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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SL3: School Libraries, Summer Lunch, Summer Learning

The State Library is involved in a partnership with OregonASK, National Summer Learning Association, Summer Food Oregon, Bazillion Books and local schools to keep the doors of school libraries open in concert with summer food programs. Katie Anderson is, of course, doing all the partnership work but I had an opportunity to join her in rubbing elbows with Senator Wyden as he visited three sites this week.


He was in Woodburn on Tuesday, Salem on Wednesday and Springfield today. In each location he was joined by his staff,  local program staff and policy makers.

In Salem the Senator was joined by Deputy Oregon Superintendent of Schools, Rob Saxton, to serve lunch and they did a great job!

Wyden:Saxton Salem




Beth Unverzagt is the Executive Director of OregonASK. Her responsibilities include coordinating state level efforts around afterschool and summer programming, representing Oregon at the national level and working with partners to ensure the goals of the network are achieved. She takes those responsiblities very seriously and has boundless energy when it comes to afterschool and summer programming

MKD w babyShe and her incredible staff orchestrated the road show which also provided me with an opportunity to talk to kids and hold a baby, something that I don’t often have a chance to do these days.

Senator Wyden not only served the kids lunch and read to them,Springfield w:kids he also talked with the grownups about the need for the libraries, lunch and learning.

It was great fun to rub elbows but was even more fun  seeing all those kids reading books and eating lunch. If you have questions about SL3 please contact Katie Anderson, I know she would be pleased to talk with you.

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A Tale of Two Libraries

The Oregon State Library Board held its regular meeting at the Monroe Community Library, a branch of the Corvallis-Benton County Library, last Friday. The new library opened almost exactly one year ago. Although we can’t afford to do it for every meeting, the Board does  travel to other libraries for their meetings on occasion.

I had not been to visit the Monroe Library  since it opened, even though I only live about 15 miles north of it in Corvallis, Back of Libraryso I was delighted to have an excuse to visit.

I did watch the building progress from the outside when I drove by, it grew from a dilapidated train depot to an incredible community library/center. The old freight depot was transformed into meeting rooms and a library was built onto that.

Some of the highlights for me were the lovely “living room” area with a fireplace, Fizz Boom the Robot, and the corridor in front of the meeting rooms that evoke the train station. Lori Pelkey, the branch manager, uses the “living room” for storytime. Lori provided the Board with an in-depth tour, if you go visit ask her to do the same for you, I’m guessing she will agree to do it. Fizz Boom Robot

Living Room


Train Depot








The next day I drove to Klamath Falls to attend the grand opening of the new South Suburban Branch of the Klamath County Library. The branch had been located in a very small space in a strip mall. They purchased an existing building, within walking distance of several schools, and had it remade into a branch library.

KFalls opening with Commissioner and Friends


KFalls buildingAt the grand opening there was much talk about the importance of vision, both envisioning the future and being able to see in your mind’s eye what the branch will actually look like. I don’t think any of us can do either of those things flawlessly but the library staff and others involved in the new branch did a pretty great job. Again, a wonderful library/community center was created through the hard work, good will, and generosity of an Oregon community.

The other thing that struck me about both of these buildings was their integration into the culture of the local community. In Monroe the restored train station was original to that community, the 38 foot ceiling in the entry was designed to be reminiscent of a grain elevator, and the three cupolas in the main part of the library evoked the cupolas on the big red barns in the community. In Klamath County children in several schools had heard the recollections of a county resident of Japanese descent who had been interned at Tule Lake California during WW II. The children then created tiles depicting diversity that were grouped and hung around the new library.Klamath tiles

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Statistical Snippets

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has released two reports in the last several days that have interesting data about both State Libraries and public libraries. The first is the State Library Administrative Agency (SLAA) Report Fiscal Year 2012. The report provides highlights from the SLAA Survey which compares key elements and trends in revenue and expenditures, workforce and staff development, services, and identification and governance.

The second report is the annual Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2011. This is the report that brings together the public library statistics that you provide to OSL each year with public library statistics from the rest of the country. In addition to the full report the IMLS Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation also provides a fact sheet, state by state profiles, and supplementary tables.




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