1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Bourbon PL Director, Heather Barron_webI recently visited with Heather Barron, Director of the Bourbon Public Library. Bourbon Public Library is a lively branch bustling with activities. During the visit, I chatted with Heather about the library and the unique challenges and opportunities of working in a small branch; while talking, I found out about a wonderful program, 1000 books before kindergarten that they are involved with. This program helps to establish reading habits and comprehension for young readers.   Continue reading

Libraries, Scholarly Journals and Star Wars: A One-on-One with Justin Davis


A One-On-One Conversation with ISL Librarian Justin Davis
By: Ryan Brown

After an extensive tour of the Indiana State Library, Indiana Division Librarian Justin Davis was gracious enough to sit down with me for a brief interview. My mind was blown by the amount of historical items located at the ISL. There were numerous books, newspapers, maps, directories, and photographs positioned throughout the multi-level building. Everywhere I turned, Justin was showing me another item from the collection. I highly recommend that all Hoosiers come and visit the ISL — you will NOT be disappointed. Continue reading

A One-on-One Conversation with Brittany Kropf

I recently had a conversation with our new Rare Books & Manuscripts Librarian Brittany Kropf. Brittany recently started working at the Indiana State Library full-time and was an intern here while she studied at IUPUI in the Master of Library Science program. The following is an excerpt from our interview.
BrittanyKropf_pic_croppedRB: Please give a brief description of what your job is at the library…

BK: I work a lot with the Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, processing and getting them ready for patrons to access. Eventually we will be getting more collections, so I will be working with donors and any events that we need to do. Also, I’ll be helping digitize a lot of our collections. Part of my job is going to be working with the state-wide services side – Indiana Memory – and be the liaison between them and the public services. We will put together work flows and standardized procedures so that we can get materials digitized for the future. Continue reading

A One-on-One Conversation with Genealogy Librarian Crystal Ward

This article originally appeared in the December 24, 2014 issue of the Wednesday Word.

For the fourth installment of this five part December series, I sat down and had a conversation with Genealogy Librarian Crystal Ward. Genealogy is a huge part of the services that the Indiana State Library provides, and Crystal was more than happy to talk about all of the interesting artifacts in the ISL collection.

RB: Tell me about how you came to ISL, and what made you want to become a librarian in the first place?

CW: I started out working in libraries. In high school I was a page at the Haughville Branch, and then I worked at several libraries. I worked at academic libraries, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Marion County Jail Library, so I’m used to working with the public doing reference work. When I saw the job listing for ISL I thought, “Oh that sounds very interesting.” I had done my own genealogy, so it was kind of a hobby to start with. When I had seen the position I thought, “Oh I can do that!” So I applied, and that is how I ended up here. When I was working in high school I never thought that I would be a librarian. I just needed some money to get a car and all that stuff.

RB: Were you volunteering there? Continue reading

Life as a new ISL Regional Coordinator

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

Questions, questions, questions

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

Indiana State Library building Continue reading

A One-On-One Conversation with ISL Director Jacob Speer

A One-On-One Conversation with ISL Director Jacob Speer
By: Ryan Brown
From The Wednesday Word, December 10, 2014

This week, I sat down with new ISL Director Jacob Speer and picked his brain about his personal and professional affiliation with the library. The following is a series of questions and answers from our interview.
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RB: What got you interested in becoming a librarian?

JS: I have always been interested in reading and literacy. I was a journalism and English major in college and when I was done with college I was looking around at what I wanted to do and I thought, “I really like libraries.” I worked at the University of Iowa at the main library as an undergrad and I really enjoyed it. When I moved to Washington [D.C.] I got a job in a special library and I thought, “This is for me.” I wanted to go back and get my graduate degree [in library science] because I thought it would be a good career opportunity and I like the way libraries can impact lives.  There’s a lot of interesting things going on in libraries and a lot of interesting people that to meet.

RB: How did you become the Director at ISL?

JS: I ended up going to Indiana University for my master’s, so I was aware of the Indiana State Library. After getting my master’s, I moved to Chicago and I was working in another special library and I started thinking, “I really want to work in a more traditional library doing traditional library services.” A position became available in the Indiana division downstairs and I thought, “That’s for me, I’m going to apply for this.”

After about nine months in the Indiana division, I was promoted to the head of the Library Development Office. I really enjoyed my time there because we served and supported a lot of other libraries and library types, then the director position in Zionsville at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library came open. Zionsville is a great library and has a really great community that supports their library, so I was really happy to get that job in June of 2010 and I was there for about three-and-a-half years. I really enjoyed my time there. Then I had a brief stay in Iowa at the Waukee Public Library. That was a move more for family — because we would be close to family – but when this position became available [director of ISL], I thought it was a really great opportunity and my wife likes it in Indianapolis, so we decided to come back. It is a great opportunity to be the director of the Indiana State Library and have the ability to work with all the libraries in Indiana.”

RB: What is your favorite item at the State Library?

JS: First, I think the building is a treasure. The Art Deco style of the building is really interesting, as far as one item, there is so many fantastic collections at the library…I would say the tablet with Cuneiform script that is the earliest form of writing is a favorite.

RB: What type of activities do you enjoy outside of working at the State Library?

JS: [Chuckling] I haven’t done it a lot recently since we had the kids and moving, but I like to ride my bike and I like to play tennis and read and spend time with my family.

RB: What is your favorite book?

JS: I enjoy many authors and genres of literature. John Updike’s work, particularly his Rabbit series is a favorite of mine.

RB: Where do you see things heading for the Indiana State Library in the next five years?

JS: There will be an emphasis on Indiana Memory and digitizing select collections of the State Library including newspapers, and figuring out how to continue to evolve INSPIRE and all library services so that they meet the needs of the public. The State Library will also play a role in assisting libraries to remain strong and relevant via training, services and resources.

This blog post was written by ISL Communications Director Ryan Brown. For more information about the Indiana State Library, please visit http://in.gov/library/.