Publications of the People

There is a new exhibit at the State Library on the 2nd floor,  Publications of the People: The History and Art of Oregon Documents. The Government Information and Library Services division of the State Library has been collecting the publications of Oregon state government for over 100 years. Staff have gathered some of the more interesting and colorful into an informative and fun exhibit. Here is a taste:


Document #1document #2

documents#5document #4

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Who doesn’t love policy?

I wanted to mention a couple of items that have come across my desk this week that I think will be of interest to you:

Katie Anderson, our stellar youth services consultant, has completed the 2013-2014 Ready to Read Grant Program report. This report is packed with information that I can use when I make my budget presentation to the Legislature and that you can use when you share with your legislators and local officials all the great work libraries are doing for kids with state general funds.

This week the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced the availability of the Fiscal Year 2012 Public Library Survey. This is the result of all the work you, and your colleagues in other states, do to report public library statistics to the State Library. Those statistics are combed through by our stellar state data coordinator, Ann Reed, and then submitted to IMLS. I would draw particular attention to the one pager on Oregon Public Libraries.

The American Library Association-Office for Information Technology released a discussion draft of “A National Public Policy Agenda for Libraries and the Policy Revolution! Initiative”. The draft will be discussed at the ALA Midwinter meeting in Chicago on February 1st and feedback can be sent to oitp[at]alawash[dot]org until February 27th.

I am listening to The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, another of her amazing long journeys through history. This one follows Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, McClure’s Magazine, and the progressive era of the early 20th century. Fascinating!

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Celebrating the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Two blog posts came to me this week that inspired me to talk a little bit about IMLS and the enormous impact a small federal agency with limited funds can have on Oregon libraries and Oregonians.

Since the 1950’s states have received federal funds to improve library services. This began as the Library Services Act, morphed into the Library Services and Construction Act and transformed in 1996 to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The Oregon State Library receives a hair over $2 million per year for projects that meet the purposes of the Act and the goals in the our 2013-2017 LSTA Five Year Plan. We provide a number of statewide services, databases, virtual reference, and consulting. We also provide competitive grants to libraries and other organizations around the state.

The two blog posts both deal with LSTA. One provides a look at how one library is using LSTA funding to work with their community to maximize the statewide resources, also funded with LSTA. The second post is the farewell from the outgoing director of IMLS, Susan Hildreth. Both of these were posted on libs-or this week but I think we all know that people have to hear something seven (or however many) times. I won’t revisit this five more times, don’t worry. If you haven’t taken a look at these blog posts, please do.

1. Kate Dwyer at Josephine Community Libraries and their LSTA project are featured on the Gale Cengage Blog. Kate describes it this way: Among other things, my project introduces library online databases to students, policy makers, in-library patrons and lots of others. It’s easy to get people excited about our databases when the content they are finding is relevant to their lives. I walk them through live searches on topics they care about. I do this not just at the library, but in offices, hospitals, schools, club meetings, etc.  Getting in the door is the hard part: people think they already know all about libraries. But once I’m there, they are amazed. Then I get them to give me short testimonials so that other groups will say yes, too.

2. Every four years the president appoints a new director of IMLS. The position alternates between a museum professional and a library professional. Susan Hildreth had been the director since 2011 and is stepping down this month. We don’t know who (or when) a new director will be appointed. Susan was the director of the Seattle Public Library, the San Francisco Public Library and State Librarian of California, in addition to other positions, I think mostly in California’s bay area.

Susan has posted a farewell message to the IMLS blog and I would encourage you to take a look at the work and accomplishments of IMLS under her leadership. She has been a force of nature for libraries and museums in Washington DC. I think I am most impressed by the partnerships she has forged with other federal agencies that pave the way for state libraries to partner at the state level. I have been honored to work with Susan for the past several years and I thank her for everything she has done (and I’m guessing will continue to do) for libraries in the United States.

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Happy New Year!

I wonder if all of you are having as difficult time believing it is 2015 as I am? Someone told me the other day that we are now just as close to 2030 as we are to 2000…

We have been busy here at the State Library, which I would like to use as my excuse for not posting since October 2014 but I can’t. The new Legislature will be sworn in next week which will kick off the 2015 Legislative Session. They will spend the rest of January in organizational meetings and trainings and the Session will officially begin on February 2nd.

This will be my second legislative session as state librarian and I have learned lots since 2013 (and since 2012 when I became state librarian, can you believe it has been three years). We are also going into the legislative session with  a more robust Governor’s Recommended Budget than we did in 2013. The State Library budget includes an increase in funding for Ready to Read grants and increased general fund that will allow us to stop paying for one of our Talking Book and Braille Library staff members from our donation fund. Then we can use our generous donations from Talking Book users and others to enhance the program for our patrons.

HB 2479 has been filed in the House of Representatives. This is the bill that will make changes to the Ready to Read grant program. Most of you know that Katie has been working with the library community for the last year to develop legislation that will update and expand the grant program. We will certainly keep you posted as this bill moves through the process.

I spent some time with my sister-in-law over the holidays. She and I have very similar interests in books and when we get together there is lots of trading of titles. She recommended City of Thieves by David Benioff and I read it last weekend. An amazing coming-of-age, historical novel about the Siege of Leningrad during World War II. I would recommend it ( it does have graphic descriptions of the horrors of the Siege).

The best of everything to all of you in 2015.


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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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