As the children’s librarian at the East Smithfield Public Library, I periodically attend monthly Children’s Service Round Table meetings. Attended by Rhode Island children’s librarians, these meetings are held at different library locations and each agenda focuses on a variety of topics of concern and interest. The meetings are run by Danielle Margarida, the Youth Services Coordinator, at OLIS. At one of the meetings about the Summer Reading Program, Azade Perin, Child Nutrition Program Outreach Coordinator from the Rhode Island Department of Education, gave a presentation about Summer Meals. She wanted to let librarians know that summer meals can be served at public libraries. Her enthusiasm about making sure children can access food throughout the summer was infectious.
Summer meals are funded by the USDA and certain requirements need to be met, in order for a library to qualify as a site to serve meals. According to the USDA website (2017), “a site is the physical location, approved by the State agency, where you serve SFSP (Summer Food Service Program)”. Libraries are considered open sites, which are sites “that operate in low-income areas where at least 50 percent of children residing in the area are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, based on local school or census data” (USDA, 2017). Since libraries are considered open sites, they are seen as ideal places for serving summer meals. One of the main perks of being an open site is that any child may receive a meal without a parent/caregiver filling out any paperwork. All meals are served to children and teens under the age of eighteen and must be eaten on-site (USDA, 2017).
After that meeting with Ms. Perin, I received an email letting me know that East Smithfield Public Library would qualify as an open site. After two meetings and a few emails, everything was finalized. We were able to use our programming room to serve the meals. We decided on a schedule of Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, beginning on July 9th and ending on August 16th.
The role the library plays in this is simple. We set up the room, and the meal provider (usually associated with the food service program at the local public school department) comes and serves the meals. I used some ideas from articles on summer meal programs held at other libraries. I put tablecloths on the tables and provided small activities for the children such as books, coloring sheets and Legos. I also scheduled programming to take place before and after the lunch program.
Since the program has started, twelve meals have been served, on average, each day. It seems like a small amount, but I believe that there has been a positive impact in the community. There are patrons attending the lunch program who are new to the library. They are attending story times and using the children’s area. There are teens who are walking to the library to have lunch and to use the computers. And, there are children who typically come to the library, enjoying lunch as well. Overall, this has been a positive experience for our library, and I hope that we can do it again next summer.
See coverage of the program in the Local News
Carol Derosier, Children’s Librarian
East Smithfield Public Library
Storytime has always been a cherished memory and early exposure for families who engage with libraries. Sometimes though, families who have children who are distracted easily or have different needs do not feel comfortable attending. Sensory Storytime fills that gap and provides a service for community members.
“I’ve been on a mission to promote sensory storytime,” said Maria Cotto from the Pawtucket Public Library. “I learned about it first at an OLIS continuing education program where I saw a Librarian from the Brooklyn Public Library explain how to implement a sensory story time.
Sensory Storytime is an interactive, educational storytime for children preschool age to 8 years old with autism and/or sensory challenges, but all children are welcome. It involves books, picture schedule, songs, movement, felt board and therapeutic play that incorporate the five senses.
Maria started the program at her library after learning about it five years ago.
With her personal experience of raising a child with autism, she saw knew that she wanted to offer this at her library. Once she started creating it, she found that other librarians wanted to join in.
Barbara Wells, from the Greenville Public Library is part of the Support Group. She has been hosting Sensory Storytime for about a year and a half.
“I started with one program,” said Wells. “It took some time to learn about it and get it initially started, gathering the materials and planning the stories. But once it got started, we got a good response.”
Wells has also engaged with community partners and promoting the Sensory Storytime with The Autism Project and the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment.
“Engaging with our community partners has been great,” said Wells. “They are putting the word out and bringing the people to our library.”
That’s the biggest reward that they’ve both found- the community's positive response.
“We are able to connect families to the library,” says Cotto. “We let them know that they don’t have to be alone and that they are part of the community. Parents may feel that their children are too disruptive for the library, but we want to make the library a welcoming place for them.”
“As families continue to attend the sensory story time children begin to feel welcome and make friends,” she said. “The best part is seeing these families visiting the library besides attending the story time. They feel comfortable and a part of the library community, while connecting with other families. I’ve met some families who didn't’ go out because they didn’t know where to bring their child and now they know that the library is a place they can be a part of.”
The Sensory Support Group connects the libraries in RI who are offering this service. Currently, about five libraries are involved.
“We had our first meeting there was so much excitement,” said Cotto. “We were sharing our experiences and getting ideas of what we can do next.”
Anyone is welcome to learn more about Sensory Storytime. Check out the Rhode Island Facebook Group or email email@example.com
What do you do when you have a successful outdoor library program every summer? If you are the East Providence Public Library, you find a way to use your beautiful outdoor space in a new and exciting way. You apply for a grant and even when you don’t get it, you are not dismayed. Your passion for the project - a Farmers’ Market - drives you forward. Naturally, this project will meet the library’s programming goal of building and strengthening community. At best, the project will be embraced by patrons and residents, city officials, and library staff, and it will be sustainable for years to come. At worst, it will be a 12-week learning experience, full of fun, challenges, hard work, and a fresh, new network of farmers, producers, businessmen, musicians, artists, educators, journalists, photographers, farmers’ market supporters and customers who learn about the library and its vital role in the community.
We are pleased to announce that the Weaver Library Farmers’ Market will open for its fifth year on June 21, 2018. For the next twelve weeks, hundreds of people will arrive on the Weaver lawn to purchase fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood, eggs, balsamic vinegar, baked goods, granola, plants, flowers, honey, and other goods from local farms and small businesses. Each Thursday, customers of all ages will shop to live music and, on many market days, enjoy special children’s programming such as concerts, arts and crafts, pop-up-play, ice cream socials, and special guests such as Max Man, RI’s recycling hero. It makes for a lively afternoon in the neighborhood and the library is at the center of it.
When we opened the market in 2013, some asked why a library would consider a role in the local food system. Our response was simple. Why wouldn’t a library want to use one of its beautiful, natural resources to provide the community with fresh, wholesome food, and support farmers and small businesses in the process? Why wouldn’t a library want to reconnect its community with the food they eat and, especially, the people who grow it? It is our belief that Farmers Markets, like libraries, are about the people. Both engage folks in learning, interacting, and enjoying new experiences. Both create relationships as do libraries. Finally, Farmers’ Markets may be seasonal, but they speak to the future of our communities and the state as do libraries!
We are librarians and stories still mean everything to us. When customers and vendors tell us that they love the community spirit present at the market or millennials praise the market’s “vibe”, we beam. One young couple, who often travel out of state for work, said that the library and the Farmers’ Market gave them a needed sense of home. Another woman related how proud she was that her hometown finally had a Farmers’ Market. It gave her one more reason to come to the library.
While there are many social benefits to a library Farmers’ Market, being able to offer SNAP/EBT, Bonus Bucks, WIC, and Senior Coupons, has allowed us to serve all members of our community. The library could not have done this on its own however. Grant funds from the fabulous Farm Fresh RI have made this possible.
Assistant Library Director, East Providence Public Library
Weaver Library Farmers Market Facebook Page
Public broadband in Rhode Island is possible and can help ensure net neutrality. Hundreds of communities throughout the United States have already developed programs that provide municipal internet access at faster speeds than is presently available on the open market. While the principles of net neutrality are great, they do not do enough to ensure that all Americans are provided with access to information. Communities can design programs so that the principles of net neutrality are ensured.
To use healthcare as a metaphor, net neutrality is akin to the ACA while public broadband is more like universal healthcare. The ACLU has recently launched “The Public Internet Option”, a national effort to educate people about public broadband. A wealth of resources are available online and there are a growing number of communities with initiatives presently underway, notably Cambridge, MA and the state of Kentucky. There are several successful programs, especially in Chatanooga, TN. The digital economy in areas that adopt public broadband experiences tremendous growth due to the faster speeds and better connectivity that public broadband provides. More information and a robust community can be found at muninetworks.org. The Post Road Foundation, a new nonprofit devoted to providing resources to support public connectivity, has recently received substantial funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. Public broadband systems can be devised in numerous ways. Chatanooga has developed a system that operates public broadband in much the same way that municipal water departments operate. Other communities develop systems that rely on public-private partnerships.
In Rhode Island, we have a unique and exciting opportunity because as a small state we can hopefully institute a statewide program. Any public broadband option would gain popularity among the general public as a potential cost savings. Additionally, speaking as a librarian who navigates the byzantine E-Rate system, a public system would greatly reduce the stress level of librarians and teachers who are subjected to that system on a nearly continuous basis.
Technical Services Librarian,
Due to volatile town politics and other agendas, East Greenwich school librarians are getting the short stick. The East Greenwich School Libraries’ budget has been zero dollars for the past three years. No new books or resources have been purchased since 2014. The most current Town Budget level funded the East Greenwich School System and this has led the School Committee to remove the high school library media specialist position. The East Greenwich community has noticed this and is taking action. Will this be enough to gain the attention of town officials?
“The good thing is that (the school librarian issue) is creating a lot of awareness about what librarians do,” says Maura Keating, East Greenwich resident and co-chair of the RILA ILART Roundtable. “Parents did not know about what the librarians do at school and are a now little more concerned.”
“I’m familiar with the situation, but I was surprised how many residents didn’t know what was going on,” said Kimberly Kinzie, resident and member of Engaged East Greenwich, a local Facebook group dedicated to events in town. “I’d be at the bus stop and telling people that we didn’t have a high school librarian. People were just not aware of the situation, they didn’t know what was going on, but they are horrified when they know.”
Once they knew, the community started to speak up. There are now three grassroots groups -- “The EG Library Lions”, “Engaged East Greenwich” and “Creating Good EGGs” -- comprised of concerned citizens that have hosted numerous events; from poetry slams, creating “Little Free Libraries” around the town that collect books specifically from the high school reading list to creating a petition website.
“East Greenwich prides itself on the quality of its public schools,” said Kate Goldman, a parent and member of Creating Good EGGs (East Greenwich + Global). “The fact that we are not meeting our students' needs or even complying with basic standards is an outrage and stands in direct opposition to what we believe our community to be.”
This community effort has captured the attention of local school and town officials.
"In a very short period of time we had to make some significant decisions,” said Carolyn Mark, Chair of the East Greenwich School Committee. “We were hoping that this was a temporary situation. It was a reasonable decision in an awful situation.”
Before they made the cut, the East Greenwich School Committee didn’t know that they couldn’t share school librarians between schools. The previous middle school library media specialist retired and the Committee decided to fill the position with the current high school library media specialist, leaving the high school position empty. This decision will cost the school district accreditation issues in the future.
“Properly staffing library media resources is considered essential in our accreditation,” said Mark. “It's a concern in the long run - we are responsible and the school board can to respond to and remedy the situation."
Some residents fear that elementary school media specialists in East Greenwich will be transferred to the high school, leaving the lower-level schools with less support. In the last seven years, three of the East Greenwich Teachers of the Year have been Library Media Specialists (Phyllis Humphrey, 2016; Beth Gorter, 2015; and Connie Zack, 2011)
"We can't move them, it's not an option,” said Mark. “We have rock star library media specialists in elementary schools and they are essential media school teachers."
Even with this information, the exact details of what will happen next is still unclear.
“We had to agree to disagree to make this choice,” says Mark. “Things did not work out the way we hoped this year, but I'm hoping that it will be remedied.”
Currently, the School Committee is creating the upcoming school year budget. They do know that they will be receiving $400,000 of Rhode Island State Aid.
That's going to help,” said Mark. “But we have others costs that are increasing within the school too. The hope is that we are able to come in with a more reasonable request to the town. If they do level fund us, then we'll have to make some very hard decisions about eliminating programs for the next school year."
This decision won’t be made until the School Committee submits the budget to the town and then the budget goes up for public hearings. The earliest any decision will be made would be in June 2018.
What can the RILA and Rhode Island library community do to support this situation?
“As an EG resident, I would appreciate any efforts by the RI library community to publicize this issue,” says Goldman. “If anyone in the RI library community is interested, in helping with collecting books for the Little Free Libraries, I can help them get started.”
RILA has also been vocal about the issue. Last fall RILA wrote a letter to the East Greenwich school superintendent and school committee protesting the closure of the high school library and advocating for the hiring of a full time credentialed school library media specialist. In January the president of RILA Kieran Ayton, attended a poetry slam for the East Greenwich High School Library where he was able to share RILA's support with the East Greenwich community.
As members of the RI Library Community, we need to speak up and continue to promote the importance of libraries.
“You should be talking about what the value of libraries do and continue to talk,” says Keating. “If you stay silent and worry then they’ll come for you next. Be positive—talk about the impact that you have to your students and community—it is not just about books. It is the last thing that these librarians do—it is the last part of their jobs. School library media specialists do so much more.”
By Babs Wells, Children’s Librarian at Greenville Public Library
I recently attended a one-day seminar on the topic of management and leadership. It was facilitated by Fred Pryor Seminars, according to their website they offer 10,000 award winning training options live and online to satisfy learning needs across the United States and Canada.
We dove right in at 9:00 am by introducing ourselves. I was the only public librarian in attendance. I met people who worked in all kinds of professions. It was a diverse bunch of folks.
The facilitator told us right out of the gate that she didn’t plan on doing most of the talking or lecturing. She briefly shared what the day would look like and that we would have two short breaks with an hour for lunch.
I have participated in a myriad of workshops, conferences and roundtables that are related to being a librarian, and usually know most of the people who are at these events and programs. It feels comfortable and familiar.
The Fred Pryor seminar placed me in a room where I didn’t know anyone in a format that was completely outside my comfort zone. Early into the morning we broke into small groups to work on one of the many assignments we were given throughout day. At first there was that feeling of uncomfortable silence when one begins to think to themselves, "Who is going to break the ice?."
As the day went on it became very interesting to get to know people whose professions are entirely unlike mine but I discovered we also had much in common. There were various strategies and concepts that were explored and shared that can be applied to being a leader whether you work as a department head in a public library, as a banquet captain in a restaurant, as a supervisor at a private catering event or as a manager of groundskeepers at several large cemeteries.
The facilitator had many catch phrases that she tossed out to sum up key points. She called these cheers, AHA’s. Chunk it Out! What gets measured gets done! Be Present! One team One Dream! I found this to be entertaining especially when she asked us to shout out as a group, “You are awesome!"
As I look over my notes along with the workbook we were given I have been inspired to implement some of the techniques and ways of communicating that I learned on that day. I am also excited to explore different concepts and theories that will assist me into growing as a person and a leader.
I highly recommend you to step out beyond the world of libraries to see what may be around the next corner. You just might be inspired to look at your profession with a new perspective.
Senator Reed has helped secure an increase of $314,000 for the IMLS Grants to States program (to $156,103,000) and the same increase for the National Library Leadership grants (to $13,406,000) over FY16 levels in the bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee today. Hurdles remain to get to a final spending bill, but this is great news.
OLIS receives approximately half its funding from IMLS and uses these funds to support OLIS activities and programs such as Summer Reading, Continuing Education, Talking Books Plus, and more. Please note that this increase is for the national program, not just for OLIS, but all states, including RI will benefit.
Please see the Senator's press release here: http://www.reed.senate.gov/news/releases/us-senate-advances-measure-to-boost-funding-for-medical-research-public-libraries-and-opioid-abuse-preventionOLIS receives approximately half its funding from IMLS and uses these funds to support OLIS activities and programs such as Summer Reading, Continuing Education, Talking Books Plus, and more. Please note that this increase is for the national program, not just for OLIS, but all states, including RI will benefit.Please see the Senator's press release here:http://www.reed.senate.gov/news/releases/us-senate-advances-measure-to-boost-funding-for-medical-research-public-libraries-and-opioid-abuse-prevention
Also see the news in ALA's District Dispatch:
The Rhode Island Library Association and the New England Library Association invite you to the first Library Libations after-work event. Come and enjoy a drink with fellow librarians at the new location of the Malted Barley in Providence from 5 to 7 pm on Thursday, April 28.
Warm pretzels, craft beer, library love, and you!
The Malted Barley
334 Westminster St.
Hosted by your NELA state representative, Jessica D'Avanza.
For questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Senators Hanna Gallo, Cindy Coyne, Paul Fogarty, Roger Picard, and Adam Satchell for introducing this resolution. Particular thanks to Senator Gallo for coordinating this public statement in support of Rhode Island's libraries. Check out the full text of the resolution!
The RILA Intellectual Freedom Committee is planning a public forum on intellectual freedom issues in school libraries. The committee is looking for panelists who can speak to student confidentiality, challenges to the content of books, films, games, websites accessible in the library, and labeling of books and other media according to grade level.
Panelists can include school librarians, teachers, public librarians, children’s librarians, parents, school committee members, and administrators. Please let us know if you are interested in serving on this panel and forward suggestions to us for names of other people who might be interested. We will be advertising the event so that we can reach out to the community, including teachers, parents, administrators, school committee members and other interested parties.
The questions below may be asked of the panelists and we hope to include the audience in discussing these questions.
Please respond by April 1 to the Intellectual Freedom Committee co-chairs, Jim Kinnie (email@example.com) and Carla Weiss (firstname.lastname@example.org).