PA Library Code with Stacey

Stacy Aldrich and Sandy Edmunds – Library Code discussion

PA’s Library code was modified Nov. 1, 2012 and the State Library is now looking at the Regulations.  Here they are.

Tips for decoding: anything 9XXX is law, but 1XX references are regulations.  She gave us a quiz…

A few changes to the Code:

  • State Librarian
  • More professional librarians on the advisory council
  • Established ebook standards
  • More waiver flexibility
  • Establishes CE requirements
  • Change from a dollar amount to a percentage of surplus
  • Decreased to 10 days the amount of time someone can go to jail for stealing library materials

Regs are rules based on and meant to carry out the Code.  They are enforced by the State Library.  Important Chapters are: 131, 133, 137, 141, 142, 143

Goals for the Revision:

  1. Remove inconsistencies
  2. Create a reader-friendly format
  3. Improve libraries and library service across the state

Much discussion ensued when Stacey asked for feedback on the Hours of Service change from a prescriptive model (7 hours on the weekend) to hours of service based on community use patterns.  How do we measure community use patterns and how do we prove to the State that our hours of service are justified?  For example, how do we tell if Sunday hours are popular if we aren’t open on Sunday to see?  Survey?  I think her point was that we need more community input and engagement in our decision making process.  I agree.

We also discussed the role of the Incentive for Excellence funding that Stacey sees as leverage (not a subsidy) and a way to get more local investment.  The state will provide the tools we need to educate local government and our Boards on these incentives.  The Board should be able to articulate code and state aid to the local governments.

The crowd decided that her requirements for continuing education were too low and we suggested some changes, like having staff CE requirements for 10 hour a week employees, not just 20+ hour a week workers.

“We want to improve the quality of our libraries.” – Stacey

There are not regulations regarding Trustee training and education – we thought this should change.  (I will share the NEKLS standards with Stacey, since they do address Trustee ed and many other issues we talked about in this session.)

One idea regarding Web sites was to require access to the online catalog – that seems reasonable to me!

The discussion went long and ended with questions about the role of the District Library Consultants, especially in system libraries.

Geek the Library PA Style

Geek the Library with Jennifer Powell, OCLC – Tuesday, October 22, 2013

(I’ve written about Geek the Library before, so I’m excited that I didn’t miss the boat on this!)


What does advocacy look like? Q&A.  A’s: visit commissioners, Rotary, social media, newsletters, flyers, Teen boards writing to Reps, meetings with Superintendent, Parades, t-shirts, and Summer Reading Program yard signs.

What are the benefits of proactive awareness?

  • learn about and understand the total value of the Library
  • “Actively educating the public builds a foundation of knowledge that may facilitate library support when a need arises.”

Need both Internal and External Advocates – Can staff articulate the value of the library?  Do we gather stories of Transformation?  How do we demonstrate that the library supports success?

What is Geek the Library? It starts with the very simple Geek Board, where the community is invited to share (with chalk or silver sharpie markers on a black board) what they “geek” – or what they are passionate about.

  • Awareness campaign by the Gates foundation
  • Improves programming – for example, several people write that they geek gardening…you can do programming with the local horticultural society.  Do your folks geek their pets? Create posters with pictures of patrons and their beloved pets…right after you’ve had a program about grooming.
  • Geek is a verb – to love, promote, express interest in…and the Library supports what you Geek!
  • The 6-month campaign:
    1. Creates Awareness
    2. Generates Engagement with the local community
    3. Encourages Action – tell stories, show flow charges, focus on the value of the library and the need for support.  Turn library services into successes.

Why it Works

  • Takes the library out into the community
  • Starts conversations
  • When you increase awareness, you change behavior
  • Results in informed supporters who drive change
  • It’s Dynamic and draws attention and gets the community looking at and talking about the library
    • Teen clubs have been started because of Geek the Library
    • Database use increases
    • Friends groups expand
    • Libraries who participate are busier in general

Grant Objectives

  • 1,000 locations by June 2014 – free to start any time.
  • Should result in improved support structure for the library
  • ALL MATERIALS ARE FREE – one librarian said, “it was like Christmas and we just couldn’t believe it was all free!”  Includes, table skirt, 6-ft banner, posters, t-shirts, and templates to make local posters
  • Communications and ideas are sent weekly – ideas, one-on-one support and webinars
  • Access to the Campaign Management Center (CMC)
  • WebJunction Webinars

Consumer site: | Includes: funding myths and realities, Facebook, templates, videos

Library Campaign site: | Includes case studies, marketing and promotion materials, information kit (with a Powerpoint presentation to pitch the idea to Board/staff/Friends), planning help, talking points, “more information that I could use,” pre-written press releases, customizable items, and lots of ideas and pictures at Flickr.

Campaign requirements:

  1. 1 hour webinar
  2. Activate your CMC account
  3. Take an initial survey
  4. Let them know when the campaign ends

Planning –

  • Jennifer recommends 2 months lead time for a 6-12 month campaign.
  • Localize and personalize the campaign with local faces, celebs, and businesses.
  • Join events: fairs, job fairs, holiday events, sporting events (5Ks), farmers market, music events and expos
  • Involve the schools – have bulletin boards, bookmarks, contests
  • Have an Open House and party
  • See if community members with signs and billboards will share what they geek!

Edge Initiative in Pennsylvania Libraries

Edge Initiative in Pennsylvania Libraries

Panel with Lisa Rives Collins, Denis Sticha and Barb McGary. Facilitated by Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian

“The Edge Initiative was created to provide public libraries with new strategies and tools to help achieve community priorities through enhanced technology.”  Gates Foundation initiative and continuation of Gate grants and broadband work with goal to advocate for sustainable technology.  There are 11 benchmarks grouped under three goals:

  1. Community Value
  2. Engage Decision Makers
  3. Organizational Management

Working through the online Assessment Tool and the downloadable reports provides:

  • Opportunity to focus on technology by going through the checklist
  • Assess current public access technology and how it is used
  • Identify ways to strengthen and enhance what is offered
  • Engage with key leaders to share the value of libraries

Reports and tools, like Actin Planning Tool and Executive Tools provide templates and PPTs useful for discussing the results with the community and developing strategic plans and goals around the results.

PA State Library wants to use the assessment as a data collection tool to gather statewide information that can inform them of trends that may be supported with LSTA Funds.

Panel Discussion Points:

  • Why they did it…
    • Planning tool, opportunity to inventory tech and tools for discussing technology with the community – provided language they were missing.  Defines “stuff” that library offers.
    • Tech audit that is part of the assessment was an existing goal
    • Find common tech needs that can be addressed as a group
  • Staff Buy In…
    • Answered the survey/assessment as a group – with members of front line staff, admin and IT.  Got everyone on the same page.
    • Easy to do – spent 2 hours discussing the answers.  Action plan lead to ways to improve.  Opportunity to implement new ideas
    • Lead to tech competencies for staff included in job descriptions
    • Opportunities for staff discussion
    • Way to get state training at no cost
  • Benefits…
    • Learned about library tech and staff competencies – assumptions were sometimes wrong about what front line staff could do
    • Board buy -in – for the visionary board it was easier and they ditched their strategic plan in favor of a Community Impact Plan.  For the reticent board with a fear of failure, the process of talking through the assessment and questions reduced fear and they could look on the assessment as a tool for improvement, not a grade!
    • Community Impact Plans – a shift in how library supports the community.  Don’t look at a plan that gets Library from A to B, but focuses outward on how the Library supports the community’s goals.
    • Expose Board to a new role for the library.  Gives Board members specific language, examples and stories to show impact of services. Advocacy tool with credibility of the Gates Foundation behind it.
    • Library-wide tech training – common goals with buy in
  • Q&A…
    • PA Forward Link?  Combine both initiatives – sell as a complete piece to the Board.  “Computer literacy” also civic literacy and Digital citizenship taught by the library (ex: cyber bullying classes at the library).
    • Could lead to additional grants and fundraising opportunities
    • Involve the Board as an educational exercise.
    • Use to improve Tech Plan

This will be rolled out in February, prior to the Annual Report and along with a Digital Inclusion survey (and maybe others, so the State Library can gather data to help shape their priorities). > Assessment Workbook

Beg, Borrow, Steal

Beg, Borrow, Steal: Adapting Cool Ideas for Your Library and Community
Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian | Jarrid Keller, Acting Deputy State Librarian, California

Scan the environment to find out what’s going on around you and what people are talking about and then think about how that could work at a library.

Digital Detox – camps to go off-line.
Digital Detox Zone at a concert in San Fran with acoustic music, board games, engaging with each other – balance between tech and non-tech. Digital Detox Zone or Night at the Library? Yoga, music, class.  (After winning a Board game raffle package from a gaming store in Warminster, I think that we will definitely explore having games, puzzles and other non-tech fun in our own Digital Detox Zone (aka Anna’s Corner)).

Microtech in a bracelet. Wear or collect library cards as a bracelet? Interact with touch screens at towers around the concert using the bracelet with info about you. Wearable technology. Fit bit, new galaxy watch, etc is a new trend. Baby RFID or NSF tech. Can books be more interactive? Have an interactive library? Endcaps with codes or tags that interact with a phone app? What virtual content would we provide?

What is the concept behind the technology? How do we get the content outside the walls?

Simple Process:

  1. Find something interesting
  2. Opportunity Hunt (Handout)
  3. Research and potential how to’s
  4. Action steps

Find Something Interesting – Library as a Community Think Space – Danish library puts ideas on a board and solicits feedback.

Opportunity Hunt – What’s is it? What’s there? What does it mean? How could library adapt, innovate, or create services around the concept?

Research – is someone already doing this? Fill an unmet need? What resources would you need? Potential partners? What more do we need to know?

Action Steps – Set goals, determine what needs to be done and start doing it

Disney Infinity play system – collect discs, create worlds, multi-player options, – I left at this point to go manage our payroll.  I think my staff would approve of this move. 😉


Public Libraries in the Digital Age

Public Libraries in the Digital Age | Public Library Division Breakfast | Sari Feldman

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” – Peter Drucker

Identify needs before patrons can articulate them! Look at data to find unmet needs. Evaluate what we are doing, where we are going and what kind of impact we are making on our community!

Read signs and look at trends:

1. Technology growth – high speed broadband, expert staff, welcoming space. Job seekers, egov’t users, tax filings, tag renewals, etc. 82% of adults go online, including ½ of seniors 65+. Mobile use – 88% adults have a cell phone, 46% have a smartphone, with 17% going online mostly with cell phone. Internet is now ‘location aware’ – implications…More people in the world have access to mobile tech than clean water – 96% v. 89%!

“Access to material and technology is essential but insufficient.” Engage people with exceptional self and full-service online (24/7 reference)

Lifeline learning – Examples: ¼ of high school students take an online class each year and Kahn University. Work with local universities – college prep academy to provide GED prep classes and one-on-one tutoring and online classes

Digital Literacy Partnership with local paper to engage in digital content and new online paper using splash page, streaming flat screens and touch tables

2. Digital content transforming libraries – Readers are beginning to prefer ebooks, especially among ‘power buyers’. “How can we enhance the experience?”

Digital Offerings – Zinio and OverDrive. 62% of Americans don’t know we have eDownloads!!! Provide and raise awareness – created an ebrowser to recreate the browsing experience and use QR codes to teach how to download in the library.

Social Chat – talk about books on Thursday nights after work “Night owls” on Facebook.

Interactive Content – Cleveland Museum of Art digitized collection on a giant iPad. Plan a tour from home, dock an iPad to create a tour, or touch screen and get more info about art. At Library, an exhibit is being licensed to the library so patrons can play with content at new library. Public and staff PLAY with CONTENT.

Content Creation – Maker space or digital content creation – learn how to use 21st century tools. Audiorecording studies, video studios, green screen,

3. Civic engagement strengthens communities – Social impact of libraries and how we bring people together. Role of library to strengthen social fabric of community. States with more civic engagement in 2006 saw less growth in unemployment between 2006-2010 (study she cited). Those who are civicly engaged are networked, tend to volunteer more, etc. Library has economic value. “In 2020, the library will be more about what it does for people than what it has for people.” – LJ Example: Third Grade reading guarantee put out by Gov. – at one community they needed an intervention and recruited volunteers to help with 1, 2, 3 read. School now buses kids to library after school to read with volunteers. Expanding the program to other low-attaining neighborhoods.

Be Ubiquitous – be where they are and be convenient – hospital vending, storefront branch at strip mall, and drive up windows (appealing to seniors in winter and parents with kids in car seats). Self pick-up and self-serve checkout and use mobile technology (text messages and QR codes) Mobile is the future! Can our mobile app scan an ISBN and bring up where the item is at the library! Self-check at the shelves – (LOOK UP THEIR APP)

Early Literacy – low tech, but very ‘impactful.’  Play, Learn and Grow Areas in each branch. Learn from children’s museum.

Student Success – Afterschool is busies time in libraries for computer and internet use, as well as visits. Homework help, support traditional school success, but also support new 21st Century Skills.

Workforce Development – Job and Career services in library on a separate web page, plus workshops by staff and meet one-on-one counseling with county workforce dept.

Community Space – New design with community in mind. Community meetings to engage them and involve them in the process (‘tremendous outcomes’ like 2,000 at ribbon cutting and triple visits to building after opening).

Community wanted: Natural Light, Community meeting space, group study, quiet space, cafe areas, early childhoold areas, computer classrooms with glass walls

“Change before you have to” – Jack Welch (with blockbuster video in the background)

Question – how do you come up with new ideas and evaluate them? Clear strategic plan. 1. engage in reading, lifelong reading and civic engagement. Everything in those 3 buckets. Highly collaborative – ideas from partners and strategic plan helps weed through partnerships. Rough Cost-benefit analysis (can’t afford to circulate devices because SO used and it’s not cost effective). Bubble up from staff, pushed down from Director and ‘throw it out there to see if it sticks’ – not risk adverse. Failed idea: Engaged in reading – writer in residence idea by director with a grant and was to live in house, provide public programming and write but couldn’t do programs in library. Didn’t work. 70% success rate.

Question – Expand on ‘if you visit each branch, you will visit a children’s museum’ theme of children’s areas in each library. Exhibits based on developmental concepts – so each library branch focuses on one concept. Early language or hands-on manipulative or nursery rhymes or Sequencing or learn the parts of a car or hand-cranked assembly line. Play airport at branch near airport. Pre-reading and writing experiences at one or early science experiences at another branch. Seek funding for early education – easy place to find special funding. Understand the impact!

Senior Spaces: creating your library as a place for older adults

Senior Spaces – creating your library as a place for older adults

Allan M. Kleiman, Library consultant with Paula Kelly and Joan Peiffer

Four year project by Commonwealth libraries – 25 Senior Space grants of $4,000 provided to libraries across the Commonwealth. Allan hired to work with staff to get these to happen, after creating 3 in NJ prior to this grant opportunity.

Changing demographics | Increase in older adult population next 20 years from 35 to 78 million | Baby Bookers turned 64 this year and are retiring aka “midlife older adults” | Returning to the Library | Changes in the Library with customer focus. Library as destination.

Warm and friendly environment for the ‘greatest generation’ and ‘silent generation’ who continue to be library users. 1910 – kids spaces, 1990’s – teen spaces, 21st century – senior spaces

Examples of Senior Spaces from two libraries:

Joan’s Grove Family Library in Chambersburg

  • Library by a retirement community
  • 55+ space
  • No room for a room, but carved out a space. Wanted an ‘information space’ – pulled from ½ of Reference to create “Grover’s Den” with a Committee. Some programs, but not a lot.
  • Put a notebook together with information and how-to’s and sits in their area, large screen monitor and computer with sites on desktop, iPad for senior (53 came), added soft seating and Rep. Kauffman came for ribbon cutting. Fiction and Non-fiction large print in the area, Signage and displays targeted to grandparents. Flyers and poster-board to share info and upcoming programs.


  • Process the Grant participants use – community advisory group to decide name and what the space should include. Many similar elements. Many purchased the large-screen computer, revamped Web sites to be useful to seniors, eReaders at other libraries – vary depending on library. Some libraries only have a corner to dedicate to Seniors.
  • Layout, what to think about: location | size | relation to other parts of the library | accessibility | light | noise | visibility | bathrooms
  • Names: Young at Heart, Senior Place, Seasons, Jones Zone, Living Room, Senior Center, Renaissance Center – branding opportunity
  • Grant funds used to buy collections: LP, playaways, audiobooks, and merchandising the collection. Slat wall – ‘Boomer Hall of Fame’ – bios of baby boomers from collection.
  • Technology – computer classes and computers next to senior space area. Large print keyboard and large print signage. Adaptive technology (what else?)
  • Seating – cozy, inviting and comfortable
  • Information component – bulletin board/flyer display combo
  • Senior magazines like Reminisce and Arthritis Today
  • Small programming space or programming on the Floor – especially tech training. Local history programs a hot topic. Other programs: Italian night, pasta, wine, poetry writing, meet the artist, English tea time, Meet the Author, Book discussions, Food for thought (good eating, good health), Become Active on Facebook, “Senior” night out at the library, Diamonds 101. Mad Hatters tea with donated cups/saucers, big hats and scones. Take teen programs and see if they can be adapted to Seniors. Creativity and range of programs over 4 years of Senior Space programs (on FB page)
  • Some where big, others small, no construction, lots of furniture changes, inviting spaces, focus on materials and ‘something to do’ (puzzle, computer, wii (less), coffee, eBooks and iPad classes), moved materials together to make a cohesive whole plan and browsable collection. Enhanced LP, weeded 300’s and legal books, and added Wiley books using AARP imprint targeted to seniors. “Boomerizing your Library collection” article by Kleiman. All of the Spaces Worked – programming took longer at some where adult programming was new. LSTA project grant – great catalyst to the 25 communities and model programs.

Paula’s Whitehall Public Library – 2010 grant

  • “Second Chapter Cafe” – with a great quote by Henry Ford on the wall “Anyone who stops learning is old. Whether at 20 or 80 anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Separate room. Committee helped developed space, includes tech petting zoo. Teen Tech Open House – local teens (NHS students) hang out in the cafe and wait for older adults to drop by with device and answer questions. Enjoy each other – very successful.
  • Cookbook Club
  • Area refugees visit and do crafts in the Cafe
  • Bought large screen TV and media player for movies, stereo system and old radio programs, coffee table books, but much spent on programming.
  • Space for coffee, quiet or conversation. Read the paper and enjoy the space and coffee. Policy in case, but no problems with mix use. Game players for scrabble and Mah Jongg – take over the space once a week.
  • Partner with umbrella group for seniors – health club,
  • New WWII conversation group in 2013
  • Bus in from senior highrise – coffee, treat and extra reference support for the visit.
  • Cozy electric fireplace, mini-blinds, TV, etc.


How do you turn attendance in Senior spaces into bequests? Not thinking about it but a good idea. Flyer on library donations in the space, but nothing unique. If the Senior Space is on the plan, create the elements and have donation opportunities ($500 to endow a computer, $150 for seating, etc. fundraising campaign). Is it rude to put a bequest plaque on items donated in the library and senior space? No. Naming opportunities acceptable – yes.

Widowed man comes to the library everyday story. Wouldn’t move after an illness because he didn’t want to leave the library he called his own!

Idea – have the space near the entrance for mobility challenged. Near doors/elevators – not a long walk.

Grants? $4,000 from Commonwealth during duration of program. Program now over. Lyons Club grants in some communities (focus on visually impaired) and/or Rotary club. Friends grant opportunity. Naming opportunities – have a public wish list posted for elements of senior space.

Committee? Community people and library patrons plus the Director. Put out flyers, too to get interest and contacts. Asked about programming, (genealogy, foreign affairs, camera club, etc.), had survey at information meetings – lots of input at the beginning of the program. Advisory council key to project – input and buy-in at the beginning. Help promote space and programming in community. Surveys.


[end notes]


Besides the Friday movies, what do we target to seniors? New programming? Senior Space at the end cap of Large Print? Move technology to give more space to Seniors? Move furniture around to create this space? They are print-oriented, so flyers and binders work.


TO DO – pull program and handouts from Marketing Your Library: 60 ideas in 60 Minutes and Sari Feldman’s “Re-Imagining Public Library Programming and Promotion” program

There Are No Silver Bullets – Advocacy in the Real World

Glenn Miller, PLA – Advocacy in the Real World

“There are no silver bullets” – demystify the process.

Corn maze – ‘how appropriate’ for advocacy. Has experience with elected officials since 1995, when interviewed.

Success in PA – ‘in this generation’ but not recently. Long-term process and important to engage in it constantly. “Stick to it.”

Hand out – copy it and post! Good stuff. What are the factors that make the wheels of politics turn…


  • Merits of the Issue – pros/cons, why, stories, what difference does it make?, we rely on the merits of the issue to carry the day – our downfall! “Doesn’t work that way” A factor, but not where we ‘hang our hats’. Fall into a trap!
  • Party Politics, Elections and Money – Money moves the political process – it’s the system we have. Timing of elections, campaign funding and/or public money spent in a way that puts a candidate in a positive light. “Will this decision affect campaign fundraising. 2014 Governor’s Election – important year for the state and Library advocacy. All State House election and ½ State Senate. Understand timing of the advocacy and understand the partisan breakdown. Every Gov. has been re-elected since 1968. This Gov. poll numbers are not strong, but he’ll probably still get re-elected (hard to beat the incumbent). Rep. Senate, House and Gov. Senate could flip Democratic.
  • Political Implications of a Vote or Decision – Greatest potential to make change. How might a vote affect my standing in the community? Possible Negative implications want to be known by candidate.
  • Personal Relationships – “Do I know this person asking for support?” If you have a relationship with local Senator – and that person knows what library services mean and what the blowback would be…those could be important factors. Local personal relationships = harder to say no and disappoint! If you us come in and make the case once a year, then it’s easy for the politician to ignore you and your ask. Find out who they are and who knows them! Take time to build relationships – you must start now. Get on their radar. Invite them to visit the library, put their info on web site, in newsletter, join them at public events, attend the town meeting they put on with our Board and Friends, and communicate with them outside the library context 24/7. May take a few times before they remember you and come across a restaurant to say “Hi.”

TO DO – reconnect with Murtz and meet other local officials. Make sure he comes back this fall and we advertise it!

Politicians are People, too, Driven by Human Nature:

Remember: They are just like us (maybe with a bit more ego) – think of them like human beings, just like us.

  • Be Nice – “You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.” “Piece of my mind” approach doesn’t work long-term! Be respectful, nice, and polite.
  • Getting to Know You – easier to listen to friends than stranger. Get to know them. (Empathy). Make it hard for them to say “no” to you, a friend.
  • Show and Tell – Not substitute for first-hand experience. Get them into the library to help with story hour, adult programming, etc. Tactile experience, first-hand, one-on-one.
  • Keep it Simple – longer the message, the shorter the attention span. Don’t overwhelm with data and stats. (Use stories). They have a lot on their plate, we are one small sliver. Deliver a sharp and short message.
  • Surprise Them – Reach out when you want nothing in return. Example, “Fireman’s picnic.” Make a positive impression – and out of context of the library or legislative day. Tell them what’s going on, invite them to visit, “there are a million stories in the naked city, this is just one.” We are all in the same community – make them aware of what we do (so they start to think about the political implications). PA Forward = all about help us develop personal relationships (tomorrow @ 10:30 am) 35 partners in PA Forward, including Bankers and Hospital association!
  • Mouth and Ears – communication is a 2-way street. Nancy ?? said, “We have to learn to listen brilliantly.” Don’t be so focused on process and fear and script – engage in a conversation instead. Make a mistake, it’s fine. More important to be a real person and engage.

The Three PR’s:

  • Personal Relationships
  • Political Repercussions
  • Persistence and Respect


Q&A – Tips for building relationship with someone for whom you have disdain (joke) – Glenn has a lot of respect for people who are willing to run for office in the first place. You have compromise and understand there will be opposing points of view. Remember they are human beings. “We’ve always done better with library funding under Republican administrations.” (Pre 2010, but may be different era now.)


How do we respond to Indiana-type blowback to library funding? Long-term struggle, PA Forward helps and is being used by Indiana. Reality is that for every $1 invested, there is a $55 return on investment (facts on web site from 2006). Personal relationships and persistence are IMPORTANT.


How do you persuade Board members to relationship-build at local and state level? They KNOW them personally, but won’t speak on behalf of the Library. 1. Why are they on the Board?? (frustrating) They serve on the Board but don’t see the value of the service? (Then they need to be educated. Do we need to give them talking points?) “Local is the most powerful level of advocacy. Bumping into your Commissioner is more common.” Story about converting a Mayor by inviting him to get involved in storytime over a 12-year campaign of winning him over!

A Most Epic Event: Partnering with Townships

A Most Epic Event: Partnering with Townships

Presented by Tegan Conner-Cole – Wissahickon Valley Public Library in Montgomery County

Lower Gwynedd Township doesn’t have a library, but is served by Wissahickon – too much travel time. Director and Township Manager had a meeting (maybe a library, but instead outreach by library to Township). Partnership with Rec Commission – 1 year ago, started it.

Wanted a story-walk/book trail and truck petting zoo – not possible at Wissahickon. Waited for a partner. Lower Gwynedd has Penllyn Woods with a boardwalk. Brainstormed ideas with Parks and Rec Director and came up with PA One Book Truck Petting Zoo. Earth Day, National Library Week – both April 20. Library Added to events already planned. “The Bus for Us – ‘touch a truck’” – great publicity for the Township – fancy new trucks bought by the Township. Book Trial is a ‘green event’ for earth day. Get a book, everybody wins, Library/Township win/win.

Month prior, middle school reached out re: energy audit kits. Invite them to the event (green, too). Share table at event. Publicity for 3 events in one – National Library Week, PA One Book and Earth Day.

Reality – cruiser, backhoe, dumptruck, etc. Story walk (pages of the book on sticks along trail), and tents. Rain prior. Windy, cold and damp. 60 people attended. Needed more volunteers. Book pages fell off or fell over b/c of wind. People missed the location. Miscommunication among parties, but still successful. Book trail went well – fun. Middle school table went well – opportunity to share what Library has.

Energy Audit Kits at the library a huge hit. Kilowatt meters, etc. Bring in new users.

TO DO: Energy audit kit grant through PECO – school partnership? Get a banner for outreach events.

Live action board game at a fair, book trail to other events and/or at schools, Stories in the Park, “I dig nature” with Women’s Club and Lower Gwynedd (birding, gifts, scavenger hunt bags, dig for fossils, etc.),

For Adults – Tech Q&A one-on-one in library and off-site, Lectures – at library and off-site. Master Gardener, Philadelphia Museum of Art – promoted in township newsletter.

With Whitpain Township – Stories in the Park program takes the Library Outside (in Ambler Gazette). Part of Parks & Tots Program camp, ongoing,

Host ‘preview’ classes for paid classes. See the kids weekly – see librarian. Moves & Grooves-type program that are paid experiences through the township that parents can preview at library for free.

How to get started:

  • Township Manager First
  • Parks & Rec. Director (we don’t have one)
  • Have some ideas ready
  • Look at what you offer – can they be moved elsewhere?
  • Consider Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Think about promotion – National Library Week theme, One Book project titles, etc.


  • Tables at events, including harvest fests
  • Bring over lectures
  • Story times outside the library
  • Truck Petting Zoo
  • Themed Library Weeks (Community? Safety? Etc.?)
  • Book Trail (Historic trail)
  • Grant Partner – Maker Space in new Teen space – new community space for kids created together by township and library – grant.

Ideas from audience:

  • Look at City/Township magazine and see what can be partnered with – invite self
  • Fire Prevention Week
  • Battle of the Bands
  • Share supplies with Township (lego, kickballs, cones, props, etc.)
  • Partner with summer camps, etc. – resource sharing and PR for library
  • Host events for the Township – piggy back
  • “Meet the Editor” event at the Library – invited community non-profits and city gov’t
  • What does the township get out of it? Publicity, community outreach, PR and use of their buildings

[end notes]

After this event, Pam and I discussed having a book trail from the Library to the Township’s new playground near the new soccer fields as a way to celebrate both the playground and the new sidewalk linking the library to the rest of the community amenities.  Without a Rec Commission to partner with, coordination is more complicated, but the Fire Prevention Open House we piggy-backed on a couple of weeks ago was a great success.  Look forward to partnering with the Valley Youth Center and Huntingdon Valley Activities Association – two of the other non-profits that share our building and coordinate events and activities for HV!

Small, Medium and Large: Library Renovations for Small, Medium and Large Budgets

Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 pm with Cheri Fiory, Upper Dublin Public Library, Janet Fricker, Bethlehem Area Public Library and Susan Jeffery, North Pocono Public Library

Disclaimer – I’ve seen Upper Dublin’s renovations, but just saw images of the other two in today’s program.

Based on a 2009 study, the Upper Dublin Library knew they needed to focus on teen space and quiet space.  Also knew they needed a quick-fix to get them through the next 5-10 years, so they asked for a low-cost, expanded space and went to the Township for $200,000.  In the end:

  • Design – $235,000
    Friends – $105,000 for new furniture
    Grants – $10,000


  • New Teen space and daytime computer lab
  • Quiet reading room
  • Conference room
  • New service desk and workroom

Recommend: Get help, communicate clearly, plan, and educate self on project management.

To my Kansas peeps, I say be thankful for Hans and Co.!  Definitely worthwhile to have a general contractor or architectural consultant on the team to help review electrical schematics and other construction details the Library has to approve!

Medium – Bethleham historic building with no major changes since 1940’s – same fixtures and furniture, plus leaks, mold, water damage and exposed wires.

Started “Room to Grow” multi-phase funding campaign – fundraisers included:

  • 1407 fundraiser – if each person in the service area gave $14.07, they’d reach $1 million
  • Rotary golf tournaments
  • Fashion Show
  • Local restaurant gave percentage of profits = $38,000
  • Fundraisers managed by staff – one person put Part-time into Development.

Design elements:

  • Red, orange, yellow and green color scheme (even painted chairs)
  • Carpet used creatively to differentiate Teen for children’s area and 2 other areas of library
  • Two-sided Circ/Ref desk in middle – facing entrance
  • Revived period lighting, refinished ALL shelving, closed 3 months (staff worked in basement adding security strips, in book mobile or at another branch)
  • Used curved, modular furniture
  • Received a community development grant

Large – North Pocono – new building to replace outgrown 1985 building on 9 acres of land

Had to scale back the building from 14,000 to 8,400 sq feet due to funding.  Received USDA loan, RACP grant (only $250,000) and used naming opportunities and pavers going into the library.

Design features:

  • community center with outdoor porch
  • meeting space – 90 seats with after-hours community access (door to library after foyer)
  • Laptop checkout – work where you want, using a proprietary network, separate from open wifi network
  • Added a TV with CNN on closed captioning to quiet reading area
  • Teen shelves end-panels tiled with colorful, small square tiles – very tactile
  • Reading tree hand-crafted by local artist in children’s area
  • Future: nature programming outside door near children’s area, including a butterfly garden
  • Electronic bulletin board in foyer to reduce clutter and paper
  • Business Center with expanded desk space near copy machine for ‘away from home’ office
  • Geothermal heat, but not LEED certified b/c of expense, but still very efficient and green design and construction
  • Networking took more space than expected

Budgeting and Funding:

  • $500,000 grant and USDA loan = government money has added expenses
  • public bidding process required
  • Testing reports to state required
  • ADA requirements “tedious” – had to change railings in ADA bathroom multiple times
  • Closed 3 weeks – only brought over books from old building

Circulation went up at all libraries after renovations.  Bethleham saw their circ double and received additional funds from a local university.  North Pocono saw circ go up and an increase in new users.

Thank you to the presenters – I hope we can start renovations sooner rather than later!