Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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This Saturday is Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. The national celebration of liberation is also known as Freedom or Jubilee Day and is traditionally marked by all the best things -- family gatherings, cookouts, and community celebrations. As we celebrate the end of slavery in the United States and acknowledge the incredible contributions of Black people to our history and culture, we have a chance to celebrate Black history, joy, and excellence in our library programs, staffing, and collections.

If you'd like to celebrate Juneteenth with colleagues, join the Coalition for Library Workers of Color Roundtable for its inaugural celebration. It's a chance to talk about what's happening in our libraries and how we want to move forward in a way that celebrates our collective liberation.

Happy Juneteenth!

Leaving Our Fingerprints on History

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SUNY Schenectady highlighted the excellent work being done by Michelle Isopo (from the Schuylerville Public Library) on the Leaving Our Fingerprints on History project, which documents the impact of the pandemic on people's lives. If you haven't yet contributed your story, there's still time to be involved! Thanks, Michelle (and Lori Wies, from Saratoga Springs Public Library), for all of your incredible work on this project!

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 final workshop in the series will take place from 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, June 22.

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

Celebrating Liberation!

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Join the Coalition for Library Workers of Color Roundtable for our first annual Juneteenth celebration! The Coalition is a group committed to eliciting change and growth in support of people of color within the library community.

Bring your lunch as we discuss what we’ve been up to, what programs you want to see from us, and where your libraries are post-George Floyd. Learn how to join and become part of the movement.

Bridging the Digital Divide

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The New York State Library recently released a new report, New York’s Digital Divide: Examining adoption of internet and computers for the state and its library districts on its Digital Equity webpage.


The COVID-19 pandemic has vividly demonstrated the disadvantages of lacking home internet service. One in four (4) households in New York State do not have a foundational tool for internet connectivity – a wireline high-speed internet subscription for their home. These gaps are more pronounced for low-income New Yorkers, older adults, and communities of color.

Public libraries have always played a role in addressing the digital needs of those with limited means of digital connectivity. They are also highly trusted institutions in the eyes of the public. This positions libraries to play a prominent part in addressing the digital divide, which will persist even as the COVID crisis fades.

The following data reflects New York State using 2019 American Community Survey data.

Two million New York households do not subscribe to high-speed wireline internet service at home, and some 1.6 million households do not have a computer.

  • Nearly 27% of New York households do not subscribe to wireline broadband service at home.
  • Some 22% of New York households do not have a desktop or laptop computer at home.

Poor New Yorkers, older adults, and communities of color have low adoption rates of digital tools.

  • Half of New York’s lowest-income residents (those whose annual incomes are $25,000 or less) do not have a wireline broadband subscription, and half lack a computer.
  • 40% of older (age 65 and above) New Yorkers do not have wireline subscriptions for internet service, and about one-third do not have a computer.
  • One-third of African American and Latino households do not have wireline broadband at home, and similar numbers do not have a desktop or laptop computer.

Rural New York households are less likely than metropolitan dwellers to have wireline service, and low-income rural New Yorkers struggle to afford service.

  • 31% of households in non-metropolitan areas do not have wireline broadband, compared with 26% of households in metro areas who do not subscribe to wireline service.

There is significant variation in the adoption of digital tools across the state’s 23 library systems.

  • Lower-income rural areas and some urban library locations have home wireline adoption rates that are 20 percentage points lower than wealthier counterparts.
  • Some library systems with low population density and (on average) healthy household incomes have broadband adoption rates above the state average.

The report makes recommendations for closing the digital divide, including funding partnerships for digital inclusion, promoting awareness of discount internet offerings, strengthening the state’s role in digital inclusion, and helping enhance users’ digital skills in using the internet and computers. To that end, libraries will require additional funding for digital inclusion programs and upgrade the network speeds for library facilities to meet growing demand.

The State Education Department identified three priority areas for change that can result in meaningful progress toward digital equity:

  • Make Digital Inclusion a State-Level Priority;
  • Create and Sustain Thriving Digital Equity Ecosystems Across the Entire State; and
  • Achieve a Digital Justice Mindset.

Make Digital Inclusion a State-Level Priority

Digital inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and can use information and communications technologies. This includes five elements:

  • Affordable, robust broadband internet service;
  • Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
  • Access to digital fluency training;
  • Quality technical support; and
  • Applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration.

New York’s investment in and attention to broadband access have not been accompanied by a proportional investment in digital inclusion efforts to improve broadband adoption. The state government is an essential partner in ensuring that New Yorkers have access to affordable, robust broadband internet service and the devices, training, and support they need to fully benefit from the opportunities the internet promises. Building infrastructure for access without accompanying policy to provide support and engagement will fail to achieve digital equity goals.

Thriving Digital Equity Ecosystems Across the State

Digital inequity is a complex problem, and closing digital equity gaps will require coordination, cooperation, and capacity-building of many organizations. Establishing connections between these organizations can help regions develop models intended to achieve household internet access, device ownership, and a full range of goals-based digital literacy skills and sustained technology support. Establishing these coalitions now will prepare communities and regions to put federal, state, and philanthropic funding to good use when it’s available for digital equity work.

The shift from Digital Equity to Digital Justice

The root causes of digital inequity cannot be separated from the root causes of racism, opportunity gaps, and other systems of oppression. Meaningful progress toward digital equity can allow New York to:

  • Create systems for community empowerment;
  • Design digital equity solutions to achieve racial justice; and
  • Center people typically excluded from online participation due to race, income, disability, language, sexuality, geography, or other barriers in digital equity planning and solution implementation.

Advocates who participated in Digital Equity Summits would like to see the internet be considered a public infrastructure rather than a commodity.

Next Steps

The State Library will:

  • Prepare the state, our partners, and stakeholders to make effective use of federal stimulus money and promote federal digital equity programs;
  • Continue to expand on the goals outlined in this report and the change ideas shared by stakeholders at the Summits and share this information with NYSED’s network of partners; and
  • Develop a digital equity plan for the Department, leveraging the Department’s capacity in addressing the above change ideas where feasible and appropriate.

Information on resources supporting these recommendations and further detailing the results of the Digital Equity Summit may be found on the State Library website.

Build Your Skills!

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You Are Not Alone

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Are you not sure how to handle an issue with staff? Are you looking to create an employee handbook? Wishing they taught Human Resources in library school? Fret no more! The 3Rs Library Resource Council has created Ask the HR Expert, similar to the Ask a Lawyer service. Submit questions to have answered by a professional.

Data Jamboree

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Find out how to best research census data when the NY Census Office hosts two webinars sharing Census Bureau Data for Librarians. The workshop will take place from 9 to 10:30 am Thursday, July 1.

Altogether Now

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Overdrive, the digital reading platform SALS' uses for e-content, recently purchased Kanopy, a streaming movie service focusing on art, documentary and Criterion Collection selections. There's not a lot of information about what this means, so stay tuned!
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Public and tribal libraries are invited to apply for NASA@ My Library, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education initiative that will increase and enhance STEAM learning opportunities for library patrons throughout the nation, including geographic areas and populations currently underrepresented in STEAM education.

60 public and tribal libraries in the U.S. will be selected through a competitive application process to become NASA@ My Library Partners.

Applications will be accepted from until July 21. View the project guidelines and apply online. ALA members and nonmembers are encouraged to apply.

NASA@ My Library Partners will receive training and resources to implement NASA events and programming, access to a university subject matter expert (SME) to support patron engagement, and a $1,600 programming stipend to purchase materials for NASA STEAM activities and/or support presentations by local NASA-funded SMEs.

This opportunity is open to public and tribal libraries in the U.S. Priority consideration will be given to libraries in communities with above average populations of demographics underrepresented in STEM education and professions. For more details on priority consideration and eligibility, visit the project guidelines.

The project is offered by the National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute (SSI) in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and Education Development Center (EDC). Support comes from NASA's Science Mission Directorate as part of its Science Activation program.

All the Awards!

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The Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize, developed in partnership between the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation and Library Journal, was created in 2019 to recognize the public library as a vital community asset. When libraries, civic entities, organizations, and the people they serve become close partners, their communities thrive.

Prize: One winning library will receive $250,000 in unfettered grant monies from the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation. The winning library will also be profiled in the November issue of Library Journal and online. Honorable mentions may also be named.

The winning library will be identified based on the degree of its impact on the community in the following key areas:

  • Engagement – a) How does local government interact with the library—and vice versa—to support the service area’s defined civic goals? b) How does the library use collaborations with community groups and individuals to drive library services?
  • Recognition – How does the community recognize and value the library? Inclusion – How does the library meet the needs of marginalized or underserved populations among its community and to promote social cohesion and connection across differences?
  • Leadership development – How does the library ensure its own organizational strength and dynamism?
  • Environmental sustainability – How does the library lead on sustainable thinking for the library itself and the community at large?
  • Inventiveness – Provide an example of one of the library’s services which is particularly original, both strategically and tactically?

Application Requirements

  • Nominations will be submitted via an online form.
  • Nominations should include the following:
    • Nominee data: Library name, primary contact and contact mailing address, phone number, email.
    • Library data: population in service area, physical area served, per capita budget, number of patrons served, number of FTE, hours of volunteer service contributed to the library each year, types of existing funding sources with their relative percentages within total funding, and days and hours open per week. (We recognize that COVID closures may make the latter complicated. Please provide your pre-pandemic standard open hours and a brief explanation of any significant variation owing to the coronavirus.)
    • Multiple-author submissions are permitted. For submissions with multiple authors, please include the names and affiliations of all of the group members.
    • An overview summary of no more than 1,000 words pertaining to the goals and criteria listed above.
    • Detailed answers to focused answers on each of the criteria-driven questions above (via fields in the online submission form).
    • Three letters of support from community partners and/or civic leaders, with at least one from an elected official.
    • Optional: Supporting materials such as photographs/images of the library and surrounding community; press coverage, brief videos (not exceed three minutes), etc. These materials are NOT REQUIRED and may or may not be reviewed in the evaluation process.

Read about the 2020 winner, Cranston Public Library.

Eligibility: All U.S. Public Libraries are eligible for the prize, whether in a single building in a small town or a multi-branch system serving an entire region. Previous winners are asked to take a ten-year hiatus from submitting again for consideration.

Application Deadline: The deadline for consideration for the 2021 Community Impact Prize is July 19, 2021. (Submissions close at 11:59 p.m. EDT.)

Please submit nominations via the form found here.

Questions? Please contact Meredith Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal at

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The 2021 ABOS Awards Program is now open. Applications will be accepted until 5 pm CST on July 16, 2021.

There are lots of opportunities to celebrate the terrific work being done at your libraries.

Bernard Vavrek Scholarship

It will be awarded annually to a student currently enrolled who has completed at least one semester in a Library and/or Information Science graduate degree program and is interested in this particular field within the library profession.

Book Bike Community Impact Award

Presented annually to a library, department, or an individual who has provided exemplary library book bike service to their community.

Innovation in Outreach Programming Award

This award recognizes a library's achievement in planning and implementing an innovative or creative outreach program, which has had a measurable impact on its community. Programs should be unique and cutting-edge.

John Philip Excellence in Outreach Award

The John Philip Excellence in Outreach Award is given to individuals in recognition of their outstanding contributions and prominent leadership to the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services.

Karen Hake Outstanding Bookmobile Librarian Award

Presented annually to a bookmobile manager, supervisor, or MLIS librarian to recognize their continuous dedication and commitment to the bookmobile profession.

Pattie Johnston Outreach Award

Presented annually to a bookmobile or outreach support staff member who has provided exemplary service to their community through bookmobile and outreach services.

Preschool Outreach and School Services Inspirations Award

Presented annually to a library, department, or an individual who has provided exemplary library outreach services to children and students in their community, from age infant to college.

Rising Stars Award

Highlights the achievements of those new to the profession. Rising Stars are those people who display a passion for the bookmobile and outreach profession, both at work and via volunteer or association activities.

Senior Services Super Star Award

Presented annually to a library, department, or an individual who has provided exemplary library outreach services to seniors in their community, including homebound seniors and seniors residing in facilities.

Questions about the 2021 ABOS Awards Program can be directed to David Kelsey, 2021 ABOS President, and 2021 ABOS Awards Committee Chair, at

Learn All the Things!

Effective Selection: Ask the HR Expert Webinar

Monday, June 21st, 2pm

This is an online event.

Join Holly Nowak, the HR professional behind the Ask the HR Expert service, to discuss interviewing and selecting the best candidates for open positions.

Participants of this session will learn effective process and practices to be used in the interview process, including:
• Foundations: Job Descriptions
• Leading Formats: A common mistake
• What can I, and what should I ask? Constructing Legal and effective questions.
• Candidate Answers: Mining for Meaning

At the conclusion, participants will be able to utilize what they have learned to ensure their own interview process is compliant and more effective in uncovering candidate fit to opportunities in their organizations.

We invite you to submit a question for Holly - there will be a place to do that during the registration process. The deadline to submit questions is June 11th.

Free to ESLN Members. Registration is required. This webinar will be recorded.

The Empire State Library Network sponsors this session. If you have any questions, contact Laura Osterhout (

The Future of Resource Sharing: Technologies on the Horizon

Wednesday, July 14th, 1:30pm

This is an online event.

As technology evolves, so does the content we share among libraries. What will resource sharing look like in the near future? The session starts with a brief overview of AI/Machine Learning, Blockchain, and Virtual Reality and how they may benefit or challenge resource sharing in libraries. We will then open up the discussion to talk about what the future of resource sharing might look like and how libraries can adapt to emerging technologies.

Always looking to integrate emerging technology into the academic environment in creative and practical ways. Ken Fujiuchi is the Emerging Technology Librarian in the E. H. Butler Library at SUNY Buffalo State. Ken holds a Master's in Library Science from the University at Buffalo. His research interests include information literacy, augmented reality, social media, and other emerging technologies.

We invite you to submit a question for Ken - there will be a place to do that during the registration process. The deadline to submit questions is July 7th.

Free to ESLN Members. Registration is required.

This session is sponsored by the Empire State Library Network. If you have any questions, contact Kathleen Gundrum ( or Laura Osterhout (

Trust & Leadership: Ask the HR Expert

Monday, Sep. 20th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Join Holly Nowak, the HR professional behind the Ask the HR Expert service, for a discussion of building and improving workplace relationships and teams.

Participants of this session will explore traits that ‘followers’ seek in their leaders, understand that the definition of great leadership and communication are somewhat universal, and the overarching importance of trust in building effective workplace relationships.

Participants will leave this session with a top-of-mind focus on building and improving their workplace relationships for more productive and collaborative teams.

There will be a place to submit questions during the registration process. The deadline to submit questions is September 10.

Leading Performance: Ask the HR Expert

Monday, Oct. 18th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Join Holly Nowak, the HR professional behind the Ask the HR Expert service, to discuss effective and objective performance evaluations.

In this session, participants will understand the importance of timely, objective, and documented feedback on work performance. The session will also explore effective frameworks for ensuring our mindset is in the right place and how to utilize frameworks to prepare, leading to more effective and objective performance conversations. Participants of this session will feel more confident with accountability conversations and understand the importance of not avoiding difficult conversations.

Participants may submit questions for Holly during the registration process. The deadline to submit questions is October 8.