If you are a fan of Minnesota Public Radio and its nationally-recognized Midmorning program, you’ll appreciate that an hour was dedicated this week to interviews of two Minnesota public library directors. For a fascinating, energetic conversation between MPR interviewer, Greg Vandegriff, and Lois Langer Thompson, director of the Hennepin County Library, and Kit Hadley, director of the St. Paul Public Library, listen to the 56-minute program audio, Changing Technology and the Future of Libraries, from 12/21/2010.
Kit: “There’s no question that books are the brand of libraries, but I don’t think they’ve ever been our real business. And I think our real business has always been about learning, supporting education, and sort of community gathering. And in that way, what happens in our libraries today is very similar to what happened 125 years ago.” (2:00)
Lois: “When we open a library, the community turns out in droves for the physical space. And so, we cannot build libraries big enough. Even in this computer age, there’s some of the isolation and some of the coming together that people still long for. Often in a community, the library is the one place that everyone can go to. You don’t have to buy something, you don’t have to believe something, you don’t have to sign up. You can come in and spend time and discover.” (3:35)
Question from listener: Why should taxpayers fund libraries when the marketplace offers so many way to get information or entertainment? (34:45)
Lois: “Democracy and neutrality.” [Listen for more from Lois.]
Kit: “Free access to information as a cornerstone of democracy is very fundamental. And commercial control of information is just not the same thing.”
Other favorite segments to listen to if you have some time:
Howard Besser quoted on four core missions of a public library (2:40)
What about the digital divide? (5:16)
Is there a future for librarians? Changing roles (36:00)
Feel free to post your own favorite quotes or comments here, in the comment area. If a full transcript is posted or created, I’ll let you know!
Turning the Page: Building Your Library Community, a PLA national advocacy training program, is now available online free-of-charge to members of the American Library Association (ALA).
According to the PLA website, “The program…is designed to equip librarians and library supporters with the skills, confidence, and resources they need to create community partnerships, build alliances with local and regional decision makers, and ultimately increase funding for their libraries.” “Through the generosity of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Turning the Page online is now available to all ALA members absolutely free of charge!” Visit the site to register!
Many thanks to Sara Galligan, Ramsey County Law Library, for preparing this entry:
Do patrons appear in your library as a first step in their search for legal help? If so, self help resources are available on court and legal aid websites. Public librarians can help promote self help legal information, including online materials for low literacy and non-English speaking users. The organizations creating these resources know that self help resources CAN assist litigants who are unrepresented in court. The Ramsey County Law Library has created “Self-Help Legal Resources—A Guide for Minnesota Public Librarians” to assist librarians in answering legal reference questions. The 3-page guide provides current legal resources and referrals to attorneys.
Do you feel challenged by zealous patrons who try to badger librarians for legal advice? Learn how to avoid the unauthorized practice of law by reading the chapter, “Legal Reference vs. Legal Advice”, from SCALL’s Locating the Law: A Handbook for Non-Law Librarians, 5th Ed. (2009).
Librarians can also refer patrons to attorneys. Referring patrons to attorneys for help is a good option for those who want to pay, but low and no-cost attorney resources are also available. Public defender and legal aid attorneys are available when parties meet certain low income requirements. In addition, free and low cost services are available through self help clinics, courts and legal services organizations.
Any thoughts or concerns about your legal information seekers? Feel free to contact the Ramsey County Law Library, the Minnesota State Law Library, or any of the metro area county law libraries to discuss legal reference. Collaboration between public libraries and law libraries helps promote access to new legal resources that are specifically created for the general public.
Ramsey County Law Library Director
“We really overestimated the number of people who had easy access and familiarity with the Internet” – Joel Spoonheim of Minneapolis, pilot program coordinator (p. A4)
If the project had partnered with the public library and local nonprofits with public access computers would the results have been different? Since public libraries provide Internet access and one-on-one assistance to patrons in use of computers and the Internet, this may have made a difference in adult use of the online project calculator.
The online project calculator is the assessment tool used in the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project in Albert Lea, MN this year. Project organizers expected 5000 participants to login twice to measure impact, but “only 1300 used it at least once”, according to the article.
Spoonheim was also quoted as saying, “I don’t think we’ll have the same problem if we go next to a larger city,….” Hmmm, he hasn’t seen the statistics on access to computers and the Internet. Greater Minnesota access is lower than metro area access, however, Internet access and use vary by income, educational attainment, age, ethnic/cultural group, and sometimes neighborhood.
Blue Zones author, Dan Buettner of Minneapolis, set up this amazing project in Albert Lea to test his Vitality Project concepts – adopt proven lifestyle changes to live a long healthy life. (Dan spoke about his work at a Minnesota Library Foundation fund-raising event earlier this year.)
Read the full article on Albert Lea’s otherwise positive experience with living in the Blue Zone. ”Changing a Way of Life”, StarTribune (Minneapolis, MN), October 13, 2009, p.1A, 4A.
During the grassroots advocacy luncheon today, Sally Reed, FOLUSA (Friends of the Library USA) reinforced why it’s so important to get the word out about what libraries do and why it matters. If they are to support and fund libraries, the public and decision-makers have to understand the role of the library in creating an informed democracy and understand why the library is unique and indispensable.
Reed gave several reasons why the library is unique – expertise available on hand, parenting collections, modeling of reading to children via story hours, meeting learning needs, computer and technology support, more.
Here’s where she caught my attention. At the beginning of her talk, she said, ”The digital divide is alive and with us. Libraries assist those in the depths of the divide without access and experience. Decision-makers want to tell us the library is not relevant any more and funding can be cut, but we have to tell them what we do to support those without access.” Near the end of her talk, she said, “All jobs are online now. Applicants must respond with digital resume and cover letter. Libraries serve those without skills, access. No one else does this to the extent libraries do.”
I moderated a program yesterday on, “Doesn’t Everyone Have the Internet?” This topic is near and dear to my heart. Here are a couple of session handouts with US and Minnesota statistics.
Who Doesn’t Have the Internet? (Minnesota Internet Study) — Marnie Werner, Center for Rural Policy and Development
Digital Divide Statistics: Internet Use and Home Broadband Access – compiled by me from various sources. All feedback welcomed. Sidenote: Let me know if you have more recent data on access for those with disabilities.
Trends in Community Technology Centers in the Twin Cities Area (MN) – an example of “telling the story” to decision-makers. Add your ideas to the list!
“Now More Than Ever: Improving Public Access to Technology” - Catherine Settanni, The Digital Access Project, gave an awesome overview.
The remaining handouts will be posted online soon.
Thanks to Tori Jensen, John Glenn Middle School, and AASL for this recommended article.
The American School Board Journal (ASBJ) just published this tightly written article by librarian, Melonie Menefee, on the crucial contribution of the school library media center to student achievement. It’s easy-to-read, uses statistics and research references effectively, and is an excellent article to share with colleagues, principals, superintendents, and school board members.
What’s the title? This article appears to have two titles. (Bibliographers will love this.)
ASBJ website: Support Your Library and Raise Student Achievement
Journal Article (Print and Online): “The Changing Library“, American School Board Journal, Aug. 2009, p.32-35.
BTW–To view article at no cost, use the databases available through your local library catalog, through the ELM site, or through the vendor database. For quick access, use the article’s permalink. You may need to have your library card barcode number available for access.
Why didn’t I attach a copy of the article here or forward it via the library listservs? Without permission from the copyright owner, it may be a violation of copyright law to forward or post an electronic copy. Some of the online databases make it so easy to email a copy of the article to yourself that it would be very easy to forward the electronic copy to others. Without permission, it’s best to avoid doing that. :> :<
Another timely and highly readable article on the importance of libraries to our communities, and one that will be of interest to local decision-makers. Thanks to Melissa Palank, MLA, for sharing this alert to ALA State Chapters:
The feature article in the Summer issue of the Planning Commissioners Journal, “Libraries at the Heart of Our Communities,” reports on the increasingly important role public libraries are playing in our communities. The article also focuses on how libraries can strengthen downtowns and main street districts. For a limited time the article is available to download at no charge (as a pdf file). The pdf can be redistributed as is. If you are interested in reprinting the article or excerpting from it for your newsletter (there will be no fee for this), please contact us first.
For information about Libraries at the Heart of Our Communities, and to download it, go to:
We hope you will share this information with your members, as we think the article will be a valuable resource in showing the benefits that strong libraries can bring to communities.
If you have any questions, contact:
Wayne Senville, Editor, Planning Commissioners Journal
802.864.9083 / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.plannersweb.com
Walt Dunlap, director of the Fergus Falls Public Library, and Peg Werner, director of the Viking Library System, contributed to this story in the Fergus Falls Journal.
Traffic up at library (Fergus Falls Journal © 06/27/2009)
“Library traffic is up in Fergus Falls as residents look to capitalize on budget-friendly reading material and Internet availability.”
Residents of Johnson County, Kansas may have to think twice when they spot trucks with advertisements for Captain Ahab’s Seafood and Dr. Jekyll’s Pharmacy–with Mr. Hyde advertising his pharmacy on the other side of the truck.
With the help of Barkley Advertising Agency, the Johnson County Library’s courier trucks have been redeisgned to resemble the delivery trucks of some of literature’s most famous characters. You can see pictures of the trucks here. http://www.jocolibrary.org/default.aspx?id=13715&epslanguage=EN
People who spot the trucks are encouraged to photograph them and tag them on Twitter and Flickr. In addition, the library will be giving away the books featured on the trucks in monthly drawings. You can read more about the campaign here.
This morning the Today Show ran a segment on the important role libraries play during the recession, using data and resources provided by the ALA and public libraries:
The ALA Public Information Office worked with the Today Show on this segment and has followed up to encourage NBC affiliates to take up the story locally. But you can help extend the reach of this positive story in several ways:
1) Include the Today Show link on your library Web site
2) Reach out to your local media this week with your local story (particularly NBC affiliates), complemented by national data from the ALA. Two key data points from the Today Show were: 73% of public libraries report they provide the only free access to the Internet in their communities. This rises to 83 percent for rural libraries: http://tinyurl.com/mupmzd and www.ala.org/plinternetfunding . Also, 68 percent of Americans have a library card: http://tinyurl.com/9ewpcc.
3) Take advantage of free ALA resources to help tell your story to media, elected officials and funders: Job-Seeking in U.S. Public Libraries
Using data from the Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, the issues brief discusses the range of library resources available to job seekers and the challenges to maintaining these services.
Get a free copy of the PDF by emailing Larra Clark at email@example.com.
Get tips, tools and messages that work.
Get the word out!
For questions or support around media outreach, please contact Macey Morales, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jennifer Petersen, email@example.com, in the ALA Public Information Office.
For questions or support around advocacy tools, please contact Marci Merola, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jaclyn Finneke, email@example.com.
For questions or support around statistics and research, please contact Denise Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Larra Clark at email@example.com.
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