Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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Libraries and school districts around the country are seeing a renewed interest in serving on their boards, which is usually a good thing. But the candidates running now aren't interested in increasing investment in education or ensuring that their communities have a wide variety of information to meet the needs of their neighbors. Instead, candidates are running to control what material is shared and who has a voice in making decisions about public libraries.

In Michigan, a library trustee tried to remove a book with a gay character from its collection. When the library declined to do so, the trustee suggested defunding the library. In Chatanooga, Tennessee, school libraries are also fending off attacks from school board members interested in controlling what material is made available to students. In Wyoming, the Campbell County Public Library had to suspend public comments after its commissioners were bullied and threatened about books in the collection. And in Louisianna, a trustee who opposed the Lafayette Library's Drag Queen Story Time was recently elected board president.

Sadly, the attempt to limit discourse and access to information are not outliers. Instead, it's part of a deliberate astroturfing campaign to woo suburban women who failed to support the Republican presidential candidate in the last election back into the fold before midterms. Using the moniker "parental rights" to justify their efforts, people challenge materials and services at schools and libraries.

These attacks keep the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom busy with a record number of calls reporting challenges to material. What can us simple library folk do to push back at these attempts to limit access to information?

One place to start is by sharing our professional values and code of ethics with our Trustees and communities. Another is to continue advocating for intellectual freedom. Together, we can move beyond division and have productive conversations that help our communities move forward. Stay tuned -- in the next couple of months, we'll be sharing information about our partnership with the Kettering Foundation to help our communities consider deliberative democracy.

Come Together

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The Southern Adirondack Library System is convening its first Friends Council at 7 pm Tuesday, November 9. All Friends of the Library members representing SALS member libraries are welcome to attend.

What’s a Friends Council? At this point, it’s a virtual gathering of representatives from member libraries’ Friends groups. It’s a chance to connect with others doing the important work of supporting public libraries – and a place to share triumphs, solve challenges, and get inspiration. A Friends Council is a sharing session where each Friends organization can present a question or problem that they are experiencing or provide suggestions to another group to help them overcome obstacles to their goals. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know and learn from others passionate about public libraries.

Anyone interested in attending is welcome. Register here:

Everyone who registers will receive an invitation to the Zoom room.

Make it Rain!

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What resources do we need to accomplish our goals and objectives? How do we fund all of the cool stuff we want to happen at our libraries? Those are the questions we face as our organizations grow and outpace our levels of community financial support. One way to make the magic happen is through grant writing, a skill that allows us to leverage the power of partnerships and develop relationships with a wide range of funders.

If you’d like to learn the basics of grant writing or improve your skills, register for the upcoming Grant Writing 101 webinar at 10 am Friday, November 19. Everyone who registers will be sent a link to the Zoom meeting before the date:

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Since 2016, SALS's Libraries Mean Business initiative has supported small businesses and entrepreneurs. We provide funding to train Notaries Public for SALS's member libraries and are building a digital collection of business-related e-books and e-audiobooks.

If your library has not yet taken part in the Notary Public Training program, or if you would like to have an additional person trained, there's good news!.

SALS will cover the cost of one person from each member library to:

In exchange, participating libraries MUST:

  • Let Erica know they intend to participate
  • Register with SUNY Adirondack & identify as part of the SALS group
  • Pay for the class, registration, and license
  • Submit paperwork to be reimbursed -- including documentation indicating completion of the SUNY Adirondack class and Notary Public Exam and registration.
  • Libraries will only be reimbursed after the Notary Public Exam has been completed.

There are two options: An asynchronous, online course, or a four-hour in-person class.

Notary Public License Exam Preparation — Self-Paced, Online Course

Available Sept. 8 through Dec. 15

This online, self-paced course is offered through Blackboard and teaches you the essential information for the New York State Notary Exam. It prepares you to understand your duties and functions as a Notary Public Officer. You will gain insight into what a Notary Public’s key responsibilities and limitations are, as well as some best practices of a Notary Public Officer.

Topics include:

  • Notary concepts
  • Definition review
  • Sample forms
  • Notary law subsection review

The Notary Public exam will not be given during this workshop. To successfully complete this course and prepare for the exam, students will be required to complete the reading, discussion and quiz activities identified in the course syllabus.

For information about the NYS Notary Public Exam and licensing process, schedule and forms, please visit the NYS Division of Licensing Services website.

Registration for this course closes Tuesday, Nov. 23, to ensure participants have enough time to complete the course.

Virtual Trustee Training Opportunity

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Join co-authors of the Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State Jerry Nichols and Rebekkah Smith Aldrich for this fun and informative series! Each month trustees are encouraged to read a chapter of the Trustee Handbook and send in questions that the authors will address at live events.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021, from 5:00-6:30 pm: Library Board Meetings | Register Here

Before the event:
1) Read the chapter: Library Board Meetings
2) Thoughts to consider before the program:

  • Are your meetings well organized with a standard agenda and materials distributed well in advance?
  • Do all Board members regularly attend and are well prepared?
  • Are you familiar with and faithfully following the Open Meetings Law?
  • Do you review and approve all bills and personnel actions?
  • Are you fully apprised of all library activities from the various departments?

3) Submit your questions here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021, from 5:00-6:30 pm: Personnel | Register Here

Before the event:
1) Read the chapter: Personnel
2) Thoughts to consider before the program:

  • Do you abide by the Best Practices rubric: “Director selects; Board appoints”?
  • Do you approve all personnel actions (even retroactively), including salary increases, promotions, and terminations?
  • If applicable, do you understand your responsibilities under NYS Civil Service Law?
  • Does your Board treat the director as the CEO and avoid micromanagement?
  • Do you provide sufficient compensation to attract quality staff and a competent library director?
  • Do you avoid all appearances of nepotism in the hiring and promotional process?

3) Submit your questions here.

Co-Moderators for the series:

  • Brian M. Hildreth, Executive Director, Southern Tier Library System
  • Ron Kirsop, Executive Director, Pioneer Library System.

Submit Your Questions Here

Size Doesn't Matter

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The 2021 Leading Big in Small Spaces Conference will be held online from 9 am – 12:30 pm on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, via Zoom. It’s free! Register and learn more here!

Building Vaccine Confidence

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ALA is partnering with Communities for Immunity, an unprecedented collaboration among libraries and museums to boost COVID-19 information and vaccine confidence in communities across the United States.

Communities for Immunity provides funding to libraries, museums, science centers and other cultural institutions to enhance vaccine confidence where it matters most: at the local level. Building on the many ways they have supported their communities during the pandemic, the partnership will activate libraries and museums to create and deliver evidence-driven materials and develop resources, programs, and approaches specifically designed to help these institutions engage diverse audiences in vaccine confidence.

There is funding available for libraries to create projects and initiatives to enhance vaccine confidence. The deadline for this second round of applications is October 29, 2021.

Some smaller projects may use existing resources and materials to communicate about vaccines, like printing and distributing pamphlets about COVID-19 vaccination, facilitating a community discussion about vaccines, or opening or maintaining a vaccination site. Read the applicant toolkit for more information about the application process.

Foundational Planning Assistance

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DHPSNY is excited to announce a new addition to our Planning & Assessment Services—

Foundational Planning Assistance! Foundational Planning Assistance is geared towards organizations that may not feel they are ready for DHPSNY’s Archival Needs Assessment, Preservation Survey, or Strategic Planning Assistance processes.

Foundational Planning Assistance has been designed as an informal and accessible process that provides participating institutions with a framework for institutional advancement, with an emphasis on strengthening the organizational components needed for optimal levels of collections stewardship. The overarching goal of Foundational Planning Assistance is to strengthen an organization’s capacity and prepare them to engage in a comprehensive assessment within the next one to three years.

Click here to learn more and apply.

Foundational Planning Assistance is open to nonprofit cultural institutions in New York State that hold historical records and/or library research materials. It is desired that the organization operates a program to preserve these records and make them publicly accessible; however, organizations that require DHPSNY assistance in developing a program to provide access will be considered.

Application materials for Foundation Planning Assistance are accepted year-round and reviewed on a monthly basis. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis through November 2021.

For assistance, questions about eligibility, or additional information, contact us at or 215-545-0613 ext. 338.

Women's Suffrage Exhibit

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ALA has announced a new grant for libraries designed to spark conversations about American history and culture through an examination of the women's suffrage movement.

To qualify for this grant, the applying institution must be a library (public, tribal, school, academic, or special) residing in the U.S. or U.S. territories. Read the grant guidelines and frequently asked questions.

Through Let's Talk About It (LTAI): Women's Suffrage, participants will read a series of books curated by humanities scholars and discuss the people and events from this often under-taught part of U.S. history.

Twenty-five libraries will be selected to receive a $1,000 stipend to support programming costs, ten copies of five themed books, access to programming guides and support materials, virtual training on the LTAI model, a suite of online resources and more.

Applications will be accepted from September 1 to December 1, 2021. Library workers can apply online at

Please reach out to with any questions.

Oh, the Humanities!

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ALA invites libraries to apply for funding through its American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity, a grantmaking program to deliver relief to libraries recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, ALA will distribute $2 million to help anchor libraries as strong humanities institutions as they emerge and rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic. The program assists libraries that have been adversely affected by the pandemic and require support to restore and sustain their core activities.

Up to 200 U.S. libraries of all types (e.g., public, tribal, K-12, academic, special, prison) and representing a broad range of communities will receive $10,000 through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process. Register for a free webinar to learn about the application.

ALA will accept applications from October 5 to December 2, 2021. Learn more and apply online.

Selected libraries will receive:

Goals include helping create or preserve jobs; supporting or maintaining general operations, creating or sustaining humanities programs; and implementing new humanities activities or sustain existing activities. Eligible expenses include salary and benefit support for library workers engaged in humanities activities, in-person or virtual humanities programming costs, such as book clubs and guest lectures, and marketing and advertising to support library humanities efforts.

Learn All the Things!

A Conversation on Race & Identity in Children’s Books

Thursday, Oct. 28th, 3pm

This is an online event.

In partnership with Eugene Public Library, the University of Oregon’s Special Collections & University Archives is hosting a virtual panel discussion addressing complex issues of race and identity in children’s literature. The conversation will explore how race and identity have been represented in children’s books in the past, how and why authors, scholars, and illustrators are working to change that, and panelists’ hopes for the future of children’s literature.

Digging Deeper into Local and Family History with Census Data

Monday, Nov. 1st, 2pm

This is an online event.

The Census is an essential source for discovering and reconstructing local and family history. Rich data about communities, neighborhoods, and families document local demographics, immigration and naturalization information, ancestral family names, relationships, birth years, and birthplaces. Although the U.S. government has conducted a Census every ten years since 1790, the categories of data collected and the details provided in the Census records vary. Learn how categories for race, ethnicity and other demographics have changed over time and how that impacts research. Discover public library programming and strategies to engage your community in a deeper understanding of local and family history. Census sources important to local history research and family genealogy will be discussed.

Presented as part of the Census Data Literacy project, an initiative of PLA in partnership with ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, which aims to build data literacy skills among library staff to promote awareness and use of Census data in their communities.

This webinar will be live captioned. If you have a physical or communication need that may affect your participation in this webinar, please contact us at or 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752) at least two weeks before the webinar. Without sufficient prior notification of need, we may not provide appropriate accommodations for the live event.

NOTE: Due to high demand, we are accepting up to 1,500 registrations for this event, but only the first 1,000 viewers will be able to attend live. The webinar room will open about 15 minutes before the event's start, and we recommend you arrive early. The archived recording will be available at

Libraries and Autism – We’re Connected

Tuesday, Nov. 9th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Interested in learning more about autism and programming and how you can help your library, and the entire staff, create a welcoming climate for all of its users, where everyone embraces positive, inclusive customer service?

This one-hour webinar will cover:

  • Background on the L&A project;
  • An overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Issues with providing effective customer service to those on the spectrum and their families.
  • Implementing the strategies and tips, changes in staff attitudes, related projects, etc.
  • Discussions of the importance of empathy, outlook, and the perspective one brings to this issue.
  • Strategies and ideas for implementing effective library-based programming for the autism community for all ages, discussing the benefits of both specialized and inclusive approaches.

The Libraries and Autism project centers on autism awareness, customer service strategies, and programming tips. It includes a training film and website ( and seeks to promote universal service and best practices to libraries and librarians serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families.

Dan began the project in 2008 with Meg Kolaya. It has helped spread awareness and information to libraries and librarians, informed other training initiatives and projects, and inspired others to innovate and share ideas on service, programming, and community support and interaction.

Feel the Need to Weed, Part 2: Communicating with Staff and the Public

Wednesday, Nov. 10th, 4pm

This is an online event.

The optics of weeding is an often-overlooked part of the weeding process. No one wants to have to lock their dumpsters or appear on the news accused of book burning! In this hour-long session with Rebecca Vnuk, author of The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide, attendees will:

  • Learn how to get your staff (or administration) thinking positively about the weeding process
  • Learn how to best communicate with the public on the topic of weeding
  • Discuss weeding as overall ongoing collection management, helping avoid the need for intimidating projects that can be misconstrued

Register here.

Managing the Conversations of the Moment, Part 2: CRT in K-12 Is Not a Thing, So Why Are We Talking About It?

Tuesday, Nov. 16th, 4pm

This is an online event.

The goal of this three-part series is to help people manage difficult conversations in spaces with school-aged children about the current cultural moment (e.g., conversations about race and equity in schools and Covid protocols). Led by Jessica Hochman and Tonya Leslie of We Need 2 Talk, each session will introduce Epoch Education’s RIR Protocol (Recognize, Interrupt, Repair): a tool for managing difficult conversations. Time will be spent considering relevant scenarios and practicing the protocol.

Each session will cover the RIR protocol within a different context. Participants can sign up for one session or all three.

In this session, the second in the three-part series, we will set a historical context for conversations around equity. America has always had to fight for racial equity, but today’s battle has a different tone. We will discuss how conversations about equity and Critical Race Theory have made their way into mainstream conversations. Using the RIR protocol, we will practice ways for participants to manage these conversations.

Managing the Conversations of the Moment, Part 3: Moving From Conflict Toward Repair

Tuesday, Nov. 30th, 4pm

This is an online event.

The goal of this three-part series is to help people manage difficult conversations in spaces with school-aged children about the current cultural moment (e.g., conversations about race and equity in schools and Covid protocols). Led by Jessica Hochman and Tonya Leslie of We Need 2 Talk, each session will introduce Epoch Education’s RIR Protocol (Recognize, Interrupt, Repair): a tool for managing difficult conversations. Time will be spent considering relevant scenarios and practicing the protocol.

Each session will cover the RIR protocol within a different context. Participants can sign up for one session or all three.

We will do a deep dive into the “Interrupt” part of the RIR protocol in this third and final series session. As library folks, We Need 2 Talk often approaches interruption through inquiry. In this session, participants will practice asking questions that help build understanding and uncover what’s below the surface in moments of conflict toward potential repair.

Trauma-Informed Library Work – Deepening Awareness and Taking Action

Tuesday, Dec. 7th, 3pm

This is an online event.

As a follow-up to Nisha’s presentation, “Trauma-Informed Librarianship: What is it and what can it look like?” this workshop will allow participants opportunities for individuals to deepen their awareness about how trauma shows up in their respective workplaces, explore the Trauma-Informed Road Map, and think of small but actionable ways to be more trauma-informed in library work.