Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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This week, every day begins with a smile as we celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week. It's a time to recognize the volunteers who make time to advocate, raise funds for a wide variety of programs and initiatives, and who generously share their time and talents to make our libraries shine.

There are lots of online resources for Friends groups and library staff to join the festivities, including promotional ideas, marketing materials, and tips from past celebrations that can all be found on the National Friends of Libraries Week website.

But wait, there's more good news! The New York State Library, in partnership with New York’s 23 public library systems, has awarded $34 million in State Aid for Library Construction funds for 232 projects. The FY 2019/2020 projects are supported by capital funds appropriated in the FY 2019/2020 State Budget.

The list of the 232 projects is posted on the State Library’s website.

As if that's not enough of a reason to rejoice, Governor Cuomo has designated Juneteenth an official public holiday!

May the rest of your week be filled with good news!

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As the pandemic continues, more libraries are experimenting with virtual programming. Join a conversation with your peers about how to structure virtual programming for adults, what platforms to use, tips and tricks, and best practices during the next Tri-System Adult Program Swam from 10 -11:30 am Thursday, November 12.

We'll be meeting virtually (natch!), but you can also access by phone (1-872-240-3412, access code: 248-443-125). Looking forward to hearing your tales!

Breaking Ground on Rural Libraries

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The Southern Tier Library System announced the key findings in the results of their multi-year national research into how public libraries impact social wellbeing in remote rural communities: Pathways to Wellbeing: Public Library Service in Rural Communities.

Key findings include:

  • Rural residents prioritize social connection and nature over access to amenities.
  • Rural libraries connect residents in various ways, over time, impacting core vitality and security in their unique communities.
  • Rural library directors are bonded to the community, described as selfless and engaged, and are seen as both belonging themselves and active in creating belonging in others.

Actions that library staff takes to satisfy residents' deep desire for community self-determination and social bonding will have wide-reaching impacts on social wellbeing. Over the next six months, we'll continue to share this research's practical implications for library service.

This research also points to practitioners' value being creators and contributors to research about and for public libraries. This experience has been illuminating and enriching for our system, our members, and our partners, the Pioneer Library System and State Library of New Mexico.

For more information on the project overall and to sign up for updates as they are released, visit

Triple Threat

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Three incredible authors -- Jacqueline Woodson, N.K. Jemisin and Tressie McMillan Cottom -- were awarded the MacArthur Foundation Award, considered to be a "genius grant."

Good Glück!

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Randall Whited, an accounting associate at the Austin Public Library, was indicted by a grand jury for stealing more than $1 million -- by purchasing printer toner and reselling it online over the course of a dozen years. Now's a good time to take another look at your books, and review credit card policies.

Early Days

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Imagine being able to hear Patti Smith's first performance at St. Mark's Church in 1971. Now you can!

Get Even Smarter

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Join us for free and lively day of short presentations about library leadership and COVID-era innovation in small and rural libraries!

We’ll meet from 9 am – 1:40 pm on Thursday, November 19 for free Zoom sessions. We know your time is valuable, so we’re keeping the sessions short and snappy!

Sessions will be recorded. If you can’t make it live, register anyway so you get the links!

Register here, and we’ll send the Zoom links the day before the conference.

Questions? Email or text ‪248.987.8885‬.

This conference is presented by the 2019-2020 Next-Level Leadership for Small and Rural Libraries cohort and made possible in part by the University of Michigan School of Information, the Library of Michigan, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Share the Love

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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, 10 librarians are selected to receive a $5,000 cash award in recognition of their outstanding public service.

Each nominee must be a librarian with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association in library and information studies or a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Nominees must be currently working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university, or a library at an accredited K-12 school, or have been working at one of these institutions as of March 1, 2020.

Wondering how to make your nomination stand out? Check out these tips for making the best possible case for your librarian.

Big Opportunity for Small & Rural Libraries

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The American Library Association (ALA) has announced plans to award nearly $2 million to small and rural libraries in 2020 and 2021 to help them address issues of concern in their communities.

Through Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, up to 650 U.S. libraries in small and rural communities will receive $3,000 to tackle issues ranging from media literacy to COVID-19 safety to unemployment. The initiative is part of ALA’s longtime commitment to preparing library workers for the expanding role of libraries.

“2020 has laid bare many of the issues that small and rural communities have long struggled with, from isolation due to a struggling Postal Service to inequalities in the broadband access that is vital for remote learning,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “With its core values of access, education, social responsibility and the public good, the library field is uniquely situated to lead local change in this time of crisis, and ALA is proud and excited to offer the funding for them to do so."

Library workers may apply online for grant funding from September 21 to December 2, 2020, at Up to 650 grants will be distributed over two funding rounds. Read the full project guidelines.

The opportunity is open to libraries serving small and/or rural communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines small communities as those with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and rural communities as those more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area.

Selected libraries will develop their facilitation skills through online training, talk with community members (virtually or in-person) about local needs, and undertake a project that benefits their community. Grant funds may cover a range of expenses, from hotspot purchases to personal protective equipment to staff time to undertake community engagement work.

Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with community members — be they library patrons, residents, faculty, students or partner organizations— to address issues for the betterment of the community.

In February, ALA released a set of free professional development materials to help workers in small and rural libraries prepare for and lead discussions and overcome common challenges that arise when people gather to speak in groups. Available materials include:

Grant recipients will also receive a copy of “Ask, Listen, Empower: Grounding Your Library Work in Community Engagement,” edited by Mary Davis Fournier and Sarah Ostman (ALA Editions, 2020).

Learn All the Things!

The ACA and Advancing LGBTQ Health

Wednesday, Oct. 21st, 2pm

This is an online event.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it critical for health information providers across the country to stay informed about the special protections and benefits health insurance coverage offers to the safety of LGBTQ community members. This free webinar will help educate public library practitioners about available health insurance coverage options, benefits, and special federal protections exclusively for LGBTQ communities during the Open Enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act (Nov. 1–Dec. 15, 2020, for plans that start Jan. 1. 2021). It will also cover Special Enrollment Period eligibility for people who have experienced lifetime events, such as losing a job or having a baby.

At the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the major health and healthcare access disparities affecting the LGBTQ population, including specific subpopulations such as transgender people;
  • Describe the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have relevance for addressing these disparities;
  • Explain specific strategies that library workers, consumer assistance personnel, and other health information providers can use to effectively connect with LGBTQ community members;
  • Identify the role of Enrollment Assistors and Navigators in their communities who can help LGBTQ people enroll in available insurance; and
  • Outline successful strategies for library outreach, engagement, and enrollment at the local level.

Solo Librarian Interest Group Meeting

Thursday, Oct. 22nd, 10:30am

This is an online event.

Running a library on your own and looking to touch base with other librarians doing the same? Please join us on Thursday, October 22, for an online meeting for Capital District Area Solo Librarians. You'll have the opportunity to discuss issues, problems, and make connections with other local solo librarians. If you have any questions please contact Chris Tosh at

One Step at a Time: How Libraries Can Promote Healthy, Thriving, and Livable Communities

Thursday, Oct. 22nd, 3pm

This is an online event.

During COVID-19 stay at home orders, improvements to air and water quality around the globe showed how changing our transportation practices could benefit the environment. We also know that physical activities, like walking, can help prevent chronic diseases and promote health. This webinar will highlight the multiple benefits of walking and walkable communities, and provide the information and inspiration you need to join the hundreds of public libraries around the country that are contributing to the development of healthy and resilient communities. Learn how to advocate for safe walking routes to your libraries, how to partner with parks and recreation, local transportation departments, and others committed to building safe, accessible, equitable places to walk and move.

Presented by:

  • Kate Kraft, Executive Director, America Walks;
  • Noah Lenstra, Director, Let’s Move in Libraries;
  • Mary Sizemore, Director, High Point Public Library (North Carolina);
  • Jeffrey T. Davis, Branch Manager at San Diego Public Library

Using Digital Navigators to Bridge Social Divides

Thursday, Oct. 22nd, 3:30pm

This is an online event.

Presented by National Digital Inclusion Alliance, this webinar will show how different affiliates are putting the Digital Navigator Model into action to add more digital equity to our social safety net and community institutions.

Speakers include:

Sabrina Roach and Paolo Balboa from NDIA; Shauna Edson and Justin Strange, from the Salt Lake City Public Library's Digital Navigator project; and Margaret (Meg) Käufer, of the STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck.

Register for Using Digital Navigators to Bridge Social Divides

From Education to Action

Tuesday, Oct. 27th, 9am

This is an online event.

You have a unique and deeply-rooted interest within the field of librarianship but how do you utilize your expertise and personal experience to assist in an advocacy campaign? In this session, we’ll review the Audience Engagement Roadmap, learn how to craft impactful messaging and explore the mediums and tools available to advocates at every level.

Attendees will have the opportunity to draft their own stories and share them with others.


Briana McNamee, Director of Government Relations & Advocacy for the New York Library Association

Finding Census Data – The Essentials

Wednesday, Oct. 28th, 10am

This is an online event.

This presentation first explains the differences between the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey while also highlighting the idea of sample thresholds, questionnaire logic, and statistical geography. Following this, the presenter will go into the portal to show different ways to access and download the data. Datasets include variables on economic, social, housing and population. Additionally, we will look at the ACS website and get a short tour of topics, datasets and links available there. The presenter will stop a various times during the workshop to allow for questions.

About the Presenter:

David Kraiker has been at the Census Bureau for more than 23 years — first working as a Geographer in the New York Regional Office, and then more recently transitioning over to a Data Dissemination Specialist position.

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

Starting Your Own Digital Inclusion Coalition

Thursday, Oct. 29th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Presented by Scott Kushner, Director of LaFayette Public Library, and Annabeth Hayes, Director of Tully Free Library, founders of the Central New York Digital Inclusion Coalition; and Stacey Martin, Digital Inclusion Coordinator at Finger Lakes Digital Inclusion Coalition. This program will interview members of newly formed coalitions, explore establishing and sustaining a coalition, and address the real work happening right now.

Register for Starting Your Own Digital Inclusion Coalition

They're Just Not a Good Fit: Interrogating and Interrupting Hiring Practices in Academic Libraries That Center Whiteness

Friday, Oct. 30th, 10:30am

This is an online event.

As a profession, we talk the talk of valuing diversity and inclusion, but do we walk the walk with our hiring practices? The profession stresses the importance of “a good fit” when hiring, but we rarely interrogate the fact that “a good fit” can be a reflection of our implicit biases and that our very hiring practices continue to center and prioritize whiteness. Three academic librarians conducted a survey of hiring policies with a focus on the processes (or lack thereof) of recruiting candidates from underrepresented groups. This session will report on their findings and recommend the implementation of specific practices designed to create an inclusive candidate pool and an equitable search process.

About the speakers:

Samantha Guss is the Social Sciences Librarian for Data, Statistics, and Government Information at the University of Richmond. She holds an MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in Business & Workplace Education from New York University.

Sojourna Cunningham is the Social Sciences and Assessment Librarian at the University of Richmond. She has a Masters in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters in Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond.

Jennifer Stout is a Teaching and Learning Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010.

* The primary audience for this webinar is academic librarians. However, library workers of every type are welcome to join. There will be information beneficial to all library workers, not just those in charge of human resources and hiring.

Attendees will be given a certificate of attendance for CE Credit.

The event will be recorded, and a link to the recording will be sent to all registrants.

Understanding Homeschooling in New York State and the Role Libraries Play

Monday, Nov. 9th, 2pm

This is an online event.

With the recent elevated interest in homeschooling, is your library strategically prepared to assist this growing community group? Research shows that up to 70% of homeschool families consider the library a main resource for their education. Good patron service begins with an understanding of need. Join Deanna McGregor, Homeschool Liaison Librarian, as she explains why some families choose to transition informal learning at home into the educational path of homeschooling. Learn homeschool family motivations, New York State requirements, and what resources are available. Most importantly, she will share how libraries can meet multiple literacy needs of families homeschooling young children.

The Accidental Facilities Manager

Tuesday, Nov. 10th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Now more than ever, the care and feeding of library buildings, from historic to new, demands greater attention. With occupant health and safety in mind, common issues, such as cleaning, plumbing, or HVAC systems, take on new urgency. Many library directors and staff become facilities managers by default, with no formal training. This webinar offers a primer on building systems and issues, along with tools for preventive maintenance, energy assessments, optimizing ventilation and filtration, and more. Presenters share what they learned the hard way, in large and small libraries, so that you can be more prepared and self-assured.

Presented by:

  • Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners;
  • Andrea Bunker, Library Building Specialist, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners;
  • Lynn Piotrowicz, Director, Tucker Free Library (NH)

Who Are We Designing for and Why? Service Design Techniques for Responsive Libraries

Thursday, Nov. 19th, 3pm

This is an online event.

How does service design enable you to create awesome experiences rooted in empathy, compassion, and storytelling? In this first of a two-part webinar series, explore how to apply intentional listening, deep observing, and deep learning to discover what your community members are thinking, feeling, and doing. This active and engaging session introduces concepts, methods and exercises such as:

  • Directed Storytelling, a method for collecting community experiences and stories
  • AEIOU, a framework for interpreting observations made during community discovery, and
  • Customer Journey Mapping, techniques to break down the complexities of community members’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Presented by:

  • Patrick Quattlebaum, CEO, Harmonic Design;
  • Leah Berg, Service Designer, Harmonic Design;
  • Margaret Sullivan, Principal, Margaret Sullivan Studio;
  • Lyna Vuong, Senior Designer, Margaret Sullivan Studio

Building People's Self Advocacy Skills: An Introduction to the Right Question Strategy

Tuesday, Nov. 24th, 9am

This is an online event.

Led by representatives of the Right Question Institute (RQI), this session will ask library workers to decide for themselves the need to be involved in advocacy work.

Any library worker - from a Director with a Masters to the library clerk or volunteer - needs to feel their work is valuable and critical to their communities before they can expect others to understand and appreciate the library experience.

Libraries are foundational to a healthy community. We will use the Question Formulation Technique to explore the role of the library and library workers in making libraries flourishing and well-resourced public spaces.


Luz Santana (She/Hers), Co-Director of the Right Question Institute & Yeja Dunn (They/Them)