New York State Library

Division of Library Development


Regents Advisory Council on Libraries

The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award 2005

Southern Adirondack Library System

Statewide Performer Database:

A Resource of Educational and Entertaining Programs

Performers and Programs is a statewide web-based database project serving public libraries in New York State, funded by Federal LSTA funds awarded to the State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. Click here for more informati
New York State Performers and Programs Database

1. a) Briefly describe your library or library consortium (system) and the community it serves. Provide information about size, budget, type, users.

The Southern Adirondack Library System is comprised of 34 public libraries, in four counties (Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren and Washington). Our budget is approximately $1,000,000. Our direct users are the staff and board of trustees of our public libraries and indirectly we serve 330,259 patrons.

1. b) Briefly describe your project/achievement.

The Southern Adirondack Library System was the lead agency in the development, writing, administration and coordination of a statewide LSTA grant called Statewide Performer Database: A Resource of Educational and Entertaining Programs, for FY 2004. Becky Wright-Sedam, Youth Services Specialist at SALS, was the Project Director on the grant. The Statewide Performer Database brings together a substantial amount of performer and programming related information, which supports library services to youth. It is especially helpful as a resource to promote summer reading and continued literacy development over the summer for youth in libraries and also for library programming needs year-round. Library staff who choose programs have a wide selection available to them, as there are 1,400 programs listed in the database under 15 categories (such as music, literature, science, performing and visual arts). A key feature is the ability to locate program descriptions and contact information about performers and program presenters in a particular region, nearby regions, or from anywhere in the state. To see the database, visit: http://performersandprograms.com.

For purposes of the grant, the state was divided up into 9 regions, mirroring the 3Rs service areas. Each region was assigned a Regional Coordinator (Attachment 1). Each region has its own customized splash page, and features performers who are willing to travel to that particular region. Performer names rotate on the splash screen, so that new names are highlighted with each screen reload. Basic and advanced searching is available. Advanced searching allows users to search by a number of fields, such as audience level, programs within a certain price range, date program added or locale (Attachment 2).

The Regional Coordinators were responsible for contacting performers in their region to invite them to input information about their programs, approving performer records and troubleshooting problems or questions a performer might have. The Regional Coordinators also trained staff in their region in usage of the new Statewide Performer Database.

The database is comprised of three basic components: 1) The Performer view (where performers add or update their records, after entering their user name and password 2) an Administrative view, where Regional Coordinators approve new performers, send mass e-mails periodically to performers to remind them to update their records and perform other administrative tasks and 3) The Public view, where anyone can search or browse programs and other helpful resources. Many other states have taken advantage of the openness of the database for searching and asked how they might replicate the database for their state.

2. How did you identify the user need(s) for your project?

In 2003, there were 190,899 programs for youth offered through public libraries with 3,710,047 youth in attendance in New York State (Bibliostat Connect). Every year library staff need to book performers to do these programs in their libraries, to meet summer reading program needs and for other programming needs throughout the year. They had relied on word of mouth, paper copies of programs that performers sent to their system office and occasional flyers they received in the mail. They were frustrated by the fact that when they contacted performers or program presenters, they often found that the information that they had was no longer valid. They also had no way to compare performers within a category to see the whole spectrum of who was doing programs in New York State within that category.

The need for a Statewide Performer Database became apparent after the Regional Performer Database was demonstrated at a 2003 System Youth Consultant meeting at NYLA. After seeing the database, youth services consultants from around the state expressed that they had problems managing dissemination and currency of performer information. They asked if the Regional Performer Database could be expanded to be statewide, so that library staff and performers around the state could benefit from it.

3. What did your library or library consortium (system) do to respond to that (those) need(s)? What challenges were met?

To respond to the needs of library staff for current performer and program information in an easy to update resource, we designed a Regional Performer Database in 2002 through a three-system collaborative LSTA grant called Families Read, which would serve 87 member libraries in the Southern Adirondack, Mohawk Valley and Upper Hudson Library System regions.

To respond to the needs of Youth Services staff around the state to manage performer information effectively, SALS undertook the development and coordination of the Statewide Performer Database LSTA project in FY 2004. Becky Wright-Sedam, Project Director, met with the eight other Regional Coordinators, Project Manager and Web Designer, Polly-Alida Farrington, and Anne Simon, DLD Consultant, at three regional meetings during the grant period. The meetings focused on developing enhancements to the Regional Performer Database, trouble shooting any problems and reviewing the new database. The Project Director and Project Manager/Web Designer worked closely with Advanced Programmer Peter Kowalski to make the changes in the database suggested by the Regional Coordinators. After a testing and debugging phase, the database was launched for performer input in August, 2004. A total of 37 substantive changes (Attachment 3) had been made in the new Statewide Performer Database. A mailing of 1,556 postcards to performers and program presenters took place (Postcard Sample: Attachment 4). The Division of Library Development also volunteered to have an intern do a large-scale mailing to New York State Authors and Illustrators with some of the postcards designed during the grant.

To meet the need to train staff on how to use the performer database, 21 training sessions were conducted by the Regional Coordinators. The training sessions were attended by 420 library staff.

Both library staff and performers reported a high level of satisfaction with the database. They were pleased to find up-to-date information on performers and program presenters. We met the challenge of keeping the information current, by putting the onus for keeping it up-to-date on the performers. Performers enter their user name and password and update their information.

4. What impact did this project have on your users and/or your community? Supply quantifiable data if appropriate.

The impact was enormous. This is a product that is loved by both the library community who seek out performers and performers who want to perform at libraries. Each of these groups finds the database easy to use and helpful. A total of 607 new programs were added in August and September alone, a 203% increase over the original database. Presently, there are 1400 programs in the database. The database had been live for only two months when we saw 273,923 hits made to the database! Cumulatively, there have been 816,917 hits to the database (to date), an average of 20,423 hits per week! The performer satisfaction rate was 97%, based on a survey of all new performers. The survey had a 26% return rate. Comments from Regional Coordinators, library staff and performers indicate that the Statewide Performer Database created during this project met their needs. The following are a sampling of comments from the three groups:

I am extremely pleased with the product and believe that it is easy to navigate. It also fills the need to have this kind of statewide information readily available and for individual public library systems to discontinue gathering performer information on a regional basis. Pioneer Library System and Monroe County Library System both maintained performer databases but updating those databases was time consuming and frequently not even current. The experiences with this project couldn't have been any better. Both Polly and Becky are creative, organized, visionary and extremely responsive. This has been a very positive experience, and I'm sorry to see it end!

-- Patricia Stocker, Regional Coordinator (formerly Pioneer Library System)

I think it is very well designed and will serve as a model for other such databases. I have received good comments from member library staff and I know it has been suggested as a model for a national storytelling group that is struggling to provide a database. I know performers in other states will be envious that we have this. This makes New York State look really good, like a leader, which is the way it should be. This database is the best thing to come along in a long time. It has been a dream of mine since I became a consultant to have the performer information in some kind of an easy to manipulate program, so it is a dream-come-true, in fact, this is better than I pictured it.

-- Randall Enos, Regional Coordinator, Ramapo-Catskill Library System

I have said to several colleagues here at work that this was the best collaborative effort that I have been involved with outside our System, and think that Becky, Polly and Peter deserve huge kudos for the professional way that they handled this whole project. As we all know, library folk are the best and youth services people are truly wonderful, but this just proved that to me once again. I have worked with Polly on several projects and have never had anything but the best experience. My colleagues at MHLS would say the same, I know. This was my first experience working with Becky and I am very impressed with her great efficiency, patience, diplomacy and knowledge so I have said that I will be a part of yet another statewide project with her. That should speak volumes about this performer database experience! I think it is a fantastic resource that will only get more useful with time as others add their information. I look forward to having a concise resource to look at this fall when we begin planning our annual spring performer showcase. Instead of struggling to find new faces, we will have the delightful dilemma of which ones to invite from among the many we can now access.

-- Margaret Keefe, Regional Coordinator, Mid-Hudson Library System

This project was incredibly well-planned with many "checks" to consult with the Regional Coordinators to make sure everyone was in agreement over the direction that the administrators were taking.

-- Starr LaTronica, Regional Coordinator, Four County Library System

For the past eight years on Long Island, we had a locally created/maintained database of performer information. This product is so much simpler to use, much more attractive and intuitive for users of all technical proficiencies. Also, by having designed this product to be one in which the performers add their own data, it is a wonderful time saver for the SCLS staff who oversee the database on the local level and an opportunity for the performers to add much more detail about their programs. This product will benefit the local librarians in ways we could not with the product we were using.

-- Tracey Firestone, Regional Coordinator, Suffolk Cooperative Library System

This is wonderful! For many years now it has been hard to access collective updated information about performers within New York. With this site it is similar to one-stop shopping!

-- Pauline Emery, Children's Services Coordinator, Southeast Steuben County Library

What a wonderful product! I can see that a huge amount of effort was expended here. Thank you so much!

-- Brigid Cahalan, The New York Public Library

Thanks! What a great site -- every state should have a database like yours.

-- Anonymous Performer

I think the database is an excellent idea. It is a central source for information on programs and services. It is also an excellent opportunity for artists and presenters to showcase their work.

-- Performer Conroy Warren

I wanted you to know that the Performer Database has gotten me a tremendous amount of business -- thank you!

-- Program Presenter Cheryl Gorn

You know that I've been a big fan of the P&P database from the start. Folks from all around the Northeast are already tapping into it and this expansion will make it even harder for performers to book their gigs. and that's a GREAT thing!

-- Performer and Corinth Free Library Children's Librarian, Michael Hadfield

Hi Becky and Committee! What a fantastic, useful site! I know that my friends in the Southern Tier will appreciate this resource. Way to go, NY!

-- Shawn Brommer, Youth Services and Outreach Coordinator, South Central Library System in Madison, Wisconsin

The Statewide Performer Database has received both state and national exposure and praise in Library Hotline, Public Libraries, a variety of library listservs, the NYLA Bulletin, the NYLA Youth Services Section newsletter and system newsletters. The graphic and link for the database was prominently displayed on the home page of the Division of Library Development's (DLD's) web site for several months and is now the lead programming resource on DLD's Youth Services Program: Resources for Librarians Who Serve Children & Young Adults page. The link is featured on the NYLA Youth Services Section's main page and on a number of library and system web pages. Calls and e-mails from other states about how wonderful the database is and/or how they might replicate it have come from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri, and Wisconsin, to name a few. This has been a fantastic statewide collaborative effort with terrific results!

Attachment 1: Regional Coordinators for Statewide Performer Database

image of 'choose your region' image map on opening page of the web site

  • Marie Bindeman, Nioga Library System, Western region
  • Randall Enos, Ramapo Catskill Library System, Metro region
  • Tracey Firestone, Suffolk County Library System, Long Island region
  • Margaret Keefe, Mid-Hudson Library System, Southeastern region
  • Kathie LaBombard, Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, North Country region
  • Starr LaTronica, Four County Library System, South Central region
  • Diana Norton, Mid-York Library System, Central region
  • Jeanne Hayes, Pioneer Library System, Rochester region
  • Becky Wright-Sedam, Southern Adirondack Library System, Capital District region

Attachment 2: Advanced Search Options

[The image to the right shows the Advanced Search screen. Click on the image to try an advance search of all of New York State.]

Image shows the Advanced Search screen of the web site. Click on the image to try an advanced search of all of New York State.

Attachment 3:

Statewide Performer Database: a Database of Educational & Entertaining Programs
Changes and Enhancements Made to Original Regional Performer Database

Performers access mode:

Public Search Interface:

Regional Coordinators have own administrative menus and can:

Super Administrator can:

Attachment 4: Postcard Mailed to Performers for Capital Region

[The image to the right shows the front and back of a postcard mailed to performers for the Capital Region. Click on the image to see a larger version.]

Image shows the front and back of a postcard mailed to performers for the Capital Region. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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