Category Archives: Trustees and Foundations

Meeting Rooms, Libraries, and Neutrality



Janice Grover-Roosa

By Janice Grover-Roosa
Wyoming Library Association ALA Representative
Director, Western Wyoming Community College Hay Library

ALA has recently demonstrated its commitment to uphold the foundational principles of librarianship by way of policy. As if to say, “The only way to satisfy most of you most of the time is to follow the policy every time”—ALA is adhering to the long established policy governing patrons’ rights to freely access ideas and information via library meeting-rooms. This is not to say, however, that reaffirming this stance was easy. After the ALA Council revised a policy in order to stipulate that hate groups should have equal access to library meeting rooms, many people from around the country weighed in about the collective library ‘voice’ and entertained a dialog about libraries, neutrality, and policy. Library policies are perhaps the most concrete tool available to librarians to clearly communicate the rights of library users, and it is important that Wyoming librarians stay abreast of national conversations like this one so that our library policies remain current.

ALA’s Library Bill of Rights is a set of foundational policies that guide libraries in their role as “forums for information and ideas.” In order to help librarians across the United States understand how these policies should be applied to “specific library practices” like meeting-room access, the ALA also publishes a set of policies referred to as Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. It was a revision to the latter that caused deliberation between ALA staff, librarians, library advocates, and library patrons last June when the “hate group” language was added. The revision, later rescinded amidst the uproar, read, “If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities.”

To be clear, there was no functional difference in the practical application of this revised policy, only a change in the rhetorical value of the language therein. The policy reverted back to the previous 1991 version after a resolution to vote to rescind the revision was passed by the ALA Council last August. The policy, in short, once again reads, “If meeting rooms in libraries supported by public funds are made available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or based on the ideas that the group advocates.” This policy doesn’t detail specific groups like the revised version but rather notes, “any group.” Though the policy on meeting rooms changed and swiftly changed back, the action provided a larger platform to discuss library neutrality and the responsibility libraries have to all members of their communities.

It was no accident (was it?) that, preceding the short-lived policy revision adopted at the 2018 ALA Conference in June 2018, ALA President, Jim Neal, hosted a panel discussion, Are Libraries Neutral at the 2017 Midwinter Meeting. Taken together, the panel discussion and policy revision/reversion seem to be suggesting that there is an internal conflict regarding the collective ‘library voice’ and just who or what that voice should be protecting. To summarize the essential elements of this conflict one can refer to comments from two speakers from the panel discussion mentioned above. James LaRue, Director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director for the Freedom to Read Foundation notes (see full remarks):

I will argue that neutrality has a precise and essential meaning. Here it is: we do not deny access to library services and resources, and we do not seek to silence people on the basis of their backgrounds or beliefs. We do set limits on behavior. People who start shouting at or punching other patrons get kicked out or arrested. But our courts have consistently held that speech — whether spoken, written, filmed, sung, or worn on a T-shirt — is not the same thing as action. There has to be imminent and immediate physical danger. When we suppress speech, or shut out, or shout down people in public space — whether it be to advance the cause of conservative or progressive agendas, whether it be in the name of preservation of power or social justice — we conflate word with deed. We claim that just by listening or reading, we have been injured. So my safety requires someone else’s silence. This view is the foundation of censorship and tyranny.

Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction at Long Island University in Brooklyn thoughtfully countered LaRue’s points, with the following statement (see full remarks),  regarding library neutrality as it relates to library policy:

Those steeped in and rewarded by dominant ways of seeing the world don’t have to know how intensely political the ostensibly neutral position is. If the white supremacists booking your meeting space are not after you, you don’t have to know how dangerous they are. Books about reparative therapy for gay people can be simply another point of view if yours is not the body and mind those authors seek to destroy.

There is a lot to be considered regarding library policy and though the current stance of ALA is clear for the time being, it’s never too soon, or too late to ensure your library policy is up to date. For detailed information about what to consider, like state and local law, when drafting your library meeting-room policy, refer to Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage published by ALA.

The opinions relating to library neutrality are cause for consideration here in Wyoming. How do we as Wyoming Librarians understand the nuances of this debate? Do you think this is something we should discuss in a session at the Wyoming Library Association conference or via webinar? Do we have valuable input to share in terms of this discussion? If we want our voice to be heard, don’t we need to know where we stand collectively? Please contact your ALA Chapter Councilor, Janice Grover-Roosa, if you’d like to discuss library neutrality further as a Wyoming library community.

National Friends of Libraries Week



Friends of Libraries groups have their very own national week of celebration! United for Libraries will coordinate the 13th annual National Friends of Libraries Week October 21-27, 2018. The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate Friends. Use the time to creatively promote your group in the community, to raise awareness, and to promote membership. This is also an excellent opportunity for your library and Board of Trustees to recognize the Friends for their help and support of the library.
Join the celebration:

More information, ideas, and promotional materials are available at www.ala.org/united/events_conferences/folweek.

Tips for Novice Grant Writers



From Colorado Virtual Library
By Amy Hitchner, Colorado State Library Statewide Collaborative Programming Coordinator

Is your library considering writing a grant proposal in the near future? Many libraries rely on grants to fund projects of all sizes, yet few of us have professional grant writers on staff. If you’re new to grants you probably have lots of questions, starting with the fundamentals and the overall process.

To explore some of these questions, I attended a two-day Strategic Grant Writing Workshop from the Institute for Strategic Funding Development in June 2018. The attendees came from higher education, nonprofits, and government, and all were new to grant writing. During the course we learned how to construct strategy-based grant proposals using tips that have been helpful in securing millions of dollars in funding. Here is the information that resonated with me and that I felt would be useful to a wider audience.

Know your funding sources

Grant-makers fall into one of three categories: federal, foundation, or state. Knowing how they differ can help you find a grant that aligns with the goals of your project and your organization.

Federal funding

Approximately 52 billion dollars in federal grant funding is available annually. The awards are often large and the application process is rigorous and competitive. Novice grant writers may want to start with other types of grants before moving on to federal grants. That being said, our instructor gave us some tips for improving our chances of securing a federal grant:

  • Look for grants before the funding announcements go live. You can do this by researching past grants to get a sense of what will be offered again, and when. Then you will have more time to prepare your grant application.
  • The main website for federal grants is Grants.gov. You should also check Assistance Listings (formerly Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance or CFDA) during your preliminary planning to see comprehensive information about funding options.
  • Consider contacting the program officer for the grant that interests you; most are willing to chat with you about your proposal. Keep in mind that summer is a busy time for the grant cycle, so you will have more success contacting program officers during the winter months.

Foundation funding

Foundations offer approximately 54 billion dollars in annual grant funding. Their application guidelines vary but are usually easier and less competitive than federal grants. This is a good place to start if you are new to grant writing. When applying for a grant from a national foundation, look at where the foundation is headquartered — this is a good indicator of where they will fund.

Corporate foundations usually make larger grants with competitive, complex applications. They have websites with detailed information about their grants, which is not always the case with other types of foundations.

Community foundations usually make larger grants with competitive, complex applications. They also have websites with detailed grant application instructions. Unlike corporate foundations, their funding comes from many sources instead of just one.

Independent foundations are numerous and usually offer smaller, less competitive grants. However, it is much more difficult to find comprehensive information about these types of grants because many independent foundations don’t have websites or accept unsolicited applications.

To look for independent grant-making foundations, search the Foundation Directory Online, a fee-based database that is available at many libraries*. The Foundation Center has another resource, Visualizing Funding for Libraries, that is free and available to anyone. It provides information on potential funders and what library proposals they are funding. You can also trying searching The Grantsmanship Center.

Hot tip: Many independent foundation grant processes require a letter of proposal rather than a lengthy application. If you are applying for multiple grants, create a customizable proposal template that you can reuse.

Tips on Writing Proposals

Keep the following advice in mind when preparing and composing your proposal.

  • It pays to write a good proposal — literally! A well-written proposal is less work for the grant funding officer to evaluate, which they will appreciate. Attention to detail may be the difference between you and the funding you seek.
  • Use the funder’s evaluation criteria as a framework for building your proposal.
  • Funders want to see the impact of their dollars, so focus more on outcomes than on details.
  • Embed the “why” in every part of your application.
  • Attitude counts! Don’t act like a supplicant begging for money. Foundations are required to spend money to keep their charitable status, so make your proposal an opportunity for them.
  • Cite similarities to other grants the funders have accepted. This not only shows that your goals are aligned with theirs, but that you’ve done your homework.

I hope you’ve found some of this information useful during your grant writing process. Though I’m a novice myself I would be happy to answer your questions about my experience in the workshop.

Contact Amy Hitchner at ahitchner@coloradovirtuallibrary.org. Adapted with edits; reposted with permission.

*The Foundation Directory Online is available at these Wyoming public libraries:

  • Campbell County Public Library System Gillette,
  • Park County Public Library Cody
  • Teton County Library Jackson
  • Laramie County Library System, Cheyenne

Wyoming libraries and staff are encouraged to apply for Carol McMurry Library Endowment grants for both library projects and continuing education.

200+ Fundraising Ideas from Wild Apricot



Donations through your friends or foundation gives you the resources to enhance your basic library services. Wild Apricot has put together more than 200 fundraising ideas for you — everything from art auctions to cow pie bingo. They’ve rated them by complexity, cost, and expected return, and organized them by category:

  • Contest Fundraising Ideas
  • Ongoing Fundraising Ideas
  • Event Fundraising Ideas
  • Fundraising Ideas For Kids
  • Mega Fundraising Ideas
  • Online Fundraising Ideas
  • Quick Fundraising Ideas
  • Raffle Fundraising Ideas
  • Fundraising Sale Ideas
  • Unique Fundraising Ideas

If you’re brainstorming ways to find more money for your library, read Wild Apricot’s full blog post for some new ideas.

New Collection of Sample Library Policies



The Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC) and Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) have launched a free online collection of various library policies from around the nation. Topics range from job descriptions to computer use policies and everything in between.

See the collection.

You can contribute to this body of knowledge by submitting your own policies. Do so by September 23, 2018, and have your library entered into a drawing for a $50 Demco gift certificate. You’ll earn an entry for each policy you submit.

Board and Director Handbooks Updated



We’ve just freshened up our handbooks for boards and directors with updated links, so if you haven’t perused their pages for a while, you might want to take a look. These handy and informative manuals provide guidance on myriad issues facing both new and seasoned trustees and directors. The resource links offer additional information. Questions may be directed to Library Development Manager Brian Greene at brian.greene@wyo.gov or (307) 777-6339.

Submit ALA Conference Programs for Trustees, Foundations, or Friends



Here’s an opportunity to share your knowledge at a national conference. United for Libraries, is encouraging submissions of programs for trustees, foundations, and friends groups for the next American Library Association Annual ConferenceJune 20-25, 2019, in Washington, D.C. They are looking for people to plan or host programs on:

  • Foundation-focused programs: Fundraising, planned giving, annual giving campaigns, fundraising events, etc.
  • Friends programs: Re-energizing your organization, recruiting new/younger members, new ways to sell books, online book sales, best practices, etc.
  • Trustees: Advocacy, governance, best practices in policies, trending issues, etc.

To submit a program, visit www.ala.org/conferencesevents/submissions. The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2018. If you have questions or need assistance, please email united@ala.org.

United for Libraries is a Division of the American Library Association.

Webinar: Building a Culture of Learning with Library Boards



WebJunction has an upcoming webinar of interest to trustees: Building a Culture of Learning with Library Boards. This free, online event will take place on Thursday, May 24, from 1-2 p.m. MDT.

Libraries that cultivate a culture of learning encourage their staff to participate in continuing education. But shouldn’t this learning culture also extend to library boards? At the State Library of Iowa, we say yes! Trustees can and should play a key role in fostering a culture of learning at their libraries—beginning with themselves. When library boards embrace a learning culture, they become more receptive to supporting continuing education, in policy, planning, and budgeting. This webinar presents ideas for growing board learning into a blossoming culture that motivates board members to see education and training as a natural part of their trusteeship.

This webinar is hosted in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

Telling the Library Story



Jamie LaRue is the Director of the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom. In a recent listserv discussion, he shared these insights on how to best “tell the library story.”

Most great library stories follow a consistent format:

  • The best stories are about real people.
  • They have a problem.
  • The library, as supporting character (NOT main character) steps in and does something.
  • There’s a happy, and often moving, ending.
  • Then, there’s a single fact to tie it all down. Something like, “the library offers six resume writing workshops per month.” It’s a number that grounds the background story. Just ONE number.
  • Finally, there’s a tag line.

ALA has identified four messages that research says really resonate:

  1. Libraries transform lives.
  2. Libraries transform communities.
  3. Librarians are passionate advocates for lifelong.
  4. Libraries are a smart investment.

When you are advocating for your library, you may wish to keep these ideas in mind to tell your story effectively.

3 Keys to a Developed Board



Reposted from Library Strategies

All library affiliated boards need to grow and develop on an annual basis. As individual members and as a group, they need regular training, review of policies and responsibilities, and additional perspectives for future planning and directions. Three keys can help you develop your board on a regular basis.

Key 1: Board Orientation – Certainly hold an orientation for all new members, but annual or bi-annual orientations are also valuable as refreshers.

Key 2: Professional Development Activities – All board members should engage in this annually, but occasional group trainings or workshops are also important. Ideally board development is structured, scheduled, and an expected duty.

Key 3: Board Evaluation – Conduct an annual board evaluation process (usually a simple survey from the President) as part of a review of individual members performance but also the performance of the board as a whole.

Additional ideas that may help with board development or feed into the “3 Keys” include, regular presentations by professional staff on library trends and issues; having a structure to keep former board members attached (mentoring); and thinking outside the library to explore such issues as publishing, technology, change management, patron behavior, or community changes.