Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2015 Youth Services Institute Graduates--Reflections One Year Later

One year ago, I published the names of the 25 graduates of the 2015 Youth Services Institute in a blog post. At that time, the graduates had just completed an intense multi-day training and were about to begin work on a year-long goal (or two!) back at their libraries. Recently, I asked the graduates to provide me with a report reflecting on their progress and how their professional lives have changed since the Institute. 

What follows are a few snippets from their reflections: 
  • I maintain that the time spent at Green Lake was one of the top five transformative events of my adult life.  It is difficult to put into words exactly how this has manifested itself.  I think it is more of a feeling or an attitude.  I feel more empowered, so I act more empowered.  I feel worthy, so I act worthy.   I know I am capable of promoting librarianship, so I do.  It has made me a stronger advocate for youth services in and out of my library. 
  • The institute was very inspirational. In my first report, I mentioned that there was a lot of discovery and self-realization. I will never forget the feeling that came with having to leave. I felt confident with holding a title, that before the institute, I didn’t feel I deserved. I had new ideas, and such helpful tools to take back with me – tools, that I use every day. And when I need inspiration, I know that I have a lot of people to help me or that I can turn to. I have so much more to learn, and I look forward to that challenge. In fact, the idea of going back to school for my degree in Library Science is no longer a thought, but a goal. I truly love my job, which isn’t a job at all, because it doesn’t feel like work. I have a passion for what I do. I am very blessed in the career that found me.
  • [I] was inspired to try more passive programming to both give me some breaks throughout the year and to create programs that were more convenient for patrons to come to at any time.  The passive programs have been a hit and really boosted our numbers!  Most months we have over 100 kids participating which is awesome for us.  It took a little convincing to get the rest of the staff on board but now that they see how easy it is and how many families we get, they are on board.  I don’t think I would have pushed so hard for this if I hadn’t been at the Institute and heard how important it is to take care of myself to be able to take care of the patrons. 
  • I believe I have been successful in reaching the goal I set at the Institute last year. While I had hoped to be able to reach out to an older group of kids, the school district has shown more interest in targeting younger children for our joint literacy efforts. I believe this is because they are seeing an increase in the number of kids who are struggling with literacy skills, due in part to a lack of reading in the home. I agree with their concerns and I cannot say enough good things about how beneficial this collaboration has been, for both our library and the school district.
  • I’ve learned that the challenges, while sometimes daunting, are well worth the reward. I also know that by working off the enthusiasm and dedication of the kids participating now, we can recruit and sustain a vibrant Teen Advisory Board into the future!
  • Not only did I meet the goals I set for myself, but I intend to continue on this trajectory to improve programming for my community.  
I hope these sentiments are inspiring to you and make you think of someone who might benefit from the 2017 Youth Services Institute. Watch for more updates early next year!

Written by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Building Relations to Maintain a More Effective and Efficient Library Building

Planning, Prevention, and Proactive Repairs Prevent Costly Surprises

Maintenance construction sigh with crossed hammer and wrenchSometimes it is easy to overlook or take for granted the library building during the annual budget process. Past practices, assumptions, and ad hoc relationships with vendors or the municipality and its crews may comprise a patchwork of such services as snow clearing, mowing, basic repairs, and even cleaning services. But it is good practice to review those agreements or relationships periodically, determine how they are budgeted, who is paying for them, and, when possible, establish a more formal agreement to ensure that no surprises or abrupt changes will disrupt library operations or services in the future.

Library Trustees have a responsibility to ensure that the library facility is well maintained and refreshed periodically to make it both a functional space as well as an attractive and inviting environment for the public. Safety issues should be reviewed regularly, and the layout of furnishings and services should be reviewed with an eye to accessibility for those who may have physical limitations or difficulty navigating into and around the library. Library buildings that are outdated, worn, unattractive, poorly maintained, overcrowded, or inefficient can have a negative impact on the public, discouraging use as well as public support.

Pixabay image of boiler controls and pressure indicator
Pressure indicator, courtesy of Pixabay
The mechanical equipment should be inventoried and assessed both for preventive maintenance and any required checks and maintenance for public safety (e.g., elevator, fire extinguishers, alarms, and sprinkler systems maintenance and inspection). In some cases, the municipality or county include the library building in contracts as part of its overall facility and risk management program; in other cases, the library director and board are responsible for contracting for required or appropriate services. Some preventive maintenance, such as HVAC boiler, air handler, and condenser periodic maintenance (filter changes, pH testing, cleaning and lubrication of external components) may be done by municipal or library employees. In other communities, those services are conducted under a more comprehensive maintenance contract.

If repairs and preventive maintenance are done through the municipality or county, review any costs that may be assessed against the library's budget. If the costs appear unreasonable, discuss with the appropriate department head or the municipal administrator whether the apportionment among departments or buildings is being assessed appropriately. The library board may wish to contract itself with a vendor; however, such changes should be undertaken with careful consideration to ensure that the benefits outweigh any ill-will that might result from the library board exercising its authority over the building. Beware, too, that outside companies must profit from the services they provide. Often they will try to convince the library director to contact for a full parts-and-service maintenance contract, on the basis that the monthly or quarterly cost smooths out spikes in expenses for costly parts or equipment replacement. But the library will generally be better served by a preventive maintenance and service program that leaves parts and equipment to be charged on an as-required basis. In those cases, the library board should ascertain whether the municipality will include the library in its contingency or rainy-day fund, and appropriate additional funds in the event of a major equipment breakdown, or whether the library board must request and maintain funding on its own.

grass-level view of a lawn mower
Courtesy of Pixabay
It is tempting to have the director or library staff undertake some of the maintenance or periodic services as mowing, cleaning, light repairs, or carpet cleaning. But such penny-pinching arrangements may be costly in the end. Be sure to avoid potentially expensive liability or disability expenses by checking with the municipality's risk management or insurance carrier before permitting employees to undertake such tasks, and make sure that the personal insurance of volunteers covers accidents that may occur. The municipal attorney or risk management carrier may require a waiver in specific circumstances.

A list of specific building and facility issues to consider is beyond the scope of this brief article. It would include physical plant installations (HVAC, elevator, alarms,), exterior maintenance (mowing, landscaping, plowing, walkways, painting, tuckpointing, parking lot striping and crack sealing), and life-cycle of components, especially technology (computer and network components, alarm systems, HVAC controls). The Northeast Kansas Library System  has a maintenance checklist for public libraries that may be useful as a framework for your local situation. Maintenance and facility issues can be initially overwhelming, but by building the right building relationships, the risk of unexpected, expensive, critical or even dangerous failures can be easily prevented. Then you can have time to address the public library services you enjoy!

Written by John DeBacher
Public Library Development Team

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Job Seeker Site Now Live

Wisconsin libraries and the Department of Public Instruction are very pleased to announce the new Job Seeker website, tailored to Wisconsin residents, businesses and communities.

Lego Worker
Worker - courtesy Pixabay
Users can browse one list to see the 100+ resources selected for inclusion in the site. They can choose specific types of job postings or resources on building job-related skills. 

The easy-to-use site features links to jobs in all industries and county or city government. It features information on job-search skills like writing a successful cover letter or resume, how to complete a job application, the best ways to prepare for a winning interview, and more.  

Job seekers who may be thinking of relocating can find information on housing.  The Local Services section offers information on Department of Vocational Rehabilitation offices, resources for Veterans and information that can help released offenders connect to employment opportunities.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) programs and services are embedded in the site, making it easy for users to toggle between materials available on the Web and those posted by DWD.

Libraries can link to the website, or embed the content on their own library websites.  Instructions and links to embed the site are available on the "On Your Website" page.  The site is designed to serve both librarians helping job seekers and members of the community ready to launch their own job search process.  
Wisconsin community mainstreet
Wisconsin mainstreet - courtesy Pixabay

More than 60 Wisconsin libraries helped develop the site, contributing recommendations for content, providing feedback on the site design and navigation, and now helping to spread the word. Thank you to everyone who helped create this valuable statewide job resource for libraries and the communities they serve.

If you would like additional information on the site, have feedback or questions to share, please contact Martha Berninger

Written by Martha Berninger,
Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

New Coding Initiative Video!

The Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries is underway, and we are happy to share the new DPI introductory video to the Coding Initiative:

Please take a few minutes and fill out this short survey to help us get a better idea of coding/computer science activity in public libraries around the state, and to also help us identify what the Coding Initiative should provide to you.

Lastly, the 20 locations for the showing of the documentary CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap were selected and we will share the date and time of those showings when they are collected. Information about the initiative is on the web page, and will be updated over the next few months with resources and updates.

If you have any questions about the Coding Initiative in Wisconsin Public Libraries contact Ryan Claringbole or Tessa Michaelson Schmidt.

Written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2017 LSTA Grant Application Reminder

2017 LSTA Grant Applications are due in thirty (30) days. October 14, 2016, 4:30 pm is the deadline to submit applications for funding from April 2017-March 2018.

Don't Forget to Submit your LSTA Application!
Don't Forget to Submit your LSTA Application
Both the 2017 LSTA Application form and the 2017 Information and Guidelines are located on the Wisconsin Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) web page. ( Additionally there are frequently asked questions, links to abstracts of past grant applications, and lists of grants by category.  Copies of past grant applications and evaluations can be acquired by contacting Terrie Howe.

In this grant round there are four competitive grant categories: Literacy, Accessibility, Digitization of Library Historical Materials, and Content Creation. Funding levels are approximate and will be awarded based upon the quality of the application, available funding, and the number of applicants.

Assistance on category subaward ideas or general application questions is available from the Public Library Development Team consultants. Please do not hesitate to contact one of us about the application process or for help in the design of a project. There was a blog post to other helpful links on August 17th that is referenced here:

Written by Terrie Howe
Public Library Development Team

Monday, September 19, 2016

WI Dept. of Justice Launches Internet Safety Podcast

Protecting Wisconsin's children against internet crimes is a priority of the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice (DOJ). Wisconsin was one of the first in the nation to establish a state Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program to conduct proactive and reactive investigations to identify and assist victims of child predators and to educate the community on ways to keep children safe online.

Recently the DOJ launched the Protect Kids Online (PKO) Podcast designed as a resource for parents, grandparents, guardians, or caregivers of children. The podcasts provide information about the latest apps, websites, and online activities children 17 and youger might be engaging in. There are also tips and methods for combating online child exploitation and sextortion and information about internet safety laws, cyber-bullying, safe sharing tips and responses to listener questions.

Wisconsin Department of Justice Protect Kids Online Podcast
DOJ Protect Kids Online Podcast
Learn more about the work being done by the Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program in a report available in the Wisconsin Digital Archives:

Internet Crimes Against Children : Priority Needs for our Top Priority : Kids.

Written by:
Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Friday, September 16, 2016

BadgerLink URL Changes

The BadgerLink badger enjoying fall
Fall is just around the corner. Time for apple picking, raking leaves, and helping students get back on track! BadgerLink plays a big role in students’ lives by providing reliable online information that isn’t available through free search engines. Educators and librarians are welcome to link to the BadgerLink website or directly to any of our resources on your website!

To better serve your users, it’s important to have the correct BadgerLink URLs. We use special authenticated URLs to our resources, to ensure that only Wisconsin residents are using our resources. If you aren’t using the correct link, you and your students won’t have access!

If you already link to BadgerLink resources on your website, you should know that some URLs have changed. But don’t worry, the updated URLs are easy to find! In the blue menu bar at the top of the BadgerLink website, click on Get the Word Out!. Then select, BadgerLink on your Website. On the BadgerLink on Your Website page, you can find a Google sheet for all of our current direct links. You can go ahead and bookmark this Google sheet so you can always access the most current URLs.

Changes to our resources:
Contact Us if you have any questions!

Written by:
Kara Ripley, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning