‘The Biggest Little Library Conference’ is almost here! 

The 2021 Association for Rural and Small Libraries conference, themed “The Biggest Little Library Conference,” is almost here!

When:  Oct. 20-23, 2021
Where:  Nugget Resort in Reno/Sparks, Nevada

This year’s conference will be a combination of in-person and select virtual sessions.  The ARSL Conference Committee is in the process of building the schedule and selecting keynotes. Be sure to check the official 2021 ARSL Conference page for the most up-to-date conference information.

Early bird registration begins on Wednesday, July 7

Registration rates are very affordable. If you are not able to attend in person, the virtual price is a bargain. Check out the schedules and program descriptions below:

When I attended in 2018, there were so many presentations I wanted to see and, despite a few being repeated, I ran out of time to see them all. Looking at the preliminary schedule for 2021, there is something for everyone. You might have the same problem of not being able to attend every session you want to attend, because there are so many great ones. The pre-conference workshops look fantastic. They include planning library space; what will be different in a post pandemic library; and effective staff development on any budget. This year’s presentations look to be practical and reflect what libraries are doing and what obstacles they are facing. Topics include: telehealth visits in the library; mental health and libraries; tweens and STEAM; and re-thinking summer reading. There is also a leadership institute track during every session.

If you have a chance to attend in-person, it’s an awesome time to network with other librarians. There are libraries out there that only have one staff person, which is why this group is so important. It can be very lonely working by yourself, but having the support and guidance of this group is amazing. There are many informal times to gather including a welcome reception, dine-arounds and roundtables. When I went in 2018, the dine-arounds were a wonderful time to try out local restaurants along with fellow attendees. I met some very cool librarians from states all over the country, including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. There was such an overwhelming feeling of camaraderie among attendees who shared successes, encouraged each other and learned new things from passionate professionals.

In 2020, the ARSL conference was entirely virtual. I was able to attend virtually last year and found the conference app, Whova, to be very nice. You could watch the sessions either on your computer through the Whova website or on your mobile device through the conference app. On this year’s schedule, there are a few sessions which are both virtual and in-person and some are virtual only. A new feature called Spark Talks is included this year. All of the topics look amazing and very relevant. Last year, attendees were able to view the sessions they missed. Hopefully, this will be an option as well for this year.

Whether you can attend virtually or in-person, this is one of the very best library conferences I have attended. I highly recommend attending this conference; you will not be sorry you went. Hope to “see” you there!

In case you want to start planning, the location for 2022 is to be decided, but 2023 will be in Wichita, Kansas.

The Association for Rural and Small Library organization is approved for LEU/TLEUs. Which means their conference is automatically approved for LEU/TLEU credit. If you need further information, please consult the state library’s Approved Training Provider page or contact certification program director at the Indiana State Library, Cheri Harris.

This post was written by Northeast regional coordinator Paula Newcom, Professional Development Office.

New Tech and VR kit options from the Indiana State Library

Ch-ch-ch-changes. The Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office has updated our circulating technology and virtual reality kits! Tech and VR kits can be checked out for up to 30 days and be used in patron programming.

Tech Kit
The Tech Kits are filled with technology and robotics devices that can be used with your patrons. Reservations for the kits can be made online. Public libraries that would like to check out the Tech Kit need to complete the online Moodle course “Tech Kit Training.” The course can be taken at your own pace, is worth one TLEU and must be completed before reserving the kit. You’ll need to create a free Moodle account to access the training. Tech kits can be checked out for up to 30 days, will be sent through InfoExpress and will arrive in two clear totes.

Tech Kits contain one each of the following:

  • Bloxels
  • Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set
  • Cubelets
  • Dash Robot
  • Dash Challenge Cards
  • Lego WeDo
  • Snap Circuits
  • Squishy Circuits
  • Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

Want to learn more about the devices? Take a look at the manufacturer websites:

VR Kit
The State Library now has Oculus 2 virtual reality equipment! The kit can be checked out for up to 30 days and can be used for patron programing. To check out the kit, you’ll need to contact your regional coordinator to schedule an in-person training when the kit is dropped off. You can learn more about the Oculus Quest 2 here.

The kit comes with:

If you’d like to learn more about the Tech and VR kits, as well as the NASA@MyLibrary STEM kits and Breakout Boxes, check out our Continuing Education website.

This blog post was written by Courtney Brown, Southeast regional coordinator from the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office. For more information, email Courtney.

Beyond the shelves – library services available to Hoosiers

As an Indiana public library cardholder, you may have access to more than what’s on the shelves of your local public library. Many public libraries in the state participate in services that enable them to borrow or request photocopies from other Indiana libraries at little to no cost to you. Here are some of the services the Indiana State Library helps make available to Indiana residents:

Evergreen Indiana – Evergreen Indiana is a growing consortium of over half the public libraries in the state who share a catalog and lend items freely between their member libraries. Many items on the shelves of other participating libraries can be reserved and delivered to your home library. You can check here to see if your public library is participating.

Interlibrary loan – The Indiana State Library also sponsors a few other resource sharing services including SRCS, the Statewide Remote Circulation Service. By searching SRCS, you can see items in the catalogs of hundreds of public and academic libraries and request them to be delivered to your library. Some libraries participate in the Indiana Share program and can borrow items through the OCLC network, including harder-to-find items held by out of state libraries.

Reciprocal borrowing – Over half of the state’s libraries participate in some type of reciprocal borrowing agreement. Some may have a local agreement with neighboring library districts, and others participate in the Statewide Reciprocal Borrowing Covenant. This means a cardholder at any of the participating libraries can show their valid card at any other participating library and borrow an item. This is helpful if you live closer to another public library than your home library, prefer another local library or travel frequently.

PLAC – Individuals may purchase a PLAC card – which stands for Public Library Access Card – at any public library to obtain borrowing privileges at any other public library in the state. Patrons must first have a valid library card, or paid non-resident card, from a public library before purchasing a PLAC card. The current fee for the service is $65 for a year.

Cards for non-residents – Not a resident of a public library district? You still have the option to purchase a card from the public library system of your choice. Public libraries can serve non-residents for a fee, or possibly for free, per their policy or agreements with neighboring townships. The fee you are charged is based on the cost per capita to serve patrons which is normally obtained through property taxes. That means a card typically comes to about $40-$100, depending on the district. Many libraries issue free cards to K-12 students who don’t reside in the library’s service area but attend a district school. Additionally, some libraries offer a temporary, reduced price for three or six-month non-resident cards for vacationers or temporary residents.

InfoExpress – How do library books get around the state? The Indiana State Library currently contracts with Indianapolis’ NOW Courier who employees a network of independent couriers to provide a special delivery network just for libraries. Every weekday, drivers around the state pick up and deliver library materials to nearly 400 public, college and school libraries.

What about e-books? – Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about which libraries lend e-books to patrons in other districts. We can’t answer that because it really depends on the library, the service and their contract with the e-book provider. Some are able to extend their e-book collections to PLAC, reciprocal or non-resident card holders, while others are not. E-books are also usually not able to be loaned via interlibrary loan due to the electronic rights management that prevents the file from being shared. Are you hoping to borrow e-books or e-audiobooks through one of these services? Be sure to check with the library whose collection you are hoping to access before obtaining or purchasing a card. Please be aware that changes can be made at any time (e.g., due to a contract ending or a change to the terms of service). We also suggest you check out the thousands of e-books available via INSPIRE.

What else should I know?
Not all libraries participate in all of these services. Please speak with the circulation staff at your library for a better understanding of what is available. There may be a small fee assessed for the cost of service, especially if photocopies are requested or a book needs to be borrowed from outside Indiana. Your library staff should discuss this fee with you before borrowing an item or charging for a photocopy. Please also understand that certain items will not be available, due to their popularity, format or condition/age. For example, it would be hard to find the latest James Patterson at any library, and not all libraries lend DVDs to others due to the risk of damage during transportation.

We hope all of these services encourage you to visit your local public library to check out all they have, or all they can borrow, for you!

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, supervisor, Statewide Services Division. 

 

New EBSCO eBooks added to INSPIRE

This year, the Indiana State Library has added over 75,000 new EBSCO eBooks to INSPIRE. The eBooks are divided into the following collections: K-8, High School and Public Library. These are in addition to the eBooks previously offered in INSPIRE.

You can access these collections by visiting the Databases A-Z list in INSPIRE. Scroll down to the E section and you will find a link to each of the eBook collections. Once you access the eBook collection that you’re interested in, there are three ways to find eBooks you are looking for: use the search bar at the top of the page; search by category on the left side of the page; or click on the cover of a book included in the Highlights or Featured eBooks sections located in the middle of the page.

EBSCO recently launched a free app for mobile devices that allows you to search for and download the eBooks available in INSPIRE. The EBSCO app can also be used to search for articles related to your topic of interest. Find the EBSCO app in the App Store for Apple devices or Google Play for Android devices. For more info about the EBSCO app, click here.

Once you set up an EBSCOhost account – you will be prompted to do this when you download a book for the first time – and have the EBSCO app installed, you can download books to your mobile device. Also, make sure you have downloaded Adobe Digital Editions to your device so that you can read the eBooks once you have downloaded the book you want. We have an unlimited use license for these book collections which means you will never have to wait for or put a book on hold. For example, 100 or more people could check out the same book at the same time! This is a true gift for schools and public libraries.

EBSCO Connect provides access to free promotional materials for librarians to use when promoting these new eBook collections. You can find these promotional materials listed under the Tools & Resources tab on the landing page of EBSCO Connect. Promotional materials provided for EBSCO eBooks include things like a web banner or logo to use on your library website, posters and handouts. Librarians can also access eBook training documentation by going to the “Learn More” button under the eBook Support Information section located in the bottom left corner of each collection’s search page.

In addition, a training video will soon be available on the Indiana State Library’s Archived Webinar page. To learn more about training opportunities related to EBSCO eBooks, please contact Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office, Indiana State Library.

Please note that during the week of May 5-12, 2021, EBSCO will be upgrading key pieces of the EBSCO eBook system. This will cause some service disruption. During this timeframe, users will still be able to read eBooks online, download chapters and read previously downloaded eBooks. However, users will not be able to download full eBooks to read offline from EBSCOhost, EBSCO Discovery Service and New Discovery Service. Additionally, hold ready alerts will not be sent to end users during the downtime.

This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

Upcoming Get INSPIRED! sessions

This year, the Indiana State Library is hoping to help library employees across the state to Get INSPIRED! The Professional Development Office has added a second series to our webinar offerings, What’s Up Wednesday – Get INSPIRED! This series is on the second Wednesday of every month and will be a focused look at some aspect of the INSPIRE suite of tools. The remaining 2021 webinars in this series are below:

April 14 – “Ebooks”
Learn how to use the different features available in the new and expanded EBSCO Ebook collections in INSPIRE.

May 12 – “Live Q&A”
This will be an informal question and answer session about all things INSPIRE. If you have specific questions, please add them to this form and they will be answered during this session.

June 9 – “Business Databases”
Learn how to use the various business databases available in INSPIRE to access valuable business information.

July 14 – “INSPIRE for Career Prep”

Aug. 11 – “Live Q&A”

Sept. 8 – “Top INSPIRE Databases for Assisting Students”

Oct. 13 – “Digital Collections with Justin Clark”

Nov. 10 – “Live Q&A”

These webinars are all worth one TLEU each for Indiana library staff. Keep an eye on the PDO calendar of events and the INLibraries Listserv for more details. January’s “Introduction to INSPIRE” webinar can be found on the archived webinars page. March’s webinar “INSPIRE Search Strategies” will be archived soon, so be sure to check the archived page for this great opportunity.

This post was written by George Bergstrom, Southwest regional coordinator, Professional Development Office, Indiana State Library.

What’s Up Wednesday adds INSPIRE sessions

The Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office will be adding a new session to the What’s Up Wednesday series that started in 2020. This year we will be adding Get INSPIRED sessions on the second Wednesday of every month. INSPIRE is Indiana’s virtual library of databases made available to residents free of charge across Indiana. It has existed for the past 22 years and, although that is a long time, there are still people who have never heard of INSPIRE. So, we want to help people learn what resources are available as well as how to use them.For example, did you know that you can access Consumer Reports or learn a new language with Rosetta Stone by using INSPIRE? There are also a variety of databases for health research and these are reliable sources of information that you can trust, not something you read on Facebook. The list of health databases includes Alt Health Watch which focuses on holistic medicine and therapies. Consumer Health Complete covers key areas of health and wellness and it does this by being available in 16 different languages. Health Source – Consumer Edition provides access to 80 consumer health magazines like Men’s Health, Prevention, Bicycling, Golf Digest, Health, Parenting and more.

If you are a parent who is homeschooling, or a parent helping your child with homework, Explora is available for different grade levels – elementary, middle and high school – and allows the student to find articles on their grade level about a wide variety of topics. We have also increased the number of eBooks available to more than 75,000. The eBook collections are divided into grade levels K-8 and High School. TeachingBooks offers resources related to fiction and non-fiction books for school-age children. You can meet an author, hear the author pronounce their name, read a portion of their book, watch book trailers and many other activities and resources related to books. The Points of View database is an excellent place to start if you are doing a speech or trying to decide on a topic for a research paper. Learning Express Library offers practice tests for the SAT and ACT as well as study guides.

INSPIRE offers a rich collection of research databases for academic institutions, as well. These include Academic Search Complete, Humanities Full-Text, Literary Reference Center Plus and other databases that are subject- specific like History Reference Center, Science Reference Center and Social Sciences Full-Text.

For people looking to start their own business, they can access databases such as Small Business Reference Center, Entrepreneurial Studies Source, Business Wire News and Legal Information Reference Center. Census.gov offers demographic information that can help when writing a business plan.

Indiana-specific databases offered by the Indiana State Library through INSPIRE include Hoosier State Chronicles, which offers access to historical collections of newspapers from around the state that have been digitized. Indiana Memory is a collection of primary sources (i.e., letters, photos, maps, etc.) that have been digitized so that people can access them virtually.

As you can see, INSPIRE offers access to a vast collection of resources related to many subject areas and interests. We hope that you will join us on the second Wednesday of every month to learn more about INSPIRE. The session in February will be an open Q & A session where attendees can submit questions in advance to George Bergstrom and he will answer as many as he can during the session. Each What’s Up Wednesday Get INSPIRED training session is worth one TLEU.

This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

Ways to fill your shelves without draining your budget

About a month ago, the Indiana State Library hosted a webinar titled “Ways to Fill Your Shelves Without Draining Your Budget.” During the webinar, I shared a multitude of resources for librarians showing where they can obtain free books. The webinar is now archived on the Indiana State Library’s website and available for viewing at any time. In case you missed it, or if you would like to try out a few of the resources included in the webinar, here are a few highlights:

EarlyWord – The EarlyWord website is a great place to find contact information for publishing houses and their many imprints. As a librarian, you can request books early to review and/or preview for purchase. Once you find out the publisher of a book, EarlyWord is a great place to go to find out who to contact for a specific book. They have two lists: one for adult publishing contacts and one for children’s publishing contacts. Another great feature of EarlyWord is that you can sign up for librarian newsletters from the links provided and organized by publisher. Publisher’s newsletters most always have contests and giveaways for free books for librarians.

Bookish First – On Bookish First, there are a few featured books each month that you can read an excerpt from and provide a quick first impression. For each of impression you write, you get points. You are also entered to win physical copies of each book you write the first impression for as well. Then, if you review books on their website, share your review to Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog if you have one, you can receive even more points. Once you have 2,000 points, you can choose a free book to be mailed to you. It’s free to signup, and when you do, you automatically get 500 bonus points to get you started.

Early Audiobook Listening Copies – There are two places I check each month to get complimentary early audiobook listening copies, known as ALCs, specifically for librarians. These are LibroFM and the Volumes app. Both are free to sign up. With LibroFM, librarians and educators can download three free audiobooks each month from their selection, which is updated monthly. For the Volumes app, you’ll have to download the app and then signup on the link provided above. Then you can download free audiobooks each month to review. They are yours to keep after downloading.

If you would like to view the full webinar – and see even more resources for receiving free books – you can access it on our Archived Webinars page, or directly via the link shared above. Don’t hesitate to contact me via email if you have any questions regarding these resources.

Submitted by Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library.

Highlighting new INSPIRE databases

In July, the Indiana State Library announced the addition of a new set of databases – and more content – to INSPIRE, Indiana’s virtual library. INSPIRE is a service provided by the Indiana State Library and is free to all Indiana residents. Here’s a brief overview of these exciting new additions:

Legal Information Reference Center
This data base contains more than 310 full-text publications and reference books including the NOLO books. Information is available related to money and financial planning; businesses and corporations; family affairs and divorce; immigration and travel; patents, copyright and trademarks; property and real estate; rights and disputes and wills and estate planning. Legal forms are available and searchable by state.

EBook Collection for K-8, High Schools and Public Libraries
These eBook collections offer unlimited access to over 75,000 eBooks. The books may be downloaded to your reading device or you may print the information you need to take with you. Simultaneous access allows teachers to assign class-wide reading assignments which benefits schools using virtual learning. The eBooks cover a wide variety of topics and are selected by librarians.

Learning Express Library
Learning Express Library offers a variety of resources to help library users meet their personal and professional goals. Includes test prep info as well as practice quizzes. There are resources in the following categories: career preparation, high school equivalency, college admission and test preparation, school center (K-12), college students and adult core skills in English and Spanish. The database also incorporates tutorials and eBook content.

Communications and Mass Media Complete
Communications and Mass Media Complete combines the content of CommSearch and Mass Media Articles Index. The database offers more than 210 full-text, non-open access journals.

Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection
This database offers full-text coverage from 480 journals, with especially strong coverage of child and adolescent psychology and various counseling areas. Useful for psychologists, counselors, researchers and students.

Religion and Philosophy Collection
The Religion and Philosophy Collection is comprised of full-text journals and magazines providing coverage of the last 100 years of theological and philosophical holdings. Topics covered incorporate world religions, religious history, political philosophy, history of philosophy and the philosophy of language.

Databases that were already included in INSPIRE, but have increased coverage are Academic Search Complete, Consumer Health Information (available in 17 languages), MAS Complete and MasterFile Complete.

For tutorials and promotional materials, visit the EBSCO Connect page.

This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

The struggle is real: Reaching teens

One of the most common questions I get from library staff is “How do I get teens into the library?” For many libraries, it may seem as if it’s feast or famine – either they are swamped by after school crowds or they never see any teens step foot in the door. The crowds can be dealt with, but how do you get teens into the your library?

My go-to answer for the above question is, “Don’t expect them to,” meaning don’t expect them to come into the library, with expect being the key word here. Why would they come into the library? There’s a lot working against it – whether or not they can get a ride, what their friends are doing, how many after school commitments they have – the list goes on.  Going to the library has to be a conscious decision they make and then they must have the transportation and support to actually get there.

 Photo by Nicole Berro from PexelsSome better questions to ask might be, “Why aren’t the teens in my library?,” “What are the barriers to service?,” “What is structurally in place that stops them from coming in?,” and most importantly, “What can we do to overcome those barriers?”

The answer to these questions will be unique to each system and branch. Start by taking a close look at the culture and atmosphere of your library. Do teens feel welcome there? If no, what is causing them to feel unwelcome? Do your co-workers or administration understand why it’s good to have teen patrons, rather than becoming frustrated by them? I do staff day trainings on this topic and am working with the Young Adult Library Services Association to offer more workshops on teen services. The short version of the message I share in these trainings is that we can help teens gain important life skills through our programs. Well-rounded teens make for well-rounded citizens, and teens with positive library experiences make lifelong library users.

If transportation or busy schedules is a major issue, consider going to them. Where are they gathering? Is school the best place to reach them in a non-pandemic year? Could you reach them during lunch or after school at an extracurricular? Of course, COVID-19 has created an even bigger barrier. The answer to “where are the teens” right now is hopefully “home.” Even schools that are opening this fall will likely limit who can enter their buildings and public library staff may not make the cut. So, what can you do?

Look for other community groups that might help you reach teens. Connect with organizations in your area, such as social justice organizations, church youth groups, YMCAs or Boys & Girls Clubs, to arrange for on-site book pick-up and drop-off services, kit lending or even virtual programming. They may also be able to put you in touch with teens who are interested in particular topics – like gaming or STEM – or those who would make great teen advisory board members.

Figuring out who to partner with in your community is your first step. Take a look around. Drive through your streets and make note of organizations and businesses you might contact. Ask co-workers with teens what their kids do after school. Does your library have teen shelvers or pages? What do they suggest?

If you are from a community so tiny that you don’t have any groups or organizations to work with, might delivery be an option? Come up with a project that will benefit a charity, like making blankets to donate to your county’s Humane Society. Then offer to drop blanket making kits off at the homes of your teens. If that’s not feasible, reach out to your school librarian, or any other teacher with whom you have a relationship, and ask them to recommend teens for the aforementioned teen advisory board. Make it an honor that requires a teacher recommendation and will look good on their college applications! The board can meet via Zoom.

If you already have a pre-COVID established group of teen patrons, this may all be *slightly* easier for you. Zoom meetings and book clubs, YouTube craft tutorials and using Discord for chatting or gaming with your teen crowd have all been common ways to reach out to existing teen patrons. One example of a library using Discord with teens come from the Pendleton Community Public Library. Their teen librarian, Matthew Stephenson, had an established group of teen patrons before the pandemic and has stayed in touch with them using Discord. See my interview with Matthew below and check out this Discord tutorial, recorded by Andrew Laverghetta, a librarian from Eckhart Public Library.

Ultimately, what you do will depend on your unique community and what it needs. What works at one library may not work at yours. This is a time to reevaluate our library services and determine what is essential, and to refocus on quality over quantity. If you can have an impact on the lives of even a few teens in the middle of the pandemic, that’s significant.

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Interview with teen librarian Matthew Stephenson, Pendleton Community Public Library:

How have you been reaching teens during this time?
As we moved our teen programs and services to Discord, the teens who were already using Discord embraced the “new normal.” However, we have a significant portion of teens who rely on places outside of their home for high speed internet that makes Discord, Zoom and other resources possible. Because of that, I think some teens who would enjoy and embrace our virtual services are unable to find a time or place to do so.

Did you already have a pretty solid group of teen patrons?
I had a very solid group of teens who would be in the library multiple times a week. Some have made a similar commitment online since March. Others I haven’t heard from since then.

Have you reached new ones?
A few teens have discovered our virtual programs and services through our summer reading program, which incentivized joining the library’s teen Discord server.

What other methods have you used, besides Discord?
I have used Netflix Party to watch and talk about anime as a group. I’ve had a few teens who want to watch a whole movie that way. I’ve tried to use Zoom, but most of the teens who have attended are leery of being on camera. Lastly, I recently used Kahoot! to make a quiz competition. A few of the teens really enjoyed it, but thought I made the quiz too difficult, which I am, admittedly, prone to do.

Examples of any virtual programs you’ve done?
I’ve converted our in-library video and tabletop game programs to virtual versions done through Discord. They can get five to ten participating teens on a regular basis, but can accommodate up to 50. Our Teen Quiz had several participants and was asynchronous, which seems to be more popular with teens since COVID-19 and our building project began in the spring.

Is the library open to teen patrons yet?
Most of the library is currently closed for renovations, but we are offering essential services, such as copying, faxing and circulation of materials in our community room. All computer sessions are limited to one hour and patrons are encouraged to not linger in the limited areas open to them. We hope to open the library to next phase of reopening, which we call ‘Grab and Go,’ in August.

Thoughts on how you have/might work with schools this fall, pending your area’s school reopening plans?
We are launching our “One Card One Student” initiative at the beginning of the school year, which will give every student in our school system a special library card to use our databases and check out e-books. I believe that will place the library as an even more important complementary element to improve e-learning for our community’s students. This is in addition to offering Tutor.com to our residents and placing our Student Portal front and center on our library’s homepage.

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This blog post was written by Beth Yates, children’s consultant for the Indiana State Library.

 

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.