IMLS staff interviewed state librarians to discuss how their new five-year plans for LSTA Grants to States funds (2013-2017) differ from their past plans (2008-2012), and how they see the needs of library users in their states changing and evolving. This post is part of a series and features IMLS Senior Library Program Officer Michele Farrell interviewing State Librarian Daria Bossman. Read more about the South Dakota State Library’s priorities in IMLS’ state profile for South Dakota.
Michele: What were the three most important community needs you sought to address through library services between 2008 and 2012?
Daria: The three needs were stronger libraries, collections that support the mission of the libraries, and access for everyone through collaboration. We use a lot of our Grants to States LSTA funding to buy databases that are available to everyone throughout the state, and that enhances information literacy for our students as well as our citizens. We’ve used the LSTA funding to support interlibrary loan functions, and we’ve also used funds for the Braille and Talking Book section of our state library.
Michele: How did the evaluation of the programs and initiatives developed over the 2008-2012 cycle affect your state plans for the 2013-2017 cycle?
Daria: I think it confirmed that we were on the right road and we needed to continue many of those activities, such as strengthening libraries’ programming, training librarians, and purchasing the statewide databases. We really haven’t seen a dip in funding among our public libraries like we have in the schools, and I think it’s because we’ve had over five solid years of showing the value of the local library through our statewide databases, interlibrary loan, and the training that we’ve offered our librarians. It’s made a huge impact on a lot of small, rural public libraries in South Dakota.
Michele: What are the three most important community needs your plan for library services will address in the next five years?
Daria: We’re discovering that there are still a lot of technology needs out there, in terms of libraries that don’t have an automated system or may have a small in-house system, but really need to be connected to the entire state. Connected systems will play a critical role in stepping up interlibrary loan to a different level. We’ll definitely use the LSTA funds to continue to enhance our database access, because that reaches citizens to the four corners of the state. Training is also huge. The School Library Boot Camp is an example of the hunger among our school librarians. We planned for twelve participants for our first Boot Camp in 2012, and we had 36. A few school technologists who participated were so enthralled with the instruction around 21st century information literacy and learning commons, that they were ready to become elementary school librarians and pursue undergraduate certification. To me, that’s a real high; when you can get people so excited about learning that they’re not just pursuing education because they have to, it’s something that they really are passionate about.
Then we provide a lot of conference training to get the word out about our databases. We’re getting to the place where we’re not having to pedal our wares, but other groups are coming to us to have us speak at their conferences. When we say we want to train you and show you our databases, it’s always that great little hook that gets people together and talking about other things. In the end, it’s people helping people, but the databases gives them a reason to work together and meet together. Of course, we want to serve our disabled population through the Braille and Talking Book area, and that also serves the schools that have students with those specific needs. We really want to make connections between the public library and the school library. We have Jump Start, which is training for the Collaborative Summer Library Program, and we’ve begun having the public librarians invite their school librarian to attend with them. We are also encouraging public libraries to work with their local school districts to strengthen year-round reading. Last year, the Department of Education, of which the State Library is a division, launched ReadSD!, a statewide initiative to encourage all citizens and particularly students to commit to read 20 minutes a day. Numbers are still coming in, but the initiative has been very successful and continues to grow. We see this as a win/win for local school districts and the communities’ public libraries, but especially for increasing student achievement and reading levels.