• 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.

  • Saturday, April 02, 2022 8:00 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    From January through March 2022, the American Library Association hosted a virtual book club around its new publication Ask, Listen, Empower: Grounding Your Library Work in Community Engagement, edited by Mary Davis Fournier and Sarah Ostman (ALA Editions, 2021). Library workers across the country applied, and 100 were selected, to participate in a series of three virtual book club sessions. Each session focused on a different chapter from the book and offered a live conversation with the chapter's author(s) and smaller breakout discussions. 

    Several librarians from Rhode Island participated in the monthly book discussion. The following is a summary of the sessions by three of those participants.

    Session 1: Partnering for Greater Impact

    written by Lori DeCesare, Assistant Director at Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library

    The first session of the series, held on January 12th, focused on the chapter titled “Partnering for Greater Impact,” written by Cindy Fesemyer. The session began with a conversation with Ms. Fesemyer moderated by Flo Trujillo. 

    Libraries are renowned for developing, sustaining, and leveraging community partnerships. The collaboration between the library and other community entities benefits all involved - offering expanded opportunities to provide programs, enhance services, and support the library’s mission. This collaboration is powerful - yielding collective achievements greater than those that could be achieved by an individual organization on its own, as a result of shared goal setting, pooled responsibilities, and combined efforts. 

    Fesemeyer noted that, before establishing a partnership, it is important to focus on your organization first. The Aspen Institute’s Action Guide for Re-Envisioning Your Public Library, Version 2.0 offers a SOAR assessment to explore the strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results of your library. 

    An effective tool examined during the session was a Community Map, shown below, which aids in examining potential community partners. Identify the individuals and groups in your community that fall into each of these categories. Another suggestion was to take a walk and look around the community. Introduce yourself, and identify common goals and explore the possibility of a partnership over coffee. If you are both agreeable, move forward with an easy project to start (often an extension of something the library already does well). If successful, extend the partnership, ensuring that it continues to be beneficial to your library, but be willing to end the collaboration when it is time. 

     (Fournier and Ostman 39)

    During the breakout session, participants were asked to discuss their community maps. The highlight of the discussion in my breakout group was a rural Vermont library who partnered with their local conservation group to offer a very successful workshop on chainsaw safety at the library! 

    This first of three sessions in the Ask, Listen, Empower Virtual Book Club encouraged us to explore beyond our traditional partnerships and become more innovative, allowing us to expand our reach of community-specific targeted programs and services and achieve more than we could alone.

    Session 2: Ethical and Inclusive Community Engagement 

    written by Deb Estrella, Adult Services Librarian at Tiverton Public Library

    The second session held on February 16th featured Ellen Knutson and Quanetta Batts, who wrote a chapter in Ask, Listen, Empower titled “Ethical and Inclusive Community Engagement.” The session was moderated by Miguel Ruiz.

    The chapter describes a public involvement continuum developed by Vancouver Public Library in British Columbia, which ranges from simply giving information (where the library is centered and decides what the community needs and how best to meet those needs) to truly partnering and collaborating with another organization (where the community is centered and leads the planning). During the live conversation, Knutson reminded us that “the world is bigger than you” and that you can do more with others than you can alone. Batts highlighted the importance of approaching potential community partners without an agenda - to come to the table with only the intention to listen rather than to fix what you perceive as a problem. She described how she would go on a “listening tour” of the stakeholders in her area. Knutson also pointed out that these conversations should be happening all the time, not just when you have a project in mind - build the relationship before you need the relationship. 

    Throughout the chapter, the authors stress centering inclusion in libraries’ community engagement work. This requires an understanding of your own or your institution’s privilege and intersectionality and meeting community members - literally - where they are. The authors found the most success meeting potential partners in their homes and places of business, learning, or worship. The authors also reminded us to recognize our biases and make sure we are not approaching certain patrons as “problems” to be fixed, but rather people with unique perspectives and experience that can make our services stronger, more relevant, and more accessible to the population we’re trying to reach. 

    During the breakout session, each breakout group was presented with a hypothetical community need and challenged to brainstorm ideas for how to work with the community to meet that need. The activity illustrated for all of us how many minds can create greater opportunities than we could have imagined on our own.

    Session 3: Community-Centered Programming - Tools and Techniques

    written by Insley Julier, Adult Services Librarian at Rogers Free Library

    Led by the chapter’s author Audrey Barbakoff and moderator Veronica Casnova, the third session of the ALA Ask, Listen, Empower book club on March 16th was grounded in the principle that library programs and service should be planned “by and with, rather than for or at, your community” (Fournier and Ostman 47). Barbaroff noted that libraries have the tendency to look at what they already have the capability to do and focus on solving people’s problems. But that lens puts too much emphasis on needs, with librarians acting as “saviors.” She argued that we need to move from a deficit-based approach to an asset-based model, where we approach programming and services with cultural humility and leverage the strength of community assets (organizations and individuals), who already have knowledge about the community served. 

    In her chapter, Barbakoff outlines a path to develop community-centered programming. Steps include developing specific goals about what the library intends to do; environmental scanning (doing background research, so as to not waste the time of the community assets during later interviews); asset mapping (creating visual maps or diagrams representing key players, relationships, and resources within a defined geographic area); and key stakeholder interviews. These interviews are used to identify partners/community experts and to pinpoint the areas in which the library should expand programs or resources. In addition, the interviews can ascertain the challenges or barriers to access for underrepresented or marginalized groups. Barbaroff noted that efforts should be made to maximize the benefit to these groups and minimize the burden placed upon them. For instance, if a program is aimed at single mothers, can childcare be provided to allow them to attend? Her primary thesis was that libraries should not aim to save, but instead focus on working with outside groups and individuals as partners and friends, while honoring their expertise. 

    The book club was a valuable experience, allowing participants to connect to other professionals across the country to learn more about how they are promoting community engagement in their libraries large and small.

  • Friday, April 01, 2022 11:12 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    In accordance with the American Library Association (ALA) statement issued on August 18, 2021, the Rhode Island Library Association is committed to upholding our core values, which include equitable access to knowledge, social justice, and intellectual freedom. As members of a profession committed to free and equitable access to information and the pursuit of truth, we stand firm in opposing any effort to suppress knowledge, to label “controversial” views, or dictate what is orthodox in history, politics, or belief. As such, RILA strongly opposes House Bill 7539, introduced by Representative Patricia Morgan of Coventry, Warwick, and West Warwick. This legislation, as proposed, pretends to protect civil rights in education, but in reality seeks to erase history, ignore science, and silence Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, as well as the LGBT community. 

    Efforts, such as House Bill 7539, to censor any consideration or discussion of racism, slavery, Black American history, Indigenous history, and related issues and concerns in our schools, colleges, and universities pose a real and present threat to libraries’ ability to fulfill their role as trusted community institutions that provide factual and accurate information that reflects the breadth of the American experience about these topics.

    The consequences of this bill would impact student personal and academic development because it:

    • Fact 1: Forces librarians to go against the American Library Association Core Values of the Freedom to Read by purging collections of books that share the authentic experiences of human beings who happen to be people of color or LGBT people.

    • Fact 2: Ignores the research that shows students will enjoy reading more and increase their reading comprehension skills when they have choice in what they read.

    • Fact 3: Disregards the fact that the demographics of public school students is rapidly changing so that the minorities, especially hispanic students, are becoming the majority. Students should have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in what they read as well as read stories of different cultures and people as part of their personal, social, and educational development.

    • Fact 4: Forces teachers to ignore white supremacy and the well-documented history of violence and discrimination against black, indigenous, and other people of color.

    • Fact 5: Prevents teachers from creating a safe learning environment for all students where they are free to express and explore their own identities.

    • Fact 6: Disallows teachers to teach students media literacy skills such as how to identify bias, propaganda, and fact vs. opinion, essential skills in today’s world where misinformation and disinformation in news media and social media content is rampant and threatening our democracy.

    • Fact: 7: Fails to comprehend that national and state content area standards, curriculum, and textbooks used for instruction are district responsibilities and unfairly targets teachers for punishment. 

    A commitment to intellectual freedom and social justice requires that libraries not only protect the truth from suppression, but also prevent its distortion. We oppose any legislative proposal or local initiative intended to ban instruction, consideration, or discussion about the role of racism in the history of the United States or how systemic racism manifests itself in our schools, workplaces, and government agencies.

    RILA pledges to join with library workers and libraries to oppose any proposal to censor information resources, curricula, or programs addressing racial injustice, Black American history, indigenous history, and diversity education. Further, we commit to supporting libraries, library workers, schools, colleges, and universities facing these challenges and developing tools that will prepare library workers to defend their collections, counter falsehoods, and engage their communities in important conversations about racial injustice and empowering everyone to fully participate in our democratic society.

    Questions about RILA’s position on this and related issues may be directed to communications@rilibraries.org.

    For more resources and support for Intellectual Freedom please visit the homepage of the RILA Intellectual Freedom Committee at https://rilibraries.org/intellectual-freedom.

  • Tuesday, March 29, 2022 4:36 PM | 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.

    April 2022 Spotlight: New England Library Association (NELA)

    For this issue, we asked Kelly Parlin to tell us about her role as RILA Representative to NELA. Kelly is a Teen Librarian at Rochambeau Library in Providence, Rhode Island.

    What is the mission or purpose of NELA?

    The mission of the New England Library Association is to provide educational and leadership opportunities for library staff in support of improved library services for the people of New England. To that end, the association (1) engages regionally in important discussions in the library profession, (2) encourages the exchange of ideas through a variety of formal and informal events and (3) collaborates regionally and nationally with allied organizations. NELA is a chapter of the American Library Association.

    When was NELA formed?

    Officially chartered in 1963, the New England Library Association is a regional organization whose membership represents a wide range of library-related interests. Its objectives are to initiate, plan, and support regional activities; to encourage the exchange of ideas; and to cooperate with regional and national agencies having related interests.

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

    Having attended the NELA-sponsored New England Library Leadership Symposium (NELLS) in 2019, I knew I wanted to further my leadership skills by getting more involved in the big picture of libraries. I was excited to participate in the behind-the-scenes efforts of RILA and NELA, as well as network with library professionals across the region. I also looked forward to visiting other libraries across New England; although, sadly the pandemic prevented me from enjoying this aspect of the position. Hopefully the next representative will get to travel to beautiful libraries throughout New England!

    What is NELA’s proudest achievement?

    In my opinion, I think NELA has done great work in providing career development and leadership training opportunities. My NELLS experience in 2019 was a highlight of my career, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested! I describe NELLS as a summer camp/therapy retreat for librarians who not only want to better themselves, but also their individual institutions. I made powerful connections with the other participants, and I’m excited to run into them at future conferences! I’m glad NELLS exists, and I hope to participate in NELLS II when I’m qualified.

    What ongoing challenges does this program face?

    NELA is composed of volunteers, so it’s a challenge to recruit new board members due to the time commitment and effort involved. That said, it can be a worthwhile investment to build skills, make connections, and add to your resume.

    If money and time were not an issue, what is NELA’s number one wishlist item to support its mission or purpose?

    I wasn’t sure how to answer this question, but when I asked other board members what they think, one said that being able to expand the NELLS leadership program so it can be for anyone (rather than having certain year requirements) would be ideal. I also believe that without the constraints of time or money, NELA could execute more grants on a larger scale due to its ideal positioning as a regional organization.

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

    NELA has many committees and also works directly with the state library organizations of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. This has been very beneficial in leveraging grant opportunities, comparing statistics, keeping informed of happenings in the region, and connecting professionals across state boundaries.

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

    NELA is currently recruiting a vice president, a member-at-large, and a secretary for the Executive Board. There are also openings on the Conference, Educational Assistance, Membership, and Public Relations Committees. For sections, the Information Technology Section (ITS) is accepting new members including a member-at-large position, and the Academic Librarians Section (ALS) needs a new chair. Interested parties may contact Faithe Miller Lakowicz, the Volunteer Coordinator, at volunteer@nelib.org. Alternatively, they may fill out the 'Get Involved' form on the NELA website

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

    I recently finished the middle grade graphic novel Snapdragon by Kat Leyh, and I loved it! The story content was wonderful, the plot easy to follow, and the art so expressive that it perfectly captured the characters' thoughts and feelings. I highly recommend it!

"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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