On the Road with Gale: Refreshing!

portrait of Stacey Knibloe a trainer of Gale databasesGale is going on the road again in Massachusetts. Join us for one of 7 sessions this month with Gale’s super trainer, Stacey Knibloe. Stacey will help you understand all the ins and outs and be there to answer all your questions. Learn to make the most of the Gale resources for your library users!

Register here!

Stacy will be stopping in:

Plymouth Public Library          Medford Public Library        Fitchburg Public Library
Plymouth North High School   Somerville High School       Fitchburg High School
Westfield Athenaeum

We hope to see you there!

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Small Library Potluck at the Cushman Library

MLS staff and members recently gathered together for a small library potluck at the Cushman Library in Bernardston to discuss issues important to small libraries. Among the topics of discussion were MassCat, Delivery, Summer Library Program, and using outdoor space to expand the library walls. Thank you all for the great conversations and to the Cushman Library for hosting.

Keep an eye on our calendar for more forums in the new year!

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Democracy Talks at the Watertown Free Public Library

While preparing for my fall workshop, Librarians Fostering Civic Engagement, I discovered this outstanding program series offered at the Watertown Free Public Library.  I’m very excited to bring you an interview with Brita Zitin, Digital Services Librarian, at the Watertown Free Public Library.  Congrats to Brita and the Watertown Free Public Library on offering such a timely and crucial series.

Brita Zitin

Brita Zitin

Please tell us about your Democracy Talks series.

Brita Zitin: We started the series in the wake of the 2016 election, sensing that people were eager for both basic information on and deep insight into the political process. The first event was scheduled for the night before the presidential inauguration in January 2017, and we’ve continued every two or three months since. Topics have included voting rights, immigration, climate change, and fair housing. (A full list is on the WFPL website.) We hope that attendees leave each talk empowered to engage with the topic more confidently, be it in discussion, action, or simply reflection.

How has your community responded to your Democracy Talks series?

While we haven’t been capturing any written feedback, attendees often stop to share comments as they leave. We’ve heard lots along the lines of “Thanks for the series, it’s great – and so very much needed” and “I hope the Democracy Talks panels will continue!”

How Immigration Law Affects Us AllWhich programs have been the most popular?

Our first program drew the largest audience, due to the strong opinions and emotions that the impending inauguration stirred up. The speaker, Erin O’Brien of UMass Boston, skillfully channeled all that energy into a focused examination of facts, precedents, and possibilities.

We have also had good attendance at our programs on immigration and citizenship. The latter drew an entire ESL class from the library’s Project Literacy program, and some of the students subsequently signed up for the Project Literacy citizenship class!

The Future of Voting RightsWhat advice would you give librarians interested to offer similar programs highlighting democracy?

Keep an open mind about what might fall under the umbrella of “democracy.” We had originally envisioned the series as a sort of “Civics 101” for grown-ups, with speakers explaining various aspects of how the U.S. government works. However, our speakers’ areas of expertise have sent us in unexpected directions that broaden the scope of the series, addressing democracy globally and locally as well as on the national level.


Any other thoughts you would like to share?

Civil and Uncivil Disobedience

While all of our speakers have graciously answered questions and led discussions, only a couple of them actually live here in Watertown. We’ve recently formed a partnership with Watertown Community Conversations, a local group dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of our community through use of proven public conversation techniques. Starting with our December 6 event, trained facilitators from this group will lead a discussion following the speaker’s Q&A, connecting themes from the talk directly to local issues. We look forward to seeing how this partnership might enhance the series.

Interview with Brita Zitin, Digital Services Librarian, Watertown Free Public Library

Interviewed by Michelle Eberle, Consultant, Massachusetts Library System

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The “Young Changemakers in 21st -Century Libraries” project application for participation is now open!

We are a collaborative team consisting of the Massachusetts Library System and Democratic Knowledge Project at Harvard University. For our “Young Changemakers in 21st -Century Libraries” project, we are inviting partner libraries that would be interested in working with us. The duration will be from January 1 through September 30, 2019. We are particularly interested in partnering with libraries that are passionate about helping teens address a variety of challenges from the new media environment and become successful civic agents in our society.

We are asking our partners to learn a new framework of civic learning (known as “the Ten Questions for Young Changemakers”), pilot it, and suggest practical solutions for further implementation beyond the state of Massachusetts. While considering social, cultural, geographic, and economic contexts, we plan to recruit ten libraries. We encourage libraries that serve teens from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented populations to apply.

Please click here for more details and to apply!

Deadline is Sunday 11PM November 19, 2018. A letter of support from your supervisor is also due by the application deadline.

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Project SET Spotlight: Drew Meger and Quincy Knapp

Looking forward to Project SET presentations at Annual Meeting! Recently we asked Drew Meger and Quincy Knapp to share their Project SET experiences.

Drew is the Head of Access Services at Peabody Institute Library, Danvers.

How did you become aware of Project SET, and what elements drew you to the program?
A flier advertising SET turned up in the delivery bins at a fortuitous time – I was looking for a way to reconnect with the broader profession.

What are your first impressions of the program and its intended outcomes?
I admit to being a bit jaded, but Project SET has won me over with its support and enthusiasm.

Project SET begins each year with a study of trends currently impacting libraries. Of the trends you’ve learned about which one do you feel will have the biggest impact on your library and why?
The homogenization of library services in the face of uneven financial support.


Quincy is the Children’s Reference Librarian at Wellesley Free Library.

How did you become aware of Project SET, and what elements drew you to the program?
At an MLA training (Summer Reading) there were pamphlets and a brief announcement about Project SET. I really liked the idea about getting to know other librarians and continuing to talk about library topics, especially after I graduated school.

What are your first impressions of the program and its intended outcomes?
To work on professional development, to create bonds between librarians statewide, and to keep current on library trends.

Project SET begins each year with a study of trends currently impacting libraries. Of the trends you’ve learned about which one do you feel will have the biggest impact on your library and why?
Maker Movement. That is one that is already being incorporated into library programming and is very flexible when connected to STEAM and also when being adjusted for different age groups.

Want to know more about Project SET? Visit our LibGuide!


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