What it Means to be a Library Friend: By Vicki Kaufman

Former MBLC Commissioner and Friend of the Weymouth Library Vicki Kauffman (right) with MBLC Commissioner Les Ball.

As we celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week, we’ve reach out to one of the best friends libraries have, Vicki Kauffman. She is a previous MBLC Commissioner and active with the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries and Friends of Weymouth Public Libraries. We asked her to share her thoughts on what it means to be a library friend. Thank you, Vicki!

As with virtually every Friend, I’ve been going to Libraries since I first learned to walk.  As someone who’s had to move a number of times, the first thing I do in every new community is go to the Library and join the Friends, to support the Library and become involved with its activities.  I was fortunate enough to have been a Commissioner on the Mass Board of Library Commissioners; because I voiced my support of Friends activities, I was asked to join MFOL.  So naturally, when I moved to Weymouth, my first move was to join the Weymouth Friends.  

Friends organizations everywhere have supported Libraries financially – at times crucially making up for financial shortfalls in library budgets, or for urgently needed renovations and materials.  Friends are a base of both vocal and practical support, responsible not only for underwriting programs and activities, but energizing the community when support at crucial times is needed for votes from assuring municipal financial support to a new building.  Being a Friend is its own reward – not only for the satisfaction of seeing the Library benefit from our work, but for discovering a wonderful circle of new friends, because Library folks are great!

Want to meet more friends? Come to the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries Annual Meeting and program on Saturday October 26, 2019 at South Hadley Public Library. Sign up today: 


One of the Greatest Friends of Library Book Sales on Earth

Massachusetts has a lot of impressive Friends of Libraries groups that put on great book sales throughout the year. However, what happens at the Needham Public Library’s Book Sale is truly special, making it in my opinion, one of the greatest Friends of Library book sales on earth! In 2017, the Needham book sales made $91,000 to support library services, setting a new record.

Here are their three keys to success:

  1. Have an Incredible Friends group
  2. Keep a dedicated space
  3. Have online sales that keep you going year-round.

The Friends are responsible for the sales’ great reputation

Pictured below are just some of the Friends who make the sale a success. This group is very active and puts in a lot of hard work to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The Friends not only operate the weekend sale, they have also developed a process for the ongoing and online sales.  One of the most important roles they have is ensuring the quality and the variety of the books that are for sale. They’re all previously owned books, but they’re in “like new” condition.  This is important because after 10 years of running the sale, it has a growing reputation has a great place to go for a variety of books at an unbeatable price.

Space is the key

The Friends need the space for two reasons, the ongoing sale and for the group’s ability to accept and store donations. The Friends ongoing book shop (pictured below) is given a high-visibility location next to the circulation desk. People shop year-round for great bargains and can pay for the books at the circulation desk.

The Friends group also has a large storage area (pictured below) in the upper floor of the library. This space was designed intentionally for this purpose when Needham built its new library.  It gives the Friends the space they need to store donations, but it’s also where they sort and store books for online sales through Amazon.

Amazon Keeps the Sale Going

Online sales are a big part of what makes the Needham Book Sale so successful. It means they can be selling books and raising money even when the library is closed. Books are listed on Amazon and can be accessed by shoppers who search the title. Although this is a large undertaking, all of the hard work pays off by expanding the network of potential book buyers worldwide.

A lot of hard work and dedication goes into making the Needham Library book sale such a great success. There were lots of happy customers excited to read their newly discovered book purchases. The great part of any library book sale is you never know what you’ll find, and that’s what keeps people coming back.

Celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week!

By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC

We are thrilled to kick off National Friends of Libraries Week. This is an opportunity for libraries to celebrate the role of the friend. Friends advocate, fundraise, champion, and promote the library in their communities.

In 2018, libraries reported over 59,000 library friends at 308 libraries. These are the people who understand and value the importance of the library in their community. Some friends groups have less than ten people, and others count up to 1000 members! What they have in common is that they are passionate about their local library.

These organizations are usually private 501c3 groups with their own board and officers. A friends group will engage in membership drives, book sales and other activities to help raise funds to supplement the municipal budget. Maybe you’ve been to a local book sale or perused a cart tucked near the circulation desk. Donated books sold by friends groups help provide direct financial support. Friends purchase museum passes, furniture, and sponsor summer reading programs, cook book clubs and more.

Friends can play an important role in advocating for the library to local and state officials. They are able to leverage their voice and knowledge of the library, and help tell the library story to ensure adequate funding is needed. Friends can also play a key role in any local bond or ballot votes, overrides and more. The Massachusetts Friends of Libraries is an association formed to provide leadership on issues of regional, state and national concern to libraries, including encouraging and assisting in the formation and continued growth of Friends of Libraries. They promote awareness on library issues and advocate for state funding to libraries through the Commonwealth. Visit https://libraries.state.ma.us/pages/friends-of-libraries-week-19 to learn more about Friends groups in Massachusetts.

National Friends of Libraries Week is coordinated by United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association with approximately 4,000 personal and group members representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. United for Libraries supports those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries, and brings together library trustees, advocates, friends, and foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century.

Next stop, Plymouth!: The Mass. Memories Road Show celebrates 15 years of collaboration with communities across the Commonwealth

By Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager at UMass Boston

The Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show will be held at the Plymouth Public Library on Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 10am – 3pm The event is free and open to the public.

Anyone with a connection to the town is invited to bring photographs—original prints, digital copies on a thumb drive, or cell phone images—that are important to them. A team of UMass Boston staff and local volunteers will be on hand to scan or copy the materials as well as record the “stories behind the photos.”  These photographs and stories will become part of a state-wide digital collection at openarchives.umb.edu, also available at digitalcommonwealth.org.

On the eve of the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, Plymouth Public Library director Jennifer Harris is heading up the local planning team that includes Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Town of Plymouth Archivist, Destination Plymouth, and Plymouth 400.  “Our goal,” explains Harris, “is to attract at least 400 contributors and we hope that everyone will participate—whether they recently moved to town or have lived here for decades—so that the snapshot we capture of ‘America’s Hometown’ reflects an accurate composition of our community.”

The Mass. Memories Road Show is a state-wide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts through family photographs and stories. Archivists and public historians in University Archives and Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collaborate with local planning teams and volunteers to organize free public events where individuals bring photographs to be copied and included in a digital archive. Contributors are invited to describe the photographs in their own words. In addition, they may choose to share “the story behind the photos” on video, have their own “keepsake photo” taken, receive advice on caring for their family photos, and learn from one another about the history of their community.

3 boys, 12 Castle Rock Street, Dorchester, 1950. Contributor: Donna Mulholland.
3 boys, 12 Castle Rock Street, Dorchester, 1950. Contributor: Donna Mulholland.

Since its launch in 2004, the Mass. Memories Road Show has visited over four dozen communities in the Commonwealth, including several Boston neighborhoods. In the process, the UMass Boston team has digitized more than 11,000 photographs and stories from across the state, creating a unique archival record of everyday life in the Massachusetts.

Phitsamay Uy at the Lowell Mass. Memories Road Show, 2012
Phitsamay Uy at the Lowell Mass. Memories Road Show, 2012

To browse the Mass. Memories Road Show digital collection, go to openarchives.umb.edu.

To learn more about the Mass. Memories Road Show and how to bring the program to your community, visit blogs.umb.edu/massmemories or contact Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager at carolyn.goldstein@umb.edu or (617) 287-5929.

The Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show is sponsored by the Plymouth Public Library Corporation and State Aid to Public Libraries.  No registration is required.  The library has plenty of parking and is fully accessible; please let the library know if you need special accommodations to attend.  For further information, contact Jennifer Harris at 508-830-4250 ext. 215.

Growing in the City

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

There has always been a long-standing interest in gardening and urban agriculture in Somerville but as the densest city in New England, space is at a premium. The City has helped a number of residents develop gardens through their Urban Agriculture ordinance, but many residents live in housing without any green space. While there are several community gardens, the waitlist can take around two years. Some residents have taken matters into their own hands with ‘guerilla gardening’, planting on any unused portion of public space without permission.

Seeing a need in their community, Somerville Public Library realized they could help. Using an LSTA grant from the MBLC, the Library developed a community gardening initiative that would be accessible, affordable, and hands-on for Somerville residents.

In early April, raised beds were installed by Green City Growers on the Library’s lawn in order to provide residents with opportunities to learn and practice gardening. Following the installation, the first gardening workshop was held. This workshop was part of a larger Arbor Day and Urban Gardening Festival at the Library that included kid’s gardening and environmental activities as well as tree planting with the Somerville Urban Forestry Division. The timing of the event also lined up with SustainaVille Week, Somerville’s annual celebration of sustainability and climate action.

The Library had Green City Growers provide several more workshops throughout the season. Topics included when and what to plant as well as how to maintain, fertilize, and harvest successful crops. Working in an actual garden gave people valuable and practical experience with what was growing at that time of year as well as guidance about what to do as the season progressed.

Gardening wasn’t just limited to the Main Library. While the West Branch is currently closed for renovation, Somerville’s East Branch had two container gardening systems. Not only was the branch able to provide gardening opportunities at its own location, but this type of small space demonstrated what you can accomplish even if you didn’t have your own outdoor space. The Library also encouraged gardening at home with their circulating gardening tool kits for youth.

Another key part of the project was showing people what to do with all those vegetables they grew. Knowing how to prepare and cook fresh produce can be a bit overwhelming if it’s something you’re not familiar with. The The Library worked with local caterer JJ Gonson, owner of Cuisine en Locale, who provided a series of cooking workshops focusing on how to prepare and preserve fresh, seasonal produce.

The response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive, both from the public and staff. With their new garden, Somerville Public Library has found a unique way to reach out to their community and grow more than just readers.

Medford celebrates end of Medford Public Library building

The old Medford Public Library building will be coming down this fall, and Medford residents, city officials and library employees were able to celebrate and reflect on the building this past weekend.

On Saturday, the city held a party at the old library building at 111 High St. in Medford from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for kids and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for adults, and everyone was welcome to attend.

Read more on Wicked Local Medford

Orange libraries to showcase community bookmarks next month

Pick up a bookmark at one of Orange’s libraries next month, and they might have some familiar faces on them.

Local firemen, dance students, a coach and library fans are just a few of the people pictured on a series of bookmarks the Orange public libraries have been creating this year.

In a project funded by the Friends of the Orange Libraries, library staff have been hosting photo shoots of different members of the community, printing their images on bookmarks, and will be giving the bookmarks out for free at both libraries — Moore-Leland Library on Athol Road in North Orange, and Wheeler Memorial Library on East Main Street — in September.

Read more on the Greenfield Recorder

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom: Lynda’s Privacy Problem

The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom Blog highlights Lynda’s relationship with LinkedIn and problems that may cause for libraries:

In 2015, Lynda.com was acquired by LinkedIn, the professional networking site used by job-seekers and employers, and has since been rebranded as LinkedIn Learning. Recently, an email from a local librarian to the Connecticut library listserv alerted the community to a problematic platform update to LyndaLibrary/LinkedIn Learning. Library users would be required to create a LinkedIn account to use the LyndaLibrary technology learning resources. That librarian expressed concerns about patron privacy on LinkedIn. Other librarians consulted their account representatives and when pushed on the patron privacy concerns, they failed to adequately address the privacy concerns. As a result, a few libraries have reported that they would not be renewing their contracts with LyndaLibrary/LinkedIn Learning.

Read more on the Intellectual Freedom Blog

Moving on up: $35.6 million Jones Library project now second on statewide waiting list

A $35.6 million renovation and expansion planned for the Jones Library is now second on the statewide waiting list for library projects.

The project, in line for $13.87 million in funding, moved up two spots when the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) in July awarded provisional funding for a $7.49 million project in Sharon and a $5.84 million in Littleton.

Continue Reading on the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Commonwealth Catalog to Undergo Scheduled Upgrade

UPDATE 10/7/2019: The Commonwealth Catalog successfully underwent its upgrade and is now back online. Thank you for your patience while we underwent this process.

Note: This post was updated on October 1, 2019 to reflect a change in date for the Commonwealth Catalog upgrade.

On Friday, October 4, 2019 the Commonwealth Catalog will be taken down for a scheduled upgrade. The new version will bring improvements to help users find books and materials they want more easily and more efficiently. Though we hope the upgrade will take less than a day, it may take up to three. The Commonwealth Catalog will be unavailable to patrons and staff during this time.

What’s Coming with the Upgrade?

Increased Security and Patron Privacy: The system will now use “tokens” instead of internet cookies, which means your activities and searches cannot be tracked by cookie trails.

More efficient searches: Searches will be broader, with related words included for title results, easier search narrowing, and the ability to select multiple different ways to refine your search results.

Faster results: Search results will load faster, and you will no longer see those flickering book jackets. You will be able to navigate around the page as the search continues to bring in live results from the various Massachusetts library systems.

Thank you for your patience while we work on making the Commonwealth Catalog an even greater resource for you and all Massachusetts residents to find the books and materials they want from anywhere in the state.

Please be prepared for the system to be down from 5pm on Friday August 9 until August 11, and check the MBLC Twitter account for updates.