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.

MBLC Service Update 4-29-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                              
April 29, 2020

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

Stay-at-home extended; advisory board formed
At his press conference yesterday, Governor Baker extended the stay-home order to May 18 and continues the ban of gatherings of more than 10 people.
More
Note: The MBLC is contacting Lt. Governor Polito with information about library re-opening and the role libraries will play in economic recovery.

Federal Budget
Individual libraries are eligible for CARES Act funding. Applications for CARES Act grants will open on May 4. Interested organizations can visit MassHumanities.org/Cares-Act to preview the application, learn more about eligibility, and find additional resources.
Mass Humanities will award grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, depending on the size of the organization’s operating budget.
More

Re-opening/Library Advisory
Contact: Sarah Sogigian (MLS)
Rob Favini (MBLC)
This week the MBLC and MLS, through the automated library networks, will be holding a series of virtual sessions to learn what issues you face as you start planning for the resumption of full services. Schedule of sessions.  In preparing for these sessions we have found several library organizations who have shared their resumption of service plans. They highlight a wide range of considerations that may be helpful to you as you begin to formulate your plan.

        Recent article from Medium.com: https://medium.com/@john.alan.thill/a-phased-reopening-plan-for-libraries-as-covid-19-restrictions-are-lifted-2d96885c0c1d

        Utah State Library: https://library.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Utah-Libraries-Plan-for-Moving-Towards-Full-Service.pdf

        Indiana Library Federation: https://library.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/planelementsphasesofpandemic.pdf

        Oak Park Public Library WY: https://library.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/OAK-PARK-PUBLIC-LIBRARY-COVID-19-Library-Building-Reopening-Phases.pdf

        Midlothianm WY: https://library.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Tentative-Reopen-Plan-Midlothian-DRAFT-2.pdf

From the heart: Libraries share stories about how they’re stepping up to support their communities
Contact: Celeste Bruno
From Ellen Snoeyenbos,  Director West Bridgewater Public Library
The West Bridgewater Fire Department took to Instagram to thank West Bridgewater Public Library  for making face mask extenders for their responders. Ellen reported that she’s using the library’s 3D printer to make the extenders, “We’re up to 325 extenders shared out to nurses, MDs, physical therapists, transporters, EMTs, sheriff’s departments, prison guards, “ she said. “It’s been a labor of love and the need to feel useful.”
She also shared a bit about the process: With some inspiration from an involved patron, Ellen started the project. They moved the 3D printer out of the library and into her home in Halifax. She tweaked the print model a bit, in response to the feedback she got from the Good Samaritan nurses, making them thinner so they would bend around the head more comfortably. And she created a file that could crank out 5 at time. “My husband actually really got into it and I had him running the printer while I did other work from home for the library, “she added.
The library is also hosting Laughter Yoga, Family Trivia Night, and a bunch of online storyhours that are produced on a weekly basis, too. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmRwzeimVk-qzGy3a6H0UFwhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TbUPnDUkCo

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

Contracts/Business Office
Contact: Tracey Dimant
The Business Office has worked with the state’s Administration and Finance department to set up the appropriation for new IMLS CARES Act funding; communicated with Administration and Finance​, House Ways and Means, and Senate Ways and Means staff requesting information on the FY2021 budget (no news as yet); continued to process contracts, funding requests from affiliates, and invoices from vendors, as well as handling daily operations.​


Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
ALA’s Preservation Week, in its tenth year from ALA/ALCTS, promotes and advocates for improving collections care at your library. There are a number of events, tips, and resources available from http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek.  The week culminates with a related promotion from the Society of American Archivists, called “MayDay,” supporting your institution’s Emergency Preparedness – tips an resources are available from https://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/mayday-saving-our-archives. MBLC and collaborative partner COSTEP MA will aggregate these links, and release original emergency preparedness content, on their website on Friday the 1st, “MayDay.” https://mblc.state.ma.us/costepma

Promotion/Summer Library Program

Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
Rachel Masse (summer and the Bruins)
SUBMIT YOUR SUMMER SUCCESS STORY, even if you can’t do the challenge.
Here’s why: summer success stories help demonstrate that while summer programs are fun, they are also instrumental in helping kids and teens improve academically. Mrs. Baker will read the success stories and chose a library/libraries to visit.
Stories can be sent to the MBLC here (please omit any identifying info) and will be part of the public facing page.

Order/re-order CSLP posters
We’ve decided to redo the ordering for the CSLP posters that we are making available for this summer. Since the order form was originally sent out in the beginning of March, circumstances have changed for everyone and summer reading is starting to look very different. We figured reordering is the best opportunity for those who want posters to get them, and those who can no longer receive them or use them to not. They can be sent to your home.
order form
poster designs

Summer Challenge: If you’re wondering how to do a summer program this year, the summer challenge may help. You’ll receive everything you need to participate- you just set your goal and track it. You’ll also be helping to demonstrate the importance of summer programs because we’ll be able to use the completed goal info to raise awareness of what libraries are doing even in these challenging times.
Description
Register and order materials
Poster
Goal tracker

State Aid To Public Libraries
Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

The State Aid unit held three Q&A sessions last week that were attended by over 250 people. We are working on an FAQ based on the questions we received. It should be available early next week.
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.

Statewide digital library-mass.gov/libraries
Contact: Kate Butler (website issues)
Matt Perry (content additions)
Paul Kissman (virtual calendar)
New Statewide Calendar for Virtual Library Programs is LIVE!
Calendar
More Info
NEW Social media to help you spread the word!

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 4-22-2020

MBLC Service Update                                                                             
April 22, 2020

Past Updates
April 1, 2020
April 8, 2020
April 15, 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.

Federal Budget
The MBLC is receiving CARES Act funds through the Institute of Museum and Library Services and are considering how to best use these funds to target the priorities detailed in the legislation.
The latest news release about the funding

Re-opening/Library Advisory
Contact: Rob Favini
Governor Baker has reported that Massachusetts has entered the peak period for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As we all anxiously look past the peak our thoughts turn to the day when we can begin to reopen our libraries. Right now the consensus is that this will be a multi phased approach beginning with library staff prepping the building for opening, then leading to a period of partial openings with limited hours and services, ending with resumption of full hours and services.

The MBLC is starting the conversation with the library community to learn what pressing issues face libraries relating to the reopening process. We have scheduled virtual update sessions planned around our State Aid and Construction programs, and with library trustees across the state. These sessions are designed to provide information and, more importantly, gather valuable feedback around library reopening concerns. In addition MBLC is working with the MLS to gather broader feedback to help prepare reopening guidance and resources. Announcements around these efforts will be coming soon.

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

Andrea is working on a Library Construction Sustainability podcast that will be available soon.

The Construction Team has scheduled a virtual meeting to check in with libraries involved in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). Check with Lauren or Andrea for details.
Summary of MPLCP happenings:

  • All public libraries are currently closed
  • All active construction sites are shut down or are in the process of shutting down, as the result of explicit clarification from the Governor’s Office classifying public library construction as “non-essential” – those still in the process of shutting down are required to follow strict social distancing guidelines
  • Planning, including design work and construction documentation, continues as architectural and OPM firms work from home or in accordance with social distancing guidelines
  • Monthly reporting requirements have been suspended, but some libraries are still submitting monthly reports and we are able to receive and log them
  • Final reports for projects scheduled to receive their final payment in this Fiscal Year are still due by April 30
  • Disbursement requests for payments on current projects are being received and processed as usual.
  • We have received no information on FY21 funding or the pending Capital Bond Bill
  • We are still planning for new Provisional Grant awards in July or August of 2020; the number of grants will depend on the amount of our Annual Cap as set by the department of Administration & Finance, and we have been told that the soonest we will know this figure is sometime in May

Contracts/Business Office
Contact: Tracey Dimant
The MBLC business office has on-boarded a new MBLC staff member: Aparna Ramachandran, MBLC’s new IT Systems and Data Analyst. The final payments to the networks will be processed this week.  They are also continuing to process contracts, funding requests from affiliates, and invoices from vendors, as well as handling daily operations.

Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
Evan is working with folks from Boston Public Library, Northeast Document Conservation Center, Massachusetts Library System, and the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts, and the Philadelphia Free Public Library to work out details, FAQs, and develop guidelines and considerations for the many types of lending practices in our respective constituent libraries.

Evan was interviewed for American Libraries’, Dewey Decibel podcast called Libraries Respond to Covid-19; Conversations with librarians about the pandemic.  https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/.

Evan is also part of the Massachusetts Libraries Respond to Emergencies with COSTEP MA (Webinar), run by MLS, this Friday at 10.30 am.
More info Registration

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

1) Three State Aid Q&A sessions via Zoom filled up quickly and will take place later this week. We will be creating an FAQ document/webpage for questions that have general appeal. Additional sessions will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

2) A question was added to the COVID19 Public Library Closures/Status Google Docs about library staff affected by lay-offs or furloughs while the building is closed to the public. 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.

Statewide digital library-mass.gov/libraries
Contact: Kate Butler (website issues)
Matt Perry (content additions)
Paul Kissman (virtual calendar)
New Statewide Calendar for Virtual Library Programs is LIVE!
Calendar
More Info

Trustees and Friends
MBLC’s Library Advisory & Development and State Aid staff will be hosting a virtual MBLC Service Update for Trustees about MBLC’s programs and activities as they have been impacted by COVID-19. This session will provide an update about the State Aid Program including policy changes for FY2020/2021, Open Meeting Law Changes, Strategic Plans updates, and will end with opportunities for questions from attendees.

Session dates and registration:
Thursday April 23, 2020 11:00am – 12:00pm
and Wednesday April 28, 6:30pm – 7:30 pm

MBLC Service Update 4-15-2020

MBLC Service Update
April 15, 2020

As we work together to get through the current reality, the MBLC will provide regular updates on MBLC services and other statewide library 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.

Internet Access: a report from Director Rosie Heidkamp in Wendell, MA
From early morning through late evening the Wendell Library parking lot has a steady stream of 4 to 10 cars with individuals trying to “work remotely” or participate in school assignments. Unfortunately the Library wifi bandwidth has not been enough to meet the demand. Last week our tech guy shifted the bandwidth normally reserved for public computers in the library out to the parking lot wifi. This has helped but more is needed. Today the town is working on establishing a second temporary wifi connection for the public. It’s looking positive but it may take another few weeks before it’s installed.

LSTA (Federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services)
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
Shelley Quezada
Rob Favini
The deadline to apply for the FY21 LSTA direct grant round was April 7. The MBLC was pleased to receive 42 applications totaling close to $500,000.
The State Advisory Council on Libraries (SACL) now begins the review process. This year, the reviews will begin with small virtual groups which will lead up to a full SACL virtual meeting on May 6. SACL makes its recommendations for grant awards to MBLC commissioners at the July monthly board meeting.

Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
Digital Commonwealth’s 2020 Conference was held on April 7th and was the most attended conference they’ve ever had. Originally scheduled as an in-person event, the Conference Committee, Conference Coordinator, and all the speakers and panelists worked hard to transition the event to a totally virtual conference, which allowed for national and international reach: registrants numbered over 700. The slides from the presenters are available here, with recordings and transcriptions forthcoming: https://digitalcommonwealth.wildapricot.org/2020-Conference


Promotion

Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
New Video Library
The MBLC is working with First Lady of Massachusetts, Lauren Baker, to build a video library with educational and entertaining videos for kids.
Here’s what’s good about our site:

  • Super easy: if your video is already up somewhere else just email me the link and we’ll add itor if you’re creating a new video you can upload it right from your device to https://www.mavideolibrary.org/upload/
  • Unique URL: the site gives you a unique URL you can post anywhere
  • NO Advertisements
  • Reviewed and transcribed: Each video will be reviewed before it’s posted and it will be professionally transcribed, increasing accessibility.
  • Easy access for residents to more resources.
  • Promotion: The video library will live on the public website, gov/libraries. This site will be promoted through paid advertising.
  • Ideas for videos include: storytelling, songs, music and movement, science experiments, art projects, and other activities that kids can follow along with. Please keep in mind copyright rules regarding reading published books and choose a public domain story.

 

State Aid To Public Libraries
Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

1) State Aid will be hosting two Q&A sessions via Zoom on Wednesday, April 22 from 10-11 a.m, repeated from 1-2 p.m. The content will be the same at each session and each session is limited to 100 participants.

We plan to go over the emergency preamble to the FY2020/2021 State Aid policies that the Commissioners voted on at their April meeting (hours, materials, MAR, and waivers). That should take about about 15 minutes. Then, we’ll open up the session to questions from the library community about how COVID19 may affect your State Aid application this fall. All discussion will take into account what we know/surmise/guess based on current information about the COVID19 situation.

You can register through the MBLC Calendar and the Zoom meeting information will be sent closer to the event. Register for April 22 10-11am.  Register for April 22 1-2pm.

2) Liz Babbitt continues to update the Public Library Closures/Status 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

 

Statewide digital library-mass.gov/libraries
Contact: Kate Butler (website issues)
Matt Perry (content additions)
New Statewide Calendar for Virtual Library Programs

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is teaming up with Burbio (https://www.burbio.com)  to create a statewide calendar of virtual library programs. Libraries do not have to take any additional action to have their programs included in the calendar. Burbio automatically harvests almost all public library calendars, and will identify for inclusion programs with the following words in the title: virtual, online, live, Facebook live, remote, zoom, vimeo.
The new calendar will be located on our consumer portal, https://mass.gov/libraries, making it easy for residents to find and participate in the educational and entertaining virtual programs that libraries are offering during the coronavirus crisis.  We hope to have it live by the end of the week and will send out the link.

 

Training, workshops, and conference opportunities
Teen Services: MBLC and MLS staff are working together on a webinar:  Connected Learning (part of the national initiative to transform teen services) on Tuesday April 21st at 11:00am
Register

For small and rural libraries: The MBLC and MLS are providing scholarships for up to six Massachusetts public librarians to attend the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) annual conference in Wichita, Kansas, September 30-October 3, 2020.  Deadline to apply is this Friday, April 17.
More information

Checkout the many trainings and workshops, the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) is offering.

2020 Census
Contact: Maura Deedy
Census update from U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham
The official census tracking map tracks self-response rates from around the country.
Resources are available to help you get the word out.
MBLC LibGuide: https://guides.mblc.state.ma.us/census

MBLC Service Update 4-8-2020

MBLC Service Update
April 8, 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 Budget
Due to technical difficulties, the Ways and Means (virtual) Hearing about revised revenue projections that was scheduled to take place on April 7 has been moved to next week. Director Lonergan and Mary Rose Quinn plan to participate. The House and Senate will use these revised figures to develop their FY 2021 budget proposals. House Ways and Means typically releases their budget in April and Senate Ways and Means releases theirs in May. The next fiscal year begins on July 1, 2020.

MBLC Monthly Board Meetings
Contact: Rachel Masse
On April, 2, for the first time in its 130 year history, the MBLC held its monthly board meeting virtually-via Zoom. The MBLC will continue to address board business in this way until in-person meetings are again possible. Board meetings are the first Thursday of every month.
MBLC Chair Roland Ochsenbein opened the meeting with some thoughtful observations of our current circumstances.

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

Library construction not considered essential
MBLC management has been working to get clarification on public library construction activity in light of the Governor’s narrowing of the definition of “essential” construction found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services#public-works-&-infrastructure-support-services-.
On Monday, the Chief Secretary and Director of Personnel and Administration in Gov. Baker’s office, stated “In our intention of the order and the reading of the order, Library construction, if not part of a State College Campus or being performed under the care and oversight of The State Division of Capital Asset Management, is deemed non-essential work at this time.”

Contracts/Business Office
Contact: Tracey Dimant
The MBLC business office is preparing to send out the final payments to the networks, as soon as the final allotment for the 7000-9506 line comes in. They are also continuing to  process contracts, funding requests from affiliates, and invoices from vendors, as well as handling daily operations.

LSTA (Federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services)
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
Shelley Quezada
Rob Favini
Strategic Planning Guidance
The MBLC has important information for libraries regarding the October 1, 2020 deadline for filing strategic plans. Due to the tremendous disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries with expired strategic plans as of October 1, 2020 will be given a one year extension. Libraries under this extension will still be eligible for LSTA direct grants if they file an updated action plan that will be due on December 1, 2020.

We recognize that the shutdown of libraries and all non-essential businesses makes the collection of community and stakeholder input into the strategic planning process nearly impossible. In addition it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a long lasting impact on libraries and the services they provide. With this extension of strategic planning deadlines, libraries will have the ability to gather input when they re-open and are better able to engage their communities in the process.
If you have any questions please contact Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development.

Libraries get even more creative with their LSTA grants
In addition to the many online story hours and virtual book groups that have been scheduled, Shelley Quezada (MBLC Consultant to the Unserved) attended an first hour long zoom strength-based training session for seniors that the Shutesbury library held as part of their  LSTA outreach grant. There were 14 people including one Shutesbury resident who zoomed in from Puerto Rico. They will be holding thee zoom sessions twice a week. Shelley reports, “The class was a lot of work but this is a novel way for us as program monitors to do a virtual site visit.”

Networks
Contact: Paul Kissman
Kate Butler
The Taylor Memorial Library in Hancock received assistance from a Library Services and Technology (LSTA) grant given by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) for joining the CW MARS Automated Network in FY20.  They are one of seven small libraries that have joined CW MARS in the last five years with grant assistance; the others include: Ashburnham, Blandford, Charlemont (which also serves Hawley), Tolland, Oakham, and Lanesborough.
learn more

Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight

  • The MBLC recently approved four LSTA Preservation Assessment Grants. These grants fund an outside consultant to conduct institutional preservation assessments that include a site visit and the delivery of a written report.
    The following grants were approved:
    Porter Memorial Library, Blandford – $4,200
    Griswold Memorial Library, Colrain – $4,200
    Hamilton-Wenham Public Library, Hamilton – $4,200
    Wellesley High School, Wellesley – $4,200
    learn more
  • Evan has created a COSTEP site that is being continuously updated with the latest info and provides a wealth of resources and guidance for personal and institutional preparedness and response.
  • Important reminder about the valuable webinar from IMLS and the CDC: Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections.
    The webinar recording can be accessed here.
    Follow-up questions for the CDC, may be submitted to imlsinfo@imls.gov.
    The materials and links mentioned in the webinar have been added to the IMLS coronavirus page under “Official Government Information and Resources.”

Promotion
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
Staff are using MBLC social media channels to connect users and librarians to digital resources.
The team has also created promotional posts for libraries to use on their social media channels:
Digital Library social media posts
New databases social media posts
Database promotion
The MBLC has developed database promotion for social media that takes users directly into the databases and gives the local library the usage statistic:
Databases Dogs
Databases Wellness
Databases Kids
Databases: Home Improvement
Databases Healthy Aging

State Aid To Public Libraries
Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

  • State Aid requirements relaxed
    In an effort to support libraries participating in the State Aid to Public Libraries Program as they cope with this emergency, the Board of Library Commissioners approved changes to the State Aid Program Standards Policies at their monthly Board meeting on April 2, 2020. There will be other updates as we assess the ongoing crisis and determine how best the MBLC can support you, your staff, your libraries, and the communities you serve.
    Rather than address the changes individually in each of the ten policies for both 2020 and 2021, the modifications are reflected and were approved through an Emergency Preamble to the State Aid to Public Libraries Program Policies which has been added to the State Aid Policies section of the website and as a preface to the printed versions of the policy documents going forward.
    Press release regarding changes
  • Tracking library status/closures
    Liz Babbitt continues to update the Public  Library Closures 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
  • Liz has been meeting with other State Data Coordinators and IMLS about extending the deadlines for submitting FY2020 data by libraries. There is also discussion about the definitions of some of the programming questions and possibly adding a few snapshot questions that will help libraries capture some additional data due to ​this year’s unusual situation.  More to come on this.

Statewide digital library-mass.gov/libraries
Contact: Kate Butler (website issues)
Matt Perry (content additions)
MBLC staff have been updating our public portal, mass.gov/libraries,  with free resources both from libraries and from other outside groups.  We’re calling it: We’re in this together digital library. The entire state has been given access to TumbleBooks collections for free until August 31, 2020, and EBSCO has also granted free access to some of their eBooks until June 30, 2020: EBSCO and Tumblebooks.  Always free statewide resources are also included.  This one-stop place makes it easy for residents to find library resources and other free resources.
Please email Matt if you have content you’d like us to add.

MSLA’s new website the Virtual School Librarian highlights the statewide databases and other statewide resources from BPL in addition to connecting users with a school librarian.

Summer/Bruins
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Rachel Masse
Matt Perry (materials and orders)
MBLC Staff has worked with our partners the Massachusetts Library System, the Boston Bruins and First Lady of the Commonwealth Lauren Baker to create a simple and fun Summer Reading Challenge that may help kids and families stay connected to public libraries over the summer as typical summer programs may not be possible. MBLC Staff will email further information about the challenge later this week.
While it remains unclear when Blades visits can happen, the MBLC will still conduct the drawing for Bruins prizes in May.

Trustees and Friends
Contact: Maura Deedy
Rob Favini
Trustee Orientations
are moving to a virtual format. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime don’t forget to take advantage of the resources available to trustees on the MBLC website: https://mblc.state.ma.us/for/trustees.php . Here you will find links to the MBLC Trustee Resource Guide and the Library Trustee Handbook.
Maura has also put together a list of Open Meeting Law directives about remote participation and resources http://guides.mblc.state.ma.us/c.php?g=43533&p=7408550

2020 Census
Contact: Maura Deedy
April 1 was Census Day: ten minutes for ten questions to help shape the next ten years. Here’s how to get started: https://my2020census.gov/

The official census tracking map tracks self-response rates from around the country.
Resources are available to help you get the word out.
MBLC LibGuide: https://guides.mblc.state.ma.us/census

Remarks from MBLC Board Chair Roland Ochsenbein

Remarks given as the Board Chair Report at the April Meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Twenty-eight days ago, on March 5, we held our monthly MBLC board meeting at the Boston Public Library. BPL President David Leonard welcomed us and we conducted our business that day in the usual fashion, together in the Commonwealth Salon. Afterward, we toured the digitization labs. It was a normal, bustling day at the BPL.

The next morning, I spoke at a legislative breakfast hosted by the Bigelow Free Public Library in Clinton, one of the last of the breakfasts leading into the FY 2021 legislative budget season. The breakfast was well attended, the mood upbeat and enthusiastic. Representative Natalie Higgins, the House Library Caucus Co-Chair, also spoke, as did Senator Harriett Chandler and Representative Harold Naughton, all of them articulate library supporters. Coming off a year in which our total funding exceeded our request (for possibly the first time ever!), there was by contrast a hint of caution in their comments regarding next year. Important needs in education, transportation infrastructure, and other areas would compete for any increases the state would see in its revenue collections. Mind you, this was before the spread of the corona virus was fully understood. Libraries will be okay they assured us, but just know that there is some pressure next year. As of a few weeks ago, that was where we were going into next year.

Since then, and with stunning speed, the world has completely changed.

Beginning on March 13, Governor Baker began issuing increasingly severe emergency orders in response to growing concerns over the spread of the corona virus.  On that day, he issued an order prohibiting large gatherings. Two days later, he ordered public schools closed, prohibited gatherings of 25 or more, and prohibited on premises consumption of food and drink at bars and restaurants. Four days after that, he activated the National Guard. In another four days, on March 23, he ordered non -essential businesses to cease in-person operations, and he issued a statewide stay-at-home advisory. And just two days ago, he announced that the DCU Center in Worcester is being stood up as a field hospital, and that an arena at Fitchburg State is being outfitted as a temporary morgue if needed…an arena to serve as a temporary morgue.

As we meet today, remotely via Zoom video conference, it is a very different world compared to that of last month’s board meeting in the marvelous surrounds of the Boston Public Library. Today, all public library buildings in the Commonwealth are closed to the public, as are nearly all academic and special libraries. That is an extraordinary statement. The only other time this has occurred was not during the Great Depression or a World War, it was during the influenza pandemic of 1918, when an estimated 675,000 people in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide succumbed to the disease.

I am extraordinarily impressed with the response of the MBLC leadership and staff and those of our affiliates during this difficult time. The number of communications that have come out this past week or so as things have developed so rapidly– updates, advisories and announcements, including the comprehensive MBLC Service Update from yesterday– are excellent and so needed at this time. I was also pleased to see articles from publications such as the Boston Globe and the Atlantic describing how the availability of library services, many of them digital, are playing an even more important role at a time when buildings are physically closed—eBooks, audiobooks, databases, online courses, virtual story times, outside-the-building WiFi access, phone assistance and outreach, and more. The MBLC, the affiliates, and others have been working to expand the already wide access to electronic offerings. At a time when most are staying home and schools are closed, these services are enormously beneficial, possibly even life saving. I’ve seen any number of communications from libraries around the state, on social media and elsewhere, offering service updates that are resourceful, creative, and uplifting even in this heavy time. Libraries at their best. I am proud to be associated with this community.

We will eventually recover. I personally think it will take a long time to fully recover. There are many long-term consequences that are not yet understood. That said, public libraries and the role they play in society will be, I am certain, critically important to recovery efforts in too many ways to list here. And I think this may well be the focus of our message over the coming months, as we, at the appropriate time, turn our attention to regaining full operations.

The budget fallout may also be significant. The FY 2021 state revenue forecasts will certainly be revised as a result of the economic disruption we are experiencing, and that in turn will inform a new look at FY2021 and beyond. We will need to communicate our needs and our value often and clearly to lawmakers. Further, it is unclear what impacts, if any, there may be on the construction program in terms of passing the bond bill, raising the cap, and whether or to what extent projects may be delayed or reconsidered at the local level. I think there is also concern building on the municipal level about next year’s local budget picture. Local tax receipts will be directly affected by the temporary closure of businesses, loss of sales/meals/room taxes, and the compounding effects of job losses. But then there may also be some positive countervailing consequences from the various stimulus measures.

Looking ahead, there are at this moment more questions than answers but what IS clear is that the future looks very different today than it did just a few weeks ago, and our role in supporting libraries and helping make things better for people may never be more important than it will be over the coming months and possibly years.

Finally, I’d just like to say that, according to health officials, it seems clear we are in for a very difficult few weeks or months immediately ahead. I pray for all of our good health.

MBLC Service Update 4-1-2020

MBLC Service Update
April 1, 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 Budget
Director Lonergan has been in touch with leaders of the Library Legislative Caucus. The Governor released his budget recommendation in January. However, it is uncertain whether the House and the Senate will be able to adhere to the normal budget schedule. House Ways and Means typically releases their budget in April and Senate Ways and Means releases theirs in May. The next fiscal year begins on July 1, 2020.

The legislature remains active and have passed or are considering several bills addressing the current crisis. Passed bills include moving the tax filing deadline to July 15 and allowing municipalities to delay municipal elections.

Federal Budget
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced that the President has signed the CARES Act, which designates $50 million in coronavirus response funding for IMLS. Following passage in the House of Representatives, both chambers of Congress approved of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion response to the growing pandemic. The IMLS press release has more information. The MBLC anticipates further guidance on how much funding Massachusetts will receive and how these funds may be used.

MBLC Monthly Board Meetings
Contact: Rachel Masse
The MBLC held an emergency board meeting, via conference call, on March 19, 2020. The Board is holding its April 2, 2020 meeting via Zoom and will continue to address board business in this way until in-person meetings are again possible. Board meetings are the first Thursday of every month.

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

  • There has been no further movement on the bond bill, H4154; now H4039,  that contains funding for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction (MPLCP) program.
  • The requirement for monthly reporting is suspended. MBLC staff will keep you posted as to when reporting will resume and what will be required.
  • For active construction sites
    Governor Baker’s new guidance for all public construction projects statewide requires adherence to the “safety stand down” guidelines provided to the construction industry last week. This temporary order requires a halt to public construction projects (effective 3/27/2020), and applies to all projects managed or sponsored by the state or a state agency, including the library construction projects funded through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP), while contractors review site-specific issues, develop mitigation strategies and communicate to workers about new state guidelines for construction work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Those new state rules require, among other things, all workers to self-certify before each shift that they are not sick and that certain construction workers have their temperatures taken daily. Also last week, the Governor’s chief legal counsel sent a letter (https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-25-2020-construction-guidance/download) to city and town executives with the new guidance and instructions that all construction projects should continue operations during the Governor’s state of emergency but with social distancing measures incorporated. The guidance imposes a zero tolerance policy at work sites. If a worker is sick, they are to remain home. If a worker begins to feel sick on the job, they are to go home. And if a supervisor sees a worker who appears sick, they are to send the worker home.

Please keep us updated as you are implementing the guidelines required in the Governor’s directives and let us know of difficulties or challenges you face in the implementation of those guidelines.

Contracts/Business Office
Contact: Tracey Dimant
The MBLC business office sent out the second State Aid payments last week and continues to process contracts, funding requests from affiliates, and invoices from vendors, as well as handling daily operations.

LSTA (Federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services)
Contact: Lyndsay Forbes
Shelley Quezada
Rob Favini
Official statement regarding the current direct grant round

  • The LSTA team is working with libraries as they get ready to submit proposals that are due April 7 , 2020
  • LSTA staff are working with libraries finishing their current grants to rework their schedules due to COVID-19 disruptions.
  • There is a new LSTA-funded opportunity: Scholarships to attend the ARSL small libraries conference in November. Learn more
  • Shelley has been working with the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and sent a announcement out on all regions, pubdir etc to request help in getting out information about serving this community—librarians were very responsive (no surprise, there!).
  • Shelley is also been trying to keep up with what’s happening in prisons. Prison librarians are not going into the jails as it is a safety issue for them.

Networks
Contact: Paul Kissman
Kate Butler
MBLC convened a meeting with automated resource sharing network administrators and MLS last week to share current practices and planning around the pandemic.  Networks discussed eBook and audio content handling and purchasing, requesting and borrowing parameters, such as changes in overdues, patron notifications, amnesty periods, and how patron-placed holds are affected.  In particular networks discussed possible plans for managing the backlog of materials when libraries begin to reopen to the public and the statewide delivery system comes back online.

Preservation and Disaster Recovery
Contact: Evan Knight
MBLC Preservation Specialist Evan Knight, in collaboration with COSTEP MA board members and subscribers (“Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness in Massachusetts”), has developed guidelines for response from the perspective of collections preservation. The page, “Public Health Emergencies: COVID-19,” was published March 13, and recently updated March 26 to reflect the dynamic situation. Two national organizations have recently cited the page for wider distribution: the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, a division of the American Library Association, at “Handling Library Materials and Collections During a Pandemic,” and the American Institute for Conservation, at “Collections Care Amid COVID-19.” Thanks to Evan on this resource, which will be continuously updated, and please feel free to reach out to him with questions and concerns regarding your collections.
Evan also shares this valuable webinar from IMLS and the CDC: Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections.
The webinar recording can be accessed here.

If you have follow-up questions for the CDC, you may submit them to imlsinfo@imls.gov.

The materials and links mentioned in the webinar have been added to the IMLS coronavirus page under “Official Government Information and Resources.”

Promotion
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Matthew Perry
Staff are using MBLC social media channels to connect users and librarians to digital resources.
The team has also created promotional posts for libraries to use on their social media channels:
Digital Library social media posts
New databases social media posts
Database promotion
The MBLC has developed database promotion for social media that takes users directly into the databases and gives the local library the usage statistic:
Databases Dogs
Databases Wellness
Databases Kids
Databases: Home Improvement
Databases Healthy Aging

State Aid To Public Libraries
Contact: Liz. Babbit
Uechi Ng
Mary Rose Quinn

Changes and updates can be submitted through our LibWizard form: https://mblc.libwizard.com/f/covid-19

Statewide digital library-mass.gov/libraries
Contact: Kate Butler (website issues)
Matt Perry (content additions)
MBLC staff have been working to increase ease of access to digital resources. The consumer portal mass.gov/libraries has been updated and expanded to include free-for-now resources as well as unique opportunities from authors, illustrators and educators. The resources can be seen at https://libraries.state.ma.us/pages/free-resources  Always free statewide resources are also included.  This one-stop place makes it easy for residents to find library resources and other free resources.

Summer/Bruins
Contact: Celeste Bruno
Rachel Masse
Matt Perry (materials and orders)
Staff has been in touch with our partners at the Boston Bruins. Many Bruins staff have been furloughed, including the staffer who works with us on the summer program. Right now , it is unclear whether Blades visits will occur this summer. Bruins summer materials have all been developed but the MBLC is holding off on orders for now. MBLC staff is working to confirm if the new for 2020 First Lady and Blades Summer Reading Challenge can still move forward. Staff has taken orders for the national CSLP poster but getting them out to the libraries is an issue due to closures.

Trustees and Friends
Contact: Maura Deedy
Rob Favini
Our Spring schedule of Trustee Orientations is currently paused in compliance with Governor Baker’s social distancing protocols. We will resume trustee orientations as soon as we can.
But in the meantime remember that Maura and Rob are available to answer any questions that you have regarding new trustee onboarding, best practices, or the latest MBLC information regarding library services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 Census
Contact: Maura Deedy
Maura’s reminder: being home is the perfect time to take the census online or by telephone.

New resources that can help you get the word out: https://2020census.gov/en/how-to-help.html?utm_campaign=20200330msc20s1ccallrs&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

MBLC LibGuide: https://guides.mblc.state.ma.us/census

Baseball Season Starts Now with your Library

Major League Baseball was set to open its season today, but it has been delayed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Even though the players won’t be taking the field, you can still get your baseball fix today through your Massachusetts library! 

The Digital Commonwealth has an extensive collection of historic baseball photos taken by legendary Boston photographer Leslie Jones.  Jones took photographs of the Red Sox and the Boston Braves throughout the mid twentieth-century, and captured many visiting players as well including Jackie Robinson. There is also baseball artwork, photos of the UMass Amherst baseball team, and other historic photos of the game being played in and around New England.Baseball is not only a game, it is the inspiration for numerous books, available at your fingertips through the Massachusetts eBook program LEA. New  titles include Evie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, a love story about “a woman who has lost her husband and a major league pitcher who’s lost his game,” The Resisters by Gish Jen, a story about a dystopian future where society is divided and baseball allows one young girl to cross that divide, and The Cactus League by Emily Nemens which “unravels the tightly connected web of people behind a seemingly linear game.” Classic baseball books available through LEA include Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Natural by Bernard Malamud, and Ball Four by Jim Bouton. Get started with LEA today by borrowing a book about baseball.

Filmmaker Ken Burns has allowed PBS to stream his renowned nine part documentary “Baseball” for free on its website. The documentary starts at the very origins of the game in the nineteenth-century and follows it up to the present day highlighting the unique aspects of the game and the personalities that have made it the nation’s pastime. The documentary is streaming for a limited time on the PBS website.Even though the umps won’t be yelling “play ball!” today, we can at least indulge in some photographs, books, and movies to hold us over until the baseball season officially begins.

2020 Census: Now is the time to get involved!

By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC

Last month, I hosted three 2020 Census 101 sessions around the Commonwealth. These sessions brought together librarians and other community partners together to receive information about the 2020 Census, and think about how to share it with their community.

On Monday February 24, 2020 I spent the morning with 19 librarians from Western Mass at the Massachusetts Library System Northampton office. We kicked off the meeting with introductions and sharing. In that spirit, here are some of the wonderful ideas Massachusetts libraries are doing to support a complete count in our communities:

Greenfield Public Library will have one dedicated laptop for self-response with trained staff available at all times to answer census questions. They’ll host pop up events in the community at the senior center and Stone Soup Cafe.

Many libraries will have a designated computer, like Palmer Public Library and Paige Memorial Library (Hardwick). Libraries may consider removing authentication or modifying time limits to support census self-response and putting a short cut on each workstation.

A few libraries discussed their partnerships with the local senior center or council on aging. Heath Free Public Library and Dickinson Memorial Library (Northfield) are planning on outreach events at local senior centers. They will bring laptops and devices to help with self-response.

Tyler Memorial Library (Charlemont and Hawley) shared that they successfully advocated for additional funding to expand hours to encourage local residents to complete their census at the library using library tech or with their own devices. The disparities in access to broadband internet are more acute in Western Mass, where libraries or municipal buildings are the only places with Wi-Fi available.

Westfield Athenaeum is training their staff on how to answer basic census questions, and put a direct link to the census website on the desktop. They are working on a census focused story time for children with counting activities.

For many of the smaller libraries in Western Mass that may not have the staff to run programs, making passive displays is an excellent solution. Tilton Library (Deerfield) will have displays with information, handouts and an FAQ.

One of the activities in the training was a design thinking workshop about who our hard to count communities are and planning an activity to reach them. Look for that on our 2020 Census guide.

2020 Census Resources:
Census 2020 in Massachusetts: https://guides.mblc.state.ma.us/census

American Library Association: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/govinfo/census

Secretary of the Commonwealth: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/census2020/index.html

A Message from Governor Baker about COVID-19

Governor Charlie Baker sent out an email to state employees regarding the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Here is what he had to say, and some tips to help prevent the spread of the diseases including the flu and the common cold:

Your health and safety is our top priority. While the risk associated with the Coronavirus or COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts, I want to discuss what we are doing to prepare and what you can do to both stay informed and to prevent spreading the virus.

We have been working with our federal and local partners daily as we build on our existing plans to deal with this virus, and we will adapt when need be to keep people safe.  Yes, it is very contagious, but it is also not a danger to the vast majority of the people who do catch it.  The threat in the U.S. and the threat in Massachusetts at this time remain low, and our constant surveillance efforts and ongoing dialogue with the health care, infectious disease and public health experts here in Massachusetts will ensure we make appropriate adjustments along the way.

These simple precautions will help prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water frequently and use hand sanitizer.
  • If you have a fever or feel sick, stay home and call your healthcare provider.
  • Clean surfaces that are frequently touched such as doorknobs and countertops with household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Think ahead about how to take care of yourself and your loved ones if the virus starts to spread.
  • Get the flu vaccine – it is not too late!

The latest information about COVID-19 in Massachusetts is available at the Department of Public Health’s website here: https://www.mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19

And a printable factsheet is available here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/english-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-0/download

The latest Centers for Disease Control information about COVID-19 is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Additionally, MEMA’s Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management has posted helpful recommendations for what individuals can do to prepare for potential emergencies. That information is available here: mass.gov/KnowPlanPrepare

It is important to remember that there is only a single case in Massachusetts and local health officials confirm that this individual is recovering well.

The folks at HHS and DPH are working around the clock with our federal partners. I want to thank them and everyone across state government for serving the people of Massachusetts.