February 2012, Volume 4, Issue 2
Check Your Calendars!!
Digital Learning Day
Read Across America Day
Teen Tech Week
World Read Aloud Day
PLA Annual Conference
School Library Month
National Library Week
Money Smart Week
World Book Night
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Gale Virtual Reference Library gets a facelift
Your role in the Public Library Survey
By Daria Bossman, Asst. State Librarian for Development
Though South Dakota code requires local public libraries to annually report their activities, resources, circulation, expenses and programming (SD 14-2-40:6), these statistics have been part of a larger national collection for several decades. Today the State Library reports local public library data to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This independent federal agency has done some impressive work in the last several years, and they do a wonderful job of lobbying in support of U.S. public libraries. They work closely with the U.S. Census to effectively communicate the information given to them by the states to tell our story to Congress and to the American public.
Library board members might be surprised to know that the actual wording in state statute charges “the board of public library trustees” with the responsibility to “prepare and submit an annual report to its governing body and to the South Dakota State Library…” Though your library director is most likely the one recording and submitting this information, keep in mind that the board bears the ultimate responsibility for the survey to be completed and submitted in an accurate and timely manner.
Library Board presidents verify the survey accuracy when they review the data and sign the SDSL certificate form. Note that this year we are asking for an additional signature of an official representing your “governing body.” So if you are a city library, that would be your mayor, city manager, city clerk or city finance officer, or if you are a county system that would be your county commissioners. Our hope is that this will insure that each local governing body receives this annual report for review. We also trust that it will start an on-going conversation about not only the library’s collection and services, but also about its goals and future viability as an “essential service” within your community.
The additional signature is not meant to be an extra burden, but as an opportunity to begin a conversation with your city (or county) leaders, keep them better informed and engage them in what is happening at the library. By the way, we have access to your local statistics as far back as 2000. Just ask your librarian to go into the Bibliostat’s Collect database. Here the librarian can login and print off previous years for comparative purposes.
Besides viewing your own annual statistics, we want to encourage you to study and discuss our annual publication, The South Dakota Public Library Data Digest. This publication, now in its fourth year, is getting some national attention for its easy, and dare I say, creative display of graphical statistics. You might even find a photo of your local library in there. The 2011 edition with 2010 statistics was recently published and is now posted on our webpage. This will give you a snapshot of what is happening across the state, as well as regional and national library trends. It will give your board members an opportunity to compare these “benchmarks” with your local library’s resources, activities and services.
Lastly, I’d like to remind you of several national websites which post national statistics. We hope you find these informative and helpful with planning: www.plinternetsurvey.org and harvester.census.gov.
If you have any questions, do give us a call,1-800-423-6665. As we wrap-up the 2010 data collection, be aware we are currently making final preparations for the 2011 Public Library Survey which opens February 1, 2012. Please give your local librarian all your support as they begin the survey. In some cases, where your library is open very limited weekly hours, you may wish to consider hiring someone to come in and cover the desk and assist patrons while your librarian is gathering and inputting statistics or board members volunteering to come in and assist the librarian until the survey is completed.
I want to personally thank you for your time and service to your local library boards. Library boards are not an easy volunteer position. It takes a lot of time and work, a lot of studying and reading. It takes leadership to be a local advocate for a local public library. You are the “engine” that drives the car. We at the SDSL are here for you as much as we are for the local librarians. Give us a call any time. It is our pleasure to assist you.
And speaking of assistance, I am pleased to announce that at the fall 2012 South Dakota Library Association conference (Huron, Oct. 3-5), I will be presenting a pre-conference entitled “Library Boards-101.” This will be a half-day workshop just for library board members (Well, you can bring your library director as well.) I hope many of you will consider coming or sending at least one board member to this training. We should have a lively discussion. We are very excited to offer this free training opportunity to our library board members. In the meantime, enjoy your work with your local public library and thank you again for your leadership and service to your community!