• Tuesday, August 02, 2022 10:16 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    submitted by Pamela Schwieger, Youth Services Coordinator at East Providence Public Library

    I am proud to report that, on Saturday, June 25, the East Providence Public Library held its first Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH). Aside from the heat, it was a beautiful day filled with love and acceptance, fun, and lots of color! Our DQSH was part of the largest Pride Event the city of East Providence has ever had. The day began with an inaugural East Providence Pride Parade, followed by a flag raising and speakers at City Hall; and continuing with music, GIANT bubbles, crafts, and LGBTQIA+ informational tables on the lawn at Weaver Library. And, of course, the culmination of the day, what everyone was waiting for, was the Drag Queen Story Hour performed so fabulously by Haley Star.

    Our Pride Event and DQSH turned out to be a wonderful celebration of diversity and inclusion, however, the weeks leading up to the event had their ups and downs. We had the pleasure of collaborating with East Providence’s new LGBTQIA+ Advisory Board and Mayor DaSilva who encouraged us to turn our DQSH program into a larger, all-afternoon, Pride event. We were also supported by local agencies like PFLAG Providence, EPHS Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Newman Congregational Church, the Parasol Patrol, and more. Although we were given much positive feedback, not everyone was happy to hear about this event, and we also received phone calls and social media posts from members of the local and statewide community whose goal was to have the event canceled. Our performer, Haley Star, was also the victim of a great deal of hate speech. So much so that she took to her Facebook page to make a statement to defend the DQSH and invite others to come and support East Providence Pride Day. 

    Thank you to Haley Star for being the brave person that you are, and for so eloquently reminding us that: “Events like these are for the children who don’t quite feel 100% seen yet, and have family members strong enough and brave enough to bring them there to experience an afternoon of joy, laughter and love to allow them to develop into their own true self.” I hope the children who attended this program felt encouraged to be exactly who they are, and to accept the differences of others.

    And, finally, thank you to Rashaa Al-Sasah, Emma Brelsford, Colin McCullough, and all the staff at West Warwick Public Library for hosting their DQSH in 2021. From the moment I left your incredibly positive and uplifting event last year, I knew that I needed to bring Drag Queen Story Hour to the families of East Providence.

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2022 1:05 PM | Anonymous

    Photo of Elena Rios, a young woman with round glasses and long dark hair, standing in front of green foliage.The Cranston Public Library is pleased to announce the hiring of Elena Rios as the new full-time Youth Services Librarian at the Central Library. A lifelong resident of Cranston, Rios began working at Cranston Public Library in 2017 while she was a student at Cranston East High School. During her time with CPL, she has worked as a Page, a Library Aide, and Part-time Youth Services Librarian. She recently graduated from Simmons College, completing both her bachelor's in Information Technology and Master of Library Science.

  • Friday, July 15, 2022 10:21 AM | Anonymous

    Inspired by a program at the 2022 RILA Conference, Assistant Circulation Manager Mary Albanese was on a mission to establish a food and necessities pantry at the library. "We get a lot of patrons, especially students after school, who are hungry or need an item that we don't regularly provide. Or they do not have money to buy a snack. We also have parents who come to programs looking for an item and it will save them money and a trip to the store. We want to provide as much as we can to our community."

    With the understanding that the pantry would be patron-driven, semi-private, and anonymous, the library soon set up a spare book cart and soon the donations came flooding in. Red.Lined.Period soon caught news of the pantry and reached out to Library Director Stefanie Blankenship via their Instagram post. Now Red.Lined has partnered with the library to provide feminine and incontinence products for those in need. Their mission, "Fighting Menstrual Product Insecurity in Rhode Island," is now benefiting North Providence Residents.

    Items brought to the pantry must be unopened, non-perishable, and not expired. Mary's hope is to acquire larger shelving as the pantry grows bigger and more visible in the community.

  • Friday, June 17, 2022 10:37 AM | Anonymous

    Photo of the Rhode Island State House, a large domed marble building. Text reads "Thank you! RI House of Representatives votes to fully fund State Aid to Libraries."

    The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) applauds the RI House of Representatives' passage of the Fiscal 2023 state budget which includes $1.4 million in additional funding for libraries. For the first time since 2009, this budget fully funds state aid to public libraries at the funding level outlined in RI General Law 29-6-2. This additional funding will positively impact public libraries in every city and town in Rhode Island. Also included in the $1.4 million is additional funding for the Statewide Reference Resource Center also known as AskRI to continue funding for online learning and tutoring services available to all Rhode Islanders.

    “The Rhode Island Library Association applauds the House for its visible support of Rhode Island libraries by fully funding state aid to libraries. This action continues to build our communities resources and we are excited to see this commitment,” said RILA President Rachael Juskuv.

    RILA thanks Speaker Joe Shekarchi for his support of libraries and his recognition of the role libraries play in supporting constituents’ needs for access to information, technology, health and wellness resources, educational supports, and social connections.  We thank the Speaker for his strong leadership for including this additional funding in the budget.

    RILA also thanks Representative David Morales (Providence) and Representative Jackie Baginski (Cranston) for being strong library advocates and their efforts along with the 40-plus sponsors of House bill 7916 for bringing much needed attention to this long standing funding issue.

    During National Library Week in April, Representative Morales and fellow legislators highlighted the essential work performed by libraries during the pandemic and the importance of full state funding by visiting all nine Community Libraries of Providence. “It was gratifying to host Representative Morales and to share the impact these state resources will have on our community,” said CLPVD Director Cheryl Space.

    The Rhode Island Library Association urges the RI Senate to pass the FY23 budget with the inclusion of these important funds for our public libraries.

  • Saturday, June 11, 2022 10:04 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.

    Questions or suggestions for this column? Please send an email to communications@rilibraries.org.

    June 2022 Spotlight: RILA Intellectual Freedom Committee

    For this issue, we asked Tayla Cardillo to tell us about her role as Co-Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. Tayla is the Branch Librarian of the Oak Lawn Branch of the Cranston Public Libraries in Cranston, Rhode Island.

    What is the mission or purpose of the Intellectual Freedom Committee?

    To help libraries in their role as protectors of Intellectual Freedom and the First Amendment as well as inform the Rhode Island Library Community about issues of Intellectual Freedom.

    When was the Intellectual Freedom Committee formed?

    This January, the Committee was reactivated after a period of inactivity.

    What made you personally interested in being involved with this committee?

    I think protecting people's intellectual freedom as well as their right to read and access information is one of the most important aspects of our jobs as library professionals. Frequently, the stories of marginalized groups are the ones that get labeled as obscene or inappropriate for children, so it is important to make sure that those voices are not silenced by the white heteronormative majority. Part of the reason many of these groups, especially the LGBTQAI+ community, don't know their own history is because their voices were silenced in the past. That's what I want to try to work to stop.

    What is this committee’s proudest achievement?

    Since this committee is just getting restarted, I am proud of the work the committee has done in the short period of time we've been meeting to get this committee going again. With the help of the Communications Committee, SLRI, and the RILA Board, we created an Intellectual Freedom statement for RILA and put a page with resources to help the RI library committee learn more about Intellectual Freedom on the RILA website. I'm proud of what we accomplished in the first half of the year, and I'm excited to see what we'll do in the second half and beyond!

    What ongoing challenges does this Committee face?

    Our biggest ongoing challenge is figuring out the best way to support libraries and school districts who are facing book challenges. Do they need legal support, or support creating a solid collection development policy? Do they just want support from peers who understand what going through a challenge is like? These are the questions the committee has been grappling with since the beginning.

    If money and time were not an issue, what is the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s number one wish list item to support its mission or purpose?

    Creating a way for us to collect data about book challenges and other instances of censorship in RI and have people within the library community: 1) be aware that they can report censorship to us, and 2) feel safe and comfortable reporting to us.

    What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for this Committee to meet its goals or objectives?

    Our partnership with the Communications Committee has been great because we did not have to reinvent the wheel when it came to getting information about Intellectual Freedom out there to people. They have a platform and they know how to use it and they were willing to share that platform with us so that we could get this information out there.

    Is this Committee looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?

    Yes, we would be happy to have anyone interested in Intellectual Freedom to join us, and they can email ifcommittee@rilibraries.org to indicate their interest in joining the committee.

    What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?

    I just finished Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka, which is a graphic memoir about his childhood being raised by his grandparents. The author’s mother was in and out of jail and rehab programs due to her drug addiction, and his father was absent from his life until he was a young adult. It was a great look into the effects of addiction on a family through the eyes of a child, and I think it will help a lot of kids who have complicated family situations feel seen.

  • Friday, June 10, 2022 4:26 PM | Anonymous
    Illustration of a gold medal, text atop the medal reads "RILA Annual Awards 2022."

    SMITHFIELD, RI - The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) presented its annual awards at its Annual Conference, which was held May 25 and 26 at Bryant University in Smithfield. The theme for the conference was “Restore, Reconnect, Reflect.”

    "This year’s award recipients represent a wide cross section of library staff and advocates,” said RILA President Rachael Juskuv. “We were so fortunate to be able to have this awards reception in person this year, and give the winners the recognition they richly deserve."

    The 2022 RILA Award winners are:

    Library Champion Award: Elyse Wasch, Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Senator Jack Reed.

    “Elyse worked tirelessly behind the scenes as an advocate for libraries in Rhode Island and around the country,” said Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services of the Office of Library & Information Services. “Following the Senator’s lead as a champion of libraries, she developed an expertise in libraries and library legislation unrivaled by anyone on Capitol Hill and built broad bipartisan support for the Senator’s library agenda. During the pandemic she worked to secure funding for libraries in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, resulting in over $2.3 million of federal funding to help Rhode Island libraries respond to and recover from the pandemic. We are so very grateful for her efforts - Elyse is indeed a true champion of libraries.”

    Outstanding Librarian Award: Nancy Kellner, Youth Outreach Librarian, Rogers Free Library, Bristol.

    “When COVID hit, the library did not have a director. Nancy stepped up to the plate as co-interim director. Being a director is already a tremendous amount of work, but being a director during a pandemic is even harder. She encouraged staff to call, email, or text whenever they needed something. She never complained, and never said no. Nancy is a wonderful leader,” said Kristin Amaral, a former employee at the Rogers Free Library.

    Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award: Bethany Mott, Head of Circulation, East Smithfield Public Library

    “Ms. Mott has made significant contributions to library programming. She runs the monthly evening book group, hosts craft classes, and is responsible for the graphic design and printing of the monthly library newsletter. She has been instrumental in the planning and design of the library’s new Makerspace. Ms. Mott is an important and vital member of the library workforce,” said Catherine Lynn, president of the Friends of the East Smithfield Public Library.

    Meritorious Friend of the Library Award: Catherine Murray, Friends of the Rogers Free Library, Bristol

    “The latest project Catherine has contributed to is the launch of our affiliation with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL),” said Insley Julier of Rogers Free Library. “Catherine generates marketing and promotion for DPIL, and her knowledge and understanding of graphic design and communications are only part of what she brings to the table. Her sense of humor always enlivens our meetings. We are thrilled that Ms. Murray has received this award.”

    Meritorious Friends of the Library Award: The Friends of the Exeter Public Library

    ”Rhode Island’s newest library, the Exeter Public Library, which opened in September 2004, is the direct result of Exeter residents Helen Douglas, David Zannelli, and the Friends of the Exeter Public Library,” said Tien Tran, the library's director. “It is hard to overstate the amount of work that Helen, Dave, and the Friends put in through numerous programs and initiatives that played such an important role in the library’s creation. The Friends are creating an endowment with the Rhode Island Foundation to preserve and grow the funds that they have raised over the years. I am so moved and humbled by the comprehensiveness of their vision and support.”

  • Wednesday, April 13, 2022 7:22 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    submitted by Julie Holden, Cranston Public Library

    It has been over 2 years since there was an in-person national library conference, and this year’s Public Library Association (PLA) conference drew a semi-large crowd of library workers from across the country. Although Portland, Oregon is pretty much one of the farthest conference spots away from Rhode Island, many library staff from the Ocean State were able to make the trip. 

    According to attendance estimates, over 4,000 people journeyed to the Oregon Convention Center, which was down from the 8,700 who attended the Nashville conference in 2020. Each attendee had to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test, and masks were required while at all indoor conference events. PLA also provided a virtual conference option this year, with about 1,100 people taking advantage. “Travel Portland,” the local tourist agency, gave out free TriMet rail passes to all attendees, so that we could ride the light rail to and from all downtown locations and even the airport. 

    In keeping with past PLA conferences, the “Big Ideas” stage opened up early each morning with inspirational speakers: author and lawyer Brittany K. Barnett, and recent 40-game Jeopardy champion Amy Schneider. The conference opening speaker was the impressive Luvvie Ajayi Jones, author of Professional Troublemaker, who encouraged us to speak up and speak out. The closing session featured actor and author Kal Penn (of Harold & Kumar fame), who told us the hilarious tale of how he came to work in President Obama’s administration as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

    The conference sessions were packed with new and interesting ideas from libraries across the country and included engaging sessions on the current topics we are all facing in our libraries: the first amendment; inclusion, diversity, equity, and access; censorship and intellectual freedom; and the digital future.

    The exhibit hall featured aisles of library vendors, including everyone’s favorite prize supplier, Rhode Island Novelty! Lots of publishers were giving away both uncorrected proofs and published books to conference attendees, who then had to make the most difficult calculation facing a library employee: just how many free books can I actually fit in my suitcase to take home with me?  

    All in all, it was a nice return to in-person conferencing, and if you have never been to PLA, the next conference will take place a lot closer to home, in Columbus, Ohio, in 2024.

    Library Journal Kline Award Event with staff from the Cranston Public Library.

    The cherry blossoms were in full bloom in Portland - photo courtesy of Karen McGrath.

    “Keep Portland Weird” - photo courtesy of Karen McGrath.

    The Oregon Convention Center featured a giant cosmic swinging pendulum - a favorite meet-up spot of conference attendees. Photo courtesy of Karen McGrath.
  • Friday, April 08, 2022 3:53 PM | Anonymous

    For the second year in a row, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has named West Warwick Public Library as a finalist for their National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities. Since 1996, the award has honored 176 institutions that demonstrated extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service. West Warwick is the only institution in the state to be a finalist and they are the first in Rhode Island to have been a finalist more than once in the history of the award.

    Read the full press release at https://www.imls.gov/news/imls-names-finalists-2022-national-medal-museum-and-library-service.

  • Friday, April 08, 2022 1:20 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, seven middle school librarians met virtually to discuss middle school library topics and see the new social emotional room at Burrillville Middle School. In attendance for the meeting were Stephanie Mills, Melanie Roy, Christina Ash, Jen Simoneau, Diane Lebrun, Lisa Girard and Jill Fernandes.

    The social emotional room, funded through an OLIS ARPA grant, is a repurposed conference room with windows, located off the main library. It was established for the purpose of calming down students who are agitated, anxious, upset, or simply need to take quiet space somewhere. Diane Lebrun showed the room to the librarians and explained how sensory materials were added to the space with the help of the school psychologist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist. There is a diffuser with natural oils, fidget toys, a rocking egg-shaped chair, bean bag seating, a CD player with meditations, along with a variety of other things deemed helpful in mindfulness practices.

    The team put together a binder filled with activities ranging from mindfulness eating (with mints) to coloring pages designed to lessen stress in students. The sixth grade teachers took on the task of introducing the room to the students and leading them through the activities in order for them to understand the purpose of the room. Diane explained the process of logging into the room through a google form, and then setting a timer for ten minutes. At the end of the time, students log out of the room giving feedback on how they feel. The room has been open for about a month and there are a handful of students who use the room on a regular basis, with more starting to take advantage, as well. 

    The meeting was very productive, and we discussed the need to meet more often on various middle school topics. Some of the topics we plan to meet on are new ways to collaborate with teachers, genrefying our collections, and updating our collection and reconsideration policies. Our group is open to any middle school librarian who wants to virtually discuss these timely topics. Our next meeting will be April 26th at 8:30am. Please email lebrund@bsd-ri.net for a link to the meeting.

  • Wednesday, April 06, 2022 2:28 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    When Bajah’s Cat Cafe opened in Tiverton last year, the staff at Tiverton Public Library racked their brains about how they could justify a group visit to the new business…staff meeting at the cat cafe, anyone? Luckily, the cafe’s owner, Amanda Souza-Viera, contacted the library about hosting a book group at the cafe.

    The business consists of a cafe area, serving fresh local coffee, baked goods, and cat-themed gift items, and Bajah’s Villas - a room where cats from local animal shelters live until they are adopted. Patrons can reserve time in the cat room to interact with the cats. Since opening in May 2021, almost a hundred cats have found homes after spending time with patrons at the cafe. Deb Estrella, Tiverton Library’s Adult Services Librarian, was excited about the idea of hosting a book group there – even more so when she learned the discussion would take place in the cat room!

    The group meets once a month in Bajah’s Villas to discuss a different cat-themed book. The group alternates between fiction and nonfiction, and has even discussed middle-grade books. The library secures copies of the book to be discussed for patrons to pick up at the library or the cafe. At the beginning of the meeting, Amanda talks about the cats who are staying in the Villas that month. The program is free and open to the public, but guests are welcome to purchase a drink or treat while they participate in the group. And, should the conversation lag, there are always the cats.

    "I think reading is very important, and I believe book groups are fun and beneficial,” says Amanda. “They bring a community together where individuals can learn and discuss something that matters to them. Having the meeting with cats definitely encourages this as well. Partnering with the Tiverton Library has been such a great experience! Deb has really grown the group and makes each meeting interesting with her discussion topics about the books. We have received lots of positive comments about how well Deb interacts and gets people engaged."

    “This has been such a fun book group to organize and be a part of,” said Deb. “It has allowed us to meet and develop relationships with residents in the northern part of town as well as folks just over the line in Massachusetts. Some have even come from Connecticut. We are proud to support a new business in town…and you can’t beat an afternoon spent talking about books with a cup of tea surrounded by napping cats.” In April, the group will meet to discuss Murder Past Due by Miranda James.

"Rhode Island Library Association" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Rhode Island Library Association, P.O. Box 6765, Providence, RI 02940

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