Innovative Library Program: Westchester Public Library’s MakerSpace Lab

Northwest Regional Coordinator Kimberly Brown-Harden recently had a conversation with Automation and Serials Manager Rhonda Mullin from the Westchester Public Maker Space Lab9Library in Chesterton, Indiana. They discussed Westchester’s innovative MakerSpace Lab and the impact it is having on both patrons and the library.

Kim: Can you give me some background on how the program was created?

Rhonda: Our library prides itself in offering the latest technology to our patrons. Because of this we saw a need to introduce 3D printing as well as a MakerSpace Lab. Unfortunately, space is very limited within our library. We did some serious brainstorming and decided to create space within an existing space. So we literally created our MakerSpace Lab within the space of another room. We hired a contractor who constructed an interior wall with a sound barrier, cut in a door frame and door, installed a peek window and trimmed it out. From there we outfitted the room with equipment and supplies. Continue reading

Innovative Lego program at MPL

SnipImageTylanna Jones is the Head of Youth Services at the Marion Public Library. The library has been running a fabulous Lego program for the past few years.

PAULA: Can you give some background on how the program was created?

TYLANNA: We saw that other libraries were hosting Lego programs and we thought that our community would really enjoy a Lego program. Our director put a request in the newspaper for donations of Legos. One person donated 99 percent of the Legos so we were very fortunate to receive this gift. They donated over a dozen extra large totes of Lego pieces! Continue reading

An Interview with Sullivan County Public Library Director Jordan Orwig

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Sullivan County Public library and meet new director, Jordan Orwig. He was kind enough to allow me to interview him for the library blog.  OrwigPic_editAre you from the area? If not, where are you from originally?

Yes, I have lived in Sullivan my entire life except for a short stint as a college student at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Living in another town was a great experience, but it was nice to move back home, get involved, and reinvest in the town where I grew up.

When I was a child my parents actually looked into buying the house that currently houses the library administration offices. Obviously they didn’t purchase it, but it seems like one way or another I was always meant to be in it.

What inspired you to work in libraries?

Books and reading have been passions for me for as long as I can remember. After college, I started working at a local newspaper. I was there for a number of years, and then I heard about the possibility of a job opening at the library. After looking into getting my MLS, everything just seemed to click. The Sullivan County Public Library was actually my first employer, too. I worked as a page all through high school, so I think it’s fitting that I get to come back to the same library where I entered the working world.

What is your favorite thing about working for your library?

Besides being surrounded by books every day? I am involved in a number of organizations that serve our community. Working at the library is just one more opportunity that I can utilize to make the county I grew up in a better place. I love the fact that libraries can mean different things to different people. While one person might come in to check out books every week, someone else might only come in once to send in a job application. It’s humbling to consider that the library can help people on many different levels.

What is your favorite book?

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville It was actually assigned to my wife in one of her college courses in 2008. I’d never heard of the guy, but she thought that I’d like it since I was into sci-fi and fantasy, so she gave it to me after the class wrapped up. I fell in love with everything about it immediately. I am not exaggerating when I say that it changed my life and changed how and what I read. Ever since then, I’ve read almost everything he’s written and haven’t shut up about him.

If you could have dinner with any three famous people in recorded history, who would they be and why?

I would be lying if I didn’t include the aforementioned Miéville in that group. I think my answer above should explain why. The other two would have to be Andrew Carnegie and Matthew McConaughey. Carnegie because – come on, this is a library blog, I pretty much have to pick him! In all seriousness though, I’d love to hear his thoughts about his affect on this nation and its libraries. I’d pick McConaughey because of an interview I heard with him on NPR’s Fresh Air program. He’s definitely a guy who knows who he is, where he came from, and what his place is in the world. If you haven’t listened to it, go check it out and I bet you’ll want to meet him, too.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

My wife and I are pretty avid bicyclers. We also discovered obstacle course racing this year and have already completed a Tough Mudder, with several other races planned yet this year. They are absolutely insane, fun, and worth trying. I have also played bass in a band with my wife and friend for about two years now. We play country music, but faster and louder than what you usually hear on the radio.

This blog post was written by Amber Painter, Outreach Librarian. For more information, contact the Professional Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email

An Interview with Jay County Public Library Director Eric Hinderliter

I visited Eric Hinderliter recently at the Jay County Public Library in Portland, Indiana and was very impressed with what Eric and his staff are doing in Jay County!  The staff has a wonderful team spirit – they bonded when their library was flooded in 2014 from a water heater break and have come together to create a new Summer Challenge for all ages.

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PN: Are you from the area? If not, where are you from originally?
EH: No, I am originally from Ada, Ohio, which is located off I-75 close to Lima. Marriage turned me into a Hoosier, but I still prefer to root for Ohio State.

PN: What inspired you to work in libraries?
EH: I had no thoughts at all about working in a library before I started my first library job in Van Buren. I was a high school social studies teacher and owned a lawn care business and a restaurant before moving into the library field. Van Buren happened to need a director, I happened to need a job, and I lived in Van Buren. The rest is history.

PN: What is your favorite thing about working for your library?
EH: I like the fact that I have an opportunity each day to work with a group of people to make a difference in Jay County. Continue reading

Professional Development at Your Fingertips

Looking to brush up customer service skills? Wondering about current trends in the library world? There are lots of professional development and continuing education opportunities around that are available to Indiana users online.

  1. Lyrasis – Using Lyrasis is easy and allows access to many quality trainings. Trainings are already paid for by the Indiana State Library (ISL) so library staff can be assured that they are free. Simply browse their offerings, choose a training, apply for a Promo Code if needed (classes that do not list a cost do not require a Promo Code) register, and attend the class. Pro Tip: If you don’t have time to take the class when it’s offered, register anyway. After the class is offered you will be emailed an access link and you can take the class at your leisure.
  2. – With tutorials for dozens of topics, can help library staff learn to take better pictures for their FaceBook page, discover better ways to lead, and learn tips on how to use WordPress. To gain access, just fill out the Course Application Form. You will receive your username and password in your email. Pro Tip: If you’ve forgotten whether or not you have already logged in, try to log in with your email address. Forgot your password? It’s easy to reset through the prompts on the page.
  3. Free Webinars – The Indiana State Library keeps an ongoing and updated spreadsheet of pre-approved webinar courses. In a simple excel format, these are arranged by date and cover a variety of topics. Pro Tip: Don’t forget, someone in your own organization can create your LEU Certificate in-house. Check out our policy on LEUs for Live and Archived Webinars.
  4. Pre Approved Providers – The ISL also keeps a list of organizations who present webinars that are pre-approved for LEUs. This is so great because staff can be assured that any webinar offered by these providers is a go for LEUs. The only stipulation is that courses must be at least 30 minutes in length to count for 1 LEU.
    Pro Tip: Courses that are 30-90 minutes of content are equivalent to 1 LEU.
  5. ISL’s Calendar of Events – The ISL also hosts our own webinars as well as other face-to-face trainings. The are listed on our calendar and are open to all library staff. Pro Tip: Registration for webinars is usually done through an internal link on the calendar. Just click on the training title and then click on the Event Registration Page in order to register.

This blog post was written by Suzanne Walker, Professional Development Office Supervisor. For more information, contact the Professional Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email