Friday, May 29, 2015

IMLS Focus 2015: National Digital Platform, Learning in Libraries, and Engaging Communities.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is facilitating another round of IMLS Focus sessions in 2015. These sessions are designed to spark conversations around selected topics with experts in the field and others in the profession. Each session is in a different location and available by invite only, but video recording are available to the public. The 2015 IMLS Focus sessions are broken up into three main categories with the dates that the sessions are/were scheduled to take place:
logo of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
IMLS logo
The National Digital Platform Focus discussion looks at how best to build a platform to host, share, and search for digital content to all users in the United States. Topics of the discussion look at building capacity with partnerships, leveraging both cross sector and federal partnerships, how to evaluate for sustainability, and more. Included in the discussion is Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and HathiTrust, among others. These discussions highlight some of the priorities towards building a national digital platform, like "connecting tools & services with potential to scale," as well as to "stop funding silos as it does not add to the common goal." These quotes can be found on the #IMLSFocus hashtag on twitter, or you can look through the collection of the tweets with this hashtag using Storify

The Learning in Libraries Focus session looks at learning in libraries from the perspective of both those that come into the library (patrons, students) in learning spaces and STEM activities, and those that will be entering the profession. Topics of the discussion include early learning in libraries, digital literacy and inclusion, and aligning Master of Library Science curriculum with the needs of today's libraries. Ann Craig, Director of the Illinois State Library discussed the ILEAD USA program (which Wisconsin is one of the ten states participating in the program this year), and Laura Damon-Moore who is co-founder of the Library as Incubator Project and works at the Eager Free Public Library, discussed participatory learning in libraries and using a story telling platform.

These Focus discussions contain a lot of great ideas, questions, and some possible answers to problems that are currently on the radar for many libraries. If anything, these Focus sessions show how important it is to continue the conversation on multiple topics, and how engaging with others in the profession (and outside the profession) will result in progress towards finding a solution that is acceptable to everyone. Each Focus session is around seven hours long, however the recordings are broken up by each talk which makes it easier to go and listen whenever you have time to do so.

The final 2015 Focus session on Engaging Communities will be on Tuesday, June 2 and the agenda can be found here.

Written By:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wisconsin Digital Archives Collection Connection : Why is Wisconsin considered America's Dairyland?

June is National Dairy Month, so we thought it would be a great time to do some research using the Wisconsin Digital Archives to learn more about why Wisconsin is considered "America's Dairyland."

Resources available in the Wisconsin Digital Archives:
Pictuer of a dairy cow
Picture of a dairy cow courtesy of Pixabay
  • Contribution of Agriculture to the Wisconsin Economy - This report, published by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and UW-Extension, provides statistics about the importance of the dairy industry to Wisconsin's economy. Here are just a few highlights:
    • Wisconsin is home to more than 10,000 dairy farms.
    • 1.27 million cows live in Wisconsin.
    • The dairy industry contributes $43.4 billion to Wisconsin's economy each year.
    • The nearly 1,200 licensed cheesemakers in Wisconsin produce a quarter of the nation's cheese, more than 2.86 billion pounds. 
Additional Information and Resources:

  • Dairy Farming Resources - DATCP provides a list of Wisconsin agricultural organizations that offer resources for our state's dairy producers and processors. Find a brief description of each organization and a link to their websites for more information.
Written by:
Mary Hutnik and Abby Swanton, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NISO: Patron Privacy in Library Systems

Patron privacy is becoming more of a concern as data gets easier to collect and retrieve. A spotlight highlighted a few months ago when it was found that Adobe Digital Editions wasn't encrypting the information that it was sending of readers' habits to its central servers. The library profession has tried to protect patron privacy throughout the years. As Section III of the (American Library Association) ALA Code of Ethics states:
We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired, or transmitted.
Thanks to an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) set out to produce a Consensus Framework to Support Patron Privacy in Digital Library and Information Systems. The goal of the project is to figure out how to provide better privacy protection on systems used by libraries, information system providers, and publishers. To get "Feature rich, yet neutral, system that respects the user's privacy," as stated in one of the Twitter #nisoprivacy chats.

The discussion was broken down into four phases: patron privacy in library systems, patron privacy in vendor systems, patron privacy in publisher systems, and legal framework for patron privacy. More information is available on the web page on NISO's website.
Privacy w/ lock image
Privacy of information (image at Pixabay)
As libraries collect more information and data on patrons to try and provide better service, the importance of maintaining patron privacy increases. There is a balancing act to improve service through data analyzation and protecting patrons'  privacy, while also making sure the public is aware of their rights concerning privacy (though Pew Research shows that public opinion on online privacy is complex).

One slide in particular during the library systems webinar listed questions that maybe not every library thinks about but should start contemplating:
  • Why collect data?
  • What do we do with data once we have it?
  • Options: opt in/opt out, all in, not at all
These questions should be discussed between librarians, vendors, and those in charge of information systems. It should be discussed within each group and between groups to makes sure that everything that is collected serves a purpose, and to also make sure that the purpose is not at the sacrifice of patron privacy.

After the online lightning talks and discussion, the groups will meet at the ALA in San Francisco to summarize the ideas from the conversations. This will then be put down as 5-10 principles that will be shared to the library and information community.

The recording of the library systems discussion can be found here.

The recording of the vendor systems discussion can be found here.

The recording of the publisher systems discussion can be found here.

Written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It's Summer Library Program Time!

Every Hero Has A Story
CSLP 2015 children's theme and logo
The majority of Wisconsin public libraries will be hosting a summer library program over the next few months, and most likely using the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme of "Heroes."

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's Public Library Development Team supports public library literacy offerings. Literacy offerings are umbrella events that include programs and/or drop-in activities that encourage individuals to read or build literacy skills in a focused way. Literacy offerings can be organized for any age group or for all ages, and can take place anytime during the year.

Library reading programs are a common component of literacy offerings. Library reading programs generally encourage readers of all ages to sign up and keep track of their reading habits for a certain length of time. The video below outlines the top ten tips for librarians and parents and caregivers concerning library reading programs. You might consider sharing the Top Ten Tips for Caregivers document as part of your registration materials, or perhaps review the Top Ten Tips for Librarians as a pre-SLP refresher. 

Will your library be hosting a summer library program this year?  Chances are that it fits the bill of a “summer literacy offering” as recorded on the public library annual report, since it is likely an umbrella event of limited duration.
Before you get started, think about how you will record this important programming information.
  • Does your library’s SLP encourage individuals involved to read or build literacy skills?
  • Does your library’s SLP have a target audience such as children, young adults, or all ages?
  • What does it mean to be involved in your library’s SLP?
    • Registration
    • Registration combined with program attendance
    • Completion of task list
    • Goal attainment
    • Other (remember, your library determines what it means to be “involved”)
  • How will you keep track of the individuals involved?
Don’t forget that programs offered during the summer get counted just like programs any other time of the year.  Program and program attendance gets counted under “Program and Program Attendance” even if it is part of your SLP.  The same goes for drop-in activities and participation.

The video below, featuring DPI resources, speaks to the role that public libraries play in summer learning.  It also services as a reminder to make what you do count, and to count what you do. 

Lastly, contrary to popular belief, don’t guess the age of your patrons!  For example, if you offer a program (or drop-in activity or literacy offering) for whom the target audience is children (ages 0-11), include EVERYONE who comes to that program in the total children’s attendance count. 

Remember, exclude library activities delivered on a one-to-one basis, rather than to a group, such as one-to-one literacy tutoring, services to homebound, resume writing assistance, homework assistance, and mentoring activities.

For additional information, visit:

Wisconsin Public Library Annual Report: Youth Services online training module

Written by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development Team

Snippets of Knowledge

TechSoup for Libraries
TechSoup for Libraries
TechSoup is a resource for public libraries to explore occasionally when seeking free technologies, articles, and webinars.

Free Webinars

Get Your Tech Before Fiscal Year-End!  (Tech Donations) 
May 28, 1:00 p.m. Central time
Tech donations are available to you right now! This program introduces the donation program at TechSoup and you will learn which ones reset July 1 after the fiscal year has ends.

How to Get Microsoft Software Donations
June 4, 1:00 p.m. Central time
This webinar will demonstrate eligible nonprofits, libraries, churches, and foundations that can access Microsoft donations.

Archived Webinars

Teens and Tech: Successful STEM Programs in Libraries 
Held May 20, 1:00 p.m.
Experienced youth librarians share what they do to develop tech programs for teens.

Excel at Everything! (Or at Least Make Better Spreadsheets)
Held May 21, 1:00 p.m.
A 90-minute webinar takes viewers through a few basic Microsoft Excel formulas and shortcuts, as well as introduces the power of pivot tables.
Digital Learn.Org

Digital Learn is a Public Library Association (PLA) project and in its recent newsletter, Michael Starks, a computer instructor at Indianapolis Public Library, shared information about how he helps to support users of computers, mobile devices, classes for patrons and library employees.

He shared some success stories and his outlook on what he feels needs to happen on the local level
to increase the impact of digital literacy.  His answer was: Data and partnerships. "We need much better local-research data to help us understand the specific digital-literacy needs of each major segment of the community. We also need collaborations of libraries and other community organizations to increase the overall effectiveness and scale of digital literacy learning in a community."

Of particular interest were his answers to several questions:

A new digital skill recently learned?
The use of Box and Dropbox for managing files and seeking to master the major cloud-computing platforms.

A digital skill that he recently taught?
How to edit photos, audio files, and videos in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Favorite online tools for digital literacy support and/or training?,, TechSoup, and WebJunction. Suggest to those being trained to visit to reinforce material learned in class and to move to the next stage in learning a technology subject.

Posted by:
Terrie Howe, Public Library Development Team

Friday, May 22, 2015

2016 LSTA Grant Categories - Focal Areas & Intent

2016 LSTA Information and Guidelines in addition to the 2016 Application are being revised for the new federal reporting system that begins at the end of 2015. This year’s LSTA Information session for grant writing will be created with software that will permit applicants to view sections of information as needed and posted on the LSTA website in June.

The 2016 LSTA Guidelines are comprised of Division for Libraries and Technology (DLT) Staff Managed Projects, Statewide products, and DLT Staff Support. Managed Projects in 2016 include
  • Coding - New
  • Library System Re-visioning - New
  • New Library Director Orientation
  • Youth and Special Services Continuing Education Projects  
Statewide products funded with LSTA dollars include the Learning Express license and computer module used primarily for job searching and skill building.  The School eBook project will be continued using LSTA funds.

Federal competitive grant sub-award categories requiring submission of an application for review by a five-person panel of library peers include:
  • Digital Creation Technology
  • Digitization of Library Historical Materials
  • Accessibility 
  • Literacy
Non-competitive applications are submitted by specific agencies, reviewed by DLT staff for prerequisite compliance, provided funds for specific purposes on behalf of a region or the whole state, and have been approved by the LSTA Advisory committee are:
  • Delivery 
  • Library System Technology projects
  • Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
  • Combining Regional Public Library Systems

    Elements of an LSTA Application
    Elements of an LSTA Application
The Institute of Museum and
Library Services (IMLS) is the federal funding agency for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) program.  IMLS is seeking  matching and in-kind contribution information from sub-grantees as part of additional justification for the U.S. Congress' re-authorization of the LSTA program.  To demonstrate comparability with other states programs, applications and grant evaluations will be reported in "focal areas" with particular intents in one of the following modes: instruction, providing content, planning/evaluation, or procurement.

According to the chief of data coordination for IMLS, “We are all now operating in an environment where a description of what was done, no matter how detailed is not enough to convince our stakeholders that we were good stewards of public funds. Now our sponsors want to know whether and how the support made a difference in people’s lives. Did it have a positive impact on the people who participated?”

Written by:
Terrie Howe, Public Library Development Team

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Learn something new EVERYDAY

messy desk
Image from Pixabay
As librarians, we know how important learning is. We help people find the information every day. But when was the last time you took some time to learn something?

With a variety of learning resources,  BadgerLearn Pro is the one stop shop for your continuing education needs! This free collection is maintained by volunteers from the Department of Public Instruction, WiLS, and WPLC (Wisconsin Public Library Consortium).

Resources for the Month of May!

New resources are added daily to BadgerLearn Pro. Don't miss a single resource; subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter.
Bridging the Digital Divide Learn about the digital divide and how to work together to provide digital literacy to your library users. 
Library Websites on a Budget: Tools, Tips, and Tales Does your library website need a makeover? It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to improve your online presence. 
Budgeting, Part 1 John Thompson, IFLS (Indianhead Federated Library System) Director, discusses using the planning process to help inform budgeting, gives resources for planning, and suggests budget line items, and helps think about priorities. 
Basic Web-based Reference This course will help you provide basic web-based reference service involving e-mail and chat.
Written by:
Kara Ripley, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Free American History Resources

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History encourages libraries to register to be part of their free Public Library Affiliate Program now in its second year.  Billed as "a unique gateway to education resources, events, and tools designed to help public librarians bring American history to life for students and teachers," the Affiliate Program offers exclusive benefits for participating libraries:
  • eligibility to receive $400 grants that are awarded annually to twelve Public Library Affiliates for student-based history programming
  • free access to one of Gilder Lehrman's traveling exhibitions and discounts on subsequent exhibitions
  • scholarship opportunities for their online graduate courses plus a reduced fee to audit courses
  • $100 credit for Gilder Lehrman's online "history shop" to purchase books, posters, and other materials, plus a 25% discount on all further purchases
  • access to the web portal featuring robust resources for librarian, teachers, and students including a study guide for the new AP US History course framework, free lesson plans, and multimedia content.
  Registering online as a Public Library Affiliate is a very simple process.

Ticket to a Yankees - Giants - Dodgers baseball game to benefit the Civilian Defense Volunteer Office during World War II
Ticket to a Yankees - Giants - Dodgers baseball game to benefit
the Civilian Defense Volunteer Office during WWII
(courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)
Founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education.  The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all fifty states.  Nearly 70,000 documents, photographs and other historic items are preserved in the Gilder Lehrman Collection; more than 60,000 are available to view online.  The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

Written by:
Denise Anton Wright, Public Library Development Team

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

WISCAT Interlibrary Loan by the Numbers

Image of colorful numbers
Image from Pixabay
Statistics modules provided in the WISCAT system can tell you a lot about your library's resource sharing activity. 

How many days does it take to fill a request?

How many lenders get a request before it is filled?

How many borrowing requests do you initiate?

How many lending requests do you fill?

How many of those requests are loans? Photocopies?

WISCAT staff has created a new guide, Access Interlibrary Loan Statistics in WISCATdescribing the statistical reports available to help you manage your interlibrary loan workflow.  

Written by:
Vickie Long, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning

Monday, May 18, 2015

Calculating State Aid to Systems: Back to the Future

The allocation of state aid to public library systems today was decided as long as 30 years ago. From 1972 to 1998, Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 43 required that the aid payments be calculated by multiplying each of system population, territory, and operating expenses by a constant and adding the three results. The last revisions to the multipliers were these:

Since 1997 Act 150, any recalculation of state aid due to territory alteration is required to use the data for determining 1999 state aid [Wis. Admin. Code s. PI 6.07]. Yes, in 2015 the data for determining state aid attributed to any municipality, county, or system includes:

A workbook of background data is online at

After nearly two decades, however, library pop­u­la­tions and funding have shifted. As a percentage of total Wisconsin population, Dane County population was 1% greater in January 2014 than January 1998. Milwaukee County population decreased by 1.7% during the same period. Comparing local and county revenue from 1997 to 2013 as a percentage of statewide totals, library revenue increased 2.4% in Dane County and 1.3% in Waukesha County but decreased 6.3% in Milwaukee County.

So. State aid calculations are convoluted, up to 30 years old, and use data from at least 17 years ago. As it happens, Wis. Stat. s. 43.24 (1) (c) provides a more straightforward calculation method when state aid to systems equals or exceeds "11.25% of the total operating expenditures for public library services from local and county sources in the calendar year ending in that fiscal year" (2014 state aid was about 6.9%). Instead of library and system operating expenditures, this "11.25%" method uses estimated Wisconsin shared revenue and expenditure restraint payments to municipalities and counties. At the time of the legislation—around 1996—that 11.25% threshold was the point where no system would see a net reduction in their state aid. That no longer holds true. We are also asked what the outcome of the "newer" formula would be. The table below lists payments under the allocation of 2015 state aid and the alternate method of s. 43.24 (1) (c).

Amount per
43.24 (1) (a)
Amount per
43.24 (1) (c)
Arrowhead Library System$438,605$409,909-6.5%
Eastern Shores Library System$578,545$513,113-11.3%
Indianhead Federated Library System$1,125,114$1,244,18710.6%
Kenosha County Library System$398,675$403,7551.3%
Lakeshores Library System$637,716$728,68214.3%
Manitowoc-Calumet Library System$312,113$306,143-1.9%
Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System$754,421$802,8786.4%
Milwaukee County Federated Library System$2,677,006$2,519,543-5.9%
Nicolet Federated Library System$1,069,413$1,161,9618.7%
Northern Waters Library Service$529,104$523,925-1.0%
Outagamie Waupaca Library System$607,514$614,3291.1%
South Central Library System$2,057,367$2,035,461-1.1%
Southwest Wisconsin Library System$363,341$390,6567.5%
Waukesha County Federated Library System$958,636$897,712-6.4%
Winding Rivers Library System$767,701$792,1963.2%
Winnefox Library System$885,885$841,779-5.0%
Wisconsin Valley Library Service$851,944$826,851-2.9%

For the calculations in s. 43.24 (1) (c) to allocate payments at least equal to the current amounts, total state aid to library systems would need to be about $16.9 million. For another $850,000—about $17.8 million total—payments would be at least 5% more than the current amounts.

So far this year, the library community is discussing system efficiency, alteration of territory, and library and system standards. Although changing the method of allocating state aid to systems would require a legislative change, a funding formula that uses more current information and demographics is worth considering.

Written by Jamie McCanless, Public Library Development

Friday, May 15, 2015

Job Sites for your Community - Nationwide Edition

Patrons looking for jobs in other states in addition to Wisconsin will want to check sites that list positions nationwide. Here are some of the best, along with a great technology sector website and one that lists jobs and internships in the non-profit sector. Job seekers can strengthen their professional network by registering for LinkedIn, the premier professional social media site and keeping their profile up to date. 

National job sites

CareerBuilder is one of the largest job boards, providing job listings, resume posting, and career advice and resources to job seekers. CareerBuilder secures job listings directly from employers and has expanded local listings by partnering with many newspapers to incorporate their online classified job listings.

Nationwide job search
Nationwide job search
Monster is one of the original job boards and has expanded to include a variety of other resources and apps for job seekers. Monster users can search for (and) apply for jobs online, post a resume, review company profiles, and get salary information and career advice.
LinkUp monitors thousands of company career sections to connect applicants with often unadvertised jobs by providing information on the jobs posted on company websites.
Simply Hired aggregates jobs from newspapers, employer websites, and job boards.  Users can search millions of job openings across all job categories and industries. is a collaboration between the Direct Employers Association and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA).  It lists jobs located throughout the United States and it offers a Veteran's Job Bank and a searchable schedule of upcoming in-person career events. 
Indeed lists millions of jobs culled from thousands of websites, including company career sites, job boards, newspaper classifieds, associations, and other online sources of job posting. Users can upload a resume and get a personalized resume link to share with employers. It also includes job search tips and discussion forums for job seekers.

Jobs in specific sectors

Dice is one of the largest job listing sites for the tech sector. Users can search by company, job title, skill, keyword, company, employment type and location. Registered users can upload a search resume, a confidential resume, get salary information, store resumes and cover letters, and track jobs.
Non-profit jobs
Non-profit jobs
Idealist is a clearinghouse for information on full-time, internship, and volunteer positions within the non-profit sector. Users can search for organizations working on specific issues and by type of position. Registered users can search for contacts in fields or organizations of interest and message them for networking purposes. 

Professional social media sites

LinkedIn is the most visible professional social media site. Users post a profile and can search for jobs, identify contacts at employers who are advertising vacancies, and follow companies of interest on LinkedIn.  Former colleagues and members of a user’s network can endorse skills listed in a user’s profile.  Users can also add portfolio samples in their profile to showcase what they can do for prospective employers.  LinkedIn works well for strong candidates conducting a passive jobs search where they want employers to find them. 

If your patrons have found success using other job posting websites, please let me know so libraries statewide can benefit from your excellent sleuthing.

Written by:
Martha Farley Berninger, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Experience Education Evolution

American Association of School Librarians National Conference

The 17th Annual AASL (American Association of School Librarians) National Conference  is scheduled for November 5-8, 2015.
Registration is open and it's within driving distance of Wisconsin (Columbus, Ohio). Not only is this an excellent professional development opportunity for teacher librarians but this year the conference includes a complimentary registration for your school administrator. The 2014 School Library Journal Summit included a powerful presentation by a Project Connect panel of award winning administrators and teachers librarians and a general session at this conference led by a similar panel promises to deliver more important insights into what administrators need and expect from their library media programs. Take advantage of this win-win opportunity for you and your administrator if possible!

Written by:
Nancy Anderson, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Libraries are Networks

Over the past two days I have been participating in the annual WiscNet Future Technologies Conference (FTC) held here in Madison.  FTC is a great event because it rings true to the WiscNet mission of connecting people. This year was equally compelling in that regard.

WiscNet, Connecting People and StrategiesThe keynote speakers each day were outstanding, challenging conference participants to create new networks -- and not only of the technology type.  In particular, they stressed the importance of continuing to cultivate the relationships in our communities and regions that eventually lead to the technology networks.  A couple of highlights of particular note:  Susan Crawford, author of “The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance,” provided many stories about people who nurtured their passion for broadband access as a community resource and built incredible networks. Crawford's message was clear that individuals connecting around shared values and the motivation to solve problems were the common denominators in every case.

The other keynote speaker was John Chambers, Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Speaking from the heart, Chambers relayed that as a serial entrepreneur for the majority of his career, he joined the FCC because he, too, was passionate about broadband being a fundamental service every American deserves, and a problem that any good entrepreneur should be able to solve. Quoting Ecclesiastes, Chambers stated that now is the season to build broadband networks. The audience heartily agreed.

In both cases, the speakers emphasized the need for relationships to solve these community problems. They were clear that all interested parties are welcome at the table in solving the problems -- everyone.  This certainly matches the WiscNet mission.  This attitude is exactly what the Aspen Institute Report, “Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning Public Libraries,” calls for as well. Libraries are the glue to these people networks in every community.  Please continue to step up, tell your story, and make some new friends.  Amazing things will happen as a result.

Written by:
Kurt Kiefer, Division for Libraries and Technology, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thinking About Outreach? Consider an LSTA Accessibility Grant

In about a month’s time, the 2016 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Information & Guidelines document will be published (June 2015).  This resource will outline the grant categories and application information available for the 2016 year.  A longstanding grant category is “Serving Special Populations” which includes two sub-categories: Accessibility and Literacy.

Historically, the Accessibility sub-category has been utilized by public libraries and library systems to provide devices and services that accommodate library users with physical disabilities; i.e. screen reader software. However, library users with physical disabilities are only one of many groups that might be considered “special populations.” This term is not perfect, but is more inclusive than the problematic “special needs.”

Image of crowd
Whose library use might be difficult, limited, or minimized?
Image source: Pixabay
In recent years, stemming from developments at both the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Public Library Development Team (PLDT) at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the definition and awareness of who special populations are and how they might be served has expanded.

Serving Special Populations Accessibility grants support the quality of and access to library and information services to people for whom using the library is difficult, limited, or minimized. Library and information services can be considered in terms of library spaces, communications, programming, outreach, and resources.  Improvement can be considered in terms of accommodations, assistive technology or techniques, design, inclusive practices, and planning.   

Defining and identifying special populations depends on each library community.  Special populations include, but are not limited to, English Language Learners, people who are homeless and/or live in poverty, people who are displaced or live in residential care, foster care, detention, or treatment facilities, people in underserved areas or with diverse backgrounds, people with disabilities, and people with limited literacy or information skills.

When the 2016 Information & Guidelines document is released next month, consider how the public library, in collaboration with other public libraries and/or library systems, might develop a plan or a project to establish or enhance outreach to a special population.  Rather than make assumptions about who you are serving and what they might need, a planning grant (Level 0) offers funding support that may be used to investigate the quality of and access to library and information services to special populations.  Planning grants support efforts to define and identify a community’s special population(s) and their (potential) accessibility issues.  Planning funds may be used for site visits, consulting fees, professional development, input gathering, and similar focused efforts.

Level 1 and 2 project grant funds may be used to improve library and information services to special populations through library spaces, communications, programming, and resources. Project funds may be used to fund translation services, materials in alternate formats, outreach transportation, equipment, or technologies that improve quality of and access to library and information services to special populations.

Approximately $75,000 will be available in the Accessibility sub-category. Get the wheels turning now for how you might put a plan or project in motion for a 2016 LSTA grant. 

For more information about Serving Special Populations, visit:

For more information about LSTA, visit:

Written by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development Team

Monday, May 11, 2015

Knight Foundation Grant: Prototype Fund

The Knight Foundation has grants up to $35,000 available for projects that "help media makers, technologists. and tinkerers take ideas from concept to demo." Public libraries are increasingly taking on these services - to create media, offer technology, and space and/or tools for tinkerers to build their ideas.
Knight Foundation Logo
Knight Foundation logo

The types of ideas that are accepted are "a broad spectrum of ideas related to media, data and information. We [Knight Foundation] are interested in any new models or technology to inform communities." This is something that public libraries do, and will continue to do. As a key part of the community, being a gathering place for people of all ages, and often the main source of internet connectivity, public libraries are in the position to create and offer these new models to the communities. For those libraries that have an idea and are looking for ways to get it started, this grant is a great opportunity to take an idea and bring it to life.

This grant opportunity closes on Friday, May 15, 2015. The application for submission is located on this web page. More information on the Prototype Fund Grant is located here.

Written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development Team

Library of the Month: Portage Public Library

The Library of the Month is a celebration of Wisconsin Libraries compiled by the BadgerLink team. 
Portage Public Library
Image from Portage Public Library

The Portage Public Library is doing amazing things in their community.

New Children’s Department Focuses on Events and Education
The Portage Public Library’s children's library department expanded in 2013 and is approximately 6200 square feet - plenty of space to host a variety of events without disturbing the traditional library user. Featuring expanded programming like after school book parties for Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss, and Magic Tree House, and seasonal events like "Marvelous Mustache Day" for 4th & 5th graders that included a mustache photo booth, decorate-your-own mustache sugar cookie station, tic-tac-tashe, and more, the children’s department is an exciting space bridging learning and fun.

Another focus of the Children’s Department is hosting several educational programs each month. A perennial favorite is the drop-in DIY stations. Kids can participate at their own pace and explore different reading, writing, math, and art activities. Providing an alternative to even the youngest or most special of their patrons, the stations have proven a successful addition to the library.

Working Together
The Portage Public Library sponsors programming with organizations in the community such
Parachute program
Portage Public Library
as the Columbia County Extension, Columbia County 4-H, Portage Center for the Arts, Columbia County Master Gardeners, and the local public and parochial schools. The first Saturday of the month is "Family Fun Event" and the topics run the gamut from educational to pure fun. A local high school science teacher presented an interactive program on planets, enthusiastic volunteers gave a hula hoop demonstration and organized games, and approximately 135 kids and their families attended a family sock hop - with a DJ and cool lights!

Community Service
In addition to serving the community with educational and recreational programming, the library goes above and beyond and does its part in giving back. Last spring Portage Public Library built and planted two garden beds, and the harvest was used in the community’s first attempt at providing free lunches through the USDA summer food service program. The library served lunches to more than 1,000 kids and plans on offering the program again this summer. Also, last summer the library began a "community charity challenge." Each time a child read two hours, they had a vote for one of three local charities. At the end of the summer, children presented the winning organization with an oversized check.

Enthusiasm, passion, and creativity have driven this library to provide incredible resources to their community.

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