Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Library Funding

Have you ever wondered how your local library is funded? "SNOOZE" may be your response, but if you want to keep your library, you might want to find out where the money comes from.

Russell County Public Library gets most of its funding from Russell County. The library makes an annual request and the Board of Supervisors allocates money to the library when they approve their annual budget, usually in late spring. The funds allocated by the county are about 75% of the library's budget. That's why the cut in funds in July made such an impact.

The library also receives money from state. The State Aid to Libraries program is administered by the Library of Virginia. State aid is by definition supplemental and is based on how much local support the library receives. It's a carrot and stick approach. The rules say if the locality gives the library more money, then the library gets more state aid. If the locality reduces money given to the library, then state aid can be withheld or reduced. The motivation is to keep funding at least level; if the library local funding is reduced, a library can typcially keep state aid if every agency also had a cut. State aid comprises about 20% of the library's budget. Learn more at http://www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/LDND/state-aid/

The library also receives funding from some towns, like Lebanon, as well as from grants. Most grants are like the e-rate grant--they can only be used for very specific things and typically can't be used for staffing. The Friends of the Library act like a booster club; they traditionally have focused on sponsoring the summer reading program and other activities and services for children. And lastly, your fines and fees? We get to keep that money and it goes back into our budget.

What does all this mean to you? Think Local. Most of the library funding is from local sources. Your taxes are allocated by the supervisors to many agencies and departments, from education to the Sheriff's department. Contact your supervisors and tell them what you care about. Contact your town council members and tell them what services you want and need.

They will tell you that money is tight and we can't have it all. But they can only serve you well if you talk to them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Citizens Say Honaker Library Counts!

Effective November 1, 2013, Honaker Community Library will open for nearly 25 hours per week. This change is due to additional money allocated to the libraries. Why? Because Russell County citizens called their supervisors and attended public meetings and were willing to get up and speak.

Citizens who believe in the value of their library stepped up to the plate (hey, it's World Series time!) In the coming months, the county and all its agencies and offices will begin preparing budgets for the coming fiscal year that begins July 2014. So it's not too late, or too early, to be heard. The library staff routinely attend these public meetings. But the word of a citizen carries more weight than the word of an employee.

Make a decision to participate in our democracy by attending a meeting or contacting your elected officials and telling them what YOU think is important. They can only represent you if you tell them where you stand.

And remember to exercise your right and privilege as a citizen and VOTE next week.

Honaker Community Library

Saturday      Closed
Sunday         2-5 pm
Monday       12-7 pm
Tuesday       12-5:30 pm
Wednesday 12-5:30 pm
Thursday     Closed
Friday           2-5:30 pm

Friday, October 4, 2013

Moon Exhibit!

The main library in Lebanon currently has a three panel exhibit titled The Moon: Cosmic Decoder Ring, which examines how the moon’s craters help us to better understand our solar system. The exhibit is on loan until October 18th, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. The exhibit has 3-D images, so patrons who view it should use the 3-D glasses that are provided. On October 17th at 7:00 pm, the library will have a moon watch program, viewing the moon while it is nearly full. There will be telescopes available, but participants may also bring their own telescopes or binoculars if they wish. In case of rain, October 18th at 7:00 pm is the alternate date.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

American Stories

What is your 'American Story?' Even those folks that were born and raised here in Russell County typically came from somewhere else. Just go back a few generations and you may find that your family lived someplace else. It was not uncommon for families to move back and forth between two locations as fortunes ebbed and flowed; we think of that as a modern phenomenon, but it happened in the 18th and 19th centuries as well as the 20th century.

Do you know where your family hails from? Odds are, you have MANY places you can claim, since each of us has eight great-grandparents and 16 great-great-grandparents. You can research your family history and roots at the library and online, using census records. Just start with yourself and work back in time, recording what you know and reseraching what you don't know.

The summer is what I call 'reunion season' because so many family reunions are held. The reunion is a a great time to share those families stories and interview older relatives. Just don't be surprised if the 'facts' are different depending on with whom you talk. The facts and documents may have been altered when the behavior was outside society's norms (like out-of-wedlock births) and the memory does just fade with time.

American Stories is one of the themes of the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. The books include A Quiet Revolution, a book on the veil's resurgence from the Middle East to America; Prince Among Slaves, an account of an African prince sold into slavery in the American South; and Acts of Faith, a book of growing up Muslim in America and the belief in religious pluralism.

Other books in the library's collections tell our American stories, such as The Hairstons, a book on the black and white members of a family with roots in Virginia and North Carolina; Sweet and Low, the story of an immigrant family that created Sweet'NLow and sugar in packets; and countless book on famous families like the Adamses and the Kennedys.

Stop by your library to check our a book. Better yet, talk to your family and write your own 'American Story.

contributed by Kelly McBride Delph

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Great New Downloadable Items at the Library!

Thanks to the Library of Virginia, we are able to offer two new services. Download new and popular magazines and download great audio books! Links to both can found at the bottom of the library’s website at: http://www.russell.lib.va.us/

1)      Zinio allows you to view the current issue of several magazines on your desktop or mobile device. Follow the link to create an account, and then you can view a list of available magazines. If using a mobile device such as a tablet or smart phone, you must first download both the Zinio app and the One Click Digital app. The service is compatible with several tablets and smart phones; visit the Zinio link to view them.

Audio Books! 

2)      OneClickDigital allows you to download audio books to your desktop or mobile device. You must first download the OneClick Digital app to mobile devices, and set up an account using your library card number. For now, these are titles that are in public domain. If you click on Help, there are several tutorials you can watch. If you go to Advanced Search, you can search by different methods, including by genre.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Computer Changes...

Patrons have commented on the layout of computers in the Lebanon Library, as well as how several of the computers have disappeared. Russell County Public Library has begun preparing for upgrades to our technology. Our libraries don't have the staff, or money to pay consultants, to stay on the cutting edge. In fact, we are often well behind that edge. In our case, our systems are still using Windows XP operating system, which was released in 2001. We stayed with XP because it was reliable and robust; it managed our environment well and we had the knowledge to manage our environment using it.

This summer we will upgrade our computer operating system software. We haven't upgraded until now in part because we didn't have the resources (read that as "staff or money") to maintain TWO operating systems. We had to upgrade them all at once. And that's what we will do this summer. So we have withdrawn any computer that doesn't have enough memory to be upgraded. The withdrawn computers were often so slow that they were useless anyway.

In addition to the operating system software, we will also replace a server in Lebanon. Our server was "fried" when a transformer behind the library blew in November 2012. Some of you may remember that it took several weeks to get our computers back on line. That was how long it took to get the server back to acting like a computer again! We've been advised that we should replace it because it will not survive another catastrophe. So everything needs to be upgraded and changed at once.

Honaker is in a little better shape as their server was replaced in 2011, and they received new computers when the new building opened. But their system software must also be upgraded so that all the computers are using the same operating system software.

Once the server is replaced and the system software is upgraded, we will have to make sure that all the patron and staff computers will communicate with each other. THEN we make sure all the other "computing devices," like the scanners and printers will communicate with the computers.

Staff have been reorganizing online files and saving and backing up data. Staff will also need to be trained on how the software works not only for their daily work but also to assist our patrons. The money we have available for the computer upgrade is not money that can be spent on staffing, and we have waited long enough that we MUST upgrade or risk having networks and systems that are not supported in the event of a crisis like the one in November.

You can understand that we are considering closing for a couple of days in order to minimize confusion. But that will be a few months down the road, after the new fiscal year begins. Watch for more adjustments as we prepare for our upgrade into the 21st century. We know these changes will be trying and inconvenient for a time and we appreciate your understanding and patience.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

(Strategic) Plan for the Future

Russell County Public Library is revising our five year strategic plan. The theory is that the priorities in the plan drive what we do.  The reality is that it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of any job. And it's easy for the urgent to push aside the important. (That's why I actually LIKE this process; it keeps you honest about what you should be doing.)

The strategic plan process forces us-staff and board--to look  at what we are doing and justify it; it also makes us admit openly whether we are achieving what we said we were going to achieve. Are we doing the important things? Are we getting the day-to-day things done and done well?

We started by compiling and distributing a survey. (We had help from Beth Trigg at Taproot Consulting.) We offer a heartfelt 'Thank You' to everyone who responded to the survey. Library Staff and Board of Trustees have reviewed the responses to the survey in marathon meetings. The work of compiling the responses into mission, vision, goals, and objectives has begun.

If you responded to the survey, you may be wondering what the results were. Reviewing the results, it's clear that some things would be easily remedied with money. Other things are more complex and subtle. Much of what we learned can be summarized in three points, noted below.
  1. more and better technology wanted
  2. more books wanted
  3. staff are appreciated
Obviously, all those responses can't be funneled down into three bullet points. But as we work through the process, you can know that the board and staff are sincere in our efforts to better serve Russell County.

posted by Kelly McBride Delph

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our Women's History

Handmade Book -- Russell Co. Women's Hall of Fame
Russell County Public Library has highlighted OUR women's history--the history of the women of Russell County--by establishing the Russell County Women's Hall of Fame. Click to see names of the Hall of Fame members.)
Every March for the last five years, RCPL has tried to add to our knowledge of the history of Russell County's women by sponsoring an essay contest during Women's History Month. The subject of the essay must be a woman who is a native of or has lived in Russell County. Essay contest judges recommend women for induction in the Russell County Women's Hall of Fame based on the essays submitted. All essays are included in the Local History files, so our knowledge of our women's history grows every year.

If you look at the list of women in the Hall of Fame (that link above), you will  notice several prominent and notable Russell County women who aren't there. Look at that list and ask yourself if the 'firsts' are there. 
Is our first woman treasurer there?
Is our first woman supervisor there?
Is our first woman superintendent of schools?
Has your church had a woman pastor or deaconess? Is she there?

If you don't see those women, sit down at a keyboard or put pen to paper and write. We keep the word limit to 500, so you won't be intimidated by the writing. In fact, you will probably find it hard to say everything you want in just 500 words. The libraries have computers for typing and scrap paper for writing. What's your excuse?

send the essays to kmcbride@russell.lib.va.us by 5 pm, March 20, 2013

Celebrate Our Women's History
March 28, 4 pm
Lebanon Library
A reception honoring essayists and this year's Hall of Fame inductees

submitted by Kelly McBride Delph

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Are You Being Served?"

Does the Russell County Public Library serve you?

What services should the library be offering?

Those are some of the questions the library asks during our strategic planning process. Every five years, we step back and take a long, hard look at what we are doing and how we are doing. That's where we are now.

Perhaps the most important part of the process is when we ask YOU what you think. So please take our survey. The survey will take you 5-10 minutes to complete. It's not just select from the choices; we ask you to really think!

Your thoughts are important. As we move forward, we will have to consider the tightening budgets; so we may need to let go of some activities and programs. We will also consider what we should be be doing to be a 21st century library. How residents use the library and our resources is very different now from when the library was established. Staff see considerable change in the last 10 years!

Please help us out by taking the survey


Friday, February 8, 2013

Bridging Cultures

Russell County Public Library has received copies of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf entitled Muslim Journeys. These books were a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities along with the American Library Association. Our publicity about the grant has generated negative response from some members of the community, so I thought I would share what the intent of the grant is and why we applied for the grant.

Muslim Journeys is the first in a planned series of Bridging Cultures Bookshelves. “The bookshelf is designed to address the American public’s need and desire for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.” The idea is to engage “the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.”

Islam and Muslims are hot button issues for some of us. But as library director, I stand by my initial motivation to apply for the grant, which was that most of us, myself included, don’t actually know much about Islam. The media gives us ‘snapshots’ which is not the whole picture. (And doesn't our 'news' always seem to include only the bad? Everywhere?) This is a faith and culture that is having an enormous impact on our lives. (Remember 9-11 and the thousands more Americans that have died in military action abroad as a result to our country’s direct response to 9-11?)

I want to understand the background and culture that surrounds this religion, which brings us back to the bookshelf. The Bookshelf is organized around several themes: American Stories; Connected Histories; Literary Reflections; Points of View; Pathways of Faith; and Art, Architecture and Film. I’m confident that one of the themes will interest you.

Since the goal of the bookshelf and this Sunday’s panel discussion is to encourage the public to read and learn, I hope that each of you will consider joining us for the reception and panel discussion that begins at 2 pm at the Lebanon Library. Revel in the fact that we can learn and speak and practice our religion of choice.

Posted by Kelly McBride

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

America at War

Lebanon Library kicked off a new reading and discussion series entitled America at War Sunday, February 3 at 3 pm. This series will focus on the wars that America fought in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Why did we commit to war?

Did the war change the country?

These are some of the questions we will consider--as relevant and important today as they were in 1775. We will consider colonial wars and the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American war and the Indian wars.

This first week we will just get acquainted and select our first book to read. But don't be put off by the prospect of reading a lot of books; you are welcome to view documentaries and explore the online Center of Military History. [No quizzes on what you read, so if you don't quite finish the book, there's no penalty!]

It's unique because each person will read a different book on each war. That should give us something to talk about, since each of us will have a different perspective on each war, based on what we read--and what we already knew.

We will have a couple of history professors to answer any questions and 'fact-check' any of our theories and ideas. Check out the webpage we've developed to accompany the series; it has the dates we are meeting and all the questions we will consider.

Join us and spend a few Sunday afternoons pondering the past and the future.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Literati - New Help on the Web

Literati is a new service provided by the Library of Virginia to all Virginia public libraries. What do I like about Literati? Let's see...
  • Homework Help (in reading, math and writing) certain hours of the day
  • Beginning Genealogy slide shows
  • Applying for Unemployment slide shows
  • Mind Mapping
Literati is a great source for reliable information without having to resort to Google. [Google is great, but the information you want isn't always in the first few hits of the 12,342 websites Google finds for you.] Search Literati and you can find encyclopedias, news articles, books and illustrations. It's a great source for families; you can learn about the Winter Reading Program.

Be sure and play with the Mind Mapping feature and explanation! I love that. It's very appealing and HELPFUL if you don't think in a straight line.

Plus, you can create your own 'account' and keep the citations and links you've found.

You can search from the library's homepage, or jump from our page to our Literati home.
Give it a try!