2015 Goals

So I’ve reflected, looked back, considered, etc. the year past and now it’s time to look forward.

Here are my personal and/or library goals for 2015:

  • Replace the HVAC using our Keystone grant of $33,900, with the Township.
  • Work with the Township and Board on our new lease.
  • Support the growth of our Teen programs – work with the team to find new opportunities for programs, services, and collections for this important group.  They gave us really great ideas during the forums (like test-prep programs) and it’s now on us to make them happen!  The Teen Reading Lounge grant and program from the PHC is a great start.
  • Launch an ESL Conversation Class and order/catalog the Foreign Fiction Collection, sponsored by the Friends.
  • Work with the Board to complete the Strategic Plan and then start using it to make decisions.
  • Raise Funds while having Fun – We have Lisa Scottoline booked, V. P. almost booked and have ideas for other fundraisers, like a beer tasting or olive oil tasting.  It’s time to secure sponsors.
  • Library Card Sign-up Month – this is a goal of Pam’s, which I support and want to help organize.
  • Sunday Hours – is it possible?  Can we get the necessary funds through sponsors?  Will anyone actually want to work on a Sunday afternoon?
  • Monthly Collection Development – review and order regularly, not sporadically.  Weed non-fiction and find quality replacements so there’s at least one book published after 2010 on the shelf.
  • Quarterly HAT meetings with staff to talk about progress, problems, and possibilities and Monthly staff and Department Head meetings to encourage communication.
  • Update the Personnel and Collection Development policies.
  • Programming – book, promote, repeat.
  • Digitization and Archive project (this is a dream, but I’m putting it up here as are minder).  We should apply to participate in the Access PA Digital Repository, scan our old photos and provide access to them online before carefully storing them in accordance with accepted archiving practices.
  • Develop Staff Tech Competencies CE program using the Ephrata model.  We’re good, but can always learn more about technology.
  • Staff want to have the Finch Program - a fun robotics program for grade-schoolers.
  • EITC Grant for Summer Reading Program in 2016.  Hatboro has done very well with this grant and now that I know about it, I want to see if we can benefit, as well.

Pam is doing a fab job with our volunteers – they’re flocking and she’s managed their training and deployment.  She’s planning a fun volunteer appreciation tea in April.  Not only is it a way to stay active and give back to the community, but they bring great positive energy with all that altruism.

2014 Year End Post

Another year, another post?  Amazing how working in a busy public library and living in a vibrant city sucks away at your blogging time.  So, as part of my self-assigned Annual Review..I’m going to re-cap.  General themes to watch: increases in circulation, the search for the right new team members and karma (in the positive attracts positive sense).

January – circ: 8,778

  • 60th Anniversary event with Larry Kane signLarry Kane spoke at our 60th Anniversary Brunch on Jan. 5, 2014 – we had 146 attend in spite of icy sleet and gave away copies of “When They Were Boys.”  We got good media coverage, including an article in the Midweek Wire.  This was billed as a Celebration, but with the sponsorships from HV Bank, the Friends and the Brauns, it turned into a fundraiser!  As a bonus, a hand-made quilt by Friend Andee Polokoff brought in $520, which they donated back to the Library (and it eventually bought a new picnic table).  My thanks to Board Member Miryam, who negotiated with the country club, wrote the press release and coordinated the days events.  This wouldn’t and couldn’t have been done without her. Also, Ingram was great to work with – we could order, then order more and in the end, send a bunch of books back that we didn’t need.
  • On January 9, the Friends and Library Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding, as drafted by the Association of Library Trustee Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF).  This was significant as a symbol of the renewed trust between the Friends and the Library, something I had worked hard to re-establish.
  • The Friends approved $34,550 in Wish List expenditures, including a paperback book standing order, a loveseat for the children’s department, and the Summer Reading program.  We also worked on a more efficient method of managing reimbursement requests that rely on quarterly QB reports, trusting that we accounted for expenditures correctly.
  • We joined the Geek the Library awareness campaign – something Pam really wanted and supported by taking a very active role in promoting.
  • Hosted two local authors: Cubby Moreland and children’s author Dean Morey on Jan. 14 and Jan. 16.
  • On Jan. 26, Pam, Tetjana, Glynnis, Christina, Shawna, Rhonda, Rita, Miryam and I visited the exhibit hall of ALA midwinter and had dim sum in Chinatown.  Good time (and good idea Pam had to ask Ingram for free passes)!
  • Strategic Planning Update: Met Jan. 28 and put together a work plan and decided to hire Catalyst (Liz V. as our consultant), identify stakeholders and move forward on community forums and a customer survey.
  • On Jan. 21, we sent a formal letter to our neighbors in the Bryn Athyn Borough to invite a representative of the Borough to join the Board as a nonvoting member.  Again, this was a move we had discussed for some time and knew we wanted to strengthen the relationship with our neighbors.
  • We had 9 volunteers donate 71 hours of time.  This includes teens and adults who applied and were then interviewed and trained by Pam.  She’s amazing and this is a statistic to watch…

February – circ: 8,556

  • Staff In-Service Feb. 17 – I made a presentation to the staff about the Geek the Library campaign and together we explored various online databases and subscription services, like Zinio and OverDrive.
  • Pam and I created and posted a new Library Associate position – a hybrid cataloger and library assistant position to help us stay on top of our new book linking.
  • Pam and Marilyn volunteered to open the library on Sunday, Feb. 9 as a ‘warming center’ for community members without power after a series of storms in early February.  They manned the fort from 1 to 5 pm
  • At the (rescheduled due to snow) Board meeting, they decided to pursue another author event in late 2014 or early 2015.  Miryam agreed to chair!  She also contacted the June Fete committee on our behalf, so we could have a presence at that long-standing local event.  The Board also amended the inclement weather policy – Eleanor and I will make the determination, with input from the Township (regardless of what the School District does).
  • With information from the recorder of deeds for Montco, we started contacting new residents to the Township with a welcome letter.  This needs to be re-started in 2015. I have let it lapse.
  • I participated in revising the District’s Strategic Plan with Mary Maguire and Directors from across the County.  I had the continuing education section and promoted the idea of having collaborative CE events.
  • Feb. 27 – I submitted the Annual Report (state statistical report) and a royal time-suck (as in a full week).  Jonathan Shina, who compiles the monthly statistics for me, has helped us align the monthly statistics more closely with the annual report, so the numbers we collect fit better with what the State wants.
  • We had 16 volunteers donate 90 hours of time.

March – circ: 10,327

  • PLA in Indianapolis – See the posts here.  A great networking opportunity and a chance to see a bit of family, as well.
  • March 27 – Gerry Shur author event – Inside the Witness Protection Program, Celtic Pride concert, Crafternoons for kids and Teen Tech week also in March.  The Shur event went well, was well-attended and  brought in a diverse crowd (gender speaking).
  • Board Meeting notes: Hilarie wrote a Request for Proposal for Community Forums on March 3 for the Strategic Planning Committee, Miryam contacted Valerie Plame’s people for a possible author talk/fundraiser and we discussed having LM High School liaisons.
  • I met with Girl Scout Troop 754 to help plan their Bronze Star garden and research walnut tree toxicity on Mar 7.
  • Summerlin Memorial Book WormMarybeth Summerlin, a former Board member, passed and her husband named the library as a memorial recipient.  We received over $2,000 in Marybeth’s honor and bought book cases and our bookworm (that we used as inspiration for new paint in December).  Every donor received a letter from the Library and we shared the names with Mr. Summerlin so he could send notes, as well.
  • Pam, Tetjana and I conducted several interviews and hired Jessica as our new Associate.  She is a capable and enthusiastic worker and soon-to-be Librarian working on her MLS through Drexel U!
  • The staff completed a SWOT analysis, apart from the Board’s, at our March 28 staff meeting.
  • With help of the Library Assistants, usage reports that are reviewed and marked-up by me, we’ve been weeding non-fiction and adult fiction.  This also leads to re-orders, deletion carts and book repairs.  All weeded items are reviewed by me, with suggestions made by the staff to ‘delete, reorder or repair’.  I usually say delete! Our collection is SO OLD, it’s tragic.  As part of this project, we talk about weeding theory and I share with them the dramatic statistical evidence that a well-weeded collection, is a well-circulated collection.
  • Pam and I visited the ANC Secondary Girls’ School in Bryn Athyn to meet with Brenda, the librarian.
  • Submitted a Keystone Grant letter of intent for 3 new HVAC units.  The grant would pay for 50% of the $68,000 total cost. We also submitted a letter asking for support directly to a possible private donor.
  • Fetched documents for the 2013 Audit visit.  Time and effort involved preparing for the audit and then, this year, discovering that our I-9’s and W-4’s were not complete and rectifying that!  Pam helped, as she always does.
  • In March, we started making “One-on-One Tech Appointments” with patrons who needed in-depth help with their device, laptop, resume, or other techie-need.  Marilyn M., Christina, Debbie, Pam and I all help.  From our help, Cliff has a new job and Andre has a resume and email address so he can get a new job!
  • We had 13 volunteers donate 125 hours.

April – circ: ?

  • Shared all of our Strategic Planning documents with the Township commissioners, after presenting on the Geek the Library campaign at an open meeting on April 8.  The Township Manager and Commission President returned the favor and came to our April 10 Board meeting.
  • One of our most successful programs was April 23 with Ruth K. HartHVL New Logo and Library Card design by Christina H. z, author and a hidden child of the Holocaust.  We also celebrated National Poetry Month with Lynn Levin.
  • We launched Geek the Library during National Library Week and Christina took portraits for our customized posters.
  • We received gifts ear-marked for a new Library Endowment from Mr. Rumpf (from the Board) and Mr. and Mrs. DeMartinis (from the Township Commission).
  • We wanted to update our logo and library card to match the new energy in the library, so we asked Christina to put her graphic design degree to work and she designed our new library cards with the tag-line by Pam.  I really liked using the rainbow to signify energy, fun and inclusion, along with an architectural feature of the building. I like 3-word tag lines (Tonganoxie’s was “Enjoy. Learn. Grow., so I LOVE Pam’s 3-E’s: Engage. Explore. Enjoy.
  • At the quarterly Township meeting, we discussed ideas such as the Library as Community Center, fundraising goals, facility needs, and the new lease.
  • We set up an Amazon Smiles account to help with fundraising and to earn money on all of our DVD orders!
  • We had 12 volunteers donate 127 hours.

May – circ: 9,172

  • Board Meeting notes: We welcomed a new Board Member – Mr. Rumpf and board orientation ensued.  We accepted the bid from Catalyst Center for Nonprofit Management to help with our community forums.  I worked with Liz Vibber on logistics.
  • We sent a formal request to the Township for a few important documents missing from our archive.  Working effectively with the Township was and is a personal goal.  We (Chris, Pam, Rob and I) have met quarterly, the Library has requested and received important historical documents missing from our archive, I have made a concerted effort to increase our fundraising and I have every expectation that lease negotiations in 2015 will go smoothly.
  • Our Stucco Replacement Crew!On May 7, the Township opened bids for NEW STUCCO!  We were allowed to select both the color of the stucco and accent color for the architectural features.  The scheme ended up being a very K-State purple and gray, when it was suppose to be gray and blue.  Oops.
  • After discussing the idea with the Friends, I announced plans to have a Library-organized wine tasting fundraiser at Simpatico! restaurant at the Board meeting.  The Board’s Marketing and Fundraising Committee then met May 21 to assist with the event.
  • Held another Memorial Day Open House, with Board members and staff with donuts and hand-shakes.
  • Summer Reading preparations started for Fizz, Boom, Read (kids) | Spark a Reaction (teens and online) | Literary Elements (adults).
  • Pam and I visited several local businesses on May 12 to invite their participation in the Geek the Library campaign and went to the May 8 Women’s Club Luncheon to eat crab cakes and graciously receive a check for $1,600 in support!
  • We posted for two vacant positions, I sent a thick packet of supporting documents to the State for our annual report, and we bought books for a new Rumpf Investment Collection!  Woot!
  • Pam launched a new videogame collection for us.  With a grant from the Friends, we purchased a gaming system and an assortment of new/used games from a local retailer.  Pam linked the items for us and it’s proven a very popular collection.
  • I served on the committee to revise our District Negotiated Agreement with other Directors from the county.
  • With the Friends, we planned and executed a new, secure process for self-service fundraiser registration and money-handling.  The Friends Station launched in time for a summer bus trip to NYC.
  • Pam and I met with the Township to discuss a new Emergency Preparedness Plan – this is still in progress.
  • Building maintenance issues popped up ALL year, including HVAC and HVAC maintenance company issues, false fire alarms (with fire trucks and everything) and elevator battery replacements.  I had the Township open an insurance claim after flooding on April 30 ruined a wool rug in Anna’s Corner and lead to wet carpets, insulation and drywall.  (This mess eventually lead to drywall repairs and new paint in December.)
  • We had 16 volunteers donate 222 hours.

June – circ: 10,395

  • The Library stayed open until 5 pm on Saturdays throughout the summer, due to demand and our ability to staff the extra hours.  In the past, the library closed at 2 pm for 10 weeks every summer.
  • The Strategic Planning Committee met June 4 with Liz, our new consultant, and brought her up to speed, picked Community Forum dates, and I shared a draft customer survey created with help from Web Junction.
  • Jessica and Michelle at the June Fete 2014Jessica, Michelle from the Friends and I participated in a special Pirate and Princess party at the June Fete on June 7.  Jessica prepared a story and great photo opportunities for the kids.
  • We received a Memorandum from the Township on June 10 with some of the information we requested, including the 1990 referendum and meeting minutes from several meetings held in 1961 about the library tax.   Amazing information to have for our records.
  • Summer Reading kicked off for kids on June 25 with Eyes of the Wild and for adults on June 26 with Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band, as performed by Neill Hartley.  The teens program started on July 7 with author David Lubar.
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Sellner was appointed as the Board Liaison for Bryn Athyn and attended her first meeting.
  • We had 20 volunteers donate 166 hours.

July – circ: 13,572

  • Unrelated to work – we went back to Indy for a fun-filled family reunion over the July 4th weekend…and my nephew got married in late July, so I got to visit Kansas family, too.
  • Glynnis and Diane organized, promoted and hosted 31 programs over 7 weeks with a total attendance of 1,496 for Summer Reading.  We hosted 5 teen programs with 41 attendees and 32 adult programs with 513 attendees.  We were busy.  We had author Bernard Miller and a Women in Science lecture for adult summer reading.  The teens made Hunger Games crafts and Diane had weekly Library Labs to explore science with the kids.  So much activity, involvement and teamwork!
  • After strengthening the computer requirements, we re-opened a vacant Library Assistant position.  I participate in the interviews, while Pam trains and supervises.  She interviews and hires the pages.
  • We found out we need a maternity leave policy before January 9…(we’re caPam at the Bryn Athyn Bounty with our Geek the Library boardlling the baby Mathilda Topanga, but her mom doesn’t seem to be feeling that as a name).
  • I noted weeding before and Glynnis weeded the children’s collection.  Circulation rose 134% for Board books and 36% in ER and circulation decreased in picture books, which didn’t get any weeding attention.  She also inter-filed Juvenile fiction hardback and paperback, after a thorough weed.
  • The new library cards finally came in July, after much fussing about print quality, cut-off barcodes and the like.
  • Debbie wrapped 40 mystery titles in brown paper and Jessica wrote ‘clues’ on the outside of each to promote the adult summer reading program: Literary Elements.
  • Pam, Elizabeth Sellner (our new Bryn Athyn liaison) and I took Geek to the Bryn Athyn Bounty farmers market on July 19.  Pam created three “Geek” chalk board that we invited participants to write on both in the library and during outreach activities.
  • Shawna and MCLINC installed a new 53 Mbps Internet connection, upgrading us from 1.5.  Wifi and a few of the patron workstations continue to run on the free Comcast line.
  • We had 29 volunteers donate 329 hours.  Pam submitted an application to the Presidential Volunteer Service Awards to be come a certified organization.

August – circ: 10,966

  • The Board voted to cover the cost of the wine for our wine tasting event, giving us 100% Board participation in 2014 fundraising efforts!  They also voted to give the Director the authority to grant permanent employment status to new employees.
  • Tom joined the team – he has a TON of (academic) library experience AND works at B&N, so he’s very good with reader’s advisory.  Karen came on as a new page, also with great experience from another MCLINC library.
  • We started advertising three community forums in October, as well as a teen forum on October 13, with help from our Teen Board Liaisons!  The Board began meeting with community stakeholders, with a script and questions crafted by the committee with help from the consultant.
  • I submitted a first draft budget and presented to the Township on September 30.  The budget included funds for a new color copy machine, a Summer seasonal position and new electricity contract.  We also submitted our application for State Aid.  As part of the budget, we created the 2015 Wish List for the Friends, with more than $40,000 in requests.
  • Geek the Library made the Midweek Wire on September 3 and Glynnis and I geeked Back to School night at the High school.
  • Liz, the Board and I finalized the Customer Survey for a September 1 launch.
  • We had 20 volunteers donate 189 hours.

September – circ: 10,563

  • We held our Department Head meeting at Always Cafe on September 5 for a change.
  • PMarybeth Summerlin's Memorial receptionrior to the September 11 Board meeting, we invited Mr. Summerlin and his family to the library for a memorial reception in honor of his wife, Marybeth.  Former Board members, Friends and retired staff also attended.
  • Our September program schedule took a hit when we had to cancel the Foreign Film Series.  Following a purposefully quite August, we lost momentum in adult programs that lasted throughout the fall.  Glynnis had author Pat Guth at a Read-Aloud storytime on September 13 and a fun Talk Like a Pirate dress-up storytime on September 19.
  • We set the “Taste of Italy Wine and Dine Fundraiser” date for December 1, with wines selected by Jeff and Hilarie from the Board.
  • I worked on a draft Annual Appeal letter.
  • Glynnis went to the PaLA conference in Lancaster and came back with ideas and a new passion for passive programs.
  • Banned Book Week Display I submitted a complicated Keystone Grant application with historic reviews, letters of support, detailed photos and narratives prior to the due date.  But if we get it, that’s over $30,000 in grant support for new HVAC units. UPDATE: We got it!
  • We launched a new ESL collection, supported by the Friends and cataloged by Jessica and Christina created a really great Banned Books Week display.  Other displays soon followed, once the space was created.
  • How do we promote databases?  Use is low, cost is high and this is an ongoing struggle for us. The weekly newsletter highlights a resource each week, but the impact is minimal.  A goal for 2015!
  • The Girl Scouts installed a new garden outside the Library front entrance in September for their Bronze Star award.  With help from the Township, the garden looks fantastic.
  • We received donations and gifts throughout the year, but were surprised with a $500 book donation from Valley Orthodontics and a bequest from the Mary K. Frank estate in September.  Glynnis bought books that support school reading lists with Dr. Chen’s gift and the bequest will go to the new Endowment Fund.
  • With Tetjana, we created several new collections in Polaris, including New Books, Lifelong Learning (for our very popular Great Courses), and Lucky Day. The Lucky Day collection will replace rentals (we make more with fundraisers) and New Books will help us identify WHERE these new books are for the first 6 months of their life here.
  • We selected new interior paint colors – friendly yellow and brighter colors for the children’s department – blue, green and red – pulled from the new Bookworm.  The walls will be repaired and repainted as part of the insurance claim from spring.
  • We had 24 volunteers donate 172.5 hours – the equivalent of $1,489 in personnel costs.

October – circ: 10,182 – 5th month in a row and 6th month that we were over 10,000 in 2014!!!!

  • On October 7, Pam and I again met with the Township (Chris and Rob).  Rob kindly reviewed and made great suggestions for improving the Annual appeal letter.  These meetings have improved communication between the Library and the Township.
  • A goal for 2015 discussed at the Board meeting – Community Open House with businesses and organizations from the Township.
  • The Fire Prevention Open House on October 11 went great! Marilyn, Miryam and I represented the Library at a Geek-themed table at the Fire House and the crew here at the Library Mariel's Lunch Bunch crew at a teen Community Forumpainted faces and shared snacks and crafts.
  • The Community Forums held on Oct. 13, Oct. 16 and Oct. 25 were facilitated by Liz and attended by the Board.  We were very excited by the success of the two Teen forums on Oct. 13 that I facilitated with help from Mariel – they gave us great feedback and new ideas.  The Teen forums were promoted at the High School on their TV channel.  We extended the online Customer Survey and received 265 entries – staff (Tom) input paper surveys into Survey Monkey to help with analysis.  We heard from 19 teens, 8 community members, 1 school district administrator and 4 Friends.
  • Staff and I made home-made treats for a Friends Appreciation reception on October 22, prior to a program on Leonard Bernstein with Karl Middleman.   Other programs: Crooked Eye Brewery, author Paula Marantz Cohen and Medicare 2015.
  • IKEA couch with two of our great Teen volunteersTom and one of our teen volunteers put together a new IKEA couch (a Friends Wish List purchase) in the Children’s department and we added a new doll house in memory of Harriet Miller.  The Children’s area is so comfortable now, that we have a dad who brings his daughter here for most of the day, so mom (who works nights) can sleep!
  • Jessica wrote a SUCCESSFUL PA Humanities Council grant for a Teen Reading Lounge with facilitator Cheryl Levine!  Glynnis submitted a grant to the Jeanes Hospital for a new Yoga Fusion Music & Movement series for kids in 2015.  While Jeanes did not support Yoga Fusion, the Friends did, along with last-minute requests for a button-makerand Legos.
  • I revised and submitted the Personnel manual to the Personnel committee on Oct. 31.
  • Pam spearheaded moving our Sci-Fi and Fantasy collections, moved a shelf from the workroom to juvenile fiction, and worked with Shawna to set up a temporary “shelving” status for books just checked in, but not yet put away.
  • Debbie, Pam and I took our Geek campaign to the High School homecoming game, which we won!  In 2015, we will go again but just to promote the library and sign folks up for cards.
  • We had 25 volunteers donate 213 hours.

November – circ: 9,466

  • Goldberg Bucks County WinterAt the November 13 Board Meeting, Dr. Goldberg presented Tetjana an original framed print called “Bucks County Winter” in honor of her 30 years of service at the Library!
  • After updating the budget (monthly) to gauge year-end expenditures, we determined that we could afford to mail a professionally-printed annual appeal letter and replace a faulty heat exchanger.
  • Miryam booked author Lisa Scottoline for a May 16, 2015 event and fundraiser at the Philmont Country Club!  She is also still in contact with Valerie Plame.
  • I researched Trustee Training and we decided to go with a two-tier approach: ALA’s Trustee Academy online courses and a follow up with Liz from Catalyst to help answer questions and provide information pertinent to us as a non-profit organization.
  • As a result of the Community Forums, I attended a School District Diversity Committee meeting on Nov. 11 and am excited to build a stronger relationship with the schools.
  • I worked to book adult programs for 2015, with children and teen programs pursued by Glynnis, Diane, Mariel and Jessica.
  • Christina left us for a full-time job, so Pam and I posted her position and interviewed candidates on November 28.   We hired Kathleen, a local with a banking background and excellent customer service skills. We also started our year-end “Annual Piece of Paper” conversations with staff to review 2014 goals and set new ones for 2015.
  • After a thorough review and weed of our magazine titles, we renewed with Ebsco.  Titles available through the Zinio online subscription allowed for the heavy weed.
  • We had a full house for Glynnis’s ticketed “Snow Queen” performance on November 22, sponsored by an annual gift from the Daveler Fund.
  • We had 23 volunteers donate 115 hours.

December – circ: TBD

  • Taste of Italy fundraiser with Judy, Board treasurerDecember 1 – Taste of Italy fundraiser!  We had 53 people and made about $1,200.  Hilarie put together a great wine guide and acted as MC for the night.  The restaurant Chef and staff handled the logistics and fed us well.
  • We had another full house for the Write and Illustrate Your Own Book Young Authors Gala with special guest and author Marie-Helene Bertino.  Marie had contacted the Library earlier in the year to let us know she would be speaking at the Book Expo to promote her debut novel.  Marie won the VERY FIRST Write and Illustrate contest in 1990 when it was started by children’s librarian Nancy Hensler.
  • We had two additional author visits – a read-aloud storytime with Michal Noah and Vincent Feldman shared photos from his book City Abandoned.
  • The Annual Appeal mailed after a few last-minute corrections.
  • The Library closed for a second Staff In-service on December 10 so we could ALL participate in mandatory reporter training.  To off-set the cost of the trainer, we opened the afternoon up to other library staff in the county and the Valley Youth Center.  One of the Goals of the new District plan was to have collaborative Continuing Education, so I was happy to organize the first one! The Friends fed us a Thank You brunch that morning.
  • Hubby and I are going on a trip in late December and I leave knowing the library is in very capable and dedicated hands, as has been proven over and over all year long!

Closing Thoughts:

Wow.  What a year.  I want to start with sharing my condolences to Joanne, Jane, and Judy who all lost loved ones in the last 12 months.  All I lost was my gall bladder in April and my marriage in December, but that’s another story.  We had good times, too!  We celebrated Tetjana’s 30 year anniversary, a new baby to come in January (Update: she came on Jan. 13 and is adorable), and promotions and new jobs.

imagejpeg_0Without intent, we had 12 authors speak this year and we already have Lisa Scottoline booked for next year.  We had two successful fundraisers and I can hardly wait to see how the Annual Appeal will do.  We had our busiest year ever.  Our relationship with the Township and Friends grew in positive and fruitful ways – from more frequent communication, meaningful collaborations and recognizing our interdependence as an asset and strength.  We have actively focused on improving our karma by giving help, giving support, giving our patrons positive experiences and creating an experience and atmosphere in the Library that is uplifting, comfortable and friendly.  I mean, even our new paint color is called “Friendly Yellow” – we take this seriously!  And the smiles, new visitors, that laughter, amazing increases in circulation and program attendance are all the proof I need that we’re going in the right direction.  Now, how much of this forward progress has anything to do with me is debatable.  While I’m stuck back here with spreadsheets, bills, and press releases – they’re up front actually helping people.  Kudos, as always, to them.


Read for Life: Library for the Blind

Read for Life: Library for the Blind program on Tuesday, March 18 from 2-3 pm with Aimee Thrasher-Hanson, Outreach Coordinator, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Free Library of Philadelphia.

The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Free Library of Philadelphia, is part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS), a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage free mail.

In Pennsylvania, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Philadelphia serves the eastern half of the state and the Carnegie Library for the Blind of Pittsburgh serves the western half of the state.

In addition, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Philadelphia serves the entire Commonwealth, Delaware, and West Virginia with braille materials.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped started in the 1930s with records for the fully-blind and later opened to people with low vision and other disabilities that impede their ability hold or read a print book, and recently opened to people with autism and/or dyslexia.

Digital reader

To be eligible, the application must be signed off on by a nurse, social worker, librarian or other approved expert.  For individuals with autism or dyslexia, a doctor or pediatrician must sign the form.  After signing up, processing takes about two weeks, additional explanations and information is sent and staff beging working with the user to customize reading lists.  Books can be self-selected or computer-selected broadly by genre/subject.

Cassettes have been replaced with a Digital Player that sports braille and big, colorful buttons with high-contrast.  The machine is durable and the USB cartridges (with an embedded flash drive) are “nearly indestructible.”  They are also easy to handle and can be put into the machine with one finger and hold a tremendous amount of text – you can fit the entire Bible on one.

Audiobooks and magazines can both be received and returned for FREE by mail in color-coded cases. All audiobooks are sent from and returned to Pittsburgh.  Braille books are managed by the Philadelphia office. Magazine cartridges are returned for re-loading.  One cartridge will be custom-loaded with the current issues of ALL of a patron’s magazine titles.  Newspapers are also available, but by Telephone through a separate service.  Where the newspaper is computerized text to voice, the audiobooks and magazines are narrated by professionals.  The Library for the Blind has recently started working with Recorded Books to provide access to audiobooks produced for the consumer market (the same ‘version’ as can be found at the library or bookstore).  This partnership is beginning to allow for simultaneous release of new releases.  Other new titles take 6 months before they are available through the service.

Veterans are given priority, Americans living overseas qualify for the service and programs are being provided for children, including braille picture books (we saw The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein).  Aimee shared that most children using their services have been blind from birth and prefer braille, while older adults who are losing or have lost their vision prefer audiobooks.  Her library will be offering Summer Reading for the first time this summer for her younger patrons.

Selection of books starts when a person completes the application form and indicates their reading preferences.  What genres, subjects or reading-level of books are you interested in?  Individuals can also have selections limited by (which is proving to be a slight problem with some of the books provided through an outside source):

  • Strong language
  • Violence
  • Explicit descriptions of sex

The newest development is BARD – Braille and Audio Reading Download.   The cartridge readers have an external USB port that accepts audiobooks downloaded from the BARD database onto an external flash drive.  There is also a BARD App for iOS devices, with an App for Android under development.  While the cartridges are limited by the number of physical copies available, a patron has unlimited access to BARD.  Because of issues and concerns about copyright, this program is closely monitored.

The BARD App is free to download and can navigated with gestures and swipes, linked with sound cues.  Aimee shared that user testing revealed a preference for the iPad app over traditional players.  Some people even add on a braille keyboard (only $2,500) so they can read what it displayed on the screen with dots that feel like braille type on paper.

The Library at 9th and Walnut in Center City has services available for walk-in patrons, such as magnifiers to help read mail, JAWS computer software, a Adaptive Technology computer lab, and Zoomtext software.  The Free Library of Philadelphia has also recently changed its policy so that ANYONE in the State of Pennsylvania can receive the card and access to their databases, including eBooks!  Aimee left applications with us.

PLA Moving on from Dewey in 10 Steps

Moving on From Dewey with Debbie Walker and Diane Macklin.  The public library in Markham, Ontario, Canada changed from Dewey to C-3, “Customer Centered Classification” and discussed how that unleashed transformations and innovations throughout the library.  Important stat: Their turnover rate is 6.0 – that’s huge and means people are finding and checking out more of their collection.


  1. Know with it’s over – they realized that the book warehouse model was dying.  Library competition from bookstores (back in 2007 when they made this decision), coffeeshops, and even pet stores were doing storytime.  Desire to merchandize and use subject categories.  Dewey jumps around – for example “Fixing up your back yard” covers 5 different ranges. 80% of Library users are browsing and Dewey was designed for closed stacks.  The library looked at BISAC bookstore categories – and figure they have LOTS of Market Research behind them.
  2. Learn from the Competition – Think like a business and like a customer.  The General public has NO CLUE about Dewey. New Americans may not even have public libraries, let alone understand Dewey. People want self-service and convenience.
  3. Think Like a Customer – create a library that is easy, convenient and ‘findable’.  C-3 is word-based with a 4-digit number code based on customer-friendly subject categories.  Feedback – it was so intuitive, many didn’t realize they’d made a change.
  4. Learn About Risky Behavior – They had a very short timeline during a renovation and created the system in 6 weeks.
  5. Think Lean – start small, but think big
  6. Engage Staff – “Dewey meets merchandising”.  Had many debates, such as how to categorize dogs – an animal, so in Science and Nature or Family, so in Lifestyle & Family?  Family won.  Received positive feedback from staff – looked nicer and was more efficient for shelvers and staff pulling the pick list.
  7. Let Go of Perfectionism – Trial and error to get the system right. Used temporary spine labels to allow for re-categorization.
  8. Expect the Unexpected – Didn’t realize how much easier and more efficient the new system would be for materials handling.  Sorting, shelving and locating materials easier for patrons and staff.  Improved the NF turnover rate.
  9. Nourish the culture of Innovation – Foster creativity.  Find better solutions to problems. Encourage divergent thinking. Make it a Creative Library – game playing at staff meetings, stand up meetings where you walk and talk to encourage ‘outside the box’ thinking and problem solving.  “Fail Camp” initiative – encourages staff to try new ideas with support and without penalty.  Encourages risk-taking.
  10. Springboard to Future Innovation – Not stopping with C3 – using it to spark new ideas.  Such as…

Learning Place Model – Revamped and streamlined programming.  Looked at the old, labor-intensive model and realized there was MUCH competition in the community and overlap.  The Rec center, bookstores, and schools were offering similar programming as the library.  Decided to ‘start with the end in mind’ and focus programming on their Core Purpose – Literacy and Technology.  All programming delivers the library’s message.  Some programs are fee-based and every program has documented outcomes, even lap-sit storytime.  Value: incorporate all learning styles, offer programming that complements the classroom. Examples: Public Speaking, Creative Writing.  Use unemployed new teachers to deliver consistent programming across the system.

Customer Service Revolution – Started with ‘good’ customer service but wanted to improve.  Asked, “Do you make things easy for your customers or your self?”  They Questioned Everything.  For example, 5:00 closing time stressed out staff, who pushed patrons out the door.  They adjusted some staff so their shift ended at 5:15, removing that stress and providing a better experience for customers.
Asked – “What do your rules say about you?”  Discovered in questioning everything that may rules were old, they confused patrons or made no sense to the large immigrant population who uses their system.  Changed code of conduct into “Customer Promise”  We Will Work Together for a Positive Experience.  Promise made by both staff and patrons – expectations.
Staff talked about great customer service experiences and themes emerged:

  • Personal
  • Attentive
  • Friendly
  • Approachable

Wanted to provide seamless service from beginning to end.

Create the Experience + Build the Relationships + Exceed the Expectations = Excellent Service


  • Bookstores had the market research, so they felt comfortable using BISAC model.
  • Children’s NF included child-friendly category names and additional categories like “Dinosaurs” and “Fairy Tales.”
  • Size of the collection required a word and number system. Also found that immigrant population were better served by including some numbers. Also have category signs over the stacks with pictures and ‘shelf talkers’ or descriptions on the shelves themselves to help browsing.
  • Can be used with linear shelving, but works better with mobile shelving to allow clustering and flexibility.


PLA People with Soft Skills

People with Soft Skills with Cheryl Gould an Sam McBane Mulford

She had us start with a creativity exercise and then shared that:

  • 98% of 2nd graders consider themselves creative
  • 50% of 5th graders consider themselves creative
  • 2% of Adults consider themselves creative (how sad)

How often do we judge?  “Play is the highest form of research” – Albert Einstein

Hard Skills – ability to perform a task v. Soft Skills – ability to interact effectively with others

Customer Service Skills

  • Initiative and responsibility
  • confidence
  • smile on the phone
  • Look Up! Be attentive – make eye contact and smile
  • Use conventions – please, thank you, you’re welcome
  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Humor
  • enthusiasm
  • approachable
  • Tact
  • Willingness to try
  • Creative
  • Open body language
  • Positive
  • Patiences
  • Flexibile
  • Observant
  • Curious
  • Self-aware
  • Unjaded
  • Innovatove

Foundational Skills – Bridge to Anywhere – Learnable Set of Skills:

  • Be Present
  • Listen non-judgementally
  • Accept offers
  • Reframe failulre
  • Take Risks
  • Support you partner
  • Yes, and..

Benefit from Diversity of Opinions!

Play pen game – think w/out a box – what is this pen? A toy? A  hair holder? A tool to impale someone with? “Yes, that’s exactly what it is.”

Build on ideas – spark off what someone said – ideas are open to all.

What gets in the way?

  • Time
  • Small
  • Talking over each other
  • Poor communication
  • Policies
  • Judging environment
  • Distractions
  • Lack of shared goals

Book to read: Creating We

If you ask a question, listen to the answer and Be Respectful!

Social: Why our Brains are Wired to Connect by Matthew D. Lieberman – You need to SHARE Information ACROSS the Silos

  1. Recognize that there is a problem – did you just piss someone off?
  2. Feel safe enough to say why they are upset
  3. Admit mistake and apologize

Speed of Trust Communication and trust – costs of having low trust in an organization are HIGH. Low trust = expensive checks and balances and road blocks

How do you have safe feedback  Notice it in yourselves.

What’s good about That? Game:

  • Support partner
  • Yes, and skills
  • Find something to appreciate about what the person just said and build on it and add to what the person who just spoke said.
  • Easy to implement

Final thoughts:

  • Notice when you are judging yourself – not being present or not listening
  • Play! It’s good.
  • Have a walking meeting – get you out of your comfort zone and stimulate creative thinking.
  • Make it safe to ask for help and/or admit a mistatke
  • Get 360 degree feedback
  • Make things fun
  • Make it less serious

NEW TedTalk to watch: tony Robbins about feeling significant



PLA Living the Mission Statement at Mid-Continent

ConverStation program with Mid-Continent Library System with Steve Potter

You must be able to memorize your mission statement. If it’s too long, it’s a manifesto!

Why is a good Mission Statemetn good?  What makes it good?

  • active voice
  • positive
  • short
  • built around action verbs and actionable
  • succinct
  • motivationa
  • specific
  • no jargon
  • Who is it for? staff or patrons?
  • “Bump up decisions against it” – Mickey
  • Know your audience – is this an internal or external document
  • Example: “uncensored equal access for all citizens.”
  • Statement should get to the Why? then the How? and then the actual work (like Sinek says)
  • Broad enough to be open to opportunities but narrow enough to focus you and your organization


  • Succinct v. broad with a Vision statement to focus the money and financials?
  • What’s is use?
  • What is specific to libraries – what do we do that is unique and important enough to put in a vision?
  • Avoid fluff
  • Avoid jargon
  • Hard to find the WHY – Curiosity, open access, enjoyment.  Look at Anythink Mission – “We Open Doors for Curious Minds.”

Strategic Priorities – do they go Under the statement?

  • Do not be hap-hazard
  • Broad and inclusive – then narrow the mission later or with other elements
  • Foundation – core beliefs.
  • Too broad manes you can’t measure success
  • Ho do you show success and impact?
  • Experience? Learning? Early Literacy? Meeting Place? Community Center?
  • Create KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS. Benchmarks – How what you do impacts the Big Picture
  • Becomes a Cultural Project – what kind of organization are you?
  • Nordstroms v. Library — 1 page of guides v. multiple binders
  • Intellectual freedom, fairness, integrity – HIRE for CULTURAL Fit.
  • To live the mission – how do we communicate it?
  • Branding – Ritz Carlton Example… Can you articulate the vision/mission?

How do you communicate it?

  • Paint it on the wall like ALA does!
  • Talk about it at meetings
  • Activities and games to learn the statement
  • Add to job descriptions and add it ass a measurable – “promote mission statement”
  • Desktop, Facebook, Website, Etc.
  • Learn where you fit in this Library Tribe
  • How do you indoctrinate the Board??

PLA 2014 Most Dangerous Idea of All

Most Dangerous Idea of All: Change from the Ground Up

with Rivkah Sass from Sacramento Public Library Director and Brian Auger from North Jersey. View resources and presentation.


  1. The air is not purer on the admin floors – make as many if not more mistakes. Own it, acknowledge, learn from it and move on.
  2. Good ideas come from everyone and everywhere.
  3. The chain of command can be used as an excuse to avoid taking action. Work together to fix things! Better off sharing information.
  4. We all have good intentions. Obligation to tell a story about the library system to everyone they contact: who are we, what do we do and why is it important? And a responsibility to come up with creative solutions. Reward that.
  5. We all want to do good work.
  6. We all want to be values for doing our jobs.
  7. Great libraries encourage ideas.
  8. We all look good when we all look good. – Lead from every position – learn from risk-taking – it’s recognition – no retaliation!

Building a Strategic Plan from the Ground up at the Somerset County Library System:

  • To build your future, look at your present and your past.
  • Dump SWAT, use Appreciative Inquiry method/approach.
  • Focus on What’s Working and What do we do well and enjoy? What motivates us? Gather Staff and community perspective.
  • Director found a consultant, named a facilitator to work with steering committee (all stratum) and got out of the way.
  • Facilitator captures, recorded and communicated back to staff all the ideas discussed. Director stayed out of the process on purpose.
  • Brian’s role: Help articulate a vision, find the resources to achieve the vision, and hold self and org. accountable for achieving that vision.
  • Mission and Vision statements – from the staff – ‘to connect, to explore, to communicate and to discover.’
  • They are DOING the Plan – ideas for what they are doing came from staff.
  • Goals are “Build partnership with this org.” “Get grant funding for mobile tech lab.”
  • Staff assigned to keep library on track. Fun to say, “But this is what you told me you wanted to do.”

Set Information Technology (Tech) Free

  • Listen to what all staff are saying about tech problems
  • Tech staff have the talent to find or create solutions: Give them TIME and RESOURCES to build solutions and Celebrate their successes
  • Example: Build a digital sign/slide show for the cost of the monitor. Raspberry Pi and dongle, using Google presentation slide shows. More cost effective. Put small screens on back of Circ monitors. (Directions available)
  • Getting the word out to staff about late openings: Text message at the same time the Web site is updated with an alert.
  • Connect Explore share Discover – IT staff created a quick graphic design in a pinch.

Rivkah Sass  Stories About Sacramento Library Think Tank:

  1. Good Intentions to create Engagement, Excitement, and ownership
  2. Idea: Library Think Tank for Library Services Assistants and Library Technology Assistants – front line staff who engage the most with patrons
    1. Asked: If you can improve a current service or invent a new one, what would it be? What motivates you?
    2. Responses from the original 12: Delivery suggestions, try new technology (like ipads in early literacy centers and Google voice). The Workers are thoughtful and Want to do a good job.

Think Tank:

  • Mission of the Think Tank “provides a voice to LSAs/LTAs and promotes SPL improvements.”
  • Forming | Storming | Norming | Performing – She didn’t want the conversation to change with her involvement. Interject regarding resources, politics, etc. Listen, provide guidance, offer tools and provide resources.
  • How to solve problems – what would help you do your job better? Usage growth: program attendance and use of e-resources. Example, set up Share Point to keep track of minutes and ideas and discussions “and now I have 12 front line staff who know sharepoint better than most managers because they use it.”


  • Teen cards – A way to get a card without a parental signature? Pay for lost items with Friends funds. 3 items at a time, without parental signature.
  • Library Newsletter Opt-out – How do you get more to sign up – sign up automatically with a new card and have an opt-out option.
  • Efficiency studies – How long does it take to check in? shelve? how can we be more efficient? Admin is looking at it and how staffing is needed at each location.
  • Best Practices – Group trusts the Director and she has accountability – so when training needs come out, she has to meet it.
  • New Welcome Brochure! Think Tank did a mock-up based on their perspective. “Treat your card like a credit card.” – Good bad and ugly of the library – fines is “uh oh…” section. “No fines for eBooks”
  • Otterby Reading – New mascot.
  • Trust
  • Training

Lessons Learned:

  • Threats to the status quo – Rivkah had to reinforce to the TT that they are contributing and helping the system.
  • Danger of insider/outsider
  • Perception – secret club (fight club) – Not her spies!
  • Debbie Downers – invite these folks to be ‘guest speakers’ – ask questions in a safe environment
  • Think Tank folks have the ear of their colleagues AND the Director – go-to people for ideas and frustrations

Ground Rules:

  • Safe environment
  • Trust
  • Sometimes things need to stay here – group decides what is public
  • Use alter-egos, not names
  • Respect the introvert
  • Assume good intent
  • Bring something to provoke discussion

Q&A -

  • How do you make time for this? Meet Friday mornings when they are closed to the public, paid. Wants to create a 2nd Think Tank that includes more staff, so there isn’t this feeling of being left out by middle. First step to focus on front-line staff.
  • Public Service Improvement Team – rotates, revolves. IDeas: customer apperciation day. How do you make time for new ideas and initiatives? Look at what we DON’T NEED TO DO anymore to make time for new ideas and projects. Volunteer projects, too
  • How do you repair trust between management and front-line staff when there’s been negative perception that staff are pawns? Create opportunities for people to make contact with Director. Idea forms – anonymous or not. Director wants to work together. Come for the job, stay out of love and loyalty. Requires an ongoing conversation, Director opens the door, but staff need to walk through. Brian: Lots of emails fromstaff. Phone call and build the relationship. Colleageus – we work together. Build relationships in both directions b/c we are all on the same team. Term “my staff” makes Rivkah uncomfortable – staff have free will, not chattle.
  • More interest now in the Think Tank? Rolling application process, so 3 new members, and apps on file. Change in perception and staff email TT members issues to bring up. All staff meeting – session on the Think Tank had standing room only.
  • Strategic Plan Question – How do you stay engaged and informed during a long process? Appreciative Inquiry requires involvement by everyone – made time available for all staff to participate. Commissioner on the steering committee helped keep the process going and plowed through the summer, ins pite of summer reading program.
  • Open Door a cliche but true – Brian has open calendar and shares it with everyone so they can make an appointment



Every Library Training to Craska (sp?) – When going out for a vote, librarian is the candidate at the library in the encumbant. Sell excellent customer service to the community.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 219 other followers