Update Nine (March 17, 2010)
from Bernard A. Margolis, New York
Please feel free to pass along this update to colleagues, friends, and anyone you think would benefit from reading about library matters in New York State. If you want to receive the State Librarian's Updates directly, send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org. This update and past updates are posted on the New York State Library's website at: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/library/about/statelibrarian.htm.
New York BTOP at THE TOP: While the champagne (New York, of course) hasn't flowed yet (there are, after all, rules about that!), we are celebrating the major $15 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce. This will bring $9.5 million in federal stimulus funds to New York to support the expansion of broadband access in 41 upstate counties through public access computing centers in 30 public libraries and 5 e-mobile computer training units, including one operated by library systems and one community college. This is the largest library grant nationally in this program to date and we hope will set the pattern for a bold expansion of broadband access everywhere in the state. Additionally, the grant includes providing online job search and other skills enhancing resources to the targeted 41 counties. We hope to leverage these resources to permit statewide access to these online job resources. For more information on this important new grant, please contact Library Development Specialist and Grant Project Coordinator Mary Linda Todd at email@example.com.
Charter Actions: One of the unseen aspects of the State Library's work revolves around "chartering." Every one of the 755 public and association libraries in the State must have a "charter" (incorporation) from the New York State Board of Regents or from the Department of State and must be registered (licensed) by the State Education Department. Without a charter, a library cannot be recognized as a library to receive financial support. Without a registration certificate, which attests that the library meets minimum standards, a public or association library cannot accept local or state public funds. "No charter/No library" – "No registration/No public funds." Sometimes the charters are provisional, sometimes absolute. The charters guide the governance of the state's public and association libraries and codify the details of the library types, the library service areas, the number and length of terms of trustees, the use of assets, the elements of legal service and the provisions for dissolution should that ever be necessary. At the last Regents meeting eight (8) charter actions were approved. There are about nine (9) additional charter actions pending and it is rare that a meeting of the Regents passes without a library charter action. In 2009, the Regents approved 90 library charter actions. The Division of Library Development staff provides extensive background information about the proposed charter changes and the charters are usually approved by the Board of Regents with little controversy. The pending charter actions include a wide range of proposed changes ranging from changing a library's name, to lengthening the term of trustee service to five years, to dissolving one association library and transferring its assets to a newly created school district public library. This important work, exacting and detailed, is conducted by Joseph J. Mattie and the Library Development Specialists serving on the Public Library, Public Library System and School Library Systems Team with the able assistance of Education Program Assistant Maria Hazapis. Should you have any questions about library chartering, there is excellent information on the State Library's website at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/charter/index.html. Your public library system is also available to assist with chartering. Each system has a complete set of official library charter documents for their member libraries on microfiche. You may also contact Maria Hazapis at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will either answer your question or put you in touch with the appropriate Library Development Specialist.
NYSCIS In Flight: I have been talking about the concept of aggregating the acquisition of database resources on a state-wide basis. If information is the oxygen of the information economy then our job is to deliver to New Yorkers the most complete array of on-line information resources. The idea for the New York State Comprehensive Information System has taken wing in the form of new legislation drafted by the New York Library Association. The proposed legislation will benefit the entire state library community and provide the structure from which we can build on existing state resources to create an easily accessible oxygen source for everyone. This will build on NOVELNY and in the process expand the availability of resources in a cost-effective and cost-efficient way. I hope everyone will assist us as we move this idea from concept to operation. My special thanks to Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito, Chair of the Assembly Government Operations Committee, for her wonderful leadership and support on this issue.
Award: The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award was created by the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries to honor long-serving State Librarian Joe Shubert. Joe's 22 year service was characterized by great energy and great change. The award in his honor is intended to recognize achievements by New York State libraries and library consortia of all sizes and types. The award is given annually to individual libraries and to library consortia to recognize achievements that improve the quality of library service to their users. The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award recognizes the many ways that libraries, through their programs, staff, and services, make a significant difference in their communities. The 2010 award announcement will be posted shortly on NYLINE and I encourage libraries and library systems to apply. For more information on the Award, visit the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries website at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/adviscns/rac/index.html.
Leadership Change: The distinguished Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver has tapped Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing (Manhattan 73) to serve as the new Chair of the Committee on Libraries and Education Technology. Improving library funding is one of Assemblyman Bing's long-standing legislative interests. He successfully shepherded legislation to use the most current Census figures for the calculation of State Aid to Libraries. He has authored over 60 pieces of legislation which have passed the Assembly and over 2 dozen that have been enacted into law. Please share congratulations with Assemblyman Bing on his selection to chair this important committee for libraries. We thank Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton for her important, though much too short, service as Committee Chair. She clearly understands the critical and central role played by libraries. She will now be serving as Vice-Chair of the Assembly Majority Steering Committee. We should probably expect another shift in Committee Chairs after the fall elections. Every time there is a change we have an important chance to educate another library champion and to expand the legislative knowledge base about libraries.
Lead in Books: The Consumer Product Safety Commission staff had previously informed me that they were at work on an advisory opinion informing libraries of how to handle older books in children's collection which might exceed the new "lead" levels imposed by the latest changes to the Consumer Product Safety Statutes. I have just learned that the Commission has stopped its work after learning that California Congressman and House Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman is working on legislation to exempt books from the requirements. Again, there is no need to panic, to remove any books, or to change any acquisition or weeding policies or practices. We will keep you posted as legislation is introduced on this important topic.
Kirkus Not Yet Buried: Just as the last Update moved through the ether, a colleague shared the information that the famous Kirkus Reviews had been purchased and will continue. This is, of course, great news for those of us who believe that books will continue to be written, published, printed, bound, lent (sold), and read! I am glad that my report was at best premature.
School Libraries: Congratulations to Superintendent Philip Steinberg of the Pine Bush Central School District for his decision not to eliminate two elementary school librarian positions! Facing a very tough budget year, the elementary school positions were on the chopping block. Pine Bush's leadership recognized the significant and positive impact of school librarians on student achievement. The study by Dr. Ruth Small at Syracuse University I School reaffirms the evidence that New York kids do better with great school libraries and great school librarians. These positions are worth fighting for and more importantly… our children and their learning success requires strong, capably staffed school libraries in every school. We can not let it be open season on school librarians. These positions are vital to learning!
April is: School Library Month and includes National Library Week (April 11-17, 2010) with the theme: "Communities thrive @ your library®." Go forth and celebrate! April is also the time for the first Empire State Book Festival (April 9-10) at the Empire State Plaza. For more information, go to www.empirestatebookfestival.com.
Exclusivity in Online Publications: I have just learned that the Federal Trade Commission has begun investigating complaints stemming from the exclusive online distribution agreements for TIME Inc. publications. This is good news. My recent e-mails to Consumers Union, the New York not-for-profit organization which publishes Consumer Reports, and the publisher who began the recent trend of having only one online vendor source for popular magazines, brought an answer from Vice President Jerry Steinbrink. He informed me: "Our relationship with EBSCO is not exclusive, but we do not have the resources to manage more than one distributor." Mr. Steinbrink has opened the lines of communication for more discussion and I will be talking with him soon. In the meantime, if you happen to be a member of the Consumers Union you might want to suggest that they adopt a more enlightened market view when it comes to their own products and services. Jim Guest, CEO can be reached at GuesJa@consumer.org or Vice President Steinbrink at email@example.com.
ALA Elections: The polls are now open. Please vote. I just voted for Sara Kelly Johns for President, Jim Neal for Treasurer, Frank D'Andraia for ACRL President Elect, and Mary Fellows for ALSC President Elect – all great New York leaders.
Personal Privilege: Generally, except for a bit of 'editorializing' every now and then, I have kept these updates free of personal observations. Now, however, the Update may have to take a short hiatus and I wanted you to know why. I have been diagnosed with cancer and am actively pursuing treatment which I expect will include chemo and a bone marrow transplant. I am upbeat that I can win the fight. One of my great friends from Michigan, Jim Luke, has set up a website (berniemargolis.com) as a means of keeping anyone interested updated on my progress. It is also a place where people can post messages to me and where I can spout off. It is probably a case of technology gone wild but nonetheless is a great way to stay in touch. I hope to be back with my Updates soon.
Bernard A. Margolis