Hi, welcome to Circulating Ideas. I’m Thomas Maluck, sitting in for Steve Thomas. I was at the South Carolina Library Association annual conference this past October and had the opportunity to speak with a bunch of great librarians from across the state. Steve was gracious enough to assemble their clips to share with you today. Enjoy!
I am Erin Washington, I’m the Library Director at Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
And what are you up to here at SCLA?
Well, I’ve been having a great time learning from my colleagues, I also presented myself on incorporating mobile devices and library instruction, which is something that I’ve tried to do myself in all of the instruction classes that I’ve taught over the past year or so, so I’ve been using lots of different tools to engage students in the library instruction classroom. One of the things I used is Poll Everywhere, which is a free online polling software tool where you can have people give responses and participate in discussion right during the class. I’ve also used Kahoot which is another tool where you can have timed quizzes for students, and that’s something I’ve used to assess in real time what, whether students are getting the concepts I’m trying to teach them. So, there are a lot of great tools out there that you can use for using mobile devices to engage our undergraduate students and one of the interesting statistics I found from Pew Research Center actually was that the lower a student’s socioeconomic status, the more likely they are actually to use the full features of their phone and they’re more used to using their phone for a variety of things. So, as someone who teaches a lot of first generation college students, I thought that that was a pretty good, that was pretty good grounds for incorporating even more mobile technology into the library instruction classroom.
My name’s John Kennerly, I’m the Associate Dean of the library and institutional effectiveness at Erskine College and also the Second Vice-President for SCLA.
And what are you excited about at this year’s SCLA?
Well, this actually has been a great year in terms of membership and also in terms of activities, it seems like we’ve ramped up activities. One of the highlights is the new journal that we’ve rolled out for South Carolina libraries, that’s a peer review publication so we’re kind of actually bringing that back. There used to be something of that sorts in the past, and so we’re bringing that back.
Lots of activity with the round tables and even the interest groups and the sections. We’ve got a new scholarly communications group that’s really ramping up and quite honestly I think we’re going to begin to see more and more of that in terms of professional development with Open Access, copyright issues, that sort of thing. We’ve got a couple of folks that are really, actually three that are really big in that area, so lots and lots of good things. And I would also say in terms of getting ready for next year….
‘Cause next year will be the centennial of the South Carolina Library Association.
Yes, that’s right. We’re, you know, we’re already looking forward to that 100th celebration so we’re going to be looking at trying to do some things throughout the course of the next 12 months leading up to that and then hopefully that will be one of those epic events that everybody will be talking about when it’s said and done, so looking forward to that as well.
Yeah, it sounds good, thank you for your time.
My name is Anna Zacherl and I am the Director of the Orangeburg County Library system.
And what are some programs you’re excited about at Orangeburg, Anna?
Well, besides trying to figure out the funding and work with the county to get the new library built, we have had a lot of success with the program that’s called Get Art, Get Smart. When I became the director I was lucky enough to be in charge of moving people’s positions and sort of changing up their job descriptions to best fit the person’s abilities with what they were doing actually on a day-to-day basis. We had a woman who worked for us who had been an art teacher at one point, and she was currently working on the bookmobile. She was a full-time employee, she spent most of her time pulling books for people on the bookmobile and traveling with the bookmobile, but her first love was art, so she moved into my position which had previously been outreach and programming and started to work on developing a program specifically for the children that get out of school early on Tuesdays. In Orangeburg County the kids don’t go to school five full days a week, on Tuesdays they get let go at noon and we have a lot of kids with nothing to do, so we developed these art programs, the program is called Get Art, Get Smart. Basically what the program is is the first half of the program they get a Powerpoint presentation that talks about the artist, where they’re from, what their life was like, kind of what made them who they were and then the second half is we actually let the kids re-create art in the style that the artist used and we’ve done some really, really interesting people. We’ve done Georgia O’Keefe, we’ve done Louis Tiffany, where the kids actually did clear, see-through papers where they were able to paint on and color on so they could hold it up to the light like they were working with stain glass.
They did frescos like Michelangelo, Jennifer Cord specific, plaster pieces for all the kids so they were there, so they could actually paint on plaster. They did sculpture like Louise Meddleson. And the most recent one we did was Van Gogh and they used a method called el pasto which was the mixing of oil point with a thickener to make it, to make it really, really dense. But we’ve have a tremendous amount of success with that. We actually, the last, the last two programs that we had, we have to give out tickets now because we fill up and we had to turn 12 children away from the last program that we did. So, Jennifer and I have to sit down and figure out how we’re going to extend the program, if we need to offer two sessions instead of one, so that way we have the home schoolers in one group and then the other kids in the other group cause we don’t have enough space.
What are your parades like?
Well, we have a Halloween parade which actually, this is kind of becoming our signature event. Two years ago before I became the director, we wanted to do something for the kids, to have an event that was not summer related, so we figured Halloween was a good time. We wanted to stay away from Christmas time and holidays because so many people celebrate that holiday in so many different ways. So we figured that Halloween was pretty non-confrontational and of course we wanted it to be in the library, so the kids could be surrounded by books and we had our first party which we had about a hundred people come to. The next year we did it it was about 200 people and now we’re getting ready for the third year. The kids get in their costumes and we close off the street around the library and we do a little parade around the library and then they come in and this year actually it’s a big deal cause Darion McCloud is coming to tell stories.
Some spooky stories to the kids and then once they’re through with the story, the police talk to them about being safe on Halloween. They get a little bag to carry their candy in, they get a glow stick and then they go around inside the library and they do some trick or treating. We have stations set up at, in the children’s area, information desk, computer lab. We actually pull out the puppet theater and turn it into like a fishing station where they throw the fishing pole over and get the candy.
Well, thanks for talking with us, Anna.
I’m Rebecca Mack.
And I’m Jess Herzog and we’re librarians at the Spartanburg County Public Library.
And what did you two talk about just recently?
[Rebecca] We talked about, “Spartan Con Fan Conventions in Libraries” was our panel. How to become a con artist, really.
[Jess] We held our first Con at a library in May of this past year and we are planning to do it again.
And what kind of advice do you have, just in a nutshell for any librarians who think, “oh maybe we should put on a convention.” What are some dos and don’ts?
[R] They definitely should because it is hugely hot right now. Yeah. It takes a lot of work so don’t get discouraged by all the different elements that you might have to consider ‘cause like you don’t have a massive geek to run this. You just have to have a passion for presenting, fun, unique programming for your patrons.
[J] The two main things to consider are like cosplay content and artist’s alley and having authors and programming. Those are, and honestly you can do those on any scale, you can do it in enormous scale, or you can do it on a very small scale.
[R] Yeah just schedule it to like fit your budget and as long as you have those three elements, you should have a successful Con.
[J] Yeah, make sure that if you need help, ask for it and get the backing of people who want to offer their support to you because their support is going to make it a lot better down the road when you’ve got questions for other people who value this as something that we think is a good idea and someone else thinks of as a good idea.
[R] And other libraries have done this so it’s not like so new you’re by yourself, so just reach out to other people that have done it. You can definitely email us and we’d be more than willing to share our advice and any questions that you might have, kind of lead you in a particular direction.
[J] Use our experiences to help figure what you’re doing, the best way to go about it.
What was the response like to your panel?
[R] I think everyone really enjoyed it. There was lots of laughter.
[J] There was laughter, and there was comedy and we feed well off each other in a really weird Gilmore Girls kind of way, so I think you’re Lorelei and I’m Rory.
[R] Whatever, I don’t know.
[J] But I think it went very well, we got really positive feedback from people after the panel was over so I.
[R] I think people are going to try this, and I’m really excited for them to do it.
So when a library conventions pop over, pop up all over South Carolina, we know who to blame?
[R] Yeah. Blame us. It was all our fault.
All right, thank you for your time.
[Both] Thank you.
So, I’m Matt Steinmetz, I’m the Technologies Training Coordinator for the Lexington County Public Library system in Lexington South Carolina.
And I’m Mark Mancuso, I’m the Senior Branch Librarian of the Lexington Main Library, also a branch of the Lexington County Public Library system.
And what have y’all been up to at SCLA this year?
[Matt] I just got done attending a really good discussion or presentation of the SCLA Journal that one of the librarians at USC has put together and it’s a really slick looking product. He did a really good job with it, it’s the inaugural issue of that journal, so it was really nice to take a look at that.
[Mark] And I’ve been working on two things. One fine-tuning our outreach approaches and partnerships with local businesses to the betterment of the library and I’ve been looking into ways to make our local history collection, which is a good, a wonderful gem, more accessible, especially using digital photography and the South Carolina Digital Library.
Okay, and I guess I’ll flip the responses between you two, what project are you involved in right now, Matt?
[Matt] I’m doing a lot of outreach with the local community as part of my position, showing folks how to use our digital resources, doing a lot of hands-on demonstrations about how to use e-readers and look up books and how to be able to download materials from our website.
All right and then what are you looking forward to seeing, or what have you already seen at SCLA that you’re really excited about?
[Mark] Well, I’m really excited about the South Carolina Digital Library. I’ve been to three or four programs through the years where they’ve, I’ve seen it in its various phases of development and it’s more accessible, more immediate, easy to use and I think it really provides a library system like ours the ability to jump right in and produce some good things.
Okay, well thank you for your time, gentlemen.
Hello, my name is Cathi Cooper Mack and I work at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
And what are you excited about at this year’s SCLA?
I am very excited about scholarship for diversity, we had an excellent fundraiser last night and we had a dance contest, we had karaoke, we had line dancing and everyone participated, it was hilarious. We had a great time, but now I’m very excited about our silent auction. We raised several funds, I’ve already received like seven other donors that would like to donate for next year for the 100th year, so I know we’re gonna have an excellent fundraiser in 2015 for the scholarship for adversity.
I look forward to it. Thank you for your time.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
My name is Sarah Wilson and I work at the Richland Library at the Saint Andrews branch.
And what are you doing at the South Carolina Library Association?
Well, this morning I presented about the library garden at my branch, it was called Library Garden Education Station, and now I’m enjoying the rest of the conference.
And what happens with the gardening at the branch?
Well, this past February we had a garden donated to our branch and then the square foot garden foundation donated several more gardens in April and so we went from there and we started a Teen Garden Club that met once a week during the summer and we had a lot of fun learning about the life cycles of plants and actually picking and preparing and eating fresh food that the teens themselves had grown. We had storytimes outside in the fresh air nearby, we had samples in the library for everyone to try, it’s been a really great learning experience for everyone involved.
And do you, is the garden going to keep growing for next year?
Yes, it is winding down for the fall and winter, so our teen garden club will be adjourned, but next spring we’re definitely going to start back up and we’re hoping to expand by getting some grant money for a rainwater harvesting system so that instead of me standing out there watering for 30 minutes every morning, we can just turn it on and turn it off and our garden can be as big as we want, we’re really excited.
That sounds like a great program, thank you, Sarah.
You’re welcome, Thomas.
My name is Zachary Frazier.
And where do you study?
I study at, I’m a PhD student at the University of South Carolina.
Cool. What have you been up to today at SCLA?
I just came for Spark Talks.
And can you describe a Spark Talk?
Spark Talks, the panel was five minute presentations on new ideas in libraries.
All right, and what was your Spark Talk about?
My Spark Talk was about the temporal nature of libraries.
I understand there was some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey logic going on.
There was a little bit. I actually used sort of the idea from the French philosopher Derrida, so I didn’t really get into timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly, but this was adapted from some writings that I’ve done on other topics that are related to libraries specifically about whether or not libraries can be, whether or not library services can be distinguished from one another. Like, for instance, if you took children’s services out of the library, or teen services out of a public library, would it still be a public library? If you took audiobook services out of the public library, would it still be a public library? If you took ILL out of an academic library would it still be a library? Sort of looking at, like, the idea is that because libraries are unseated in time, librarians have a commitment across multiple perspectives on time and so ultimately our, the work that we need to do for our budgets is far more than avoiding cuts or marginally increasing our budget year to year to pay for an increase in staffing, really what my argument is that all libraries need to at least double their budget, which is, I guess, kind of radical.
Yeah, that’s it, that’s all I want, all I want is for every library to double their budget. That’s all I’m asking for. I don’t think it’s a big, I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I think the way that we’ve been operating for the last, I can identify as a trend as early as 2002, but you could argue that it really goes back to the end of the, end of the Clinton presidency, is in this model where we’ve been cutting and cutting and cutting and cutting, so even when we have the opportunity to expand our budgets, we’re still in this sort of feast, not really feast-or-famine, but it’s sort of a famine mode. What that means is is that we had to disregard portions of our mission. We don’t have the staffing hours to do things like ensure that the works that are in our collections that are out of copyright for whatever reason are being reprinted or maintained or preserved in a way that actually allows them to be useable for our patrons in the future. Or for our current patrons.
So you’re saying, you’re saying if we’ve taken a hundred steps back and then two steps forward?
I’m saying that even where you see a library that’s doing really cool stuff in digitization, if you look at their book preservation budget, it’s probably not that good. And you’ll get a library that’s doing really good book preservation, they may or may not be doing really good digitization efforts. So there might be another either library that’s really, you know, getting cut back, maybe periodicals in an academic library aren’t getting bound as often as they need to to really be preserved, and these are still key activities for an academic library because we don’t know anything about the longevity of digital objects really we have estimates, but we don’t really know and there’s also all the, the issue with the microfilm right? Where microfilm will start to gel up and magnetic medium, magnetic film and magnetic tape in the magnetic mediums are real and identified preservation crisis that are currently going on in libraries and archives and we just don’t have the budget to do anything about that.
Wouldn’t it be great if we did though? And there’s a lot of unemployed people with college degrees that we could train, that we could train into these jobs and there’s a lot of unemployed people with library degrees that we could, you know, employ as librarians and do the, do the, do what we need to do, but we don’t have the budgets to hire them to fulfill the roles that we have and as a, as a profession I have an MLIS and have worked in libraries before, as a profession we don’t have the vision, we haven’t stepped out really to be able to conceive of a library that’s able to meet all of our temporal responsibilities, right, our responsibility, like I was talking to the past, to the past in terms of preserving materials, the present in terms of being able to meet all of our users services and all of our user needs and the future and ensuring that when our collections are future-ready, so future patrons could step in and use, you know, that they have e-books that they want e-books and, and those, you know, e-books are actually being preserved well and actually fit into a usable model for library collections and also that, you know, the books that we have are gonna be available, even gonna be available in the future, the micro objects, that we have the always installed microfilm right now because we destroy the originals. Well, in microfilm back in the 70s, that those are still around, like we can’t guarantee that in the status quo and that, that to me is a huge issue. My thing with it being unseated though is that these, all these issues, right, are part of the same ball of thread. We can’t tease them out, right, we can’t solve preservation issues without solving future access issues, we can’t solve them without solving our current issues, like there shouldn’t be trade off arguments that we’re having, they should be things that we’re addressing outwards, so you can’t see it but my arms are gesticulating wildly outwards.
He’s indicating very clearly.
So that’s essentially my, was essentially my Spark Talk using Doctor Who quotes and a couple science fiction references that I didn’t cut out.
All right, well I hope we get to hear from you every SCLA.
Hi, my name’s Amy Ditolla, I’m the Managing Librarian, Managing Librarian at Holly Hill Library.
What are some big projects you’ve been up to at the library?
Oh, setting up this brand new library, stocking it with books and resources, moving furniture, initiating everything from scratch.
Like good. What are you using to help guide you through that process?
Just personal experience, library literature, experience of people who know what they’re doing.
All right, once everything’s set up, what do you see on the horizon for the library, once everything’s up and running?
Everything’s up and running, we’ve been up and running for about four and a half months, five months, and it’s just a work in progress, it’s amazing the impact we’re having on the community, we’re offering full library services, we have public access internet computers that are enough for a community that, that is very poverty stricken and doesn’t have access to computers and internet and just technology, bringing that into the community on a greater scale, bringing in a larger library, bringing in storytimes and children’s services, high quality reference services and bringing in a degreed librarian to a community that has had a library for 75 years, but never had a librarian.
If you could go back in time to when you started putting this library together, what would you have done differently?
I would have had really hoped that the library would have been a little bit bigger and I don’t know, we’re not really, I don’t think I would do anything differently, I think I would just, just continue to grow, you know and get, and just keep growing, we’re growing and we’re really meeting the need and just, I don’t know if I would do anything differently. Maybe buy books, buy new books, that would have been nice.
Yay, you got it right on the first try then.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah I think we’re getting it right, I mean, definitely getting it right.
Okay, good talking to you.
Good talking to you, too.
My name is Jason Broughton and I am at the South Carolina State Library here at Columbia, South Carolina.
And what exciting things are you up to at the state library?
Well in my position as an Outreach Coordinator and Librarian, I would say we do unique items when it comes to helping people and libraries specifically help people find jobs, so our best asset I would say would be one called “WorkSC” which is a website that we created and our newest item is an item called “ILEAD” in which we will pair different types of librarians together in a common goal to create a project in which they get money to create that project and see if it’s successful.
Have you seen a lot of projects through to completion already?
We have. We are in constant dynamic ways of doing things when it comes to literacy. The children of South Carolina, the adults, the ex-offenders, the librarians, so we are always in flux of a state library, but I would say we are doing quite a lot with minimal staff.
All right, and what do you look forward to on the horizon?
Oh goodness, I look forward to helping librarians just help their users, connect with their users, provide stellar customer service.
All right, thank you Jason.
You’re quite welcome.
Hi, I’m here with Nathan Flowers. Why don’t you tell me where you’re based?
Thomas, I am based in Florence, South Carolina, which is a medium size city in South Carolina and I’m in a university called Francis Maryann University, it’s about 4,000 students, it’s a small liberal arts university. We have a good sized library, great collection, great group of people working there. The university’s about 4,000 students and I’m the Head of Systems there. Prior to that I was in the reference department, head of reference. I had experience in systems, I worked in a public library systems as head of systems for a years before I came to the university and I’m back in systems.
What are you most excited about during the SCLA conference?
The thing I’m most excited about is seeing people talking about what’s happening with the organization. I think a lot of professional organizations are facing issues of participation, funding, things like that, and we had some contentious by-laws decisions doing down this week and I think that maybe an eye opener for some people who need to feel like their voice is being heard in the organization and it might spur them to try and be more active in participating in the governance of the organization, which is really what I am really happy to see, that’s what I want, to get people fired up about finding ways that they can help serve the profession, the organization. It’s going to help ensure the longevity of the organization long term.
Good, well, thank you for talking to me, Nathan.
This guest requires no introduction to me because she’s Director of the SLIS School at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Samantha Hastings, known as Doc Sam, a pleasure to see you today.
Well, it’s a pleasure to see you, Thomas, you know I’m so proud of you. Now, you asked me what things that SCLA 2014 conference I’ve been most excited about, and I think it’s the pride I feel in seeing our graduates and our current students do such a good job at sparking new innovative ideas, being the leaders of the association and rejuvenating the way that we look at the role of information professionals. I loved the Battledecks, I think that was one of the best sessions I’ve ever been to.
I loved the Spark Talks, I thought those were fabulous and today I was sitting on with two of our doctoral students, Stan Trembach and Liya Deng and they presented on a study that they’d been a part of that we’d been conducting at the school. Looking at what graduates in high level positions think are the most important skill sets for new graduates. And it was really interesting, it was a fairly large study, we had a pretty good in on it, but the part that was most surprising to me was that the soft skills came up more and more and more. However, when we interview employers, and we do that on a regular basis, they want the hard skills. So, it’s been real interesting to try to design a curricula that does both of those things. I liked the idea of professional certification where on top of the MLIS I would love to be able to say and for X number of classes, you get a Health Informatics Certificate. For an additional this, or attending Doctor Susan Rathbun-Grubb RDA workshop, you get an RDA certificate, much like the technology industry does for high tech positions. So we’re doing exciting things, I think the umbrella of what we operate under and the general mission that we have is for public good. And how do we value that and what role did we have as a cultural institution?
Yeah, I would love to plug the real USC, South Carolina Davis College, and say any time I see online somebody questioning the value of the MLS, or how are they planning to use MLS programs, what do you really learn? I always want to say “Take it up with Dr. Sam, she’ll set you straight on this, they know what they’re doing.”
Oh man, I hate what the, like two weeks ago the front page of the USA Today had the top five jobs and guess where we were, in the top five. Education, library information professionals were right up there with everybody else and it makes me hopeful because I know that the role that we play is the discerning one and the one that makes a difference in people’s lives.
Enough said. Thank you, Doctor Sam.
You’re welcome, Thomas.
I’m Thomas Maluck and I work at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina.
[Amy Ditolla] And what kind of services do you provide at Richland Library?
Well I work at the teen center in our main location, which means providing access and instruction for all of our machinery and technology and all of our book advisory and location services and that includes our 3D printers, an audio recording booth, use of our Adobe software suite. I also work at the e-ready bar, which is where we have several tablets and e-readers and we show people on a daily basis how to get e-books, audio books, MP3 music through our Freegal service, Zinio magazines and I also do outreach and I do some storytimes in the community and I try to teach parents and teachers how they can use the library’s resources in the classroom.
Wow. It really sounds like you’re overworked. No, seriously.
It’s been at times.
Tell me, if you could tell me one thing that you would like to see provided at your library, that they no longer, that they do not provide, that you see as a new direction for your youth services, what would that be?
As a new direction?
A new direction.
Well, a lot of our teens say we need a vending machine.
A vending machine?
And we have been investigating the licensing required to get a public vending machine. Every slot in the machine has to be contracted, you can’t just fill a machine.
Well, what do the teens want in their vending machine though, they want candy? Or they want books?
Oh, they want food. So, bringing food into the library.
But there are some kids, especially in weekends, you see them in the building all day and, you know, we can hold onto a snack for them or something if we know they’re coming, but.
So you are…?
But we much rather have an organized response for that sort of need.
Ah, so you are looking into it and you actually are maybe embracing an idea. Is that correct? Maybe?
Well, I hear about the embracing of the same idea, I’m not responsible for that.
You’re not required for…?
But I hope we get it and I hope a lot of kids’ bellies get full as a result.
All right, so okay. So that’s something that you are looking forward to doing. What do you do right now that just really rocks your world when it comes to working with teens? What’s…?
They are more engaged than any other audience when it comes to graphic novels and talking about what they love and why they love it and it makes readers advisory with them a lot of fun.
So, do you think that upcoming summer reading is really focused on the teen reader? Do you think that’s going to be great for y’all or what?
A lot of the teen readers, if they love reading, they’ll focus themselves and they’re a joy to serve and then the more reluctant readers, those are the ones that I want to focus on.
Yeah? So you’re working on some of your skills for bringing in that reluctant reader? Engaging the reluctant reader. All right.
It’s great talking ya.
It was good talking to you too.
Hey, it’s Steve, thanks again to Thomas Maluck for performing all those interviews and to all the people who spoke with him. Lots of great stuff going on there in South Carolina libraries and I hope you got some inspiration to do some great things where you live.
[Thomas] I feel like a handshake is in order after that, fist bump, we’re good.