MBLC Service Update 6-10-2020

 

MBLC Service Update                                                                              
June 10, 2020

Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 22, 2020
April 29, 2020
May 6, 2020
May 13, 2020
May 27, 2020

June 3, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide issues.  Please let us know if there’s info you’d like us to cover—we’ll include it if we are able. Stay well.

State Reopening Advisory Board
Contact:
Maura Deedy, Rob Favini (MBLC)
Sarah Sogigian, Terry McQuown (MLS)
Phase 2, Step 1
Governor Baker released Phase 2 Step 1 reopening guidance effective June 8, 2020. In it the state provides safety standards, recommended best practices and checklists for libraries. It is important to emphasize that the Governor’s announcement does not require libraries to open or provide specific services on specific dates. The guidance allows libraries to open and provide services if they meet the state’s safety protocols. Any decision to open should be made on a library-by-library basis in with consultation local municipal leaders. The MBLC recommends that libraries only open when they are able to ensure the safety of their staff and community served.
 
Challenges Massachusetts Libraries Face Resuming Full Services
Last week Rob Favini spoke with WGBH’s Arun Rath on the many challenges facing libraries working to reopen buildings on the way to resuming full services. You can hear the interview on the WGBH In It Together web site here: https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2020/06/03/in-it-together-6-3-2020
State Aid- Reopening survey
Contact: Liz Babbitt
In light of the Governor’s phased re-opening plan, please update the COVID19 reopening survey via the  new LibWizard form This will be shared with the library community in a Google spreadsheet titled “COVID19: Re-opening Public Libraries Survey”.
We understand that COVID19 will continue to be a serious threat to public health and that your plans may change as the situation evolves so we will NOT be creating a version of this survey for the public UNTIL libraries have started opening.
You can still update the original COVID19 Closure form via this LibWizard link: 
https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/covid-19​ . I’ll continue to update that Google sheet for the next few weeks.
CARES ACT Grants
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
The application for Virtual Programming for Distance Learning is now open! Applications due June 19
This grant opportunity is one way the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is using CARES Act funding. Libraries may use Virtual Programming for Distance Learning grants to support increased public access to library virtual programs.  Programming for all ages should be consideredLibraries are strongly encouraged to work with local museums and local cultural institutions to enhance virtual programming. 
Any library that is a member of MLS can apply. Public libraries must be certified in state aid. These are the only eligibility requirements for this grant. Libraries may apply for funding between $1000-$3500. Applications are due June 19, 2020. We anticipate notifying libraries of their award status in early July. Funds must be spent by September 30, 2021. Grant funds can only pay for costs incurred after a signed contract. We cannot reimburse for earlier expenses.
Contact Lyndsay with any questions.


BEANSTACK through CARES Act
There are currently 127 libraries benefitting from the summer software grant, originally funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services for 56 libraries, and expanded through CARES Act funds to include 71 more libraries.
 
Construction-The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)
Contact:  Lauren Stara
Andrea Bunker
Chair Ochsenbein  and  Director Lonergan  submitted written testimony for a hearing of the Senate Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets Committee that was held on June 4, 2020. While the House bill currently includes $115 million for the MPLCP, they asked for the full legislative agenda request of $250 million from the Senate Bonding Committee. The MBLC continues to monitor this bond bill (H4708).
Given the current crisis and the economic difficulty that many communities are experiencing, the MBLC construction team is discussing how to handle grant awards in FY21.
 
 
Ebooks and Audio Books through LEA (Library eBooks and Audiobooks)
Contact: Kate Butler
Visualization of usage from May 2019 through April 2020.

Performers Directory Enhanced to Simplify Finding Virtual Programs
Contact: Paul Kissman
MBLC has just added a new feature to the Performers Directory (https://mblc.state.ma.us/directories/performers).  You can now limit search results to programs that can be delivered virtually.   270 online program opportunities have been added or updated by the performers since we reached out to them last week encouraging them to update their offerings


Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight

REGISTRATION OPEN! Hurricane Risks to Southern New England Webinar, June 16, 10:30am.The hurricane season for the Atlantic coast began on June 1, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a “busy” hurricane season for 2020. As institutions continue to cope with the complexities of COVID, hurricanes remain existential risks to your collections, institutions, and communities. Join a free virtual presentation by Matthew Belk, a Lead Meteorologist for the National Weather Service, Boston, Tuesday June 16th at 10:30am to learn more about hurricanes and hurricane preparedness in the Commonwealth. Hosted by staff from MBLC, MLS, and COSTEP MA, a statewide network of cultural heritage and emergency management professionals. https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5731831488799787023.
SAVE THE DATE: Special collections symposium for smaller libraries, July 23, 9am-12pm.Local public memory collections provide important, unique, and sustainable opportunities to interpret a community’s contemporary experiences as they change over time. Yet there are many challenges in building, preserving, and sharing these collections, especially among smaller libraries. Renowned experts in the book trade, academic libraries, and library special collections will convene for a morning symposium of sharing and dialogue about these topics, tailored specifically for library workers, librarians, archivists, and collections volunteers with various levels of experience. Registration information and additional symposium information coming next week.
 
Promotion/Summer Library Program
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
               Rachel Masse (summer and the Bruins)
Bruins
We’re happy to announce that Massachusetts native, Charlie Coyle is the Bruins player who is featured on all of the summer materials. Please place your order. Items will be shipped directly to you at no cost to your library.
Hockey will be played during the summer and the Bruins are in first place!
Promotion
Ads promoting digital resources like Library Ebooks and Audiobooks (LEA) will continue to run through June.



State Aid To Public Libraries

Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn
ARIS Workshops
State Aid will be hosting eight ARIS (Annual Report Information Survey) workshops online in June via Zoom. All sessions will take place from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. We’ve added half an hour to each session to allow for additional questions you may have. Registration will be through the MBLC Calendar
The dates are:
June 11
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 24
June 25
Reporting Deadlines for FY2021:
ARIS will open as usual on July 1st but the deadline will be extended until October 2nd to allow libraries and networks more time to gather statistics. The Financial Report and State Aid Compliance Application will open August 7th as scheduled and also close on October 2nd. Municipalities applying for a waiver of the FY2021 MAR will have until November 6th to complete additional paperwork.
PLEASE NOTE
: All dates are based on current information we have about COVID19 and the Governor’s State of Emergency. We will reassess deadlines if necessary but they will not be earlier than stated above.

 

Contact Tracing and Libraries

By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC

This post is intended to educate the library community, and is not and should not be interpreted as legal advice. We recommend specific questions should be addressed with a local Board of Health or local legal counsel.

Librarians have been concerned with some of the sector specific guidelines that required keeping a log of visitors for contact tracing, such as office spaces. Directors and library staff have reached out to Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) for clarification. MBLC staff communicated these concerns to the Department of Public Health (DPH) and communicated with Privacy Officers about concerns that visitor logs would be a violation of MGL Chapter 78 Section 7 which states “the part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record”.

The Governor’s specific guidance for libraries that was released on June 8 does not include keeping a log of visitors. MBLC does not recommend keeping such a log. We do not see a role for keeping this kind of information according to the state’s current contact tracing strategy.

Give current library operations, which most are curbside or circulation desk pick up, or appointment based services the amount of interaction between library staff and patrons should be very limited and very short. Future phases may include limited browsing or access to technology, which may increase the amount of time people are interacting but may not be sustained close contact.

That said, we wanted to share with the library community our understanding of contract tracing:

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, DPH will contact the local board of health (LBOH) where the person lives. The LBOH reaches out to the positive resident to learn who they have been in contact with. The contact tracers will ask for a list of all the people the covid-19 positive person has been within six feet of during the two days before they had symptoms or close contact as defined by the CDC. If the person does not have symptoms, the contact tracers will ask about the activity during the two days prior to diagnosis.  The contact tracers will ask for the phone numbers of those people, and follow up with them. The name of the person who tested positive is kept private, as part of HIPAA laws.

Source: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/learn-about-the-community-tracing-collaborative

Close Contact Definition: “Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated” according to the CDC. Source.

July 7, 2020 Update:
Sector specific guidance that was released on July 6 for libraries included this mandatory safety standard: “Maintain a log of workers and patrons to support contact tracing (name, date, time, contact information) if needed”.

We will continue to communicate our concerns to the Department of Public Health and the Reopening Advisory Board that contact tracing in libraries violates patron privacy laws. We do not see a role for this information. While contract tracing is essential for public health, we have concerns that the library community was not consulted on the inclusion of this mandate nor was our recommendation that it not be included heeded.
We will update this blog post as needed.

Librarians Donate Books for Inmates

By Shelley Quezada, Consultant to the Unserved at the MBLC

Two weeks ago Lisa Castoldi of Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center (SBCC), the maximum security facility in Shirley, reached out to request help in securing book donations for inmates there. Inmates have been in lockdown since March with no access to the institution’s library and no books in their cells. Coordinating with Nancy Hughes, librarian at MCI Cedar Junction in Walpole, we were able to pick up donated books from nineteen libraries across the state. Last Friday Lisa and I delivered approximately 400+ books to SBCC. They filled a whole pallet and spilled over onto another one!

Librarians were very generous but some locations such as West Tisbury and Williamstown were too far away for an easy pick up.  Because of this, those libraries were encouraged to reach out to their local jail. Several have already connected such as the Plymouth Public Library with the Plymouth County jail and the Williamstown Library with the Berkshire County House of Correction. Most jails which are part of the county system do not have a librarian on staff and their libraries are often a room with a shelf of books.  However, donations are usually welcomed.

Moving forward, I am reaching out to the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to help individual libraries make a connection with a local homeless or family shelter in their community. Donations would be greatly appreciated there as well.

MBLC Service Update 6-3-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                              
June 3, 2020

Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 22, 2020
April 29, 2020
May 6, 2020
May 13, 2020
May 27, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide issues.  Please let us know if there’s info you’d like us to cover—we’ll include it if we are able. Stay well.

State Reopening Advisory Board
Contact: Maura Deedy, Rob Favini (MBLC)
Sarah Sogigian, Terry McQuown (MLS)
The MBLC and MLS worked together to develop guidance to assist libraries as they begin the process of re-opening. The guidance was based on listening sessions that were held in coordination with the nine automated library networks.
Library-specific Re-opening guidance and tools
Baker-Polito Administration’s Reopening Massachusetts Report

State Aid- Reopening survey
Contact:
Liz Babbitt
In light of the Governor’s phased re-opening plan, please update the COVID19 reopening survey via the  new LibWizard form This will be shared with the library community in a Google spreadsheet titled “COVID19: Re-opening Public Libraries Survey”.
We understand that COVID19 will continue to be a serious threat to public health and that your plans may change as the situation evolves so we will NOT be creating a version of this survey for the public UNTIL libraries have started opening.
You can still update the original COVID19 Closure form via this LibWizard link: https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/covid-19​ . I’ll continue to update that Google sheet for the next few weeks.

CARES ACT Grants
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
The application for Virtual Programming for Distance Learning is now open!
This grant opportunity is one way the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is using CARES Act funding. Libraries may use Virtual Programming for Distance Learning grants to support increased public access to library virtual programs.  Programming for all ages should be consideredLibraries are strongly encouraged to work with local museums and local cultural institutions to enhance virtual programming.
Any library that is a member of MLS can apply. Public libraries must be certified in state aid. These are the only eligibility requirements for this grant. Libraries may apply for funding between $1000-$3500. Applications are due June 19, 2020. We anticipate notifying libraries of their award status in early July. Funds must be spent by September 30, 2021. Grant funds can only pay for costs incurred after a signed contract. We cannot reimburse for earlier expenses.
Contact Lyndsay with any questions.

Construction-The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)
Contact:  Lauren Stara
Andrea Bunker
Monthly Reporting: on Monday, March 16, the MBLC suspended the requirement for monthly reports to be submitted for construction projects. As the Commonwealth reopens and construction restarts, we will resume the monthly reporting requirement with the May report, which is due on June 30. At that time, we would like you to submit the February, March and April reports as well.
If you have been submitting monthly reports as usual, thank you! If not, please work with your OPMs to resume this effort. As always, contact Lauren or Andrea with any questions, concerns, or for assistance.

New Episodes of the Construction Podcast are coming soon!
Current Episodes:
Sustainability and Building Performance: An Interview with Building Evolution Corporation
Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects

Ebooks and Audio Books through LEA (Library eBooks and Audiobooks)
Contact: Kate Butler
Visualization of usage from May 2019 through April 2020.

Performers Directory Enhanced to Simplify Finding Virtual Programs
Contact: Paul Kissman
MBLC has just added a new feature to the Performers Directory (https://mblc.state.ma.us/directories/performers).  You can now limit search results to programs that can be delivered virtually.   270 online program opportunities have been added or updated by the performers since we reached out to them last week encouraging them to update their offerings


Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
How to Sanitize Collections    American Libraries Magazine (Evan is featured again!).

Save the Date for two exciting virtual events for Massachusetts Libraries and Library Workers:
National Weather Service speaker on Hurricane Preparedness, June 16, 10:30a
MBLC and COSTEP MA partners are hosting a speaker from the National Weather Service’s Boston area office to speak on hurricane preparedness on Tuesday, June 16th at 10.30am. The session covers the hazards posed by tropical storms and hurricanes in southern New England, and should enable attendees from the library, archive, and museum communities to evaluate the threats to their individual facilities, and begin the process of constructing a mitigation plan. Registration information coming soon.

Special collections symposium for smaller libraries, July 23, 9a-12p
Local public memory collections provide important, unique, and sustainable opportunities to interpret a community’s contemporary experiences as they change over time. Yet there are many challenges in building, preserving, and sharing these collections, especially among smaller libraries. Renowned experts in the book trade, academic libraries, and library special collections will convene for a morning symposium of sharing and dialogue about these topics, tailored specifically for library workers, librarians, archivists, and collections volunteers with various levels of experience. Registration information and additional symposium information coming soon.

Promotion/Summer Library Program
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
               Rachel Masse (summer and the Bruins)

Video Library (for kids and teens)
First Lady of the Commonwealth Lauren Baker has posted s fun story-time video on the site.
Updates have been made to the video library. Users can now sort by library as well as topic of interest
Video site
Upload your video directly or email it to Celeste

Promotion
Ads promoting digital resources through mass.gov/libraries will continue to run through June.
CSLP posters are at the printers and should be to your library in the next week
Materials for the First Lady of the Commonwealth and Blades Reading Challenge will be sent to the printer this week; libraries should have them by mid-June.
It’s not too late to Register and order materials for the summer challenge

Bruins
We are excited to announce that orders for Boston Bruins materials for the summer are now open! The NHL has announced that hockey will be returning and games will be played over the summer, so for the first time, summer reading will take place during the hockey season, and the Bruins are currently in first place.

In addition, this year’s player is Weymouth native Charlie Coyle. We are so excited to have a player who grew up in Massachusetts on the posters this year!

You can see the Bruins materials here: https://awarehouse.mblc.state.ma.us/collateral/programs/summer-reading/

You can order the materials here: https://mblc.libwizard.com/id/9a9d1a8d8450c8d79c5e1c9cef0e9bb9

We received over 50 applications for visits from Bruins Mascots Blades. While visits will not happen this summer, new Bruins prizes will be awarded as part of the First Lady of the Commonwealth and Blades Reading Challenge. Winners of the first round of prizes have already been drawn. We draw these prizes at the beginning of the summer and notify the winners so that libraries can use the prize as part of their promotion for summer reading. Full list of prize winners.

State Aid To Public Libraries

Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

ARIS Workshops
State Aid will be hosting eight ARIS (Annual Report Information Survey) workshops online in June via Zoom. All sessions will take place from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. We’ve added half an hour to each session to allow for additional questions you may have. Registration will be through the MBLC Calendar
The dates are:
June 3
June 10
June 11
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 24
June 25

Reporting Deadlines for FY2021:
ARIS will open as usual on July 1st but the deadline will be extended until October 2nd to allow libraries and networks more time to gather statistics. The Financial Report and State Aid Compliance Application will open August 7th as scheduled and also close on October 2nd. Municipalities applying for a waiver of the FY2021 MAR will have until November 6th to complete additional paperwork.
PLEASE NOTE
: All dates are based on current information we have about COVID19 and the Governor’s State of Emergency. We will reassess deadlines if necessary but they will not be earlier than stated above.

MBLC Service Update 5-27-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                              
May 27, 2020

Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 22, 2020
April 29, 2020
May 6, 2020
May 13, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide issues.  Please let us know if there’s info you’d like us to cover—we’ll include it if we are able. Stay well.

Library Re-opening
Contact: Maura Deedy, Rob Favini (MBLC)
Sarah Sogigian, Terry McQuown (MLS)
The MBLC and MLS worked together to develop guidance to assist libraries as they begin the process of re-opening. The guidance was based on listening sessions that were held in coordination with the nine automated library networks.
Library-specific Re-opening guidance and tools
Baker-Polito Administration’s Reopening Massachusetts Report

State Aid- Reopening survey
Contact:
Liz Babbitt
In light of the Governor’s phased re-opening plan, please update the COVID19 reopening survey via the  new LibWizard form This will be shared with the library community in a Google spreadsheet titled “COVID19: Re-opening Public Libraries Survey”.
We understand that COVID19 will continue to be a serious threat to public health and that your plans may change as the situation evolves so we will NOT be creating a version of this survey for the public UNTIL libraries have started opening.
You can still update the original COVID19 Closure form via this LibWizard link: https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/covid-19​ . I’ll continue to update that Google sheet for the next few weeks.

Library Re-opening News
Public Libraries Begin Reopening In Massachusetts With Curbside Pickup   CBS Boston

Libraries full of reservations over opening ‘much too soon’ under Baker’s plan  Boston Herald

Is it safe to go back to my libray?    Boston Magazine

Area libraries outline gradual reopening amid pandemic  Worcester Telegram and Gazette

MBLC Monthly Board Meetings
Contact: Rachel Masse
The regular monthly business meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, June 4, 2020 by Zoom Videoconference Meeting. https://mblc.libcal.com/event/6201492

CARES ACT Grants
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
Celeste Bruno
The MBLC is happy to announce the CARES ACT grants for online reading software (Beanstack), virtual programming, and mental health.  The grants were developed in collaboration with Christi Farrar and April Mazza from MLS and were based heavily on the needs expressed during their weekly virtual check-ins with hundreds of librarians.
Here’s all the info.
Please note: The deadline to apply for Beanstack grants is May 29 so that the MBLC can turn contracts around as fast as possible (thank you Maryellen at the MBLC) and libraries can have the software in time for summer programs.

Contracts/Business Office
Contact: Tracey Dimant
The Business Office has continued to communicate with Administration and Finance​, House Ways and Means, and Senate Ways and Means staff regarding any updated information on the FY2021 budget as well as the Construction Bond Bill; processed contract for the Beanstack Summer Reading grants, renewed contracts for vendors providing services that support the Commonwealth Catalog (Fenway Libraries Online), communications and marketing (Buyer Advertising Inc.), and MBLC’s web and database server support (Beacon Technologies). Continued to process funding requests from affiliates and invoices from vendors, as well as handling daily operations.

Construction-The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)
Contact:  Lauren Stara
Andrea Bunker
Bond Bill News
The IT Bond bill (which contains the funding for the Massachusetts Construction Program) passed through House on May 20. House leadership worked a Consolidated Amendment to handle the 189 or so amendments that had been filed. Leadership also approved bonding for the library construction of $115million, not the $150million as sought in the amendment put forth by Rep. Higgins and Rep Murray. The bill now needs approval from the Senate.
MBLC construction consultants estimate that $115 million will be enough to get through the construction waitlist. The MBLC is exploring whether the bond amount for the construction program can be increased to $150 million for the Senate vote. This would allow the MBLC to start a new grant cycle.

PJ Drive
Contact: Rachel Masse
Matt Perry
Tomorrow, Cradles to Crayons is heading to the warehouses to pick up the PJs that have been there since March.
As a reminder, if you still have PJs please do not put them into delivery yet. If possible donate them locally.  If you can’t donate locally, please hold them for 2 weeks after delivery opens up again. If you have questions about which warehouse you should send your pajamas to please contact Rachel. Contact her as well with estimates of your totals. Thanks!

Promotion/Summer Library Program

Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
               Rachel Masse (summer and the Bruins)
New! Share your story—two ways to share:
From the Heart
Even during the pandemic, Massachusetts libraries are finding creative ways to step up and support their communities and residents. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) invite libraries to share their “From the Heart” stories here.  They will be visible on the public From the Heart website and MBLC and MLS will share them broadly

Library Idea Share
Serving your community in the current environment can be challenging! Let us know what you’re doing and how it’s going; what’s worked well and not-so-well.  Email Kelly Jo Woodside and we’ll share it here. Your stories and tips will help your colleagues across the state as we all move through the phases of re-opening.

Summer Posters and Bruins materials
Your CSLP orders are at the printers, we estimate that you should receive them in 2 weeks.
Ordering for Bruins posters and materials will open first week of June. Look for an email from Matt.
Bruins Prize winners for Summer 2020
see the list

The First Lady of the Commonwealth and Blades Reading Challenge provides an opportunity for libraries that have had to cancel summer plans to be a part of a statewide initiative. The library community sets a goal and once it’s reached they are entered into a drawing to win even more Bruins prizes to be awarded late in the summer. Register and order materials

State Aid To Public Libraries
Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn
ARIS Workshops
State Aid will be hosting eight ARIS (Annual Report Information Survey) workshops online in June via Zoom. All sessions will take place from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. We’ve added half an hour to each session to allow for additional questions you may have. Registration will be through the MBLC Calendar
The dates are:
June 3
June 10
June 11
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 24
June 25

Reporting Deadlines for FY2021:
ARIS will open as usual on July 1st but the deadline will be extended until October 2nd to allow libraries and networks more time to gather statistics. The Financial Report and State Aid Compliance Application will open August 7th as scheduled and also close on October 2nd. Municipalities applying for a waiver of the FY2021 MAR will have until November 6th to complete additional paperwork.
PLEASE NOTE
: All dates are based on current information we have about COVID19 and the Governor’s State of Emergency. We will reassess deadlines if necessary but they will not be earlier than stated above.

MBLC Service Update 5-20-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                              
May 20, 2020

Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 22, 2020
April 29, 2020
May 6, 2020
May 13, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide issues.  Please let us know if there’s info you’d like us to cover—we’ll include it if we are able. Stay well.

State Reopening Advisory Board
Governor Baker released the comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Full information on this release can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts
The first phase allows libraries and businesses who meet standards and requirements to consider opening on May 25th with heavily restricted services and reduced staffing. The Governor anticipates that Phase 1 will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer before moving to the next phase. The May 25th opening date is a guidance, not a requirement. Not all libraries will be ready to open due to limited staffing and budgets. Each library in consultation with their municipality will decide when they are ready to open, and at what level of service
Libraries are specifically mentioned in the listing of businesses by industry with the following guidance:
Libraries
Phase 1 – May 25 for curbside pickup and delivery only
Phase 2 – browsing inside the Library with restrictions

State Aid- Reopening survey
Contact:
Liz Babbitt
In light of the Governor’s phased re-opening plan, please update the COVID19 reopening survey via the  new LibWizard form This will be shared with the library community in a Google spreadsheet titled “COVID19: Re-opening Public Libraries Survey”.
We understand that COVID19 will continue to be a serious threat to public health and that your plans may change as the situation evolves so we will NOT be creating a version of this survey for the public UNTIL libraries have started opening.
You can still update the original COVID19 Closure form via this LibWizard link: https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/covid-19​ . I’ll continue to update that Google sheet for the next few weeks.

CARES ACT Grants
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
Celeste Bruno
The MBLC is happy to announce the CARES ACT grants for online reading software (Beanstack), virtual programming, and mental health.  The grants were developed in collaboration with Christi Farrar and April Mazza from MLS and were based heavily on the needs expressed during their weekly virtual check-ins with hundreds of librarians.
Here’s all the info.

Construction-The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)
Contact:  Lauren Stara
Andrea Bunker

Bond Bill News
From Jennifer Harris, Chair, MLA Legislative Committee:
Thanks to your advocacy last week concerning the MBLC Construction funding in the Infrastructure bond bill (H4708), 50 additional co-sponsors signed on to support the amendment filed by Library Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. Natalie Higgins and Brian Murray, to increase the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) funding from $100 million to $150 million. The Construction Bond funding at $150 million will allow the MBLC to complete all of the projects currently on the waitlist and to prepare for a future grant round. The amendment language and the list of co-sponsors can be found by clicking here.

Construction projects to start-up again
Governor Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board released its report and guidelines for the reopening of construction sites, including public library construction funded through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program.
Sites are permitted to begin reopening as of, May 18, 2020, with the implementation of the required safety protocols outlined in the attached documents. Once the protocols are in place, construction may resume. The documents can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/lists/safety-standards-for-construction.
Please note the highlighted portions of the Sector-Specific Workplace Safety Standards. Each project’s Owner’s Representative will be required to forward the following documents to the MBLC Library Building Specialist on the project as soon as they are received.

  1. The site-specific risk analysis and enhanced COVID-19 safety plan
  2. The completed MA COVID-19 Checklist
  3. Each written daily report from the designated COVID-19 Officer

Construction Podcast is featured in Library Journal.
Episodes:
Sustainability and Building Performance: An Interview with Building Evolution Corporation
Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects

LSTA-Institute of Museum and Library Services
Scholarships Help Small Libraries
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and Massachusetts Library System (MLS) are pleased to announce recipients of the scholarships to attend the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) annual conference in Wichita, Kansas, September 30-October 3, 2020.
The recipients are as follows:
Beverly Bullock, Director, Meekins Library in Williamsburg
Nicole Daviau, Director, Porter Memorial Library in Blandford
Jessie McKinney, Children’s Librarian, Raynham Public Library
Jessica O’Connor, Director, West Falmouth Library
Sheila Parks, Director, Lanesborough Public Library
Misha Storm, Library Assistant, Greenfield Public Library
More info


Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
State Resource on Purchasing Hygienic or Protective Supplies for the Workplace
From yesterday’s (Tuesday, May 19) MEMA situation report, there is a helpful resource highlighted among the Commonwealth’s ‘Reopening Massachusetts’ website that may be particularly helpful. “Reopening: Purchasing Hygienic or Protective Supplies for the Workplace” (https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-purchasing-hygienic-or-protective-supplies-for-the-workplace) compiles resources information for employers and employees about supplies needed to return to workplaces, and connects businesses with manufacturers and distributors. There is a sortable list of vendors, with contact information, that can supply materials needed during all phases of reopening.

Project REALM (OCLC, IMLS, Battelle research partnership) releases public website
A new site is now available to support the research partnership between OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to staff and visitors engaging in delivery or use of museum, library, and archival services. Current progress and ongoing updates for the REALM project (REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums) can be found at  https://www.webjunction.org/explore-topics/COVID-19-research-project.html. The site includes a research timeline, committee members, and will be updated with program results and resources as they become available. You can sign up to receive project updates by email.

 

PJ Drive
Contact: Rachel Masse
Matt Perry
Way back in March we asked everyone to please hold PJs in place. The warehouses were getting full, DCF workers were getting overwhelmed, and librarians weren’t comfortable handling pajamas.
The big question now is once staffs are able to get back into the buildings what do we do with the PJs now?
For libraries that still have PJs, is it possible to donate the pajamas locally?
If you can’t donate locally, please hold them for 2 weeks after delivery opens up again. If you have questions about which warehouse you should send your pajamas to please contact Rachel.
Matt is working with MLS and Cradles to Crayons to get the PJs that are currently in warehouses picked up.
This is probably the last thing on your mind but if you haven’t submitted your totals to Rachel please do so. Also if some pajamas already went out please give your best estimate.
Lastly the winners most likely won’t be announced until sometime in September since schools also participate.


Promotion/Summer Library Program

Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
               Rachel Masse (summer and the Bruins)

Bruins Prize winners for Summer 2020
see the list

The First Lady of the Commonwealth and Blades Reading Challenge provides an opportunity for libraries that have had to cancel summer plans to be a part of a statewide initiative. The library community sets a goal and once it’s reached they are entered into a drawing to win even more Bruins prizes to be awarded late in the summer. Register and order materials

Video Library (for kids and teens)
Video site
Upload your video directly or email it to Celeste


State Aid To Public Libraries

Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

 

ARIS Workshops
State Aid will be hosting eight ARIS (Annual Report Information Survey) workshops online in June via Zoom. All sessions will take place from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. We’ve added half an hour to each session to allow for additional questions you may have. Registration will be through the MBLC Calendar
The dates are:
June 3
June 10
June 11
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 24
June 25

Reporting Deadlines for FY2021:
ARIS will open as usual on July 1st but the deadline will be extended until October 2nd to allow libraries and networks more time to gather statistics. The Financial Report and State Aid Compliance Application will open August 7th as scheduled and also close on October 2nd. Municipalities applying for a waiver of the FY2021 MAR will have until November 6th to complete additional paperwork.
PLEASE NOTE
: All dates are based on current information we have about COVID19 and the Governor’s State of Emergency. We will reassess deadlines if necessary but they will not be earlier than stated above.

MBLC Service Update 5-13-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                             
May 13, 2020

Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 22, 2020
April 29, 2020
May 6, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide issues.  Please let us know if there’s info you’d like us to cover—we’ll include it if we are able. Stay well.

State Reopening Advisory Board
Interview with Mass. Reopening Advisory Board Member Easthampton Mayor LaChapelle
News and information from the Reopening Advisory Board
Summary of comments from the MLS and MBLC listening sessions are on the MLS Resource Guide.

State Aid- Reopening Survey
Contact: Liz Babbitt
Several library directors have asked us if we will be adding re-opening questions to the COVID19 survey; others wanted to know if we were planning a new survey. No one realized when we created the original form how nuanced the process of reopening would be and there are some limits to adding questions to an existing LibWizard form so we made the decision to create a new survey.
The re-opening survey can be completed via a new LibWizard form This will be shared with the library community in a Google spreadsheet titled “COVID19: Re-opening Public Libraries Survey”.
We understand that COVID19 will continue to be a serious threat to public health and that your plans may change as the situation evolves so we will NOT be creating a version of this survey for the public UNTIL libraries have started opening.

You can still update the original COVID19 Closure form via this LibWizard link: https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/covid-19​ . I’ll continue to update that Google sheet for the next few weeks.

Your library info in the Library Directory on public portal
Contact: Paul Kissman
Some of the information that libraries have provided to Liz on the COVID19 Closure form is being integrated into the Library Directory on the public portal. Here we use Canton as example of what the public sees when it looks for library info on mass.gov/libraries. This information will become even more important as libraries begin opening and offer varying degrees of service. This information will also be included on the Library Directory on the agency website.

CARES ACT Funds
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
Celeste Bruno
The MBLC will soon announce grant opportunities that focus on virtual programming and mental health. These grant opportunities were developed collaboratively by MBLC and MLS and were based on the needs expressed during the weekly check-ins conducted by Christi Farrar (MLS) and April Mazza (MLS) with hundreds of children’s, YA, and school librarians.
Also coming very soon: Availability of more Beanstack grants

 

Construction-The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)
Contact:  Lauren Stara
Andrea Bunker

Construction Bond funding/ Bill H.4154
The IT Spending Bond Bill that contains library construction funding is being discussed today.
From State House News:With dependence on technology rising, House Democratic leaders have set their sights on legislation to borrow more than $1 billion for information technology and cybersecurity upgrades as one of the next major bills that could emerge for a vote. Speaker Robert DeLeo’s office informed members of his party on Monday to be prepared to discuss a committee rewrite (H 4039) of Gov. Charlie Baker’s IT bond bill during a remote caucus on Wednesday. The Baker administration has been pressing for the bill’s passage for months. The speaker’s office did not outline explicit plans or a timeline for consideration of the bill by the full House, but the bills that are the focus of caucus talks often emerge for House consideration shortly thereafter. Baker filed his $1.15 bill in April 2019, describing it as necessary to protect Massachusetts from cyberattacks and to improve how constituents interact online with their government for health care, housing and more. The House Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets Committee recommended the bill with an amendment in October, and it has been pending in the House Ways and Means Committee since then.

NEW! MBLC Construction Podcast!
Episodes:
Sustainability and Building Performance: An Interview with Building Evolution Corporation
Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects

Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
A note of caution about UV light disinfecting products.
UV light radiation indeed can disinfect against viruses, however, the radiation levels must achieve certain thresholds of intensity and certain thresholds of exposure time. There are several systems considered effective for medical device and whole-room virus sterilization, such as those in use at large hospitals. But please be hesitant to consider purchasing a small UV radiation devices for the sterilization of your library materials, as they are not clearly shown to be as effective in disinfecting SARS-CoV-2, as advertised. Here are some questions and issues to look for in any UV disinfecting machine:

  1. What levels of irradiation does the product reach? What is the required exposure time? When you look into product documentation, make sure to find the specific wavelengths and intensity of UV radiation for effective use. Do they meet the thresholds required to disinfect analogous viruses of SARS-CoV-2? (No product should claim that they have demonstrably disinfected SARS-CoV-2 specifically because that research, as far as I, and peers from the preservation community, can tell, has not been released from these products. I’ve submitted a request for more information about the required thresholds of wavelength and intensity for SARS-CoV-2 from the REACH group (IMLS/OCLC/Battelle).) Some products have tested their efficacy against bacteria, such as E.coli, which may react very differently to radiation than viruses.
  2. There should be obvious directions, with lots of details, about the safe operation of any disinfecting product. Books and materials do not put themselves in the machine, after all.

In my outreach with preservation peers, the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate could not comment on any specific products, but was comfortable sharing with us that at this point, they “are not using UV systems at present, and that [their] own planning focuses on safe processes (hygiene, quarantine, contact tracing).”

PJ Drive
Contact: Rachel Masse
Matt Perry
Way back in March we asked everyone to please hold PJs in place. The warehouses were getting full, DCF workers were getting overwhelmed, and librarians weren’t comfortable handling pajamas.
The big question now is once staffs are able to get back into the buildings what do we do with the PJs now?
For libraries that still have PJs, is it possible to donate the pajamas locally?
If you can’t donate locally, please hold them for 2 weeks after delivery opens up again. If you have questions about which warehouse you should send your pajamas to please contact Rachel.
Matt is working with MLS and Cradles to Crayons to get the PJs that are currently in warehouses picked up.
This is probably the last thing on your mind but if you haven’t submitted your totals to Rachel please do so. Also if some pajamas already went out please give your best estimate.
Lastly the winners most likely won’t be announced until sometime in September since schools also participate.


Promotion/Summer Library Program

Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
               Rachel Masse
Paid advertising for Library eBooks and Audiobooks and virtual programming began yesterday. They will run through the middle of June.  We’re targeting two audiences:
Parents and caregivers of children under six and middle-income residents under the age of 55
Type of ads:
Pre-roll advertising (video)-these are short ads that run before a video.
OTT streaming spots (video) that run during episodic content—OTT stands for Over-the-top. They’re ads that run before streaming content.
Digital banner ads
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat social ads

Video Library (for kids and teens)
Video site
Upload your video directly or email it to Celeste

SUMMER: Please submit your Summer Success Story, even if you can’t do the challenge. Please omit any identifying info


State Aid To Public Libraries

Contact: Liz. Babbitt
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

ARIS Workshops
State Aid will be hosting eight ARIS (Annual Report Information Survey) workshops online in June via Zoom. All sessions will take place from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. We’ve added half an hour to each session to allow for additional questions you may have. Registration will be through the MBLC Calendar
The dates are:
June 3
June 10
June 11
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 24
June 25

Reporting Deadlines for FY2021:
ARIS will open as usual on July 1st but the deadline will be extended until October 2nd to allow libraries and networks more time to gather statistics. The Financial Report and State Aid Compliance Application will open August 7th as scheduled and also close on October 2nd. Municipalities applying for a waiver of the FY2021 MAR will have until November 6th to complete additional paperwork.
PLEASE NOTE
: All dates are based on current information we have about COVID19 and the Governor’s State of Emergency. We will reassess deadlines if necessary but they will not be earlier than stated above.

Library closure/status info
Liz Babbitt continues to update the Google Docs for both libraries and the public.
Links to the documents:
For Patrons
For Librarians
Changes and updates can be submitted through the LibWizard form
​for both libraries and the public.

Trustees and Friends
Trustees and Friends
Contact: Maura Deedy
Rob Favini
There are 3 Virtual Trustee Orientations scheduled for May.
Description: Are you a new library trustee eager to learn about your new, and very important, role? A “seasoned” board member looking for a refresher course? Trustee Orientations are a great opportunity to meet key staff at MBLC who work with trustees, to learn more and ask questions about your roles and responsibilities as a member of a library board. At each session we cover board responsibilities, library funding and State Aid, state laws with relevance to libraries, and how to be an effective advocate for libraries. Time is included for questions and answers.  Orientations are aimed at new trustees, and all trustees and library directors are welcome to attend.
Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Register

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
10:00am – 12:00pm
Register

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
10:00am – 12:00pm
Register

MBLC Service Update 5-6-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                             
May 6, 2020


Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 2020
April 22, 2020
April 29, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide issues.  Please let us know if there’s info you’d like us to cover—we’ll include it if we are able. Stay well.

State Reopening Advisory Board
Lieutenant Governor Polito is co-chairing the Reopening Advisory Board that the Governor announced last week. MBLC Commissioners sent the Lt. Governor a letter to help ensure that libraries are considered in the reopening process.
Letter to Lt. Governor Polito

 

Please take the survey- Deadline Monday May 11 at 5pm.
Contact:  paul.kissman@state.ma.us
Please help the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners identify and prioritize the legal reference training topics that will be the most value to you over the coming weeks and months by taking this brief survey: https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/legal-reference-topics.

The MBLC is working with a partnership of legal reference and service providers to address public libraries’ need for quality legal information and referrals, including: the Massachusetts Access to Justice (A2J) Commission, the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries and Court Service Centers , coordinated by the Social Law Library.  Training sessions and resource guides will be developed based on your input.

As you answer, consider not only which legal information requests have been the most prevalent or challenging in the past, but also those you anticipate will be caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the heart: Libraries share stories about how they’re stepping up to support their communities
Contact: Celeste Bruno
From Deb O’Brien, Director of the New Marlborough Town Library
Read this entire amazing blog post
. Here’s a preview:
Internet connectivity is one topic, but what matters more is the connectivity of my library to the people of my town, the role it serves as its center and the glue that binds so many of us in this far-flung community.  Our library (and I think libraries in general) are thought of as safe havens no matter what world or local events swirl around us.  We are the community’s security blanket.
NOTE: The MBLC is in the process of setting up a website where librarians can upload their stories so that they may be shared broadly.

MBLC Monthly Board Meetings
Contact: Rachel Masse
The regular monthly business meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, May 7, 2020 by Zoom Videoconference Meeting. https://mblc.libcal.com/event/6201491

Construction-The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP)
Contact:  Lauren Stara
Andrea Bunker

NEW! MBLC Construction Podcast!
COVID-19 has caused all of us to shift operations and services to meet the needs of those we serve, and, for the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, that means moving our in-person workshops and site visits to the digital realm. As such, we, the Construction Team, would like to introduce you to our new endeavor: the “Building Literacy: Public Library Construction” podcast, in which we will explore all topics relevant to the entire construction process.
Episodes:

Sustainability and Building Performance: An Interview with Building Evolution Corporation
Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects

 

ESOL coordinators meeting scheduled
Shelley Quezada, MBLC Consultant to the Unserved, reports that while libraries may be shut down but library-based literacy/ESOL programs in Massachusetts are still valiantly coming up with ways to serve their ESOL and adult learners. An informal group of about 20+ literacy coordinators around the state who usually meet face to face twice a year will be convening a zoom meeting this coming Friday to discuss  changes they have instituted over the past few weeks brought on by the pandemic. They will explore ideas about how they are helping  students and tutors now forced to meet remotely if they are able.

This meeting is usually attended by those who work in the metro Boston area however ESOL coordinators from other parts of the state are most welcome to participate. This meeting is being convened by  Philippa Biggers, Literacy Coordinator at the Wayland Public Library and is set for Friday May 8th from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.   Inquiries should be directed to her attention at: pbiggers@watertown-ma.gov


Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
June Preservation Assessment Grant round postponed
Unfortunately we will not be able to run the June Preservation Assessment Grant round as originally planned. It will be rescheduled at a later date to be determined. (See https://mblc.state.ma.us/programs-and-support/lsta-grants/mini-preservation-assessment.php for more details about the program.) The contributing factors are the uncertainty of the end of the stay-at-home order, and what the after effects will look like. We also believe that there may be difficulty engaging preservation assessment consultants to do the work on short notice. This is key, because grant funds awarded after June would have to be spent by the end of the current federal fiscal year which would be September 30, 2020.

 


Promotion/Summer Library Program
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
               Rachel Masse (summer and the Bruins)
The summer team (Christi Farrar, April Mazza, Matt Perry, Rachel Masse, Celeste Bruno, and Lyndsay Forbes) has met to discuss how CARES Act funding may be used to support summer programs. Since the shut down due to COVID-19, the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) has conducted weekly check-ins with hundreds of YA and children’s public librarians and school librarians. Any recommendations will be based on the needs expressed during those check-ins. We’ll send out more information as soon as we have it.
In the meantime:


State Aid To Public Libraries

Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

ARIS Workshops
State Aid will be hosting eight ARIS (Annual Report Information Survey) workshops online in June via Zoom. All sessions will take place from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. We’ve added half an hour to each session to allow for additional questions you may have. Registration will be through the MBLC Calendar
The dates are:
June 3
June 10
June 11
June 16
June 17
June 18
June 24
June 25

Reporting Deadlines for FY2021:
ARIS will open as usual on July 1st but the deadline will be extended until October 2nd to allow libraries and networks more time to gather statistics. The Financial Report and State Aid Compliance Application will open August 7th as scheduled and also close on October 2nd. Municipalities applying for a waiver of the FY2021 MAR will have until November 6th to complete additional paperwork.
PLEASE NOTE
: All dates are based on current information we have about COVID19 and the Governor’s State of Emergency. We will reassess deadlines if necessary but they will not be earlier than stated above.

Library closure/status info
Liz Babbitt continues to update the Google Docs for both libraries and the public.
Links to the documents:
For Patrons
For Librarians
Changes and updates can be submitted through the LibWizard form
​for both libraries and the public.

 

Trustees and Friends
Trustees and Friends
Contact: Maura Deedy
Rob Favini
There are 3 Virtual Trustee Orientations scheduled for May.
Description: Are you a new library trustee eager to learn about your new, and very important, role? A “seasoned” board member looking for a refresher course? Trustee Orientations are a great opportunity to meet key staff at MBLC who work with trustees, to learn more and ask questions about your roles and responsibilities as a member of a library board. At each session we cover board responsibilities, library funding and State Aid, state laws with relevance to libraries, and how to be an effective advocate for libraries. Time is included for questions and answers.  Orientations are aimed at new trustees, and all trustees and library directors are welcome to attend.
Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Register

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
10:00am – 12:00pm
Register

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
10:00am – 12:00pm
Register

Building Literacy: Public Library Construction Podcast

COVID-19 has caused all of us to shift operations and services to meet the needs of those we serve, and, for the MBLC’s Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, that means moving our in-person workshops and site visits to the digital realm. As such, we, the Construction Team, would like to introduce you to our new endeavor: the “Building Literacy: Public Library Construction” podcast, in which we will explore all topics relevant to the entire construction process.

The first two episodes replace our Sustainability Summit, a summit geared toward anyone seeking to incorporate sustainability into a major building upgrade or a partial or whole building project. In episode one, “Sustainability and Building Performance: An Interview with Building Evolution Corporation”, we talk with Building Evolution Corporation’s (BEC) Wesley Stanhope, BEC’s Founder and CEO, and Ken Neuhauser, BEC’s President, about practical steps you can take to plan for and implement partial and whole-building projects that achieve energy goals while not compromising on other aspects of building performance.

In episode two, “Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects”, we discuss how architects approach the integration of sustainable measures within the design process to reduce energy load and usage and how it impacts project budgets in an interview with Finegold Alexander Architects’ Ellen Anselone, Rebecca Berry, Josephine Penta, and Beth Pearcy. We encourage anyone with even a thought of undertaking any building project of any scale to listen to these episodes, as sustainability goals must be identified early and remain a priority throughout the process.

The podcast is  also a response to substantial feedback we received about  our program. It was clear that stakeholders in public library construction projects are seeking as much in-depth information and as many mentorship opportunities as possible throughout the process. An interview-based podcast seemed like a logical mechanism in which to deliver these resources, as listeners can access the episodes as the topics arise in their own building project trajectory.

In future episodes, we hope to cover everything from advocacy and fundraising to what to expect a year after your new and improved public library opens. If you have questions stemming from an existing episode, specific topic suggestions for other episodes, or if you have participated in our program and would like to be interviewed for a mentorship and lessons learned episode, please contact Library Building Specialist Andrea Bunker at andrea.bunker@state.ma.us

In this podcast, companies and firms are and will be featured, sharing their expertise and knowledge with library building project stakeholders in an effort to create a better, more informed experience. In no way does the featuring of these companies or firms on this podcast constitute an endorsement or a promotion of those companies or firms by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. These interviews are meant to serve as an educational resource only.

The Community’s Security Blanket

By Deb O’Brien, Director of the New Marlborough Town Library

What started as a conversation regarding connectivity (or the lack thereof) in rural communities quickly morphed into a chat about the connection of small towns and their libraries serving as safe havens during trying times.

A little background: most of the sparsely inhabited but area-wise vast town of New Marlborough has quite poor or simply no internet access.  With the COVID-19 crisis forcing the closing of schools and children being schooled remotely, this situation poses huge problems for families especially if they have more than one child needing to connect to the internet.  Our Board of Selectmen very recently acquired three new hot-spots, one being the town library.  Paul Kissman from MBLC approached me to find out how things were going with our town’s reaction to our suddenly increased connectivity.  From there a conference call was set up between Paul and Celeste Bruno from the MBLC and me.

We discussed how the library parking lot is filled with cars lately, pretty much all of the time, with residents and others using our WiFi.  People are running extension cords from their vehicles to our electric outlets, some are setting up lawn chairs in the bed of their pickup trucks; even children are sitting in backseats of cars ostensibly trying to do their school work (and how many are playing games?).  The conversation came around to the importance, especially for children, to be able to sit at tables to do their work — how hard it is for our library staff (currently of one!) to sit back and not be able to help.  Here’s where the conversation took a turn.

Internet connectivity is one topic, but what matters more is the connectivity of my library to the people of my town, the role it serves as its center and the glue that binds so many of us in this far-flung community.  Our library (and I think libraries in general) are thought of as safe havens no matter what world or local events swirl around us.  We are the community’s security blanket.  Small rural libraries foster intimate relationships with their patrons, and it is mutual.  We share in their life celebrations,  we grieve their losses, and so many of us are bound together with them during emotional times.  During the unprecedented course of this pandemic it has been extremely difficult to sit back and watch patrons struggle, be it with children trying to do school work in the backseat of cars, folks wanting print materials or DVDs (no high speed Internet means no Netflix, no Amazon,  no streaming – period!), or just missing the comfort of coming in for a cup of tea or coffee and chatting.

I want to help my community!  Can we set up tables in the backyard (appropriately distanced and supervised) so the children could have a solid surface to write on?  Can we designate separate space in the library so families by appointment can use our rooms for work without coming in contact with each other?  The answers to all of these are no!

We have folks who walk by the library and knock on the window to wave to me and tell me how much they miss us; when I’m out walking for exercise, children and adults are shouting Hello and We miss you!  It is so frustrating to feel like we are failing our community when folks need us the most.

Just as I hung up from the conference call, the phone rang again.  It was a senior citizen who had just driven back from wintering in Florida.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hello, New Marlborough Library.”
Patron: “Oh Debbie, good, you’re there!”
Me: “Sorry, but we are closed to the public. “
Patron: “That’s okay, I just needed to know you were still there and now everything is right with my world.”

Connectivity is so much more than computers, our phones and all the other devices whose screens consume us.  When the world is out of sync, libraries are and will remain the one constant that people can always rely upon for comfort and security.