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Library Networking Night

The Anchorage Chapter of the Alaska Library Association is hosting a special event  for those who are attending, have attended, or are thinking about attending library school.

When: Tuesday, April 12, 7:30-9:30 pm
Where
: UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 307

See this linked flyer for more details: AkLA Networking Night

Internship/portfolio/resume alert!

ARLIS, the Alaska Resources Library & Information Services, has been offered some short-term funding to hire students this summer.

If you (or anyone you know) would like some paid work experience in a library between now and September 30, and you are 16 or older, enrolled as a student at least 1/2 time for fall 2010, and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher, please contact Leslie Champeny at 786-7663 or email your resume to leslie@arlis.org by this Friday, June 18.

And now, the front page and TV

Are local libraries in process of checking out?
(Published as a feature story in the Anchorage Daily News on Nov. 7, 2009)

And on the local news (KTUU Channel 2, Nov. 10, 2009)
Library supporters try to come up with plans for future

Getting involved with ACRL

Thought this might be of interest. ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) is a division of ALA.

Subject: Upcoming ACRL OnPoint Chat: Getting Involved With ACRL

November 12, 2009: Getting Involved With ACRL (10:00 a.m. Pacific | 11:00 a.m. Mountain | 12:00 p.m. Central | 1:00 p.m.

Eastern)

In this discussion, ACRL Vice-President Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and Executive Director Mary Ellen Davis will answer your questions about the wide variety of ways to make the most of your membership by getting involved in ACRL. Learn how and when committee appointments are made along with other ways you can become more active in the ACRL community and contribute to the profession.

ACRL OnPoint is a live series of informal monthly chat sessions that provide the opportunity to connect with colleagues and experts to discuss an issue of the day in academic and research librarianship. All ACRL OnPoint chats are free, open to the public, and require no registration. Meebo chat rooms have a limit of 80 total participants.  Due to this restriction, ACRL OnPoint discussions will be delivered on a first-come-first-served basis. Complete details and login information are available on the ACRL Website at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/events/onpoint/index.cfm

ADN on Anchorage libraries (again)

Our view: Library recession

Don’t let Loussac and branches fall out of the 21st century

Published: October 25th, 2009
Anchorage Daily News

The mayor’s proposed 2010 budget envisions contraction for the Anchorage Public Library just when the system is expanding to Mountain View.

What city government can’t do, citizens can. No public institution belongs to all of us more than our library. Let’s keep it growing.

Fewer days, shorter hours. Staff cuts. Fewer materials purchased. And this at a time when our library should be in the forefront of the changes well under way for libraries of the 21st century.

Cuts are coming to a system already on the low end of the high-tech side of modern libraries. An interim report by library consultants found Anchorage, with its 117 computers, well below the basic standard of 140 for a public library in a community the size of Anchorage.

What does that mean?

It means demand exceeds supply, especially at peak-use times — for example, when the Permanent Fund dividend filing deadlines are approaching, or during income-tax season. Library director Karen Keller said users often are limited to an hour. Job applications and resumes can take much longer. So can research, from school projects to car repairs — Keller said exasperated do-it-yourselfers use the library to tap the databases of the Chilton’s or Haynes auto repair publications. This is an example of proprietary information that the library buys for everybody to use.

Cuts also are coming at a time when the library has just started running computer training labs with laptops at the Muldoon branch — a small example of what the library could do with a computer/media lab, where patrons could get training and work on projects, where entrepreneurs might find economical means to build a Web site for a small business.

Such a lab is third on Keller’s wish list for the tech side.

Her first wish?

“Juice up my bandwidth.” Keller said the library could easily to stand to quadruple the available bandwidth so that users wouldn’t have to suffer slow-speed connections that can squander precious time on machines that must be shared.

Her second wish?

“Increase the number of machines.” By the consultants’ numbers, it would take 23 computers — laptop or stationary — to match the basic standard.

Ambitions like these are not grandiose. Ambitions like these merely reflect where healthy, effective libraries are heading. The Knight Foundation has recently announced grants to libraries across the country to provide similar computer and Internet services.

Why? Because what Andrew Carnegie, who endowed hundreds of libraries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, said still applies today:

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

So where does that leave us in this time of cuts?

The library will have to take its share, but the Assembly should take a close look at the mayor’s proposal and make sure that share has the least effect on library services. And if prospects improve and first quarter budget revisions allow, let’s restore what we can.

Given cuts, the time is right to fortify the Anchorage Library Foundation and Friends of the Library. They do yeoman’s work from collections to summer reading. Check out AnchorageLibraryFoundation.org.

What city government can’t do, citizens can. No public institution belongs to all of us more than our library. Let’s keep it growing.

BOTTOM LINE: Don’t let temporary budget woes do permanent damage to the library.

Another ADN editorial for Anchorage libraries

Our view: Keep lights on in libraries

Budget, staff cuts will constrain gain from treasure at our fingertips

What good is a book in the dark? What good is a computer kept behind locked doors?

Those are questions citizens of Anchorage might ask at this month’s public hearings on the 2010 city budget.

The Anchorage Public Library — Loussac and four branches, with a fifth in Mountain View due to open next year — stands to lose 14 staff positions, along with cuts in its materials budget ($100,000) and capital money ($30,000). If this proposal stands, the library will have taken almost a 10 percent hit in a year, according to library director Karen Keller.

What it means is shorter hours or more days when the doors are locked, fewer books, movies and CDs to borrow, less public access to the Internet and less time for public meetings.

Yes, we’ll save money in 2010. But we’ll also diminish the value of an institution in which we’ve already invested multiple millions of dollars, and which always gives a good return on our money.

Summer saw painful cuts

We’ve just restored a seven-day week for the Loussac Library and five-day-a-week service at the branches after a summer of staff furloughs that sharply cut back service. For 2010, the branches are looking at four-day weeks again. Loussac will stay open seven days — but with only four hours on Sundays.

Mayor Dan Sullivan’s budget for 2010 increases taxes by $6 million but cuts spending and city services while trying to maintain public safety and street maintenance at current levels. State revenue sharing that in past years provided property-tax relief will shore up the budget. And the mayor doesn’t want to tax to the legal cap — his budget is about $10 million below that — in this uncertain economy.

“I understand the situation the city is in,” Keller said.

But here’s the rub — actually, several rubs.

Community support is strong

The Anchorage Public Library has wide support in the community — the library draws more visitors in a year than the total attendance of every event in the Sullivan Arena. Since 2006, Keller said, the library has raised more than $14 million in donations and other non-city sources. Friends of the Library carries the summer reading program and other services, and the Anchorage Library Foundation provides ongoing financial support.

Yet the city has continually targeted the library for cuts.

As staff is cut, hours of operation are shorter and those collections enhanced by private donors are less accessible.

And once cut, staff and materials budgets aren’t likely to bounce back. “Historically, we haven’t been able to gain much ground,” Keller said.

Bill Wilson, a national library consultant here this week to help with long-range library planning, said the Anchorage library already is short-staffed compared to the average of libraries serving similar-sized cities.

Importance grows in hard times

Continually shortchanging the library shortchanges the entire community.

Institutions like the library become more, not less, important in hard times. Maybe you can’t buy that book, but you can borrow it. And it reads just as well. Or maybe you can’t afford to look up material on a database that charges for access — but the library provides that database. Maybe you can’t afford a computer, but you can still bridge the “digital divide” at the library and do a job resume or send an e-mail.

Libraries are social and civic centers for the city — from the Assembly chambers in the Loussac to lectures, plays, community forums and readings at the branches. Libraries all over the United States have become “third places,” after home and work or school.

Safe places. Places to learn and get productively and wonderfully lost. Lose track of time in the library and chances are it’s time well spent. Here’s a community institution that offers no end of paths to progress.

Look at the Loussac and its four branches. Name five other buildings in town where anyone in the community can find so much knowledge, beauty, enchantment, hope, entertainment, democracy and opportunity free for the asking — a universe, with a support staff to boot.

The mayor and Assembly need to think twice about such unkind cuts. Like Keller, we understand the situation. If these were temporary cuts, like this summer’s, the community could take them in stride. But if the cuts outlast the current economy, if a constricted library becomes the norm, that will leave us poorer for keeps.

BOTTOM LINE: Let’s look for ways to keep our libraries open, rather than just take the cuts.

Interesting article for general consumption (and discussion?)

Yet another article about Google taking over the world….

From BBC News: Keeping Google out of libraries

Recent editorial from the Anchorage Daily News

Our view: Don’t close that book
Anchorage libraries look past the current budget squeeze

Published: September 9th, 2009
Anchorage Daily News

These are hard times for Anchorage libraries. More to the point, these are hard times for Anchorage library users.

Hours were cut to account for unpaid furloughs this summer. Loussac Library and its branches from Girdwood to Eagle River have only been open four days a week.

And those are cuts in a staff that already runs bare bones, according to a preliminary study by the library consulting firm Himmel and Wilson, with help from local firm Agnew::Beck.

Some of their findings, comparing Anchorage with 35 library systems serving similar populations across the United States, are disheartening.

Anchorage has less staff (86 versus an average of 143), spends less of its budgets on materials and services (8.6 percent versus 12.8 percent), more of its budget on overhead and intergovernmental charges (36.5 percent versus 20.9 percent). Those overhead charges cover everything from IT support and payroll to groundskeeping and horticulture.

Our libraries don’t have enough Internet computers, lack bandwidth and get fewer visits per registered borrower (5.1 versus 8.9 in comparable systems). That’s in part because in our spread-out city we have fewer branches (4) than the comparable average (8 to 9). We have to go farther to check out a book.

But before anyone’s tempted to close the book and turn out the lights, there’s good news too.

Sixty percent of Anchorage residents hold current library cards. That’s more than the comparable average of 55 percent. Our libraries recorded 871,036 visits in 2008 — more than the total attendance for every event at the Sullivan Arena in 2008. Our main library — Loussac — at East 36th Avenue and Denali Street has a central location and both good bus service and ample parking. It’s accessible.

City library director Karen Keller points out that since 2006, Anchorage Public Library has raised $14 million in funds from private, state and bond sources. Still, with a hiring freeze, she’s struggling to maintain a post-furlough schedule that will have Loussac open every day and the branches open five days a week.

“We have been surviving,” she said Tuesday. “I would really like to thrive.”

Bill Wilson of Himmel and Wilson said our libraries have been about as innovative and productive as they can be with a budget that keeps getting tighter.

He pointed out two ways to strengthen our libraries and help them better serve residents.

One is to examine the burgeoning intergovernmental costs that are eating such a huge share of the library’s budget. Keller notes she has no control over those costs. When she gets an increased bill from Parks and Rec to cover flower plantings and groundskeeping, she doesn’t get a corresponding budget boost. The library eats it, and its collection suffers. If there’s a cheaper way to tend the grounds, we should try it.

A second is to find ways to make the libraries more a center of community life in Anchorage.

That’s an encouraging challenge, because Anchorage already does a great deal on that score. Loussac Library is home to the Anchorage Assembly, and the Wilda Marston Theater serves as both stage and political forum. Loussac borders the increasingly popular Cuddy Midtown Park, which is becoming a community gathering place as well.

Libraries open a wealth of knowledge to everyone in the community. Let’s plan for thriving libraries.

BOTTOM LINE: The value of our city libraries will long outlast our current budget woes. Everyone is invited to participate in the Anchorage 21st Century Libraries project at www.anchorage21stcenturylibraries.org