Outreach, Engagement & Other Splendid Stuff

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Wash your hands, don't touch your face, and channel your inner introvert. That's been the mantra as New York battles COVID-19, an opportunistic virus that has triggered a global pandemic.

Public libraries face a tremendous challenge -- how do we continue to work during a public health crisis? The short answer is: calmly and carefully. Epidemiologists have recommended social distancing as the best way to flatten the curve of the virus -- by restricting contact with other people, we can reduce the transmission of the virus, a critical step necessary to ensure that our hospitals are able to meet the public health needs of our communities. The American Library Association Executive Board called for all libraries to close to the public. A huge and hearty thanks to all of our libraries that closed.

At SALS, we know how difficult it is to close a library, even during a public health crisis. This is unchartered territory and rural areas face distinct challenges, with aging populations and limited healthcare infrastructure. Despite closing our buildings, public libraries can still provide valuable services to our communities:

Some libraries are considering curbside drop-off pick-up or delivery of materials -- please don't, since the virus can live on surfaces for two to three days.

Thanks to everyone for doing all you can to serve your communities in difficult times. When you're ready, there are lots of opportunities for virtual professional development. If you're working from home for the first time, is offering some free courses to help.

We'll continue to be virtually available (or in real-time, if you call), and keep the website updated and current. If you need help, don't hesitate to reach out.

In the meantime, stay healthy and happy.

Southern Charm

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Please put your hands together to welcome Rebecca Gordon, the new director of the Stony Creek Free Library. In her short time at the helm, she's begun a bunch of popular programs -- including a paint & sip, and is a marketing whiz (see her clever readbox display above). Rebecca hails from Alabama, and is has lots of experience running complex organizations -- she has 11 kids! We can't wait to see what this creative dynamo does next!

Free For All

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Thanks to the incredible Jill Ryder, all of the SALS member libraries will have free access to TumbleBooks through August 31, 2020.

TumbleBooks’ databases are easy to use, and feature unlimited access from home! Your patrons can read as many books as they want, when they want, and on any device. There are no checkouts, holds, or bulky downloads. Books are available instantly.

We'll be sending out an email to all directors shortly with more information. Jack will be working with any interested libraries to put links on your websites.

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In a bit of good news, MacMillan has announced that it's ending its embargo period for ebooks, and is even lowering the price on some titles for the next sixty days, in recognition of increased demand. Thanks to everyone who advocated on behalf of libraries!
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We're delighted to share that two of SALS's member libraries have been awarded CDLC 2020 Regional Collections Grants which provide an opportunity for libraries, museums, and historical societies to make their undiscovered collections accessible for all to discover and enjoy.

Congratulations to:

  • Mechanicville District Public Library for adding more than 26,000 pages of The Mechanicville Mercury, Mechanicville Saturday Mercury, and the Hudson Valley Times to NYS Historic Newspapers to increase the accessibility to this primary resource. The papers range in date from 1883-1923.
  • Saratoga Springs Public Library for adding over 150 images taken by Harry B Settle to their New York Heritage collection. These never before seen images show aspects of life in Saratoga Springs from the early 1880s until the 1920s.

Grant applications were reviewed by a grants sub-committee that included members of CDLC’s Regional Automation Advisory Committee, comprised of Jill Ryder (Southern Adirondack Library System), Tim McDonough (Waterford Public Library), Colleen Smith (Town of Ballston Community Library), and Nancy Poehlmann (University at Albany Libraries.) Projects were considered that improved access to collections and content or raised the visibility of regional collections while meeting the goals of CDLC's Plan of Service. Committee recommendations were approved by RAAC and the CDLC Board of Trustees.

These grants are made possible through funding by the New York State Regional Bibliographic Databases Program (RBDB).

Everybody Counts

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The outbreak of COVID-19 is creating challenges for the US Census, which has launched. Due to social distancing guidelines, all in-person events to promote the census have been canceled, and field operations have been suspended until April 1.

In the meantime, we can still get the word out. Please use your social media to help spread the word about the importance of completing the Census 2020. There are short videos that can be embedded, information that can be shared, and Jack & I will be working on social media posts for all of our member libraries to share in the next week. Libraries in Warren County can share posts from the Warren County Complete Count Commission on Facebook and Instagram.

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The New York State Education Department is accepting applications for the 2020 Summer Food Service Program. Sponsors are organizations that are fully capable of managing a food service program and agree and assure to serve meals to any eligible child in accordance with Federal Law, USDA policy, guidance and instructions including federal civil rights laws, regulations and policies.

Approximately 400,000 free meals are served daily to New York State children through the USDA's Summer Food Service Program, which will operate this summer throughout New York State from June 15 through September 7, 2020.

The Summer Food Service Program was established to ensure that low-income children, 18 and younger, continue to receive nutritious meals when schools are not in session. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service administers the Summer Food Service Program at the national level and the New York State Education Department (SED) administers it at the State level.

To serve the eligible children in their communities, sponsors must verify that the site where they plan to serve meals is located in an area where at least half the resident children are from households with incomes at or below the eligibility level for free or reduced-price school meals. In most instances, current year school data provides the most accurate economic status of a particular community. Potential and existing sponsors can request data from the schools or from the SED to determine eligible program sites.

Summer Food Service Program sponsors receive federal and State reimbursement for each meal served to a child, according to predetermined reimbursement rates set by USDA. SED will hold training workshops in March and April for sponsors planning to participate in summer 2020.

Potential new sponsors may obtain additional information on the Department's Summer Food Service Program website or by contacting the New York State Education Department, Child Nutrition Program Administration, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234, (518) 486-1086. Email is also available at

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The American Library Association (ALA) has released a set of free professional development materials to help library workers in small and rural communities develop the facilitation skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century library. The materials are designed to help library workers prepare for and lead discussions and overcome common challenges that arise when people gather to speak in groups.

Available materials include:

"Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries," a practical 30-page guide that covers the basics of leading discussions in the library, including roles and responsibilities, setting ground rules and managing group dynamics.

"Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Training for Small and Rural Libraries," a five-part e-course available on ALA's eLearning platform. Module 1, "Conversations in the Library: Getting Started," will be followed by four additional modules to be released monthly this spring. Sign up for the full e-course series to receive notifications when new modules are added.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number RE-17-19-0041-19. The initiative is offered by ALA's Public Programs Office in collaboration with the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), the Association of Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), and the Chief Officers of State Library Associations (COSLA).

And, Exhale.

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In these troubling times, it's important to focus on what's really important. George Martin is alive and well, and working on the next installment of Game of Thrones in a "remote, isolated location." A sequel is coming!

Celebrate Your Friends

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Would you like an opportunity to honor an active library supporter, Friend or Friends of the Library? The Daniel W. Casey Library Advocacy Award is sponsored by the Friends of Libraries Section (FLS) of NYLA. Given annually since 1993 (through the precursor of FLS, the Empire Friends Roundtable), the award honors a volunteer member or group from the library community whose efforts have contributed to the growth of libraries or Friends of the Library organizations.

To learn more about Daniel W. Casey and to find the nomination form, go to to the “Awards and Scholarships” page. The deadline to submit nominations for this prestigious award is Monday, June 1, 2020. This year’s award recipient will be announced at the FLS annual membership meeting in Saratoga Springs on Friday, November 6, at the NYLA Annual Conference.

Nominations must include all relevant information outlined on the application form. Make sure to describe the contributions of the nominee (group or individual) to library service in detail; including positions held, years of service, accomplishments, successful fundraisers, etc.

Please submit the nomination form and all supporting materials (press releases, promotional materials, etc.) electronically to Marie Bindeman, Coordinator, via email at, or mail three copies to Marie Bindeman, 5498 Hartford Drive, Lockport, NY 14094. Paper copies sent by mail will not be returned.

If you have any questions, please contact Marie Bindeman at or call 716-433-0548. Thank you for your interest!

Opportunity Abounds

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The Association for Rural and Small Libraries has opened applications for a series of scholarships to attend this year's annual conference in Wichita, Kansas.

OCLC Community Engagement Award

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Share your library’s community engagement breakthroughs! Submissions should highlight a current project or one completed within the past year that impacts and extends your public library’s reach by engaging with your community. Three libraries will be recognized with an award and each will receive $5,000. To learn more and complete the form, visit the OCLC Community Engagement Award page.

Winners will be selected by a panel of OCLC member library leaders. Each winner will be contacted prior to a public announcement in June 2020. OCLC is accepting nominations from all public libraries in the Americas now through April 30, 2020
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Girls Who Code Clubs are FREE after-school programs where 6-12th grade girls join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models while using computer science to impact their communities. Below are resources as well as next steps to start your own Club or partnership:

  • 6th-12th Grade Curriculum: Check out this curriculum by following the instructions below. It’s a quick, non-binding process that lets you interact more with the online platform.
    • Visit the online learning platform, Girls Who Code HQ
    • Create an HQ Account by clicking “Sign Up” and indicating “I want to start a club or I want to volunteer for a club.” NOTE: This brings you to the curriculum preview page, and does not require you to submit a Clubs Application!)

If you are interested in starting one Girls Who Code Club, apply here. To start a Club you need a space at a nonprofit location with computer and internet access, and an adult Facilitator who doesn’t need to have any prior coding experience.

If you think your library might be interested in potentially starting two or more Clubs, check out our information about how we work with Clubs Community Partners - including how to obtain additional financial support! All you need to do is complete this brief Partnership Form.

Fund All The Things!!

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Documentary Heritage & Preservations Services for New York (DHPSNY) is currently accepting applications for four FREE Planning & Assessment Services, designed to support New York organizations in improving and advancing program efforts while forming strategies for future growth and development.

Taking part in DHPSNY's Planning & Assessment Services can help your organization:

  • Secure future grants and other funding opportunities
  • Gain knowledge of the standards and best practices for collections management & preservation as well as confidence in applying this knowledge
  • Increase the accessibility and use of your institution’s collections
  • Build a lasting relationship with DHPSNY’s supportive professional staff

We are accepting applications for four Planning & Assessment Services:

  • Archival Needs Assessments are an excellent way to examine your archival program holistically through an external lens
  • Strategic Planning Assistance helps organizations think proactively about their future and shape a three-year plan to serve as a road map for future decision making under a trained facilitator.
  • Preservation Surveys consist of a general evaluation of your institution's preservation needs, pinpointing areas of concern and recommendations for improvement.
  • Condition Surveys are a valuable tool for institutions that have received a Preservation Survey (through DHPSNY or another program) and are looking to evaluate the conditions of collection materials on a more granular level.

To be considered for the current round, applications must be submitted by Friday, March 27, 2020.

For assistance, questions about eligibility, or additional information, contact DHPSNY Program Manager Anastasia Matijkiw at 215-798-0105 or

Learn All the Things!

Call to Action: Public Libraries and the Opioid Crisis

Tuesday, March 31st, 3pm

This is an online event.

Public libraries are respected local institutions that connect community members to credible information and services. As community anchor institutions, libraries are leveraging their assets in response to the opioid crisis that has gripped the country. After 16 months of research, OCLC, and the Public Library Association have released a call to action on how libraries can address the opioid crisis in their communities. The call to action was created in response to library staff requests and has been informed by case study research and cross-sector discussions with library staff, as well as those with national and local community partner organizations. Two themes from the research and discussions stand out: there are many options for addressing this crisis and it is vital to do something. Panelists will share resources, including ideas for organizations to partner with, additional perspectives to consider, and strategies for getting started.

Presented by:

  • Kevin King, Head, Community Engagement, Kalamazoo Public Library
  • Patty McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, Faces and Voices of Recovery
  • Larra Clark, Deputy Director, Public Library Association; and
  • Kendra Morgan, Senior Program Manager, WebJunction

*Closed Captioning will be made available for this webinar.

Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries

Tuesday, April 7th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Barriers to civil legal justice disproportionately affect low-income people in the U.S., creating the justice gap—the divide between the civil legal needs of low-income people and the resources to meet those needs. Though legal issues can be intimidating for library staff, public libraries are well positioned to help reduce the justice gap by providing more access points to legal information and services.

Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries is a grant-funded training initiative that will strengthen library staff’s knowledge and ability to help identify when there is a civil legal issue at play and to direct library users to relevant, helpful information to narrow the justice gap in their communities.

Topics covered by the training:

  • Understanding the role of public libraries in addressing the justice gap
  • Recognizing the difference between legal information and legal advice
  • Conducting the legal reference interview; addressing patron stress and anxiety
  • Reviewing and strengthening your library’s civil legal reference collection
  • Examining commonly addressed and important civil legal topics, including family, housing, veterans, and consumer issues
  • Exploring trusted local- and state-specific online self-help resources
  • Identifying and cultivating relationships with local organizations that offer legal aid, legal referrals

Project training dates:

Beyond Routine Library Services to Immigrants: A Discussion on the Role of Information in Migration

Thursday, April 16th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Library services to immigrants have historically followed a narrow service provision model that overlooks the broader role of information and libraries in migration. In this presentation, Dr. Ndumu will discuss the cross between libraries, social inclusion, and push/pull migration factors.

The presentation will end with two initiatives that are transforming library ideology on immigrants.

Space Planning: Getting Started

Thursday, April 16th, 2pm

This is an online event.

Archives, libraries, and museums of all sizes face challenges when considering how to make the most of collections storage spaces, particularly when space is limited. The presenter will discuss strategies for making the most of precious storage space as well as ways to prioritize best practices and current standards for housing and storing institutional collections.

This webinar is presented free of charge to New York institutions by the Documentary Heritage and Preservation Services for New Program (DHPSNY). DHPSNY is a program of the New York State Education Department, with services provided by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA).


Maria Holden, Preservation Officer, New York State Office of Cultural Education

Social Work Students and Public Library Partnerships

Wednesday, April 29th, 3pm

This is an online event.

Librarianship and social work have many shared values, including meeting the expanding and evolving needs of individuals and the community. Nearly 80 public libraries in the U.S. have collaborated with social work programs or schools of social work, to provide valuable learning opportunities for social work interns, and to connect community members with crucial services which exist beyond standard library offerings. Libraries or social work educators looking for ways to initiate collaborations with social work interns should join this webinar to understand the benefits, and a few challenges, to partnering with an institution or individual. Explore the types of intern assignments at the library that align with key social work competencies, from needs assessment to 1:1 patron referrals, and from staff training to outreach programs. And finally, discover how these internships can work for libraries of all types and sizes, including those in small and rural communities. Register for the webinar here:

Presented by: Sarah C. Johnson, MLIS, LMSW, Assistant Professor, Reference & Instruction Librarian Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), and creator of Social Work Students & Public Libraries website.