Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Funding Just a Public Library Issue - I Don't think So...

School Library Funding

Many of us in public library land have are heads so wrapped around our own funding issues we tend to forget the funding plight of -School Libraries.  While flipping through the channels this evening I came across PCN recorded testimony of School Library Funding, an informational meeting with the PA House Education Committee.  I was shell shocked as I listened to testimony of school librarians who provide service to over 10 school libraries.  One librarian-ten libraries – oh my! I listened to testimony of 20 year old geography books, of 19 year old biographies and how the loss of Power Library Database funding was impacting students.  The testimony references the Pennsylvania School Library Study (link attached is the draft)

I urge you to do the following  

1.     Look over the study

2.     Visit the PA School Librarians Association website for more information

3.     Call you school librarian and develop a partnership asap.  The start of the school year is here and this is the perfect time to introduce yourself and start a mutually beneficial partnership  


Monday, August 6, 2012

Basket Raffles... Can cause your Trouble!

Does your library raffle a basket at the desk as a small fundraiser? Do you ever raffle a quilt that has been donated as a fundraiser?  Did you know you need a Small Games of Chance permit to conduct a raffle?  Small Games of Chance licenses are often obtained at your local courthouse and are enforced by the DA's office. 
I was reminded of the Small Games of Chance rules today when a Facebook posting by Pano (Pennsylvania Association of Non Profit Organizations) came across my feed. Recently I attended a Small Games of Chance 101 offered by a local organization.  This was a quick and dirty overview of the Small Games of Chance permits, new laws and limitations.  The links below will provide you with the information you need to know to keep you library legal and safe. 

Pennsylvania Small Games of Chance information

PANO posting sends  you to

The PA Code on Small Games of Chance

I conducted a quick online search and discovered many counties have Small Games of Chance information online or a contact name for further informaton.

I made it through the applicaton process and so can you.  Good luck and happy raffling!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a workshop presented by George Needham and Joan Frye Williams.  I am sure most of you have heard of George and Joan. As I sat taking notes listening to this dynamic team my ears perked up.  A customer service walkabout was briefly mentioned.  I immediately made a note and promptly moved on with the presentation.  Upon arriving back at my library I filed the notes and forgot and moved on to the next crisis.  Later a situation was brought to my attention by a community member about the interaction between a staffer and a school board member.  I was HORRIFIED when I learned of the situation.     

Having some free time I pulled out my To Do Book and read through my list of things I want to research on a rainy day.  There it was Customer Service Walkabout.  I immediately watched the YouTube video, read through the survey and prepared sealed customer service walkabout packets for all of my board members.  I instructed my trustees to ask non library user friends to follow the instructions and return the anonymous survey in the book drop.  In the packet I placed a note asking respondents to visit the library and take the walkabout.   As the surveys were returned they were read and changes were made and steps were taken based on responses. 

If you wish to check out the customer service walkabout visit select the sample work tab and choose tools.  While you are visiting their website take a minute and join their blog.

Summer is the best time to conduct a Customer Service Walkabout.  Everyday unknown visitors walk into your library stopping by to use your Wi-Fi while traveling.  You and your staff will never know someone is critiquing your library. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Who are you?

Spending some insomnia nights have led to reading The “M” word Blog by Nancy Dowd. One in particular set my mind pondering- May I Vent. In short, this blog posting discusses the lack of real person for contact information on a library website for any number of key people - library director, media contact or marketing person. Well if your library is like mine, small and rural these three positions are wrapped into one person - you the director. While having lunch with my friend (non-library staffer) I discussed this blog posting. She said if she were looking to make a donation (memorial or otherwise) to a library and could not find a contact name and had to fill out just a form she would move on. I was floored. She said would you give money to a non-profit if you didn't know anything about the organization or the CEO? So I set out on my quest and searched for libraries that listed a contact name. There are a few out there on library websites. I also decided to look for staff bios or cv’s. There are even less out there. We are just as guilty at our library. I have a dummy e-mail set up that is read by a library staffer but has info as it name. So why don’t we have our names out there? Are we afraid of what someone will e-mail us about our library? Do we not want our name out there for everyone to see? Or did we just not think to add it to our website. So here is your challenge - add your name, your contact e-mail to your website. I further challenge you to create a section of staff bios. If you look at non-profit websites outside of library land you will find contact info for the CEO, a cv or bio of the director as well as key personnel. In the coming weeks I will post a link to our new section of staff bios.

Here is a link to her Ms. Dowd’s post May I Vent

The "M" Word - Marketing Libraries

Last week I attended a webinar given by Nancy Dowd an author and innovative library marketing pioneer.  She is the co-author of ALAs bestselling book, Bite-Sized Marketing, Realistic Solution for Overworked Librarians and The M Word blog. Many of her ideas can easily be adapted and used in a small and rural public library.  I invite you to follow her blog

Burn Out

So, my next project is going to be an article on "burn out".  I have been experiencing some of the "symptoms" and recognize the symptoms with a couple of my district librarians.

It concerns me that directors at rural and small libraries have 3-4 page job descriptions, a pittance of a "salary", very little help as well as very little "moral support".    In order to succeed and not "burn out" they have to create their own "satisfaction"-- it doesn't come to them in the form of monetary rewards, "thank-you's" or even in the form of a "bonus".

A good board is their library director's biggest cheerleader.  A good board recognizes the hard work and dedication of their sole employee and rewards them. 

The top three roles of a good library board are: 
1.  provide adequate funding for the library
2.  hire a great director
3.  advocate for the library

How is your board doing?  1 out of 3; 0 out of 3?

14 years ago when I accepted the position of district consultant librarian, I observed that the biggest obstacle for a library is the library's board.  Not money or the lack thereof, but the board!

With a great library board at the is never an issue.  The money comes! 

14 years later as I look back, I am still declaring that the number one obstacle for a public library is the library board.  

We have been providing "formal" board training every year (multiple times per year) since 2006. 
At some of the libraries, where the board has participated and made a point to "be better":  this training has made all the difference.

We can provide all of the tools necessary for a board to succeed.  They have to make the decision to "be better".  We can't force them!  Any more than we can "force" them to treat their director as a professional, with the respect and compenstation they deserve. 

If you are a great board or a great board member, and you really care about the mental health of your director, find a way to adequately reward them!  Treat them as a "professional"--they are running the day-to-day operations of a not-for-profit corporation.  Treat them as you would like to be treated. 

Not one "professional" accountant or attorney or teacher serving on a library board would have tolerated being treated the way their library director is treated. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Never say never!

Rob Lesher talked me into Facebook. (Thanks Rob!) I "never" saw myself "on Facebook". But, there I am! And, I find it fun! It is a great way to "stay in touch" and stay informed. I have reconnected with old friends. I now see the impact of Facebook as a tool for marketing and networking. My library has a page; many of "my" librarians have pages... so why not a page for the Roundtable?

"Officially" (on paper--with membership renewals) we have about 30 members for the Roundtable. But "unofficially" the membership can grow by leaps & bounds with such social media as Facebook.

So, if you aren't on Facebook I am daring you to take the leap! The 40+ crowd has taken over Facebook. So, you can't say that you are "too old". It can be a "time waster" if you allow it. (Yes, in the winter I do find myself wasting too much time on Farmville. But in my defense I HATE WINTER.)

Try to "ease in". Create a page for your library. The Internet really is a great equalizer! It is an interactive way for your library to connect with and communicate with your "fans" (locally and from afar). Uploading pictures is easy. If you don't have a digital camera yet for your library, get one now! Nothing tells your library's story better than pictures!

And, once you've created your library's page, please invite me to "like": (And, don't forget to "like" the Rural & Small Roundtable page!)

Looking forward...