Ideas to Make Your Library Shine

Sharing ideas from around the system & around the country, on programming, fundraising, grants, free stuff, and more.
Brought to you by the Winnefox Library System.

Rural & Small Libraries Provide Vital Infrastructure for Communities

Feel inspired and get ideas: take a few minutes to read Small Wonders: Rural and Small Libraries Provide Vital Infrastructure for Communities at SLJ.

Here are highlights:

Even though her library is only open 20 hours a week and staffed by just her and one assistant, she knows her building is the town’s hub.
“I do think libraries are more important in towns like this,” she says. “There’s nothing else. There’s no community center, no bank, no gas station. There’s just a post office, a church, a bar, and the library.”

Still, she knows the importance of staying up-to-date in the community, so her programs don’t compete with other activities. “I adjust my programming for Vacation Bible school meetings, I know when swim lessons are going on.…There’s so few things to do, I don’t want to have three things on the same day.”
As in many rural communities, Internet access at the library is usually the strongest in town. Pool thinks nothing of letting residents into her library before it officially opens so they can complete Skype calls for their work.

She created a food shelf where patrons can leave or pick up nonperishables or toiletries. That action has taken the least amount of time and provided the biggest payoff of anything the library has done, Pillard says.

For children in school, she runs a Read’N’Feed program twice year. That’s where everyone reads the same book and then comes to the library to eat food featured in the books.

Hat tip: thanks for Mark Arend for sharing this article via email
Image source: Blue Mountains Library via Flickr, Creative Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Free Webinars

ImagePlan to attend these free webinars; all you need is your computer & speakers or headphones (no microphone needed.) If you attend a live webinar, it may be counted as a Category B continuing education activity towards renewing librarian certification.

Webinars with a ★ are the ones I think you'll find most useful.


Help Your Community Get Counted

Gone are the days of the door-to-door census taker — the 2020 Census will take place primarily online, even as many residents lack home internet access.

Helping people who use your library's public computers or Wi-Fi to complete their census survey online next spring can benefit your community in the future, because every individual counted helps to maximize federal and state funding for municipal services. Assignment of House of Representatives seats, federal funding apportionment, and our own LSTA "Grants to States" award are all based on the decennial census!

According to the American Library Association, 99% of the hard-to-count census tracts are within five miles of a public library.
This demonstrates why it is so important that the library as a trusted community entity, get involved in helping their community and state achieve a complete count.

For the first time, the Census Bureau will promote online response as the preferred method. Households have the option to respond to the census questionnaire in one of three ways: online, by telephone, or using a paper questionnaire. For many people, the online response option will make it easier and more convenient to respond. Because libraries provide reliable internet access, they will play an important role in supporting a complete count in the 2020 Census.

Library workers can prepare for an uptick in need for these resources by

  • considering how to speed up technology access for non-library card holders and
  • how to handle peak demand—perhaps by designating one or more computers or mobile devices for “express” use or temporarily dedicating a device specifically for census response.

ALA's free Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census contains practical information to assist you and your staff in addressing potential patron and community requests regarding the upcoming 2020 Census. It includes basic information about the Census process, highlights of new components in the 2020 Census, such as the online response option, a FAQ, and a timeline of key Census dates.

Bonus: you can also register to attend a free Libraries and the 2020 Census webinar at 9am 1pm on June 25th July 1st.

Expect more resources and support for library staff in the months leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020, from both ALA and DPI.

Libraries and the 2020 Census: Vital Partners for a Complete Count
Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census
ALA releases new Libraries' Guide to the 2020 Census
​​​​​​​Census 2020 – Complete Count
Census 2020-- Libraries Can Make it Count

Need Money to Attend a Conference or Training?

ImageWant to attend a conference, training or other library continuing education event, but need financial assistance? Apply for one of these grants or scholarships to help pay for it:

WLAF Gloria Hoegh Memorial Fund Education for Rural Librarians Scholarship
Amount: $900
Deadline: June 29, 2019
Application form and criteria for eligibility

WLAF George Bauer Memorial Fund Continuing Education Scholarship
Amount: $850
Deadline: June 29, 2019
Application form and criteria for eligibility
Wisconsin Small Libraries
Amount: $400 to attend the WLA Conference
Deadline: August 1, 2019
Application form (Word document)

Ideas to Action Fund: Apply for Money and/or Staff Time

The WiLS "Ideas to Action Fund" application period has been extended through June 14, 2019.  So there's still time — if your project meets their eligibility and requirements, you can apply for up to $5000!  Apply here.

Hint: if your library isn't already a WiLS member, just fill out the short WiLS General Member Agreement to join for free!

(For inspiration and ideas, look at McMillian Memorial Library’s Community STEAM Kits proposal, which was funded in 2018.)

  • WiLS will award up to $5,000 per applicant.
  • Instead of or in addition to funding, you can apply for WiLS staff time to help organize the project or provide expertise in facilitation, survey administration or other project activities.

The Fund aims to provide support for innovative or collaborative projects, to help members reach their goals and have a positive impact on the Wisconsin library ecosystem.

Find all details on the Fund's Goals, Eligibility and Requirements, and Review Process and criteria used to evaluate applications at the WiLS Ideas to Action Fund page.

Low-Cost High-Interest Craft Program: Wire Bird's Nest Charm

Katie Bloor works at a library that serves a population of 240 and is open just 15 hours a week, and had 29 people come to her library for a craft program.  In the words of Sheri Szymanski, "When 12% of the population turns out for a library program YOU are doing something right!"

Katie is generous in sharing details of the event at her post in the Library Think Tank Facebook group, including her bead, charms, and wire supplies shopping list. She's made it easy for you to replicate this wire bird's nest craft program at your library!

Just wanted to share my fun mother's Day program I did last night. I am from a very small Library only open 15 hours a week and from a population of about 240 people. I had 29 people come to my library last night and this is what we made.
The supplies were just bought off Amazon and were reasonably inexpensive
I just watched YouTube videos and lead the making myself.
I had my board members bring appetizers and we made a sort of a fun mother's Day night out of it!
here is one of the videos that I looked at since a lot of people are asking for you tube link
and if you scroll down I did post two pictures of my shopping cart from Amazon

Katie also printed a birthstone chart for those who wanted to chose bead colors to represent family members. And here's the How to Make a Wire Bird's Nest Pendant tutorial video by Beadaholique.

Photo credit: Katie Bloor via Facebook


Fun & Offbeat Holidays to Inspire Displays

In addition to the traditional holidays of Mother's Day and Memorial Day, there are many more celebratory days in May! 

Use these "holidays" as inspiration to built a display of books, audiobooks, and DVDs, both at your library and on social media:

  • May 11: Eat What You Want Day — create a tantalizing display of recipe books for delicious desserts
  • May 16: Biographers Day — display biographies on musicians, and Ron Chernow's Hamilton alongside a CD of the original Broadway cast recording
  • May 17: National Bike To Work Day — bring together bicycle repair books for people who are dusting off a bike that's been in the garage all winter
  • May 23: World Turtle Day — gather materials on both endangered tortoises and even Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles to shellebrate
  • May 24: International Tiara Day — set on the anniversary of the Queen Victoria's birthday, created as a day when everyone who wishes can wear a tiara for a day and feel like royalty; your display could include books featuring queens and princesses alongside DVDs of the TV series Victoria and The Crown
  • May 25: Towel Day — fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series carry a towel in honor of the author Douglas Adams:
    "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value -- you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal; you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."   ~ Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Hat tip: Mental Floss
Image credit: RitaE from Pixabay

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