Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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One of the gifts 2020 has given me is increased empathy for Alice, who had to negotiate a topsy-turvy world after falling through the Looking Glass. The constantly shifting terrain has been challenging, with a deadly pandemic coursing through the country, social and racial justice reckonings, and a hotly contested election cycle. While the pandemic highlights tensions and faults in our society, there are people who are choosing to do incredible work, and others not so much.

Fortunately, we don't have to look far to find people being amazing. Ike Pulver, the director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, volunteered at a drive-through food pantry last week. He had done it before and knew there was a good chance of having remaining food, so got in touch to see if any of our Farm-2-Library participants could use the extra bounty. At the end of the day, Ike delivered twenty pounds of chicken, five pounds of sausage, five quarts of strawberries, five pounds of bananas, three and a half gallon jugs of orange juice, three and a half-gallon jugs of milk, six pounds of cheese, and ten pounds of butter to the Schuylerville Public Library and the Pember Library and Museum. He delivered the same (except for chicken and sausage, due to a lack of space) to the Corinth Free Library. He took the remainder to the Franklin Community Center in Saratoga Springs. Thanks to Ike for going above and beyond in his dedication to ensuring our communities thrive.

Thanks to all of you for working with your communities through this extraordinary crisis.

Travel the World From Home

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With more parents homeschooling their children now, there is a need for quality resources. To meet that need, the Schuylerville Public Library created ten Family Travel Kits. Each includes items like cookbooks, music, language CDs, travel guides, folktales, musical instruments, history videos, and culture and craft books. Each kit features a country or region. All of our homeschool resources are now listed and linked on our website to make it easy for folks to find what they need. We hope that these kits will be popular and help both our homeschoolers and those who just want to travel or learn about other cultures. They were a lot of fun for us to put together too!

Submitted by Caitlin Johnson, Director, Schuylerville Public Library

The Case of the Mummy's Hand

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We had a spooky discovery in the library today! Hidden away in a shadowy display case was a long forgotten relic from our library's past: a mummified hand that used to belong to Mary Hubbell, our original librarian who served from 1908 to 1958. There are lots of curiosities and antiques throughout the library, and we're brainstorming ways to display them! Jury's out on whether the hand was hers or not, what do you think?

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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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.

If you are doing terrific virtual programming for adults, we want to hear from you. But we also want to hear from people who are struggling, or who have had a bad experience. Come ready to share and learn from your colleagues.

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!

Save the Date

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Have you had enough of 2020? Are you ready to sit back, relax, and nerd out? Lucky for you, the Capital District Library Council is once again partnering with Skidmore College’s Scribner Library and the Southern Adirondack Library System to bring you the first virtual Infomingle at 3 pm Thursday, December 3.

Meet other information professionals during this fun, informal networking event. Dazzle us with your favorite Zoom background. All are welcome to attend – please bring your favorite comfort food recipe to share.

Raise a Glass & Celebrate!

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Have you heard?

The New York Black Librarians Caucus' 50th Anniversary Scholarship Gala is going virtual and we would love for you to join us!

We'll be celebrating virtually from 11 am to 4 pm Saturday, November 14.

Friends of NYBLC - $35 includes access to one of the professional development workshops of your choice (CEU credits available), viewing of Tracie D. Hall's keynote speech, and access to the Indie Author Walk (1 author). Tickets available until November 6th.

There's lots to celebrate this year, including:

  • YOUNG ADULT WINNER: Khristi Lauren Adams
  • CHILDREN'S BOOK WINNER: Ama KariKari Yawson

Click here to purchase your ticket now!

By attending the Virtual Gala, your contribution will be used to ensure future NYBLC scholarships are fully funded for recipients for years to come. We thank you for your generosity in advance and we can't wait for you to celebrate with us!

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sandra Michele Echols, our Gala Chair, at

Crisis as Opportunity

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The infinite challenges posed by the pandemic have inspired libraries to rethink how to serve their communities.

Don't Be Evil

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As we educate our patrons how to navigate the World Wide Web safely, it's good to remind people of the power of metadata. Google recently provided IP addresses of everyone who conducted a keyword search of a particular location to the police as part of an arson investigation. There's currently a bill in the New York Senate that would prohibit reverse location searches.

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. Nominations are due November 9, 2020.

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 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.

In February, ALA released a set of free professional development materials:

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!

How Employers Can Support Library Workers Who Are Caregivers During COVID-19

Thursday, Nov. 5th, 3:30pm

This is an online event.

Join Loida Garcia-Febo, Chair of the ALA Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship, as she explores how employers can create emotionally healthy workplaces with relevant policies and procedures; how employers can provide flexible schedules as well as work expectations; and how employers can assist staff who are taking care of children and/or parents during this time of COVID-19.

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)

Diversity Adds Value: A Safe Space for Everyone, a CALA Lunch and Learn Webinar

Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 12pm

This is an online event.

Join us for CALA's Fall 2020 webinar featuring guest speakers Ainsley Thomas, Chief Diversity Officer, HVCC and Sandra McCarthy, Discipline Officer, Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Compliance Officer at HVCC.

For our webinar, we are asking for donations to The Red Bookshelf.

We will be hosting this informative webinar through ZOOM. Details for signing in will be emailed to you once you register.

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)