Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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The battle for intellectual freedom continues on multiple fronts. In October, John Ashcroft, the Missouri Secretary of State, created a new rule, "Protecting Minors From Inappropriate Materials at State Funded Libraries." This proposal would make any library receiving state funding develop policies to determine what material is age appropriate for minors and that parents could control what material their children borrow from libraries and challenge the classification of any material's "age appropriateness."

Here's the thing. Libraries already have collection development policies and are committed to providing material to delight and inspire people of all ages. The power and magic of public libraries aren't in constricting materials, but in providing information for the curious, the searching, and the thoughtful. Public libraries uphold patron privacy -- including that of minors -- for a reason.

Curtailing free speech and the right to read, as educators in Hong Kong recently experienced, puts our civil liberties -- and, in some cases, our safety -- at stake. Ashcroft isn't alone in his efforts. In Texas, the legislature has introduced House Bill 3979, banning materials in schools that lead to "an individual [feeling] discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's race or sex."

In an attempt to codify intellectual freedom, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) announced the introduction of the Right to Read Act. ALA and AASL strongly endorse this bill, which seeks to ensure every student has a fully resourced school library staffed by a certified school librarian.

The Right to Read Act will:

  • Support recruitment, retention, and professional development of state-certified school librarians.
  • Reauthorize funding up to $500 million for the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants and increase authorization for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program to $100 million.
  • Fight back against book bans by reaffirming that First Amendment rights apply to school libraries.
  • Provide liability protection for teachers and librarians acting to provide access to reading materials.

To support the Right to Read Act, add your name to a thank you card to Reed and Grijalva.

For the Birds

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The Caldwell Lake George Library has been working with the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society to create circulating birding backpack kits. Each pack includes two pairs of binoculars, an identification guide, bingo cards, a list of birdwatching locations, and a birding journal for you to write down all of your findings.

Tricks & Treats!

The Bancroft Public Library in Salem had a grand time celebrating Halloween!

Future Focus

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Thanks to everyone who came out to the League of Extraordinary New Directors: Leading Great Teams meet-up in September. Please save the date for our next session, scheduled for 10 am Friday, December 9, when State Librarian Lauren Moore will join us to share the Regent's Advisory Council Vision 2022, a document shaping the direction for libraries in New York State.

Digital Literacy for Seniors

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SALS is pleased to announce it has received a $56,000 grant from AARP’s Senior Planet to bring its Older Adults Technology Services program & training to ten member libraries in 2023. The grant provides technology training and supports purchasing a rotating collection of hardware to support the program.

Applications to participate will open soon.

Preference will be given to libraries that attended or watched the information session and can demonstrate their capacity to implement and promote the program. Participating libraries will:

  • Dedicate up to two staff per library committed to implementing the 18-month program
  • Have an established relationship with a senior center or senior services provider in their community
  • Designate a program lead to handle administrative duties (scheduling programs, requesting tech kits, attending monthly cohort meetings, statistical information, and reporting on programs, including collecting anecdotal stories from participants)
  • Identify a trainer who can attend all the train-the-trainer sessions, implement a minimum of 15 programs for seniors at each library, attend monthly cohort meetings, and ensure tech kits are returned to SALS promptly.
  • File all required reports in a timely manner
  • Participate in regular virtual OATS cohort meetings

More information will be coming soon!

Roadmap for New York Libraries

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The Capital District Library Council will be hosting an in-person discussion of the Regents Advisory Council Vision 2022 from 9:30 - 11 am Tuesday, November 15.

Attendees will hear about statewide priorities for libraries and are invited to ask questions and share ideas for how libraries can advance this vision in their communities. We hope to have representation from all of the types of libraries we serve, and discuss how to work together to address the report's three strategic priorities:

  • Libraries Ensure All New Yorkers Have Access to Information & the Internet
  • Libraries Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging
  • Libraries are Essential to the Social Wellbeing of Communities

RSVP for this in-person event at CDLC.

Intellectual Freedom Support Group

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Are you scared of challenges at your library?

Have the culture wars taken the joy out of your work?

Do you feel like you are being attacked for your materials or programs?

Find support for your role in protecting intellectual freedom at NYLA's monthly support group for library workers who are feeling the pressure of standing fast for others’ reading rights. The group will meet at 1 pm on the following days:

  • Nov 24, 2022
  • Dec 22, 2022
  • Jan 26, 2023
  • Feb 23, 2023

Christian Zabriskie, one of the authors and researchers of the Urban Library Trauma Study will facilitate these confidential, voluntary conversations. There is no NYLA membership requirement to participate.

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National Native American Heritage Month

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November is National American Indian Heritage Month (also referred to as Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month). How is your library celebrating?

For inspiration, visit the Living Nations, Living Words: A Guide for Educators from the Library of Congress, featuring the signature project of 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo—the first Native American poet to serve in this position.

Information for All

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The Biden administration has updated its approach and policy toward federally-funded research, which must now be made available to the public immediately upon its conclusion, rather than residing behind a paywall for a period of time. The goal of the new policy is to make scientific research more accessible to the public, something library professionals have been advocating for years.

Healthy Communities

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The Centers for Disease Control are partnering with public libraries as part of its Increasing Community Access to Testing program (ICATT).

Color has partnered with the CDC to support free COVID-19 lab testing for under-resourced communities across the nation. Public libraries can sign up to participate in Color Health’s Community Testing Program, in partnership with the CDC and the Association for Rrural and Small Libraries.

Libraries receive supplies, signage and information for participants in the mail, make test kits available and ship samples to the Color lab - all with ongoing support from ARSL and Color.

In addition to helping your community, participating in this program has additional benefits including:

  • A free year of ARSL membership after only 10 completed tests!
  • $7.50 per test for each test administered
  • Materials, testing support for site participation

To learn more about the program:

To participate, use this form – or search in your browser.

Acquisition Denied

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A federal district court judge has supported the US Department of Justice's lawsuit blocking Penguin Random House's purchase of Simon & Schuster has ruled against PRH and S&S. The judge ruled that the purchase and consolidation of the publishing houses would harm competition by publishers for probable bestsellers by the most highly-compensated authors. The ruling is an attempt to stop the further consolidation of the US book publishing industry, now controlled by five publishing houses.

Nora Roberts Shares the Love

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After the Patmos Library in Michigan was defunded due to having LGBTQIA material in it's collection, author Nora Roberts donated $50,000 to the library to help keep it open. Her donation was limited by parameters set by GoFundMe, so she wrote that if the organization needed additional money to get in touch. We love to see it!

Libraries as Economic Engines

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Libraries in the UK are providing pop-up retail space for local entrepreneurs in their libraries. Small businesses can rent Retail Carts for a modest sum to sell their wares. The fees collected are used to support participating libraries.

Thirsty Work

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The Caledonia Library created a library display that will live in history -- an impressive collection of water bottles left behind during Summer Reading Program activities. Winner of the coveted Best Use of Lost and Found Items (BULFI) Award!
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Library School Scholarships

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Considering going back to school to get your MLS or MLIS?

If you need financial help, scholarship funds are now available. The American Library Association (ALA) has more than $300,000 available to students who are studying in library science or school library media programs at the master's degree level. Get your application in early. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2023.

Scholarships range from $2,500 to $8,000 per student per year. They include scholarships for students who are interested in children's librarianship, youth librarianship, federal librarianship, new media and library automation. In addition, there are also scholarships available for minorities, persons with disabilities and people who are already employed in libraries but do not have an MLS.

To be considered for one of these scholarships, applicants must attend a master’s level program in library and information science that has been accredited by the ALA. Take a look at the application and instructions and get started working on your application now.

Applicants interested in school librarianship must attend a program that meets ALA curriculum guidelines for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Complete guidelines and instructions for the nationally reviewed and recognized CAEP/AASL school librarianship education programs are available on the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) website.

The scholarship process is open annually from September through March. For more information, visit the ALA Scholarship page or call the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4279.

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.

Library workers may apply online for grant funding from November 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023, at

Up to 300 libraries will be awarded in this application period, part of ALA’s longtime community engagement initiative, with a second application to open in early Fall 2023 for an additional 300 grants.

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.

Selected libraries will receive $10,000 or $20,000 to support costs related to their community engagement project; virtual training to assist project directors in developing their community engagement, facilitation, and disability service skills; a suite of online resources developed to support local programs; and technical and project support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term.

The opportunity is open to libraries serving small and rural communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories. To be eligible, a library must be located in an area that’s more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area and with a population of 25,000 or less, in keeping with Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) definitions of small and rural libraries.

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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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.

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The NNLM All of Us Program Center Community Awards will provide funding to community-serving libraries and organizations to meet the following goals:

  • Further individual and communities’ knowledge of and/or skills related to health literacy, digital literacy, and/or understanding of clinical medical research.
  • Build and strengthen partnerships with communities who are underrepresented in biomedical research (Definitions (PDF, 29.3 KB))
  • Raise awareness of All of Us(link is external), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) precision medicine research program and interact with All of Us partner organizations.
  • Increase awareness and use of NNLM All of Us learning activities, National Library of Medicine(link is external) (NLM), and other trustworthy health information resources for individuals to make informed decisions about their health and wellness.

The NAPC Community Award will fund proposed projects from applicants that address the goals above. Projects may include activities such as programming, health fairs, loanable kits, technology acquisition and distribution, community science projects, and more.

More project ideas, grant-writing resources, example application materials, and NNLM, NLM, and All of Us resources can be found in the full Application Guide (PDF, 1.1 MB).

Award Details

  • Maximum award amount: $30,000
  • Number of awards available: up to 5
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New York's Digital Inclusion Toolkit

Thursday, Nov. 17th, 10:30am

This is an online event.

The New York State Library and National Digital Inclusion Alliance will be hosting a free webinar to introduce the 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit to the library community. Webinar participants will learn how to use the toolkit to expand their library's digital inclusion programming and planning, as well as gain an understanding of the larger digital inclusion ecosystem, and how libraries play a role in national change.

The State Library created the 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit to provide libraries of all sizes with practical and useful guidance for furthering digital inclusion partnerships and digital literacy initiatives in local communities throughout New York State. This resource is arriving at a critical time, as both state and federal governments are providing historic levels of funding for digital equity and inclusion work. Libraries are central to digital inclusion efforts in their communities. Library leaders can use the 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit to prepare themselves, library staff and local partners to take advantage of these new funding opportunities.

The webinar will be recorded and made available for those who cannot attend the live session.