Temporary staffing solutions offer financial and logistical benefits that library administrators should consider when solving their staffing problems. A long-term staff absence, or staffing a needed special project can wipe out a year’s “on call” budget quickly, and become a burden on the on-call staff. A short-term hire may be a better choice, but that has added expenses for the town or institution. Staffing agencies present qualified candidates, saving the library administration from sorting through the deluge of resumes that come in after a position is posted. That’s valuable time that could be committed other places. Reference checks and screenings are also performed by the temporary staffing agency, saving the town or school’s personnel time. And because temporary staff are never on the library’s payroll, the governing agency doesn’t have to absorb other costs like unemployment and benefits. MLS’s BiblioTemps® the staffing solution for libraries, makes temporary staffing even more convenient and reassuring by offering candidates with experience in the systems and environment of Massachusetts libraries, prescreened for the best possible match to the unique DNA of each library. As a non-profit staffing agency, you can be confident that overhead costs are low. Ninety Massachusetts libraries have used BiblioTemps® since 2012. Visit bibliotemps.com to learn more.
Non-Traditional Library Collections: They’re for small libraries, too! by Lynn Blair, Director, Westhampton Public Library
2017 has been a busy year for the Westhampton Public Library. We wrote our new strategic plan to take us through the next five years and we are also participating in the Massachusetts Library System’s Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) Project. The project covers 18 months and involves 25 different libraries. Teams created their own campaigns to advertise using word of mouth marketing. Our marketing plan featured the idea of “Find it all at the Westhampton Public Library.” Libraries aren’t just a repository for books anymore, and we don’t want to be just that. We want to give our patrons exciting programs and interesting resources…a “Library of Things!”
Our “Library of Things” began with Aldrich Astronomical and their library telescope program. Aldrich provided us with a tabletop telescope that could be checked out by patrons. Aldrich was great in facilitating staff training and a reveal event for the telescope. At the beginning the telescope had a waitlist and is still now going out regularly to patrons.
We also got involved with Mount Holyoke College and their Passport to Chemistry program (presented by: Mount Holyoke College in collaboration with the Dreyfus Foundation & the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts). Mount Holyoke provided us with chemistry kits- ones for grades K-2 and 3-6 and refilling supplies. Each kit is a different experiment- from “kitchen chemistry” to “biochemistry.” It’s been wonderful watching our patrons and their children get excited over the kits, picking out the one they want to do next, and earning prizes along the way. Given the success of our first two ventures into non-traditional materials, our Friends of the Library group is funding a few more kits to add to the collection: two language learning, one birder, an outdoors kit, to name a few. We aim to debut them in January.
Non-traditional collections are becoming more common in libraries. I’d encourage any library no matter the size to look into the possibility of a non-traditional collection. Our small library in the hilltowns of Western MA (Westhampton, population 1,600) has responded with enthusiasm for the new introductions to our collection. Know that purchasing kits or other materials doesn’t have to be costly- the Mount Holyoke program is free and there may be similar ventures in your own community to get involved in.
To get your collection started, take a look at your community- what are their interests, their needs, and hobbies? We have many birders in Westhampton, so a birding kit complete with guide and binoculars seemed like a natural choice. Ask your patrons- they’ll tell you what they want! If you get one idea, others grow from there. Our birding kit idea came to be and it seemed natural to also have an outdoors kit (with trail maps, pedometer, and geocaching information) for all of the hikers and geocache-ers in town.
Additionally, ask your staff and volunteers their thoughts. The kits can be time consuming- from signing paperwork for the telescope (a waiver adults need to sign to check it out) to checking the contents of kits before checking in and out (the chemistry kits have lots of moving parts, some that need to be replaced or refilled). See how staff and volunteers feel about these additional projects and make sure they’re comfortable with the processes before having them available for checkout. Your circulation staff will appreciate making the check-in/out process as painless as possible. Be creative, have fun, and go from there. I’m happy to answer any questions anyone might have. Please contact me at email@example.com.
Want to see more fantastic collections? Read our other Library of Things Blog posts, or check out our Library of Things LibGuide:!
Do you have an unusual collection? Want to be featured on our LibGuide? Contact Laura Bogart.
After a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday, participants in the Institute for Database Engagement and Leadership (IDEAL) program returned in earnest and attended a flurry of sessions in short succession. Read on to catch up on the latest sessions to see how participants are preparing for their spring projects!
Session 3: Digging Deeper with your Statewide Resources
In this session, participants moved away from database content and into some of the technical and “behind-the-scenes” information about the Gale databases. For example, all MLS member libraries have their own set of unique links to the statewide databases that are provided by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (find your library’s links here). We also learned about the Gale support site, and the treasure trove of helpful resources available on that site to increase visibility of the databases including widgets, MARC records, and video tutorials. At the end of the session, we talked about usage statistics and how to interpret them. Stacey Knibloe, Implementation and Training Consultant ran the session and she was accompanied by Scott Steward, the Director of Technical Solutions at Gale.
Session 4: A Crash Course in Social Media
Jason Homer, the Assistant Director at the Morse Institute Library in Natick (and member of the IDEAL planning committee) gave a thoughtful and engaging presentation on the art of using social media in our libraries. We learned that it is important to be genuine when using social media and that it is a good idea to have a social media policy for your library. It is also good practice to assemble a social media team and to use an editorial calendar and social media scheduler to organize and share your content. We also participated in an activity to promote a database using a social media platform, which helped the participants to start thinking about their projects.
Session 5: Marketing Campaign Basics & Crafting the Message
Due to the weather forecast, Session 5 was changed into a webinar with presenter Matthew Perry, the Outreach Coordinator for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). This session focused on marketing and promotion. Matt explained the importance of using a creative brief (the who/what/when/where/why/how) for each project or campaign to ensure that you’re reaching the right audience and your message is both relevant and resonates with the audience you’re targeting. Matt also shared examples from some of the past and ongoing campaigns that are happening statewide including Summer Reading, #WhatsYourFour, and the Commonwealth Catalog. Despite the change in venue, it was still a very engaging session.
Between now and the next meeting in January, IDEAL participants are deciding what their projects will be for the spring. Stay tuned for more updates!
MLS has 10 upcoming stops on a listening tour to meet with member libraries throughout Massachusetts. Help us to learn more about you and how MLS can meet your needs! Each tour stop will cover quick updates from MLS, updates from member libraries, an exploration of ideas for library collaboration and discussion on how libraries can demonstrate their value.
In addition, MLS is currently exploring ideas that would be good projects for external funding. Help us to zero in on ideas that would bring the greatest value to your libraries!
Drop by the tour stop nearest you! Click here to Register
The tour begins on January 9 and ends on February 22. Stops include Pittsfield, Sunderland, Westford, Beverly, Arlington, Milton, Eastham, Taunton, Norwood, and Marlborough.