or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Vote Library!

   October 30th, 2012 Brian Herzog

I'm in Ohio this week* visiting family, and couldn't help but notice all the bright pink VOTE LIBRARY signs dotting the lawns in Huron, Ohio:

Vote Library lawn sign

It got me curious, so I looked into what the library was asking for. Funding increases are certainly nothing new to the library world, but I thought the Huron Library has put together a good levy campaign. They've got info on their website as well as a dedicated website for the issue. Both have a nice embedded video explaining how the library will use the money to benefit the community - and my favorite part is that they break it down to the personal level:

The owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 currently pays $25 per year for library services. The 1.25 mills will cost that same homeowner approximately $39 per year - a total increase of $14 per year. For less than the cost of two hardcover books, or two DVDs, per year, quality library service to the community can be preserved. [emphasis added]

Because there are so many people right now who are against any tax increases at all ever no matter what ever ever, it's important to focus on the value of tax money - and do it in easily digestible language. For people in a community with a strong library, $14 is not much of an increase - and it's certainly easier to understand on a personal level than an increase of .45 mill.

Judging from the number of signs I saw around town, the Huron Library has a lot of community support for this levy - good luck, HPL!


*I had planned to just stay for an extended weekend, but Hurricane Sandy conveniently cut off any return route from Ohio to Massachusetts, so my five day stay became eight days of playing with nieces and nephews and helping my parents (besides, my library was without power for a couple days so they never missed me anyway). I hope everyone else affected by the storm fared well.

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Kickstarter Project for “Saving Our Public Libraries”

   January 5th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Book: Saving Our Public Libraries: Why We Should. How We Can, by Janet JaiLast week I received an email from Janet Jai, author of Saving Our Public Libraries: Why We Should. How We Can. According to the website, this is "a new book of library-funding success stories and best practices, which has been called an important book by reviewers."

She started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to give free copies of this book to as many U.S. libraries as possible. Her email was asked me to help spread the word, and it sounds like a worth-while campaign, so here you go.

From her message:

If 1,000 people donate only $10 each, I'll have the money I need to print enough books so I can give them free to all the public libraries in two, three, or more states. Donors vote to decide which states receive the free copies of my book. Donors also receive rewards (some fun and some serious that might be of great interest to one or more libraries).

Saving Our Public Libraries: Why We Should. How We Can is full of proven ways that libraries can obtain more operational funding. Its library-funding success stories (many of which use innovative funding strategies) came from more than 50 library experts across the U.S. The information in my book has never been brought together before. Most of it has never even been published before.

I thought you might want to mention this opportunity in your blog so that librarians can participate and vote so that their state's public libraries receive these free books. So far most of the donors to this campaign simply want to help and have chosen not to receive donor rewards so they will not be voting. That means that a very few votes could determine which states' libraries receive these helpful books. However, kickstarter is an all-or-nothing site. Donations are not charged to donor credit cards and I receive no funding unless I reach my full funding goal, which makes every donation very important. The campaign is starting slowly because of the busyness of the holidays, but many people have told me they will be contributing soon.

To learn more about the value of my book, please go to my website, www.vision-and-values.com/saving.htm. There's a review there from ALA's ALTAFF group and a quote from Marilyn Johnson. Please note that the Ohio and West Virginia state library associations also invited me to speak at their state library conventions this past year.

I've never pledged to a Kickstarter campaign before, so I was curious how it worked. You create a Kickstarter account to pledge your amount, then that links to your Amazon account - but you don't actually get charged until the goal is reached by the campaign deadline. If you're interested, check out the Kickstarter page to get started. The deadline is 9:49pm EST on Sunday Jan 15, 2012.

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Salem Press Launches The Library Grants Center

   November 17th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Solving the budget puzzleEarlier this week I received the message below from Salem Press. I don't know what kind of distribution their programs get, but I thought this was worth sharing:

A free, no-registration resource for librarians.

Librarians need help finding help. So we scoured the web in search of grants and awards for libraries. We discovered the options extend far beyond free money from national and state sources.

Hundreds of grants are available to libraries of all types from local foundations, family trusts, small and large corporations, professional organizations, and the publishing community. You owe it to your library to find out more about the financial aid available.


Basically it's a listing of available funding sources for libraries, with information on national grants, state grants, and a how-to section for the application process.

Just about any potential funding source is a good one when you're in need, so I thought this might be a very useful site for libraries. Thanks to Salem Press for putting it together.

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Library Use Value Calculator Updated

   March 1st, 2011 Brian Herzog

Little Professor calculatorThis post isn't about the current ebook debacle, because Bobbi and Kate are doing a better job than I could.

This is just a quick announcement that I've updated the Library Use Value Calculator - here's a rundown of the changes:

  • Updated costs, in conjunction with staff from the MLA
  • Added lines for ebooks* and music downloads
  • Removed the distinction between magazines/newspapers browsed in library and those checked out (my feeling was, if they used them at all, it counts)
  • Changed some wording and reordered the services to (hopefully) make things more clear - materials at the top, services at the bottom
  • Added additional instructions on how to host or modify the calculator code yourself

I also wanted to add a "Share on Facebook" link, but I haven't tackled that yet. If anyone is looking for a project, let me know.

All of this is available at http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net/librarycalculator. If you already had the calculator embedded in your library website, the updates will take effect automatically.

If anyone has any questions, or needs help with the calculator, please let me know.


*Ironically. Perhaps I need to add more javascript so that if someone enters a number higher than 26, the calculator automatically adds additional copies to the cost.

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Demonstrating The Value of Libraries

   June 30th, 2009 Brian Herzog

Update 7/13/09: Final state budget lightens hit to Ohio libraries

Save Ohio LibrariesThis post is unfortunately timely - by now you've heard of the cuts facing Ohio libraries.

I haven't said anything about this because it's been covered elsewhere, but it really worries me. I have friends and family that both work in and regularly use Ohio libraries. And I know how badly a 5% cut affected my library this year - I can't even imagine a 50% cut.

The value of libraries is difficult to illustrate (one might say immeasurable), which makes proposals like Gov. Strickland's possible. Libraries need to make a special effort to demonstrate our role and importance in our communities.

Two years ago I posted about the Library Use Value Calculator - a tool to let patrons calculate how much their library use is worth to them. I've been working with the ALA on version 2.0 of the library calculator (as part of their Tough Times Toolkit), and even though it's still in beta, I wanted to get it out there.

The new version looks and works the same, it's just easier for libraries to implement. Instead of having to muck around with coding, libraries can now embed it in their website web 2.0-style, just by copy/pasting a bit of code (like a YouTube video).

Please check out the new calculator, and add it to your library website - let me know if you need help. And if you are in a position to do so, please Support Ohio Libraries.

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