Roundtables: How to get started

Looking for a way to connect with peers? Roundtables might be the answer. What’s a roundtable? Back in June of 2020, my colleague Paula Newcom wrote a very thorough article answering this question, so I’ll just give you the CliffsNotes version: Roundtables are a chance for peers to gather and to discuss, share and troubleshoot issues they may encounter in their jobs. Called “counterparts” in the Northwest area of the state, these library staff led and organized gatherings are a grassroots way to connect and learn from others in similar jobs. They can be in-person, with regional groups meeting at area libraries, or they can be virtual, utilizing virtual meeting software like Zoom. A few have even begun offering a hybrid of in-person and virtual, although this is not yet common.

Pre-pandemic, Indiana had a relatively robust network of roundtables that met, usually in person, several times a year. While some of those transitioned to virtual and then back to in-person successfully, others seemed to come to a halt, especially with staffing changes, shortages and turnover during these tumultuous years. Recently, I’ve heard a number of people say they wish a roundtable would start in their area. For them, I have excellent news: Anyone can start a roundtable!

While Indiana State Library Professional Development Office staff are happy to support roundtables by attending and even occasionally presenting when available, roundtables are not typically organized by State Library staff, with a few exceptions. Rather, we encourage library staff to start and maintain them. Any library staff member – with permission from their supervisor, of course – can reach out to neighboring libraries or send a callout email to the Listservs, inviting them to meet for a few hours to discuss a relevant topic.

If you’re interested in starting a roundtable on a particular topic in your area, here are some recommended steps:

  1. Make sure your supervisor is okay with you organizing a roundtable.
  2. Email the Listservs – depending on the topic you hope to discuss – asking whether a group in your area already exists; if not, have people contact you directly if they are interested in meeting.
  3. Optional: Gather a list of libraries near you – 30-60 minutes away – and email relevant staff directly to invite them to form a roundtable. Many libraries have staff directories on their websites.
  4. Once you have interested parties, determine who will host the first meeting, and when. Who has a meeting room and when is it available? Typically, roundtables meet for approximately two hours on a morning, but your group can meet whenever works for the majority!
  5. Once your date/time/location are set, email the interested group with the details. You should also consider emailing the relevant listservs once again, this time with the details as an open invitation. Consider contacting either the Indiana State Library’s Children’s Consultant or your Indiana State Library Regional Coordinator to invite them to attend if they’re available.
  6. Determine who would like to be the “leader” of the first meeting. This is often the host library staff, but could be the person who has organized the whole thing. It doesn’t have to be the same person every time, although having one person “in charge” of setting meeting dates can be very helpful.
  7. For the very first meeting, the “leader” should consider developing a loose list of questions to keep the conversation going. Roundtables are very informal discussions, but it’s good to have a few specific topics in mind. For subsequent meetings, the group can work together to decide discussion topics.
  8. Meet! Discuss! Share! Problem solve! Commiserate! Encourage!
  9. If you haven’t already, be sure to gather everyone’s information – name, library, and email address – before ending the meeting so you can easily set up the next one.
  10. After the meeting, the host library can issue an LEU certificate for a maximum of one LEU to attendees following the LEU policy for Professional Roundtable Meetings. Individual attendees should be mindful that they can only claim up to 10 roundtable LEUs per five year certification period, although you can certainly attend more than ten!

Of course, recognizing that desk schedules are tight at many libraries right now, virtual roundtables are still an option. Virtual may also work better with some smaller groups that would benefit from statewide participation in one group, rather than multiple smaller groups across the state. The general steps are the same, with a few exceptions:

  • The host should be able to provide an online meeting platform (Zoom, Teams, etc.).
  • Participants should ideally have cameras and microphones to be able to fully participate.
  • Participants should clearly understand that the roundtable is only helpful if all participants are actively engaged and share. Even those without microphones should come prepared to share via chat.

The Indiana State Library is in the process of updating a 2020 list of virtual roundtables to determine who is still meeting and whether they are in-person or virtual. If your group is not currently on the list and are willing to be added, please email Statewide Services. Likewise, if you are listed as the leader of one of the groups and no longer meet, please contact us at the same address.

Now, go forth and learn from your peers. Good luck!

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

Indiana’s public library districts and the 2020 census

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Manchester Public Library: ‘Fearless, innovative and community focused’

You can clearly see from the positive comments below how much the patrons of the North Manchester Public Library love and appreciate their library. Serving a population of a little over 6,000 in northern Wabash County, this library is doing amazing things for its community.

“Fantastic programming for all ages, staff that remember patrons’ names and interests, a wide range of books, movies, music and periodicals. The North Manchester Public Library is definitely at the heart of the community.”

“Amazing resource for this small community! The mobile hotspots you can check out make those long summer drives great for everyone’s high tech gadgets!”

“It is unusual for a town of our size to have a library of this caliber! The children’s department is second to none! Couldn’t be more proud!”

“I love that kids are allowed to be kids in their section of the library! Fun memories equal children who will love books forever. Keep up the awesome work!”

“One of the best small town libraries in the country.”

Director Diane Randall and her staff have accomplished many great things since she started her tenure in February 2020. Diane was fortunate to step into a library with a staff with many forward thinking ideas. I recently visited Diane to learn about all of the innovative and out of the box programs they are doing. It really takes a special synergy between the library board, director, library staff and community to make a good library an extraordinary library. I love what Diane said to me, “I am fearless, innovative and community focused.” And it shows!

Diane started at the North Manchester Public Library right before the world paused for the pandemic. As many traditional library services were disrupted, such as in person programs and public computer access, new needs in the community became evident. Food insecurity increased as paper and hygiene products became scarce. The library and community came together to fill these needs. Diane has been partnering with many local groups and has been working diligently to obtain grants that will further their vision to meet their community’s needs beyond traditional books.

In Diane’s own words:

“All the collaborations and projects my staff and I develop or create started with the development of the library’s current long range plan. It was very important to gather community and library trustees input as well as all library staff input. I felt it was crucial to include the library management staff of Adult Department manager and marketing coordinator, Jeanna Hann; Children’s Department manager, Sarah Morbitzer; Circulation librarian Cody Goble; and past programming coordinator Heidi Lovett in creating the plan. They not only gained experience in this planning process and understood it on a professional level, but also had creative buy-in and support for it. It was a wonderful team effort from which our full time staff and managers now have greater awareness and foundation as they build the library’s programs, outreach, collections and technology and as they utilize the buildings and grounds spaces. Future projects will include continued development of neurodiverse and sensory collections and spaces in the library; continued development of programming and events utilizing building grounds; and increased focus on collaborations and building of programming with the retirement and senior living communities post COVID pandemic.”

Their teamwork, planning and dedication to the community shines through in what they have accomplished so far.

Non-traditional library services began at NMPL a few years before Diane arrived. One of these services was a seed library, created by former staff member and programming director Heidi Lovett. With these new services, a seed was planted to go beyond the four walls of the library building with these innovative programs. The following list highlights these programs; be sure to click on the links to find out more about each program:

Seed Library – August 2017
Just as libraries have been sharing books for decades, sharing seeds is a natural extension of our culture. It’s a simple premise – take a seed pack, share a seed pack. The packets of seeds can be new or seeds harvested from plants. Novice gardeners get to experiment with new plants and can learn from expert gardeners. This is an all-around winning program for libraries – an efficient way to share seeds; a way to promote botanical literacy and a way to help fight food insecurity. No doubt many gardening books, magazines and videos have been checked out.

Makerspace-2-Go – August 2019
Makerspaces in libraries began around 2005 and grew out of the Maker Movement. Imagine arts and crafts groups, hobbyists, shop classes and science fairs combining in one place. They are spaces within some libraries with resources such as computers, 3D printers, audio and video editing tools and traditional arts and crafts supplies. Makerspaces give patrons the ability to try out technology and tools that they would not normally be able to access. Heidi Lovett, former programming coordinator, and Jeanna Hann, Adult Department manager and marketing coordinator, took it up a notch in 2019 with the ability to check out equipment and tools for home use!

Community Pantry – April 2021
A complementary program to the Seed Library is the Community Pantry. Interested members of the community approached Diane to collaborate to address food insecurity in the community. NMPL partnered with North Manchester Community Pantry to place a large plastic cabinet outside the library entrance. The pantry is stocked with non-perishable food items and paper supplies. The pantry is available 24/7 and community members can take what they need and to leave what they don’t. A local art student was chosen to paint a mural on the outside of the cabinet which lends visibility to the project and sets the tone for its goal. An excellent quote from the library blog sums it up perfectly, “The Community Pantry, a Mutual Aid Space, is where people take responsibility for caring for one another by sharing resources.”

Flat Playground – May 2021
“Social distancing” and “playgrounds closed” – NMPL Children’s Department manager Sarah Morbitzer turned these two phrases into a positive. This playground is like no other one you’ve ever seen. The library staff wanted to promote outdoor activity and intergenerational play with this unique play area. They also wanted to find ways to utilize their spacious library grounds. A blank sidewalk became the canvas for this masterpiece. There are six features on the playground – an eight piece activity track, four square, standing long jump, dart board, twister and snakes and ladders. These activities are great for all ages and mobility levels. This amazing space was made possible by the Bev Westendorf Memorial Fund, the JoAnn Martin Memorial Fund, Friends of the Library, the Tammy Seifert Memorial Fund, EduMarking USA and the NMPL Fun Run.

Pollinator Garden – May 2021
NMPL sits on a beautiful wooded two-acre lot. Members of the local Rotary Club reached out to Diane for a project to refresh the southeast corner of the library landscape through an initial Rotary Club grant. From this initial project, a wonderful collaboration has developed with the Master Gardeners of the North Manchester Rotary Club, the Purdue Extension of Wabash County and the library. A pollinator garden was planned and filled with native pollinator plants with the goal of long term sustainability. The new garden was revitalized entirely by the Rotary Club, volunteers and community members who donated plants and their time. Bonus – related educational programs have been provided by the Purdue Extension Services and also the Master Gardeners. And an extra special group has also sprouted from this – the Dirty Diggers Club run by Children’s Department manager, Sarah Morbitzer. Elementary and middle school-aged youngsters are learning how important pollinators are in relation to the foods that they eat. They are making that connection with their own eyes with their garden. The library is fortunate to be able to use the adjoining grounds of the historic Thomas R. Marshall Home – 28th vice president under Woodrow Wilson – for the Dirty Digger’s garden space through another community collaboration with the North Manchester Center For History.

Winter reading program expansion – January 2022
Through building new and renewed relationships with community businesses that are not part of the library’s summer reading sponsorships, Sarah Morbitzer and Molly Magus, programming coordinator, have developed an exciting growing winter reading program. Open to all, this program has its own unique sponsors and themes and is well supported by the community. It’s a great opportunity to continue to encourage and support reading within the community and is efficient to run via use of the Beanstack reading program software.

Sensory-2-Go shelf – March 2022
Developed by Sarah Morbitzer and Molly Magnus, this new collection is intended to reach patrons with neurodiverse needs. According to Merriam-Webster, neurodiverse is defined as “having, relating to, or constituting a type of brain functioning that is not neurotypical.” The five kits serve specific sensory purposes – high energy, calming, texture and touch as well as items to help with day to day activities (i.e., holding a cup) and other items for building cognitive development. This collection is for all ages, for use inside the library or for checkout to take home. This is a great way for patrons to try out the items first to see if they might make a personal investment.

Little Free Library – April 2022
A new beautiful turquoise blue Little Free Library is found just off North Market Street near the entrance of the Flat Playground. Lead by circulation librarian Cody Goble and Jeanna Hann, NMPL has joined the 150,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. Just like the seed library, people are meant to take a book and leave a book. This was made possible through a generous contribution from the Friends of the Library group.

Homeschool Resource Center – March 2022
Sarah Morbitzer and the Children’s Department have taken resource sharing a step further with their new Homeschool Resource Center. This collection can be used by anyone – for either long or short term homeschooling or for enrichment during school breaks. This collection contains homeschool books for teachers, a microscope, games for practicing sight words and much more!

There are even more projects that are in the works, so stay tuned to the North Manchester Public Library’s website, as well as their Instagram and Facebook pages to find out what’s next. Find out about this new project that is coming Fall 2022:

Electronic Message Center – Fall 2022
Diane is currently working on a collaborative project with their incredibly supportive Friends of the Library. The new digital message center will help promote programs and events, and relay library information to the community. The message center will enhance in-the-moment awareness of what is happening at the library, and will enable the library to reach community members who don’t utilize social media or read the local newspapers. The library will also be able to utilize the digital sign to promote their programs and events in Spanish to welcome and support awareness in our minority communities.

If you are in the North Manchester area, be sure to stop by the library and see all of the awesome things that are happening. Now, some final words from director of the North Manchester Public Library, Diana Randall:

“The staff at the North Manchester Public Library are so awesome! They are fantastically creative with such an innovative approach. They all have such a spirit of service to the community, and the community can feel it. I work daily to support this innovation and creativity, and I like to think outside the box to explore possibilities. I have always had a strong team-centered focus and customer service philosophy, and my staff know this. We work to keep up good communication and support each other. I also feel as a library director, I need to keep focus on the needs of my staff and supporting them. I work daily to let them all know this.

We all know that our libraries must continue to evolve as we move toward the future, and we have to keep a laser focus on what our communities’ needs are regarding services, programming and collections. Being open to new ideas and possibilities are crucial to our survival. I believe Indiana has a fantastic public library system with incredible library directors and library staff who are committed to serving their communities, and to supporting each other. I also am so grateful to the staff at the Indiana State Library for their input and support when I reach out to them with questions or for direction. They set a great foundation for all of us!”

This post was written by Northeast regional coordinator Paula Newcom of the Indiana State Library Professional Development Office and Diane Randall, director of the North Manchester Public Library.

Changes to Indiana gun laws

Effective July 1, 2022, gun owners in Indiana may go most places with their firearms, whether or not they have a license to carry and, yes, that means even at your local public library. HEA 1296, passed by the Indiana General Assembly in the 2022 legislative session, removes the requirement for firearm owners to have a license to carry a firearm in Indiana. How does this impact your local public library? Well, it doesn’t significantly, it just removes another restriction on gun owners in the state.

In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly created a law that prohibited political subdivisions from creating regulations related to firearms, including ammunition, storage and carrying. Public libraries are considered political subdivisions under Indiana law, so at that point, libraries lost the ability to keep firearms out of libraries. There are a few exceptions that would permit a library to regulate firearms in the library. For example, library boards can create and enforce a policy that prohibits or restricts the intentional display of a firearm at the library’s public meetings – meetings held by the library board or library board committees.

There is also an exception that allows employers to restrict employees who are on duty in the building from carrying a firearm. However, the employees must be allowed to keep their firearms in their locked vehicles stored in the glove compartment or trunk or otherwise out of plain view. Libraries cannot ask about firearm ownership on employment applications or make ownership or non-ownership a condition of employment.

Click here to read more about this new change in the law. To review the law as it pertains to government regulation of firearms, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy exploring all your library has to offer beyond books!

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

Savings opportunities for Indiana libraries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A look back at 2021

The beginning of each year for many of us is a time of introspection. We reflect on the previous year, what challenges were faced, what monumental milestones happened and what goals were or were not completed. With the new year being symbolically seen as a time for fresh starts, we look forward hopefully to seeing new milestones, meeting new goals and realizing our dreams.

Indianapolis Public Library

In true “New Year” tradition, this blog post will reflect back on 2021 but will do so on the topic of libraries and the legal issues they faced throughout the year. 2021 was the second year in a row where issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the year. Libraries were continuing to figure out the “new normal” and they were adjusting to operate in a world where masks, social distancing and frequent sanitizing were becoming the norm. Among all the normal legal issues employers and public entities face, libraries additionally faced legal issues and challenges related to mask and vaccine mandates and limitations on the use of library meeting rooms and their other public spaces.

Keeping libraries fully staffed remained an issue as frequently employees were out due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine. Story time and library programs became more challenging as the move to digital, versus in-person, programs triggered new technology and copyright challenges. There was renewed interest by libraries in patron liability waivers for programs that did occur in person, as libraries were concerned about being sued if someone got sick after attending a library event. As federal funds trickled their way down to local government entities, including public libraries, there were questions about the steps needed to legally receive and use the funds and how to account for such funds in library financial records.

The Indiana General Assembly enacted several laws related to local government and the pandemic that impacted libraries as well. For example, the General Assembly enacted a law that broadened the authority of local government, including libraries, to hold meetings electronically. Additionally, express authority was granted legislatively for important government documents to be signed electronically. Both of these changes were in response to the need for libraries and other local government entities to be able to continue to govern and maintain operations in the face of public health emergencies and other disasters. The General Assembly also passed a law that prohibited local government entities from requiring vaccine passports (proof of vaccine) making it more challenging for libraries with vaccine mandates to know for sure staff had been vaccinated.

Added to the mix of COVID-19 related issues were the individuals doing “First Amendment audits.” First Amendment audits are when a person or people enter and walk through the library (or post offices or court houses or other government/public settings) with a video camera to record their experience. If the person or people recording are able to record uninterrupted, the public agency is said to have passed the audit. Questions and concerns around patron privacy and how much libraries could legally intervene in such situations were common throughout much of the year.

As 2021 progressed, we grew to realize that the pandemic, while evolving, was not ending. As a result, goals for 2022 include continuing to find creative ways to provide effective uninterrupted library service while keeping library staff and patrons as safe as possible. One of the things libraries are doing is increasing electronic resources and internet accessibility for patrons. Another thing libraries are doing is allowing groups to use meeting rooms and study spaces but limiting capacity so that groups can social distance. Many in-person programs have resumed but have limited attendance capacity to facilitate social distancing. Enhanced sanitation practices continue.

Over time, libraries have evolved from being primarily book repositories and research institutions to being community hubs where you can hang out with your friends, hold study groups and community meetings, and find help, resources and programs on just about any topic. Libraries are resilient and accustomed to adjusting with the times. The challenges of the pandemic notwithstanding, your local library continues to remain one of your community’s best assets. Make it a resolution this year to learn about all the resources your local library provides. You might be surprised at what you find.

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

Challenging Indiana library collections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Oceans of Possibilities’ – Summer reading 2022 news

As we head into the last few months of the year, it’s time to start planning for 2022 summer reading programs! The Collaborative Summer Library Program has chosen “Oceans of Possibilities” as its 2022 summer reading theme.

CSLP Membership
All Indiana public libraries are members of CSLP because the Indiana State Library pays the membership fee for the entire state using LSTA/IMLS funding. That means the slogan and artwork are available for libraries to use; however, individual libraries may decide whether they want to use the CSLP theme each year. The State Library also purchases access to the CSLP online catalog for all Indiana public libraries. The online catalog contains both the artwork for 2022 and program ideas that work with the “oceans” theme.

The online manual access code was sent to directors via email on Sept.15. If your director did not receive the code, please have them or their designee to contact me, Beth Yates, via email. View a tutorial here on how to access the manual. Currently available incentive items can be viewed in the online store.

The Theme
The oceanography theme creates, well, “Oceans of Possibilities” for programming. Here’s just a few general topics to get you started:

  • Ocean life – General ocean plants and animals, endangered animals, conservation.
  • History – Shipwrecks like the Titanic, explorers.
  • Geography – Maps, bodies of water.
  • Astronomy – Navigation/wayfinding, moon and tides.
  • Beaches – Summer fun, beach parties, sand and sandcastles, swimming and safety, the sun.
  • Geology/Paleontology – The fossil record shows Indiana was once underwater!
  • Weather – The water cycle connects us to oceans even in landlocked Indiana.
  • Jobs – Marine biologist, diving/SCUBA, ecologist, fishing, ship captain, lifeguard, geo scientist.

Don’t be afraid to include Indiana’s own lakes, rivers and parks. While they are certainly not oceans, the water cycle connects it all. And as always, it’s more important to offer programs your patrons will be interested in than it is to connect every program to the theme.

Indiana Training Opportunities
This year, I will be offering one webinar that contains news, updates and resources for the summer 2022 program. This webinar will be recorded and posted on the Indiana State Library’s Archived Training page within two weeks of the live session on Dec. 9, and it will be available there through the summer. Unlike in past years, this training will NOT include a roundtable discussion of program ideas. Roundtables will take place separately; all dates and times are listed below.

REGISTER:

National Training Opportunity
As the Collaborative Summer Library Program president-elect, membership committee chair and Indiana’s state representative, I am thrilled to announce that CSLP is offering our very first national, virtual summer reading conference!

The CSLP Summer Symposium will take place on Thursday, Dec. 2 from 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. Session topics include program ideas, outreach ideas/community asset mapping and publicity ideas. You can attend any or all of the sessions FREE of charge using just one link, which you will be sent after you register. While “Oceans of Possibilities” will be a focus, all libraries are welcome, even if you don’t plan to use the 2022 CSLP theme. Sessions will be recorded and made available and will also be eligible for LEUs.

View the full session line up and descriptions on the CSLP Summer Symposium website. You can register from there, or via this link.

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

Indiana State Library seeking libraries for passport program

The Indiana State Library is currently exploring the idea of a statewide library passport program. The program, with a tentative launch in 2022, will operate in a similar manner to the Passport To Your National Parks® program administered by America’s National Parks™, under its parent company, Eastern National, an official nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service.

The State Library wants to hear from libraries with a special space to share. Architecture, art, special collections, museums, statues and outdoor public spaces are just some of the features that would make the library an excellent place to visit. Ideally, these features should be accessible to the public without the need of a library card, as visitors will be encouraged to travel to each highlighted library.

Indiana libraries that are interested in the program are encouraged to fill out this Microsoft Form, letting the State Library know why guests should visit their library. All types of libraries are eligible for involvement, including public, academic and special libraries. Depending on the number of submissions, libraries may be included in a later iteration of the program. The form submission deadline is Oct. 31.

The program is subject to change at any time and will adhere to any potential COVID-19 restrictions.

Please contact John Wekluk, communications director at the Indiana State Library, with any questions.

This post was written by John Wekluk, communications director at the Indiana State Library.