Restarting resource sharing

As Indiana libraries closed their doors this spring during Gov. Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, resource sharing between libraries ground to a halt. As libraries across the state closed, the Indiana State Library made the difficult decision to suspend interlibrary loan delivery service. In fact, no delivery service was provided by the statewide courier during April and for most of May.

As public libraries began reopening their doors as early as May 4 – when allowed per the governor’s Back on Track Indiana plan – delivery service resumed shortly after on May 11. With academic libraries reopening later this summer, nearly 90% of our libraries are now back on InfoExpress and sharing books via Evergreen Indiana and our numerous resource sharing services.

During the shutdown, books in transit were safely held either at the borrowing libraries or at NOW Courier’s statewide hubs. Most materials have since been returned to their home libraries, but the company’s staff is still working to sort through a backlog of parcels, while working to accommodate libraries’ shifting schedules and reduced hours.

In response to the virus, and following industry best practices, NOW Courier has implemented safety measures for handling and delivering materials including wearing face masks and gloves and limiting contact with library staff. Additionally, safety precautions are being taken at libraries such as hand washing and quarantining of shipped materials and books. While some research suggests the COVID-19 virus cannot survive on most print materials for more than 24 hours, many libraries are opting to quarantine items for 72 hours or longer. Liquids and other disinfecting methods like heat and UV light are not recommended as they may damage materials. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shared in a March 30 webinar for library staff that they do not believe library materials are a transmission route for COVID-19.

Now that most libraries are back to sharing, we encourage Hoosiers to take advantage of the resource sharing options offered by their library. If your library doesn’t have a book you need, ask circulation staff if it is available electronically or via interlibrary loan. Finally, all Hoosiers have access to INSPIRE.IN.gov, a free online library that includes research materials, news publications, eBooks, and K-12 resources.

A fall resource sharing update for Indiana library staff is scheduled for Oct. 2. Additional information and a link to registration can be found here.

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

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.

2020 LSTA grants for libraries

Once again, the Indiana State Library will be the recipient of over $3 million dollars in Library Services and Technology Act grant funding through the Grants to State Library Agencies program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In IMLS’s latest budget, the federally-funded Institute received $6.2 million more for the LSTA program than the previous year, the largest increase in 12 years. These funds will be divided among all states and US territories based on population – a great reason to participate in the 2020 census.

To see how Indiana used grant funds received during the 2018-19 grant year, check out the following video created by Angela Fox, public library and LSTA consultant:

While a majority of the funds received for 2020-21 will be used to continue support for statewide services like INSPIRE.in.gov, Evergreen Indiana, SRCS and the Talking Book and Braille Library, a portion of the money will be available for 2020 LSTA grants for libraries. Two types of grants will be offered: A technology grant of up to $8,000 and a digitization grant up to $15,000. These grants are available to most libraries, including public, academic, institutional, special and school libraries.

Proposed projects should have demonstrable benefits to the library’s users and community members as a result of new products and services offered through the grant project. Library staff considering applying for a grant should reach out to LSTA consultant Angela Fox. Angela is available to answer questions about proposed projects and even provide a cursory review of applications before they are submitted.

All grant applications will be reviewed by a panel of State Library staff and external reviewers, which will be assembled from public, school and academic libraries across Indiana. Grant applications are due Mar. 20 and award announcements should be made by May 2020.

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

Helping librarians that serve the incarcerated – the Fall 2019 Institutional Workshop

Part of the mission of the Indiana State Library is to provide library services to state government and its branches and employees, as well as to provide specialized library services and training. One of the specialized populations that our Statewide Services Division serves are the prison and institutional librarians across the state. The Indiana State Library provides resource sharing services (e.g., interlibrary loan and book delivery) to the institutions. Additionally, Statewide Services staff provide continuing education to correctional staff, who are required to attend training to maintain American Correctional Association accreditation. To aid these special libraries, the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office staff provides site visits throughout the year. Finally, the library hosts an annual workshop where the correctional librarians can gather, network and learn about topics that can help them serve the incarcerated.

Each year, the morning of the workshop begins at the Indianapolis Public Library’s bookstore, where library staff and other nonprofits are invited to “shop” the books remaining after the public sale at no cost. State library staff are present to assist institutional libraries in shipping their materials back to their facilities via the InfoExpress courier service. This year, prison library staff gathered 50 large bags full of books, many of which were like-new popular titles – including James Patterson and Stuart Woods – to fill the shelves of their facility’s library.

The afternoon workshop was held in the Indiana State Library’s History Reference Room. Nicole Brock, ISL’s resource sharing coordinator, provided an overview and refresher on the state library’s resource sharing services. Wendy Knapp, ISL’s deputy director of Statewide Services, gave a presentation on library trends and the future of libraries as a whole, which helped prison libraries understand the current issues and climate of the profession.

Dr. Elizabeth Angeline Nelson (left) and Dr. Susan B. Hyatt

Finally, our featured speakers were Dr. Susan B. Hyatt and Dr. Elizabeth Angeline Nelson, two faculty members from the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts. Hyatt and Nelson have both worked within institutional walls on education and research projects, including the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and the Indiana Women’s Prison History Project. Correctional staff learned about these programs and were encouraged to think about ways they could support continuing education in their libraries, of which many already hold or are seeking college degrees.

Attendees left with three contact hours which they can apply to their continuing education requirements. Planning has already begun for next year’s workshop and book giveaway, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 23, 2020. For more information on the workshop, contact Statewide Services or subscribe to the Institutional Libraries Listserv here.

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

An overview of the federal E-rate program

The federal E-rate program began over 20 years ago with a focus on providing low-income areas, schools, libraries and healthcare providers with telecommunications services, internet access and internal connections, including installation and maintenance at discounted rates. It is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission and administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company. Within USAC, there is a division specifically for E-rate in schools and libraries.

While the Telecommunications Act that established the E-rate program was passed in 1996, it really grew out of the Communications Act of 1934 that established the FCC and aimed to make telephone service universal, bringing it to rural communities across the nation. E-rate originally focused on both telephone and internet service, but in 2014 the E-rate modernization order was given in an attempt to close the Wi-Fi gap by providing only broadband funding. I guess they figured everyone had telephone service at this point, so yay for us!

The E-rate funding year runs from July 1 through June 30, but libraries actually start the process of applying for funds in the previous year. Right now, folks are starting to join the consortium or notifying vendors that they are seeking services for the funding year 2020, which won’t start until July 1, 2020. So, they’re always thinking at least six months ahead and usually an entire year.

This is the general timeline of the filing windows for the various forms, but the exact dates are announced through USAC’s website.

The State has our own State Technology Grant Fund that we use to help reimburse public libraries for a portion of their internet bills. This is allocated from the Build Indiana Fund and is a completely separate program from E-rate. We do, however, take into account the amount of money a library would be reimbursed by E-rate whether or not they actually file for it. So, if a library received a 90% discount from E-rate, we would only look at that 10% left when determining how much to reimburse the library from the State Technology Grant Fund.

Something that we aren’t involved with here at the State Library, but which may be useful to residents, would be the Lifeline program, which is also administered by USAC. The Lifeline program provides discounted phone and internet rates for those whose income is 135% or less than the federal poverty guidelines, as well as those who participate in federal assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit and certain Tribal programs. They may also qualify if their child or dependent participates in any of these programs.

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

Rethinking how we talk about the unserved

For over 100 years, the Indiana State Library has sought a solution to the “unserved” areas of Indiana. As someone who grew up in one of these areas, this has been a topic that I have long wanted to see addressed. As I look back at some of the articles written in the 1930s in Library Occurrent, I find that this issue has been on the minds of folks working with libraries for a long time. Maybe it’s time we started to change the conversation. What if we stopped talking about “unserved areas” and started talking about the “library deserts” that exist in our state?

In calling the areas unserved, we have unintentionally painted this as a problem for the libraries to deal with, and one that seems to be the fault of the libraries. “Why won’t the library serve those people?” First of all, having grown up in rural Hancock County before Sen. Beverly Gard was able to make changes with CEDIT, and change the service area, this was something the folks at the Hancock County Public Library wanted to see changed. While my friends and I would make the 20-30 minute drive to the Hancock County Public Library to do research, we were constantly teased by the worlds that could be opened up to us through all the books available for check out, but not to us. As high school students, all striving for admission and financial assistance to colleges, our focus was beyond the “why” we couldn’t check out the books, beyond the “why” behind the fact that we had to purchase most of the books we wanted to read. We had more immediate concerns that would impact our futures greatly, and didn’t even realize how much we were missing just because our neighbors had fought against paying taxes to the library.

By talking about library deserts, we can begin to shape the conversation around the citizens of this state who are at a disadvantage. Yes, they are welcome to go to any public library and use the materials while there, but it’s not the same level of access that the residents of that district have. It is a civic inequity that exists because of decisions made long ago and/or by a vocal group of individuals striving to protect their own interests. Every child in this state can expect to receive an education, starting at least with kindergarten. But there is so much work to do before those children ever get to kindergarten. Every Child Ready to Read and other early literacy programs have been growing in popularity throughout the public library network. But what about those pre-K kids who don’t have a public library of their own? Maybe they’ll still get to story hours, but what fun will it be when all of their friends get to leave with stacks with books and they have to go home empty-handed? And our colleagues in library districts that are juxtaposed with these library deserts have to have difficult conversations every day explaining what we all know: that library service is not free, that patrons contribute to the fiscal success of every library through some kind of tax and that the individuals who are paying those taxes should not have to carry the burden for everyone who doesn’t pay taxes.

Inequities among students who have restricted access to adequate broadband, varying levels of digital and general literacy and inequity in income noticeably affects their potential, as highlighted by this February 2019 ACT report. Obviously, library access does not solve all these problems, but ensuring all citizens have a basic level of access to information may help level the playing field for all our citizens. The ability to convey the benefits of library access to all members of our communities, and to all citizens of the state could be enhanced if we made a minor shift in our language to better reach more people.

This post was written by Wendy Knapp, deputy director of Statewide Services at the Indiana State Library.

SRCS Version 6 update and trainings

SRCS, the Statewide Remote Circulation Service, will be undergoing a facelift this June as the software is upgraded to Version 6. SRCS is an interlibrary loan service sponsored by the Indiana State Library that links the catalogs of over 200 public and academic libraries and facilitates resource sharing statewide.

To help Indiana prepare for the leap, Debbie Hensler, product manager from Auto-Graphics, visited Indiana to provide three trainings for Indiana library staff. Debbie’s trainings kicked off the morning of April 30, 2019 in Indianapolis with an in-person and webinar training in which over 100 library staff from around the state participated. The training was recorded for later viewing and will be available on the SRCS website before the upgrade.

The next day, Debbie, Nicole Brock and Jen Clifton took a trip up I-65 and visited the northern portion of the state and held a training at the beautiful Crown Point Library. Staff from 11 public and academic libraries in Northern Indiana were present for this training.

After returning to Indianapolis, the trio headed south to New Albany. The Floyd County library graciously hosted our training, as well as staff from three other southern Indiana libraries in their Teen Scene. With their proximity to Louisville, and the upcoming 2019 Kentucky Derby, we enjoyed the pre-race excitement as many staff wore their finest hats and even broadcast the first call bugle over the library’s PA system.

Changes SRCS users can expect to see in the new version are:

Visual
• The site will have a cleaner appearance.
• The menus will now be more mobile-friendly.

Searching
• A rebuilt search engine will provide a faster, smoother search behind the scenes, meaning no more flickering book covers!
• Search results will be easier to expand or narrow.

Customization
• Simplified drag-and-drop request form editing.
• Staff dashboard – Menus and preferred links.
• UX admin- Simplified customization options and homepage creation.

These changes will be implemented for SRCS in June. The system will be unavailable from Friday, June 21, 2019 at 8 p.m. Eastern through Monday, June 24, 2019 at 8 a.m. Eastern. New requests will not be able to be placed during this time.

If you have any questions, please direct them to statewide services at the Indiana State Library.

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

Here to serve Indiana libraries – the Library Development Office

The Indiana State Library’s Library Development Office has had a couple of staffing changes this past year, which has resulted in some confusion over where to direct questions. While all of us are available to help with any question you may have, here’s an updated list of the staff in our office, who are available to serve you Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.

Consultants
Hayley Trefun – Statewide Library Consultant – Hayley recently joined us as the new consultant specializing in E-Rate and general public library and trustee issues. If you have E-Rate forms to turn in, a long range plan that needs to be approved or a board who needs training, reach out to her at 317-232-1938.
Angela Fox – LSTA and Federal Programs Consultant – Angela is the consultant responsible for the Indiana Public Libraries Annual Report and statistics, as well as Library Service and Technology Act grants. Like Hayley, Angela is also available for general public library and trustee questions at 317-234-6550.

Resource Sharing and Interlibrary Loan
Nicole Brock – Resource Sharing Coordinator – Nicole is the new coordinator for our resource sharing programs, including: InfoExpress library courier service, SRCS, INSPIRE and the Indiana Share program. She can be reached at 317-232-3699.

Digitization
Connie Rendfeld – Digital Initiatives Librarian – Connie coordinates the Indiana Memory statewide digital collection, and serves as a point person for Indiana’s DPLA hub and the InDiPres digital preservation initiative.
Jill Black – Digital Initiatives Specialist – Jill assists with scanning and metadata for Indiana Memory projects, and provides general consultations and training for libraries embarking on digitization projects.

Other support
Terry Black – Administrative Assistant – Terry provides secretarial support to library consultants in the Library Development and Professional Development Offices. Terry maintains our office records, which include E-Rate forms, legal, history and correspondence files. Terry also maintains the Jobs page and coordinates “Read To Me,” an early literacy program for children of individuals who are incarcerated. You can reach Terry via email or at 800-451-6028 and she will direct your question wherever it needs to go.
Jen Clifton – Library Development Office Supervisor – Oversees all of the aforementioned services, and is happy to either answer or redirect questions on any of the services. 317-232-3715

Don’t forget, your library also has an assigned regional consultant from our Professional Development Office who is available for site visits, new director visits, staff trainings, robot/maker/VR kit deliveries and other general questions or advice. Let us know how we can assist your library this year!

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

IMDPLA Fest recap

IMDPLA Fest: a one day discussion of all things Indiana Memory – Digital Public Library of America. You can find the region’s best and brightest digitization minds sharing thought-provoking new projects, discussing best practices and elevating the conversation surrounding digital preservation…

…and me.

I’m not a digitization specialist in even the most generous sense of the word. But I do work with them, and I oversee a grant program that funds some of the projects. In order to better understand just what those LSTA digitization monies are paying for – and to follow the larger discussions surrounding digitization projects – I attended the fest as an onlooker with a vested interest. Turns out, you don’t have to be an expert to benefit from the expert discussion.

Keynote speaker John Bracken, executive director of DPLA, summarized recent studies on children’s increasing internet use, finding it to be a trend parents absolutely needed to embrace if they wanted their child to succeed, while simultaneously being something that should terrify them. The odd juxtaposition got a laugh, but was also a was a fitting segue to a discussion of the necessity of DPLA, and its informational gatekeepers, to adapt to changing technologies and to take quality, vetted content to people at their points of access.

There were concurrent breakout sessions on large-scale digitization projects, loosely broken into two tracks: visual resources and manuscripts. Those interested in visual resources were offered sessions on The Iditarod of Photo Digitization: Junior Achievement and Indiana: 1800s Land Records Accessed by Township Address. People like myself, who followed the manuscripts, were treated to an overview on the work of digitizing the letters and journals of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, and one about the challenges inherent in digitizing employee records from the Pullman-Standard Railroad Car Manufacturing Company. And isn’t that food for thought: one day, your employee records, complete with notes on performance issues, could be eagerly set upon by future digital historians, preserved for all the world to see. Decades from now, a room full of scholars could be debating whether your since-expired self has any right to privacy regarding your records, or whether your history of habitual tardiness or not playing well with others now belongs to the annals of history. Or, if we’re travelling down that rabbit hole, consider those journals from the sainted Theodore Guerin. Her letters and journals are darkly humorous, somewhat pointed, deeply personal… and now preserved for future study. They are a wonderful, thought-provoking resource that brings such humanity to this particular bit of history. They are also a reminder that I might want to seriously consider setting fire to all of my overly angsty middle school writings.

A break for lunch was followed by some lightning sessions highlighting useful digitization tools and sites, before wrapping up the day with two practical, nuts-and-bolts overviews on issues every digitization project faces: questions of copyright and fair use and best practices for creating useable metadata.

The back half of the day gave concrete instructions for people in the field, and an appreciation of the complexity of the issues for observers like me. If you ever thought that digitization merely involved slapping down a page on a scanner and calling it a day – well, this meeting of the minds would disavow you of that idea. My appreciation of the work of digitization continues to grow, as does my need to shred a terribly mortifying childhood diaries. You know… just in case.

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.

New Directors Workshop 2018

On Aug. 15, 2018, at the Indiana State Library, 32 new public library directors, representing 24 counties in Indiana, were introduced to each other and to the Library Directors One-Stop Guide. Public library consultants Karen Ainslie and Angela Fox hosted the annual New Director Workshop and presented on multiple topics.

The workshop offered an orientation to the many resources of the guidebook, including contacts for public library directors. The guidebook’s 20 chapters inform directors on the many tasks and responsibilities necessary for the day-to-day management of public libraries.

Welcome, new directors.

The opening presentation focused on the distinct roles of the director versus the board, including standards, library laws, certification and professional development. Additional presentations covered sharing resources, the INSPIRE database and other digital resources. The morning activities concluded with a walking tour of the Indiana State Library.

In the afternoon, directors heard about the roles that the Department of Local Government Finance and State Board of Accounts play in the budget and financing of public libraries. A survey of grants was followed by a session on public purchasing and public works to familiarize directors with the bid process and obtaining quotes. Also included was an overview of the children’s services provided by the Indiana State Library. The day concluded with a group picture taken near the Great Hall.

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie and Angela Fox, public library consultants, Indiana State Library.