As regional planning officials work to attract the kinds of bike share companies that have thrived in larger cities such as Boston and Providence in recent years, Fall River Public Library has set a plan of its own in motion.
By Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grant Specialist at the MBLC
We all know one way to get people to your programs is having food. So, why not offer food programming? At this year’s Urban Libraries Conference, Christopher Morgan and Patty Sussmann from the Newburgh Free Library in Newburgh New York gave a great presentation called “Cooking Classes without a Kitchen”. Here are some key points from it that might have you adding food programming at your library.
Why do food programming in the first place? It’s important to point out that there are a lot of great reasons to offer this besides getting people in the door. Cooking and eating are educational! Reading, math, and science are at the heart of cooking. The typical hands-on nature of this type of offering can appeal to a broad range of learners. Depending on the topic, programs can improve community health—how to make heart healthy recipes for instance. Finally, don’t overlook the social aspect and community building it can do. Food brings people together, something libraries strive to do.
If you’re on board with trying food programming, you might be wondering where to start. Hiring outside presenters is one way to go. There are a lot of possibilities in terms of finding the right ones for your library. A local cookbook author is an obvious choice if you have any. Local caterers or chefs can be a great option as well. Schools and universities might have culinary programs you can tap into for potential presenters or maybe there’s a nearby cooking school. Adult education centers often have cooking instructors. Specialty food or cooking stores could have some skilled staffers who want to share their passion. One often overlooked option is a nutritionist or dietician—you can usually find them at hospitals or grocery stores.
Equipment and facility space are a common concern with offering food programming. You do not need a full-scale kitchen to do this! If you hire outside presenters, they will often bring their own set up. But what if staff wants to do the programming? What should you have? Check out “Kitchen in a box” in the Culinary Literacy Toolkit. Here you’ll find a list of basic kitchen tools for those needing a more flexible set up. This toolkit was developed by the Free Library of Philadelphia and is a must-read for public libraries who are thinking of offering food programming.
Speaking of equipment, programming based on cooking tools is another option you can explore. Think blender, spiralizer, or instant pot! You’re sure to have cookbooks on whatever the latest gadget trend is. Build a program around the tool, demo a recipe, and have relevant cookbooks on display for check out. Maybe even add that equipment to your library of things to let people try it at home.
Still nervous about actually cooking in the library? There are lots of options that don’t involve cooking at all! Try a food tasting for cheese or chocolate. Presenters will often incorporate some history or other background information in the program. Coffee and tea tastings will involve some equipment but present a similar appeal. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are likely off the table, but how about having a mocktails class? Another non-cooking option could focus on cooking-related skills. For instance, proper knife use and care is valuable for any cook to know. Food safety is a topic that can be covered in its own class or you could incorporate it into other food programs.
Finally, libraries have been offering book clubs for years so it’s no surprise that cookbook clubs have joined their ranks. There are a couple of different ways you can run a cookbook club: pick a cookbook, an ingredient, or a theme. Once you’ve decided that, participants make a dish and bring it to the meeting to share. It’s a great way to meet people and try new food recipes that you might not get to on your own.
Hopefully, you’re inspired to include food programming at your library. With so many options out there, there’s sure to be something that works for you. Bon appétit!
During the 2019 Stanley Cup, there was another rivalry going on in addition to the one on the ice between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, which ended in the Blues winning last night. The friendlier sparring occurred between the cities’ respective libraries, the St. Louis Public Library and Boston Public Library, who were battling it out on Twitter.
By Ellen Flanagan Kenny, Communications Associate at the Massachusetts Center for the Book
Thirty students were honored at the annual Letters About Literature awards ceremony, held on May 23 in the Reading Room of the State Library at the Massachusetts State House. Representative Natalie Higgins, House Co-Chair of the Library Caucus, provided the legislative welcome and thanked the many legislators on hand to welcome families, teachers, and librarians to this “Celebration of Massachusetts Student Reading & Writing.”
The Letters About Literature program is sponsored nationwide by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and administered by state centers for the book which operate in each of the 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Students in Grades 4 to 12 write letters to authors about books, poems or speeches which had a profound effect on them. One of the most active state programs, Massachusetts again received thousands of letters from all corners of the Commonwealth.
In her remarks, Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director of Mass Center for the Book, told the thirty honorees that they represented the top 1% of participants in Massachusetts. “Every year, and perhaps this year more so, Letters About Literature reminds us of the power of books, the importance of reflective thought and writing, and the necessity of those activities in an engaged and civil society,” Shaloo said.
An outstanding team of 2019 judges including Sharon Bernard, Director, Fitchburg Public Library; Beth Ineson, Executive Director, New England Independent Booksellers Association; and David Mazor, Executive Director, Reader to Reader, Inc., presented awards to the student honorees. Judging assistance was also provided by the English Department at Salem State University and MCB staff and volunteers.
The 26th annual Letters About Literature program was made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming that advances the cause of books and reading and enhances the outreach potential of Massachusetts public libraries.
For more information, contact email@example.com or call 617-872-3718.
Two hundred years ago, Nahant Public Library began as a gift to the town of about “10 hundred” volumes of books from a summer visitor named William Wood.
By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC
Previous blog posts have been highlighting excerpts from the Trustee Handbook focusing on laws and liability relating to libraries and library trustees. What follows is a list of laws that apply to libraries for your reference. As you can see many of the items on this list go beyond the specific laws governing boards of trustees that we have covered in MGL Chapter 78. Being aware of the broad range of laws governing libraries, human resources, finance, and labor relations is essential. And an important best practice for librarians and library trustees.
MASSACHUSETTS LAWS PERTAINING TO LIBRARIES
It is advisable for trustees and the library director to acquire a familiarity with local, state and federal laws which may have an impact on library management by consulting with local municipal officials and other authorities.
Although there are many Massachusetts laws which could apply to library management, the following is a selective list of Massachusetts laws which have a broad impact on the board of trustees and which are particularly relevant to the general administration of Massachusetts public libraries. Full text of Massachusetts General Laws may be accessed online at http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/Search.
A Selective List of Massachusetts Laws with Relevance to Libraries:
Accessibility of Public Buildings by Handicapped Persons (ch.22 §13A)
Anti-Discrimination Law (ch.151B)
Charitable Corporations (ch.180 §§1-11C, 26-26B)
Confidentiality of Library Records (ch.78 §7 ; ch.4 §7(26) ; ch.66 §10)
Conflict of Interest (ch.268A §§17-25)
Crimes in/against libraries:
Destruction or Mutilation of library Materials (ch.266 §§99, 100)
Theft of Library Materials (ch.266 §§99, 99A)
Disturbance of Libraries (ch.272 §41)
Harmful to Minors Act (ch.272 §§28, 31)
General Receipt of Funds (ch.44 §53)
Receipt of Grants or Gifts (ch.44 §53A)
Replacement Funds (for lost or damaged materials) (ch.44 §53)
Revolving Funds (ch.44 §53E1/2)
Trust Funds (ch.44 §§54, 55B)
Labor Relations: Public Employees (ch.150E)
Establishment of Free Public Libraries (ch.78 §§1, 7-13)
Trustees of Town Libraries (ch.78 §§10-13)
Association/Corporation Libraries (ch.78 §§1, 13)
Board of Library Commissioners (ch.78 §§14-15, 19)
State Aid to Cities and Towns for Free Public Libraries (ch.78 §§19A,B)
Joint Libraries (ch.78 §11)
Written Policy for Selection of Materials (ch.78 §33)
Written Employment Contracts with Library Directors (ch.78 §34)
Information pertaining to this blog post can be found on pages 43-45 of the Massachusetts Public Library Trustee Handbook.
On a recent Wednesday at the public library in Arlington, people diligently return their books, CDs and DVDs on time. Then, there’s Joanne Tuller. She is a delinquent book borrower.
By Evan Knight, Preservation Specialist at the MBLC
For ALA’s Preservation Week 2019, we are rolling-out a series called “People of Preservation,” highlighting the people taking care of interesting library collections across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The biggest driver of successful preservation and curation is having dedicated and knowledgeable staffs. This series is going to show why, while celebrating their successes!
I’m going to start off by highlighting some recent work by Lucy Loomis, Director of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable.
- Barnstable Patriot and Register newspaper digital archives updated for 2019: Read about some of the collaborative work necessary to pull off digitization of nearly 200 years of Cape Cod history. The two papers cover Cape Cod and the Islands, with 20th century emphasis on the towns of Barnstable, Dennis, and Yarmouth. The Patriot archive covers the years 1830 to 2017, and the Register covers the years 1836 to 2017. See more at Sturgis Library’s Newspaper Indexes.
- Understanding history is a process, not an equation. A key part, in my opinion, in the process of better understanding history is being able to interact with the physical objects of the past. On a recent visit with Lucy, I learned the Sturgis Library held a strong collection of historic whaling volumes. With grant support from MBLC through IMLS/LSTA funds, selections from these primary source materials are going to be reproduced and shared with high school students in support of history curricula at Sturgis Charter Public School. (The grant category is called “First Contact.”)
- It’s obvious there’s a great commitment by Lucy, staff, and the community to collect, preserve, and of course better understand the history of Barnstable. It’s a pleasure to have visited and learned more about their work. Here’s just three more examples (among many others, too!) that I’d like to share and celebrate:
- Note how many archival/manuscript collections are available for study through Sturgis’ Archives & Research Processing and rehousing collections is a difficult task, especially for many public libraries, but they’ve done a great job.
- One of the treasures of the Sturgis Library is a Bible that has been in Barnstable for almost 400 years. Read more about its well-known owner, its preservation and conservation, and some facts about this unique copy of the Bible.
- The library building is also almost 400 years old too!
Thanks for all your excellent work, Lucy!
By Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grant Specialist at the MBLC
While we’re always trying to entice people to come into the library, more and more libraries are recognizing and prioritizing getting out of the physical building and into the community. Outreach is such a critical part of what we librarians do, and it is often the best way to reach those who need our services the most. One way some libraries are reaching out to their communities is through their bookmobile.
Bookmobiles have existed in the U.S. since the turn of the century, though the original ones were horse drawn carriages. The first motorized bookmobiles launched in 1912. While they started as a way to get books to rural and far flung areas, they have adapted over the years and can be found in all types of communities engaging in a variety of services.
Over the years, the popularity of bookmobiles has risen and fallen. There was a decline during both World Wars and the Great Depression. The 1950s and 1960s saw a huge growth, some of which is likely due to the Library Services Act of 1956 as well as additional legislation. While their popularity has fluctuated over the years, you shouldn’t think of them as nostalgic relics from years ago. Bookmobiles are still a part of modern library service in many communities. In fact, there are currently six bookmobiles operating in five public libraries in Massachusetts – Beverly, Chicopee, Natick, New Bedford, and Worcester (which has two).
In Chicopee, when you can’t get to the library, there’s a way for it to come to you! Since June 2015, the Chicopee Public Library’s Bookmobile has been a significant part of library outreach. The schedule rotates every few months. Right now, the Bookmobile is using a two week rotation, where they make fifteen stops at eleven different sites. Locations include housing complexes, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Senior Center. Warmer months see the addition of parks and the farmers market among the stops.
Chicopee’s Bookmobile truly is a library on wheels, offering the typical library services you’d expect in a brick and mortar building. On the Bookmobile, you can check out materials, request items for pick up, access online resources, use a WiFi hot spot, register for a library card, and get on the internet via iPads.
If you’re a librarian thinking about getting your own bookmobile, you should know that it can be a large investment in time and money. So, while it’s not something to enter into lightly, many libraries do find it is well worth the effort. And if you’re looking to up your outreach game, it might just be the answer you’re looking for!
By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC
The Open Meeting Law generates a lot of questions from trustees across the state. The most frequently asked is, “does this law apply to me?” The short answer is, yes! Public libraries in Massachusetts must adhere to open meeting laws. For corporation or association libraries that receiving ANY amount of municipal funding, following open meeting law is a basic best practice.
Below are links to resources available from Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. We recommend that all trustees review these materials to learn how the law applies to posting meetings, taking meeting minutes, executive sessions, and the use of email and social media.
Open Meeting Law
Public bodies, which generally include public library trustee boards, are required to comply with the Open Meeting Law (MGL ch. 30A, sec. 18-25), as enforced by the state Attorney General’s office. As noted in the AG’s Open Meeting Law Guide, “The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to ensure transparency in the deliberations on which public policy is based. Because the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action, the Open Meeting Law requires, with some exceptions, that meetings of public bodies be open to the public.”
All library trustees should be familiar with the Open Meeting Law, which mandates meeting notices be posted prior to meetings of public boards, requires records or “minutes” of meetings to be kept, and delineates certain instances in which portions of meetings may be closed to the public. The Attorney General’s office has some helpful resources on their website, including the extremely useful Open Meeting Law Guide. Questions concerning the Open Meeting Law should be directed to the local Town Clerk or the Attorney General’s Division of Open Government (http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law).
Certain library boards, such as boards of some association libraries that are not municipal departments, may not be considered public bodies under the Open Meeting Law. If such a board is uncertain of whether it must comply with Open Meeting Law, the board should contact the Attorney General’s office directly for a determination. Some association/corporation libraries may be required to follow Open Meeting Law under agreement with the municipality that they serve. It is strongly recommended that all library boards follow the tenets of the Open Meeting Law, even if they are not required to by law. A board that practices openness and transparency will be better able to maintain a good relationship with the municipality and seek support from its community
Information regarding Open Meeting Law can be found on page 41 of the Massachusetts Public Library Trustee Handbook.
Please join us at the MBLC’s Trustee Institute, April 27th! For information and registration: https://mblc.libcal.com/event/5158107?hs=a