Cape Cod Students Gain Access to eBooks from their Local Libraries

Students from several Cape Cod schools are now able to access OverDrive digital materials from nearby public libraries using their student IDs. CLAMS libraries in Brewster, Eastham, Orleans, Truro and Wellfleet are partnering with the Nauset School System, Mashpee Library is partnering with the Mashpee Schools, Falmouth Public Library is partnering with Falmouth High School, and the seven Barnstable libraries—Centerville, Cotuit, Hyannis, Marstons Mills, Osterville, Sturgis and Whelden Memorial—are partnering with Barnstable High School. Dennis and Yarmouth libraries will soon partner with schools that offer OverDrive in the Dennis/Yarmouth District. Using their school credentials directly through OverDrive’s SORA app, students can check out and request titles from the entire CLAMS digital collection and will have priority access to their partnering libraries’ OverDrive Advantage collection. They can also get out-of-network materials through the LEA Project.

Lynn Weeks, Library Media Specialist, Mashpee Middle/High School welcomes the initiative:

“We are so excited we were given the opportunity to partner with Mashpee Public Library and offer our students access to additional eBook titles. Removing the barrier of a public library card and allowing students to access the public library digital collection in the Sora platform using their school log-on information has enabled us to meet needs we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to meet with all of the limitations of this current year.  We hope that this introduction to public library resources will serve as a bridge to students becoming lifelong library users and lead to students obtaining their own public library cards.”

Kathleen Mahoney, Mashpee Public Library Director said:

“Partnering with the Mashpee Public Schools to provide students with instant access to our OverDrive collections allowed the Library to support both the educational needs of the students, and encourage reading for pleasure during the past year of at home and hybrid learning models.  Our goal is to increase access and accessibility to all patrons and this initiative allows us to do outreach to a typically underserved population.  We are now collaborating with staff at the school who have asked us to work with them to provide full-service CLAMS library cards to their students.  This partnership could not have generated a more successful outcome for everyone involved!”

The CLAMS shared digital eBook collection has over 40,000 unique titles and over 3,000 eMagazines available free of charge.  Through the statewide LEA initiative, CLAMS library users have access to over 350,000 titles statewide.

CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing) is one of eight public library networks in Massachusetts that provides the library catalog, technology support, the ability to borrow from neighboring libraries, circulation, patron registration, Internet access and other critical services. CLAMS serves 35 libraries (38 locations) on Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. More about CLAMS is available at info.clamsnet.org.

Nine Massachusetts Libraries Receive ALA Grant

The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced the recipients of the Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant. Nine Massachusetts libraries were included in the second round of grantees.

The libraries include:

Belding Memorial Library Ashfield
Field Memorial Library Conway
Millbury Public Library Millbury
Sargent Memorial Library Boxborough
Dighton Public Library Dighton
Town of Southborough Southborough
Scituate Town Library Scituate
Elizabeth Taber Library Marion
Whelden Memorial Library West Barnstable

Participating libraries receive training in how to lead conversations through an ALA e-course on basic facilitation skills; host at least one conversation (in-person or virtual) with community members on a chosen topic; and receive $3,000 to support community engagement efforts. Grant funds may cover a range of expenses, including staff time and collections and technology purchases.

You can read more about the project in this press release.

Campaign Finance Law and Advocacy

By Andrea Bunker, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC

Have you ever wondered if you’re allowed to advocate for your public library’s building project as a public employee, trustee, foundation member, or friend of the library? In what capacity? To what extent? 

Have you been kept awake at night pondering whether fundraising for a ballot campaign about a library building project is treated the same as fundraising for the actual construction of the library building? 

Are you contemplating using the library’s staff copier to print out “Say yes to our library!” leaflets?

If the answer is yes, then tune into Building Literacy’s newest episode, “Campaign Finance Law and Advocacy”, and get answers to these frequently asked questions and more in this conversation with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s Communications and Education Director, Jason Tait. We also consult the State Ethics Commission’s Advisory 11-1 on Public Employee Political Activity from March 2011, which remains the most current on the subject. While Jason describes in detail the work of OCPF, it is important to note that the State Ethics Commission in Massachusetts may have differing opinions on the general activities we discuss. We recommend you contact both agencies (or the equivalent in your State if you reside outside of Massachusetts) with specific questions or scenarios, because even the best intentions could be seen as violations in the eyes of the law. 

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future episode topics, please email me at Andrea.Bunker@mass.gov.

Build America’s Libraries Act

By James Lonergan, MBLC Director

The Build America’s Libraries Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate in January by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and introduced in the House earlier this month by Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI) and Don Young (R-AK), would provide $5 billion to fund upgrades to the nation’s library infrastructure to address challenges such as natural disasters, COVID-19, broadband capacity, environmental hazards, and accessibility barriers. Eligible uses of the funding include conducting facilities condition assessments, needs assessments, and master planning; financing new library facilities; or making capital improvements to existing library facilities, including buildings, grounds, and bookmobiles.

Funding would be distributed through the Institute of Museum and Library Services to state library agencies (including the MBLC), which would then award grants on a competitive basis to libraries in each state. Funding would be prioritized to libraries in communities with underserved populations, such as high-poverty areas. Eligible facilities under the Build America’s Libraries Act include public libraries, tribal libraries, and state libraries that provide service directly to the general public.

While we don’t know if this bill will pass, either separately or as part of a larger infrastructure bill, or how much we might receive in Massachusetts, we have recently held preliminary discussions at the MBLC about how we might potentially use funds from the Build America’s Libraries Act if it becomes law.

In alignment with our new strategic plan—which includes equity as a core principle–we have discussed using Build America’s Libraries Act funds for single-purpose projects including for HVAC upgrades, ADA access, and broadband/technology, and would focus on our most underserved and disadvantaged communities in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts is one of 15 states with a library construction program. Given these are one-time funds and we are prohibited from using these funds to supplant our current  Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program funding, we want to be careful not to jeopardize the strong support and funding we currently have for public library construction and renovation in the Commonwealth.

For further information on the Build America’s Libraries Act from ALA, please visit: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/buildlibraries.

Advocacy Stories: Marketing and Communication Plans

By Andrea Bunker, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC

Communication is an integral part of connecting with others. For something we all do every day (although it may be a little different these days,) there is both an art and a science to making it effective. Our Advocacy Stories series on Building Literacy resumes with a conversation about communication, messaging, and marketing with the MBLC’s own Celeste Bruno, our Communications Director, and Matthew Perry, our Communications Specialist. While we focus on library building projects in this podcast, the tips and tricks shared are transferable and scalable to all aspects of the mission of libraries and beyond.

From all of our projects, we know that the work of advocacy cannot be done by one person alone. Celeste and Matt discuss how to identify and cultivate allies in this work, how to create an identity, how to draft a communications plan, how to craft clear and consistent messaging, and how to address misinformation. It is never too early to begin this work, even if your project is a twinkle of an idea at this stage. Librarians, trustees, friends groups, foundation members, and library building project stakeholders will want to listen to this informative episode.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future episode topics, please email me at Andrea.Bunker@mass.gov.​

Taxes and Capital Projects: A Conversation with the Division of Local Services

By Andrea Bunker, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC

Taxes: one of the known inevitables in life, and in Massachusetts, a subject with a complicated and storied past. Therefore, it is no surprise that advocates of public library building projects often must address whether or not capital improvements will cause an increase in property taxes for residents. For this episode of Building Literacy, we went to the experts on municipal finance and taxation: The Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services (DLS). With both regulatory and educational functions, the DLS not only provides oversight but also educational opportunities for municipal finance officials. Their Senior Deputy Commissioner, Sean Cronin, converses with us about the basics and what every municipal official, library building project stakeholder, and resident should know.

This episode is more Massachusetts-focused than many of our others, due in part to the local tax landscape defined by Proposition 2 ½, a property tax reform initiative passed by the voters in 1980. Mr. Cronin discusses the tools and mechanisms available to municipalities within the parameters of Prop 2 ½, such as overrides, debt exclusions, bonding, and stabilization funds. In addition to the basics, we touch upon capital plans and forecasting, even amidst a pandemic. Throughout, he also offers resources that are available through the DLS website: www.mass.gov/DLS.

So, if you think taxes are a dry subject (with the exception of the Boston Tea Party,) you may want to check out this episode! As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future episode topics, please email me at Andrea.Bunker@mass.gov.

Trustees Orientation Goes Virtual

By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Trustee Orientation program held virtually in our living rooms, offices, and kitchens is now available on demand.

The orientations are an opportunity for new trustees to learn about the MBLC and state funding and for seasoned trustees to gain a refresher. We cover roles and responsibilities, legal obligations, advocacy, State Aid, and more. We missed visiting libraries across the Commonwealth and meeting trustees, directors, and library staff. It’s an opportunity to see firsthand the beautiful spaces, learn about challenges and about what makes very library unique.

The fall Trustee Orientation was recorded, and we are pleased to make that available via our YouTube channel with closed captioning.  The video has been edited into eight sections, allowing trustees to revisit topics as needed. This was recorded on October 1, 2020 and some information regarding COVID-19, library services, and policies may have changed. If you have any questions, contact the MBLC. Please watch these and bookmark the Virtual Trustee Orientation packet for the referenced materials.

The future is unknown and we plan on continuing our virtual orientations into 2021. We look forward to making the spring season more interactive with a new series of programs called Trustee Deep Dives meant to strengthen trustee’s knowledge and toolkit in their roles.

Boston Public Library makes thousands of images available free online

The Boston Public Library has made more than 8,000 photos, ranging from pictures documenting the construction of the McKim library building in Copley Square to 19th-century daguerreotypes, publicly available on Wikimedia Commons, according to library officials.

Read more from The Boston Globe

Making Adjustments to Keep Learning Going

Girls holding coding robots
Library users borrow the robots Dot and Dash to take home and learn to code with. Originally an in person program, the Porter Memorial Library in Blandford adjusted it in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MBLC’s Summer Learning grants began in 2019 as a way for public libraries to offer more out of school learning opportunities during one of their busiest times of year. The thirteen grant recipients for 2020 had some amazing plans for this summer that were derailed by the pandemic. After taking some time to figure out a plan B, these libraries used their grant to adapt to the new needs of their communities in a variety of thoughtful ways.

Libraries are a key provider for out of school learning. With so much of life is taking place virtually, there was a real desire for activities that were offline and hands-on. Randall Library in Stow reallocated grant funds to offer circulating educational backpacks. The backpack themes included music, math, reading readiness, and storytelling/sequencing. Caregivers mentioned how helpful the backpacks were in engaging young children in learning and the benefit of being able to provide something educational that does not require a lot of effort or creativity on their part. Supporting families’ efforts in providing educational experiences for early learners has become even more critical as the pandemic has continued.

With in-person gathering out of consideration, libraries had to rethink the hands-on programming they had originally intended to have. Porter Memorial Library in Blandford switched their planned robotics program into a circulating robotics collection. This allowed participants to have a week to learn coding with a robot. Feedback indicated the longer time frame with the robots results in a greater depth of understanding as well as strong intergenerational learning. It also provided the opportunity for participants who may not have been able to make a specific program time the ability to use the robots. This kind of flexible thinking allowed the community to continue to experience the benefits of the library from the comfort of their own home.

Many grant recipients moved their programming online. Library virtual programs provided important connections for members of their community. A library user at the Jones Library in Amherst shared “In the height of quarantine, your program gave my son something to look forward to. Time learning was something he has always been interested in and interacting with kids his age on the other end was a game changer for him. Your first meeting was the first time in weeks that I saw him smiling. This time is particularly hard on teens and tweens.” The value of social connections has become increasingly apparent during the pandemic. Libraries have continued to provide opportunities for connection, with particularly effort made to reach at-risk populations, such as teens.

With some creativity and a lot of commitment, this year’s grant recipients were able to provide a variety of learning opportunities that worked for their individual community. While summer looked a lot different this year, libraries helped provide a much-needed bright spot for those that needed it.

Children’s librarian Kay Lyons to retire: ‘I found I had a way with children’

Librarian Kay Lyons has journeyed with local children for almost three decades to places like Wonderland, Narnia and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but when she retires in March, it’s her turn. She and her husband, Rick Roy, will take some trips of their own, though never forgetting the joy she’s known.

Read more from the Greenfield Recorder