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By ILF's ALA Councilor Beth Munk
As your elected ALA Councilor, I wanted to share some of the information from the Midwinter Conference held at the end of January in Seattle, WA. ALA’s Midwinter event is where many committees conduct their work and of course it’s when the ALA Book Awards are announced.   All of this is interwoven with the hundreds of educational sessions you can attend to better prepare yourself to serve your community.    

Some key discussions this year were centered around the language we use and a need to transition to “person” first terminology, the elimination of fines and of course the continued work to restructure ALA as an organization and in practice.   Many businesses and organizations are working towards person-first language (i.e. child with autism rather tha
n autistic child), because they know that the way we talk or write about people can greatly influence the way we or others see or feel about them, leaving either a positive or negative impression. At my library, this is a discussion we will have as policies are rewritten and our marketing manager promotes our services.  As of January 1st, the Kendallville Public Library transitioned to a fine free model and I know many other libraries around Indiana have done the same.  These discussions remind me that the trends we see around the country are mirrored here in Indiana and in a lot of ways we’re even ahead of the game.    

Late last year, I was recommended to serve on the State Ecosystem Task Force of the Committee on Library Advocacy, which aims to build stronger coalitions between state chapters, school affiliates and academic chapters at the state level. In many states, chapters and affiliates for academic, public and school libraries are separate, and in lots of cases, struggling.  This is one of the examples where we are ahead of the game, and our 2017 strategic planning highlighted the importance of increased cross-sector work h
as set us up for success.   In Indiana, we are united as one statewide library association, with a mission to lead, educate and advocate to advance library services for the benefit of all Indiana residents.  While we’re not perfect, we know that the needs of the libraries, all libraries, are more alike than different, and having a unified voice makes each and every one of us stronger.   Having served on ALA committees before, I was most excited about the tangible work products that this task force seeks to create. Upon the completion of our eighteen months, we will create a self-assessment tool to be used in each state, as well as a template for a multi-year strategy to focus on state ecosystem impact and sustainability.  

Finally, it’s important to note that the Library Bill of Rights was revised for the first time since 1980, addressing privacy issues. The current copy can be found at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill and serves as a great reminder that it is important that we all revisit our own privacy practices. 

  

Advocacy and Relationships

 by Kristi Howe, Vigo County Public Library Director
& ILF Advocacy Committee Co-chair
There are many definitions for the word advocacy, but I would like to share the definition provided by the American Association for School Librarians.

Advocacy is the on-going process of building partnerships so that others will act for and with you, turning passive support into educated action for the library program.

There is so much to break down in that definition!  On-going process, building partnerships, others will act for and with you…these really illustrate the challenges we face and need for relationship development. 

I cannot emphasis strongly enough the importance of partnerships (or relationships) as we advocate for Indiana libraries.  As co-chair for the ILF Advocacy committee, I can tell you that our committee frequently discusses bills and policy priorities; we keep up with the bustle of the statehouse and we seek assistance from our paid advocates and ILF staff.  We follow committee hearings and conduct trainings, and we research the potential implications of proposed legislation.  All of this is important work, but it will accomplish very little if we do not have meaningful relationships with each other, with our communities, and with our elected officials. 

The ability to build and maintain relationships is essential to effective advocacy.  We need to get to know our community leaders and participate in collaborative conversations about our cities and towns.  In forming connections, we can build trust and be seen as reliable and credible.  Getting to know people can be difficult, especially if you have differing views on important issues.  Instead of building strong partnerships, we are often tempted to overwhelm council members, mayors, and state officials with information …after all, we’re information professionals!  However, too much raw data, policy language, etc., can actually backfire when personal relationships are missing. 

I’ve always disliked the old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know…” as I feel like it gives too much credit to socio-economic status and not enough to hard work and education.  I might, though, suggest that in advocacy, both are essential.  When the time comes for you to ask your local and state officials to listen as you share information and expertise, it will be important that they know you.

So, I encourage you to commit to the on-going process of relationship building!  Reach out to your local leaders, build rapport with your community members, and get to know your “opponents,” too.  A disagreement on one issue does not negate the importance of relationship and common ground.  Invite folks to visit your library, but be willing to go out and meet them on their turf!  Attend council meetings and meet legislators at Third House events in your area.  Share your progress with the ILF office, join us for the next Zoom meeting (January 28), and plan to attend the Statehouse Day on March 12.  And perhaps most importantly, if you don’t know where to start or need some help, please ask - ILF staff and Advocacy committee members are here to help.


Photo at top left
, from left to right, Sen. Jon Ford, Rep. Tonya Pfaff, Kristi Howe and Rep. Bruce Borders at the Jan. 12 Third House session.


Thoughts from the ILF staff:

With a full calendar of ILF activities served by 3.2 FTE (full-time equivalents), your ILF paid staff of five rarely is in the same room. During our December meeting, staff shared what we appreciate about each other, the highlights of 2018 and our goals for 2019. We share a passion for libraries and our ILF mission and goals. Our members might be interested to learn that we…
  • Appreciate Tisa’s friendly personality, Dave’s dry sense of humor, Mandy’s detailed spreadsheets, Megan’s attention to members and details and Lucinda’s drive and commitment;
  • Celebrate our 2018 accomplishments, citing our work with members on the school library report, supervised visits, strong conference content, a clean audit and a strong financial report; and
  • Look forward to 2019 as we engage more deeply with members, plan outstanding conference experiences and work to elevate libraries through strategic advocacy and communications. (See 2019 Goals and Calendar.)
We value your membership and participation in ILF. We enjoy getting to know each of you and the meaningful ways you serve your patrons and students. You may be surprised that we get “giddy” at the opportunity to make magic with our members. We ring a bell, shake a clapper and dance around the office. You may see this in a Zoom session in 2019.
 
In service to--and with--our members in advancing libraries for our Indiana neighbors,  
Lucinda, Tisa, Megan, Mandy and Dave

  

ILF Leadership by Stephanie Davis, ILF Board Treasurer

The ILF officer ballot in my inbox was a gentle reminder that my time on the ILF Board as treasurer is coming to an end.  For every challenge, the past four years brought, there was also an opportunity.

Understanding non-profit bookkeeping and financials was a bit of an adjustment. Thus, the rationale for a 4-year term!  As library director, I dealt with finances daily, but every organization has its own laws, policies, and terminology.  My experience gave me insight into the adjustment that my library board members go through learning the ins and outs of library finances.  My opportunity to sit on the other side of the table prompted me to improve my library’s board orientation process and material. 

Early in my term, the board was faced with the challenge of hiring a new executive director.  I learned first-hand about the depth and breadth of this primary responsibility of every organizational board.  I have spent numerous years on boards and took this primary duty for granted as I have never before had to replace a leader.  I have hired a great number of library employees in my career, but I was hiring people to work in an environment that I knew, understand and controlled.   Sharing this important responsibility with other board members, all coming from different work environments, to hire a person to do a job that none of us have actually done, in an office we have only ever visited, is quite a different challenge.  Actually choosing a candidate for the job was the easy part.  Feeling prepared to make that decision was most difficult.  Getting our policies and finances in order and becoming knowledgeable enough about the job we were asking the candidate to do was the hard work.  This opportunity could not have come at a better time for me as I was preparing to retire and entrust my board to carry out this very process.  I understood their burden and what they needed to know to be successful. 

In 2014, I decided to run for ILF assistant treasurer for two main reasons.  I wanted to give back to my profession.  In my 30 years in the public library, I have benefited tremendously from ILF.  I always looked forward to conferences to meet and share with fellow librarians doing what I do in their own libraries.  I anticipated being inspired by authors and professionals in the field.  I couldn’t wait to meet with vendors to see what was new and innovative.  All those years I have benefited from the work of those before me who had served on the board and helped make my opportunities possible.  It seemed to be my time to serve you.

Secondly, I planned to retire during my board term and I thought that my ILF involvement would help ease the transition from library director to library patron.  It would keep me from missing my work. 

Did I succeed in my goals?  Yes and no.  I have truly enjoyed my time on the board, but I certainly gained more than I gave.  What I learned greatly helped make my retirement and succession process a very successful and positive experience.  I have enjoyed my continued contact with librarians and have appreciated the opportunity to work with the executive director beyond the hiring process.  However, I do feel that this is a good time to hand over the position to an active librarian. While I certainly had my experiences to draw from, not having current involvement does distance me from many of the conversations at the board table.  Perfect timing for the changing of the guard!  So, check your own inboxes and vote today. Then next year consider adding your own name to the ballot. It is an amazing opportunity!  

 

 Banned Books Week by Chad Heck,
Intellectual Freedom Cmte. Chair

Banned Books Week is upon us—one of the times of the year where librarians educate our populations about censorship and the freedom to read. Interestingly, in the current climate, there have been calls to ban books based not on their content, but on the character of the authors of the books. The #MeToo movement is upon us, and now there are calls to remove books by popular authors who have faced allegations of sexual harassment. The ALA’s 2017 list of most frequently challenged books is topped by two such authors who have faced allegations. The two books, Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were on the list prior to the public allegations. Librarian listservs and discussion groups were abuzz after the allegations came forward about whether collecting these books is an endorsement of these authors. In short, it’s not. In the ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement, it affirms: “It is contrary to the public interest for . . . librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history . . . of the author.”

During Banned Books week and all year long that librarians are champions of intellectual freedom. It is our responsibility not only to champion the cause of fighting censorship, but also to educate our patrons about their freedom to read and make sure that our own policies and practices do not perpetuate biases in our libraries. It is also very important to report efforts of censorship, both successful and unsuccessful, by filling out this form from the American Library Association. Remember the theme from this year’s Banned Books Week: “Banning books silences stories. Speak out!”

If intellectual freedom issues or questions come up in your library, please contact the committee or office.

Chad Heck, School Librarian, Pike High School-Freshman Campus
Co-Chair, ILF Ad Hoc Committee on Intellectual Freedom 

 

Fun committee and the "conference experience"

Annual conference registration time is upon us again. This will be my fourth annual ILF conference and as I look forward to it I am also reflecting on the first conference I attended as a new-comer. Four years ago I moved to Indiana from Wisconsin and I didn’t know anyone or have any connections. My first annual conference came just a few months after my move and I was anxious about the experience. Would I be able to talk to people? Would they welcome me? Would I feel left out? Would I know what to do and where to go?

I can honestly say that the conference experience that I had was overwhelmingly wonderful. Everyone was friendly, the conference was excellent, and I walked away feeling like I was truly a part of Indiana libraries. I had the chance to meet library people from all over the spectrum. I formed relationships with academic, school, and public libraries that last to this day. The next spring brought regional conferences and even more opportunities to meet people and learn new things. I felt so welcomed throughout these experiences that I immediately took the opportunity to present at conferences, become part of the management division, and eventually become part of the ILF Board.

I always take every opportunity that I can to attend ILF sponsored conferences, or to send my staff to them. Be it the annual conference, regional conferences, Youth Services Division conference, Fall Forum, or even the online virtual exchanges; I have always found value in ILF Professional Development opportunities. We always come back from conference energized with new ideas and new skills.

This year we are aiming to make the annual conference an even better experience as we roll out our first ever ‘fun committee’.  Zionsville’s Sarah Moore and I are going to be hosting a trivia night on Tuesday night that will be free for everyone. We are also planning fun games and activities throughout the conference.

I urge you to take advantage of all of the offerings that are available to you at the annual conference from educational sessions to networking opportunities to dinners to the fun new offerings.

Please come and be a part of our Indiana Library Federation family. We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Beka Lemons, ILF Board Member
Director, Huntington City-Township Public Library 

 

School Library Census
Over the last week, you may have received an email from ILF with links to the preliminary draft of the school library census report.  In case 
you did not receive it or if you overlooked it here is the link to access the full report. 

 

The ILF Board and AISLE Advisory Board request feedback before we finalize a report for a wider audience. I also invite you to contact me or any member of the ILF board with more extensive comments.  

 

The last six months have been filled with hard work by many ILF members trying to capture accurate information for this survey.  The census contains data from about 80% of public school districts in Indiana and many individual public, charter and private schools.  This is an amazing completion rate for surveys of this kind and is a testament to everyone involved.  The state of school libraries is changing daily, and has changed drastically over the last 10 years.  There have been recent posts and articles in the ALA Connect, AASL Knowledge Quest, and Ed Week about the reduction across the nation of school librarians.  All libraries are dependent upon the success of each other.  School age children need school librarians training them how to be information literate and showing them the importance of libraries not only to their future learning, but to democracy and our nation's prosperity.

 

For me, the report confirmed what many of us already knew in AISLE.  We have heard members worry about staff reductions, changing job titles and the adding of responsibilities.  There are so many changes to Indiana's education community with the increase in the number of schools going 1:1 with computer devices, the changing landscape of testing and the new "Graduation Pathways", and the ever looming clouds of letter grades and property tax referendums.  School librarians need the larger library community to help us show everyone that school libraries are important and that they are needed.

 

I invite you to read the report and respond with feedback.  ILF wants and needs you involved. Please send feedback to the ILF office by August 8. Then, look for next steps in following ILF newsletters. 

 

Diane Rogers
Media Specialist, Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center
AISLE Advisory Board Vice-Chair

 

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