Way Out West

I have been in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this week for the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) annual meeting. The Wyoming state librarian was our host and she arranged for beautiful weather, a visit to tJack Rabbithe fabulous National Museum of Wildlife Art, moose sightings, truffles made by a rodeo cowboy turned chocolatier and a visit from Wyoming’s senior Senator.

This is one of my favorite meetings of the year. We spend two and a half days working and sharing together. In addition to nearly all 50 state librarians there are reports from and discussions with folks from the American Library Association,  Institute of Museum and Library Services, WebJunction, and the Aspen Institute. The highlights for me were:

  • A discussion of the report on public libraries from the Aspen Institute, Rising to the Challenge. I hope you will all take a look at the executive summary and then read the entire report. This should trigger many a discussion about the role of public libraries.
  • Remarks from Karen Keninger who is the director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped who provide all the materials for our Talking Book and Braille Library. She has made substantial change at NLS in her short time there.
  • A discussion of the Edge Initiative (no, we still don’t have pricing information) that reminded me of just how much work Darci Hanning has done to encourage and assist Oregon public libraries in participating.
  • After working hours discussions  (with an adult beverage or two) with other state librarians who are as excited and energized about the work we are doing in libraries as I am.

Tomorrow I am off to another Jackson, Jackson County, for the Southern Oregon Library Federation meeting at the Medford Branch of the Jackson County Library District. I’ll have a report next week.

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All Hail School Libraries and Librarians!

The Oregon Association of School Libraries (a division of the Oregon Library Association) has issued a call to action to parents and supporters of school libraries  They note that fewer than 200 licensed school librarians remain in the state of Oregon to serve 1250 schools and they urge parents to call their principal and school board and ask that a full-time teacher-librarian staff their school library NOW! Check out more detailed information on their website.

I have a date with the Oregon Association of School Libraries and Angela Johnson on Saturday night, October 25th,  and you can join us. In lieu of their fall conference, OASL is holding a one day event that includes a presentation by well known and well loved children’s and young adult author, Angela Johnson. The event will take place at the Embassy Suites at the Airport and you can register online right up until the day of the event. I hope to see you there.

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“Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– Of cabbages–and kings–“

I don’t have many things to talk of, but I do have a few:

1. StORytime Oregon has been launched and I hope that all Oregon libraries take advantage of the educational opportunity. As we all know, early literacy is “what we do” (as Heather McNeil so eloquently put it in her letter to Governor Kitzhaber). The website has logos and other materials that libraries can use to promote our “storytimes”. And you can sign up to be a partner, check out how many partners are librarians!  Katie Anderson and I are working with Nancy Golden’s staff to brainstorm ways we can work together to spread the word and we will keep you updated.

2. The IMLS blog post, Sprouting Green Weeding Practices Web-Based Training, take a look at a training funded with an IMLS grant that works to promote green weeding practices and to engage the community in the conversation and the work.

3. Our colleagues in Josephine County have library district formation on their November ballot. Through the generosity of the Oregon Community Foundation they are running three ads and putting up billboards. The ads are remarkable:

Lifelong Learning for the Family

Josephine Community Libraries are With You

Digital Tools in the Community


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Lucky Number XIII

On Sunday August 17th I had the honor of attending the Emporia State University School of Library and Information Management Oregon Cohort XIII Commencement Exercises. It is a small, intimate celebration that this year and last was held at the OHSU Auditorium in the Old Library Building. It is a delightful setting with lots of energy. I am invited to make remarks each year.  I use my time to congratulate the new graduates and provide some valuable advice, which I did this year as well.

I have a chance to visit with Gwen Alexander, Dean of SLIM, and Andrew Smith, Interim Associate Dean of SLIM and admire their graduation finery. They are very fine people who are turning out very fine librarians. They also look splendid in their academic finery but on a hot August afternoon I am not jealous of the velvet.

I am thrilled to help with the hooding ceremony of the graduates and it only takes a couple of tries, working with Andrew, to get into a rhythm. I have a chance to look each graduate in the eyes and size them up. I can tell you, it is another good crop.

The absolute highlight of the afternoon were the speech by the student representative, Rosezelle Bosely, and the commencement speech by Oregon author, Rosanne Parry. They both brought tears to my eyes and helped me remember why I am so proud to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of my receiving my MLS and my 37th year working in libraries.

I would really like to share those speeches with all of you. Rosezelle and Rosanne, what do you say?

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Be the change…

The State Library has been on something of a journey for the last couple of years in an effort to become more effective, efficient and modern. That is a journey that most of the library profession has been on as well. Some libraries are well into their transformations and some are just starting to make progress.

Here at the State Library we have begun to make some significant changes as we are working toward strategic clarity. I am very excited that the Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow at the Driftwood Public Library in Lincoln City will be a planning session that will take the Board through a process to clarify our vision, mission and focus. Guiding us through the session tomorrow, and the creation of a strategic plan, will be the Coraggio Group of Portland.

As many of you know, there has been significant work done over the last year to determine how to improve the services of the State Library. We have heard from our stakeholders, policy makers, customers, and staff. As a result of that work we know there are actions that we can take right now that will begin the process of improving the State Library. In that spirit, I announced that effective October 1, 2014 we will no longer staff the State Library reference room.

The use of the reference room by our constituents is very low. It is quite expensive to staff the reference room for 35 hours per week as well as pay rent on the space. The more important issue is that the staff of the Government Information and Library Services division are working to modernize and provide 21st century services to their state agency customers. These efforts will take the time and expertise of those who are currently staffing the reference room. This shift in focus will allow our talented staff to target those areas that will provide the most useful and up-to-date services to our customers.

One result of this decision not to staff the reference room is that the room will not be open to the public after October 1, 2014. This will have the most impact on the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society (WVGS) who for the last 25 years have provided volunteers during the hours the reference room is open and who hold a program one Saturday a month.

I will be working with  staff and our partners to identify issues that must be addressed and to communicate this change to the larger community. This is a significant shift as there have been other significant shifts in our 109 year history and I am confident that the Oregon State Library will be providing relevant, valuable services for the next 109 years.


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“Another Op’nin’, Another Show” (with apologies to Cole Porter)

I think that any of you who read this blog regularly, or who know me at all, know that I LOVE attending new library openings. I also love to attend re-openings and library birthdays. Pretty much anywhere there is cake to be had.

I had an opportunity to attend a wonderful library opening that did not serve cake but I did get a popsicle out it. My dear friends, Dana and Tom Campbell, have opened a “Little Free Library” at their house in Corvallis. Little free library Cambells-EFFECTS (2)There was a gala opening on Sunday evening that included neighbors, young and old, and root beer floats and popsicles. Little free library Campbell neighbors SMILE (2)

And even more important, there was library activity going on.Little free library Campbell (3)


Congratulations to Dana, Tom, and their neighbors for keeping the spirit alive.

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“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet “

The Oregon State Library is working to move from a team-based organization to a service-based organization. We are still exploring what that means and how we will implement the move. For the last number of years we have had four teams. We will now be calling those groups of staff members divisions. We have created new names for each division and we anticipate they will provide a clearer description of the work and audience for the divisions.

Government Information and Library Services is the division that provides reference assistance to state government staff and to persons on official state business. Specialized collections include federal and state government publications and a comprehensive collection of materials about Oregon. The library also provides permanent public access to Oregon state government publications.

Library Support and Development Services includes planning for statewide library development, providing equal access to information resources for K-12 students through the Oregon School Library Information System, collecting and reporting public library statistics, and administering state and federal library grant programs. Current priorities are improving early literacy services to children in public libraries and facilitating access to library services for all Oregonians.

The Oregon Talking Book and Braille Library is the Regional Library for the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Oregonians who are unable to read standard print because of visual or physical disability are eligible for free library services. Books and magazines are available in audio format and Braille.

The Operations Division provides services and resources for the other divisions. It includes the business manager, accountant, volunteer coordinator, information technology, executive assistant and state librarian.

We continue to be “at your service”…

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