Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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Caitlin Johnson, director of the Schuylerville Public Library, is helping her community stay connected by expanding the reach of the library's WiFi to local public parks. Her effort is one of many that will be highlighted in a new multimedia marketing campaign from July-September focused on educating community members about how public libraries are bridging the digital divide and highlighting the diverse services they offer their local communities.

The eight-week “Visit Your Local Library” campaign, which is running in Albany, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington counties, features digital ads, radio commercials, billboards, transit advertising, grassroots marketing, public relations and social media. All of the strategies drive community members to the campaign website — — where they can find their local library.

There are several ways to help get the word out about the terrific work being done by public libraries to address digital equity issues:

Use the press release template and share it via email with newspapers in the county in which your library is located. A county-by-county list of newspapers is provided. If you have some high resolution photographs that show what your library is doing locally to help bridge the digital divide, please attach them to the press release.

There's also a turnkey social media calendar to use on your library’s Facebook and Instagram pages. The calendar includes both the post copy and images, making it simple for you to upload posts on Monday/Wednesday/Friday of each week.

This initiative is generously supported by federal American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated to the New York State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Bigger on the Inside

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Visitors to the Stillwater Library may be surprised to see a Tardis in residence. Imagine their delight when they open it and find it's stocked with fresh produce and food from the Farm-2-Library program!

Whale of a Time

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Library director Vicki Plude used a drone to capture the turnout for the Fort Edward Free Library's Ocean of Possibilities summer reading program. Participants gathered on a whale who took up residence in the parking lot.

Sensitive Location

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Libraries have been designated "sensitive locations" with the passage of S51001/A41001 by both the New York State Assembly & Legislature. It is now Chapter 371 in New York, which amends the process of obtaining a permit for weapons and prohibits concealed weapons in libraries and a selection of other public places.

Oath of Office

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The New York State Public Officer's Law §10 requires all public library trustees (except association library trustees) to take and file an oath of office within 30 days of beginning their term of office. Public library trustees are public officers and the oath of office is required to officially undertake and perform the duties of a public library trustee.

If a public library trustee does not properly complete and file an oath of office, the trustee’s position may be deemed vacant. See Public Officer's Law §30(1)(h).

For more information about how and why the oath of office is administered, and where to properly file an oath of office, please see the Oaths of Office FAQ on the New York State Library website.

Questions about the legal requirement for oaths of office or about library types should be directed to Sara Dallas.

Time on Your Side

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Time for a giant sigh of relief! Chapter 333 of the Laws of 2022 was enacted on June 30, 2022. This new law amends Education Law 273-a State Aid for Library Construction and will extend for two years the deadline for the completion of FY2019 library projects. These projects will now need to be completed by June 30, 2024. More information will be forthcoming about additional progress reports that may be needed.

State Library staff is directly notifying each library that does not yet have an approved 0386-19 final report.

If there are any changes to project activities from the original narrative approved by the State Education Department and DASNY, the library must contact the New York State Library at to request approval for an Amendment to Scope of the project. Obtaining Amendment to Scope approval prior to the expenditure of funds ensures that all new project activities are eligible for this State funding.

Big Moves

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Since the Capital District Library Council has relocated its offices, the Upper Hudson Library System will now serve as the connection between libraries in our region and the Empire Library Delivery for inter-library loan items that are borrowed through the Empire State Library Network.

Transit bags will be labeled UHLS--ILL instead of CDLC. UHLS (VUE) will now be a location on Empire Library Delivery.

Eclipse Couture

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The Space Science Institute/STAR Net Library Network is once again making eclipse glasses and resources available to libraries for the two solar eclipses happening in North America in 2023 and 2024. For more information and to register now for free eclipse glasses for your public library visit Solar Activities for Libraries.

There’s also a link on the SEAL page for library staff to register to join the eclipse community to share ideas, get updates, and ask questions. More information will be shared as it becomes available from the Space Science Institute.

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Pride & Prejudice

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After a Drag Queen Story Hour in California was disrupted, Lil Miss Hot mess responded with why story hour is important, how it spurs imagination and creativity, and why kids love it.

America's Next Great Author

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It was only a matter of time. Reality television realized if it wants drama, bring in the writers. The newest offering, presented by Kwame Alexander, is America's Next Great Author, which will showcase diverse writers who will compete to gain the ANGA title. What drama awaits? Stay tuned...

Healthy Communities

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The Niagara Falls Public Library recently installed telehealth pods, where patrons can have private, virtual medical appointments.

E-Book Price Wars Continue

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The battle over the cost of ebooks continues. In the latest round, a federal judge in Maryland struck down a state law requiring publishers to set "reasonable" prices for libraries, citing a violation of the US Copyright Act. The Maryland decision echoes action taken by Governor Hochul last year, when she vetoed a proposal from the legislature. The lawsuits are part of a larger conversation about controlled digital lending and the role of public libraries.
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Support for Small, Rural Libraries

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The American Library Association (ALA) announced that its Libraries Transforming Communities project will offer more than $7 million in grants to small and rural libraries to increase the accessibility of facilities, services and programs to better serve people with disabilities.

Beginning in November 2022, ALA will accept applications for grants distributed over the next three years ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. Participating libraries will first conduct community input-gathering sessions to assure that their work aligns with local needs. Libraries will be required to identify the primary audience they are hoping to reach (e.g., homebound seniors, children with autism, Deaf community members) and facilitate a community conversation with the impacted populations in order to guide improvement of the library’s services. Grantees will then use the funds to create services or improve their facilities based on the needs identified by their audience.

Additional information regarding Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities, Grant Advisor RFP requirements and how to apply for grants is available at

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The Association of Rural and Small Libraries is partnering with Penguin Random House on a new grant opportunity for small and rural libraries nationwide.

Apply for a Grant

Download a Sample Application

Not all applications will be selected for funding. If selected, grants will be awarded for up to $2,500.

This is a rolling grant application, with batches of applications going under review every 8 weeks beginning December 17, 2021. Applications will be submitted until all available grant funds are distributed.

Submission Window / Award Notification Deadline

  • April 11, 2022 - June 3, 2022 /July 29. 2022

Project reports must be submitted by February 1, 2023.

The program will award grants to libraries that demonstrate a true need. Grants are not limited to literacy and may be used for everything from library programming and books to resources like hotspots that help community members access important information. In-kind donations will also be considered.

Have questions? Please contact the ARSL Office at (206) 453-3579 or

Stories of Exile

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The Yiddish Book Center has announced "Stories of Exile" Reading Groups for Public Libraries, a reading and discussion program that will engage teens and adults in thinking about experiences of displacement, migration, and diaspora.

Participating libraries will organize a reading group for adults, teens ages 16 to 19, or a combined group to discuss three books of Yiddish literature in translation, as well as one book related to a community served by their library. Learn more and apply by August 19, 2022.

Using Yiddish literature as a portal, "Stories of Exile" will feature works in translation that explore narratives grappling with questions of homelands, journeys, identity, and belonging. Reading groups will compare these works-written in Yiddish in the early and mid-20th century-to works by contemporary writers from across the globe.

Selections from the reading list include Survivors: The Complete Short Stories of Chava Rosenfarb; On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash; and The Glatstein Chronicles by Jacob Glatstein.

Public libraries selected to participate in "Stories of Exile" will receive:

  • 15 copies of each of the three books on the Yiddish Book Center reading list, as well as copies for the discussion facilitator and the library's collection.
  • 15 copies of one additional book, selected by the library, related to the experiences of the community served by the library.
  • Travel, accommodation, and meal expenses paid for participation in a workshop at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA, to orient library staff on engaging reading groups and discussion of Yiddish literature in translation.
  • Online access to downloadable discussion guides and programming resources for future use.
  • Advice and assistance in identifying potential guest speakers, as well as training and support for engaging guest speakers at public events.

To learn more and apply, visit the Yiddish Book Center website.

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You Got Your Chocolate in My Peanut Butter or How to Facilitate Learning/Programming in a Hybrid Environment

Wednesday, July 27th, 3pm

This is an online event.

This workshop will help you ask the right questions to ensure you match the best delivery method to your objectives and audience. In addition, we will touch on some tools and tricks that will make your learning and programs participatory, useful, and memorable.

In the last three years of facilitation and programming, we went from:

  • A combination of mostly face-to-face with some virtual experiences, then
  • All virtual all the time, then
  • Mostly virtual with some component of face-to-face, and now
  • “What do we do now?”

It is not easy to figure out if you want to offer an all face-to-face experience, an online-only experience, or create a hybrid experience that will best serve your audience’s needs and meet your learning/programming objectives.

Maurice Coleman [he/him/his] is the Principal of Coleman & Associates. As a trainer, coach, and keynote speaker, Maurice helps organizations improve their human processes and use of technology, expand their internal/external communications, and broaden their focus and implementation of EDI activities.

Empower Your Library Against Book Bans

Thursday, July 28th, 4pm

This is an online event.

Get to know the current state of book challenges across the U.S. with a look at what led to this particular censorship movement. This presentation will offer not only the terminology and groups associated with book challenges in public schools and libraries within and beyond New York, but it will also offer insight into how to build strong challenge policies, craft effective responses to book challenges, and connect your community allies to ensure your public institution remains committed to information access for all. All attendees will walk away with a set of resources to put this knowledge into action immediately.

Kelly Jensen is an editor and author of three critically-acclaimed and award-winning YA anthologies, as well as an editor for Book Riot. At Book Riot, she writes a biweekly YA newsletter, "What's Up in YA?," and has focused much of her work in the last year on censorship. She's a former librarian who is passionate about reaching and serving teens.

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