MLS Executive Director Announcement and Position Description

Position Opening – Call for Applications, Executive Director

The Massachusetts Library System (MLS) seeks an experienced leader, strategic thinker, creative problem solver, and enthusiastic library advocate to guide the development and implementation of statewide services to more than 1,600 multi-type libraries throughout Massachusetts.  This vacancy was created by the retirement of the founding Executive Director.

The Massachusetts Library System operates out of two offices, in Marlborough and Northampton, MA.

Massachusetts libraries are champions in resource sharing with a long history of strong collaboration. The MLS is a key player among the stakeholders who advocate for and strive to develop libraries and library services in the Commonwealth. The Executive Director will lead a talented team and work closely with the Executive Board and member libraries to nurture a statewide library community.

MLS seeks a leader with a strong teamwork orientation and a commitment to customer service and collaboration. Other skills important to this position include consortium library experience, understanding of libraries and their work, developing staff, fiscal and budget management, advocacy, developing and nurturing partnerships, vendor and partner contract negotiation, and excellent communications skills.

Executive Director position description download here.

This position will remain open until filled with preference given to applications received by February 1, 2019.  Please provide a letter of application, resume, salary expectations, and the names and contact information of three professional references. We will notify candidates prior to contacting references. Send applications to Please state “Executive Director Application” in your subject line. All applications will be acknowledged by return email. Continue reading

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Libraries are instrumental

See libraries with instruments (and other Library of Things) on our new scatter map!

Have you considered adding musical instruments to your Library of Things, but don’t know where to start? Read below to learn from expert librarians across Massachusetts, and soon you will have your own noteworthy collection! As they develop their skills, your patrons will learn it’s more than books that make them sharp. If you’re lucky, some day one of your patrons may show off their skills at your library, like a guitarist who entertains book sale shoppers at Woods Hole with the library’s guitar!

Cost is always a factor. Some libraries are lucky enough to receive instruments as donations from patrons. Others must allocate funds. That’s one of the reasons many libraries start their musical collection with ukuleles, which, ranging from $20-$80, cost less than an audiobook. Additionally, they take up less space and tend to be highly circulated. Patrons say they like them because they’re easy to learn and very portable. Sometimes they lead to expansion of your collection by inspiring local musicians to donate other instruments. Several libraries started with ukuleles as a test and ended up doubling their instrument collection after a massive response.

Osterville Ukulele

Osterville Ukulele

Guitars are also in high demand by patrons. However, while many guitars cost barely more than a ukulele, they take up significantly more space, and finding an appropriate case for circulation is also difficult, so fewer libraries circulate them.

Some libraries, however, are adventurous. They can proudly declare there isn’t always silence in the library: with theremins for patrons to borrow, they can learn the Doctor Who theme, or take their own Trek into stardom! If you aren’t sure which musical instruments will drum up interest for your patrons, check out Northampton’s collection — with bongos, Djembe, and more, their patrons won’t be caught on a snare next time they want to attend a drum circle. At Duxbury, patrons can practically borrow their own marching band!

Easy instruments such as bongos and keyboards also have a double use. You can add your instruments in to your programs, and suddenly your storytime becomes a Tale of Two Ditties! Several libraries use their instruments for programs, but Norwood warns that for classes you need to limit seats to the number you have, or tell people they have to BYOU (bring your own uke) after all the library-owned are reserved. Monson also recommends setting up ArtistWorks for patrons who want to learn how to play. With instruments, beginner’s books, and even classes available, you can tell your patrons they don’t need to feel like a chicken learning a new instrument!

Dazzling and unusual instruments can attract interest too, such as Norwood’s guiro and afuche cabasa. However, unusual instruments can present challenges, as Amherst explains they had to remove their child sized violins because the strings kept breaking on tuning, and some obscure items may be expensive to tune.

stylophone at Woods Hole

What to include with your instruments can also be a challenge. Do you include an instruction book, or use it as motivation to get patrons to explore your section on books of music? Some libraries, such as Newton, instead prefer to direct their bards to their books by creating a “Learn Section” in their Music Center.

As for the shelf space demands, some libraries, such as Middleborough, display photo signs on the shelf and store instruments elsewhere. Signs also let you post your Policies before patrons bring it to check out. Other libraries, like Norwood, recommend shelving them to encourage impulse check outs (especially for children’s instruments).

Newton's labels clearly state their policies in plain site for patrons.

Policies clearly printed on kit labels help with patron expectations

Policies on lending times and overdue fines vary, but one policy most libraries seem to agree on is these can’t go through Delivery, with very few exceptions (Norwood allows their cowbell, as it’s very sturdy). Some patrons may still attempt to return instruments at other libraries. You can deter this either by having a fine associated in large print if returned to the wrong library, or by making it clear if it is returned to the wrong library and damaged in transit, the patron is still responsible. Even with very responsible patrons, Northampton says there will probably be damage just from routine use, and recommends getting to know your local repair shop.

Woods Hole reminds librarians to remove batteries from synthesizers, etc, before storing, as they can leak and cause damage. Osterville also warns that some surfaces are not sticker-friendly, causing your labels to fall right off, and offers the solution of laminating a card and tying it to the case. Greenfield Public Library recommends at least one staff member knows how to tune or maintain your instruments, lest you end up with patrons recounting their own tales of The Old Man and The C-way-too-sharp!

Sadly, you’ll probably never be able to offer your patrons a chance to play their own Horn-Call of the Wild: at least unless someone invents some sort of rapid sterilization chamber, there isn’t much interest from librarians in adding wind instruments.

CC0 License from

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.

Do you circulate musical instruments? Have questions for other librarians about circulating your own? Please comment below!

Article by Laura M. Bogart, with contributions by Noreen O’Gara of Bedford Free Public Library; Jessica Phillips and Rose Hicky of Duxbury Free Library; Faith Kaufmann of Forbes Library Northampton; Lisa Prolman of Greenfield Public Library; Susan Andrews of Harvard Public Library; Diane M Ranney of Jonathan Bourne Public Library; Amy Anaya of Jones Library, Amherst; Barbara McNamara of Memorial Hall, Andover, Lori Salotto of Middleborough Public Library; Dani Scott or Monson Free Library; Lydia Sampson of Morrill Memorial Library, Norwood; Philip E. McNulty, Michelle Buglio, and Royce McGrath of Newton Free Library; John LeRoy of Osterville Village, Barnstable; Cindi Williams of Sawyer Free Library, Gloucester; Lucy Loomis of Sturgis Library, Barnstable; Lisa J. Arm of Wellesley Free Library; Kellie Porter of Woods Hole Library.

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MHEC: New L54 Digital Library Technologies

It’s a New Year and a new contract for Library Digital Technologies! MLS Member can now purchase from 18 new digital technologies leaders with discounts from 5% to 55% off regular pricing.

List of suppliers:

NEDi, LLC                                            For Your Student, Inc. DBA Eduporium
Pronunciator LLC                                Simply Analytics, Inc
Niche Academy                                   Carahsoft Technology Corp
Scholastic Library Publishing, Inc        Zoobean
BiblioLabs                                            Envision Ware, Inc
Findaway                                             Cavendish Square Publishing LLC
Demco                                                 The Rosen Publishing Group Inc
Plymouth Rocket, Inc                           Image Access, Inc dba Digital Library Systems Group
Capira Technologies, LLC                    Technology Education Concepts, Inc.

Learn more about L54 – Digital Library Technologies and Purchasing Cooperative on our LibGuide.

Interested in becoming a MHEC member? Click here for MHEC Membership Application

Questions? Please contact Shirley MacLean

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MLS Member Update: December 2018

UPDATE: In the update on the Commonwealth eBook Collections Content Transfer, it was noted that Rosen had not approved the transfer.  We are delighted to report that Rosen has since approved the content transfer.  MLS received incorrect information previously.


Happy New Year, MLS Members!

We’ve come to the end of another great year at MLS, and we are grateful to all of you who have contributed to our successes. Here is the last monthly update of 2018.

Selected Contents:

  • Annual Meeting
  • Outgoing MLS Board Members
  • Membership News
  • Advocacy Committee Activities
  • Emerging Online Products RFI Task Force Update
  • Commonwealth eBook Collections Content Transfer
  • MVLC Collection Development Project Plan
  • MLS Listening Tours
  • Legislative Breakfasts
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New Year equals new public domain works

Did you know your patrons may suddenly have access to items they could never get before?

If you missed the Smithsonian’s article on 12/19, you may not know that hundreds of thousands of materials previously unavailable will be legal to share on the public domain as of 1/1/2019.

If your patron is looking for a book (or film, photograph, recording, etc) published in the USA on or before 1923, they may be able to find it on the internet by looking at the Hathitrust, DPLA, Google Books, or even popular social sites Flickr or Youtube!

If you don’t find it on these more well-known sites, there are quite a few public domain sites that gather items that are either old enough to be in the public domain, or are newer but permitted under public domain, such as:

Continue reading

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Galepages is new and improved for 2019!

Over the past year, a group of librarians and library staff from a variety of different types of libraries came together on a task force to redesign and improve the Galepages template, the shareable website that contains all of your library’s links.

If your library is currently using the Galepages on your website, your link has been automatically updated according to your library type. No action is required at this time.

Learn more about the new Galepages template (handout) Here

Join us for one of our Galepages template webinars Register Here

Find your library’s links for the statewide databases (including the new Galepages site) Here

Questions? Please contact us at

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