Category Archives: Articles and Information

Turning the Page: Advocacy Training

Reposted from the ALSC Blog

Does your library need help with advocacy training? Has your library used the Turning the Page training developed by the Public Library Association (PLA)? Read on to see if your library would benefit from this comprehensive advocacy training curriculum.

Advocacy is critical to building public support and demonstrating the many ways libraries improve lives and connect communities. Library leaders need to have a seat at the table where important funding and policy decisions are made. Turning the Page: Supporting Libraries, Strengthening Communities is a resource for improving the advocacy knowledge and skills of public library staff and partners.

Turning the Page is broken down into three parts: the Implementation Guide, Curriculum, and Advocacy Action Plan Workbook. The curriculum has 15 sessions. Five of these sessions provide core information, deemed critical for any advocacy training, according to the Implementation Guide.

  1. Introduction
  2. Value of the Public Library (core)
  3. Defining Advocacy (core)
  4. Developing Your Advocacy Goal (core)
  5. Identifying Target Audiences (core)
  6. Using Library Perception Information and Impact Data
  7. Creating Library Advocacy Messages (core)
  8. Creating a Library Story
  9. Telling Your Library Story
  10. Effective Presentations
  11. Media Planning and Outreach
  12. Social Media and Advocacy
  13. Making a Library Funding or Policy Request
  14. Building and Sustaining Library Partnerships
  15. Putting Advocacy Plans into Practice

Each session includes trainer notes with talking points, a PowerPoint presentation, and a set of handouts and worksheets. The curriculum content is customizable. Sessions are written to be broadly applicable and reflective of your community and library needs. Adding examples, stories, and case studies increases understanding and motivates participants. The curriculum is designed to be flexible, too, and can be adapted for in-person, online or a blended training experience. As written, the 15 training sessions comprise more than 20 hours of training. However, if you lack time or resources to deliver all the sessions, Turning the Page recommends starting with the five core sessions. Completing the included pre-training assessment will help you put together your advocacy training plan.

Jackie Cassidy, Assistant Manager of the Abingdon Branch of Harford County Public Library, contributed this article as a member of ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee.

Can Libraries Cure Loneliness?

Reposted from Library Research Service

Libraries are not traditionally thought of as social spaces. Stereotypes of older women glaring over thick-rimmed glasses to shush talkative individuals pervade our pop-culture references. However, studies show that public libraries foster social support and decrease isolation. At a time when loneliness is being deemed a public health crisis in the United States, libraries are uniquely positioned to offer up a cure.

Cigna, the global health service company, reported epidemic levels of loneliness in 2019 that continue to intensify. After surveying 10,500 adults, they found that three in five (61%) classify as lonely, a seven percentage-point increase from 2018. The results are based on a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess self-reported, subjective feelings of loneliness or social isolation. A score of 43 or higher indicates loneliness. The report’s findings show a national average of 45.7 out of a possible 80.

Loneliness is affecting people of all ages, all demographics, and across socio-economic divides. Gen Z (18-22) is the loneliest age bracket, with levels decreasing as people get older. Additionally, entry-level employees and executives are the two most likely groups to report always or sometimes feeling there is no one they can turn to, not feeling close to anyone, and that no one really knows them well. Hispanic and African American workers agree in higher numbers that they feel abandoned by coworkers when under pressure at work. So how do we reach such a wide-ranging cross-section of American society to address this epidemic? Open the door to a public library.

Libraries’ extensive population reach, their access to diverse sectors of the U.S. population, the public trust they command, and their diverse geographic coverage favorably position them as a multi-sectoral strategy to advance public health. Ninety-five percent of the U.S. population live within a public library service area and as Donald Barclay writes, “Public libraries are perhaps the last remaining indoor public spaces where an individual can remain from opening until closing without needing any reason to be there and without having to spend any money.”

Research published in the Journal of Community Health shows that libraries can address social exclusion among structurally vulnerable groups, from homeless individuals to new parents. In Denver, a Community Technology Center team regularly visits the local day shelter to give participants bus tokens, a tour of the main library, and library cards. In New Jersey, a new parents’ support group meets weekly at the local library. LGBTQ youth who may not feel safe at home or on the streets can turn to a library as a designated safe space. Library programs such as Drag Queen Story Hour also reduce social exclusion by increasing acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, libraries decrease social isolation by offering programs that build community and foster relationships. The Lifetime Arts’ program operates across 13 states and 80 public libraries, providing writing, painting, choir, and dancing classes for older adults. For newcomers such as refugees and immigrants, libraries serve as critical spaces to foster social integration. In Hartford, Connecticut, the public library provided services to promote immigrant civic engagement, including a core group of volunteer immigrants to help newly arrived individuals with tasks such as accessing community and legal services.

The 21st century library is an intersection of people and purposes. As national health data highlights a critical need for connection, the social role of libraries should not be overlooked. However, additional research is needed to evaluate the impact libraries have on the overall social well-being of patrons and the untapped potential for the wider — lonelier — public.

Note: This post is part of the series, “The LRS Number.” This series highlights statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

How Much is Your Library Worth?

ROI with woman in a thoughtful pose in a chair

Reposted from Library Research Service

We can all agree that libraries are valuable to our communities, but exactly how much are they worth? Libraries are under increasing pressure to translate qualitative services into quantifiable impact. One approach is to determine the Return on Investment (ROI) a library provides to community members. Doing so communicates the value of public libraries in terms of dollars and cents.

Traditionally a business metric, ROI measures a business’s profitability. Simply put, it compares costs to profits and expresses it as a ratio or percentage. For a public institution like a library, ROI demonstrates how much “value” is realized by the community for each dollar spent on services and materials. This includes:

  • The cost to use alternatives: the estimated amount of money that would have been spent to use an alternative if the library did not exist;
  • Lost use: for patrons who indicated they would not have tried to meet their needs with another source or would not have known where else to go, the estimated value of the direct benefit that they would not have received if the library didn’t exist;
  • Direct local expenditures: dollar figures for expenditures on goods and services within the library’s legal service area;
  • Compensation for library staff: the amount of annual compensation that staff members would not have received if the library didn’t exist; and
  • Halo spending: purchases made by library patrons from vendors and businesses that are located close to the library.

Some ROI methodologies also apply a dollar amount to patrons’ time and take the amount saved seeking materials or services elsewhere into account.

Two approaches are commonly used to calculate a library’s ROI: contingent valuation or market valuation, both of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Contingent valuation bases dollar values on subjective perceptions of responding library users. However, within those subjective perceptions, patrons may include a more holistic experience that takes into account the value of having various needs being met in one place. This method acknowledges that the value of a library is likely greater than the sum of the value of its individual resources and services. In contrast, market valuation bases dollar values on objective, “real world” values such as the use of electronic resources, material and book circulation, program attendance, reference services, and meeting room use. Perhaps the greatest advantage of this approach is that it can be pursued using readily available data, as opposed to contingent valuation that relies on patron surveys and interviews.

meta-analysis of findings from 38 previous library ROI studies found that, on average, the return value for public libraries is 4 to 5 times the amount invested. A study conducted by Library Research Service in 2009 found similar results in Colorado using a contingent valuation methodology. Although valuation findings should not necessarily be extrapolated out to a state or national level, overall they can (and do) show decision makers, patrons, and the public that libraries are a wise investment.

Note: This post is part of the series, “The LRS Number.” This series highlights statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.

Wyoming Monuments and Markers Online Map

Wondering what those historic markers along the highway are all about? Never have time to stop as you drive by at highway speeds? Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources has announced a new and searchable Monuments and Markers Interactive Map.

The GIS-based database contains a profile for each of the 1,000+ monuments and markers, including the name, longitude/latitude, and a description of the significance to Wyoming’s history or prehistory.

In addition, approximately half of the markers also contain a photograph of the monument or marker. This program will greatly aid the public searching for information on geological features, historical events, and people who have shaped Wyoming’s rich history, be it for educational, tourism or other purposes.

When you’re done exploring this map, head on over to the State Library’s Wyoming Places from the State Library for more information on the state’s unique locales. Places is one of six Wyoming-specific resources found in our Digital Collection Suite.

African American History Month Facts

From govinfo

February is African American History Month, and the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) invites you to join them in observing the achievements of African Americans in U.S. history with the following facts. These facts are all found in excerpts of the Congressional Record and in Congressional resolutions on govinfo. Visit the links to learn more about the contributions made and adversities overcome by these individuals in history.

1. Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female pilot, was denied entrance to Flight Schools in America because she was a woman.
According to a 2016 tribute by Congress Member Ted Poe, “schools in America denied her entrance, so she set out to attend aviation school in France. She attended the Caudon Brother’s School of Aviation, where she completed a 10 month program in only 7 months. She also received her international aviation pilot’s license from the renowned Federation Aeronautique Internationale, making her the first African American and Native American woman to earn a pilot’s license.”

See also: 149 Cong. Rec. 10065 – Honoring Aviation’s Pioneer Women of Color.

2. James Baldwin’s first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain was a semi-autobiography.
According to Congress Member Charles B. Rangle in his 1997 celebratory remarks, the novel “explores the repression, moral hypocrisy, religious inspiration, and community ties that characterize the Black American Experience.”

3. Educator and Executive Mary McLeod Bethune walked ten miles to and from school every day.
“The first free school opened when Bethune was nine years old. She walked ten miles every day to and from school then returned home to teach what she had learned to her family,” according to Congress Member Tim Roemer’s 1994 speech. Bethune later opened her own school, the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls.

4. Dr. W.E.B. DuBois was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Congress Member Charles B. Rangle noted in 2003 that DuBois “obtained his doctor’s degree from Harvard” and went on to play “a prominent part in the creation of the NAACP.”

See also: H. Con. Res. 72 (IH) – Expressing the sense of Congress that W.E.B. DuBois should be recognized for his legacy of devotion civil rights and scholarly advancement, and as a defender of freedom.

5. Toni Morrison was the daughter of Alabama Sharecroppers.
Toni Morrison, the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, was the “daughter of Alabama sharecroppers and granddaughter of a slave [who] has tapped the complex vein of the black experience in six novels,” according to a 2014 tribute to Toni Morrison by Congress Member Maxine Waters.

See also: S. Res. 402 (ATS) – Honoring the Life, Work, and Legacy of Toni Morrison, and 140 Cong. Rec. H23 – Tribute to Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison – An African-American Crown Jewel.

6. Jesse Owens’ name was really James Cleveland.
In a 2013 tribute in honor of Jesse Owens’ 100th birthday, Congress Member Robert B. Aderholt said “A teacher at his new school, misunderstanding when James Cleveland told her his name was J.C., called him Jesse, and the name stuck.”

7. Katherine Johnson who inspired “Hidden Figures” attended high school on West Virginia State College’s campus at age 13.
“Katherine was famously asked to run the orbital equations controlling the Friendship 7 trajectory by hand in case of a mechanical computing error…The mission, which was a success, marked a turning point in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union,” according to a 2018 tribute from Congress Member Joe Manchin.

See also: 163 Cong. Rec. S1090 – Tribute to Katherine Johnson and Remembering Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan.

8. Gordon Parks turned to photography after becoming an orphan and high school dropout.
In a 2006 commemoration of the life of Gordon Parks, Congress Member Charles B. Rangel noted that Parks “referred to his photography as ‘his weapon against poverty and racism,’ and used his skill to give a voice to the black experience.”

See also: 152 Cong. Rec. H1566 – Honoring Gordon Parks.

9. A shopkeeper hit a teenage Harriet Tubman with a lead weight because Tubman stood up for an enslaved boy.
Tubman “recalled later in life that…after this incident she would see visions that later inspired her to escape slavery,” said Congress Member Ben Cardin in 2015 remarks on Harriet Tubman and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.

See also: 157 Cong. Rec. S1531 – Harriet Tubman.

10. Playwright August Wilson dropped out of school at age 15 because his teacher didn’t believe that a black student could write well and accused him of plagiarism.
According to 2005 remarks by Congress Member Charles B. Rangle on “The Life and Legacy of August Wilson,” “Wilson continued his education through self-study at Carnegie Library.” Wilson went on to become a two time Pulitzer Prize winner.

See also: 150 Cong. Rec. H2038 – Recognizing August Wilson.

News in Brief

PLA Opens Registration for 2020 Virtual Conference
The Public Library Association (PLA) is offering an alternative opportunity for public library workers who are unable to attend the PLA 2020 Conference in Nashville, Tenn. PLA will present a condensed, live, online conference experience — the PLA 2020 Virtual Conference — February 27-28. The PLA Virtual Conference will consist of live programming, including five 60-minute-long programs each day, plus author interviews and opportunities for networking. Registration closes at 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Libraries as Partners in Healthy Communities: Upcoming Course
WebJunction is collaborating with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) to design a series of courses for public library staff related to health topics. The next course, available in March, is Libraries as Partners in Healthy Communities. This free, two-week, instructor-led course, explores how your library can actively partner to promote the health of your community through responsive programs and services, and shows you how to incorporate this focus into your library’s strategic plan.

SirsiDynix Connections Summit Videos Available on Demand
Were you interested in the SirsiDynix Connections summit in November, but just couldn’t fit it into your schedule? All the sessions are available on demand. You can also access the archived versions of the two previous summits (June 2019 and November 2018). Sessions cover topics such as trends affecting libraries, library marketing, personnel management, fundraising, and more — with most being 15 minutes or less.

Answers for Your Toughest Government Information Questions
The Government Information Online (GIO) service is available to handle the toughest reference questions and requests for copies of documents. The service is a project of the American Library Association’s Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) Education Committee. In calendar year 2019, GIO responded to 180 inquiries that were submitted either via AskGPO or directly to GIO. It’s a great resource to link to on your website, to bookmark for your reference staff, and to promote to your colleagues.

ALSC Releases White Paper on an Outreach Model Serving All Children and Families
The Association for Library Service to Children has released a white paper titled, Engage, Cultivate, Provide, and Assess: An Outreach Model for Serving All Children and Families. The white paper outlines a research-based model of outreach development for libraries to connect services with children and families, particularly for those in underserved communities. The model was based on research that examined how libraries are going outside of their walls and into the community to reach and serve children and families in underserved communities who are not currently using the library.

Strategic Storytelling Toolkit for Public Libraries
The Library Story: A Strategic Storytelling Toolkit for Public Libraries was created by Michael Margolis and Kristina Drury of in conjunction with input from Pennsylvania public library staff. It was designed to help librarians think about using the power of storytelling to more effectively communicate internally and externally. The Toolkit contains great content, exercises and examples to build your storytelling skills.  It’s based on months of research, surveys and interviews with 200 Pennsylvania librarians and directors.

Digitized Historical Editions of U.S. Government Manual Available
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized the U.S. Government Manual and made content freely accessible and available on govinfo for the years 1935-1994. The Manual is the Government’s official handbook of agency organization for all three branches of Government. Listings include the legislative authority, programs, activities, and brief history of each agency; officials heading the major units of operation; and contact information for follow up or additional information.

ALA’s Voting and Election Toolkit

Reposted from Colorado Virtual Library

The American Library Association’s Government Documents Round Table’s (GODORT) Voting & Election Toolkits  are here to help librarians answer questions about voter registration, voter ID requirements, and more. These voting and election toolkits were created for and by librarians across the country and provide non-partisan voting and election information for every state and D.C. In these guides you will find answers to FAQs such as voter eligibility requirements, voter registration deadlines, voter ID requirements, ballot information, absentee voting, and more.

Please share this resource with your constituents, spread the word about the toolkits (using the hashtag #ALAVotingToolkit on social media), and use them to help your patrons participate in elections and make their voices heard.

These guides are sponsored by the American Library Association and GODORT and were created by GODORT’s Education Committee and the State Agency Database volunteers. The toolkits will be updated throughout the 2020 election season.


Invitation: CFPB Financial Education Program Survey

From the Federal Depository Library Program

To help libraries better serve patrons, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is interested in learning about libraries’ financial education resources. They are inviting those working in libraries to participate in CFPB’s 2020 Financial Education Program Survey of Libraries. This short, 10-minute survey will ask about your library’s familiarity with and use of financial education resources. An independent contractor, Fors Marsh Group, LLC, has been selected to administer the survey on their secure web domain.

The 2020 Financial Education Program Survey of Libraries is available at:

Participation in the survey is voluntary. CFPB will use your feedback to improve the financial education materials that it provides to libraries.

CFPB has partnered with multiple library associations to send survey invitations. Only one response per person is needed.

This message was posted on behalf of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Celebrate National Library Week April 19-25, 2020

It’s not too early to think about how you’ll celebrate National Library Week, planned this year for April 19-25. The theme for the 2020 celebration is “Find Your Place at the Library.” The American Library Association offers free promotional tools that include press releases, PSAs, and ready-made graphics.

Celebrations during National Library Week include:

  • Monday, April 20: State of America’s Libraries Report released, including the Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2019.
  • Tuesday, April 21: National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.
  • Wednesday, April 22: National Bookmobile Day, a day to recognize the contributions of our nation’s bookmobiles and the dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities.
  • Thursday, April 23: Take Action for Libraries Daya day to rally advocates to support libraries.

Also — if your library has celebrated National Library Week with an engaging campaign, the American Library Association wants to hear from you! They’re planning a webinar to share creative and fun ideas for how libraries of all types can use NLW for public awareness and community outreach efforts. This is a great opportunity to highlight your library and its successes, so email to share your story.

National Library Week is an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.

Apply Now for Inclusive Internship Initiative

The Public Library Association’s Inclusive Internship Initiative (III) offers paid, summer-long internships to high school students at their local public library. Over the course of the summer, each intern works with a library mentor on a community-based learning project. Through III, students from diverse backgrounds are introduced to careers in librarianship, library mentors practice leadership skills, and host libraries grow new audiences through outreach and programming.

Any public library in the US is welcome to apply. Small, rural, tribal, and pueblo libraries are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applications for the 2020 Inclusive Internship Initiative opened January 6, and will close on Monday, February 3, 2020. Libraries will go through a competitive application process to be selected as a host site. Once selected, the library is responsible for recruiting an intern from a background representing the diversity of their local community.