Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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As I consider all that I have to be grateful for, I am overwhelmed. I'm fortunate to have work that I'm passionate about, and amazing colleagues who challenge me to continue to learn and grow. While counting my blessings, I reflected on some of what has happened in the past year.

Four of our member libraries have completed community-based strategic plans, and another seven are in progress. We almost made it to the moon during our Library Moon Walk and had a chance to share the story of the initiative with libraries across the country. We had a blast at Adultprogrampalooza, where I had my first ever Unconference experience. We embraced lifelong learning as part of our 21st Century Communication and Engagement Skills series, which led to fruitful discussions, introspection, and provided a new way of thinking about things. Member library staff have become Notaries Public, notarizing hundreds of documents for individuals and small businesses. We added a fourth library to our Farm-2-Library initiative with Comfort Food Community. We were recognized nationally and statewide for our efforts to address food waste, food insecurity, and food access in rural food deserts. And finally, we worked with the American Library Association to develop best practices for serving immigrants and refugees at public libraries.

As I think about the past year, I am thankful to be working with our incredible member libraries, which inspire me every day. Thanks for letting me play with the cool kids! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Better Readers

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Two years ago, the Greenwich Free Library, Schuylerville Public Library, and the Cambridge Public Library banded together to provide adult literacy services through their Better Readers Program. These three libraries used a SALS Challenge Grant to hire a part-time adult literacy coordinator to address the needs of their communities. Fast-forward to 2019, and avid reader Krystyn Pelletier (above), a client from a local day program for people with intellectual disabilities, is now able to read books to children, a goal she set for herself. She first shared a story in September, and is now working on a holiday book to share with youngsters in the next month. Way to read, Krystyn!

Are You Up to the Challenge?

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In its 2020 budget, the SALS Board of Trustees has earmarked funds to once again renew its three challenge grants: Construction, Continuing Education, and Library Services Seed.

Follow the links below to find information for each of the grant programs, a budget form, as well as the Walkabout guide for the Construction program.

Applications are due December 27, 2019, using an online form.

Libraries & Veterans National Forum

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The Libraries and Veterans National Forum is a two-day symposium to discuss strategies for supporting library patrons and library workers who are veteran or military-affiliated. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Fifty library workers from a variety of library types and from around the country will be selected to attend the symposium, with travel and accommodations covered courtesy of the IMLS grant. The Forum is scheduled for June 8-9, 2020 in College Station, Texas.

The Libraries and Veterans National Forum is intended to move forward the conversation about veteran and military-affiliated patrons in libraries. Library workers who work with veterans and military patrons are encouraged to attend. Engagement with veteran and military communities could look like targeted programs or services, or it could look like collections, spaces, or policies aimed at making libraries friendlier to veteran and military-affiliated patrons.

To indicate interest in attending and for more information, visit: Applications to attend will close on December 15, 2019, and selected participants will be notified in January 2020.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Sarah LeMire at

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The Library Complete Count Committee of New York State has published a LibGuide for New York Libraries.

This guide will be continually updated up through Census Day - April 1, 2020, to help libraries navigate the many questions surrounding the country's first digital decennial census. The guide includes FAQ's for public, academic, and school libraries as well as New York-specific information, and links to other entities in the area who are working on complete count efforts. There are downloadable materials for marketing and training.

If you have any questions, reach out to Carolyn Bennett Glauda -

ALA / NYLA Congressional Key Contact Program

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The American Library Association (ALA) is offering an opportunity for members to engage with the ALA Public Policy & Advocacy Office. ALA has launched an advanced advocacy program of Key Contacts, member volunteers that serve the ALA National Network as issue ambassadors working on behalf of all ALA member organizations and affiliates. The goal of this initiative is to build and strengthen relationships with members of Congress and their staffs nationwide.

These volunteer ambassadors partner with the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office to educate and inform federal lawmakers and their staff about the valuable role America’s libraries play in their local communities. ALA Key Congressional Contacts will seek to build strong relationships with an assigned congressional office, establishing a network of committed volunteers to serve as the “go-to” community contacts for these legislative offices on issues impacting America’s libraries


As a pilot state for the National Network of Key Congressional Contacts program, NYLA is targeting ten specific members of Congress. The intention is to expand the program further in subsequent years.

We invite anyone interested in the program to apply - even if you do not reside in one of the targeted districts.

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Since 2016, SALS's Libraries Mean Business initiative has supported small businesses and entrepreneurs. We provide funding to train Notary Publics for each SALS's library 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 a second 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 be rereimbursed after the Notary Public Exam is completed.

The line learning opportunity is available through December 13, allowing anyone interested to move at your own pace.

Please identify yourself as a SALS member when registering to obtain documentation of online course completion to submit with a copy of the paid bill to SALS for reimbursement.

To register and pay for the course, call 518-743-2238, e-mail, or complete and submit the registration form.

Please note that you must complete all required components of the course and submit your paid bill, course participation documentation, and proof of completed and passed Notary Public exam to receive reimbursement from SALS. The deadline for submitting documentation for reimbursement to Erica is December 31, 2019. No reimbursements are available after that date.

Support for this program comes from the New York State Library’s Adult Literacy Library Services Program.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Rural Library Opportunity

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Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries is a new learning series from the American Library Association (ALA) designed to help library workers develop facilitation skills to engage with their communities.

Specially designed to meet the needs of small and rural libraries, the series will consist of:

  • In-person training at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago with follow-up coaching support; space is limited. Registration and travel stipends will be granted through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process
  • A five-part asynchronous online course
  • Follow-up coaching support

Applications are now being accepted for travel stipends to attend the in-person training at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. ALA will distribute up to 25 travel stipends to library workers in small and rural communities to cover travel costs. Applications are due Monday, January 20, 2020. Applicants will be notified by Friday, January 31, 2020.

Before starting, read the travel stipend FAQ and carefully review the requirements in each category for the travel stipend before applying.

Questions? Contact ALA's Public Programs Office at

Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant RE-17-19-0041-19.

Rural STEAM Advisors Needed

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The ALA Public Programs Office (PPO), ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS), and the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute (SSI NCIL) invite applications for Library Outreach Advisors to a STEAM Equity Project being funded by the National Science Foundation. Submissions are requested by December 9, 2019 and complete application instructions, advisor responsibilities, and honoraria details are posted online.

With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), ALA and SSI NCIL seek to enhance STEAM equity and learning opportunities in rural communities by bringing an exhibition to 12 public libraries and investigating how three learning pathways — STEAM Learning Spaces, Active Learning Programs, and STEAM Outreach Kits — can increase gender equity and engagement with racially diverse audiences, particularly Latino families.

The project will launch in January 2020, building on STAR Net (the Science‐Technology Activities and Resources Library Network), a community of practice led by SSI and supported by funding from NSF, NASA and other partner organizations.

ALA and SSI seek three library professionals to serve as Library Outreach Advisors, during the five-year STEAM Equity Project term (January 2020 – December 2024). Advisors will be selected for their experience working with Latina/Latino/Latinx and/or rural communities: conducting public library outreach efforts, developing and hosting culturally responsive programming, and sharing best practices for successful outreach at the local, state or national level. STEAM programming experience and/or an MLS are preferred but not required. Candidates who identify as Latina/Latino/Latinx will receive priority consideration.

Desired qualifications/experience:

  • 3-5 years of experience conducting public library outreach to Spanish-speaking and/or Latina/Latino/Latinx patrons, preferably in a rural community.
  • Interest in designing, developing, and delivering training (in-person or online) that focuses on library outreach best practices, particularly in rural communities and for Spanish-speaking and/or Latina/Latino/Latinx patrons.
  • Demonstrated ability to engage in collaborative planning and resource development.
  • Interest in and commitment to advancing gender equity and racially diverse audience engagement with STEAM learning and programming in public libraries.
  • An MLS is preferred but not required.

Successful candidates must:

  • Attend an annual, in-person project team meeting in Boulder, CO. The first required in-person meeting will take place March 3 – 5, 2020.
  • Participate in one-hour, quarterly web-based planning meetings, January 2020 – December 2024.
  • Participate in collaborative creation of outreach-focused professional development opportunities for public librarians (e.g., via webinars and/or in-person events).
  • Be available to provide feedback on critical project content, as needed (e.g., review of selection guidelines for 12 public library exhibition host sites; review of interactive components of the physical exhibition). Expected time commitment for providing feedback outside of meetings is 5-8 hours/year.

ALA PPO/ODLOS will provide each Library Outreach Advisor with:

  • A $1,000 annual honorarium, payable 2020-2024
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses for each annual project team meeting in Boulder, CO. The first meeting will take place March 3-5, 2020, and ALA will cover airfare, ground transportation, lodging, meals and incidentals.
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses for a STEAM Equity pre-conference workshop held annually during ALA’s Annual Conference. ALA will cover conference registration, airfare, ground transportation, as well as two days of lodging, meals, and incidentals.

How to Apply

To apply, please prepare the following materials. Applications must be submitted electronically as a single PDF document that includes:

  1. A statement addressing your interest in serving as a Library Outreach Advisor and highlighting your relevant qualifications (500 words, max.). If you identify as Latina/Latino/Latinx, please feel free to share this information in your statement of interest.
  2. Your résumé.

The single PDF application must be submitted via email by 9 a.m. Central on Monday, December 9, 2019, to Lainie Castle, project director for the STAR Net STEAM Equity Project (

ALA PPO, ODLOS and SSI staff will review applications and make final selection decisions. All applicants will be notified of their status by December 20, 2019.

Share Your Civic Engagement Story

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Has your library implemented an interesting activity or service related to nonpartisan voter education, voter registration, or services for voters? Does your organization offer a resource that can be used by libraries in those activities?

Would you like to showcase that work at ALA Annual in June 2020?

As part of ALA’s work on civic engagement, the Public Policy and Advocacy Office (PPA) and Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS), in partnership with the Committees on Legislation and Library Advocacy, are pleased to host “Early and Often: Engaging Voters Throughout the Election Cycleat ALA Annual in June. We are accepting proposals for lightning talks (5-minute presentations) featuring libraries and partner organizations that offer resources, programming, or services to increase voter engagement. Libraries of all types are encouraged to apply.

Proposals are due December 20 and can be submitted using this form. All proposals will receive a response by January 10.

To Fine, Or Not To Fine

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Many of our member libraries have been fine free for years, or even since their inception. As the trend takes hold nationwide, data is showing the advantage of going fine free -- like in Chicago, where the decision to eliminate fines resulted in a 240% increase in returned books. In addition to benefitting the library, eliminating fines reduces barriers to library use, creating more equitable organizations.

Sister Library

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The Sister Library in Mumbai, India, is dedicated to collecting and sharing writing by women. Created by artist Aqui Thami, the library showcases women's voices in books, magazines, and zines "Sister Library is more an act of reclaiming libraries – celebrating works that don’t find mention in the mainstream media and re-examining the idea of what a library could be." Thami includes oral histories, to create an inclusive collection.

Drop It Like It's Hot

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Not sure what to bake? Take a note from poet Emily Dickinson.

Read Them All

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The New York Times has officially identified the ten best books of 2019, so you don't have to.

Fund All The Things!!

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Submissions are open for the 2020 EBSCO Midwinter Meeting Scholarship. EBSCO provides up to $1,500 to defray the costs of travel and other expenses to the American Library Association’s Annual Conference.

Seven Annual Conference scholarships will be awarded to librarians responding to the following essay question: How will attending this ALA Conference contribute to my professional development?

Annual Conference Submissions are due Dec. 1, 2019. The ALA Annual Conference will be held June 25-30, 2020 in Chicago.

Autism Welcome Here

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The "Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More" grant, sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We're Connected, will accept applications beginning September 1, 2019.

The grant honors the groundbreaking work of Meg Kolaya, co-founder of Libraries and Autism: We're Connected and a pioneer in the area of library service to people with autism. It celebrates her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries and the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to the library community.

The grant is a direct outcome of the Illinois State Library's broad and ambitious project, Targeting Autism: A National Forum on Serving Library Patrons on the Spectrum.

A total of $5,000 will be awarded. Depending on the applications received, one grant for the full amount or multiple grants for smaller amounts totaling $5,000 may be awarded.

The application deadline is December 1, 2019.

Any type of library in the United States or Canada can apply, and the proposal can fund projects and services for any age group. Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service, bring an already-existing, successful program or service to their library for the first time, or enhance a program or service they already offer. All programs or services proposed must benefit people with autism or their families, directly or indirectly. Funds may be used to hire a trainer to present a workshop, to buy program materials, to pay for staff, etc.

Applications will be judged on the basis of:

1. The project is clearly described and well thought out.
2. The potential impact is significant.
3. There is institutional support for the program or service
4. People with autism, family members or other community stakeholders are involved in the development and/or implementation of the project.
5. The program is one that would be replicable in other communities.
6. The program or service is based on an understanding of the needs of people with autism and/or best practices in working with this population.
7. There is a plan for the continuation of the service or program after the grant year.
8. The project would not be possible without outside funding.

Please direct any questions to Barbara Klipper:

Awards!! Win All the Things!

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The PLA awards online application is now open!

PLA awards and grants highlight the best in public library service and honor those bringing innovation, creativity, and dedication to public libraries. In addition to the awards, grants, and honoraria, the winners and their libraries will be honored at the PLA Member Breakfast the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Applications close Friday, December 6, 2019, at 11:59 PM Central Time.

Nominate yourself or a colleague for any of the following awards and grants:

  • Allie Beth Martin Award, honoring a public librarian who has demonstrated extraordinary range and depth of knowledge about books or other library materials and has the distinguished ability to share that knowledge. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor.
  • Baker & Taylor Entertainment Audio Music/Video Product Award, promoting the development of a circulating audio music/video collection in a public library.
  • Charlie Robinson Award, honoring a public library director who, over a period of seven years, has been a risk taker, an innovator and/or a change agent in a public library. Sponsored by Baker & Taylor.
  • EBSCO Excellence in Rural Library Service Award, honoring a public library serving a population of 10,000 or less with an upper per capita income limit of not more than the 75th quartile of the national average that demonstrates excellence of service to its community.
  • Gordon M. Conable Award, honoring a public library staff member, library trustee or public library that has demonstrated a commitment to intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights.
  • John Iliff Award, honoring a library worker, librarian or library that has used technology as a tool to improve services.
  • New Leaders Travel Grant, enhancing the professional development of new public librarians by making possible their attendance at major professional development activities.
  • PLA Library Innovation Award, recognizing a public library's innovative and creative service program to the community.
  • Romance Writers of America Library Grant, providing a public library the opportunity to build or expand its romance fiction collection and/or host romance fiction programming.
  • The Singer Group Helping Communities Come Together Award, recognizing a public library's ability to identify community needs specifically in times of crisis and division, and respond in creative and exemplary ways to critical challenges.

Webinars and CE!!! Learn All the Things!

Census 2020 and Adult Education: Call to Action

Wednesday, Dec. 4th, 2pm

This is an online event.

The decennial U.S. Census data collection determines the resources and representation your community will receive for the next decade. The high-profile argument over a potential citizenship question is expected to have a chilling effect on the response rates of hard-to-count populations, which include many of the individuals we serve—foreign-born individuals, low-income households, people of color, rural residents, and children under 5. Family literacy and adult education programs have important roles to play in reaching out to these hard-to-count communities and supporting community efforts to bring out the count. For this reason, the National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) has taken on Census education as a priority goal for 2020.

In this webinar, attendees will learn about Census 2020 directly from Census Bureau representatives and hear from NCL members about the unique role adult education can play in the 2020 count. This webinar will outline how and why the Census happens, how people can respond, how to mobilize your community around Census complete counts, and how to incorporate the Census into adult education programs and content.

Register today!

Doing the Work Externally and Internally: Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Thursday, Dec. 5th, 3pm

This is an online event.

How does a library respond to a community in deep crisis around race and social justice? That’s the question that Richland Library in Columbia, S.C., grappled with. Recognizing there was no single answer, they launched initiatives on multiple internal and external fronts. Starting with a Social Awareness Taskforce, geared toward community engagement and courageous conversations, they explored topics surrounding social and criminal justice, women’s rights and race.

By using Circles of Dialogue and mobile empathy labs, nearly 1,500 people have participated in the library’s race, equity and inclusion programming. They have also focused internally, empowering staff to lead the charge to understand their biases, macroaggressions, and cultural competence through Let’s Talk gatherings, Check Your Bubble worksheets, and other effective tools.

Hearing how Richland Library moved the needle on honest dialogue, empathy, and equity with their staff and community, you will be inspired to dig in and do the work at your own library.

Presented by: Richland Library (SC) staff, including Tamara King, Community Relations Director and 2019 Library Journal Mover & Shaker; Ci Ci Holloway, Human Resources Director; and Dee Robinson, Director of Library Experience, Branches.

This webinar is part of collaboration with Library Journal, highlighting the work of recent LJ Movers & Shakers.

Cyber Security for Libraries: How to Prepare for a Ransomware Attack

Wednesday, Dec. 11th, 1pm

This is an online event.

With ransomware attacks becoming more common, local governments and higher education entities are at risk. Join Innovative and Security Practice Leader Matt Wilgus from Schellman to discuss malware 101, unique risks to libraries, and preventative controls.

Nathan James, Director of Technology and Collection Innovation at Central Arkansas Library System will share what they learned from the ransomware attack on their library system, and tips on what to do if it happens to you.

Join us to learn how you can be prepared in the face of a cyber attack.

Responding to All: Managing Relationships with Key Constituencies

Tuesday, Jan. 14th 2020 at 3pm

This is an online event.

Do you know an amazing library director who stumbled into trouble unexpectedly? Are you one? Every library director seeks to be responsible and successful, but sometimes things go wrong. Understanding concepts for responsible leadership and strategies for fostering key relationships will boost your effectiveness and impact as a director, whether you are new to the position or have been around the block a few times. You will identify key relationships that need to be managed well⁠—your governing authority, your staff, your community, your profession, and last but not least, yourself. Embracing these relationships and working out a checklist of behaviors and communications for each audience will lead to more balance in your work. You’ll leave this webinar inspired by big ideas and motivated by practical steps that will refine your practice as a successful library leader.

Presented by: Jamie LaRue, writer, speaker, teacher, consultant, and former library director; and Sharon Morris, Ph.D., MLIS, Director, Library Development, Colorado State Library