Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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After a challenging year, it's great to have some good news to share. The biggest news is the inclusion of $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). It also includes $7 billion to be invested in broadband initiatives through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, providing additional money for the E-rate program, which will reimburse eligible libraries for 100% of the costs of equipment necessary to provide off-campus connectivity to patrons, including Wi-Fi hotspots, routers, laptops, and more.

The passage of ARPA marks a momentous win for libraries. In addition to increased IMLS funding, it includes $178 million for the Library Services and Technology Act.

In case your community is not aware, another $3.2 billion has been allocated to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which makes access to broadband for low-income families more affordable. Among other benefits, the temporary program provides a monthly discount for broadband internet services and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

But wait -- there's even MORE good news!

Anyone 50 years or older, public-facing government and public workers, not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need, and essential in-person building service workers are now eligible to get vaccinated. New Yorkers who qualify in these categories can make an appointment through the Am I Eligible Tool or the NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).

Improved Access

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) has implemented changes to the application certification process, making it easier for individuals with reading disabilities to apply for Talking Book and Braille Library service.

Now, librarians, social workers, school psychologists, counselors, reading specialists, speech pathologists, and educators may certify the eligibility of applicants with reading disabilities.

Until recently, individuals with reading disabilities were required to have a diagnosis and signature from a doctor of medicine to approve their eligibility for service. NLS has eased this requirement so a medical diagnosis is no longer necessary.

Now, eligibility can be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).

For more information, contact the NYS Talking Book and Braille Library, or


Above & Beyond

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NYS Senator Sean Ryan, Chair of the Senate Libraries Committee, is sponsoring an Outstanding Librarian Award. One winner will be selected from each region of the state and will receive special recognition.

Nominations should use the attached form and be submitted to Senator Ryan's office at by 3/31/2021.

Ready, Set, Plan!

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The Division of Library Development has updated the minimum standards public libraries must meet to retain their charters. Public libraries have until December 2021 to have community-based strategic plans in place. To help our member libraries meet that requirement, SALS will be hosting a five-part Engaged Planning series.

The series will guide member libraries through each of the stages of strategic planning. We’ll begin with an overview of the planning process, discuss landscape reviews, facilitate community conversations, and create meaningful plans that resonate with your community. Each workshop will be several weeks apart, so participating libraries will have a chance to complete homework in between, resulting in a completed plan.

The first workshop in this series has taken place. If you'd like a link to the recording, email Erica. The following workshops will be virtual. Please save the following dates/times:

  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, March 30
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, April 20
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, May 25
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, June 22

If you’re interested in taking part, please sign up here:

Healthy Communities

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The pandemic has brought to light many obstacles rural libraries face, including access to healthcare. Some libraries have begun to offer telehealth services to their patrons, providing space and a computer to connect with health care professionals in communities where hospitals and other health services require travel.

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

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The Jaffrey Public Library in New Hampshire opened its Monadnock Doll Hospital and Vaccination Clinic to address vaccine hesitancy. Kids make appointments with library staff to bring their dolls and stuffed animals to the library's clinic to get vaccinated. To meet the demand for the service, the library expanded its hours and is currently offering appointments six days a week.

Sharing is Caring

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Amazon is flexing its power and not allowing libraries to share digital content it owns. The result? Library patrons have fewer options of what to read.

National Opportunity

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The American Library Association's Public Programs Office (ALA PPO) is pleased to announce a partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation to create a series of resources that embrace diversity in telling stories and sharing skills related to personal finance and financial capability for children. In collaboration with FINRA, ALA PPO will develop and administer a program package to offer to 100 public and school libraries nationwide through a competitive application process. To carry out this work, ALA is recruiting 10 ALA member librarian advisors to collaborate on, research, and develop a financial literacy reading list and programming guide.

Responsibilities of the advisory group members will include:

  • Curate a book list and other resources that eschew stereotypes and embrace diversity in sharing stories and skills related to personal finance and financial capabilities for children.
  • Identify quality books where translations are available to ensure there are other language options for non-English readers.
  • Provide insights on best practices for curating an inclusive list to share with ALA staff and member groups.
  • Participate in regular check-in calls with ALA staff and fellow advisory committee members.
  • Assist with peer reviewing applications for the program package grant opportunity.

Each advisor will receive a $500 stipend for their work. Their involvement in the project will last approximately 7 months, from April – October 2021. We estimate work on the project will be approximately 25 hours over the course of seven months.

To be considered as an advisor, email a resume, noting any ALA round table, interest group, other ALA volunteer or relevant library profession volunteer activities, how you heard about this opportunity, and a one-page biography summarizing interest, experience, knowledge and anything else you feel is relevant to this work to BeeBee Browne at by March 29, 2021.

Refer a Friend

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The Friends of Libraries Section (FLS) of the New York Library Association (NYLA) is gathering information about Friends groups in New York State that support rural and small public libraries. The goal is to better assist these volunteer support organizations in their growth, development, and long-term success.

All Friends groups that respond to the survey will be entered into a drawing for a free one-year organizational membership in FLS/NYLA, a $50 value. (If the winning group is already a member, their organizational membership will be extended by one year.) In the event of multiple survey responses from a group, only a single entry will be placed in the drawing.

The survey link is posted on the FLS homepage ( or use this direct link.

The survey can be completed by a representative of the library or a representative of the library's Friends group. Survey respondents do not need to confer with other members of the organization. Multiple replies from various group members are acceptable and would be appreciated. Responses are being accepted through Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

FLS wants to gather information from groups that are distant from an urbanized area. Rather than "small" referring to Friends groups with a small number of volunteers on their roster, FLS defines "small" in relation to the population of the library's potential service area, generally less than 10,000 residents. However, FLS welcomes any library or Friends group that identifies their library as rural and/or small to complete the survey, whatever the population of the library's service area. FLS is interested to learn about specific challenges faced by Friends organizations that support these libraries.

FLS' mission is to create a network to connect and inspire Friends groups in all types of libraries to support the New York library community. Thank you for assisting us in our work by taking the time to participate in this survey!

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Applications are now open for the Documentary Heritage and Preservation Services NY's Spring 2021 Planning & Assessment Services Round!

This is the first application round of DHPSNY's second five-year iteration and includes important COVID-19 safety precautions. Most significantly, these services will only be offered virtually to ensure personal safety. Applications are due Friday, March 26, 2021, for consideration in the spring application round.

Begin your application process by deciding which of our services is best for your program. To help you get started, we've outlined each of our services below with links to testimonials and application materials.

Our Planning & Assessment page also features helpful tools for navigating the application process, including sample applications and frequently asked questions.

If you're still unsure which service to apply for or whether your institution is ready, DHPSNY staff is here to help. For assistance, questions about eligibility, or additional information, contact DHPSNY Program Manager Anastasia Matijkiw at (215) 545-0613 extension 338 or

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Talk Story: Sharing Stories, Sharing Culture is a literacy program that reaches out to Asian American, Pacific Islander and American Indian families. Talk Story celebrates and explores Asian American, Pacific Islander, and American Indian stories through books, oral traditions, and cultural arts to provide an interactive and enriching experience. This grant provides financial support to libraries and community organizations who want to introduce a Talk Story program. 2021 Talk Story programs may be conducted in person or virtually.

Talk Story is a partnership between the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) and the American Indian Library Association (AILA) and 2021 grant funding is available through the generous support of Toyota California Community Foundation.

Libraries and community organizations that serve Asian American, Pacific Islander, and/or American Indian children and their families are eligible to apply. We encourage libraries and community organizations to work together on a Talk Story program. With the exception of cross-border tribal organizations, all organizations must be based in the United States or U.S. territories.

Organizations who have previously been awarded two Talk Story grants are ineligible for additional awards.

Two grant winners for each organization (APALA and AILA) will receive $750 to fund a program that meets the criteria of the grant.

Applications are now being accepted for American Indian or Asian American & Pacific Islander programs.

Please submit a complete and detailed application including a Statement of Need, Narrative, and Proposed Budget. Please describe the program your library or community organization would do with the award and what types of programs highlighting Asian American, Pacific Islander, or American Indian cultures you are interested in planning for your community.

You may apply for either an APALA grant OR an AILA grant. You may not apply to both organizations.

Applications must be received by Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Awards will be announced by Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Past grant winners have included language programs, early childhood literacy, youth identity development, and a variety of arts programming including dance, music, and writing. “There is a lot of room for creativity in this grant,” said Angela Thornton, Co-Chair of the Talk Story program. “We want people to explore partnerships in their communities and see what they can create.”

Applications are due by April 1, 2021. Eligibility details and past winners can be found at

Learn All the Things!

Census Essentials: Understanding the American Community Survey and Decennial Data

Friday, March 26th, 10am

This is an online event.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey of the U. S. Census Bureau. It provides much more detailed information than the decennial census.

This program will explore the American Community Survey, decennial census data and datasets on We will learn about background information on the data, such as frequency of datasets, geography, data thresholds, and margin of error. Then we will delve into to learn how to retrieve ACS and the forthcoming 2020

This program will be presented by David J. Kraiker of the Datat Dissemination and Training Branch of the U.S. Census Bureau.

What Could Schools and Libraries Do With $7 Billion?

Wednesday, March 31st, 1pm

This is an online event.

In a groundbreaking move, Congress is providing $7 billion in new funding to help schools and libraries support remote learning by extending their broadband connections off-campus. The opportunity formally opens a new door to exciting possibilities for how schools and libraries serve their communities. As these anchors prepare their applications for this funding, what can they learn from those that have already traveled this road? On our next webinar, SHLB will explore “to and through” case studies that schools and libraries can model to close the digital divide for their students and patrons.

Planning for Recovery

Monday, April 12th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Despite the best plans about what to do in the moment you experience a fire or flood or extended power outage, these random events still occur. And then what?

The focus of this webinar is about helping libraries plan for recovery after a catastrophic event. This session is structured as a panel discussion with three library directors who have experienced disasters at their libraries. They will briefly explain what happened and then describe how they and their staff transitioned from the immediate response to rebuilding. They will share lessons on what they wished they had known or done before the disaster, what they learned during the rebuilding, and any steps they took to review what happened that inform new plans or policies.

This event is free and open to all library workers.
All participants will receive a certificate for CE Credit.
The webinar will be recorded.

Telehealth in Rural Public Libraries

Wednesday, April 14th, 11am

This is an online event.

Learn how a rural library partnered with the University of North Texas Health Science Center to launch a pilot telehealth program. In rural communities, libraries often have the fastest internet connection in town together with digital literacy to assist users. Rural Americans face health inequities that result in worse health care outcomes than their peers in more populated areas. The presentation will include a discussion of logistics, and the role of health and digital literacy in telehealth.