Tag Archives: public libraries

Learning at the PLA Conference

22 Mar

pla 2018 conference logo final@ RGB

I’m so excited to be spending the next few days at the PLA conference which will be held in my own backyard – Philadelphia! This conference is held every other year and I got a chance to go in 2016 to Denver, which was awesome, because I got to visit my sister for a few days before the conference. This year the hardest part will be commuting into the city, but I’m excited to spend some time with librarians from across the country and to discuss some current trends and learn some new ideas.

If you see me wandering through the convention center, please stop me and say “hi!”



Director’s Thoughts #12 – Office Space (or Mantras to Work By)

12 Aug


My office has some fairly hideous carpet – dark green border with a pale lilac faded interior color, which makes decorating my office extremely difficult, but what I did find were some of these absolutely adorable children’s book posters that I use as my director mantras (it also helps that I chose them in shades of purple to offset the carpet. Coming from a children’s librarian perspective, these are not only the perfect fit, I adore them! Take a look at Bookroo for a variety of amazing posters and if I were independently wealthy, I’d probably by them all… I’m especially eyeing The Polar Express as it carries a lot of memories for me around the holidays. But, let me explain to you the reason I specifically chose these three posters.

Lily and the Perfect Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes is about a small mouse named Lily who has a really difficult day at school which causes a lot of frustration and anger on Lily’s part. But, she learns from her ever-inspiring teacher that tomorrow is a new day and learns how to comprehend strong emotions, taking turns and be considerate of others. My director’s mantra from this book: Try again tomorrow.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney is the story of a young woman who grows up to travel the world, live by the sea and as her grandfather says, “…do something to make the world more beautiful.” And so, everywhere Miss Rumphius travels, she plants lupine flowers all around her town, which makes her little corner of the world beautiful. This is a quiet story with beautiful illustrations and a lovely message. My director’s mantra from this book: Make the world more beautiful.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is the story of a young princess named Elizabeth who is having a really rough day – a dragon destroyed her castle, lit everything she owns on fire and took off with her prince, so with nothing to wear Princess Elizabeth dons a paper and sets off to find her prince. When she finally reaches him, the prince is less than impressed with Elilzabeth’s messed up, tangled hair, her paper bag and her appearance in general and demands that she goes back to the castle and come back to save him when she looks more presentable. Elizabeth decides the prince isn’t worth in the end. My director’s mantra from this book: Sometimes you have to say, “Screw it” I’m going to make the decision that is best for us (even when you don’t think it is).

I love all three of these stories and find their messages help me get through my tough days, my great days and all the days in between. How do you decorate your office (or what are your mantras)?

Director’s Thoughts #9 – Telling Stories

17 Jun


I’m trying something new with my staff as of the end of this week. I’ve been asking the question lately, “How do we make people care?” People being our staff, stakeholders, supervisors, etc. I want our staff to know that we’re making a difference every single day, I want our stakeholders to know about all the great things we’re doing and I want the township supervisors to see how we impact our community.

Statistics work great – how many people walk through our doors, how many items are checked out, how many people attend our programs, but these statistics don’t tell our story. So, this week I taped a piece of posterboard to the wall in our staff hallway (we don’t have our own break room). All I wrote on it was “Our Impact” and now I’m asking staff to share patron stories – nice words at the circ desk, a kind comment after a program or a word of thanks for help using the computers.

I’m hoping to show our staff just how much our community values the work we do. I’m hoping for great stories to share on our social media. And I want these strong stories to share with our Board in the hopes that they are not only impressed by our numbers, but also see just how much we do to impact our community in a truly positive way.

How do you collect and share your stories?

Federal Budget Cuts, or What Is the IMLS?

22 Mar

C7Xwd1fU8AAr7bRAs I promised in a previous post, this is not a blog to become political, but it is a blog to be educated about library issues and this issue is too big to ignore. This post is longer than usual, but I really want people to understand what the IMLS is and what it does. The federal budget blueprint has been published and eliminates federal funding to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This may not mean anything to the everyday person, but for anyone in the field its difficult to comprehend what this could mean for the work we do everyday.

The IMLS is an independent agency of the federal government established in 1996. It is the main source of federal funding for museums and libraries and focuses on the following national issues and priorities:

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  • Preservation, Conservation, and Care of Content and Collections
  • National Digital Platform
  • Museum and Library Professionals
  • Communities of Practice
  • Accessibility in Museums and Libraries
  • Access to Content and Collections
  • Community
  • Early Learning
  • Management of Content and Collections
  • Makerspaces
  • Inclusive and Accessible Learning
  • 21st Century Skills

C7XTjTbWkAEwlfwThe IMLS supports 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums in the United States. And more specifically, “IMLS supports the full range of libraries, including public, academic, research, special and tribal, and the full range of museums including art, history, science and technology, children’s museums, historical societies, tribal museums, planetariums, botanic gardens and zoos.” I also have a soft spot in my heart for the IMLS, not only because I’m a librarian, but because I also did an internship at the IMLS office in Washington DC during graduate school.

Many people don’t understand how library funding works – and granted, it’s different for different libraries, but in the public sector libraries are usually funded by some combination of local, state and federal funding. I’ll use my library as an example. The majority of funding comes at the local level with limited funding from the state and federal level. Our budget for the year is about $2.1 million. Of this, only about $85,000 comes from state and federal grants.  That means only 4% of my budget does not come from local revenue.

Granted, a cut in funding at the federal level, does not trickle down to my library and cause major damage. The majority of federal funding for libraries is funneled through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) – the only federal program exclusively for libraries. This money is administered by the IMLS and is given to all 50 states, five territories and three Freely Associated States. The amount received includes a base amount, plus a supplemental amount based on population.  For example, Pennsylvania received $5,467,151 for FY 2016. This money is then spread among the over 450 public libraries and countless special libraries across the state. That’s where our $85,000 comes into play.

IMLS funding also supports state-wide grants and programs that would cease to exist without the financial support from the IMLS.  Over the past 20 years, the IMLS funded over 40 projects in Pennsylvania alone – projects to encourage literacy, preservation of archival material, collaborations with museums, and much more.  Specifically, One Book, Every Young Child, an initiative in its twelfth year in Pennsylvania is funded through an IMLS grant.  This program “highlights the importance of early literacy development in preschoolers and the significance of reading early and often to children, as well as engaging them in conversation and other activities around books.” With a shared book title throughout the state, author visits as well as activities for parents, families, early childhood educators, librarians and museum employees, this program benefits numerous people across the state.

So how are librarians reacting to the news?

The President of ALA responded with, “The American Library Association will mobilize its members, Congressional library champions and the millions upon millions of people we serve in every zip code to keep those ill-advised proposed cuts from becoming a Congressional reality.” Check out #saveIMLS on Twitter and the Facebook badge that you can add to your profile picture. Click on over to everylibrary.org to email your representative about the importance of IMLS.

Oh, and by the way, the federal government saves .002% by eliminating the IMLS, but by keeping the IMLS, we show the world that we value education, literacy, culture, science, technology and so much more.

And I know that the IMLS isn’t the only agency/department affected by this budget blueprint, but I want to educate people about the importance of the IMLS and everything that it does for the community you live in, where ever that may be.



Director’s Thoughts #5

25 Jan


As I’ve mentioned in the past, we’re spending this year working on a 3-year strategic plan for our library. We’re starting from the ground up with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, PEST (Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological) analysis and identifying our stakeholders. This project is being done not only by the library board, but also by my department heads as well as any staff who want to participate. I didn’t want to force anyone to participate, but I also didn’t want to work on this HUGE project and at the end of the year hear from my staff that “nobody asked me what I thought.” So I’ve staggered the due dates for each part of this first planning session, we had our fist meeting for anyone who wanted to participate and we’ll have another staff meeting tomorrow as well as a department heads meeting on Thursday.

My staff really surprised me at our first meeting! I had six staff members participate this morning and it was a great discussion and process.  They all had really great and different ideas to share in our SWOT analysis. I can’t wait to combine everyone’s ideas and really get a broader sense of what people see as strengths and weaknesses for our library. And what I’ve been telling my staff, our weaknesses are just opportunities to become strengths!

Search for my library director thoughts posts to get a better sense of how my life has changed since I became a director a few months ago!

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