Key Findings and Recommendations in School Library Report

By Judi Paradis, Librarian at Thomas R. Plympton Elementary School

The Special Commission on School Library Services in Massachusetts submitted its final report to the Legislature this month.  George Comeau served on this Commission representing the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  The report of the Commission includes key findings regarding equity and access issues in the Commonwealth’s school libraries.  The Commission provided legislators with a series of recommendations for improving equity in Massachusetts public schools, and provided a comprehensive plan and timeline for their implementation.  In a letter to the Massachusetts Legislature, the Commissioners urged legislators to accept their recommendations and work with DESE to ensure their implementation.

The Commission, which included legislators, members of the library and educational communities, and community members, contacted two respected researchers to conduct a comprehensive academic study to evaluate school library programs for equity using a series of data points specified in legislation passed by the Massachusetts Senate in 2013 (Bill S. 1906).  The leading researcher, Dr. Carol A. Gordon, is a retired Associate Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University where she served as the Co-Director of the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL).  She was assisted by Dr. Robin Cicchetti, Head Librarian at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.  The study was distributed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and data analysis assistance was provided by CISSL.

The Massachusetts School Library Study: Equity ad Access for Students in the Commonwealth provides a report of the research conducted by Drs. Gordon and Cicchetti along with five broad recommendations that as goals for a long-term plan.  The complete report is available on the website of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and you can find it here.  Analysis of the data and the resulting findings show there are statistically significant differences in measures of status and equity for students from urban and rural districts compared with students from suburban districts.  Based on these findings, the Commission  recommends:

Recommendation 1.0. Improve Access to School Libraries and School Librarians

  • Recommendation 1A. Every public school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a school library and a certified school librarian.
  • Recommendation 1B. Establish the position and responsibilities of the School Library Curriculum Specialist at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • Recommendation 1C. Support a culture of inquiry in schools that sustains inquiry and resource-based learning, collaborative teaching, and the integration of digital technology to improve access for all students

Recommendation 2.0. Improve Access to Information Resources in School Libraries:

  • Recommendation 2A. Increase access to print resources in school libraries.
  • Recommendation 2B. Increase access to electronic resources in school libraries.

Recommendation 3.0. Improve Access to Information Technology:

  • Recommendation 3A. Improve access to Internet and digital devices in school libraries.
  • Recommendation 3B. Increase access to Information Technology through staffing.

Recommendation 4.0. Improve Access to Library Instruction and Help.

  • Recommendation 4A. Promote best instructional practices in the school library.

Recommendation 5.0. Improve Access to Funding:

Funding cuts across all the dimensions of school librarianship.  Guidelines for Budget Allocation and Expenditure should be developed to support Recommendations 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0.

The Commission thanks The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for providing support for this important work.  We look forward to seeing our recommendations adopted to improve school library programs for all Massachusetts public school students.

A Guide to Town Meetings

This is a guest post from Patrick Borezo, Director of the Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley

In November of 2017 voters in Hadley, Massachusetts let their voices be heard at the ballot box.  Hadley had made the historic decision to accept nearly four million dollars from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and to allocate the balance of funds needed to construct a new library. The Goodwin Memorial Library, constructed in 1902, would be replaced with a single story, fully accessible facility with greatly improved parking, collection capacity, and meeting space.

Hadley is a community of roughly 5,250 people with a town meeting form of government. Because town meetings are attended by a minority of residents the committee felt that it needed to mobilize between 300 and 500 supporters to deliver the needed two-thirds majority. This would be especially important in case of an organized opposition. The Committee’s Get Out the Vote strategy for both the special town meeting and ballot vote emphasized one-to-one communication between neighbors, particularly those who were likely to support the library. The use of attendance lists from previous Town Meetings was crucial in this process as it identified those who were already likely to attend based on previous behavior. GOTV volunteers attended brief strategy meetings and were each asked to contact ten to twenty residents who were seen as likely to support the library project. Volunteers asked each person contacted whether they would likely attend the special town meeting on the specified date and if the answer was affirmative they were also asked how many others from their household were likely to attend.  This effort worked as a running head count, but also as a way to gently remind likely supporters of the town meeting and its relevance to the library project if they were not already aware.

Additional efforts included a number of supportive letters to the editor of the local newspaper as well as several press releases that resulted in media coverage of the special town meeting. A small run of lawn signs (underwritten by the Friends of the Library) was distributed to the homes of supporters in the week leading up to special town meeting.

The special Town Meeting held on August 29th was attended by nearly 500 residents putting the hall at full capacity.  Some twenty to thirty people participated from the hallway which was used for overflow from the main room.  Roughly a dozen members of the public spoke articulately and passionately in support of the article from the floor. The final vote was 449 in favor with 28 opposed. The nearly unanimous sea of hands held up to vote “yes” was a powerful affirmation of the importance of the library and the services that it provides to this community.

The successful result at Special Town Meeting sent the borrowing question to a town-wide ballot on November 14, 2017.  The strategy for the vote was similar to the lead-up to Town Meeting, with the majority of effort going to reactivating those in attendance in August. Additionally, a town-wide mailing was undertaken and paid for by the Friends of the Library.  These postcards were mailed to every active postal address in town, rather than targeting supporters only. As in August, lawn signs were created with the slogan “Our Community, Our Library”.

Again, the operative assumption was that participation in the ballot vote would represent a minority of Hadley’s total population. To succeed at the ballot a simple majority is needed rather than two-thirds majority.  Ultimately 1,157 votes were cast.  683 in favor and 470 opposed (with four left blank).

Looking back over a process that began in earnest in the Spring of 2014 when Hadley accepted the MBLC’s Planning & Design Grant I have taken several lessons from our journey so far.  Most of these may seem like common sense, but I think they are all worth repeating.

  • Know your community, but don’t buy into all of its conventional wisdom.

We have all heard from community members who, claiming to know it very well, believe that it can never change.  This is especially true when there are memorable instances from the past where a divisive issue led to a bitter defeat for an important project.  Every campaign happens in its own context.  In being offered something worth the effort and risk each community has the opportunity to follow a new direction and write a new chapter. And who knows, perhaps the community that we thought we knew so well has changed a bit more than we anticipated.

  • Say, “Yes” as often as it is possible and practical to do so.

The early stages of planning are a great time to paint with a broad brush and think big.  An important part of building consensus is to hear from the community about what they think should be included in such a transformative project.  I was often surprised by how important the functional aspects of the proposed library were to residents who engaged with the planning process.  Would we have a green building? Can the Children’s Room be situated so as to contain noise and maximize safety? What about accessing the meeting rooms after hours? These kinds of questions arose far more than those relating to the appearance of the building, for instance. People could see the possibilities in the new library and asked us to consider many suggestions, some more practical than others.  As often as we could we said “Yes” in terms of at least considering any idea brought to us. Some of these ideas might not make it into the final plan, but all ideas were considered important enough to merit consideration. And if that “Yes” must ultimately become a “No” there would be a solid rationale to back up the decision.

  • Build consensus through transparency.

It is amazing what you can learn about yourself or the things you are working on “through the grapevine”. Scuttlebutt is a natural and unavoidable aspect of anything political.  Decisions made out in the open will be questioned rigorously, fairly or unfairly, but when the perception is that important decision-making is being made behind closed doors then trouble is sure to follow.  A savvy opponent will use any procedural mistakes made by a committee to undermine public confidence and slow down the process.  Always follow open meeting law and advertise meetings as widely as possible. Provide information as quickly and completely as possible, even when it is to someone working against your project, as is your obligation.  At the end of the day it’s the integrity of the process that matters and those in the community who are objectively on the fence may well be swayed by that integrity to help write a new chapter.

Library Valentines Show Libraries Aren’t Just Loved, They’re Necessary

By Celeste Bruno, Communications Specialist at the MBLC

Valentines are a way we show how much we care. So why not use them as a way to show how much libraries are loved?  That’s exactly what the MBLC has done.  For two years, the MBLC has run Library Lovers, a campaign that provides a way for residents to write valentines to their libraries. The MBLC collects the valentines and delivers them to legislators to help them better understand how much residents value libraries. Last year 4,000 valentines were delivered to Massachusetts legislators. This year we’re still counting.

More important than the quantity of valentines is what residents say. It’s truly heartfelt (pun intended.) It’s not just that they love their helpful librarians (they do, in droves!) or that there’s amazing books, programs and resources. It’s that libraries play a role in residents’ lives that no one or no other institution can.

Have a look at just a few of the thousands we received. Please note: with the exception of Perkins Library at Perkins School for the Blind, all identifying information has been removed:

The Library has been an integral part of my life, for my entire life. I learned how to read in the Children’s Room and wrote my college applications on the computers upstairs. It’s hard not to love the Library’s kind and caring staff, and the love of reading that they share with patrons. Recently, I was able to utilize the Library in a new fashion-- professional research.
The Director of the library helped me with research for a television show I was working on. Despite the fact that I now live in New York, there was no one I’d rather have spoken with; she, along with the rest of the Library staff, are incredibly well-informed, with excellent knowledge of the resources at their fingertips.
My local library is very small but its benefit to the community is enormous. The library is very important to me. I work from home and am very isolated. Our town is rural, so I don’t get to see a lot of people. The library has been so helpful in getting me out into my community, learning what is going on within it, meeting other residents, and creating a social civic life that I feel fully engaged in.
The library is the only place I’ve always belonged, no matter what.
My library supported me! I emailed them with an idea to start an environmental themed book club, and they helped me brainstorm which books we should choose for the program, took care of all the advertising and scheduling, and now I have this awesome book club to look forward to every month! I get to meet people in my community who care about the same things I do too. As a recent college graduate, finding ways to connect with my community after being away for 4 years is really important to me. I’m so happy I was able to continue learning new things with other like-minded people at my local library.
The Perkins Library has served me throughout my entire life. First as a student at Perkins, and then as a wife mother and homemaker. And the books that were made available to me, and all of the subjects pertaining to the occupation in my life then, were of invaluable help. 
 Later on, my work in community theater benefited from the Library's wide selection of helpful material. But, when I became a caregiver to my daughter during her long battle against Glioblastoma brain cancer, the constant flow of books from my beloved library provided me with the information about the disease, escape, and sometimes humor which I needed to get through those impossible twelve years. 
 Now, Perkins Library still walks beside me through sleepless nights and empty days, helping me get through my grief. Perkins Library has done what even well-meaning friends could not do and I shall be forever grateful. 
 I love you Perkins Library!
Listening to recorded books I've received from the Perkins Talking Book Library it is a lifeline for me, it allows me to be connected to the world, to learn, to be entertained, to feel companionship. It gives meaning and hope for me. Thank you so much.
I love our local Library because it brings our community together. It allows us to meet each other in person and share experiences…My library helps to make my retirement years meaningful.
Perkins Library became part of my life 18 years ago. It's right up there with the air I breathe.
My library opens up my world. It allows me to travel to new places, to meet new people, to cook new foods, and to hear new music all with one little card (and without spending a dime). I am forever grateful for the resources available and the friendly staff that make these experiences possible. This is TRUE LOVE!
Love the opportunities to meet with other teens and play Minecraft! What a great group. Thank you Library.
Dear Library, I loved you but I left you... I want you back! I miss you so much! Here in Maine there’s no SAILS network, no New Release DVD’s, no amazing Juvenile DVD’s, no coupon sharing, no dropping off items at any network library location ...You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone!
Please support our libraries - they are an essential continuing education resource and invaluable to those who do not have access to a computer at home, especially those who are looking for work.
I love the staff and the access to such a wide variety of resources through the consortium. It’s so good to see all these institutions working together. I’ve lived lots of places and no other state or commonwealth does this as well. I was even able to take grad classes in history at Harvard without spending a fortune on books because of interlibrary loans. Please keep them funded!
I love my library because it still can instill a love of reading in children.
Libraries are essential in providing access to digital media that many may not have access to otherwise. They play a critical role in leveling the “digital divide” playing field. Libraries are worthy of our support and worthy of tax payer support.
Our library is more than just a place to borrow materials...it is a hub of our community with a community room that is used every day of the year by over 150 different groups. It is a place where people come together to discuss common interests, meet up with friends, see/hear fabulous authors talk,etc.…It is also an essential resource for those of us whose work relies on access to accurate and up-to-date information; I use my local library’s services on a weekly basis, including interlibrary loan services, and would be hard-pressed to do my job as effectively without it.

For more information on the Library Lovers campaign, contact Celeste Bruno at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

 

 

The Eastham Public Library: A Port in the Storm

By Norma Marcellino, Chair, Eastham Public Library Trustees

By early Saturday morning, March 3, 2018, around 80% of Eastham residents were without power-the Library included.  The new Library has been opened for about 15 months and has a generator which works in the community rooms. Our intrepid Director, Debra DeJonker-Berry arrived round 7:00 a.m. and had the heat in the area up and running by 8:00 a.m.  The Trustees held a meeting from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and the Library opened at 10:00.  Our residents started coming in and soon the large Meeting Room was set with tables and stations for everyone to charge their devices and use their computers.  A large coffee pot provided a hot beverage and computers were brought into this area so the Staff could sign out materials for the public. The Children’s Room was unavailable but games and materials for them were moved into a Conference Room and Periodical area.

A musical group of ukulele players, scheduled as part of a Saturday Music Series, entertained everyone in the afternoon in the reading room.  At the Library’s closing time of 4:00 p.m. it became an official “Warming Station” for the Town and remained open until 10:00 p.m.  A Disaster officer for the Town, Steve Kleinberg, was the supervisor.  The Police Chief decided to reopen the Library on Sunday at 8:00 a.m. (we are not yet open on Sundays) and since the Library’s power came back, library staff volunteered to come in to offer full Library services until 4:00 p.m.  The Police Chief sent a call to all the Town residents informing them of this timeline.

On Saturday, 499 people came into the Library, and there were still about 20 people there at 10:00 p.m. The Fire Department/Red Barn even sent pizzas over to those there on Saturday evening.  As someone without power who took full advantage of a place to charge my phone and warm up, I can attest to the amazing amount of good will that these offerings generated.  The atmosphere was electric and the Thank You’s to the Staff and Volunteers were many and heartfelt.  There was a wonderful sense of pride in our Town.  The Director worked closely throughout with Town officials.  She and the Staff made many decisions and will go forward from this experience for future events.  The Eastham Public Library became the “Community Center” we all envisioned during the many years of planning for the building and the building process itself. We are very proud of our Library but never more proud than we were on March 3rd and never more grateful to the citizens of Eastham for their support.

Click here to see a Lower Cape TV video about Eastham Library becoming a warming shelter.

Homework Help Around the Clock

Whether you are in elementary school, middle school, high school, or college, you can always use a little help with your homework! Massachusetts libraries are here to help 24/7 with reliable information from our databases. Whether it’s art, geography, history, or science that you need help with, we have a variety of resources that are available on a wide range of subjects available for you around the clock!

To get started, visit the MBLC’s public portal at Mass.gov/Libraries, select your grade level and find which resource will help you. The information is available for you free of charge and can be accessed at anytime and anywhere with a Massachusetts library card.

The best part of Homework 9-1-1 is that all of the information is reliable and sourced! You don’t have to worry about whether what you are reading is true. This is information that you can’t find through a simple Google search or on Wikipedia.

To learn even more about how to use the Massachusetts databases visit your local library and ask a librarian. They can show you the best ways to utilize the resources to get the information that you need.

You can find the Homework 9-1-1 resources and all of the available databases and electronic resources at Mass.gov/Libraries.

Thanksgiving History at Massachusetts Libraries

Family Celebrates Thanksgiving
A family celebrates Thanksgiving (Courtesy of the Digital Commonwealth)

Between basting the turkey and mashing the potatoes in preparation for Thanksgiving on Thursday, why not take some time to view some of the historic documents that set the stage for the annual holiday? Plymouth Massachusetts was home to the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621, and Massachusetts libraries have the resources to provide insight of that special celebration.

The Massachusetts State Library located in the State House has a digitized copy of William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation.  A State Library blog post outlines the interesting history of Bradford’s famous account of early life in Plymouth:

“The volume’s history is long and complicated, but can be summarized in a few points: between 1650 and 1726 the manuscript remained in the hands of the Bradford family until the family loaned it to Thomas Prince, Rector of Old South Church in Boston.  Prince died before volume could be returned to the family. Legend has it that British soldiers removed the manuscript from Old South Church during the Revolutionary War. In 1855, Massachusetts historian William Barry discovered the volume in the Library of the Bishop of London in Fulham Palace, and then for the next forty years individuals and historical organizations in Massachusetts negotiated for its return. In 1897 the volume was returned to Massachusetts and placed in the custody of Governor Roger Wolcott; Governor Wolcott authorized the State Library to care for the volume.” (http://mastatelibrary.blogspot.com/2015/03/william-bradfords-manuscript-volume-of.html)

In 2012, with support from an LSTA grant administered by the MBLC, the document was preserved at the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts. In addition to Bradford’s book the library has digitized copies of the Mayflower Compact, the list of Mayflower Passengers, and an account of “Thanksgiving 1621”. All of these digital resources are easily accessible to download and view here: http://archives.lib.state.ma.us/handle/2452/208249.

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving in Plymouth, you can stop by the Plymouth Public Library’s local history room to find out more about the first settlers and their histories. The Bartlett Room “houses the Plymouth Public Library’s collection of over 1200 items relating to the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims, as well as the many other immigrants who settled in the area.” In addition, the library’s website has digitized photos of the Plymouth Tercentenary Celebration. The photos and more information about the Bartlett room can be found here: http://pplma.omeka.net/welcome.

On behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, we wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

International Federation of Libraries Association meets in Poland

By Shelley Quezada, Consultant to the Underserved at the MBLC

Dateline:  Wroclaw, Poland.   The historic city on the banks of the Oder (Odra) river crisscrossed by 120 bridges has served as home to people from Lithuania, Germany, and Austria for many centuries.  After World War II, Wroclaw was designated to be part of Poland.   This past August the city served as site for the International Federation of Library Associations and Affiliates (IFLA) World Conference.   Approximately 3000 librarians came to Wroclaw to share, deliberate and affirm the important role of libraries as a cornerstone of democracies around the world.   IFLA is currently crafting a World Vision for library service  and is actively seeking input from librarians around the world.

Among the largest delegation were approximately 338 librarians from the United States including the recently formed Polish American Librarians Association  whose president, former long-time American Libraries editor Leonard Kimmel is one of its most famous sons.   Representation among Polish librarians was substantial, many of whom served as amazing volunteers and hosts for the week- long conference and provided multiple occasions to tour the country’s substantial libraries.

Among the many highlights of the IFLA conference was an opening ceremony that featured aerial performances with amazing acrobats (think Cirque du Soleil) and a cultural night that overwhelmed participants with a sound and light show held on the grounds of Centennial Hall, a hundred year old engineering marvel that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site last year.  In addition to opportunities to work on global initiatives, many conference goers were afforded the chance to visit historic universities and archives in the cities of Cracow and Warsaw.

Among the most charming new libraries in Poland is the recently opened library in the city’s main train station, the Wrocław Główny. From outside the station the invitation to the “Biblioteka” is clearly visible.

Inside on the platform where thousands of people pass every day, an enormous arch of books directs the traveler towards the upper floor where the city’s newest branch library recently opened its doors.

The giant clock over the Reference and Circulation area reminiscent of the modern children’s classic   The Invention of Hugo Cabret  reminds commuters that books are great companions at any time to read, ride and return.

The modern library boasts an array of computer terminals, an art gallery, collections for browsing and comfortable furniture that welcomes parents and their children.

Even as we professional librarians immerse ourselves daily in the work of libraries, the Wrocław Główny like so many others in Poland reminds us of the importance of libraries to people around the world.  Poland’s libraries are a testament to the city’s strong commitment  to its communities  making  books and access to information  accessible to readers of all backgrounds and interests wherever they may find themselves- even in a train station. The library’s website is www.biblioteka.wroc.pl

Be Legal and in the Money: Ballot Question and Capital Campaign Dos and Don’ts

By Library Building Consultant Rosemary Waltos and Library Building Specialist Lauren Stara

Join us and our two guest speakers on September 25, from 10:30 – 2:30 at the newly renovated Cary Memorial Library in Lexington to learn about the dos and don’ts of winning ballot questions and running capital campaign fundraising from the experts. Jason Tait from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) will answer those sticky questions about what you legally can and cannot do in your get-out-the-vote town meeting and ballot question campaign. Adam Dawkins, Director of Stewardship, Trinity Church, Boston and former advisor to the Stoughton Public Library Capital Campaign will give tips on the ins-and-outs of running a successful one-time-only capital campaign.

Feel free to attend one or both sessions and don’t miss seeing the newly renovated Cary Memorial Library. Register at http://mblc.libcal.com/event/3595380 by Friday, September 22.

All are welcome, with Library directors and members of their trustees and building committees in the 2016-17 construction grant round especially encouraged to attend. Here’s how the day will stack up.

10:30 a.m.           Ballot Question Do’s and Don’ts: Using Public Resource and Political Action On/Off the Job. Jason Tait, Director of Communications and Public Education, Massachusetts’ OCPF

Noon – 1 p.m.   *Break

1:00 p.m.             Capital Campaigns: What’s Different about Them. Adam Dawkins, Director of Stewardship, Trinity Church, Boston and former advisor to the Stoughton Public Library Capital Campaign

2 p.m.                   Wrap-Up

*Here is your chance to see one of the most innovative public libraries in the state and an example of a flexible floorplan at work. Lexington’s Cary Memorial Library was expanded and renovated 2004. Then eleven years later, under the leadership Library Director Koren Stembridge, the library flexed it floorplan to meet the evolving needs and demands of its community by reconfiguring and upgrading of a goodly portion of its space. Today, a transformed Cary Memorial Library offers a one desk model for convenient circulation and information/reference service, an Idea Wall for interactive exhibits, four new study rooms for a total of seven, and the Cary Commons, a casual gathering space that doubles as a performance hall. Best of all, the Library features a vibrant new teen space with collaborative spaces, a technology area, generous casual seating, and more room for collections. It is worth the ride to the outskirts of Boston to see this library.

Your Voice, Your Library!

By Library Building Consultant Rosemary Waltos

Massachusetts’ web of automated networks, robust delivery service, and state aid funds to public libraries make it easy and convenient for people to use not only their own city/town library but to freely use any public library in the state. And they do!

The perennial question in library circles is why? Why do some folks in Massachusetts cross city/town borders for their library fix? As is true with many questions, the answers don’t come easy or fast. To help figure it out, the MBLC is launching a study of cooperative borrowing and use patterns of Massachusetts public libraries, especially in-person visits by people that live in other cities and towns.

In addition to gathering statistical information from our networks and ARIS reports, between July and September we are seeking input from library users and library staff members through our Your Voice, Your Library survey.

For some people, surveys are at worse The Plague and at best a nuisance, so we are sweetening the deal for even the most reluctant survey taker. During the month of August, patrons completing the Your Voice, Your Library survey get a chance to enter to win one of three Apple iPad Pros. Not bad, right?

As the patron survey closes, we launch a separate survey of library staff in September. As an incentive to complete it, staff members get a chance to win a “seat on the bus” on our exclusive Your Voice, Your Library tour. We will take a small group of library staffers to as many new library buildings that we can cram into one day (dates and libraries TBD). There will be two different tours offered on two different days for up to ten people on each tour. We’ll talk about what’s great about the designs, and what the librarians would do differently next time, and lunch will be provided.

Of course, we can’t do this without your help. We simply ask that you to put the Your Voice, Your Library survey button on your home page and encourage library patrons and staff members to take the survey. It takes about five minutes to complete. We will be sending information and the survey to you in advance through van delivery and on the PubDir and AllRegions listservs.

The Your Voice, Your Library survey is open to the public until September 8.  For more information about the survey or how you can be involved in this important effort, contact MBLC’s Library Building Specialists at 1-800-952-7403

Lauren Stara, x245, lauren.stara@state.ma.us

Rosemary Waltos, x246, rosemary.waltos@state.ma.us

And THANKS!

Check This Out: Borrowing More Than Books

By Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grant Specialist at the MBLC

As libraries have evolved over the years, so have the ideas of what they should collect and lend to their patrons. A visit to your local library today will offer so much more than books. It’s not anything against books, I promise. Sometimes the best way to meet a need is with something that’s a bit outside the book shelf.

Libraries have always made it their mission to make information accessible to all. To keep up with that goal, you have to be aware of how people are getting their information. Many libraries lend out broadband mobile hotspots. This device enables you to access the internet for free from any location. Internet access is vital in today’s world. Options like being able to borrow a mobile hotspot can help fill a gap among users.

Learning and libraries are natural partners. And sometimes the best way to learn is hands-on. With help from an LSTA grant, the Middleborough Public Library created STEAM backpacks and teacher kits you can take home. Are you on an astronomy kick? You can check out the night sky with a telescope from a nearby library. By approaching learning in an innovative way, libraries can provide additional means for exploring what interests you.

Libraries provide rich cultural and educational opportunities, both inside and outside their walls. One very popular and longstanding option you may already be familiar with is a museum pass program. Sign up at your local library to borrow a museum pass and get discounted or free admission to area museums, such as the Museum of Science or the Museum of Fine Arts. The Department of Conservation and Recreation ParksPass is also available at many libraries. This pass gives free parking at more than 50 facilities in the Massachusetts State Parks System that charge a day-use parking fee. Offsetting the cost of visiting these great places allows these experiences to be more accessible to a wide variety of people.

The option to try before you buy is another reason for offering a non-traditional collection. Want to test out your ukulele skills? The Forbes Library in Northampton has a variety of musical instruments it lends to card holders. Now you can practice at a basic level before making the jump to buy that banjo. The upstart cost of activities can make them out of reach for many individuals. Lending items like musical instruments helps break down these barriers.

The unique collections available can help you by providing items you’d use occasionally but you don’t want to (or can’t) store. Borrow a sewing machine from the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington when you have some mending to do. Get some friends together and ham it up with Reading Public Library’s Karaoke Machine. Bake all the cakes with the help of Brookline Public Library’s cake pan collection. By expanding the idea of what to lend, libraries take resource sharing to a whole new level.

Libraries strive to provide a place to explore ideas, connect individuals and groups, offer cultural and educational experiences, foster creativity, and enhance lives. With such lofty goals, you can see why today’s library goes beyond books.