Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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As the pandemic continues, there's hope in sight as the federal government begins plans to increase vaccine availability. For the most part, people are eager to comply and get vaccinated -- and many are concerned about the length of time it will take to vaccinate the bulk of our population.

Eager to reopen, many public libraries ask national and state organizations to push for library workers to be included in Phase 1B, designated for essential employees, first responders, people experiencing homelessness, and individuals 65 years of age or older. The request would allow libraries to open to the public while providing front-line library workers protection against the worst impact of COVID-19.

Asking to include library workers in Phase 1B may seem like the best way forward but is also problematic. The library profession is 85% white, and to date, implementation of the vaccine has exposed ongoing racial disparities in healthcare and treatment. So how can we move forward given the current challenges?

The American Library Association recommends:

  • Libraries continue to follow CDC guidelines to protect the health of library staff, patrons, and the community.
  • Libraries remain in close communication with their local COVID recovery teams and elected officials as vaccine rollout plans are developed and implemented.
  • Library workers who are at heightened risk for exposure to COVID-19, such as those providing in-person services, be prioritized for access to vaccinations

Meanwhile, other libraries -- including the Schenectady County Public Library -- are becoming vaccination sites, providing easy access to communities that may not otherwise be able to receive vaccines promptly.

As more vaccine becomes available, we'll be able to return to providing robust public services. In the meantime, we must channel our inner Dolly Parton and wait.

Rest in Power, Barb

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Last week we lost Barb Durkish, the former director of the Caldwell Lake George Library. Barb was smart, funny, had the energy of at least 10 regular humans, and was a terrific hugger. She cared deeply about her community and the library and grew the number and quality of programs offered to Lake George's denizens. She will be sorely missed.

Get Crafty

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Due to an abundance of snow, the Adult Program Swap schedule for last week will be held at 10 am this Wednesday, February 10. Bring your great ideas to share!

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.

All workshops in this series will be virtual. Please save the following dates/times:

  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, March 2
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, March 30
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, April 20
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, May 25
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Tuesday, June 22

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

Part-Time Clerk for Mechanicville

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The Mechanicville District Public Library is looking for a part-time clerk to join our team. This position is Wednesday 4 PM – 8 PM, Thursday and Friday 2 PM – 6 PM, with availability to fill in for other shifts.

The job requires attention to detail, the ability to work independently and with others, multi-tasking, and most importantly, strong customer service skills.

The library clerk performs the following functions:

  • All circulation duties: including but not limited to checking items in and out, pulling holds, processing materials, registering patrons, collecting fines, shelving, and shelf maintenance.
  • Provides information to the public on library policies and procedures.
  • Performs routine searches and updates of computer records.
  • Contacts patrons to deliver messages or information on library materials.
  • Provides reference and readers advisory when needed.
  • Performs other duties as assigned by the library director/senior library clerk.

We are looking for a candidate with the following skills:

  • Strong customer service skills.
  • A large degree of comfort with technology.
  • Ability to answer questions about the library.

Communication Skills:

  • Ability to follow verbal and written instructions.
  • Possess a working knowledge of English grammar and spelling.
  • Possess good interpersonal skills and maintain and foster cooperative and courteous working relationships with the public, peers, and supervisors.

Physical Requirements:

  • Physical condition commensurate with the demands of the position.
  • Must be able to stand for long periods of time.
  • Lifting and carrying 50 pounds or less.

Education and Experience:

  • Must be 18 years of age.
  • Graduated with a High School Diploma or GED equivalent

Vaccines for All

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The Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities has created a social story resource to help adults with developmental disabilities prepare for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here to download the resource.

Refer a Friend

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The Friends of Libraries Section (FLS) of the New York Library Association (NYLA) is gathering information about Friends groups in New York State that support rural and small public libraries. The goal is to better assist these volunteer support organizations in their growth, development, and long-term success.

All Friends groups that respond to the survey will be entered into a drawing for a free one-year organizational membership in FLS/NYLA, a $50 value. (If the winning group is already a member, their organizational membership will be extended by one year.) In the event of multiple survey responses from a group, only a single entry will be placed in the drawing.

The survey link is posted on the FLS homepage ( or use this direct link.

The survey can be completed by a representative of the library or a representative of the library's Friends group. Survey respondents do not need to confer with other members of the organization. Multiple replies from various group members are acceptable and would be appreciated. Responses are being accepted through Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

FLS wants to gather information from groups that are distant from an urbanized area. Rather than "small" referring to Friends groups with a small number of volunteers on their roster, FLS defines "small" in relation to the population of the library's potential service area, generally less than 10,000 residents. However, FLS welcomes any library or Friends group that identifies their library as rural and/or small to complete the survey, whatever the population of the library's service area. FLS is interested to learn about specific challenges faced by Friends organizations that support these libraries.

FLS' mission is to create a network to connect and inspire Friends groups in all types of libraries to support the New York library community. Thank you for assisting us in our work by taking the time to participate in this survey!

Leadership Training for Small, Rural Libraries

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The Association of Rural and Small Libraries' (ARSL) pilot leadership institute, Outstanding In Their Field, is officially open! ARSL is looking for 30 outstanding people who are currently working in rural and small libraries to join this professional development opportunity.

Applications will be accepted through February 24, 2021.

Participants, a.k.a. “Outfielders,” will undertake 18 months of online and in-person interactive sessions.

It’s a BIG commitment, and rewarding! Participants will gain:

  • skills and confidence as leaders
  • a network of colleagues throughout the country
  • experiences at two ARSL conferences

The ARSL Leadership Institute is for accidental library leaders: people who may not have a Masters in Library and Information Science and maybe not even a college degree. They work in a small and/or rural library who are now are ready to grow as leaders. These folks came into the library from various jobs: the cashier at the local Mini-Mart with good customer service skills, the cataloger who worked at the library for 12 years and just became the new library director, or the schoolteacher who ends up running the public library. They already are informal leaders and are ready for change.

All participant travel, materials, and instructional expenses (worth approximately $8,000) are covered by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). So while there are no monetary costs for participants, they will outlay their time, consistent engagement, and dedication to growing themselves and others as leaders.

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) seeks applicants representing a wide variety of communities and has a commitment to the representation of groups that have been historically marginalized or excluded due to ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability, economic background, educational attainment, and age.

Rural Library Fellowship

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Partners for Education at Berea College is excited to invite applications for the Rural Library Fellowship. The application, along with information about the application process, can be found here. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2021.

For assistance with questions concerning the application or to discuss the Fellowship further, contact Wendy Johnston Program Manager, Rural Impact at to schedule your session.
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Applications are now open for the Documentary Heritage and Preservation Services NY's Spring 2021 Planning & Assessment Services Round!

This is the first application round of DHPSNY's second five-year iteration and includes important COVID-19 safety precautions. Most significantly, these services will only be offered virtually to ensure personal safety. Applications are due Friday, March 26, 2021, for consideration in the spring application round.

Begin your application process by deciding which of our services is best for your program. To help you get started, we've outlined each of our services below with links to testimonials and application materials.

Our Planning & Assessment page also features helpful tools for navigating the application process, including sample applications and frequently asked questions.

If you're still unsure which service to apply for or whether your institution is ready, DHPSNY staff is here to help. For assistance, questions about eligibility, or additional information, contact DHPSNY Program Manager Anastasia Matijkiw at (215) 545-0613 extension 338 or

Professional Service Opportunity

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The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office is looking to recruit application reviewers for the Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant opportunity (application deadline March 4, 2021). Response is requested by February 10.

As part of this initiative, ALA will provide $3,000 implementation grants to libraries serving small and/or rural communities to develop and lead a community engagement project that builds on the Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries e-course and facilitation guide. Up to 650 libraries will be awarded the grant over two rounds of applications, with 450 libraries being selected during this second application round. Serving as a peer reviewer on a national grant offering is an excellent professional development and member service opportunity that can be added to your resume or vita.

Current ALA and ARSL members are invited to submit a request to be considered as an application reviewer to Elena Pepe-Salutric ( by Wednesday, February 10 with the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Title
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • City, State
  • Preferred email address
  • Preferred phone number
  • Notes about any prior experience with ALA grant programs (either as a grantee or reviewer)

Please note: To serve as a reviewer, your library may not submit an application for this grant round, and you must hold either an ALA OR ARSL membership.

Reviewers will be asked to read and review up to 30 applications between Thursday, March 11 and Monday, March 22. Up to 35 reviewers will be selected for this process and each will receive $50 in appreciation for their work. Respondents will be notified prior to the review window if they are selected and will receive application review instructions, along with a link to access the online applications assigned to them.

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Talk Story: Sharing Stories, Sharing Culture is a literacy program that reaches out to Asian American, Pacific Islander and American Indian families. Talk Story celebrates and explores Asian American, Pacific Islander, and American Indian stories through books, oral traditions, and cultural arts to provide an interactive and enriching experience. This grant provides financial support to libraries and community organizations who want to introduce a Talk Story program. 2021 Talk Story programs may be conducted in person or virtually.

Talk Story is a partnership between the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) and the American Indian Library Association (AILA) and 2021 grant funding is available through the generous support of Toyota California Community Foundation.

Libraries and community organizations that serve Asian American, Pacific Islander, and/or American Indian children and their families are eligible to apply. We encourage libraries and community organizations to work together on a Talk Story program. With the exception of cross-border tribal organizations, all organizations must be based in the United States or U.S. territories.

Organizations who have previously been awarded two Talk Story grants are ineligible for additional awards.

Two grant winners for each organization (APALA and AILA) will receive $750 to fund a program that meets the criteria of the grant.

Applications are now being accepted for American Indian or Asian American & Pacific Islander programs.

Please submit a complete and detailed application including a Statement of Need, Narrative, and Proposed Budget. Please describe the program your library or community organization would do with the award and what types of programs highlighting Asian American, Pacific Islander, or American Indian cultures you are interested in planning for your community.

You may apply for either an APALA grant OR an AILA grant. You may not apply to both organizations.

Applications must be received by Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Awards will be announced by Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Past grant winners have included language programs, early childhood literacy, youth identity development, and a variety of arts programming including dance, music, and writing. “There is a lot of room for creativity in this grant,” said Angela Thornton, Co-Chair of the Talk Story program. “We want people to explore partnerships in their communities and see what they can create.”

Applications are due by April 1, 2021. Eligibility details and past winners can be found at

Learn All the Things!

From “Inclusive Leadership” to “Advancing Equity”

Tuesday, Feb. 9th, 3pm

This is an online event.

For several years in the library and information science profession, there has been momentum in shifting perspective, conversation, and analysis from a “diversity” frame to an “equity” frame. Although perhaps overstated, the global pandemic and an international movement for racial equity has forced many to rethink how and the degree to which we are personally and professionally accountable for creating a more just and equitable society. This presentation and discussion will challenge attendees to think about how managers and leaders can position themselves and engage strategies to initiate substantive change in the function and mission of the profession. Several models will be shared that can serve as tools for designing and assessing teaching and learning and other library programs that can advance social justice within our organizations and for the audiences served by libraries and archives.

What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World

Wednesday, Feb. 10th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Join America Walks for a conversation with Sara Hendren about her book What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World. Walking or wheeling, accompanied or alone, getting around in public space means getting into the public sphere–and for people with disabilities, the very fabric of streets and sidewalks and architecture has had to be remade, edited and altered, to make moving around possible for all of us. Sharing the city and sharing civic life isn’t easy or obvious, but the design of those spaces can help us build the collective futures we want.

Sara Hendren, design researcher at Olin College, will share stories and examples of the generative, surprising, and universally human ways we can think anew about the design of our homes, workplaces, city streets, and more. Elizabeth Guffey and Claire Stanley will join the conversation during a robust Q and A session for the second half of the webinar.

The Rise of Streaming and Its Effect on Libraries

Thursday, Feb. 11th, 1pm

This is an online event.

It’s getting hard for information professionals to keep track of all the streaming services that are available! Well-established platforms like Netflix, recent startups like Peacock, and even failures like Quibi all have ever-changing content. For this RIO meeting, we’ll be discussing how the increase in streaming services have affected libraries including the circulation of traditional media like DVDs and CDs and the future of those collections, subscription streaming databases for libraries and their costs, streaming access and education, and the need for strong Internet access. Join us to discuss all things streaming!

COVID and Workplace Law: A Practical Primer

Tuesday, Feb. 16th, 2pm

This is an online event.

This open 60-minute session will cover the practical legal concerns of library workers and managers during the pandemic. When should you consult a lawyer? What kinds of legal support are available? What are your legal rights in the COVID-19 era workplace? Use this form to submit your questions of the presenter ahead of time.

Core is committed to the workplace safety of library workers and seeks to advocate for workers' holistic well-being across the profession. As the leading ALA division discussing libraries as spaces, we are committed to fostering dialogue and supporting workers during this challenging and perilous time.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this webinar, the attendees will have a better grasp on the rights and responsibilities of their libraries and institutions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who should attend?

This webinar is for library workers and managers interested in the legal rights and responsibilities of their libraries as they relate to COVID-19.


Randi M. Cohen is a labor and employment counselor and litigator with over a decade of experience representing individuals and businesses.

Serving Library Users with Mental Illness: A Crash Course on Controlling Clashes

Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 1pm

This is an online event.

Patrons who show signs of mental illness can be confusing and upsetting to the toughest and most seasoned among us. What do you say to someone wandering around holding a loud and animated conversation with himself? How do you accommodate the child with autism who insists on rearranging your DVD collection, or the adult with obsessive-compulsive disorder who demands that you check out her books a certain way? What rights do the mentally-ill have with regard to public services, and what legal liabilities are associated with their presence in the library? This webinar increases your understanding of mental illness, teaches effective methods of communicating with mentally-ill patrons who are creating a disturbance in the library, helps you protect staff and patrons in rare instances of possible violence, and shows you how to locate resources you can lean on when necessary.

Mandy Easter, Law Librarian and Consultant, Iowa State Library
Mandy has been a Law Librarian with the State Library of Iowa for the last 20 years and also began working as a library law consultant five years ago. She's been a state agency librarian, an academic librarian, a public library director, a regional library employee, and has worked in different capacities at several public libraries. She really enjoys helping librarians, trustees and city government officials identify, understand and apply library-related law.

Envisioning Future Library Experiences: Service Design Techniques for Responsive Libraries

Thursday, Feb. 18th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Join us for part 2 of the webinar series with design experts from Margaret Sullivan Studio and Harmonic Design to pick-up techniques you can use to create meaningful future library services. After the first webinar, Who Are We Designing for and Why? Service Design Techniques for Responsive Libraries (recording available), the presenters met with three case study libraries: Altadena Library District, Pierce County Library System, and Prince George's County Memorial Library System. The case study participants will share how they took learned design techniques to brainstorm future services for their communities. The goal is to demonstrate concepts and relevant applications to help envision how you might improve your library’s capacity to bring joy, vibrancy, learning experiences, and innovative opportunities to the community!

The case study libraries are applying service design techniques to create meaningful outdoor experiences, and integrating service design into staffing models. Whether you are a library with a small, medium, or large staff, through this session, you will learn how collaboration, creativity, and innovation can be integrated into your daily operations.

Presented by: Patrick Quattlebaum, CEO, Harmonic Design; Leah Berg, Service Designer, Harmonic Design; Margaret Sullivan, Principal, Margaret Sullivan Studio; and Lyna Vuong, Senior Designer, Margaret Sullivan Studio

Interrupting White Supremacy Culture

Thursday, Feb. 18th, 4pm

This is an online event.

From the attempted coup by white nationalists on January 6th to everyday interactions in our workplaces, white supremacy is threaded through our lives. A crucial piece of the work toward an anti-racist culture is the small moves each of us can make to bring
accountability and criticality to our daily interactions. In this session, we will name some of the elements of white supremacy culture and discuss a few strategies that white and BIPOC participants can learn to notice the effects of white supremacy upon us and then to interrupt it in our everyday lives.

Activate, Collaborate, and Educate: Health Outreach and Programming in Your Community

Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, 2pm

This is an online event.

This course will provide an overview of ideas to conduct health outreach and create health programs for libraries and community/faith-based organizations. Participants will learn how to integrate resources from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and other reputable agencies to introduce community members to NLM resources in fun and engaging ways. Examples of programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors using NLM and other National Institutes of Health center and office resources will be shared.

Additional Materials:

Health Outreach and Programming Class Guide


This presentation provides an overview of planning health programs for organizations incorporating resources from the National Library of Medicine. By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Locate county-level information on health needs within their community
  • Locate relevant NLM consumer health resources for specific target populations
  • Identify organizations for health outreach partnerships
  • Outline a potential health outreach or health program for their organization

Frosty Windows, Frosty Mirrors

Friday, Feb. 26th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Thaw the chill between intellectual freedom and social justice in this facilitated panel followed by break-out room listening sessions. As libraries undertake important work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging, questions arise about ethical commitments to intellectual freedom, including issues of censorship, privacy, and complicity with hate, exclusion, and exploitation. Panelists will discuss current thinking and practice on these challenging issues. After the panel, attendees will have the opportunity to share their perspectives with panelists in break-out room listening sessions.

Supporting and Sustaining Anti-Racist Work

Thursday, March 4th, 4pm

This is an online event.

In our workshops, We Need 2 Talk educators always say, anti-racist work is a practice, not a destination. Some of us have been on our anti-racist journeys for many years, while for others, that journey began during the summer of 2020. How can we make this work sustainable in our libraries and communities? How can we hold the notion, in the context of a standards and achievement-obsessed culture, that anti-racism is a lifelong practice? How can we continue to show up in authentic ways to do this work? In this session, we will explore some strategies to sustain anti-racist work while modeling a few digital discussion formats that allow for multiple modes of participation.

FLS Focus on Friends Webinar Series: Friendly Partnerships Strengthen Communities

Thursday, March 11th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Friends are venturing outside the library, undertaking the vital work of networking and partnering with community groups to deliver the library’s message and services to residents. Children’s librarian Jason Poole started the summer “BookBox for Kids and Teens” initiative to bring books to readers unable to visit the library. This vital project has connected with underserved families and steadily grown community support from the library Friends, churches, schools, and grant-makers in Webster. In their community, Helen Rados, a member of the Friends of Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library, and youth librarian Cheryl Jones have built powerful partnerships and creative collaborations that have increased public awareness of the library, engaged volunteers, and increased Friends memberships.

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

1. Identify concrete examples of Friends activities that can be implemented in the participants’ Friends groups that will lead to community partnerships
2. Apply tips on how to cultivate effective working relationships
3. Formulate a plan for collaboration that will increase the number of advocates in their community

What we talk about when we talk about “equity”: from essential workers to George Floyd to Nice White Parents

Thursday, March 18th, 4pm

This is an online event.

2020 saw a huge uptick in colloquial usage of the word “equity.” However, in most corners of the information professions, from libraries to archives to usability, we’ve been having this conversation for a long time. During this interactive session, we unpack some of the ways equity has been used (and misused) during the pandemic and protests, and how this is impacting our workplaces and communities. Come prepared to discuss your experiences.