Project SET Alumni Spotlight: Erica Street

Project SET: Skills, Empowerment, Talent is a learning community guided by members of the Massachusetts Library Systems Consultants team. Project SET has been established in order to cultivate new talent amongst the library community of Massachusetts and provide the support and encouragement to build participants’ confidence, and strengthen their career paths. Erica Street from Jenks Library at Gordon College shares her Project SET experience.

What one thing do you most want other people to know about your experience with Project SET? What are you most proud of?
I want people to know that Project SET is possible for any personality type and librarian at all points in their career. I’m a shy, introverted, relatively new librarian who has difficulty striking up conversation with people I don’t know…and there is a lot of that in Project SET! But when you are with a team of people who want to learn similar things that you do, who are passionate about contributing to Massachusetts librarians, you can get over some of those things you thought were road blocks in yourself. Of course I’m most proud of the opportunity to present at MLS Annual Meeting, but I’m also proud that I met and worked with librarians who are really different then me, and that we all learned a lot from each other. Project SET is as much about learning new skills as it is about growing yourself and discovering who you want to be in the Massachusetts library community. That’s a pretty neat thing to discover.

Identify one goal you have for your career, your library, and for the Massachusetts library community?
To answer this question, I turned to the letter I wrote to myself on the last day of Project SET. The idea of this letter is you would read it 6 months after completing Project SET and see where you were. When I started Project SET I was less than one year into my career. Now, almost 3 years later, I’ve grown pretty comfortable with what kind of librarian I am. A continued goal of mine is that I will never be satisfied with that comfort, but always keep looking forward to help myself, my students, and my colleagues. In the letter I wrote three goals for myself, my library, and the Massachusetts library community. Even almost 3 years after Project SET, these goals remain the same. I joined Project SET because I wanted to start gaining traction in the Massachusetts library community – to connect with people doing interesting things, so it will open doors in the future to continue to do those interesting things. This is still a major career goal of mine…that and being an academic library director one day. For my library, I want to continue to move us in a “modern” direction, and help communicate that change does not equal difficulties, but rather demonstrates our continued value to the wider institution. The work my cohort did with outreach was particularly beneficial in helping me think of new ways to make my library relevant and attractive to our young generation of students. For the Massachusetts community, I want to give back. I’d love to continue to be a resource for other young academic librarians who sometimes maybe wonder if they weren’t entirely prepared for their jobs.

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Strategic Planning: Is Your Library Future-Ready?

Michelle Eberle

Technology disruption has made it critical for libraries to develop strategies to be future-ready.  We’ve seen a rapid adoption of smart voice assistant devices such as Alexa this past year.  I’m sure you continue to hear from family and friends that they can find any information they need on Google. And the Pew Research Center recently reported that a quarter of American adults said they haven’t read a book in whole or part in the last year.  On top of that, our country is in-crisis faced with an increase in racism, income inequality, stress, gun violence, and political division.  What do these issues mean for the future of our libraries and our communities?  How can libraries respond to not just remain relevant and essential, but to become positive change agents for social justice? What do we need to do to prepare our libraries for a successful future?

Strategic planning!  Strategic planning is a key process to prepare for a successful future.  It’s common knowledge that the MBLC requires a strategic plan in order for a library to qualify for LSTA funding or construction grants.  Maybe your library is not interested in these two opportunities?  Then, why should you still use strategic planning? For three important reasons:

  • Planning empowers your library to make the greatest impact possible by developing a mission, vision, goals, and objectives to guide your activities.
  • Planning helps you tailor services to meet the specific needs of you community.
  • Planning cultivates devoted and enthusiastic champions for your library.

Strategic planning will guide your library’s future through creation of a livable, breathable document created in collaboration with your community.  A strategic plan serves as a map for your journey, not a rigid policy.  When you create or update your library’s mission and vision, it helps you identify where to invest your resources for new initiatives, services, and programs to make the maximum impact and community benefit. By specifying goals, measurable objectives, and activities, you chart a course to guide your decisions, identify the most critical services and programs to support and implement, and improve staff performance.  Strategic planning is essential for change management.

By getting to know the specific needs of your community during the strategic planning process, your library will be able to create tailored services and programs that best serve your local needs.  You can assess your community’s needs in a variety of ways including research, surveys, forums, and conversations.  Strategic planning will help you identify your library’s strengths and untapped opportunities, and create a community-centered plan of action.

Strategic planning develops champions, allies, and friends!  People love to share their opinions and be a part of the process. The process helps you further connect with devoted patrons, identify opportunities to build your patron-base, and cultivate new library users.  Developing a strategic planning task force with diverse representation from your community and/or hosting forums will help you create the most effective and beneficial plan, while generating good will and enthusiastic champions.

Are you ready to get started with a plan or is it time for you to update your plan?  Did you know that Massachusetts Library System provides consultation for strategic planning for all types of libraries?  You can reach out to Kristi Chadwick, April Mazza, and me.  To get started, take a look at the MBLC’s Planning site and especially the parts of a strategic plan.  Also, check out the MLS Strategic Planning for Libraries resource guide with tips, tools, and even sample plans.

The Massachusetts Library System is offering two workshops this spring to help you prepare to start your strategic planning process or brush up on your skills. Interested?  Register now to attend the Eating the Elephant:  Strategic Planning for Your Library and the Facilitation Techniques for the Strategic Planning Process workshops offered at various locations throughout the Commonwealth. Hope you can attend!

Strategic planning guides your library on a clear path to a successful future!

By Michelle Eberle, MSLIS, AHIP

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2018 MLS Mock Newbery and Caldecott Awards Announcement

On Wednesday January 31, 2018 the MLS Mock Newbery and Caldecott Awards were announced at a special workshop where book discussion and celebration took place. The Mock Newbery was discussed and voted on virtually while the Mock Caldecott was held in-person. Both Mock Awards balloted and tallied votes in the manner used by the ALA ALSC award committees, but used a shortlist to make statewide discussion and voting easier.

MLS consultants Christi Showman Farrar and April Mazza are pleased to announce this year’s Mock Newbery and Caldecott winners and honor books:

2018 Mock Newbery Winner: The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
There are four honor books:
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
Patina by Jason Reynolds
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

2018 Mock Caldecott Winner: After the Fall by Dan Santat
There are three honor books:
Egg written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
A Perfect Day written and illustrated by Lane Smith
Muddy: the story of blues legend Muddy Waters illustrated by Evan Turk, written by Michael Mahin

Fifty-two librarians throughout the state voted in the 2018 MLS Mock Newbery which sets out to honor the most distinguished book published for children ages 0-14 by an American author in 2017.

You may watch the official Youth Media Awards (YMA) which takes place at ALA Midwinter at 8 a.m. MT, Feb. 12, 2018, from Denver, Colorado.

Learn more and join the MLS Mock Goodreads group here.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

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February 2018 BiblioTemps® FAQ

Are BiblioTemps® CORI checked before they are available to work?

Some libraries require CORI checks before a candidate can work in their establishment but not all. We can conduct CORI checks as part of the on boarding process prior to a candidate’s first day of work or the library can order a CORI check after the placement has started. All CORI checks are done with consent of the candidate and are performed at the start of the placement.

What’s included in the BiblioTemps® service fee?

The BiblioTemps© service fee includes mandatory employer expenses (FICA – social security and Medicare tax, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and state mandated earned sick leave, etc.), as well as our operational costs.

How and when are screening interviews conducted?

Candidates are screened prior to being placed in library jobs by phone or in person by appointment. Occasionally, we hold open interview days and anyone is welcome to schedule a time slot during those days. Open interview days will be advertised on our website:

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Announcing Spring CE Calendar

It may not be Spring outside our windows just yet, but it’s time for us to present our Spring 2018 Training Calendar!

Members of our training team have spent the past few months crafting some wonderful training opportunities for our members, including in-person half- and full-day events, webinars, presentations with special guests, and discussion forums. You don’t want to miss out.

Spring CE workshop offerings:

How to Rock your Summer Library Program for Teens and Adults with April Mazza and Michelle Eberle
How to Rock your Summer Library Program for Early Literacy and Children with April Mazza and Michelle Eberle

Eating the Elephant: Strategic Planning for Your Library with Kristi Chadwick
Facilitation Techniques for the Strategic Planning Process with Sarah Donnelly

Building Inclusive Collections: Why Cultural Competence is Essential in Libraries with Christi Farrar and Special Guest Mitali Perkins at select sessions
Building Inclusive Collections: How to Create a More Diverse Library Collection with Christi Farrar

Email Marketing with Anna Popp

In addition to the above, we’ll have several unique opportunities to engage with experts and colleagues on broader topics:

Marketing webinar series with Jennifer Burke
1 in 5: Disability Essentials in Your Library 2018 webinar series
Summer Reading and Learning webinar series
Research Institute for Public Libraries (RIPL), May 7 and 8 –registration and further info will be available in mid-February
Facing the Future: Facilitating Climate Change Conversations at Your Library with Madeleine Charney

Registration and further information can be found on our calendar:

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