MBLC Celebrates the Boston Book Festival

We never stop learning. Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) ensures that all residents, no matter where they live, have equal access to library services that improve their lives, including free-to-all eBooks, audiobooks, reliable research databases and access to more than 53 million items. Libraries help people learn a language, figure out the latest technology, improve health and financial literacy, explore ancestry, become a citizen, or learn a new skill like beekeeping, creative writing or coding.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been working hard to keep access available to everyone even when they are unable to go into a library building. We created a map of libraries with Wi-Fi signals available outside of their buildings, funded a Wi-Fi hot-spot program for libraries across the Commonwealth, made a statewide calendar of virtual library events, and helped fund eBooks and audiobooks to get the books you want on your device quicker.

Are you a Massachusetts resident and want to get started using these resources? Find your local library to get a library card or sign up for a BPL Virtual eCard to get borrowing today!

The MBLC is a state government agency with statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate, and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth

After 18-month wait, Erving Public Library holds open house

After a year-and-a-half long delay, Erving finally celebrated the opening of its new public library with an open house Sunday. The open house invited the public to join key workers who helped bring the library to fruition for music, refreshments, a raffle and speeches.

Read more from the Greenfield Recorder

Decarbonizing Libraries: Two New Episodes of the Building Literacy Podcast

By Andrea Bunker, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC

The MBLC Construction Team recently released two new episodes of the Building Literacy podcast: Construction and Climate Change Legislation: A Conversation with Eric Friedman and Green Communities Grants and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Conversation with Joanne Bissetta and Catie Snyder. In Spring of 2021, Governor Baker signed into law “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy” and signed “Executive Order No. 594: Leading By Example: Decarbonizing and Minimizing Environmental Impacts of State Government”, outlining aggressive fossil fuel reduction and increased energy efficiency goals for the Commonwealth at large and the State’s owned assets, respectively. In short, Massachusetts is working toward a net zero or carbon neutral future. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC- a body of the United Nations) recently published special report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius on August 9, these two episodes could not be more timely and their calls to action more important.

In “Construction and Climate Change Legislation: A Conversation with Eric Friedman”, learn more about the Commonwealth’s new legislation and Executive Order 594 with Eric Friedman, the Director of the Leading by Example Program, which is a division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. From a higher level perspective, he discusses what this new legislation means for our municipal libraries and how to reduce carbon emissions and plan for a clean energy future.

In Green Communities Grants and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Conversation with Joanne Bissetta and Catie Snyder, dig a little deeper into the resources, incentives, and grants that are available to the Commonwealth’s municipalities, and, in turn, libraries, to better position local governments in meeting the State’s ambitious energy goals with Joanne Bissetta, the Acting Director of the Green Communities Division, and Catie Snyder, the Deputy Director of the Leading by Example Program, both of whom are affiliated with the Department of Energy Resources. From lighting upgrades, envelope improvements, and HVAC replacement, to solar arrays and EV charging stations, to designated environmental justice communities, there are funding and incentive programs to help municipalities afford current and newly emerging technologies to decarbonize their buildings and vehicle fleets.

Both episodes also feature advice for how to continue the decarbonization conversation within the community focusing on how the library’s physical building and the library’s larger role as an educational institution can further the goals outlined by the Commonwealth. The one takeaway above all others from these conversations is that this work cannot take place in a vacuum. It requires action on behalf of everyone to mitigate the rising of our oceans and the warming of our planet. We hope you find your library’s tangible, feasible next steps within these episodes. As always, if you have any comments or questions about any of the information presented on Building Literacy or ideas for future episodes, please email Andrea Bunker at andrea.bunker@mass.gov.

The Hive Makerspace in Cambridge

 

On July 6, 2021, the Cambridge Public Library opened its brand new Hive Makerspace on the lower level of the Main Library. The library says, “The mission of The Hive is to provide free, hands-on STEAM learning opportunities to the Cambridge community, resources for personal projects, and to serve as a hub for skill sharing and creative collaboration.”

Read more about the Hive on the Cambridge Public Library website.

National Voter Registration Day: Sign Up Now to Partner!

By Michelle Eberle, Consultant at the Massachusetts Library System

The Massachusetts Library System and Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners are excited to share that we are collaborating on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) for a second year. We encourage your library to participate, too!  Read on for the official announcement and invitation from the Assistant Director for State Advocacy for the American Library Association (ALA). Libraries can partner by hosting a virtual or in-person event for National Voter Registration Day, or publicizing NVRD social media copy and graphics.  National Voter Registration Day provides an excellent toolkit for organizations to support your voter engagement efforts. Please use the link below to register to help ALA track how many libraries partner for NVRD.  We hope that your library will take part in this important collaboration.

Official Invitation from ALA

I’m pleased to announce that ALA is once again a premier partner of National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), to be celebrated this year on September 28.

In recent years, hundreds of libraries across the country have participated in NVRD and registered thousands of voters for local, state, and national elections. We invite you to join us again this year by registering here: https://bit.ly/ALANVRD.

By signing up, you’ll receive free resources and training opportunities to help you prepare. For academic libraries, NVRD offers the opportunity to connect with Campus Takeover, a student mobilizing effort that provides specialized resources and activities for college campuses.

Library workers are leaders in civic engagement. If you are registering voters or doing other types of voter engagement in the coming months, let ALA know! Please tag us on social media: @LibraryPolicy and #LibrariesEngageVoters.

Register for NVRD today: https://bit.ly/ALANVRD.

Thank you.

Megan Cusick

Megan Murray Cusick, MLIS
Assistant Director, State Advocacy
Public Policy & Advocacy | American Library Association

Medford Public Library named 2021 EBSCO Solar Grant Winner

EBSCO Information Services selected its four 2021 EBSCO Solar Grant Winners.

Hazel Park District Library in Hazel Park, Michigan; Medford Public Library in Medford; College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin; and the Virgin Islands Montessori School in St, Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, will each receive an EBSCO Solar Grant to pay for the installation of a solar array. The grants offset the cost of installing solar panels and allow the libraries to reduce their electricity expenditures.

Read more from Wicked Local

Many turned to libraries during the pandemic for free Wifi and other services. Will these venerable public institutions get the credit they deserve?

Ramses Escobedo probably wouldn’t call himself a hero. But during the pandemic, he was asked to act in some heroic ways. Escobedo, a bilingual Spanish-English librarian, manages a branch of the San Francisco Public Library. For more than a year, however, Escobedo hasn’t been lending out books. Instead, he’s worked with a Covid-19 contact tracer team for San Francisco’s Department of Public Health.

Read more from CNN

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.