• Monday, November 29, 2021 1:52 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.

    December 2021 Spotlight: The RILA Mentorship Program

    This month, we talked to RILA Mentorship Program Co-Chairs Kieran Ayton and Dorothy Swain. Kieran is the Emerging Technologies Librarian at RI College. Dorothy is the Director at the Greenville Public Library.

    With thanks to Aaron Coutu, Assistant Director/Technology Coordinator
    at the 
    Cumberland Public Library, for making the RILA Mentorship logo.

    What is the mission or purpose of the RILA Mentorship Program?

    The goal of the RILA Mentorship Program is to provide encouragement, support, and guidance to early and mid-career library staff to promote their professional development and growth.

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

    Kieran was RILA President and the formation of a mentorship program was a goal that was identified by the strategic planning consultants with whom the RILA Executive Board worked. Dorothy was identified as a contact due to her leadership work in NELLS (New England Library Leadership Symposium).

    When was this program formed, and what was the catalyst for forming it?

    Dorothy and Kieran started the RILA Mentorship Program in 2019, based on the RILA 5-year strategic plan that was launched in 2018.

    What is the Mentorship Program’s proudest achievement?

    This program was developed at the request of RILA members as a benefit to the library community. We are proud to have been able to organize this program from the ground up by partnering mentors and mentees from all library types with similar interests and professional goals.

    What ongoing challenges does this program face?

    The RILA Mentorship Program was originally intended as a face-to-face program. We had to change the program format due to COVID-19 and rely on virtual meetings and trainings.  

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

    This is a free program available to all RILA members with low overhead costs. The major challenge has been for program participants to meet in-person due to COVID-19 restrictions. Another challenge has been to recruit new mentors and mentees to participate.

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

    MentorRI provided an initial training and framework for the RILA Mentorship Program to use for its launch. Currently, we are working with Valerie Karno (Director of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies) and Mary MacDonald (URI Library liaison to GSLIS) to form a partnership to pull in library school students as RILA mentees.

    Is the Mentorship Program looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?

    Yes! The program is currently accepting applications for both mentors and mentees to apply for the 2022 calendar year cycle. You must be a current RILA member to join. Applications are available here: https://rilibraries.org/mentorship 

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

    Dorothy’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen because it has a strong female protagonist and has a romantic storyline.  

    Kieran recently finished an early Agatha Christie mystery called Peril at End House featuring Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective. It was a fun bedtime read.

  • Monday, October 18, 2021 10:04 AM | Anonymous

    Senator Jack Reed standing in the North Providence Union Free Library speaking with director Stef Blankenship about their "Any Space Office Place" project.Senator Jack Reed visited the North Providence Union Free Library on October 14, 2021, to get an in-depth look at their Library of Rhode Island (LORI) Grant project, Any Place Office Space. Using grant funds, the library created “at home” offices that include a laptop, mobile hotspot, and a portable printer, and will be loaned for a 3-month period. Senator Reed was intrigued by the project which provides technology and digital access to patrons outside of the physical library.  He was also able to see 8 public computers added into the computer area funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) technology grant.

    Read more about North Providence’s project in the Valley Breeze.

  • Tuesday, October 12, 2021 1:23 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Rhode Island librarians were well represented at the Gale Impact Live 2021 Conference on September 29th and 30th. The free virtual conference offered more than 20 sessions of professional development for public librarians. The conference was held live, but was also recorded so attendees could view the sessions after it ended.

    The theme of the conference was “Connect. Inspire. Elevate.” It focused on the ways libraries adapted to provide services to their communities in the face of building closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers came from libraries around the country and addressed topics including advocacy, business development, programming, and diversity and inclusivity. Both days offered a midday meditation break led by a wellness professional.

    Rhode Island library staff presented on both days of the conference. On Wednesday, Karen Mellor from the RI Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS), Beatrice Pulliam from Providence Public Library, and Ed Garcia from Cranston Public Library gave a presentation titled “Pivot Your Workforce Development Efforts toward Online Learning.” They spoke about how Rhode Island libraries adapted to support workforce development during the pandemic.

    The statewide AskRI partnership added Udemy as a resource, which provides access to on-demand courses on a huge variety of topics. Karen mentioned promoting Udemy to state employees who had to quickly adapt to working from home:  “What happened was I kept promoting Udemy with the IT folks, and when they had a few moments to breathe, they found this wealth of courses in Udemy.” She mentioned topics including cloud-based computing, web design, coding, and network security. “Udemy was really important during this time. I had a number of division chiefs promoting it.”

    Both Beatrice and Ed mentioned the self-care and personal development facets of Udemy, including things like meditation or learning a musical instrument.

    On Thursday, Stephen Spohn from Ocean State Libraries (OSL) and Kelly Metzger from OLIS presented “Follow the Data Journey: Using Data to Fuel Strategic Planning and Decision-making.”

    During this session, Kelly and Stephen described an ongoing partnership between OSL, OLIS, and Gale Analytics to develop a custom product that would help libraries in Rhode Island develop an understanding of the their service environment, identify gaps in service to their community, and aid in strategic planning.

    With funding through a LORI Grant, Gale was able to create five custom, interactive dashboards for OLIS and OSL. These analytical tools overlay non-identifying patron information with Census, Community Insights, and Mosaic data. Analyses can be broken down for each library or library, library system, or region so libraries could see how they compare with comparable libraries/systems in the area and identify actionable steps they could take.

    The dashboards have just recently been released, but Stephen and Kelly expressed excitement over the results they have seen so far. They look forward to publishing and refining the dashboards, collecting more data, and supporting Rhode Island libraries in using them to improve and extend their services.

  • Thursday, October 07, 2021 11:38 AM | Anonymous

    Rhode Island Latino Books Award logo, featuring an illustration of someone lying on the ground reading a book.Our newly formed Rhode Island Latino Books Award Committee is proud to announce the 2022 RI Latino Books Award (formerly known as Rhode Island Latino Books Month Book Award) Nominees.

    We are going on our eight year promoting Latino literature for grades kindergarten through 12th grade. Students are encouraged to read three books according to their grade level and vote for their favorite book starting in April through the end of May. Free book sets are provided to Rhode Island public libraries and school libraries in partnership with the Rhode Island Center of the Book. Participants interested in receiving free book sets must promote the nominated books and submit their students’ or patrons votes.

    Join us in promoting a Latino literature by bring communities together to celebrate diversity and encourage people to embrace our differences.

  • Thursday, October 07, 2021 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    RILA Mentorship logo: The letters "RILA" on white in a blue rectangle and an illustration of one person helping another up a staircase.The RILA Mentorship Program is finishing its first year to great success. We had 15 mentor/mentee pairs (30 participants total). We are now accepting applications for both Mentors and Mentees for the 2022 year.

    Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the life of another person and to gain new insights into our rich profession. You can give and receive guidance and take your career to the next level. Please join our program today to develop lasting professional relationships with others in the field.

    To be a part of the RILA Mentorship Program:
    ●    You must be a current RILA member.
    ●    You may be a library employee, retired librarian or current library school student.
    ●    You must make a one-year commitment that includes meeting with your mentor/mentee at least 3-4 times per year by phone, email, web conferencing, or in-person meeting.
    Click here to fill out the Mentor Application.

    Click here to fill out the Mentee Application.

    You can read the Program Guidelines for more information.  
    For questions, please contact mentor@rilibraries.org.

  • Thursday, October 07, 2021 10:02 AM | Anonymous

    Pascoag Public Library is celebrating a sesquicentennial (150 years) this year -- 1871-2021. The library will welcome people from all over Rhode Island to the Soiree on Friday, October 22, 2021 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Hors d'oeuvres, punch, coffee, and an anniversary cake will accompany congratulatory testimonials.

    In addition, they will have a series of posters (12 in all), telling their story on display in the library.  Stop in and see a new one each month.

    Learn more at https://www.pascoaglibrary.org/sesquicentennial-celebration

  • Wednesday, October 06, 2021 3:16 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.

    Cornucopia of RI logo

    October 2021 Spotlight: Cornucopia of Rhode Island

    This month, with its fall mini-conference taking place right around the corner, we talked to Cornucopia of Rhode Island (CORI) Chair Bohyun Kim to learn more about this RILA section. Bohyun is Chief Technology Officer and Professor at the University of Rhode Island Libraries in Kingston, RI.

    What is the mission or purpose of CORI?

    CORI serves the library community of color in RI. Our objectives are to promote library services to people of color within Rhode Island and the development of librarians and library staff of color. 

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

    CORI is the organization serving the library workers of color in RI. Through CORI, I wanted to meet other POC library workers like me and add my efforts to building our community and making it stronger. 

    What is CORI’s proudest achievement?

    We hold a mini-conference every year that is free and open to all. And this year, it will be on Nov 4. [Editor’s note: read more about the upcoming mini-conference and register here!]

    What ongoing challenges does CORI face?

    The greatest challenge is to seek active participation from CORI members. 

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

    Once the pandemic clears, we would love to have a big social gathering for networking so that CORI members can meet one another in person again!

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

    We want to thank Julie Holden, Past President of RILA, for helping us with CORI mini-conference logistics both last year and this year! 

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

    Please drop by our CORI quarterly online meeting and contact us by email. More info about CORI is available on our website at https://www.rilibraries.org/cori.

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

    Trying Not to Try cover photo

    Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity by Edward Slingerland. It discusses the concept of wuwei (無爲) in Chinese philosophy in the context of social psychology. 

  • Wednesday, September 01, 2021 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library, for being awarded the 2021 Emerson Greenaway Award by the New England Library Association!

    Each year NELA awards the Emerson Greenaway Award to an individual who has provided distinguished service in librarianship.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NELA made the decision not to present this award in 2020. As a result, two outstanding individuals are presented with this honor in 2021: Jennifer Alvino and Ed Garcia.

    Jennifer Alvino: Director of the Windham Public Library in Windham, Maine

    By the time Jen graduated with an MS in Library and Information Services in 2008 from Simmons College, she had already dedicated many years to working in public libraries.  She began her career in 1994 as a Page at the Portland Public Library.  Since then, she has held a variety of positions, from office assistant, substitute, and Lending Services and Systems Coordinator in Portland, to Technology Coordinator, Head of Lending Services, and Interim Assistant Director at the Walker Memorial Library, before becoming the Director of the Windham Public Library in 2013. 

    Jen’s influence as a librarian extends well beyond her service area.  She has made significant contributions to the Maine Library Association as a longtime active member, recently serving as the Association President from 2019-2021.  MLA named her Outstanding Librarian of the year in 2014.  Jen has also been active in the American Library Association for many years, was the ALA Maine Chapter Councilor from 2014-2017, and has been active on many committees. 

    In addition to her many achievements, Jen is described by her colleagues as collaborative, thoughtful, dedicated, humble in her leadership, and generous with her time.  As a former New England Library Leadership Symposium attendee and former ALA Leadership Institute graduate, Jen freely gives her time to mentor students and colleagues whenever they need guidance.  She is a fierce advocate, having been instrumental in guiding a team that championed students’ right to read in response to adverse legislation proposed in Maine in 2019.  Jen’s successful work in defeating this legislation was important and instructive for other states’ efforts to defeat similar legislation.  Library workers across the country, but in particular those within the New England region, benefit greatly from the selfless work Jen has done over the course of her career.

    Edward Garcia: Director of the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI

    Ed has made an enormous impact on libraries in Rhode Island and across the country since graduating from the University of Rhode Island’s GLIS program.  He started as the Assistant Director of the Adams Memorial Library in 2008, but has since spent the majority of his career in Cranston, serving as the Information Access Librarian, Technology Coordinator, and has been the Director since 2012.  Ed was the first library in the state to go fine-free for teens and children, providing framework for other libraries in the state to follow suit, thus removing barriers to library access among RI youth.  Under Ed’s leadership, the Cranston Public Library was the winner of the Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize.

    Ed has been an active member of the Rhode Island Library Association for many years and served as the President of the Ocean State Libraries from 2014-2017.  Ed has also served as a member of the American Library Association’s executive board since 2018, where he is lauded for his ability to guide discussions towards productive outcomes, and for his ability to bring people with strong and opposing viewpoints together.

    Ed is known among his staff, colleagues, and friends for his strong leadership, collaborative spirit, and his willingness to help develop young talent.  Ed freely shares his knowledge and willingly mentors those within his circle, and is known to be fair-minded, forward-thinking, generous, humble and likable.  He is a dedicated librarian with a strong collaborative vision.  Ed is always the first to acknowledge and praise the contributions of others, preferring not to stand in the spotlight alone.  He is a true leader who has had a positive impact on libraries both within the New England region and around the country.

    Please join the Rhode Island Library Association and New England Library Association in thanking both Jen Alvino and Ed Garcia for their outstanding contributions to libraries over the course of their careers.  They will be presented with the distinguished Emerson Greenaway Award at the NELA conference on October 18th, 2021.

  • Monday, August 30, 2021 12:41 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    After nearly 38 years working as a reference librarian at the North Providence Union Free Library, Joseph Uscio counts the past year and half as his most memorable time spent working in the public library. Despite being closed for 2 months, NPR got back into action with curbside pickup, like so many libraries, keeping the staff very busy. Joe related that, despite the lack of library delivery, he and his coworkers served patrons by pulling their holds, weeding the collection, and offering a free library of those weeded books. “People really like it,” he enthused. 

    When asked what he plans to do in retirement, he quipped that he will spend more time with his 10-year-old son, “before I fall apart.” He will continue cultivating his love of Japanese culture which began in 1990. He became friends with local residents originally from Japan after asking if they could help him learn more about a folding screen he owned. Those folks have since returned to Japan, meaning he has no one with whom to practice his Japanese language learning. On the other hand, Joe is an accomplished player of the shinobue, a type of Japanese flute. He was recently asked to play at the Black Ships Festival in Newport, but he declined. He enjoys martial arts since it is a lifetime pursuit. He has a particular interest in Japanese swordsmanship. Martial arts is something he shares with his son who has been involved with karate and kung fu since he was 5.

    Joe is well-known in North Providence and is often stopped at the grocery store by folks asking him if their books have come in. He said he feels a bit like a celebrity in town, so the feature story in the Valley Breeze seemed par for the course. Working in the same place for so many years means that he actually worked at the smaller library that existed on George Street, because NPR relocated to its current location on Mineral Spring Avenue.

    Joe loves helping people, and the relationships he has forged with patrons and especially staff, whom he considers as an extended family. With his interests in music, science, art, and literature, Joe feels that to be an effective librarian, a person’s entire background comes into play. 

  • Saturday, August 07, 2021 2:24 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    A jam-packed Drag Storytime, featuring local drag performers Ninny Nothin and Randi Xtra Xtra, took place at 11:00am and 1:00pm at West Warwick Public Library (WWPL) on June 26, 2021, to celebrate Pride and showcase the diversity of the community. Both events were full, with 70 parents, teens, and children attending each session. 

    Rashaa Al-Sasah, Head of Youth Services, and Emma Brelsford, Youth Services Librarian, organized and hosted the events. The two librarians worked with the drag artists to select age-appropriate materials to read during the program.

    According to Al-Sasah, “The event went off without a hitch despite the pushback and protests of people who were opposed to the event taking place, with a majority of this [opposition] coming from outside of the West Warwick community.”  

    A great deal of planning was necessary for the day to run smoothly. “We planned in advance how we would have attendees enter the library and parking lot,” Al-Sasah said. “We had check-in points both at our parking lot and door as the library was not open for library services that day and [was open] only for this special event. This created and ensured a safe environment for all our patrons in attendance.”

    Drag artists Ninny Nothin (left) and Randi Xtra Xtra (right)

    Titles selected for storytime reading included Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry, Be Who You Are by Todd Parr, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima, and Peanut Goes for the Gold by Jonathan Van Ness. Each book is well known for themes of inclusion and acceptance. Songs were also used to engage the audience.

    Books that were read during WWPL's Drag Storytime

    Participants from within and outside the WWPL community were involved with staging the event and contributing to a safe and welcoming atmosphere. Volunteers from the LGBTQIA+ community support and empowerment groups Parasol Patrol and Free Mom Hugs were on hand to redirect attention away from protestors. A bubble machine provided further diversion. Attendees entering the library lobby were greeted by staff, and volunteers at tables represented community and health groups PFLAG of Greater Providence, Youth Pride, Inc. and Thundermist Health Center. Al-Sasah intentionally organized the lobby so that “parents and children could pick up information and swag and talk to representatives of the organizations,” learn about available resources, and make community connections on their way into the event.

    Volunteers from Parasol Patrol
    make themselves available outside the library 

    The audience greeted the drag performers with great enthusiasm and applause. In between the reading of each book, Al-Sasah and Brelsford joined the drag performers to lead a singalong to songs including “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “The More We Get Together.” After Drag Storytime was over, attendees were invited to make a fairy wand craft and pose with the drag artists for photos.

    Drag performers and WWPL staff lead the audience in a singalong

    “It was a wonderful day with parents and children who were both LGBTQIA+ and allies who enjoyed listening to stories about friendship and being yourself,” said Al-Sasah.

    WWPL staff reported that the drag performers “were very happy with the event, particularly [with] the care and measures” taken to ensure the safety and comfort of performers and attendees alike. Safety was of primary concern to Al-Sasah, particularly since “one of the performers was the center of a lot of online harassment” and “we wanted to make sure they knew they were safe.”

    “We had a lot of positive reactions overall but there was some negative attention, in particular on social media,” Al-Sasah continued. “Two local Catholic priests were opposed to the event, [as were other] religious groups from outside of our community who sought to have the event canceled.” 

    Nevertheless, Al-Sasah is very happy with how the program went and felt that it “was certainly one of the highlights of my library career thus far to see all the happy kids and families thank us and the artists for telling them and their children to just ‘be who you are!’” The draw of the event has even resulted in newly devoted patrons to the library.

    Volunteers from Parasol Patrol escort patrons to and from the building

    Drag Storytime was an especially important event because “WWPL is committed to incorporating equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice into all our efforts and practices,” said Al-Sasah. “Working in West Warwick for several years, I found that we had a lot of LGBTQIA+ youth and families in our community [and] we didn't have any programs that were for our younger children. I thought this would be the perfect type of program for these kids and families to know they belonged and were welcome at the library.”

    Al-Sasah continued, “We were thrown a lot of unexpected curveballs with the backlash but to us, this meant we were doing this for all the right reasons and [this] only further solidified our purpose in celebrating the diversity of our patrons.” 

    Will there be another Drag Storytime in West Warwick any time soon? “We certainly would love to host it again,” said Al-Sasah, “but have not made any plans just yet. But I would love to see more RI libraries host one, too!”

"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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