Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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As 2020, the most extra year in my lifetime (so far), comes to a close, we can breathe a sigh of relief and give thanks for all that it's taught us.

We've learned that our buildings' walls don't bind the work we do and that although we may be sheltering in place, we can remain connected to each other and our communities. We've had a chance to test our resilience as we navigate a global pandemic, a racial justice reckoning, and a divisive election. We've learned how to live with ambiguity and to create flexible, nimble approaches to our work. We've begun to have challenging conversations about equity and systemic racism. We've harnessed our creativity, summoned our courage in the face of seemingly endless adversity, and learned to rely on and trust each other in a new way as we learned and worked remotely.

As we step into 2021, we have a bold new set of skills and talents to draw on. We can set new audacious goals that extend beyond our spaces and build on what we've learned after a year forged in fire. We can continue to evolve, grow, and dream. We can ask ambitious, honest, and open-ended questions that help us continue to learn and grow. And we can tap into our creativity, curiosity, compassion, and empathy as we find new, innovative, joyful ways to move forward.

Thanks for being fabulous. I can't wait to see what 2021 brings.

Thinking Ahead

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This year has shown us new ways to work and think about library services. As people began working from home, we discovered how to do it effectively and manage remotely. How can we effectively manage our teams from a distance? Here are a couple of thoughts:

  • It begins with communication -- and over-communication is better than less in the virtual world. Whether it's good news or bad, let everyone know what's going on.
  • Spend some quality time interacting, either as a team or in smaller groups. Encourage people to share their ideas about new programs, services, or approaches, and work as a group to think through and imagine what's possible.
  • Embrace creativity. How can you create a dynamic, inspiring team meeting? What fears are holding your team back? How can you acknowledge the hurdles you're facing while continuing to move forward?
  • Face forward. As we move into the new year, we have a chance to consider what we can let go of and what new opportunities we can leverage on behalf of our organizations and communities. How can we use virtual events to reach new patrons? How do we help our communities shape a new narrative? What can we do to address systemic injustice? How can we reach and engage those without reliable digital access? How can we advocate for digital equity?
  • Extend compassion, and practice self-compassion. The pandemic is a marathon -- no, a triathlon, with a crazy ultramarathon through fire hoops: everyone's energy ebbs and flows. Give yourself, and everyone else, a break as we figure out how to move through this without burning out.
  • Take time off. We all need time to recharge, reconnect, restore, and catch up with our watchlists.

Build Back Better

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The Build America’s Libraries Act (S. 5071), legislation that would provide $5 billion to repair and construct modern library facilities in underserved and disadvantaged communities, has been introduced in the Senate.

The legislation would begin to reverse decades of underinvestment by funding $5 billion of capital improvement projects in libraries nationwide through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Funding would be distributed through IMLS to state library agencies, which would then award grants on a competitive basis to libraries in each state. Funding would be prioritized to libraries serving marginalized communities, such as high-poverty areas. Additionally, IMLS would provide funding directly to tribal libraries.

Eligible uses of the funding include conducting facilities condition assessments, needs assessments, and master planning; financing new library facilities; or making capital improvements to existing library facilities, including buildings, grounds, and bookmobiles. Eligible facilities include public libraries, tribal libraries, and state libraries that directly serve the general public.

Improvements to library facilities could include enhancements to protect health and safety, such as preventing the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating risks from natural disasters; upgrade broadband equipment and technology hardware; ensure accessibility for people with disabilities; abate hazards such as mold and lead; and increase environmental sustainability, such as energy efficiency.

In addition to the standalone version of the Build America’s Libraries Act, the same provisions were also included as part of the Economic Justice Act (S. 5065), which was introduced Dec. 18. The Economic Justice Act additionally creates programs that could be used to improve school and academic library facilities, provides $12 billion in E-Rate funds for libraries and schools to provide home internet connectivity, and ensures that tribal libraries are eligible to participate in the E-Rate program.

New Deal

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The Digital Public Library of America is in talks with Amazon Publishing about bringing Amazon's e-content to public libraries. The discussion is about Amazon titles, previously unavailable to public libraries, and does not include Audible content.

Heal Thyself

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The National Day of Racial Healing (NDORH) is an opportunity for people, organizations, and communities across the United States to call for racial healing, bring people together in their common humanity, and take collective action to create a more just and equitable world.

January 19, 2021, will be the fifth annual National Day of Racial Healing. The day was established in 2017 by more than 550 leaders from around the United States who wanted to set aside a day to take action together.

Join the conversation on ALA's social media channels on January 19 about the National Day of Racial Healing and add to the conversation using #LibrariesRespond and #NDORH. As a community, we'd like to talk about:

  • Has your institution launched any initiatives to address racial inequities in libraries?
  • What actions have you taken to explore your unconscious bias?

If you're looking for ways to get started, consider taking an Implicit Association Test Library workers, what workplace practices have you encountered or engaged in that reinforce inequity?

If you're looking for ways to get started, consider exploring the Race Matters: Organizational Self-Assessment

Job Opportunities

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Chestertown Library. 20 hour week. Duties include circulation, cataloging, and social media management. High school diploma or equivalency, familiar with basic computer and mobile device use. Send resume to Library Director, PO Box 451, Chestertown, NY 12817. 518-494-5384.

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The Canajoharie Library seeks a full-time Librarian. The Librarian administers all library services at the Canajoharie Library. The Librarian’s primary responsibilities are the advancement of the institution and the fulfillment of its mission and for all operational and general administrative functioning of the Library. The Librarian reports to the Executive Director of the Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery (Arkell Museum).

Candidates should have a Master’s Degree in library science or equivalent; must be eligible for or possess a New York State Public Librarian certification; have experience working in a professional position in a library environment with increasing responsibility in a supervisory capacity. Complete details can be found at

The salary range for this position is $38,000-$40,000 commensurate with experience.

Benefits include health insurance and employer contributions to a 403b plan.

Cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references should be submitted to:

Librarian Position
Canajoharie Library
2 Erie Boulevard
Canajoharie, NY 13317


Application review will begin January 15, 2021, and continue until the position is filled.

Free Posters!!!

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The National Network of Libraries of Medicine is making free posters and other pandemic-related resources available to libraries.

Skilling for Employment

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The Public Library Association has put together resources to help libraries support patrons looking for jobs. The Skilling for Employment Post COVID-19 initiative identifies free resources to build skills, as well as sharing Tools and Resources for Trainers to help workforce development librarians.

Time for Change

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Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Perhaps. But what's not so sweet is when language is used to codify systemic racism, as seen in some of the Library of Congress subject headings used to catalog material. This fall, Oklahoma University asked the Library of Congress to change the subject heading for the Tulsa Race Massacre, currently classified as the "Tulsa Race Riot." We've begun having conversations about problematic subject headings at SALS. If you're interested in being involved, get in touch with Sara Dallas.

Supporting Healthy Communities

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The Pottsboro Public Library in Texas has been working to improve the health of its community -- including establishing space to provide telehealth services. When faced with the challenge of having a one-room open space library, the director made her office available so people could meet with their health care providers.

Read Two Chapters & Call Me in the Morning

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As any devoted reader can attest, reading can do wonders for one's mental health. As the pandemic slowed down our routines, more people began reading -- which has helped people navigate this difficult year.

Fiery Allegations

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A Chattanooga Public Library's library services coordinator, Cameron Williams, has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly burning books by conservative authors.

Old Number, Who Dis?

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If you were around in 1786, you could flip through New York's first directory (pre-phone book) and get the digits for Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

The Origin of Mystery

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The Cambridge University Library hasn't been able to locate two of Charles Darwin's missing notebooks since 2000. They now believe the books have been stolen. One bright spot -- both books had been digitized before they went missing.

Creating Community

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We know that representation -- the ability for people to see themselves as valued members of the community -- is vital to creating healthy communities. In Tuscon, Tenecia Phillips, a branch manager of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library in Tucson, coordinates a group of Black librarians who are working to diversify the staffing, events, and collections of their libraries.

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.

Library workers may apply online for grant funding until February 5, 2021, 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.

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).

Adult Literacy Grant

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The American Library Association and Dollar General Literacy Foundation invite public libraries to apply for grants to expand services for adult English language learners or adults in need of basic education and workforce development. Up to 16 grants of $5,000 each will be awarded. Public libraries are eligible if they serve adult English language learners and are located within 20 miles of a Dollar General Store, distribution center, or corporate office. Visit the Dollar General Store Locator.

Read the project guidelines and apply online by Friday, January 29, 2021.

ALA has a recorded webinar about the grant.

The American Dream Literacy Initiative strives to develop tools and resources for libraries and library staff to provide effective literacy services to adult English language learners in their communities and across the country. American Dream libraries build replicable programs, develop coalition-building strategies, and provide annotated lists of vetted resources for libraries across the country.

The American Dream Literacy Initiative is made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. It is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office and Office for Diversity.

Learn All the Things!

Yoga as an Act of Self-care for Librarians

Thursday, Jan. 7th 2021 at 2pm

This is an online event.

Yoga is both a movement-based and breath-based practice. While many people in America practice it, it has historically served those who are wealthy, white, and non-disabled and been sold as part of the "wellness" movement and "self-care" movements. This session will start with a brief chair yoga session, then follow with a very brief history of yoga and yoga programs at libraries and how it is currently being researched as an intervention in the biomedical and psychological fields. We will discuss how yoga is being practiced and made more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion will include the origins of the term "self-care" and its radical feminist context. We will center the discussion around self-care for librarians based on findings from a survey conducted in fall 2020. We will also include how you can personally participate in free yoga classes, how to incorporate and make accessible a yoga program at your library, and the beginnings of a yoga outreach program at Texas Tech University Library.

Effective, Efficient Boards and Board Meetings

Tuesday, Jan. 12th 2021 at 2pm

This is an online event.

Anyone running a meeting wants to help the group's members get things accomplished in a timely, orderly manner. What role does a board member play in this process? Whether it's the Friends officers or the library's Board of Trustees, all parties want well-organized meetings that run efficiently. The agenda, minutes, and motions all play a part. Regardless of the size of a board for a nonprofit organization, there are specific accountabilities the officers and directors must meet. Judy Siegel, Esq., of the Pro Bono Partnership will review nonprofit boards' legal and fiduciary duties. The session will include ways to provide the best oversight possible for the organization, keeping it functioning effectively. Learn what documents should be kept in your board book, how technology can and cannot be used to conduct board business, and practical strategies for more successful meetings.

This professional development opportunity is open to all. Registration is open.


Judy Siegel, Esq., is Senior Staff Attorney with the Pro Bono Partnership (New York Office) which provides direct legal services to nonprofit organizations in New York, including libraries and their Friends groups. Judy recruits and coordinates volunteer attorneys to assist clients, conducts outreach to nonprofit organizations in their service area, and presents legal workshops on topics relevant to nonprofit executives and board members. (

The charge for the webinar is $25 for NYLA personal or organizational members (who are not members of FLS) and $35 for those who are not members of NYLA. Group registrations are also available ($75 member rate /$99 nonmember rate). A credit card is required for payment. Checks and purchase orders are not accepted. Registration closes 48 hours prior to the start time of the webinar.

As a member benefit, the primary contact person and group volunteers of Friends Group organizational members who are listed on the "Friend Group Volunteers Registration Form" on file with the NYLA Finance and Administration Manager and personal FLS members may participate at no cost. The FLS/NYLA membership must be current at the time of registration, with the membership expiration date beyond the date of the webinar.

When registering through the NYLA Online Membership Center, FLS members need their assigned username and password to qualify for an "FLS Member Reg Pass" that will waive the webinar registration fee.

Proactive Advocacy and Communication for Library Trustees and Staff

Wednesday, Jan. 13th 2021 at 3pm

This is an online event.

Rally the troops, consolidate the message, and get it out there! These common and important steps are all part of the response when there’s a crisis challenging the library. But what can we do the rest of the time, before a crisis arises? Using both outward and inward-facing tools, there are simple steps that boards and library staff can integrate into their communication processes, to be better prepared for unknown changes. Learn about these tools and how they can set the stage for dealing more effectively with any crisis your library faces in the future.

This webinar is hosted in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).

Presented by: Lori Fisher, Assistant State Librarian/Administrator of Library Operations, New Hampshire State Library

Engaging Take and Makes on a Shoestring Budget

Thursday, Jan. 14th 2021 at 10am

This is an online event.

Libraries are no strangers to providing various forms of entertainment to our patrons. However, now that our patrons are spending more time at home, they’re looking for more to do. In this webinar, we’ll provide Take and Make project ideas for adults, teens, and children.

We’ll cover:

  • Ideas that are multigenerational
  • Where to source craft ideas
  • Registration vs. First Come, First Serve
  • Example budgets, and
  • Evaluation Engagement

About the Presenter:

Stacey Desrosiers is the Teen Services Library Assistant at the Goffstown Public Library located in Goffstown, NH. She started her career in Librarianship as a Page at the Goffstown Public Library back in 2016.

Resources for Wellbeing: Toolkit Tour for Rural & Small Libraries

Friday, Feb. 5th 2021 at 2pm

This is an online event.

Social wellbeing, individuals living the good life in a thriving community, is something public libraries can influence! Join these rural library directors for a tour of the most popular tools for helping libraries improve social wellbeing in their communities created from the Rural Library Service & Social Wellbeing Project research. Learn from library directors who leverage all available resources to create feelings of delight, power, cultural identity, and belonging for community residents with outstanding results. Participants will leave understanding key actions libraries can take to improve social wellbeing outcomes in their own communities, both immediately, and over the long haul.