‘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.

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. 

 

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.

Merry Christmas from your public library… but wait, can they say that?

This is the time of year for all sorts of celebrations. The most widely-recognized holidays in America during this time of year include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem after a successful 165 B.C. revolt against a king who had outlawed the Jewish religion and its practices, and who decreed only Greek gods could be worshiped in the Temple. Hanukkah is celebrated with certain foods, games, gifts and the lighting of a candle for each day of the eight-day celebration. The symbol most widely associated with Hanukkah is the hanukkiah, a candle holder that holds nine candles, one for each of the eight-day celebration and a “helper-candle” which is used to light the others. It is more commonly referenced as a menorah.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day festival that celebrates African and African American culture. Each day of the celebration is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. It is not intended to be a political or religious holiday. Kwanzaa is celebrated by festivities that include decorating, singing, dancing, gifts and a large feast on the last day. The symbol most widely recognized in relation to Kwanzaa is the kinara, a candle holder that holds seven candles, one to be lit on each day of the celebration.

Christmas is traditionally a Christian festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus, a person most Christians believe is the son of God. However, in more recent years, Christmas has become a more secular holiday celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians with festive decorations, singing, parties and the exchange of gifts. Symbols most commonly associated with Christmas are the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and nativity scenes depicting baby Jesus.

Undoubtedly, the holiday most obviously on display right now is Christmas. You can hardly leave your house without evidence of the upcoming Christmas holiday on display all around you. Many homes and businesses are decorated with pretty lights, wreaths, garlands and Christmas trees. Many cashiers and salespeople are wishing us Merry Christmas as we conclude our business with them. With Christmas being so popular, what could possibly be the issue with our local public library joining in the festivities?

The dilemma lies in the fact that Christmas is still considered by many in our country to be a religious Christian holiday. The establishment clause – found in the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution – prohibits government from making any law establishing a religion. It is widely established through numerous court cases that the establishment clause further prohibits government actions that promote, endorse or favor one religion over another. Thus, many have argued that taxpayer-funded government entities should not celebrate or decorate for Christmas because it promotes Christianity. Several U.S. Supreme Court cases have discussed the issue of Christmas displays on government property and the result appears to be that government can recognize and even decorate for Christmas, as long as it is done primarily from a secular perspective and not in a manner that promotes or endorses religion.

In the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602), the Court established a three-part test to analyze if government behavior violates the establishment clause. In using the “Lemon” test to analyze a holiday display, the Court would look at (1) whether the primary purpose of the display is secular in nature, (2) if the display either promotes or inhibits religion and (3) if there is excessive entanglement between church and state. Accordingly, the analysis into whether a particular government holiday display constitutes an impermissible violation of the establishment clause is a fact-based analysis that could result in different outcomes depending on the nature and contents of the display.

The two most commonly-recognized U.S. Supreme Court cases on this topic are the 1984 case of Lynch v. Donnelly (465 U.S. 668) and the 1989 case of County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (492 U.S. 573).

In Lynch, the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was sued due to the city’s inclusion of a nativity scene in its annual Christmas display at a local park. In addition to the nativity scene, the city’s display included a Santa Claus house, a Christmas tree, reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, candy striped poles, carolers, cut out animal figures, hundreds of colored lights and a banner that read, “Seasons Greetings”. The city was sued just for inclusion of the nativity scene. The city lost both at the U.S. District Court level and upon appeal and was prohibited from using the nativity scene in its Christmas display. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned those rulings and held the city’s display did not violate the establishment clause. The Supreme Court held, in part, that when a nativity scene is included as one component of a Christmas display for the purpose of celebrating the holiday and depicting the origins of the holiday, those were legitimate secular purposes. The Court further held it did not believe the display was a purposeful advocacy of a particular religious message which would violate the establishment clause and any benefit to any particular religion was “indirect, remote and incidental”. The Court additionally held that there was no excessive entanglement between religion and state resulting from the city’s ownership of the nativity scene and inclusion of the scene in its annual Christmas display. There was no evidence the city had been in contact with any church about the content or design of the exhibit prior to or after the city’s purchase of the nativity scene. No expenditures for maintenance of the nativity scene was necessary and any tangible material the city contributed was minimal. The Court explained in great detail how church and state cannot and have never been completely separate from each other. As one example, the Court brought attention to the fact that there are government funded art exhibits that include famous religious scenes such as “The Last Supper” and “The Birth of Christ.” Generally, the Court will invalidate government action where that action was motivated wholly by religious considerations and where no secular purpose is evident. (Stone v. Graham 449 U.S. 39 (1980)). The Lynch decision was a split decision, however, with five of the justices believing Pawtucket’s use of the nativity scene was constitutional and four believing it was not.

In the Allegheny case, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County – both in Pennsylvania – were sued due to two recurring holiday displays on public property that depicted religious symbols. The first display was a creche – model or tableau representing the scene of Jesus’ birth – inside the main, most beautiful, public part of the county courthouse. The creche was displayed on the grand staircase of the courthouse and was surrounded by traditional Christmas greens. The creche was donated by the Holy Name Society, a Roman Catholic group, and included a sign stating such. Included in the creche itself was a picture of an angel and the words, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” which means “Glory to God in the highest!” The U.S. Supreme Court found this to be an unconstitutional display mostly because the creche itself was the focal point of the display and there was nothing to detract from the patently religious (Christian) meaning and message. This is a stark contrast to the Lynch display which included primarily secular symbols.

The second Allegheny holiday display was outside the city-county building and was an 18-foot-tall menorah standing alongside a 45-foot-tall Christmas tree. The mayor’s name was on a sign at the base of the Christmas tree along with the words:

“Salute to Liberty. During this holiday season, the city of Pittsburgh salutes liberty. Let these festive lights remind us that we are the keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom.”

The menorah is owned by a religious group but is stored, erected and removed each year by the city. The Court held in this instance that in the context of the display as a whole, the Christmas tree was the primary focal point, not the menorah, and Christmas trees are largely considered secular Christmas symbols. The Court further felt that the sign saluting liberty further detracted from any possible religious meaning behind the display. The Court determined that the display was a culturally diverse permissible recognition that Christmas and Hanukah are both part of the same winter holiday season. Allegheny was also a split Court decision on both issues.

Note that the above doesn’t address the situation where a private individual or group wants to erect a religious display on government property, but rather if the government itself is the sponsor of such a display. Generally, if a public entity allows a private individual or group to erect a temporary display of some kind on public property, a public forum is opened and restrictions on other individuals or groups who want to erect displays in that space must typically be limited to time, place and manner and, for the most part, should not be content based. To the extent restrictions are based on the content of the display, such restrictions must be necessary and narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.

Disclaimer: This blog article should be considered general information and should not be construed as legal advice. The article is a high-level overview of some of the considerations a court will look at when analyzing the constitutionality of religious symbols in a government display. The reader should not act on the information contained herein but rather should act on the advice of his/her own legal counsel.

Resources consulted for this article include:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kwanzaa
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hanukkah
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christmas
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jesus
https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/22/us/hanukkah-questions-answered-trnd/index.html
https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/first-amendment-and-religion
Lynch v. Donnelly 465 U.S. 668 (1984)
County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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

IFLA 80th World Library and Information Congress recap; 2021 update

Back on Aug. 24-27, 2019, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions held its 80th World Library and Information Congress in Athens, Greece. Filled with pre-conference events, sessions, meetings and exhibits, the IFLA World Library and Information Congress attracts thousands of library and information professionals from around the globe each year. The 2019 conference theme was “Libraries: Dialogues for Change”.

Sessions of interest included the “OCLC Symposium,” “Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence,” “Strengthening the Global Voice: Securing the Future of Libraries,” “The Migration of Books: Cultural Heritage (Objects) and Ideas on the Move,” “Gatekeeping to Advocacy: Government Libraries” and “Technology as Gateway to Inclusivity: Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities.”

In addition to conference sessions, attendees took advantage of the conference’s various library and site-seeing tours and experienced the culture of Greece on “Cultural Night.”

Held throughout the week, the site-seeing tours included visits to the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, ancient Corinth, the Monastery of Daphni, Cape Sounion, Old Athens, Olympia, Kolonaki, Kalamata, Messini, Koroni, Methoni, Mystras, Monanemvasia, Santorini, Hydra, Poros, Aegina and a food tour.

Also held throughout the week, were library tours to the Bank of Greece Library, the Infant and Toddler Library, the Institut Français de Grèce – Médiathèque Octave Merlier, the National Library of Greece, the Hellenic American College Library, Law Library of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Parnassos Literary Society’s Library, the Academy of Athens Library, the Library of the Hellenic Parliament, the Greek Comics Fun Club (Lefik), the Athens Comics Library and several other libraries.

In addition, attendees could visit various archives: General State Archives of Greece, the Dora Stratou Greek Dances Theater, Archives and Publications, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Archive and the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive.

On “Cultural Night,” held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center, conference attendees experienced Greek food, performances by Greek dancers and musicians. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center houses the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera, the Agora, the Lighthouse, the Canal and Stavros Niarchos Park.

The IFLA WLIC 2019 ended with an announcement of the locations of IFLA WLIC 2020 and 2021. The 2020 conference was scheduled to be held in Dublin, Ireland but due to COVID-19, it was cancelled. A recent press release relayed the following update regarding the 2021 conference:

…our 2021 Congress will take place virtually, with the welcome support of the Dutch National Committee.

The physical conference previously planned in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, will move to 2023, and take place in a hybrid online/in-person format. We continue to plan for an in-person conference in Dublin, Ireland in 2022, with a strengthened online element.

For more information about IFLA, its conferences, publications, webinars, events and projects, please visit the IFLA website.

This blog post was written by Michele Fenton, monographs and federal documents catalog librarian.

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.

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.

**********************

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.

***************************

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

 

Keeping clean: Methods your State Library takes to make sure your library experience is safe

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about sweeping changes to the way we live, work and interact with one another. Tasks we take for granted, such as going to the grocery store, meeting with friends and even going to the library to find materials for research have been made somewhat more challenging to carry out. Here at the Indiana State Library, we do a lot to keep everything clean and to ensure that both patrons, and ourselves, have a fun and safe library experience.

Several studies, such as the one illustrated in this comprehensive American Library Association article, have noted that the virus survives on hard surfaces for about two or three days, and up to 24 hours on paper. Sanitization is top priority at the library, and the staff makes sure to clean and disinfect all surfaces as often and thoroughly as possible. In the case of books, which understandably do not do well to be soaked in cleaners on a regular basis, they are placed in isolation for a set period of time until it is safe to return the materials to the stacks.

Patrons are welcome to come inside the building, but to encourage social distancing and personal safety, that library is operating on an appointment-only schedule. If you are a walk-in patron and didn’t make a prior appointment when you stop by, don’t worry. If we have appointment slots available, we will still be able to help you with your research needs. Seating arrangements to encourage social distancing are available, hand sanitizer is provided at the information desks and also next to each elevator in order to keep things clean, and to reduce the spread of the virus and other bacteria. Are you unavailable to come to the library personally? Patrons can chat with a librarian through Ask-a-Librarian, with no charge.

As per county mandates, face masks are required for entry into the library facility. Don’t have a mask? No worries. We provide free paper masks at our circulation and information desks. Simply ask the librarian or desk attendant and we will be happy to give you one. If you live in Marion County and you’re seeking something a bit more permanent and portable, the city of Indianapolis and IndyGo have partnered to provide free cloth face masks that can be picked up at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center in downtown Indianapolis. Masks can also be ordered online.

We hope that these procedures and precautions allow to you to fully utilize all the services the Indiana State Library has to offer, all while keeping you safe and giving you peace of mind.

Please call 317-232-3675, email or use our Ask-a-Librarian service to schedule an appointment.

This post was written by Damon Lawrence, library technician 2, 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.

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.