An enthralled crowd of mostly public librarians from all over the state attended a day-long Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) training, “The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness,” at the Central branch of Cranston Public Library on December 11, 2019. Presenter Ryan Dowd is the Executive Director of the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois and is well-known both nationally and abroad for his expertise on the topic.
Dowd, who toured the U.S. with filmmaker Emilio Estevez to promote “The Public,” the 2018 movie about the intersection of library services and marginalized patrons, brought plenty of experience, compassion, and humor to his presentation. He runs a “low-threshold shelter” that will accept “just about anyone” and sees a great deal of colorful behavior on a daily basis. During Dowd’s many years of working in the field, he has observed that people experiencing homelessness frequently struggle to follow the rules wherever they are, for a variety of reasons that were made clear during the session. His training program is designed to educate library staff about the need for “empathy-driven enforcement” of the rules in the face of such complex circumstances.
Ryan Dowd addresses a rapt audience; photo courtesy of Sarah Bouvier, CPL Communications Manager
Dowd divided the day into four parts: (1) understanding how the lives of people experiencing homelessness are very different from others’ lives, (2) examining when and what kinds of punishment works and doesn’t work, (3) the “psychology of voluntary compliance,” and (4) practical advice for synthesizing elements of parts one through three by using “tools of empathy and psychology.”
Empathy took center stage in every discussion and is the driving force behind Dowd’s “pennies in the cup” concept. His premise is that by earning goodwill (represented by those metaphorical pennies, which also can be called “positive relationship credits”) in advance—by going out of their way to be kind to all patrons but especially to marginalized ones—library staff are much more likely to see voluntary compliance from those they serve, including from patrons who may have nothing left to lose and who otherwise may be prone to exhibiting aggressive reactions to any kind of confrontation.
Ryan Dowd explains the three types of homelessness; photo courtesy of Sarah Bouvier, CPL Communications Manager
The complexity of the homelessness issue and how libraries can and should respond to it was not lost on the organizers of the event. In fact, this “was an easy decision,” according to information provided by OLIS staff member Nicolette Baffoni, because Dowd’s “training addresses the root causes of cyclical poverty and trauma that many people experiencing homelessness face, while also providing a vast array of tools to build relationships, increase empathy and, as a result, increase compliance with rules.”
Attendees seemed to grasp the value of the training and gave it high praise. According to Baffoni, “86% of [evaluation] survey respondents strongly agreed that they learned something and were more confident in applying what they learned.” “It was the shortest 7-hour training I think I’ve ever sat through,” wrote one participant. Another commented that the “staff from [my library] who took the workshop continue to bring up what they learned in almost every meeting I have attended since the training.” Someone else pointed out that Dowd’s “techniques can be used to smooth over relations with any kind of patron.”
Appreciative CPL staff members with Ryan Dowd; photo courtesy of Sarah Bouvier, CPL Communications Manager
The Rhode Island Library Information Network for Kids (RILINK), the state’s consortium of K-12 school libraries, has reached an unprecedented level of growth in the 22 years since it was first founded. Now with 205 member libraries, Executive Director Dorothy Frechette decided the consortium was overdue to develop a 5-year strategic plan. Work on the planning process has begun in earnest.
On December 7, RILINK staff met with members of its newly created Advisory Committee for a brainstorming session. The Committee will provide vital feedback on the development of the plan during the coming months.
Members of the Advisory Committee are:
RILINK staff looks forward to working with committee members over the next several months to develop a plan to support and improve RILINK’s benefits and services. Frechette hopes to implement the plan before the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
One benefit of RILINK membership is access to Springshare’s LibGuides CMS to build library websites. The RILINK Schools collection of LibGuides sites was recently featured as a client story in Springshare Buzz. Frechette states that RILINK Staff members Sharon Webster and Zach Berger were instrumental in researching, implementing, and offering trainings for LibGuides to RILINK members. Read the client story and learn more about RILINK on the consortium’s website.
The Providence Public Library (PPL) and Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS) are excited to announce the award of $250,000 in federal funding that will support an ongoing partnership to complete an extensive digitization project of Rhode Island’s historic newspapers. The funds are being awarded as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress, to create a national digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1690 and 1963 from all the states and U.S. territories available through the Library of Congress. This is the first time that Rhode Island has participated in the program.
RIHS holds a remarkable collection of microfilm reels of 314 Rhode Island newspaper titles that ceased publication prior to 1923. However, this collection, critical to understanding the development of both the state and the nation's rich history, remains unavailable for research in an online format.
This grant funding supports PPL, in partnership with the RIHS, to digitize at least 50,000 pages of historic RI newspapers, provide the Library of Congress preservation copies of microfilm reels, and promote the accessibility of these digital resources to the broader community.
The principal project activities and results will include:
Woonsocket's homeschool community has noticeably grown over the past several years. As more families came to the Woonsocket Harris Public Library during school hours, Library staff realized there was a need for programming.
In March 2019, the homeschool outreach coordinator, Solitaire Frisby, and Chris Goldstein, the Children’s Librarian, met with Sarah Carr, Assistant Director at the Museum of Work and Culture. What started in May as a small, one-time program developed into a well-attended, free, bimonthly educational program for all ages. This partnership is ideal in meeting the specific needs of Woonsocket residents, as many are challenged with a lack of finances and/or transportation. Melissa Robb, of ENRICHri, reached out and helped invite homeschoolers beyond the Woonsocket area. The program had visitors from Worcester, Cumberland, Pawtucket, and other communities.
Homeschool families register with the Museum of Work and Culture, and the program starts at the Museum at 10am. A volunteer from the Museum leads families on a tour of specific parts of the Museum related to the topic of the day. Families then leave the Museum and travel to the Library nearby to continue in an immersive educational experience, which may include snacks, a craft, a hands-on STEAM activity, and green screen and other technology from the library's 2017 Studio Rhode Grant.
Each program has a different topic. In May, they focused on the French-Canadians' journey to America and how they established roots in Woonsocket, predominately by working in the mills; they had 23 participants. October's topic focused on mill work and the ecology of the Blackstone River; they had roughly 45 participants.
December’s program was entitled, “Global Holiday Traditions.” The museum offered four fantastic speakers from Dorcas International who shared their personal experiences having grown up in Quebec, The Congo, Israel, and Portugal; there were 68 participants. While the Museum provides area-specific tours of its facility and provides volunteers to lead discussions, the Library followed up with a slew of activities, including: a stamp-as-you-go holiday scavenger hunt, a holiday card-writing station for residents of a local nursing home, green screen photos, and the opportunity to taste new foods at the refreshment station. They had various displays, including a Chinese New Year dragon, as well as a functional 'German Christmas Market' in which homeschool students took turns as the vendor, selling donated children's books. It was a big hit, enjoyed by all, with lots of great feedback.
The Library's homeschool program collaboration with the Museum will continue into 2020 with two more events already scheduled for February and April.
Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the life of another person and to gain new insights into our rich profession. You can also give and receive guidance and take your career to the next level. RILA is officially launching its new Mentorship Program this year, and we would love your participation. Please join our program today to develop lasting professional relationships with others in the field.
To be a part of the RILA Mentorship Program:
You must be a current RILA member.
You may be a library employee, retired librarian, or current library school student.
You must make a 1-year commitment that includes meeting with your mentor/mentee at least 3 or 4 times per year by phone, email, web conferencing, or in-person meetings.
You can sign up to be a Mentor or a Mentee. We are seeking both types of applicants and anticipate formally launching our first cohort this Spring.
Click here to fill out the Mentor Application.
Click here to fill out the Mentee Application.
You can read the Program Guidelines for more information.
For questions, please contact email@example.com.
This news story out of Multnomah County, Oregon, provides a good summary of the issues at play in the battle between public libraries, which have seen increased ebook use, and ebook publishers which are raising prices and instituting policies that restrict access.
Watch the Video Here
Access the full article here: https://katu.com/news/following-the-money/multnomah-county-library-in-the-fight-with-publishers-over-price-of-ebooks
On July 25, Macmillan Publishing announced it would become the only major (Big 5) publisher to limit eBook lending for U.S. libraries. Under its new licensing model, scheduled to begin November 1, 2019, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in eBook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.
As American Library Association (ALA) President Wanda Brown asserted that same day, “Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library eBook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all. Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable.”
Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) President Julie Holden agrees and adds, “By providing readers with wide access to authors and their works, libraries are partners, not adversaries, of the publishing industry. We contribute to the success of Macmillan’s writers and authors, who will be negatively affected by this embargo.”
See the full Press Release here
The Library has had a long-standing relationship with the Narragansett-Cooke-Gaspee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who over many years have generously donated books and shelving for the Library's local history collection. Since the needlework's subject matter was George Washington, the Library approached the Chapter in the spring of 2017 to ask if they would be interested in exploring the possibility of a restoration. They agreed, and the Library contacted the Textile Conservation Laboratory to set up a visit.
The Laboratory, for a nominal standard fee, will examine an item and prepare a "Conservation Analysis & Recommendations and Treatment Report." Rebecca Kelly, Director of the Laboratory, and one or two of her students came to the Library to take a look at “George.” On the basis of that visit, they produced the report laying out the anticipated work and costs. This was shared with the DAR Chapter, which agreed to fund the project.
Framing was done at the Laboratory, with components brought there by the framer, eliminating the need for transport to a different location. The cost of framing, separate from the conservation itself, was shared equally by the DAR Chapter and Friends of the Peace Dale Library.
“George,” newly vibrant, came "home" in May, 2019. On May 22, the Library hosted a public unveiling, with Rebecca Kelly as the featured speaker. As the next century of life for this historic artwork begins, we invite all in the RILA community to come take a look!
In midst of a funding battle, Maury Loontjens Memorial Library in Narragansett is a finalist to be named one of the Nicest Places in America.
As the people of this seaside town fight to save their library, the librarians go about their business, serving the community.
Narragansett’s public library is so unassuming that you might drive right by it if you didn’t know what you were looking for. But to the 15,000 people who make this seaside town their home, the library is where the knitting club meets, high schoolers hunker with tutors, preschoolers sit wide-eyed at story time—and where it’s impossible to miss how gracious the staff is in the face of an existential threat.
Recently the town council voted to slash the facility’s budget in half and put on hold plans for a much-needed new building for the 10,000 people who visit a month. The library may lose its eligibility for additional state funding, putting five full-time and 14 part-time staffers’ jobs in jeopardy. The fight has gotten ugly at times, with heated arguments at town council meetings. Through it all, the librarians have stayed above the fray, continuing to smile, making the library an oasis of civility even as a battle rages around it.
“We have no say in the politics,” says library director Patti Arkwright. “So we just go with the flow. We’re just happy to serve the people who use our library.”
“As soon as you come through that door, they make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world,” says local resident Suzan Amoruso, who nominated the place. When her grandchildren visit from out of town, the first place they ask to go is the library.
Supporters drop in regularly with boxes of chocolates and plates of cookies for library staffers, who regularly go above and beyond the call of duty. Like the time when a woman told a librarian she was lonely and longed for a dog. A short time later another patron mentioned plans to move and the need to rehome a dog. The librarian connected the two parties and a match was made.
At a recent council meeting, one woman stood and gave the crowd a history lesson about the town that has been her home for more than 90 years. The library, she argued, is a reflection of Narragansett’s core values kindness and civility, no matter what you’re facing. Before she sat back down, she said simply, “This is who we are. We are this library.”
As the current town council attempts to dismantle the library, the librarians continue to make it a center of the community. Residents are gathering around to save the library.
In a very outdated space, the librarians continue to run very current and interesting programs. They speak out at every town council meeting to try to convince the present town council that a library is not just a place to check out a book. They stay calm and positive.
The first place my grandchildren want to visit is the library. Other residents in Rhode Island say, “I love your library.” The librarians there are so nice, so helpful.
I had a very sentimental chair that my mother sat in. When it had to be given away the library was the perfect place for it. I can visit it and when I see others in it reading it brings me joy. Residents are doing all they can to prevent the library from being cut and to have it moved into the building that was purchased by the town. And through it all, the library staff keep welcoming all who enter.
A donated chair that reminds our nominator of her mother is one of many things that make this place special. Photo courtesy Suzan Amoruso.
Think that Maury Loontjens Memorial Library in Narragansett, Rhode Island is the Nicest Place in America? Vote here!
Have you shared a book with young people in your school, family or community that you would recommend to others? The Rhode Island Library and Information Network for Kids (RILINK) invites you to share that title with others in our online survey. Click on the image to participate!