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Returning to Linda’s Bookbag – Happy Thanksgiving!

GratitudeHello everyone,

As I was thinking about sharing my bookbag with you this month, I realized that some of the things in my bookbag aren’t really books.

I read dozens of books a year and I add to my reading through a host of magazine subscriptions such as American Libraries, Chief Learning Officer, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, and one of my favorites for “living life,” SUCCESS Magazine.

When I first saw an issue of SUCCESS several years ago, I will admit my cynicism. I concluded that it must be about how to become a millionaire by the age of 25 or some such fantasy. And although the magazine does sometimes speak to the idea of managing finances or growing a business, what I found interesting then and still find very helpful are the many articles on topics ranging from leadership skills to networking to decision making, to expressing gratitude for each day, which I think we can all relate to, especially at this time of year.

To give you an idea of the breadth of topics, a recent article was titled, “Would Today Be a Good Day to Die?” Sounds rather macabre, eh? Actually, it was written to encourage readers to think about how they move through each day – and how, at the end of the day, they would answer that question. If life must end, and we know it does for all of us, will I be able to look back at that specific day and know that I lived it well? Did I help someone learn something new? Did I simply help someone? Did I do something to encourage my own growth? Did I play with my kitties and throw toys for my dog? Did I enjoy the beautiful Florida weather? Did I notice how blue the sky is or how the birds at the feeder are sharing nicely? Did I take time to reflect on fond memories of those who are no longer with me?

Obviously, we all suffer from “blah” days now and then. Sometimes we even suffer from very bad days! The key is to recognize whether those types of days are the exception or the rule. If the blah or bad days are the rule, perhaps we need to find ways to lessen their frequency.

Although I strive to make most of my days great days, I decided to begin a simple gratitude list rather than a journal. I already use a journal for other writing and I didn’t want this to become another thing on my “to-do” list. Instead, I begin each day by writing at least one thing I’m thankful for – sometimes two or three or more. I actually number them to remind myself of what I have to be thankful for. Even though I only started a few months ago, my list is already close to 500! I amuse myself when I look back and see something I’ve recorded more than once without realizing it – my fuzzy blanket, for instance 😊. Sometimes those duplicates come within days of each other, which seems to indicate that I am particularly thankful for those particular items, since I don’t even realize I already recorded them!

I just jot down a word or phrase that describes what I’m thankful for that day. Sometimes it’s a person’s name. It could be hot water in the shower, an email to let me know someone is thinking of me, a kitty asleep on my lap (when they aren’t asleep, I’m not always so thankful, lol), a new booking I received to conduct training for someone – and a hundred other things if I just pay attention.

This ritual, for me, accomplishes two things: it requires me to look for things I’m thankful for every single day AND it allows me to look back and remind myself that I do indeed have much to be thankful for.

So…what are you thankful for? Was today a day well lived?

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5 Reasons to Eliminate Overdue Fines in Your Library

Over the past year or so, I’ve seen numerous reports of libraries who have eliminated their overdue fines. The more I hear about it, the more I am in favor of libraries eliminating overdue fines. There are several excellent reasons you should consider eliminating overdue fines in your library:

  • Do it for the children! Children and teens are probably the population most affected by the inability to check out materials due to the accrual of overdue fines. It can be difficult for them to get to the library on their own, and they have no control over whether their parents bring them to the library in time to return books.
  • Eliminate some stress for your frontline staff. We’ve probably all experienced the feeling of dread of having to tell a patron that they owe overdue fines on their account. Especially a problem patron, who will argue that they returned the materials on time, they put them in the book drop while we were closed, how dare we charge him when he returned them on time… all while the line at the circulation desk grows longer and longer. (How much am I getting paid for this? Oh, right. Not enough.)
  • Free up staff time. Collecting overdue fines can take up a nice chunk of staff time. Not only is there the interaction with the patron (especially the ones who argue about the fines), but the staff member also has to mark the fine paid in the ILS system, print the receipt, possibly ring up the fine on a cash register, and make change for the patron.
  • Foster goodwill in the community. We want the community to feel good about the library, not to have horror stories of unpaid overdue fines, collection notices, and disapproving librarians. We want people to feel welcome, not fear that they are going to be called out because they owe us 30 cents.
  • Libraries are about providing, not restricting, access. The American Library Association issued a policy statement on Library Services to the Poor, which states, in part, that ALA is in favor of “Promoting the removal of all barriers to library and information services, particularly fees and overdue charges.” (http://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/extending-our-reach-reducing-homelessness-through-library-engagement-7). Many times, overdue fines prevent access to those patrons who need it the most.

Yes, but…

I hear some of you saying, “But we’ve always had overdue fines!” “How will I replace that money in my budget?” “Won’t this teach people to be irresponsible?”

As far as your budget goes, figure out how much is actually overdue fines (not replacement materials). Many libraries find that it’s less than 1% of a library budget. Maybe you can make up that money in other ways. Perhaps your Friends group or your Foundation would be willing to host an annual fundraiser to make up that money. Maybe a group of local businesses would be willing to offset the overdue fines in return for good press. You could also place a donation jar on the circulation desk that says, “Since we eliminated overdue fines, we are requesting donations to make up the loss.”

As far as enabling people to be irresponsible, I ask this: Are we the morality police? Is there anything in your library’s mission statement or the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights that says we must teach people how to behave responsibly? (I looked – and there isn’t.)

I’m not suggesting that libraries not charge for “lost” items. Sending a notice two to three weeks after the due date for the replacement cost will ensure that most patrons will bring those materials back, stat. When the High Plains Library District in Colorado eliminated their overdue fines, they found that 95% of materials were returned within a week of their due date. (Long Overdue, Ruth Graham, 02/06/2017).

Not ready to take the plunge?

Consider a pilot program. Test it out and see what happens. Or start with eliminating fines for children and young adult materials. You could also consider charging overdue fines, but not blocking a card for owing fines. In this case, you would only block cards of patrons who have not returned materials.

What do you think? Has anyone tried it? Anyone willing?

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What do Customers Really Want??

We’re going to take a break from Linda’s Bookbag to discuss an upcoming webinar topic.

The discussion of customers and what we can do to really impress them with our service is what might be called an “evergreen” topic – it never dies!

Just when we think we have all the bells and whistles they might want in materials, programming, databases, and even technology (if that’s ever possible!), they still don’t seem to be what we might call “delighted” with our service. Why is that?

Let’s take a moment to think about what’s going on in our world. As hard as organizations work to figure out what you might like, much of that attempt has become automated by technology. Have you ever searched Google only to have something pop up that you looked at the day before? Maybe even asking if you are sure you don’t want it? It’s almost scary, isn’t it? Although I’m sure Google thought they made my day by wishing me a happy birthday last year (complete with dancing cupcakes!), it really felt almost creepy.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want someone looking over my shoulder and invading my space through technology when I am simply going about my business. So, from my perspective at least, I don’t think the latest and greatest in programs and/or technology is the be-all and end-all of making customers very happy with our service. Do we need dynamic, ever-changing programming? Sure. Do we need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology as much as possible? Of course.

Instead of expending all our energy in those areas, though, maybe there are other areas we can look at to see if we are really pleasing our customers as much as we think we are.

Let me give you a personal example. Some of you know that my husband passed away in March of this year after 10 years of health issues which had escalated over the past 3 years. Just before he went to the hospital for a minor surgery, I picked up a routine prescription that he would need when he got home. Sadly, he never made it home. In my frantic effort to gain some control over my life during that awful time, a few days after his death, I took the prescription back to my pharmacy – Publix. I was certain they wouldn’t be able to take it back and sure enough, the pharmacy tech informed me that wasn’t permitted through their system. She asked the pharmacist and he agreed. They were not permitted to accept the drugs back. Now…here’s where the “delight your customer” attitude comes in. The pharmacist expressed his condolences and told me they would give me full credit, even though they couldn’t accept the drugs. The other pharmacist on duty came from behind the counter to give me a hug. Wow. It was “only” $47, but $47, especially in those circumstances, can seem like a lot of money going down the drain. But they gave me that $47 back. Could they afford it? Yep. They probably do $47 in business every minute! Did they have to do that? Nope. Do you think I will ever get prescriptions through any other pharmacy if I can help it? No, I surely will not.

Okay, so that’s a pretty dramatic example of exceptional customer service. But let’s look at life through the lens of your patrons.

What “stuff” are they bringing with them when they enter your library? Personal health issues? Relationship problems? Financial problems? An argument with the teenage child? Too many obligations? A negative customer service experience with some other entity in the past 24 hours? As we all know, those kinds of experiences are all too common these days!

If you think about it, the chances of them having had an exceptionally good customer experience in the recent past – with anyone – is fairly small these days. At least that’s the way it feels to a lot of people I speak with as I travel in my work.

So, what can we do to delight our customers in our current “customer-centric” culture? That’s just what we’ll talk about in our upcoming webinar on Thursday, September 14, 2 p.m. CT. Register now!

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What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?

Those of you who’ve met me or attended any of my training sessions know that I love to learn. And of course, one of the best ways to learn (besides attending training, of course!) is to read. I don’t often have an opportunity to attend training sessions unless I’m presenting them, but I do love to read. Imagine that!

The term “personal development” sometimes gets a bad rap these days, but if you think about it, those of us who help others learn in any context are really helping with their personal development, aren’t we?

In light of that, in my PLAN blog posts, I’d like to share some of the tools that have helped me in my own personal – and professional – development.

One book that quickly comes to mind is Continue reading “What’s in Linda’s Bookbag?”

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Addressing Legislators for Library Funding

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I delivered the following 3-minute address to Senator George Gainer and Representative Brad Drake at the Washington County Legislative Delegation Meeting yesterday. My purpose was to ensure ongoing funding for Florida’s Multitype Library Cooperatives. Renae Rountree, the Director of Washington County Public Libraries, and PLAN’s Board President, was also present and spoke for State Aid for Libraries funding. Speakers were allowed three minutes to address the delegates.

“Good morning Senator Gainer and Representative Drake. My name is Charles Mayberry. I am the Executive Director of the Panhandle Library Access Network (PLAN). Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today.

I’m here to thank you for your ongoing support for Florida’s five Library Cooperatives. Continue reading “Addressing Legislators for Library Funding”

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Digital Natives?

Danah Boyd in her book, It’s Complicated, discusses the misunderstanding of the term, “digital native.” Young people are adept at using technological devices but don’t understand the basics behind them. Those of us who learned to use a computer and other technology gradually have a much better understanding of how it all works.

For instance the first computer I used was DOS based. While I may have forgotten much of the command line language, I still have an understanding of file structure and basic computer functions. The millenials and those who came after them grew up in a WYSIWYG world of point and click. They seem to know intuitively which button to push (or maybe they are not afraid to try them all), but they don’t understand how it works.

For example, my daughter received a digital camera for Christmas. This device needed a firmware update which required using an SD card and a computer to transfer the required file. I learned that my fifteen-year-old doesn’t know how to copy or move a file on a computer.

As the parent of a high school student, I can testify that the schools assume students know more about technology than they actually do. It not just about the hardware and software. Students also need to learn to navigate the digital world in an informed way: determine validity of information, protect their privacy, communicate effectively using technology, etc. The schools aren’t teaching this and many parents don’t have this knowledge either. Many teachers are too intimated by this topic to cover even a small portion in their existing classes. Media specialists have become an endangered species in the high schools in my county. University libraries teach information literacy to their students.  Public libraries offer classes for adults. What about the teens and tweens?

If your library offers information literacy classes to this age group I would love to hear about your experiences. Do teens come to your library? Does your staff go out to the schools to teach about any of these topics? Librarians have a role to play in educating young people about making the best use of technology. Let’s make sure they are not neglected.

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Summer Reading Workshops

The days are getting shorter and winter is getting closer, but it is time to start thinking about next summer’s library programming!71eac357-f8c8-42be-8dd6-f5dc9c772189

The Division of Library and Information Services will be holding Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP)/Florida Library Youth Program (FLYP) workshops for the 2017 Summer Library Program. Youth services staff, media specialists, and adult services staff are invited to attend these free, all-day workshops that will be held across the state. The theme for next summer is “Build a Better World.” Dress casually and plan to be inspired!

YOUTH
The presenter for the youth workshops in the Panhandle is Zedra Hawkins:

  • January 6, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central), at the Milton Public Library (5541 Alabama St. in Milton), Santa Rosa County
  • January 9, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central), at the Calhoun County Public Library(17731 NE Pear St. in Blountstown), Calhoun County
  • January 12, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern), at the Wakulla County Public Library (4330 Crawfordville Hwy. in Crawfordville), Wakulla County

Register for a youth workshop

ADULT
The presenter for the adult workshop in the Panhandle is Donna Bachowski:

Register for the adult workshop

For more information, please contact Jana Fine at jana.fine@dos.myflorida.com or 850-245-6629.

For ADA assistance or other workshop questions, please contact Sena Heiman at sena.heiman@dos.myflorida.com or by phone at 850-245-6628, or Jana Fine at jana.fine@dos.myflorida.com or by phone at 850-245-6629.

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Santa Rosa Correctional Institute Books Project

SRCI-PLAN-medium

Milton, FL (August 3, 2016) – Senator Greg Evers (District 2) partnered with the Panhandle Library Access Network (PLAN) to provide more than 500 books to the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution’s re-entry program. The books were donated by libraries throughout the Florida Panhandle and were selected to support the educational needs of inmates working on their high-school equivalency diplomas. Continue reading “Santa Rosa Correctional Institute Books Project”

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Feeding My Need to Read

Hi, I’m Carol and I’m addicted to reading.  My preferred format is e-books.  I always have several loaded and ready to go on my Kindle.  This habit of mine can get expensive.

I’m also a librarian.  So I know I can get access to e-books from my local library through OverDrive and with Recorded Books through PLAN.  While these collections are growing, they are still relatively small.  To feed my addiction, I have had to find some other low-cost alternatives. Continue reading “Feeding My Need to Read”

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Lifelong Learning

Training4“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” –  Peter Drucker

I recently read a Library Journal article “Top Skills for Tomorrow’s Librarians.” It reinforced for me the need for and value of continuing education for all library staff. Continue reading “Lifelong Learning”

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