I heard and read so many positive comments! A great job by Molly Larson and Peggy Beckvoort and all who helped.
More congratulations to those recognized at the Conference:
Report from Rebecca Miller’s presentation at Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio, September 26-29, 2007 by Bonnie Dwyer for the Maine Library Community.
I attended the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference in Columbus, Ohio in October, 2007. Several Maine librarians attended, thanks to the generosity of the Gates Foundation’s “Rural Sustainability Project.”
One session entitled “What it takes to be The Best Small Library in America” included several inspirational ideas and projects. Rebecca Miller, Executive Editor for Library Journal, explained that the award was developed for libraries serving populations under 25,000. ALA realized many libraries in this category (78% of U.S. public libraries) were not qualified to compete with larger libraries served by ALA’s Library of the Year Award.
Miller commented that the applications for this award were inspiring and included similar characteristics that set them apart, such as:
Best Small Library Award
The Best Small Library in America award includes a cover story in Library Journal, membership and conference costs for two to attend Public Library
Association (PLA), plus a cash award recently increased from $10,000 to $15,000.The annual award, now in its 4th year, is co-sponsored by the Gates Foundation. The award includes these components (1) to provide the winner with an advocacy tool (the article in LJ); (2) to address the gap in professional development by exposing smaller library staff to the PLA conference; and (3) to get recognition and money for resources.
Library Director Herb Landau spoke about the diverse programs and services offered by the Milanos-Schock Public Library in Mt. Joy, PA, winner of the 2006 Best Small Library in America Award.Mt. Joy is in Lancaster County, PA. The library started as a small storefront with a bequest of $ ½ million which was matched. They were joined by four other towns; funding is by annual appeal to each town, fundraising, and state aid. The state forced them to improve their services in order to receive state aid.
When Landau became library director in 2002, he surveyed the community to ascertain its needs. He wanted the library to be a lifelong learning center for the community. During his remarks, Landau made several points worth considering:
Programs and projects at Mt. Joy, PA:
Landau’s parting thought was, “What we are doing is valuable and we have to let people know we are doing it!”
This was only one of several excellent programs available at the ARSL conference. I feel this is an important conference for Maine librarians to consider attending. The membership and registration costs for the ARSL conference are quite reasonable, and the conference itself is smaller than most national library conferences. This might be a good one to consider for a “first-timer.” The 2008 conference will be in California.
Impressions from Carrie Herrmann’s presentation at Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio, September 26-29, 2007 by Jeanne Benedict for the Maine Library Community.
First, I want to say thank you to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Maine State Library for giving me the opportunity to attend the annual conference of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) in Columbus, Ohio (September 26-28, 2007). It was not only a great learning experience but was also a wonderful opportunity to meet librarians from all over the United States.
One of the sessions that was the most interesting and practical for me was called “Merchandising @ your library.” It was presented by Carrie Herrmann, who is the Public Service Coordinator for Boone County Public Library in Union, Kentucky. She shared simple merchandising tips, ideas for displays, resources for themes, etc.
Capturing patrons’ interest with the senses
Getting people to check out books is very similar to getting people to buy something in a store. You need to capture their attention and focus their interest. A simple display can do that by eliminating the information overload that comes from looking at row after row of books. Displays should support the goals and mission statement of the library and appeal to as many of the 5 senses as possible. Carrie told of libraries that would pop popcorn, make coffee, bake cookies, etc. to appeal to patron’s sense of smell! The result is that patrons stay longer and borrow more. Looking at fashion magazines for the latest “in” colors was another great idea.
Displays should be located whenever possible in certain places. Near the circulation desk is ideal because patrons can browse as they wait to check out their books. Other great spots include the ends of stacks, areas of heavy foot traffic. If you have room in the stacks, it can also be eye-catching to occasionally display a book face out.
Know your audience
You also have to know your audience. Displays for men should be eye catching and have a masculine feel while women are more willing to browse but are less apt to examine items that are below the waist. Displays for older adults should not be on low shelves and should be in well-lit areas. Displays should have height which can be achieved with something as simple as boxes under a cloth, or with display cubes that can be purchased. One idea that Carrie shared was the use of clear display cubes that could contain a prop.
Props are useful in making an attractive display if they relate to the theme and compliment the titles. They should not clutter a display or upstage the titles. You don’t want the props to be so fascinating that no one looks at the books! Herrmann suggested using fellow staff, garage sales, dollar stores, eBay, etc. as places for finding props.
Signs are also important and Carrie shared some tips that have been proven through study. As a general rule, an 8 ½ by 11 sign should have a headline (40 font) and two lines of copy (18 font). The three best fonts are Courier New, Arial, and Times New Roman and a combination of upper and lower case works best. Comic Sans was also recommend by several in the group for use in signs for young adults. Signs should have no more than two key images. Some color combination dos included black or blue on white, white on black or blue, and red on yellow. Don’ts included red on green, blue on orange, yellow on aqua or white, and green on magenta. Signs should not be hand-written and should be consistent and neat.
Ideas for displays
Ideas for displays can come from many different places. Books recommended by Carrie included:
Display need to work
The most important thing to remember about displays is that they need to work. If the books in a display don’t circulate, change the display. It’s also true that if the books in a display circulate so much that you can’t keep the display stocked, you may need to take it down. It’s important to have enough books to keep a display looking attractive so don’t plan a theme around something you don’t have many books for. Remember that you can also mix media in a display. For example, a display about Italy might include travel books, films, and fiction related to the region.
I’ve just touched on the highlights of Carrie Herrmann’s merchandising session. Her full power point presentation along with other great sessions from the conference may be available soon on the WebJunction/ARSL website. With all the holidays coming up, this is a great time of year to try out some merchandising @ your library. Have fun!!
Notes from Sally Reed’s presentation at Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio, September 26-29, 2007 by Maureen Cole for the Maine Library Community.
Sally Reed, Executive Director, FOLUSA: Friends of Libraries USA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provided an inspirational, motivating and encouraging presentation
What are libraries for?
How do libraries stay relevant to a technological society?
Libraries explain what we do very well; we’re not so good at explaining WHY IT MATTERS
We need to share Talking Points on services Libraries provide:
Complete 2007 ARSL Conference Highlights on WebJunction – Check them out!
Reflections by Sonja Plummer-Morgan with the Maine Library Community from Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference Highlights, Columbus, Ohio, September 26-29, 2007
Conference Offered Immediate Resources
The Rural and Small Libraries Conference was expertly organized, included terrific handouts and provided access to information that can be used immediately and in the months to come as training tools, talking points, and promotional items. For this participant, the handouts will be extremely beneficial while planning and creating a strategy for short and long term goals and for staff development.
Librarians from all over the country shared ideas, talked about their challenges, and all came away with new human resources and friends to learn and garner support from. I also met my former online professor (and Bonnie Dwyer’s too) Bernard Varvek, the Director of the Center for Rural and Small Librarianship.
Tools for Library Promotion and Advocacy
I was extremely pleased with our first day and felt that the speakers were knowledgeable and shared information that was engaging and exemplified best practices. The practices shared; the examples of marketing and promotion; the samples of how to demonstrate the value of your library, and the use of survey tools as explained by Mary Baykan, Director of the Washington County Free Library and Librarian of the Year, provided me with ideas for advocacy on the legislative and local levels.
Points to Ponder
In a breakout session, “Know Thy Customer as Thyself”, Janice Trapp offered the following ideas:
Best Small Library in America Session
This session was interesting, but I think the criteria fit many libraries operating in Maine! More Maine libraries should be applying to be recognized as a “Best Small Library”! It did demystify the process (and hearing Rebecca Miller from Library Journal speak was great!). Postmark deadline: November 5, 2007
Complete 2007 ARSL Conference Highlights on WebJunction – Check them out!
Notes from Stephen Abram speech at the Association for Rural and Small Libraries Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio, September 26-29, 2007. Written by Valerie Osborne for the Maine Library Community. Valerie’s attendence at this conference, along with five other Maine librarians, was funded by a Rural Sustainability Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Libraries and the Future
Are libraries becoming obsolete? Are we losing our ability to compete in the Google world? Are we positioned to make our place known in the future world of advancing technology? Can we even compete with the changes in technology that are emerging at such a rapid pace or will we become outdated as well? According to Stephen Abram, Vice President of Innovation for SirsiDynix, there is still time.
Keynote Speaker, Stephen Abram – Libraries must embrace new technologies
Mr. Abram was the keynote speaker at the Annual Conference of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries that took place in Columbus, Ohio in September. Thanks to the generosity of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WebJunction, and the Rural Sustainability Project, six of us from Maine were able to attend the conference. As Mr. Abram’s spoke of the future I looked around the room to get a sense of what my fellow attendees were feeling. I saw faces that registered both, to coin a somewhat unpopular phrase, shock and awe. According to the speaker, the library of the future is only partially the library we all know and love. If we want to remain a viable entity those of us who work in and for libraries must do a better job at embracing the new technologies that will be driving our world.
Web 2.0 social software today and the future
Abram made the statement that most of us believe that the computer has revolutionized our world and how we do business daily, but he contends that what we have seen so far is only the foundation for what the next fifteen years will bring. Libraries, he says, need to embrace social software in this context. Just look at the claim about how the new Web 2.0 social software such as YouTube, Second Life, NowPublic, Wikipedia, Facebook, MySpace, and Ning are impacting the 2008 presidential election. Most of the candidates know that if they want to win the election they must utilize their tools to get their messages across. What does that mean for our libraries? It is mind boggling to say the least! What does this mean for how schools approach learning? Does it mean educators and school librarians have to become less restrictive in what we allow this generation of learners to access if they are to become competitive in the world that they will inhabit as productive members of society?
Several times Mr. Abram quoted the 2005 Pew Internet and American Life report titled “ Teen Content Creators and Consumers.” I went to the report myself to see what it had to say about our teen population. The report showed that “American teenagers today are utilizing the interactive capabilities of the Internet as they create and share their own media creations. Fully half of all teens and 57 percent of teens that use the Internet could be considered content creators. They have created a blog or Web page, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations. Teens are often much more enthusiastic authors and readers of blogs than their adult counterparts. Teen bloggers, led by older girls, are a major part of the tech-savvy cohort. Teen bloggers are more fervent Internet users than non-bloggers and have more experience with almost every online activity in the survey. Teen Content Creators and Consumers: More than half of online teens have created content for the Internet; and most teen downloaders think that getting free music files is easy to do.”
Teens are embracing the future – will you?
According to this report, the majority of teens are embracing the future. What does that mean for us? As they move into adulthood, will the public library be able to serve their needs or will they even come to us for assistance? Will we be in a position to provide the services they will demand of us? Do we embrace these new technologies that are bursting through the hemisphere at what seems like the speed of light or do we sit on the sidelines? Mr. Abram’s keynote speech was provocative, challenging and totally mind boggling. I don’t think I was the only one sitting in the audience that day that felt this way. As I thought about his presentation later I asked myself what I could do as a library consultant to prepare those whom I serve to meet these huge challenges. The only answer is training, training, and more training! For many of the small libraries in Maine who are run by volunteer staffs with next to no funding, this is going to be a monumental challenge with many adjustments that will be necessary to meet the demands of the future.
The library as the heartbeat of the community and its needs
While what I learned in Ohio was very provocative, it also validated my firmly held view that if our public libraries are going to remain viable in the future we must make them more responsive to the needs of our communities. Those needs will no doubt be reflected in the technologies we make available and/or utilize in our libraries, but there will also be other needs. Strong programming for youth and adults; good reader’s advisory that make your patrons come back time and time again; and reference services that utilizes not only print materials and electronic databases, but the many emerging tools as they become available to us. Make a library the focal point of the community and it will become integral to the heartbeat of that community. From everything I heard that day in Columbus, Ohio the future is now!
Visit WebJunction to download slides from Stephen Abram’s address at the ARSL conference; Columbus, Ohio; 9/27/07
Complete 2007 ARSL Conference Highlights on WebJunction – Check them out!