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.

 

 

Celebrating President Kennedy’s Legacy this Summer

Massachusetts libraries are collaborating with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to celebrate President Kennedy’s 100th birthday and “Build a Better World” as part of the ongoing Centennial Celebration at the JFK Library! This nationwide celebration commemorates one of our Nation’s great Statesmen and proud resident of Massachusetts.

The MBLC has worked with the library to create materials for the Statewide Summer Library Program. This summer’s theme is fittingly, “Build a Better World”. These materials are designed to help people of all ages understand how President Kennedy’s life work has touched so many, and continues to resonate today.

Three toolkits are available, with one for children, teens, and adults, and include biographies of President Kennedy and his family, fast facts about President Kennedy, an interactive look at the President’s desk, film footage documenting the Kennedy family, a selected bibliography of books, and more. The toolkits are available on the MBLC’s public portal and can be found here.

Visit your local library to check out books, and get commemorative posters, bookmarks, and reading lists featuring John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, and to sign your family up for the Summer Reading Program.

It’s Always Baseball Season at Massachusetts Libraries

Opening Day is getting so close you can start to feel it; the days are getting longer, the snow is melting, and the air is getting warmer. Pretty soon we’ll be back to the pennant race, but for now there is still more time to wait until the first pitch.

To fill this gap, you can find books, pictures, newspaper articles and more from your local library to satisfy your baseball needs until opening day rolls around.

Because baseball is the sport that best lends itself to literature, reading may be the best way to get excited for the new season. Baseball has been the muse for countless authors since its earliest days as a sport. Concord resident and Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir “Wait Till Next Year” tells her story of growing up in New York when the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees all competed for the city’s loyalty. “Ball Four” is former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton’s diary of the 1969 season as he tried to restart his career with the expansion Seattle Pilots as a knuckleballer. Bernard Malamund’s classic “The Natural” is probably more famous for its film adaptation starring Robert Redford, but the book (Malamund’s first) is just as good.  All of these books and many more baseball classics can be found through the Commonwealth Catalog.

If the early history of the game is what piques your interest, you can find information and artifacts through Biblioboard’s baseball anthology. It has early rules, how to guides, pictures, and histories to educate and entertain you.

You can find more of Boston’s baseball history at the Digital Commonwealth. Search through old photos of the Red Sox, the Boston Braves, and the teams that have visited Boston to take on the hometown teams.

If all of this isn’t enough, and you just want to relive the recent Red Sox glory days, head over to www.mass.gov/libraries and search through the archives of the Boston Globe to take yourself back to 2004, 2007, and 2013, and feel like you’re winning the World Series with the Sox all over again.

We hope that you enjoy these fun resources all season long as you kick back with some peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and root, root, root for your home team.

 

What’s all the Buzz about Audiobooks?

What is the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry right now? According to an Audio Publishers Association sales survey, it is audiobooks.

The Wall Street Journal reports “35,574 audiobook titles were released in the U.S. and Canada in 2015, compared with 7,237 in 2011.” They go on to explain that “People listen to audiobooks while traveling, exercising, gardening and relaxing at home. They switch devices from one activity to the next, listening on smartphones, tablets, computers and MP3 players.”[1]

What is even more exciting is that libraries are taking notice too, and there is an expanding collection of audiobooks available for Massachusetts residents to enjoy for free. Through the Commonwealth eBook Collections (CEC) and other services offered through your local library, you can borrow and listen to hundreds of today’s top titles. All you need to access these titles is a library card!

To listen to audiobooks through the CEC, visit www.commonwealthebookcollections.com and simply search for the title you’re looking for. In addition to audiobooks, you will also find eBooks and other digital resources that you can use.

If your library is not a member of the CEC, visit the Boston Public Library’s website to learn how you can access their digital materials as a Massachusetts resident through their role as the Library for the Commonwealth (http://www.bpl.org/collections/downloadable.htm), or contact your local library and they will point you in the right direction to begin listening to your favorite books.

Now, when you are preparing for a road trip, doing yardwork, or just looking for something to listen to around the house, you can enjoy some great audiobooks courtesy of your local library. Happy listening!

 

[1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fastest-growing-format-in-publishing-audiobooks-1469139910

 

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries) Relaunches

Massachusetts Libraries (mass.gov/libraries), the online portal for statewide library resources & services first launched in 2007, has been completely redesigned. We wanted to keep it simple and user-friendly while also offering personalized access to catalogs and collections.

screenshot of massachusetts libraries website homepage

Visitors are first prompted to find their local library by entering a zip code, town, or library name. The new site is then customized with access to their home network’s catalog and the Commonwealth Catalog, making it easy to search both locally and throughout the state. It also helps visitors find ebook collections and provides immediate access to online articles. And there’s a new A-Z title list of all research journals, magazines, and newspapers available through our statewide subscription.

In the Your Local Library section, visitors can find out about classes, events, and workshops – such as summer reading and early learning programs, high school equivalency exam prep, and English learning groups – at nearby libraries and literacy centers. The Digital Collections page highlights digital libraries and special online collections, great resources for teachers and students looking to explore history in Massachusetts and beyond.

We’ll be testing the site with users and consistently making adjustments throughout the coming months, so we welcome any and all feedback on the new site! Send your thoughts and comments to answers@mblc.state.ma.us.

Got UX?

Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialist at the MBLC, has begun writing a monthly article on UX in libraries for Public Libraries Online. The first two are available now, with a third coming soon!

Improving Your Library’s UX
Go on a Service Safari
Design Thinking and how it Shakes Things Up (later this month)

simba-ux

Save

Libraries in the news (August/September 2016)

Millis library a finalist for historic documents grant

Home to numerous aging documents dating back to the 1700s, the Millis Public Library is in the running to win a grant to digitize the documents for future generations. “When you’re in Boston or Concord, you think, of course, the Revolutionary War happened here,” said Alexander Lent, library director. “But it also happened in Millis.” That is the kind of history Lent wants to protect from future damage by using funds from the Hopkinton-based EMC Heritage Trust Project. (Boston Globe)

Editorial: Keep the light at Brooks Library

It has been a difficult time for Brooks Free Library, the municipal library in Harwich Center, with technical problems that have nearly crippled the institution over the past couple of weeks. With failed lighting circuits, the library has had to shut off access to the building at a time of year when that library is the center of this community, serving more patrons that other libraries of similar size on the Cape. It is the oversight of that library which makes it so popular. Library Director Ginny Hewitt does a tremendous job on a daily basis there. (Cape Cod Chronicle)

SouthCoast programs help keep kids safe, active until school reopens

Libraries that see high usage in the summer are often an obvious choice for free programs while school is out. On a busy Saturday last month, parents and their children participated in a reading project and made ring tosses at the New Bedford Public Library downtown. One-year-old Dylan Kish tossed a paper ring onto a small pole as his mother Meghan Kish and brother Alex Kish looked on. Library Director Olivia Melo said each library has different programs and all are free to the public. A live calendar is available online. The last two weeks had about 17 children participate downtown. (SouthCoast Today)

On your mark, get set, read at Lynn Public Library

On your mark, get set, read. That’s the theme of this summer’s statewide reading program and fit nicely with Lynn Public Library’s bike giveaway Thursday. “I was just very excited because I really needed a new bike,” said 9-year-old Sadiejon Galland, who won a new bike. “My old one is starting to fall apart a lot.” Ten bicycles and two big wheels were distributed as part of the Read and Ride program of the Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Massachusetts. (Itemlive)

Jayson Pereira checks the new bike he wonat the Lynn Public Library
Five-year-old Jayson Pereira, of Lynn, checks out the new bike he won in a raffle at the Lynn Public Library. (Photo credit: Paula Muller)

State officials inspire kids to read

This summer, the MBLC challenged all Massachusetts residents to choose four books to read over the summer and share them on social media to encourage others to read as well. The “What’s Your Four?” campaign launched because children who read just four books over the summer fare better on reading comprehension tests in the fall, compared with their peers who read one or none. (MBLC News)

mayor walsh's summer reading list - leonard: my fifty year friendship with a remarkable man by william shatner, a lucky irish lad by kevin o'hara, bound for the promised land by kate clifford larson, and waking up white by debbie irving
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh shared his summer reading picks. It’s not too late to join in and tell us: #WhatsYourFour?

Too poor to afford the Internet

All summer, kids have been hanging out in front of the Morris Park Library in the Bronx, before opening hours and after closing. They bring their computers to pick up the Wi-Fi signal that is leaking out of the building, because they can’t afford internet access at home. They’re there during the school year, too, even during the winter — it’s the only way they can complete their online math homework. (New York Times)

The purpose-based library

Some of you would argue that your library is a nonprofit organization and is not competing with anyone. We beg to differ. Every customer has a choice and chooses whether to go to the library website or Google’s search bar, to either engage the library or order materials from Amazon. Amazon would much rather have its customers buy a book than borrow, and Google would much rather have information seekers search its website than seek out a reference or research librarian. There is no question that libraries compete head-to-head with these for-profit businesses. (American Libraries)

The strange affliction of ‘library anxiety’ and what librarians do to help

In a few short weeks, bright-eyed college freshmen will be ambling onto campuses and into their first lectures. Which means a whole lot of newly minted undergrads are about to get freaked out by their on-campus libraries. Library anxiety is real. The phenomenon, which involves feeling intimidated, embarrassed, and overwhelmed by libraries and librarians, was first identified by Constance A. Mellon in 1986. Her paper, “Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and Its Development,” reported that college students in particular are prone to library anxiety because they believe their research skills are inadequate, which makes them feel ashamed and unwilling to talk to the very librarians who might be able to ease their worries. (Atlas Obscura)

summer reading final event and prize winners
Photos from the Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library’s final summer reading event, where participants made seed bombs and won prizes. “Grandma won a FitBit Zip, Mom won a Gaiam back fitness kit, our young helper won a cool ball, and 3 participants each won a one-day fun pass to the Kroc Center!” (@mattapanbranchbpl on Facebook)

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know Are In The Digital Commonwealth

The MBLC is now accepting applications for this year’s Town-Wide Preservation Assessment grant round. It’s an opportunity for Massachusetts libraries to work with a consultant to help them assess, organize, and ultimately digitize their historic and archival collections in the Digital Commonwealth.

Right now, there’s over 440,000 items from 130 participating institutions in this statewide digital repository. It’s a great tool for educators, historians, researchers, students, artists, authors – anybody with an interest in exploring the past through ultra-high resolution photographs, maps, letters, books, paintings, postcards, and more.

With so much content, there’s some bizarre and unexpected stuff tucked in as well. Below are five highlights from four of the most unique collections in the Digital Commonwealth.

1. Birdwing butterflies from the Solomon Islands, part of the Harry C. Belcher Lepidoptera Collection at Tufts Library in Weymouth.

birdwing butterflies from the Solomon Islands

2. Pheasant sculptures from the Castonguay Carved Bird Collection at West Yarmouth Library.

carved pheasant scupltures

3. Food pouches from the Natick Soldier Systems Center Photographic Collection.

food lab food pouches

4. 1974 photo of the “Smithsonian Center for Short-Lived Phenomena” in Belmont, part of the Boston Public Library’s Spencer Grant collection. (By the way, this place actually existed – but fittingly enough, only from 1968-1975.)

Smithsonian Center for Short-Lived Phenomena computers and bulletin board

5. Robot (ca. 1991) at the Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center. Also from the Natick Soldier Systems Center Photographic Collection.

robot at Natick r&d and engineering center

Hello world!

This is a new blog from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners about what’s happening in the library world, both at the state level and beyond.

We’ll be writing about our partnership with libraries around the state, exploring the revolution in library programs, services, and building design that’s reshaping the way we do business in the 21st century. We’ll also be raising awareness about how libraries help bolster our cities and towns through early learning and literacy programs, tech training, community partnerships, and more.

Interested in writing a guest post?
Whether you’re a librarian who wants to share special events or news about your library, an educator with a passion for reading or lifelong learning, or a tech employer who values 21st century skills, we welcome contributions from all perspectives.

Here’s what we’re looking for:
• 500 words or less
• Informal, personal writing style – like you’d expect from a blog!
• Pictures and videos are always welcome.
• Please note: We may lightly edit posts for brevity and tone.

Send your submissions here.