s challenges. Hoosier librarians will continue to ensure there is something for everyone on Indiana library shelves.

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

Who’s in charge? Public library boards in Indiana

Public board meetings have been all over the news lately, and public libraries haven’t been exempt. Even a seemingly quiet place like a library can be subject to unpopular decisions and conflict daily, frustrating both staff and patrons. A well-functioning library board is an essential component of an effective and welcoming library, and there are a number of laws that help ensure a library has one.

So how do public library boards work in Indiana and what are their responsibilities? Nearly all of the 236 public libraries in Indiana are governed by a seven-member board of trustees. These trustees gather monthly, in person or electronically, to meet with the library’s director and assist them in leading the library, to propose and evaluate library policies, to monitor the library’s progress on its strategic plan and to approve expenditures in accordance with the library budget.

In Indiana, public library trustees are not elected, but instead appointed, by local elected officials which may include representatives from their local county and school corporation. Trustees serve four-year terms which may be renewed for up to four consecutive terms, or 16 years total. There are some exceptions where trustees may serve even longer than that (e.g., if a trustee had joined by filling in for a vacant partial term, or if a diligent search of a small community did not produce a new qualified candidate). Trustees receive no compensation for their service.

Public library trustees are community members of the library they serve. In fact, trustees are required to have resided in the service area of the library they will serve for at least two years immediately before becoming a trustee. Ideally, public library trustees should be library users themselves. They should be advocates for the library in the community. They should be lifelong learners and willing to seek professional development opportunities to hone their skills as a trustee. Most importantly, they should always make decisions with the community’s needs in mind. All public library trustees are required to take an oath of office before serving.

Per the Indiana Open Door law, public library board meetings are open to the public to attend. Whether or not public comment is on the agenda is determined locally by the policies of each library board. There are rare occasions that a board may hold an executive – or private – session, in which case they are required to post a meeting notice stating the reason for meeting in private. Boards are not allowed to vote or take final action in an executive session.

The Indiana State Library provides support for Indiana public library trustees in the form of consultations, trainings  – recorded, virtual or live – and even a trustee manual, recently updated for 2021. We are also happy to connect library patrons with their local library board if needed. We usually recommend that anyone with a board concern try to reach out to the library’s director first. If they would still like to contact the board, they can send correspondence care of the library or attend a public meeting.

If you are interested in serving as a trustee at your Indiana public library, you may contact the library board or the various appointing authorities in your service area to let them know you are interested in serving should a vacancy arise. Even then, the appointing authorities have the final decision on selection. Additionally, the appointing authorities are the only individuals with the power to remove a board member should the need ever arise.

To read the Indiana Code related to library board duties and composition, click here.

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

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The Indiana State Library is pleased to announce that it has received $3,471,810 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to support libraries and library services in the State of Indiana. The Institute of Museum and Library Services distributed $178 million to state libraries, who were then tasked with putting the funds to good use. The Indiana State Library opted to put more than half of their allocation directly in public and academic libraries’ hands by awarding ARPA sub-grants.

This isn’t the first grant the State Library created in response to the COVID pandemic. Last year’s CARES Act mini-grants helped libraries to defray the unexpected expenses necessitated by the COVID pandemic: masks and plexiglass dividers, stanchions for curbside pick-up, additional e-books and streaming movies for the times the buildings were closed, etc. 335 mini-grants were awarded to the tune of more than $650,000. While CARES addressed immediate needs, ARPA grants ask libraries to look into the future and consider what they can do to welcome back and safely serve the public moving forward.

So, what does that look like? For many, that’s finding a way to increase remote and outdoor access to library services. Some libraries envisioned outdoor areas equipped with Wi-Fi and furnishings to allow people to access the internet even while the doors might be closed, or to offer safer, open-air venues for programming. Others hope for some sort of bookmobile or delivery vehicle to make home services a reality. Many see the value in remote locker systems that would allow the public to pick up library materials after hours or during closures with no staff interaction. There are projects that expand the technology infrastructure, projects revolving around easily sanitized furnishings and better HVAC systems, and projects centered on staff training for a post-pandemic reality. In total, we received 154 applications detailing projects costing anywhere from the $5,000 minimum to even more than the $100,000 maximum possible award.

Now begins the challenging task of reviewing each project and deciding how much to award. While the state library aims to offer at least some assistance for all eligible projects, more than $7 million dollars was requested against the $2.4 million dollars allocated for aid. Grants should be awarded in October – which means there might be some exciting things happening at your local library later this year and through 2022!

All questions regrading ARPA grants may be sent here. The State Library’s ARPA Grants for Indiana Libraries page offers more information on the grants.

This blog post was written by Angela Fox, LSTA grant consultant in the Library Development Office at the Indiana State Library.

Federal CARES grants help Indiana libraries safely reopen

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States in early 2020, libraries began to close as a precaution for their communities and staff. The federal government rushed into action to aid industries affected by the virus and subsequent closures. On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the CARES Act, which designated $50,000,000 for libraries and museums through the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

IMLS distributed these CARES Act funds to state libraries based on the population served and to other library and museum grant applicants based on need. In Indiana, a portion of the funds received were used at the State Library to ensure book delivery and other statewide services could continue. However, a majority of the funds were made available as grants to public and academic libraries to reimburse COVID-related expenses.

Allowable reimbursements through Indiana’s CARES Act grants for libraries included:

Personal protective equipment and facilities supplies and services, including:

  • Masks, facial shields, gloves, sanitizer and wipes.
  • Plexiglass shields.
  • Washable keyboards and mice.
  • Webcams.
  • Curbside service stanchions and signage.
  • And all other items related to preventing and protecting staff and patrons against COVID-19.

Hotspots and digital inclusion supplies and services, including:

  • Mobile devices.
  • Signal boosters and antennae.
  • Wireless routers and corresponding subscriptions for the duration of the grant.
  • Remote learning and videoconferencing platforms for the duration of the grant.

E-content, including:

  • E-books, digital movies and music.
  • Databases.

There was a great demand for these grants and to date the Indiana State Library has awarded two rounds of 336 CARES Act grants to Indiana libraries. Over $200,000 has already been reimbursed to Indiana communities through the program.

These grants will help libraries recover from the unexpected costs of new hygiene and distancing needs, while enabling library staff to try new service models including curbside pickup, delivery and virtual programming. Additionally, libraries were able to expand their e-book offerings to better serve patrons enjoying library services from home.

Many libraries have since reopened their doors to the public and will continue to reintroduce in-person services as the virus wanes. However, many of the items purchased through these grants will continue to benefit libraries by helping them to operate safely and expand their new virtual and curbside services.

Questions about CARES Act grants for Indiana Libraries may be directed to LSTA grant consultant Angela Fox.

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

Library trustee resources

Maybe you were just appointed to a library board for the first time, or maybe you have been serving as a trustee for 12 years and could do with a little refresher – whatever the case may be, we’ve got you covered at the Library Development Office!

On our Library Trustee page, you can find a copy of the statewide library trustee manual, titled IN the Public Trust. There is a copy of the Certificate of Appointment that is filled out by the Appointing Authority at the beginning of every trustee term and Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement if it is every needed in the course of your duties on the board. You can find a template for board bylaws if you’re reviewing or updating your bylaws, which is required every three years by law. We also have links to the internal controls training required by the State Board of Accounts, which has to be completed by every board member just once. It can also be found on their website under Internal Control Standards.

In addition to these resources, we provide library boards with in-person – and now virtual – training upon request, as our schedules allow. There are five presentations types we may bring to your library board: a general overview, the trustee-director relationship, required and suggested policies, library expansion into unserved areas and a review of the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act. These training sessions are not public meetings under the Open Door Law, so you don’t need to schedule them to be held at your regular board meetings and you don’t need to post notice. We do, however, encourage you to host other nearby libraries during these training sessions in order to make the most of everyone’s time.

There may be times when we are unable to give presentations or when you don’t want to schedule a training for just a couple of members. In this instance, we have archived versions of most of our trustee presentations available on our trustee page under Webinars.

Other than the internal controls training through SBOA, none of these trainings are required by state law, but many library boards find them helpful in carrying out their duties. To learn more about our trustee offerings or schedule trustee training, contact Hayley Trefun in the Library Development Office at the Indiana State Library at 317-232-1938 or via email.

This post was written by Hayley Trefun, public library consultant, Library Development Office, Indiana State Library.

Resource sharing update recap

On Oct. 2, the Indiana State Library hosted a resource sharing update for the Indiana library community. The two-hour webinar detailed the latest resource sharing information in the state. This took the place of the annual Discovery to Delivery conference which is normally held in-person each year. This abbreviated virtual conference featured sessions from State Library staff and vendors, and was attended by public, academic, school and institutional library staff. State Librarian Jacob Speer and Nick Schenkel, director of the West Lafayette Public Library, kicked off the conference by welcoming attendees.

Sessions included:

EBSCO – Rick Rybak, Academic Regional Sales Manager, EBSCO
As of July 1, the INSPIRE virtual library has been updated to feature EBSCO databases, including an upgrade to Academic Search Complete. Rick explained some of the newer additions to EBSCO’s offerings, including eBooks and LearningExpress.

Teaching Books – Nick Glass, Founder and Executive Director
Nick introduced the group to the resources available through TeachingBooks, which is also part of INSPIRE. While TeachingBooks’ primary audience is educators and caregivers, Nick introduced the new Book Connections interface, which is intended for every reader. Resources on these sites include background information on books and authors, including complete audio and video book readings.

InfoExpress – Nicole Brock, Indiana State Library Resource Sharing Coordinator and NOW Courier Staff
Nicole gave an update on the courier service beginning with the shutdown in March to the gradual reopening this summer. Nicole passed along some best practices related to shipping. NOW Courier staff shared some insight on how their mission is aligned with the Indiana State Library’s and gave a preview of some upcoming developments, including an upgrade to a new platform which will reduce unnecessary stops.

SRCS and Indiana Share – Nicole Brock, Indiana State Library Resource Sharing Coordinator
Nicole Brock gave an update on participation in both interlibrary loan services, and a preview of upcoming SRCS enhancements. Following the presentation, Nicole also hosted an informal lunch discussion for SRCS libraries.

Project ReShare – Scott Garrison, Executive Director, Midwest Collaborative for Library Services
Scott capped off the morning by providing an update on Project ReShare, an exploratory service that has the potential to breakdown barriers between consortia and systems, putting the patron in the center and increasing access to library materials.

The recording of the workshop and presentations is posted to State Library’s Resource Sharing page.

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