2017 Summer Library Program Press release

November 27, 2017-Massachusetts Libraries were incredibly active during the summer of 2017. A record high of 462,749 people attended programs held in 293 participating libraries across the Commonwealth. These public libraries offered over 18,000 programs for all ages during the summer months; an increase of approximately 1,400 programs from 2016. In 2017, 119,154 participants of all ages registered for Summer Library Programs, with 34,229 using Wandoo Reader, the statewide online tool offering registration and tracking reading from anywhere with Internet access.

2017 was our seventh year as members of the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP), allowing MA libraries to share the same program, theme, incentives, and artwork with many other states across the nation. The Massachusetts Library System (MLS) continues to provide membership to the CSLP for each public library member along with the program manual, posters, and bookmarks.

Participating libraries really enjoyed the 2017 theme of “Build A Better World” finding it flexible and appealing to many age ranges from construction for young children to social awareness for teens and adults. They loved the colorful, playful artwork especially all-ages materials they could use to engage the whole family. Libraries across Massachusetts also showed appreciation for the bookmarks, posters, and manuals they received as part of the statewide Summer Library Program. As one librarian stated, “It was my first year working in a Massachusetts library this summer. I love the support and the cooperation that I have experienced! I appreciated how easily this year’s theme could be used in a variety of different ways.”

MLS also continued working with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) to bring the much loved and appreciated Boston Bruins Partnership to libraries. The Bruins visited 11 libraries for special events with Blades the Bear and the Bruins Promo Team. Additionally, thanks to the Bruins support, poster costs were covered for all programs for all libraries, and participants had the opportunity to win prizes provided by the Boston Bruins. The Western MA Library Advocates (WMLA) once again coordinated the donations of incentives from the Big E, Yankee Candle, USS Constitution and Friendly’s Restaurants. Librarians statewide report the high value of these incentives and partnerships.

MLS and Massachusetts libraries are already planning for summer 2018, inspired by the theme of “Libraries Rock!”, and will continue our tradition of offering a quality, educational, and fun program for all ages available at your public library.

For more information, contact:

April Mazza
MLS Consultant

Christi Showman Farrar
MLS Consultant

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Project SET at NELA

MLS Consultant April Mazza, one of the facilitators of Project SET, reflects on a recent Project SET conference presenation.

librarian, Rob Lorino, at a podium with presentation slide featured behind him

Rob Lorino

Two past Project SET participants presented at the New England Library Association 2017 conference in Burlington, VT in October. Rob Lorino, Adult Services Librarian at the Robbins Library in Arlington, presented “It’s Time For Libraries To Level Up!” an extension of their ignite session from the 2016 MLS Annual Meeting. Rob explained the research and background regarding video games and their inclusion in library collection. They talked about their own experience circulating games and also shared insights and information from other libraries making the session very comprehensive. At the conclusion Rob expertly provided practical tips on starting a game collection including tips on buying and security. If anyone listening wasn’t convinced about having video games in their library they were after Rob’s presentation!

librarian Bill Mongelli standing at a podium and speaking

Bill Mongelli

Bill Mongelli presented “I need a good laugh: How to Give a Laughter-as-Therapy Program in Your Library” based on the programming he has done as Librarian at MCI-Norfolk. With a title like that most people came prepared to laugh but they also learned a lot. There are different kinds of stress and different types of humor and Bill explained the benefits of laughter therapy and why a library might want to run a program for patrons and/or staff. He explained how an extensive program like his at the prison could be tailored for shorter library sessions. He also provided resources and explained how to find a certified laughter yogi in your area.

Both Rob and Bill really amazed me with their presentations – they were interesting, engaging, and very informative. I don’t think I am being biased because I work on Project SET, I really think they stood out from the many great programs at NELA because they were clearly passionate and knowledgeable about their topics. Also, they both had really fun visuals!

a picture of a presentation slide featuring a cat. It's a librarian thing - cats everywhere.

Project SET also provided for the requisite cat sighting at any library event.

Rob’s presentation slides can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5URcN36V8kXSVB6d0tRSVlnLUU/view

Bill’s resources are at the NELA website: http://conference2017.nelib.org/conference-presentations-handouts/

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Member Update – November 2017

Dear MLS Members,

I am writing to announce our November 2017 MLS Update.  DOWNLOAD

Selected Contents:

  • fy2017 Annual Report
  • Upcoming Events – Library Directors’ Forums – Dec. – Jan.
  • Annual Meeting Action & Reports
  • RFPs
  • Teen Summit Notes
  • BiblioTemps Curiosities
  • New and Returning Members

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Greg Pronevitz,
Executive Director

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2017 Teen Summit Reflection

On Tuesday, October 17 over 160 librarians from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire attended the 9th Annual MLS/RIOLIS Teen Summit to share, learn, and discuss all things teen services. The day began with a keynote by Danielle Allen, Ph.D., James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Dr. Allen’s work with the Youth Participatory Politics Research Network was the reason she was chosen to speak at Teen Summit. Attendees were given a thought-provoking introduction to the Network’s “10 Questions for Change Makers”, a framework to help youth determine their ability and place in civic engagement. In addition to her work researching youth participatory politics, Dr. Allen is also an author. She spoke briefly about her new book, Cuz: the life and times of Michael A., the story of Dr. Allen’s cousin who, as a teen, was caught in a cycle of violence and incarceration.

The majority of the day-long conference consisted of break-out sessions on hot-topics in teen services. Participants were able to choose from sessions on great adult graphic novels for teens, breaking mental health stigma, providing safe spaces for teens, and creating social justice zines. The final session of the day was an ignite-style panel of program ideas for all types of library settings, from large-scale events like a Harry Potter party, to library-classroom collaborations in a high school. Feedback for the sessions was positive, with librarians saying the day included a “great selection of topics, breakouts, and panel speakers” and that they “always feel inspired after the Teen Summit.” 

Massachusetts Library System (MLS) and the Rhode Island Office of Library Services (RIOLIS) would like to thank all the librarians and experts who made Teen Summit possible, with an especially warm thank-you to Eduporium, our coffee sponsor and Tech Petting Zoo host. The MA-based company is a reseller of STEAM and MakerED innovative technology, providing kits and support to schools and libraries.

To read more about the 2017 Teen Summit, and to find handouts from the sessions, visit our LibGuide. We hope to see you all next year at our 10th Annual Teen Summit!

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The Springfield City Library Turning Outward

Have you thought about using the Turning Outward to Your Community step-by-step guide to better understand and connect with your library’s community?  In this month’s MLS Community Engagement Blog interview, Jean Canosa Albano, Assistant Director for Public Services at the Springfield City Library, shares her experience and insights from participating in the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.

How did your library “turn outward to your community” using the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation’s process?

Jean Canosa Albano

Jean Canosa Albano

Jean Canosa Albano:  We are part of the Libraries Transforming Communities cohort, having received a grant from the American Library Association to learn about the Harwood Institute’s philosophy and methods of community engagement. My team of five staff members traveled to Denver, Chicago, and San Francisco for intensive training, and we learned about reframing the community narrative away from the negative (“we’ve tried that before,” “in the old days it worked better like this,” and “nothing ever works”) to a more positive, aspirational narrative (“we should have more opportunities to be outside in the community,” “a better mentorship network will help our community,” and “more discussion and conversation will lead to better coordination between neighbors and community agencies”). We learned how to turn outward, and base our policy and programmatic decisions on what we know about the community, rather than sitting around a board room, drawing on statistics, census data, and what other libraries are doing.

What did you learn about your community through the process?

Bill Walton and HCS HS Kids at Basketball Monument

Bill Walton at the Basketball Monument

Imagine a beloved park or a community center that you’ve visited for years or that symbolizes neighborhood pride. Suddenly, you find that park padlocked, or the community center boarded up. What would that feel like? For our neighborhood residents, that spot was a small park adjacent to the Mason Square Branch Library that commemorates the location of the first game of basketball.  When it first opened, it was a source of pride for neighborhood residents. But for over a year, its lighted glass panels had been boarded up. Through a series of Community Conversations, we heard about how unhappy people were with the delay in repair, and their belief that the panels were boarded up because of a fear of vandalism, not actual vandalism. This lack of trust between residents and institutions came across in many other ways, too, including participants telling us how hard it can be to mail a letter when the corner mailboxes have been removed from their streets. We carried this information forward, and other neighbors took action as well, and soon, the panels were uncovered, and the community took pride in the restoration of this space that connects the sport’s past to today. When basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton recently visited Springfield, he came to the Mason Square Branch for a read-aloud, then toured the basketball park with dozens of Head Start students. It was a great day!

 How is your library staff using what you learned?

16 Acres Mural with City Councilor Marcus Williams

16 Acres Mural with City Councilor Marcus Williams

 We have used the Innovation Space technique to think about what we have been learning. It’s a way to pause and reflect and make sure that what we are doing matches what we are hearing from the community. For example, we used the practice to look at our Hi!Tech computer classes, revising the format and focusing on outcomes. Our monthly reports now include a section headed What Are We Hearing from the Community? We are not simply looking for comments on the library schedule or collections. We want to know what our community members’ aspirations and challenges are. Once, a librarian happened to mention the difficulty patrons have expressed getting jobs due to their CORI status. This is what we should be listening for. It lets us know that when a community group wants to hold a session on seeking employment post-incarceration, or if we have an opportunity to offer a program on closing a criminal record after paying your dues, that those are programs that will be of interest to members of our community. Continue reading

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