Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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Did you know 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, and 67% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from school libraries? Despite these numbers, librarians remain on the front lines of defending the freedom to read. As we've mentioned, conservative groups are pushing for banning or removing titles featuring LGBTQIA+ material or programs or content by or about Black and Brown people. When conservative groups target public libraries, they don't stop at having material removed -- they often push for defunding, limiting resources, or firing, fining, and imprisoning librarians. These draconian measures point to the real purpose of groups attacking public libraries -- to stop equitable access to information.

But why would anyone want to limit what others read, listen to, or watch? Why would they target material that supports marginalized groups? Why would they threaten librarians?

It's part of a more extensive, well-organized, and funded political agenda. The tactics used by conservative groups include framing the conversation about concern for children, not book banning. Candidates interested in controlling access to information are running for positions on library boards to influence policies and procedures, including collection development. But let's be clear. This is censorship, plain and simple.

As librarians, we have a professional duty to advocate for intellectual freedom. Emily Amick, an attorney, and founder of For Fact's Sake, suggests the following strategy when responding to attempts at censorship (which may be cloaked in concerns about obscenity):

  • Fragmented messaging doesn't work on social media. You must repeat your message multiple times.
  • It's not about books; it's about one core group trying to control everyone else.
  • Say the things that seem obvious. What people in the library know may seem obscure to people hearing loud messages elsewhere.
  • Repeating book banners' terminology reinforces their platform.
  • Move beyond defense into offense. Do this with humor and point out how ridiculous book bans are.
  • Don't reply to DMs or comments. Calling out hypocrisy incites backlash.

Sign on to Unite Against Book Bans and Free for All and help spread the word about the damage the misinformation campaign is doing to our democracy. Celebrate efforts to codify intellectual freedom, like the recent injunction by an Arkansas judge against a law that would limit access to material.

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month! Get ready to celebrate the world of wonder available through the most valuable card in your wallet!

National Recognition

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We're super proud of the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library for being awarded an American Library Association PR xChange Award in the category of Virtual Exhibits for its video, 2022, A Year in Review! This year's competition was tough, with 215 entries competing for recognition. Shout out to Amanda Menneto, the library's Web & Digital Content Coordinator, for creating the award-winning video.

Brew Through

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The Saratoga Springs Public Library's coffee shop is open! Run by the Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, all proceeds will benefit the library. If you're in town, be sure to stop by and grab a treat!

Treasured Resource

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The Crandall Public Library is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its Folklife Center! If you haven't had a chance to visit, be sure to check it out!

Community Health

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Public libraries play a critical role in community health. As the opioid epidemic devastates our communities, we partner with the New York State Office of Addiction Services & Supports to distribute free fentanyl testing strips through our libraries.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50-100x more potent than other opioids like heroin or morphine. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths involving fentanyl have quadrupled in recent years. By making these strips available to the public, we hope to help alleviate opioid deaths in our region.

If your library is interested in sharing these fentanyl testing strips, don't hesitate to contact Erica or Pamela, and we'll send some out to your library!

Intellectual Freedom Fighters

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The value of Intellectual Freedom has been an integral part of librarianship since the dawn of World War II. In recent years, we have seen an unprecedented surge of challenges to libraries across the country, primarily focused on resources concerning LGBTQ+ people and People of Color. This webinar at 6 pm Monday, August 28, will focus on the brief history and enduring purpose of the Library Bill of Rights, and a series of both preemptive and follow-up responses to library challenges.

Jamie LaRue is the director of the Garfield County (Colorado) Public Library District. Author of "The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges (2007)," and the upcoming "On Censorship: A Public Librarian Examines Cancel Culture in the US (Fulcrum, fall 2023) LaRue has been a public library director for many years, as well as a weekly newspaper columnist and cable TV host. From January of 2016 to November of 2018, he was director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. He has written, spoken, and consulted extensively on intellectual freedom issues, leadership and organizational development, community engagement, and the future of libraries.

The webinar is provided by the Southern Adirondack Library System, Crandall Public Library, and the New York Library Association.

Trustee Training

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Calling all library trustees! Take your leadership to the next level with the Trustee Handbook Book Club 2023 sessions.

  • Strategic Planning (Tuesday, August 15, 2023 | 5:00-6:30pm) REGISTER

  • Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Access & Justice (Tuesday, October 17, 2023 | 5:00-6:30pm) REGISTER

  • Financing & Managing Construction Projects (Tuesday, December 19, 2023 | 5:00-6:30pm) REGISTER

Those who attend a live session will receive a certificate of attendance, and everyone who registers for a session will have access to the recordings.

This series is brought to you thanks to a partnership facilitated through the Public Library System Directors Organization of New York State (PULISDO), the New York State Library, and the Library Trustees Association Section of the New York Library Association.

Planning for a Library Construction Project

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Registration is now open for a fall webinar on “Planning for a Library Construction Project” from 2-3:30 pm Tuesday, September 12.

A construction project is one of the most daunting challenges a librarian can undertake. In partnership with the design firm Sasaki, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has developed a set of best practices for designing library space that may be applied to libraries across the nation. In this webinar, MBLC Library Building Specialists Lauren Stara and Andrea Bono-Bunker will provide an overview of the resource and answer questions about library design and construction.

The webinar will be recorded and uploaded to the New York State Library website once closed-captioning work has been completed.

For more information on the State Aid for Library Construction program, contact Program Manager, Natalie McDonough.

NYS Education Department Drops New Framework Supporting Transgender & Gender Expansive Students

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The New York State Education Department today released a framework and legal update to support schools in fostering an educational environment that is safe, supportive, and affirming for transgender and gender expansive (TGE) students, Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced. The framework provides legal updates and best practices to facilitate compliance with state and federal laws concerning bullying, harassment, discrimination, and student privacy. The update also reflects outreach to include the voices and experiences of transgender and gender expansive students in New York schools.

Building on the 2015 Guidance to School Districts for Creating a Safe, and Supportive School Environment for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students this update will help public school administrators continue to take proactive steps to create a culture in which TGE, nonbinary, and intersex students feel safe, supported, and included. The framework outlines best practices to assist public schools in implementing sustainable practices to ensure all students are free from discrimination regardless of sex, gender identity, or expression.

To ensure stakeholder input was considered and embedded throughout the update, the Department convened an advisory group comprised of more than 30 stakeholders from across the state including the voices and experiences of NYS transgender and gender expansive students.

Creating a Safe, Supportive, and Affirming School Environment for Transgender and Gender Expansive Students: 2023 Legal Update and Best Practices was updated to:

  • Reflect changes in New York State Human Rights Law and federal law which provide enhanced protections to transgender and gender expansive students;
  • Provide current national and New York State data on the experiences of transgender and gender expansive students;
  • Clarify information regarding student privacy, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and student records;
  • Provide best practices for supporting transgender and gender expansive students and recommended best practices to move away from gender-based activities; and
  • Include student voices and their lived experiences.

A full version of the framework and legal update is available on the Department’s Office of Student Support Services website.

Oath of Office

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Many library trustee terms began on July 1. New York State Public Officer's Law §10 requires all public library trustees (but not 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.

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Go Directly to Jail

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Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have passed obscenity laws targeting school and public libraries, potentially imprisoning and fining librarians who share material deemed obscene or harmful. Another dozen states have similar legislation pending. And in Mississippi, the Hoopla and Overdrive/Libby platforms have been banned for patrons younger than 18. Similar legislation is being crafted in Texas.

A recent study in the Washington Post revealed the majority of titles deemed obscene or harmful were targeted for LGBTQIA or Black content. The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is pushing back, ruling that removing books from school libraries is creating a "racially and sexually hostile environment for students."

Book Sanctuary

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Libraries are getting creative in the fight for intellectual freedom. The Dayton Metro Library in Ohio recently passed a resolution declaring itself a book sanctuary, where books that have been banned and challenged in other places will be shared.

Good Neighbors

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Are you ready to celebrate your community? National Good Neighbor Day takes place on September 28, and is a great way to spotlight the incredible work libraries do with their communities every day.
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National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the nation’s highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Since 1994, IMLS has presented the award to outstanding libraries and museums of all types and sizes that deeply impact their communities.

Apply Now: Nomination Form (September 1, 2023 deadline)

Reference copy of all questions (PDF, 236KB)

Informational slides for nominees (PDF, 543KB)

The National Medals program recognizes outstanding libraries and museums of all types and sizes that deeply impact their communities by:

  • fostering a lifelong passion for learning for all people, nourishing curiosity and imagination from early childhood through adulthood, for people of all abilities and needs;

  • providing access to information by building a literate, well-informed community and advancing digital capacity, focusing on digital inclusion and access to digital and informational resources, including e-books and materials to help address workforce development and public health;

  • enriching the lives of community members by being trusted community spaces for convening, connection, and conversation; enlightenment and shared thoughts and opinions; and preserving natural and cultural heritage and community memory; and

  • responding to the unprecedented challenges of recent years to revitalize and renew organizational practice.

Approximately fifteen libraries and fifteen museums will be selected as finalists, for a total of thirty. From these finalists, a minimum of three museums and three libraries will then be selected to receive National Medals.

Share the Love!

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Has a librarian made a difference in your life or gone above and beyond to serve your community? The I Love My Librarian Award invites library users like you to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians. Each year, up to 10 librarians are honored at a ceremony held in their honor and receive a $5,000 cash award.

Since the award was established in 2008, 150 librarians have received this distinguished honor. In that time, library users nationwide have shared more than 23,000 nominations detailing how librarians have gone above and beyond in their commitment to inclusivity, literacy, and digital access.

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Art Resources Transfer's Library Program provides free books on art and culture to public libraries, schools, and incarcerated readers nationwide.

The book catalog offers 300+ titles published by leading museums, galleries, and independent presses nationwide. Books are free and shipped free of charge. To get started, sign up through the website here.

Americans and the Holocaust Traveling Exhibition

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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office present Americans and the Holocaust, a traveling exhibition that examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

Following a highly successful tour to 50 libraries from 2021 to 2023, the exhibition will now be available to 50 additional public and academic (i.e., college and university) libraries from 2024 to 2026.

Libraries in communities with a demonstrated interest in and need for quality Holocaust education are especially encouraged to apply. Read the project guidelines and apply online by October 14, 2023.

Selected libraries will receive:

  • The 1,100-square-foot exhibition on loan for five to six weeks;
  • A $3,000 allowance to support public programs;
  • Expenses paid for a library staff member to attend an orientation workshop (May 15-16, 2024 ) at the Museum in Washington, D.C.; and
  • Publicity materials, programming resources, ongoing support from the Museum and the ALA, and more.

Apply here:

Applications close October 14, 2023

Thinking Money for Kids Program Kit & Grant

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We all need to master the knowledge and skills to make smart financial choices and prepare for whatever the future brings. Thinking Money for Kids, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, strives to teach children and their parents, caregivers and educators about financial topics — like saving, spending, sharing and budgeting — in a way that is both meaningful and fun.

ALA and the FINRA Foundation invite public libraries to apply to receive a Thinking Money for Kids Program Kit, a collection of expertly vetted resources to help libraries offer financial education for children ages 3 to 12, both in the library and in children’s homes.

Approximately 200 public libraries will be selected to receive a Thinking Money for Kids Program Kit (estimated kit value: $2,000). Libraries will keep all kit contents after the grant period ends.

ALA will accept online applications for this opportunity from June 15 to September 8, 2023. The programming period will run from September 2024 through December 2025.

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Embodying DEI and Cultural Humility in Workplace Wellness

Wednesday, Aug. 9th, 10am

This is an online event.

In the last three years, we’ve experienced and witnessed the need for organizations that center their employee’s well-being and how vital diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural humility are to our wellness and work. In Fostering Wellness in the Workplace, I stated, “No matter where you work, you have a right to a physically and emotionally healthy and supportive workplace” (p. 48). This webinar will delve into how diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural humility are essential to workplace wellness, along with strategies and resources.

You will gain:

  • An overview of cultural humility and connections to wellness.
  • Critical concepts related to barriers and challenges.
  • Questions to help you assess your wellness needs.

Twanna Hodge is a Ph.D. student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a BA in Humanities from the University of the Virgin Islands and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. Her previous position was the diversity, equity, and inclusion librarian at the University of Florida. She is a 2013 American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholar, a 2018 ALA Emerging Leader, and a 2022 ALA Spectrum Doctoral Fellow.

Live captioning will be provided.

This webinar will be recorded and a recording will be shared with all registrants afterward.

Planning for a Library Construction Project

Tuesday, Sep. 12th, 2pm

This is an online event.

A construction project is one of the most daunting challenges a librarian can undertake. In partnership with the design firm Sasaki, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has developed a set of best practices for designing library space that may be applied to libraries across the nation. In this webinar, MBLC Library Building Specialists Lauren Stara and Andrea Bono-Bunker will provide an overview of the resource and answer questions about library design and construction.