Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meredith Wittmann named Regional Librarian

The Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) and Wisconsin Regional Library for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped (WRLBPH) announced today that Meredith Wittmann has been
named Regional Librarian. She will begin her new duties on January 5, 2009.

Wittmann, a native Milwaukeean who grew up in Cudahy, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Library and Information Science. She came to MPL in June 2007 from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) library. Wittmann has been the outreach librarian for WRLBPH since March 2008.

Wittmann replaces Marsha Valance, who retires from WRLBPH and MPL after 19 years of service on December 30.

Under a contract with the State Department of Public Instruction, MPL administers the WRLBPH, which provides services statewide to those who are blind, visually impaired or physically challenged to hold a book. WRLBPH services are free and require a doctor’s certification.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

UW-Madison supports Spectrum Scholar

ALA reports that the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Library and Information Studies will waive tuition for Omar Poler, a 2008 American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholarship winner.

Poler is pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science at Wisconsin, which first offered matching scholarships to Spectrum recipients in its graduate program in library and information studies in 1998. Wisconsin has supported past scholars in varying ways including: tuition wavers, conference support, special campus support and recognition as Spectrum scholars in the university’s publications.

Poler is a Mole Lake Sokaogon Ojibwe tribal member, who grew up in a small Anishinaabe community in northeastern Wisconsin’s Forest County. He graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in History. Poler hopes to combine an interest in academic librarianship with American Indian history and language––specifically in the service of Wisconsin’s various American Indian communities. He hopes to build skills to facilitate the communities’ ability to use information sources.

Wisconsin’s School of Library and Information Studies matching funds provide Spectrum Scholars with adequate financial assistance to pursue and finish their studies. Its effort to attract Spectrum Scholars demonstrates the importance of diversity as a value to the university.

For more information about the Spectrum Scholarship program, go to More information about UW-Madison SLIS can be found at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Call for WAPL Conference Proposals

The WAPL board is planning for next year’s spring conference, which will be held at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells May 6-8, 2009. Please consider submitting a program proposal. We’re looking for a wide variety of programs! The deadline to submit a proposal is December 1st.

Conference proposal forms can be found on the 2009 WAPL Conference Site and should be sent to Mary Dunn (

Sunday, November 09, 2008

WLA 2008: 1st Annual Book Cart Drill Team Competition

Just blogging about this session wouldn't do it justice, so for your entertainment a vlog.

Thanks for all who competed for ending my (and many others) 2008 WLA conference on a fun note.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

WLA 2008: Roadmap to the Future of Wisconsin Libraries

On May 5-6, 2008 over 100 key library leaders and advocates from across the state came together to discuss the future of Wisconsin Libraries. From that visioning summit came the COLAND Beginnings Report on the Future of Wisconsin Libraries, 2008-2018. This session, presented by Kathy Pletcher (Associate Provost for Information Services at UW-Green Bay) and Rick Grobschmidt (Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning, Department of Public Instruction), reviewed the outcomes from that summit and gave those in attendance an chance to react to the vision, values, strategic directions, and tactics for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries.

I encourage those who haven't read the Beginnings Report to do so because there is so much more detail in that report than I could provide this is blog report on the session. I will provide you with the basics and some of the reactions in the session.

Vision for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
Wisconsin libraries sustain educational development and economic prosperity by:
  • offering rich opportunities for individual development
  • teaching literacies to succeed in today's knowledge-based economy
  • serving as the "anchor store" for community development
  • preserving our cultural heritage
Values for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries - Wisconsin citizens value:
  • Access to educational, informational, health, economic and workforce development resources that strengthen families and communities as well as the "bottom line";
  • 21st century literacies and lifelong learning across all populations, cultural groups and economic strata;
  • Libraries of all types as information and problem solving centers of every community;
  • Universal and free access to information to help close the digital divide;
  • Librarians who are passionate and engaged deeply with their communities;
  • Partnerships in sharing resources and information across communities;
  • Librarians who are politically aware and involved - in touch with stakeholders and constituents, advocating to policy makers.
Strategic Directions for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
  • One card - any library
  • Robust Bandwidth
  • Libraries as "anchor store"
  • Universal literacies in all forms
  • Embedded librarians
Tactics for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
  • Collaborations
  • Strategic communication
  • Funding
  • Professional Development
Reactions to all of this by audience was favorable. Much of the conversation revolved around the strategic directions. One person noted that fun had been left, that libraries are also the place that people turn to for entertainment. Another noted that it was also a place for culture and specifically a place where one can experience culture such as an art exhibit or poetry reading.

The One Card - any library direction was favorable received though there was a concern about smaller libraries not losing their identity if there was just one card design. There where a few other issues about implementation of this, but we were reminded that this is what we want to achieve in the future, that it is something to work towards, and it is understood that it won't happen over night. One participant likened it to having a Visa card for different banks, but accepted and processed worldwide.

The strategic direction regarding libraries as anchor stores was also talked about in some length, with one participant suggesting that it should be "the library is the heart of the community." Someone else suggested that anchor store can also mean that the library is a place where information is housed and not necessarily about selling things.

It was nice to see so many people, from different libraries and years of experience, giving their input and reaction. As one person noted she was renewed knowing so many cared about the future. Again, I encourage you to read the full report for yourself and to share any comments you may have on the COLAND Visioning Summit blog at

WLA 2008: The Role of Digitization in Enhancing Knowledge Discovery

Krystyna Matusiak from UW-Milwaukee Libraries presented a session on how the UWM libraries have gone about creating their digital collection. She provided the attendees with a number of tips, suggestions, and lessons learned.

The UW Libraries digital collection is comprised of 16 different collections, 35,000 objects that include photos (slides, prints, negatives), maps and text (yearbooks, monographs, manuscripts).

Strategies in Collection Building:
  • Single source collections
    • an entire collection is converted
    • works better with small collections
  • Selected by format
    • such as all maps or all photos
    • tip: if you are digitizing photos you might not to do everyone of them if there are photos that very similar
    • because this way makes sense it is often the chosen method
  • Hybrid projects
    • item are selected from several source collections
    • multiple formats integrated into one collection
    • this method is most popular with the user because it is based on a topic
Benefits of Digitization
  • Access
    • overcomes geographic and time boundaries
    • allows for access to rare collections
    • enables access to inaccessible formats such as film negatives
  • New ways of interaction with digital objects
    • full text searching
    • enhanced viewing
  • Preservation reformatting
    • reduction in handling of fragile or rare materials
    • preserving the content of deteriorating analog formats
Enhancing Knowledge Discovery
  • Provide an intellectual framework
    • theme
    • geographic location
    • time
  • Expand intellectual control
    • provide description of visual resources
    • assign subject terms
    • gather related images by categories
    • offer new pathways in resource discovery
  • Bring together disperse materials
  • Integrate multiple formats
Providing Contextual Information
  • provided a description of the item
  • point to related resources
Enhance traditional library roles
  • Is digitization just a conversion process?
  • Provide new sources for humanities scholarship
  • Bring together disperse materials
  • Expand intellectual control and enable findability
Create a New Model
  • Explore the potential of digital libraries
  • Address the information seeking behavior and learning styles of a digital generation
  • Create a new model for assisting and engaging users
  • Digital libraries tend to decontextualize information
  • Design of digital library systems
  • Balance between authority and user-oriented environment
  • Acceptance of users' active role and input
  • Collaboration with teachers, faculty, and subject experts
  • Resources

WLA 2008: Marketing as a Team Sport

One of the conference featured speakers, Peggy Barber, presented the session "Marketing as a Team Sport". This well attended session provided a great deal of information that every library could and should use.

Peggy was very kind to provide WLA with a PDF of her handout, so if you were unable to attend the session you can find a good deal of the information she presented to us online at:
I will just provide a few of the added tips that she gave to those in attendance.

One of the key items that was talked about in the session was the communication plan. This plan should be a couple of page long and should plan for no more than a year out. The plan should consist of the following:
  • Introduction
    • how does the communication plan relate to the strategic plan?
  • Goals
    • the dream, this can just be one big goal
  • Objectives
    • should measurable/doable. Again start with a one year plan so that you can achieve your goal.
  • Positioning statement
    • this is your unique selling proposition, for example "our library combine big city service with small town friendliness. This is the point where you can begin to develop your brand.
  • Key message
    • what is the most important thing you want people to know about your library?
  • Target audiences
    • who needs to hear the message?
    • make sure that entire staff can talk about the message
  • Communication strategies
    • How will you deliver the message to your audiences?
  • Evaluation
    • don't wait for the year to end, evaluate as you go.
    • the entire staff should participate in this step as well
Peggy ended with pointing out that marketing has to start in every library.

WLA 2008: Keeping it all Together: One Library's Strategy for Electronic Resource Management

Bill Doering from UW-La Crosse Murphy Library presented on the Access database that he created to manage the increasing number of licensed electronic resources. The database tracks everything from vendor contacts, passwords, journal subscriptions to database payment information and much more.

Bill started off reviewing what an ERMs (Electronic Resource Managment Systems) is and they can do for you:
  • Provide contact information when a product is down.
  • Help you keep track of what e-resources will be up for renewal.
  • Help you to forecast e-resources expenditures for the next year.
  • Provide you with cost over time for a product
Because commercial ERMs can cost tens of thousands he decided to build one for UW-La Crosse and has made it available to any library to download for free. It can be downloaded at The web site includes a download for the current version and instructions. Bill only asks that you let him know that you will be using it so that he can send you monthly updates.

Access ERM will allow you to:
  • Retrieve information by
    • vendor /contacts
    • database /cost history
    • alternate access
    • problems with the database
  • Reports for
    • renewals for a date range
    • year to year price comparison
    • payments for the e-resource
    • payments
    • database uses for a fiscal year
The database is a great start for managing e-resources if you don't have lots of money to throw at a commercial product.

Wii? Wheee!

A fine time was had by all at the WLA Foundation fundraiser, Wee? Wii? Que??...Gaming! Participants had the chance to play Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Wii bowling, and something called DDR that made me tired just to look at it. I got to try Wii bowling and Guitar Hero for the first time (under the expert and patient tutelage of some of my younger colleagues) and had loads o' fun -- while still getting trounced.

Music was provided by the fabulous Mississippi Blue -- the talented David Polodna and Mike Obmascher playing great tunes of their own plus covers of some old favorites. I especially enjoyed hearing "Pocahontas," an old Neil Young song that no one remembers except me and Mississippi Blue.

Thanks to the Foundation, the sponsors of the event, and all the fun folks who played.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

WLA 2008: Discussing Leadership: An Open Forum with Library Directors

A panel discussion by Peter Gilbert (Director of Seeley G. Mudd Library), Carrie Kruse (Director of College Library, UW-Madison) and Lysianne Unruh (Director, Mount Horeb Public Library). Moderated by Anna Lewis (UW-Madison).

This, standing room only, session was a started off my the moderator Anna Lewis who asked the panel to share how participants ended up in the leadership roles they are in today and what the best piece of advice they were given. While their career paths are interesting, all English majors turned librarians, I won't take space here for that, but rather share the advice they were given.

Peter Gilbert:
  • Appear to be judicious regardless of how you feel.
  • Do a twice daily walk around the building.
  • Say "It will be ok."
  • Listen to staff more than you talk.
  • Lead by example.
Lysianne Unruh:
  • Believe in the good, that people are doing their very best.
  • Hire good people.
  • Learn to let go - Use the 80/20 rule. Do the 20% that you can't give up, delegate the rest.
  • Get involved in the community.
Carrie Kruse:
  • Be authentic and passionate about your work.
The panel and audience shared tips for helping staff deal with change:
  • Try to figure out what the root of the fear is and work on that.
  • Bring your enthusiasm to the issue and it will help others deal with the change.
  • Remind those at the opposite ends of change that they need to be understand of those at the other end. If someone is pushing for change they should be reminded that some people don't change at the same pace. If someone is fighting change remind them that there are some that have a desire to try something new and different.
  • Be clear and upfront about change.
  • Offer continuing education opportunities.
  • A function of leadership is to "sell" change.
Managing your boss tips:
  • Get involved in your community where you can work as a colleague of some of your board members. It takes time, but it build good will.
  • Find out what your supervisor is interested in and feed them research and information. Make yourself valuable.
  • Make sure that you are seeing the bigger picture.
  • Don't ever let them be surprised by something.
Qualities in Hires and Tips for Retaining Staff
  • Attitude and enthusiasm, skills can be taught.
  • Is this the job the person really wants to do or is it just a job?
  • With each opening look for ways to reorganize and change tasks for people. Tap their skills and strengths.
The best advice I took way from this session was that leadership takes a lot of listening and communicating. There was a lot of participation by the audience and I am sure that others took away something different so I invite those that attended to comment with what they took away from the session.

WLA 2008: The Cross Generational Workforce

My first session of the 2008 conference was The Cross Generational Workforce presented by Rachel Singer Gordon, author of The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide. Rachel started off her presentation telling a family story about how one day her husband was given an egg on a plate of pasta. Not sure why he was given egg he asked his mother "why an egg?" The response (not an explanation) was "Everybody likes an egg". Now while this story brought back memories of my Italian family and the many times I got an egg, the point was that we often do things without knowing why and that even when someone asks why respond with "Everybody Likes an Egg". This was the first of many things that hit home for me during this well paced and presented session.

The session was about how we can all work across generations. We need to start with the idea that while we have the generational boxes:
  • Veterans (1922-45)
  • Boomers (1946-64)
  • Generation X (1965-78)
  • Millennials (1979-2000)
we need to understand that none of us fit exactly into one of these boxes and that we should value that we grew up with different experiences.

Generational issues are touchy issues, but are important to talk about because they:
  • can lead to conflict
  • intersect our changing profession
  • affect succession planning
Much of what Rachel presented to us seemed like common sense and were things that we have been told since we were kids, but yet we need to hear them again. She reminded us that it is important to look at our own assumptions, to seek out colleagues at all levels (we can be clickish), and to be professional and consider how we treat each other.

Rachel pointed out that we have a changing profession and that we should make sure that we innovate or we are at risk of fading away. Relating the example of Polaroid, not changing when digital photography started to loom on the horizon leading to their downfall, Rachel suggested that we consider flattened management structures (participatory management) and that we should sit down with various levels of people in our organizations (especially newer people) to see what they think about how we could be doing things differently.

With our changing profession and the fact that 58% of librarians will turn 65 by 2019, we need to start thinking about succession planning. We don't know when this 58% will retire, but it will happen in a wave and we need to start planning. We need to think about it when we are hiring staff and we need to think about it in the retention of our current staff. Many comments that Rachel received in her survey was that NexGens were leaving their positions because they feel that their talents aren't valued and that their knowledge is discounted.

So how do you do it? How do you keep these talented people? Create a healthy workplace for ALL staff, encourage people to work together, and get input from multiple groups. One of the most basic answers is something that we have been taught as young child "Treat others as you want them to treat you." If you treat people well they are more likely to stay. Consider vertical teams for projects. If you create opportunities for people to work together then people are exposed to the strengths of each other and it creates opportunities for people to lead.

The session was concluded with the idea that each librarian, new or experiences, old or young, brings valuable experiences, perspectives and skills to the organization. Something that we should all remember.

Additional selected resources:

For Further Reading
  • Bennis, Warren G. and Robert J. Thomas. Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders. Boston: HBS, 2002.
  • Gordon, Rachel Singer. The Accidental Library Manager. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc. 2005.
  • ---. The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2006.
  • Young, Arthur, Peter Hernon, and Ronald Powell. "What Will Gen Next Need to Lead?" American Libraries May 2004: 32-5.
  • Young, Arthur and Steve Casburn. "Gen X Bites Back. American Libraries Sept. 2004: 43-5.

WLA 2008: Genealogy and Local History Resources at the Wisconsin Historical Society

A presentation by Rick Pifer, Director of Reference and Public Services, Library/Archives Division, Wisconsin Historical Society.

Richard Pifer said about genealogy info at WHS, "Start with the premise that yep, we have it."

Range of resources available at the WHS -- a paper trail of cradle to grave records created about people:
  • Births: registrations, baptismal records, announcement in newspapers
  • Childhood records: school records, attendance records from rural schoolhouses, school census
  • Marriage records: newspaper announcements
  • Property records - deeds (most are in the county Register of Deeds office)
  • Tax records - assessment rolls & tax rolls for 19th & 20th century
  • Census
  • Divorce records - through the Circuit Court case files (date range varies on the county which provides the records)
  • Prison records
  • Naturalization records - 19th century to 1980's
  • Death registration, church burial records, newspaper obituary, probate records, wills, probate case files
WHS has genealogy info on:
  • Wisconsin
  • U.S.
  • Canada
Local history records:
  • local histories
  • newspapers - huge collection, perhaps 2nd only to the Library of Congress; largest Native American newspaper collection in the country; largest African American newspaper collection in the country
  • personal papers
  • organization records
  • maps
  • photographs
The Peshtigo Fire
  • personal correspondence
  • birds-eye maps of before & after the fire
  • Harper's Weekly newspaper articles about the fire
  • photos (also available online)
Finding info and records:
  • genealogical information is geographically based
  • local history information is geographically based
  • combine place names with type of record
  • Use Madcat to search for surname + the word family as a way to search for info; a "sloppy" search like this will bring up lots of records, but Rick says "specificity is the enemy of finding what you want"
WHS web site:
  • Wisconsin Genealogy Index
  • links to Madcat and ARcat
Richard suggests this search strategy in Madcat:
Go to the guided search and start plugging in words; put in a placename (as a phrase) + type of record

ArCat (Archives Catalog)
Some finding aids or registers are available online; it's a volume-level listing of what's in a collection; tells you what's in a collection volume by volume and box by box

Research Portal

Finding newspapers = use Guided Search to enter placename + type of record
You can navigate through title changes, within the bibliographic record

Virtually everything found in ArCat can be transported closer to you or your patron at a local Area Research Center (ARC), except for photographs and maps

Map collection = paper-based card catalog is the only way to find out what's in the collection

Photo collection useful for local history, 45,000 images online, entire set of Wisconsin birds-eye photos

WHS is a partner with Google Books
  • the vast majority of WHS' family histories has been digitized
  • MadCat will eventually be linking to the Google Books digitized version of the book
  • copyright date affects whether the book is available full text, or snippet view
Interlibrary Loan is possible for works of local history that don't have genealogical content

WLA 2008: Constructing Questionnaires and Questions: It's Harder Than it Seems

This presentation by Thomas D. Walker (UW Milwaukee) covered the fundamentals of questionnaire construction.

Surveys are instruments to gather data for empirical analysis.

Some questionnaires can accidentally turn into "fishing expeditions", and ask too many questions.

There are three crucial tasks:
  • sampling the population
  • determining the medium - f2f 1 to 1, in groups, written form
  • designing the questionnaire
Advantages to written Questionnaires:
  • more cost effective than interviews, especially with large sample sizes or large regions
  • most cost effective medium for large numbers of questions
  • can be easier to analyze, depending on the construction of the questions; some aspects can be automated (#2 pencil)
  • are a familiar medium
  • can reduce bias associated with oral questionnaires
  • can be less instusive than oral surveys (more anonymous)
Disadvantages to written questionnaires:
  • lower response rates (equals lower confidence levels)
  • questions are usually very focused -- no elaborations are possible ("well yes, but ..." qualified answers aren't possible)
  • no visual cues (no body language observable by interviewer)
  • hard to know who's fillig it out
  • may not be suited to certain populations (jargon, reading level issues, language, etc.)
Developing a questionnaire:
  • Define:
  • what kind of info is required?
  • from whom do you need data?
  • Break down complex problems into very simple ones
  • should be introduced to let the respondent know what the purpose of the survey is, who will analyze it, and whether the results will be made public
  • should conclude by expressing appreciation
  • should be designed at a relatively early reading level
Good questions are...

Non-threatening questions...
  • seek truth on sensitive issues by using a clinical, anonymous distance
  • gain the confidence of the subject
  • do not lead in one direction or another
Seek one kind of info, not two or more:
"Are you satisfied with the hours and facilities of the library?"

If choices are provided, ensure they include all possibilities.
"Which of the following services do you use? -ILL - Reference -YA"

Offer mutually-exclusive choices; don't provide choices that overlap

Logical sequence
  • group questions logically
  • establish a logical flow within a group
  • possible characteristics: general to specific; positives versus negatives; time sequence
Rewording to validate
  • Some large-scale studies may benefit from the validation of data by means of question repetition
  • Most of the time, surveys we do aren't this large
Make no assumptions
"How satisfied are you with DPL's provision of access to large-scale bibliographic databases?"

Does not suggest an answer; doesn't lead the person to an answer

Avoid jargon and acronyms

Should not be tied to other questions; avoid especially in written questionnaires

Adhere to the Rule of 5
  • Likert scale 1 - 5
  • Rankings
Direct questions:
  • True / false
  • Multiple choice
  • Likert scale
  • Ranking
Advantages to direct/closed questions:
  • easy to answer
  • easy to code
  • responses are uniform
  • success of closed quesitons depends on the quality of the questions
  • Likert scale
  • spectrum between two poles
Open-ended questions
  • unstructured
  • sentence completion
  • word association
Advantages of open-ended questions:
  • more flexible
  • richer data (hard to analyze)
  • may lead to other variables (other questions you want to ask in a future questionnaire)
Disadvantages of open-ended questions:
  • hard to code/analyze
  • statements assuring confidentiality are desirable and may be required
  • inform respondents that thier responses are voluntary and their anonymity is assured
  • if children are involved in any way, extra precautions must be taken
Question order:
  • don't start with sensitive questions
  • lead logically and unthreateningly to sensitive questions
  • request demographic data at the end
Return rates from online surveys of distance education students are dismally low.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The sun always shines on the WLA Conference

It's a gorgeous day in Middleton as people start gathering for the WLA conference. I just sat in on the WLA Board meeting (I know -- glutton for punishment) and was impressed, as always, with the work of the board and the WLA staff. A tip: make sure you attend the WLA business meeting on Thursday afternoon so you can hear Phyllis' ALA Councilor's report.

Cheryl gave a good report of the attendance for the conference and some of the interesting things that will be going on. Conference committee members will be wearing green wristbands; keep an eye out for one if you have questions.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ALA encourages you to participate in Presidential debates

ALA President Jim Rettig reminds ALA members to submit questions to the Commission on Presidential debates via a new Web site, This site will become available in the days leading up to the first Presidential debate on September 26. The more questions submitted, the more likely a library question will be asked. This is an opportunity for the library voice to become an important part of the 2008 Presidential election.

On Tuesday, October 7, one of the three 2008 Presidential debates between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain will be held at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. This debate will be a town hall format moderated by Tom Brokaw. The moderator will call on members of the audience as well as select questions submitted online. You can make a difference!

Milwaukee's proposed budget includes library cuts

Calling it the "toughest budget we have ever faced," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett presented a budget this morning with $20 million in spending cuts and the elimination of 180 full-time positions, according to a report in Among other cuts, the budget would require closing two libraries, cutting two fire companies and 56 police officers. Barrett also presented an alternative, "preferred" budget that included a 4.8 percent increase in fees and property taxes for the average homeowner. With the fee increase, there would still be $13 million in cuts, but no library closures, though hours would be reduced. His preferred budget also would freeze cost of living adjustments for managers, eliminate 100 positions, trim $1.5 million from the library system and reduce some public works services. While there are many cuts, his preferred budget also includes a $5.4 million increase for street maintenance, $1 million for the Villard Street library improvement project, $325,000 for a youth jobs program and $2 million for an automated materials processing and checkout system for the Central Library.

Business of Childen's Publishing program at Carthage College Oct. 17-18

The Center for Children’s Literature at Carthage College in Kenosha will present an inside look at “The Business of Children’s Publishing,” October 17th and 18th, Hedberg Library, 9am to 2pm. This year’s program features: Publisher Dinah Stevenson, Marketing Manager Jason Wells, Agent George Nicholson, Editor Susan Pearson, Art Director Marijka Kostiw.

For more information, contact John Warren Stewig, Director, Center for Children's Literature, Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140, (262)-552-5480.

First Lady invites libraries to participate in statewide book club

Read On Wisconsin, the brainchild of First Lady Jessica Doyle, is a statewide book club for students and book-lovers across the state. Mrs. Doyle invites libraries to get involved in Read On by encouraging children to read the recommended books, then discuss and blog about them. This year’s top picks are recommended by students and educators across the state. Online tools and a book list for each age group are available at

ALA launches Web site upgrade

ALA reports that it has launched its new, more user-centered Web site. The upgrade is the result of a two-year, member-driven redesign process. For more information, click Visibility @ your library provides librarians and library supporters with news and information about important communications issues from ALA’s Public Information Office and the Campaign for America’s Libraries.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

UW-Madison libraries adapt to changing student habits

Libraries at UW-Madison have added space for student seating, better views - and at College Library, even a coffee shop - in order to meet changing student research and study habits, according to news reports. Articles in the Wisconsin State Journal and Chicago Tribune discuss trends in campus libraries, which UW-Libraries director Ken Frazier says also result from the availability of information in digital form.

Lab Safety moves Highsmith operations to Janesville

The Capital Times reports on September 5 that Lab Safety Supply of Janesville, which acquired Highsmith in July, will close the Fort Atkinson plant this fall and eliminate 86 jobs, moving the remainder of approximately 200 positions to Janesville. Highsmith, founded in 1956, distributes supplies, furniture and equipment to all types of libraries and schools. Lab Safety officials say they intend to build upon Highsmith's solid brand position. The company has also been a generous sponsor of ALA and WLA programs and activities, including the WLA Foundation's Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Janesville library director will host five school librarians from Russia

Bryan McCormick, director at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, will host five school librarians from the Chuvashia region of Russia on September 28 to October 5 through Open World, which brings emerging leaders to the U.S. to learn more about the country, its democratic institutions and free-market economy. After spending three days in Washington, D.C., the librarians will come to Janesville to tour school libraries and businesses in the area, visit the State Capitol and take in cultural activities. There will be a public open house for the visitors at Hedberg Public Library Monday, September 29.

A federal program, Open World was set up in 1999 as a Russian-U.S. exchange pilot program administered by the Library of Congress. Since then, Congress has expanded Open World to operate in all countries. McCormick first got involved with Open World in 2003 when he was in Fairmont, MN. In 2004, he hosted a group of librarians, including a woman who became his wife in 2006! On July 30, 2008, Bryan won an award as an Outstanding Wisconsin Host.

Friday, August 22, 2008

E-government services: what's best library response?

A blog posting by Retiring Guy (aka Paul Nelson) shares information about a Florida Study on e-government and libraries and notes that challenges facing Wisconsin libraries are similar to those detailed in the study. The study, summarized in a posting, recommends more staff training, direct support for libraries as providers of e-government services and resources from local, state, and national governments, and collaboration between libraries and government agencies on the design and implementation of e-government services.

Here in Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue is working with public libraries and systems to significantly reduce filing of paper tax forms by encouraging online filings at public access computers. Paul mentions that the Department of Workforce Development may be open to working with libraries on a redesigned jobs website and job assistance resources.

Read the full posting at Retiring Guy's Digest.

Madison's tight budget forces it to look at library cuts

While news reports are that Mayor Dave Cieselewicz doesn't want to close the Monroe Street Branch of the Madison Public Library, that's one of the options as he faces tough budget decisions. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, all departments were asked to submit both a baseline budget and one trimming that by five percent. The Library Board voted to include the closure as a way of reducing their baseline request. Read more about neighborhood reaction and budget issues facing the city of Madison.

WI Public Library Consortium wins Digital Pioneer Award

The Wisconsin Public Library Consortium was recognized for innovation and excellence in leading technologies for authentication for member libraries at Digipalooza '08. Digipalooza is a national library user conference sponsored by library vendors with a focus this year on online community building and advancing download technology. Read the complete story, which includes a list of all 13 winners of "Digies" and conference sponsors.

Milwaukee Public Library faces budget challenge

Milwaukee's city budget director, Mark Nicolini, says final decisions have not been made, but libraries will lose funding in 2009. A report by Milwaukee Public Radio says that some concerned citizens are collecting signatures to petition to save neighborhood branches. City officials say national economic woes are affecting Milwaukee and requiring cuts of four to five percent, and there are not many positive alternatives.

Read the transcript of the full report by WUWM-FM.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rhinelander library's circulation increases 3 percent

Continuing a string of articles around the state about booming business at libraries, the Rhinelander Daily News reported that Rhinelander District Library circulation is up 3 percent from last year. The article also describes how support from the Bump Art Collection fund, the Northern Arts Council, and Rhinelander Library Foundation, among others, has allowed the library to feature author visits and develop special collections. The library was the 2005 WLA Library of the Year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Library "whirlwind of information and convenience"

Marathon County Public Library's traffic has grown 3.5 percent during the past year, according to a report on WSAW Channel 7. Touting wireless Internet, self-check, and a new drive-through window, director Phyllis Christenson also notes that rising fuel costs prompt many people to find resources and fun close to home. The Wausau Daily Herald also published a July 25 article about technology's impact on library service.

News Flash: Libraries are busy places!

The libraries of Fond du Lac, North Fond du Lac and Horicon are praised as hip and happening places to be in yet another news report about how popular library services are these days. It's not your father's library, claims the Fond du Lac Reporter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Waukesha County system proposes new funding formula

Waukesha County proposes to disburse funding to county libraries based in part on each library's service to residents outside its municipal borders. The change would mean an increase in funding for some libraries, while others with less service to out-of-towners would likely see a decrease in funding. Reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 15 and July 18 describe the plan, which seems to have received mostly cautious, if mixed, reactions from Waukesha County libraries.

Fox Lake library accessibility ordered; new building project advances

According to the Daily Reporter, the Fox Lake Public Library will be required to make accessibility upgrades to its existing library, even while it plans to launch a fund raising campaign and unveil renderings for a new library in mid-August. Though needed accessibility modifications could have cost up to $80,000, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will require spending only about $25,000 to address the most serious violations.

Monday, July 21, 2008

RFID in Wisconsin libraries

Despite its high cost, several Wisconsin libraries are moving to RFID as a way of cutting staff time needed for materials handling, either leading to reduced staff or enabling existing staff to serve patrons directly. A July 19 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article describes the experience of New Berlin, West Allis, and Greenfield, among others, who have RFID or are exploring their options.

Friday, July 18, 2008

National Center for Education Statistics reports on academic libraries

The NCES has released "Academic Libraries: 2006 First Look," a statistical profile of the libraries serving postsecondary, two- and four-year degree-granting institutions throughout the U.S. The report includes information on services, collections, staff, revenue, and expenditures. The full report, including supplemental tables, is available at:
The public-use data file is available at:
For information about obtaining a restricted-use data license to use the 2006 ALS restricted-use data: .
For more information about this survey, please go to the Library Statistics Program home page at
The DLTCL Electronic Newsletter
Volume 10, Number 38 - July 17, 2008
Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Appleton takes another step toward new library

The Appleton Public Library board voted 6-0 to endorse a consultant's recommendation to build a 138,000-square-foot library in the downtown area, according to a July 15 article in the Appleton Post-Crescent. Terry Dawson, library director, and other officials noted that other options provided in the report have not been ruled out.

OCLC study: connection between perception of libraries and support for funding

OCLC was awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore attitudes and perceptions about library funding and to evaluate the potential of a large-scale marketing and advocacy campaign to increase public library funding in the U.S. The findings of this research are now available in the OCLC report, From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America. Though this study was based on data from the United States, there are findings in the report that could be applicable to any library seeking to understand the connections between public perceptions and library support.

Among the findings from the report:
--Library funding support is only marginally related to library visitation
--Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support
--Voters who see the library as a 'transformational' force as opposed to an 'informational' source are more likely to increase taxes in its support
--The report suggests that targeting marketing messages to the right segments of the voting public is key to driving increased support for U.S. public libraries.

Internet increases public use of libraries

An article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that library use has increased since the advent of the Internet, contrary to fears that it would bring the library's demise. Brown County Library Director Lynn Stainbrook says that her library has seen a steady increase in demand since 1993. "Libraries are being used more now than the pre-Internet days," Stainbrook said. "Libraries help to conquer the digital divide — between those who have computers and those who don't. All indications are that libraries are going to thrive in the digital age."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Beloit Public Library project launched

Beloit Public Library and community officials held a ground breaking ceremony Wednesday, July 10 for a new 55,000-square foot library to be constructed in a former JC Penney's building. According to the Beloit Daily News, the new library is expected to open in spring 2009.

Racine Public Library faces financial bind

Two related articles in the Racine Journal Times describe financial challenges facing Racine Public Library. According to Jessica MacPhail, library director, quoted in the July 5 Journal Times article, "We've cut staff. We've cut materials. We've cut hours. There's nothing left to cut." Read more about it in the July 5 and the July 6 issues of the Journal Times.

Highsmith Acquired by Lab Safety

According to MarketWatch, part of the Wall Street Journal's Digital Network, Highsmith, Inc. of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, has been acquired by Lab Safety, Inc., a direct marketing subsidiary of W.W. Grainger, Inc. Highsmith is a distributor of supplies, furniture and equipment to all types of libraries in the U.S. and abroad.

Larry Loizzo, President of Lab Safety Supply, said his company plans to build upon the strong Highsmith brand as part of their specialty catalog group.

For many years, Highsmith has supported ALA and state library association initiatives, including programs of the WLA and WLA Foundation. Highsmith sponsors the WLA/Highsmith Award at WLA's annual Awards & Honors banquet, providing $1,000 to a library who has developed an innovative service. In 2007, Highsmith became a Leadership Partner of the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries, a program of the WLA Foundation, and provided cash and in-kind contributions totalling more than $12,000.

Friday, June 20, 2008

DPI reports on public libraries affected by flooding

From DPI's Channel Weekly (Vol. 10, No. 35 - June 19, 2008):
Public libraries throughout southern Wisconsin were affected by the record rainfall and consequential flooding this month. The following is a non-exhaustive summary of some of the libraries damaged or affected by the flooding.

In Columbia County:
-- The Columbus Public Library had flooding in its basement that did not damage the children’s collection. The library has served as an information and resource point for flooding in the community, including distribution of water test kits, FEMA information, sandbag availability, even buckets for cleanup.
-- The Angie W. Cox Public Library in Pardeeville had both flood waters and sewage backup in the basement that closed the building temporarily.

In Crawford County:
-- The Gays Mills Public Library, having avoided last August's floods, sustained damage to its floor from flood waters. It is closed until flood damage can be repaired.

In Grant County:
-- The new Potosi Branch of Lancaster's Schreiner Memorial Library sustained considerable flood damage to the building and collection. The facility is closed indefinitely.

In Richland County:
-- The Viola Public Library was surrounded by floodwaters, but was not damaged. Some library materials at the post office were damaged from flooding there.

In Sauk County:
-- The LaValle Public Library sustained substantial damage to both the collection and building. When it will reopen is unknown.
-- The North Freedom Public Library was closed for lack of access but sustained little damage.
-- The Kraemer Library & Community Center in Plain sustained flood damage and is currently closed for repairs and carpet replacement.
-- Reedsburg Public Library was closed temporarily because of encroaching waters but opened to provide Internet service to the community when the telephone utility was flooded and no other Internet was available with the exception of the TEACH subsidized lines to the library.
-- The Rock Springs Public Library had flooding that damaged some of the collection on lower shelves. Portions of the collection were relocated and the library is still closed.

Wisconsin flood recovery and other emergency information can be obtained from as well as the following American Library Association site: .

Libraries & others launch Fox Cities Passport to Nature

In collaboration with libraries and inspired by Richard Louv's book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," Debbie Nowak at 1000 Islands Environmental Center in Kaukauna has created a program to get families and kids excited about outdoor activities. The Fox Cities Passport to Nature program is a collaboration with libraries, park and recreation departments, and area nature centers. More at

RR Donnelley Literary Award Announced

The Literary Awards Committee of the Readers’ Section has chosen "The Ghost Mountain Boys: their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea—the Forgotten War of the South Pacific" by James Campbell as the winner of the RR Donnelley Literary Award, given for the highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author in 2007. Ghost Mountain Boys tells the harrowing story of the 32nd Division’s WWII battle to prevent New Guinea from falling into Japanese hands. The book tells the tale of National Guardsmen whisked from the temperate Midwest and dropped into the dense jungles of New Guinea with little training and with equipment unequal to the task ahead. Through Campbell’s words the reader sees the dramatic and often deadly consequence of poor planning, indecisiveness and ego on both sides of the campaign. The RR Donnelley Literary Award is made possible by RR Donnelley Company of Chicago, IL through a grant to the WLA Foundation.

Two authors were chosen for their body of work as Notable Wisconsin Authors. Larry Watson is the author of multiple fiction titles, including White Crosses, Montana 1948, and Orchard. Also honored is Edward Heth, whose best known works include My Life on Earth and Wisconsin Country Cookbook and Journal.

2008 Outstanding Achievement awards for 2007 titles include the following ten titles by Wisconsin authors. They are:

John Gurda, "Cream City Chronicles: Stories of Milwaukee’s Past"
Douglas Jacobson, "Night of Flames"
Jesse Lee Kercheval, "The Alice Stories"
Martha Kimes, "Ivy Briefs: True Tales of a Neurotic Law Student"
Thomas Maltman, "Night Birds"
Gregg Mitman, "Breathing Space: how Allergies Shape our Lives and Landscapes"
Benjamin Percy, "Refresh, Refresh: Stories"
Jeremy Scahill, "Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army"
Susan Vreeland, "Luncheon of the Boating Party"
Larry Watson, "Sundown, Yellow Moon: a Novel"

2008 Outstanding Achievement in Poetry awards for 2007 titles include the following five titles:

Robin Chapman, "The Dreamer who Counted the Dead"
Anne-Marie Cusac, "Silkie: Poetry"
Andrea Potos, "Yaya’s Cloth"
Shoshauna Shy, "What the Postcard Didn’t Say"
William Stobb, "Nervous Systems"

The 2008 Literary Awards Committee members are: Ellen Jepson and Edell Schaefer (co-chairs), Jean Anderson, Susan Belsky, Molly Canary, Caroline Haskin, Brian Kopetsky, Deb Shapiro, and Deb Strelka.

Call for Submissions: Frances de Usabel Outreach Services Award

The Outreach Services Round Table is the proud sponsor of the Frances de Usabel Outreach Services Award. The award is presented annually to a “library or librarian who has provided exemplary library outreach services to underserved populations.” The award may be for a specific project or projects or for outstanding lifetime achievement in outreach services.
Public, academic, school or special libraries and librarians are all eligible and encouraged to apply for this award. Nominees should be members of the Wisconsin Library Association but need not be members of the Outreach Services Round Table. The amount of the award is $500. The award will be presented during the Award Ceremony at the WLA Annual Conference in November. For more about the award or an application (due August 1) go to

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Report recommends reductions in Common School Fund deposits

The state's Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recommends that most of the approximately $50 million that is deposited into the Common School Fund from the unclaimed property program be placed instead in the State's General Fund. The LAB's review of the Office of the State Treasurer's administration of the $354 million unclaimed property program makes recommendations regarding internal controls, though it found those to be reasonable, and policy issues. Specifically, they recommend narrowing the definition of unclaimed property such that all but about 0.1 percent of proceeds would be deposited to the State's General Fund rather than into the Common School Fund where is it funds low-cost loans to municipalities and school library needs. They note that such a move would boost general purpose revenue in a time of budget constraints, but it is likely to be opposed on constitutional grounds by the State Treasurer and the trustees of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, administrators of the Common School Fund. (WLA and the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association also would oppose this change.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award announced

The Children's Book Award Committee has selected the 2008 Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla award winner, "Rabbit’s Gift: A Fable from China." Written by George Shannon and illustrated by Laura Dronzek, the book emphasizes the importance of friendship, community, and sharing. The warm, beautiful illustrations are a perfect complement to the story. Both the author and illustrator of this year’s book have significant Wisconsin ties. George Shannon lived in Eau Claire for many years, and Laura Dronzek lives in Madison.

The committee also named seven titles as exemplary of Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Literature:

"The Silenced" by James DeVita
"The Perfect Nest" by Catherine Friend
"The OK Book" illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
"Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee!" Written and illustrated by Susan L. Roth
"Terrible Storm" illustrated by S.D. Schindler
"Circle the Truth" by Pat Schmatz
"Keeping Corner" by Kashmira Sheth

The Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla award is given annually for excellence in children’s literature to a book by a book creator with Wisconsin ties. The award is named for Elizabeth Burr, who made outstanding and important contributions to library services for young people during her 27 years of service in Wisconsin, and Worzalla Publishing Company, which funds the award through a grant to the WLA Foundation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Librarians urged: remind parents about "summer slide"

School Library Journal, 6/2/2008, urges librarians to remind parents that an average student who doesn't read or engage in other learning opportunities can lose as much as 2.5 months of learning over the summer. The article mentions that the Institute for Museum and Library Services is touting this message and encouraging parents to take advantage of free and low-cost programs at museums and libraries. This includes, of course, the free summer library reading program which Wisconsin public libraries conduct so well! My local library already included this message in their materials.

Long live Google, but don't count on it

An interesting take on "The Library in the Digital Age" appeared in June 12 issue of The New York Review of Books. The author, Robert Darnton, argues that rather than characterizing our own era as The Information Age, we should consider that "every age was an age of information, each in its own way, and that information has always been unstable." It is because of information's inherent instability - no matter the format - that the library, and in particular he is talking about the research library, must be sustained. "Long live Google," he says, "but don't count on it living long enough to replace that venerable building with the Corinthian columns."

Gaming and Web 2.0 in libraries get media attention

Features in the Madison Capital Times and another in Governing magazine are the most recent exploration of libraries as places going beyond their "books" brand, where you'll find people playing Nintendo Wii and other video games, searching the Internet, and yes, reading. ALA President Loriene Roy points out that books are still the top reason people go to libraries. But for the teen population, the social aspect of going to the library to game is increasing their visits.

A related article in Governing, "Revolution in the Stacks," discusses how some libraries are becoming places to create content, not just find content, as part of the Web 2.0 revolution. They refer to libraries that have turned their Web sites into blogs (like our very own Menasha Public!) and turned to retailers for best practices on arrangement of materials (bye, bye Dewey) and added services that position the library as the "third place."

What are you doing to create the "third place" in your community - whether that be an academic institution, small town or corporation?

Keeping your own private library

An article published May 31 in the Wall Street Journal discusses the idiosyncracies of early book collectors, including one who died trying to light a fire to keep his books from getting damp and another who arranged his books from smallest to largest, but created false bottoms painted like the spines in order to make them appear to be the same height. It makes my family's stacks of books strewn throughout the house look quite pedestrian. Tell us about your private library.

Monday, May 19, 2008

National Library Legislative Day 2008

National Library Legislative Day, May 13 and 14, 2008 - Wisconsin delegation

Why is it important to visit Washington and tell our federal elected officials about libraries? Because we are the ones with the information they need to make informed choices about upcoming legislation. Librarians, trustees, and Friends are not paid commercial lobbyists. We are not making money by “walking the halls of Congress” and speaking up for libraries. We represent satisfied patrons who also don’t benefit monetarily from libraries. We represent patrons who vote, and who want their Congressperson and Senator to vote in favor of library legislation. We are passionate about the importance of libraries. By making a trip to visit our elected officials on their home turf we underscore that importance to a high degree.

The American Library Association does a terrific job of preparing the delegation. A briefing was held on Monday for all the first-timers. On Tuesday, all-day briefings were held. We heard from Emily Sheketoff, ALA Washington office Executive Director, on the hot topics. This talk was especially timely, including up-to-the-minute updates on library issues. We heard from Congressional staffers, lobbyists, and the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters before lunch. The delegation met together at lunch to discuss the issues and plan our Congressional visits.

After lunch, we heard from Lisa Graves, the Deputy Director for the Center for National Security Studies, on National Security Letters and FISA reform. Two breakout sessions came next: either John Windhausen Jr., Esq. Telepoly Consulting, on Internet & Telecommunications, or Nathan Brown, Esq., Ropes & Gray, on E-Government, along with ALA staff. After a break, we heard from Jonathan Band, Esq., on copyright. ALA always does a great job of bringing in the movers and shakers, the folks who created the legislation and have testified before Congress.

We received handouts on all the topics. ALA prepares packets for all the delegates and their federal legislators, and the Department of Public Instruction prepares packets also, including state information such as E-rate discounts and LSTA grants received, by Congressional district. This year DPI included the report just released on the Economic Benefits of Public Libraries. ALA’s packets contained issue papers on all the topics important to libraries: FY2009 Appropriations; a sheet on Wisconsin’s LSTA funding; School Libraries (No Child Left Behind/the SKILLS Act); the 3rd edition of the Research Foundation Paper, “School Libraries Work!”; E-Government, Open Government, and Federal Depository Library Issues; Telecommunications and Broadband; E-rate and Universal Service Fund; Copyright; Privacy, National Security Letters & FISA Reform; a page on Economic Benefits of Libraries; and a sheet on Library Facts for Legislators. Find these handouts on ALA’s NLLD website here:

Bob Hafeman begins his four-year term next year as the Wisconsin Federal Relations Advocate so attended his first FLAN meeting – ALA’s Federal Library Advocacy Network. Each state has a FLAN coordinator who helps establish a network of library advocates. I work with WLA and WEMTA, as well as posting ALA’s legislative alerts to the statewide listservs.

The delegation met for dinner at Jaleo’s, a Spanish tapas restaurant within walking distance of the hotel, and everyone sampled several different delicious dishes.

Wednesday was the day of the visits. Bob Hafeman had contacted the legislators to set up the appointments, informing them of which members of the delegation were from their home districts. Sometimes there is nobody from the home district, but we visit anyway. We wear comfortable shoes and clothing, prepared for rain, heat, cold, and the security measures to enter the federal buildings. This year was the longest line I could remember. None of our delegation was stopped except for those with replaced knees.

A quick lunch was eaten in the basement of the Longworth Building, in a cafeteria with insufficient seating for the numbers of people trying to eat.

We continued our visits in the afternoon, personalizing library issues with our own stories as we met with knowledgeable legislative aides. We saw Congresswoman Gwen Moore in the hallway outside her office, and one of our delegation got to sit in her Congressman’s office at his own desk!

Finding the correct location of the Congressperson’s office often meant we walked past familiar Committees (Dennis Quaid was testifying at one hearing) and world-renowned office-holders, including all the Senators now running for the Presidency. It is truly a humbling experience, knowing that we citizens have open access to all those elected officials who are answerable to us voters.

During our visits, one of us filled out an evaluation form on each legislator for the top library issues. These evaluations are turned into ALA for their followup.

ALA holds a reception for the attendees with terrific food and wine after the visits; several of us were able to attend, although some of us had early flights home.

I have uploaded pictures onto Flickr (search under National Library Legislative Day 2008).

Start thinking now about visiting your Congressperson and Senators next year; NLLD 2009 will be held Monday and Tuesday May 11th and 12th, 2009. The American Library Association’s Washington office starts sending messages to the Wisconsin Federal Relations Advocate in the late fall. Book your hotel room and flight by January for the best price. You’ll be glad you did!

Jessica MacPhail, WLA Federal Relations Advocate

Friday, May 02, 2008

WAPL wrap-up

I've made an attempt at a complete list of blog posts about the 2008 WAPL conference, and posted it on the New Cybrary blog. If more postings show up in coming days, I'll try to update.

The list includes postings here, as well as on Tasha's Sites & Soundbytes, Michael's Notes from a Library Administrator, and Nichole's Auxiliary Storage.

Thanks to WLA, to WAPL, and to MATS for encouraging blogging!

WAPL - Closing Keynote

Rhonda Puntney introduced Dick Bennett using his comments over the phone about his children. His son is coach at Washington State, and his daughter was just named an assistant basketball coach at UW-Madison. He coached basketball at Eau Claire Memorial as well as UW-Stevens Point, UW-Green Bay, and took the Wisconsin basketball team to the Final Four in 2000.

He started his speech with his early connections to libraries, and his love of reading books. As a faltering high school student, a teacher got him started again on reading books like Mutiny on the Bounty so he got a degree in English as well as Physical Education. He actually wanted to teach more than coach. For the last 15 of his 40 years of coaching he felt a great deal of pressure, and the only way he could survive was to lock himself in a room with a good book.

When he retired, the first thing he did was get a new card. He got hooked on Cormac McCarthy among others. He really enjoys reading both fiction and non-fiction like Doris Kearns Goodwin, and McCullough's 1776. He finds parallels in history and his coaching style. Instead of focusing on winning, he (and George Washington) focused on "not losing" as the tactic.

He then spent time talking about his experiences coaching. He noted that Rhonda did not give his win/loss record. He noted that his role was to re-build basketball programs. He was hired on the heels of someone getting fired.

He closed with a letter written to him by his granddaughter. The letter from a 4-year old, asked him to try to be happy. A month after getting the letter, he announced his retirement. He had enjoyed the good times and lived through the bad times.

Dick graduated from Ripon College. Classmates include Harrison Ford and Al Jarreau.

WAPL - Have You Heard About ...

I blogged this program on my personal page. It does include at least one editorial comment. The quick way to see what was talked about is to visit the page set up for this presentation.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

WAPL 2008: MySpace - Don’t Be Intimidated By It! Can It Work For Your Library?

A presentation by Amanda Tuthill, Young Adult Librarian at Milwaukee Public Library

Overview of the process Milwaukee PL went through to create their MySpace presence:

Milwaukee PL MySpace time line:
Sep 2006:
Initial idea pitched
Info gathering stage

Nov 2006:
Formal proposal
Addressed safety concerns

March 2007:
Creation of test site [at this stage, one needed to be a friend of Milwaukee PL MySpace in order to see the beta design]
The MySpace page went through many, many design changes

May 2007:
Presentation to the Milwaukee PL Administrative Team
More info gathering
Asked other library systems who had a MySpace presence; asked about who controls site content at their libraries

Summer 2007:
Consulted with the city attorney

October 18, 2007:
Presentation made to the library board
Demonstrated how the MySpace page connects with the library’s mission and vision

October 19:
MySpace page went “live” at

Tips on setting up your own library's MySpace page:

Addressing concerns:
Teen online safety / DOPA
Content control – Milwaukee PL has set it so comments made by others require approval before they appear on the MySpace page
Ask other libraries how they're handling these issues

Favorite features of a MySpace page:
  • MPL lists all library teen events there, with links to the library’s web site
  • Amanda seeks out YA authors to “friend” on the library’s web site, so kids can start a conversation directly with authors via MySpace pages
Milwaukee PL includes a link to the library’s 24x7 chat ask-a-librarian service

They're working to get more teen-generated content posted on the MySpace page

Before you create a MySpace page for your library…
  • Have a clear purpose in mind
  • Think about who your audience will be
  • Decide who will be responsible for monitoring content
  • Decide who will be responsible for handling any issues regarding the MySpace page
  • How will you decide if what you’re doing is worth it?
  • Decide who you will choose to friend
    Other libraries?
    MPL doesn’t seek out teens to friend
    You don’t have to accept every friend request
Designing the page:
  • There are lots of free MySpace editor layout generators available free online; copy & paste the code
  • When determining the color scheme, teen input is crucial
  • Teen advisory boards are great for finding kids to be involved
  • Look at other libraries’ MySpace pages for ideas
On MySpace, image is everything; “Who wants to be friends with a 100-year-old building?”
Denver PL created an avatar to represent their institution
For schools attended, MPL lists all Milwaukee area schools, so their MySpace page can more easily be found by alumni

Getting the word out:
  • Don’t expect teens to be searching for you – do your best to be found
  • Bookmarks put in books written by authors who are friended by the MPL MySpace page (wow -- great idea!)
  • Highlight the MySpace page on the library’s web site
Trying new things like MySpace is a a three-step process:
  1. Get comfortable with it; wade in; get your feet wet; create a personal page for yourself to try it out; if you’re solidly on board, it will be easier to convince others to try it
  2. Keep swimming: once you know your way around; be ready to explain what you’re doing and why
  3. Dive in: you’re familiar with the waters; don’t be afraid to try the next big think if you think it’ll have a positive application for your library

WAPL - Continuing Education in Your Pajamas-New Technologies Bring New Opportunities

John DeBacher started with a great visual image for the title of the program. I saw him in the hall in advance to capture this photo...he actually wore this to the introduce the program.

The first presenter was Anna Palmer from the library school at UW-Madison. There are still three courses which require physical presence on campus. The electives can be done online. Courses are available before or after starting the program. If you register as a "special student" the cost is half the regular price.

The school offers continuing education courses including courses for the Library Director Certification Program. CED credits are cheaper and are graded on a pass/fail basis. They use the same software for CE and online courses. They use Desire to Learn (D2L) which is branded with Learn Wisconsin.

Anna demonstrated with a course called "Core Elements of Children's Services." [I have a close friend who has taught using D2L, and I have seen both the student and instructor side.] It is asynchronous teaching with assignments and deadlines. It is web based and very intuitive. There is technology support for both students and instructors. There is a phone help desk from 6 am to 1 am. It does require 56K connection, Windows 98 or better.

The University offers "Education to Go" classes are skill specific. Cost is $85, and there are about 75 courses offered. All are 6 weeks long and the start once a month. They are offered through an outside vendor. They do have interactive elements and some of the structure is similar to the D2L structure. It does have a final exam which is required to receive credits for the course.

Bob Bocher talked about the tools which DPI provides. Bob did not appear in pajamas (since he wears none). The product the state uses is from Sonic Fpundry called MediaSite. The tool synchronizes the view with the sound. It is real time, and it is archival. The site has about 15 presentations included on the site. It requires a specialized PC and camera to produce programs. The PC includes the software. It takes some time to train staff to do the technology issues to schedule and connect, plus uploading PowerPoint. It is helpful to have two people: one to present and one to run the hardware.

Bob showed a demonstration of an erate training program. The state has a license, and hosts them on their own site. For many other customers the vendor hosts the program. The program is not as flexible. There is no chat or other interactivity.

John DeBacher showed WebJunction. He particularly plugged the Rural Sustainability aspect of the project. It does require speakers/headphones and a microphone is good. (South Central found inexpensive ones for about $5.) John then logged into an archived presentation. He also whistled the theme from Jeopardy while it loaded. He then showed the courses section of the website. The state counts these opportunities as continuing education for certification purposes.

Jean Anderson from South Central Library System talked about OPAL. They have a site license for 50 people, but can ask Tom Peters for more space, and there is an auditorium which can host large crowds. She showed it on the large screen, including some input from staff back in Madison at the SCLS office.

WAPL - Continuing Education in Your Pajamas -- New Technologies Bring New Opportunities

John DeBacher -- in his pajamas -- provided an overview and reviewed the history of using technology for CE. There are different models, including two-way (synchronous or interactive) and asynchronous -- which might include program that are canned, queued up and can be experienced at leisure. Some presentations, as in OPAL, begin synchronous and become asynchronous. Interactive gets questions answered, asynchronous is available when convenient -- overcoming space-time problems.

Obstacles and disadvantages include distractions of the home environment, lack of interaction with peers that occurs at real conferences.

Anna Palmer, Outreach Specialist UW-SLIS - 3 options for online CE via SLIS website
  1. Graduate level courses - many electives classes are online, though three core courses still need to be taken in Madison - students can enroll as special students and try grad level classes online
  2. Continuing education - there are 7 or 8 classes each semester, 2 or 3 for director certification, 4 or 5 on a variety of electives - these are much cheaper than grad level classes, and are graded pass/fail -- she demonstrated "Core Elements of Children's Services" class using "Desire to Learn" software - weekly assignments, communication from instructor, and discussion section, similar to a threaded listserv or discussion board. Courses structured on a week by week basis. People are surprised how interactive the experience is and how well they get to know people. She has never had an instance where a student dropped because the software was difficult; she provides support as needed, as do instructors. Requires Windows 98, 56K connection, Internet Explorer recommended
  3. Education to Go: specific online technology skills class, $85, outside vendor 70 or 80 classes to choose from, six weeks long, begin monthly. Interactive with instructor, includes discussion area, final exam.
Bob Bocher, DPI -- Program MediaSite is licensed by state.
  • web-based multimedia training & presentation
  • synchronizes AV & graphics
  • real time & archival options
  • need MediaSite PC & camera
  • set-up takes 2 hours of initial training
  • demo available online
  • people can send questions to instructor - but not real chat
  • users can speed up or slow down presentation
  • not as interactive as OPAL, mutiple windows for video & slides
John DeBacher, DPI - WebJunction
  • started with early Gates PC rollout -- libraries needed instruction
  • OCLC provided as form for information exchange
  • did major renovation last year, but so much content that navigation or finding content can be difficult
  • Association of Rural & Small Libraries has moved their content to WebJunction
  • Webinars -- soundbytes, one hour blocks usually eligible for CE: might want to register in advance -- they send email reminders, instructions for joining are online.
  • Many archived webinars, particularly related to themes of rural library sustainability
  • Many courses offered, initially all technology related, then added other library related themes & workshops plus other third-party and state-developed courses -- need credit card to purchase
Jean Anderson SCLS CE coordinator on OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries)
  • SCLS using OPAL since 2006, provides CE programs to member libraries
  • Features include interactive real time audio chat
  • Moderator can lock microphone to prevent disruptions, others can "raise hand" or send chat comment -- it can be as interactive as you want.
  • SCLS has room for 50 people, but can get larger space if needed. There is also an OPAL auditorium for very large programs.
  • OPAL has lots of programs available to anyone, and archives programs
  • Many programs accessible from your desk for an hour of your time.
  • Can upload PowerPoint and give show slides with narration -- presenters need second person to monitor chat
  • Presenter sometimes has to go on faith or ask for feedback to know that listeners have not gone away -- can conduct spot polls with option to publish results
  • CCBC presents programs with OPAL -- recorded programs can include Flash movie
John DeBacher recommended: get out of the library when you can, but take advantage of online training. Jim Backus & John noted that Sirsi/Dynix webinars are also useful and available to all.

WAPL - Where are we going? Strategic Planning for Results

Cheryl Becker of the South Central Library System presented information on the PLA strategic planning process called Strategic Planning for Results.

Where is your library going? A strategic plan is a road map for the library. Planning is to prepare to do, and there is not enough money to do everything. The planning process helps to set priorities so that wise choices can be made. It is important to plan, but it should be done quickly so that you can get on with the doing.

Planning is about change. Keep the planning process short so you can do. The process as envisioned by PLA, needs to be community based. Three assumptions:
  • Excellence must be defined locally.
  • Excellence is possible for all libraries of all sizes
  • Excellence is a moving target.
There are four key points:
  1. Community Based Planning
  2. Library Service Priorities
  3. Measures for Success
  4. Managing Change
There are extensive handouts.

It is a good idea to have an outside facilitator who can be neutral, has specialized training and skills and will come with a cost. You will want a committee with community members. You will probably want to be sure that there are the movers and shakers in the community represented. It should broadly represent the demographics of the community. Committee meets only 2 times (and have the dates set when asking).

The first meeting is longer, and has the group define the Community Vision, the condidtions, needs, which needs the library can address, and select preliminary service responses.

The staff and board input looks at the needs as developed by the community group. There are specific roles for the staff and board.

At Committee Meeting 2, you review service responses, review the input, select final service responses, prioritize service responses, and finally (and most importantly) thank them. It is important to have food at both events. The first meeting could be a whole day, and the second should be about a half day.

The new PLA process spends more time discussing managing change. There is a method for "taking the temperature" of the organization. It is important to have the distinction between values and service responses. The library mission needs to be written and often takes phrases from the service responses. Communication is critical, and when change is happening it is especially important to communicate or even "over communicate."

Cheryl went through the rest of her handouts. Some key final thoughts:

  • the mission should be short enough that staff and board can say it
  • there should be few enough service responses that staff and board can say them all
  • the document should be a page (maybe a tri-fold)
The next really important step is the actual doing. This is where you may need to make the hard decisions about perhaps changing what you are doing.

Implementing for Results is forthcoming. Which are all part of the Results series published by ALA.

At the end you should have a plan that is short, is relevant, and shows that you are spending your tax dollars wisely. The Library will be at the heart of the community.

WAPL - "One Book, One Community" Programs: the Do's and Don'ts

A panel discussion on several examples of community reads programs, which are growing in popularity.

Meg Shriver Appleton PL on organizing
  • There were some key choices for the Fox Cities Community Read
    • this was the 3rd year of community read in Appleton, and the 2d as a multi-library effort
    • the most effective thing was partnering w/other libraries, bookstores & community groups
    • selected a title in partnership with other libraries and organizations
    • brought in the author to speak as the culminating
    • have used the community read to focus on an issue
    • APL buys hundreds of copies, using foundation funds
  • Do:
    • form partnerships
      • Multiple libraries(Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Kimberly-Little Chute, Kaukauna, UW-Fox) - allows choice of venues, cross-over by patrons - provides greater pool of funds from libraries
      • Bookstores are good synergy for PR & sales, and can sometimes provide more economical access to author tours
      • Businesses offer other partnership possibilities, such as catering for author reception, bus promotion
    • select a title using wide representation to get community investment - last year the library partnered with newspaper, schools and bookstores to have a community vote on title -- this requires a lot of staff involvement to provide coordination, but it was popular and will likely do again
    • take opportunity to discuss common issues --
      • in 2008 Alice Hoffman was part of a larger book festival, creating lots of excitement, more partnerships and coss marketing opportunities
      • in 2007 Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich was foundation of Project Promise in partnership with community nonprofits and the media
      • in 2005 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson became foundation of community discussion about teen sexual assault, including a partnership with lots of schools, churches, community groups
    • select book that allows for an author visit: it creates a pinnacle of the process, gives people the chance to discuss with the author
    • use the ALA publication on planning a community read
  • Don't
    • Hesitate to do this!
Michael Kenney, Appleton PL, on marketing
  • we're already starting process for next year
  • marketing alone doesn't do it, the community read needs the expertise of librarians
  • once author is selected, need to get word out, use available opportunities
  • in planning process for 2007,
    • brainstormed 30 titles from a broad-based selection group
    • the group culled these down to five
    • the local newspaper got enthusiastic pushing a vote
    • vote nearly selected British author, wound up with Barbara Ehrenreich, who was initially too expensive
    • the library made a proposal to Community Health Action Team of ThedaCare for funding -- they underwrote a large piece of the cost, but asked us to include other Fox Cities libraries
    • having larger base, larger team created more marketing opportunities
    • the community read grew into Project Promise, ongoing coalition effort to deal with poverty issues
    • important to establish good working relationship with local press [examples presented of press coverage in local media]
    • giant replica of book covers, t-shirts with cover for staff, are godd devices
  • marketing
    • need to identify goals for libraries, potential audience
    • increases library exposure and profile, with corollary benefits
Ellen Connor, Manawa PL, small library program
  • most ever spent was $900
  • only pick Wisconsin authors -- available & affordable
  • 1st book was Population 485
  • in a small community, don't need big committee, not a lot of issues and politics, whole library staff can read the title -- and should
  • Michael Perry's photo motivated people to read -- women liked his looks, men liked that he wore flannel
  • bought copies of book for all firefighters & EMT
  • timetable for the read: unveil book in December, give people until March to read, then author appears
  • this is hard, hard work: you need to talk to every patron and try to persuade them to read the book -- can be exhausting, but is effective
  • the staff first agrees on the book, because every staff person needs to read and promote
  • nonfiction is more marketable to men, who often hesitate to read fiction
  • library system support & graphic arts are key to holding down cost of PR materials
  • buys 10-15 copies, minimal processing
  • talk it up everywhere -- meetings, service clubs, posters in grocery stores
  • get high school English teachers to give kids extra credit for reading the book
  • pick your date carefully in a small town: one basketball game can put you out of business
  • fortunate to have benefactor who underwrites programs, asks bank to pay for ads
Jessica MacPhail, Racine PL, another large library model
  • hardest thing is to choose the book
  • for the first book, met with literacy council, Hispanic council; book had to be in paperback, large print, audiobook, and in Spanish
  • for first book, had radio interview rather than author appearance
  • for second book, did baseball book to coincide with Miller Park opening --had contest to find errors in Shoeless Joe
  • for third book, Fist Stick Knife Gun -- community supported ideas for nonviolent conflict resolution, encourage kids to express concerns
  • for fourth book, tried for theme, got Holocaust survivor Motherland
  • fifth book, Nickel & Dimed, support from business & social service agencies
  • Seed Folks - partnership with gardeners
  • in each case, there are natural coalitions to build around the title -- communities of interest
  • structure of choosing books is loose, depending on who shows up, only current criteria are
    • must be in paperback
    • must be "discussionable"
  • they buy 25 copies
  • have experimented used BookCrossing for distribution of some copies