Sidewalk Stargazing @ Your Library with Guest Blogger Khelsea Rantanen

Photo of detail of moonBy Guest Blogger Khelsea Rantanen of the Northwest Regional Library System, Bay County Public Library

“Wow!” “Amazing!” “So cool!”

Nothing compares to the first time you see the Milky Way in all its glory or the full moon magnified by a telescope. Stargazing is a simple, fun, and engaging activity. At minimum, you need a safe place to stand and a night sky dark enough to see the moon or some stars. The young, the old, and everyone in between can stargaze. Telescopes or binoculars simply enhance the quality and quantity of what you see.

Implementing a stargazing program at Northwest Regional Library System (NWRLS) was one of the solutions that arose from completing the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute. Public libraries all over the country facilitate STEM education opportunities to children and teenagers. Our library system provides opportunities to learn coding, DASH robots, 3D printing, and virtual reality among others. However, there were few chances to discover the beauty of the night skies. To engage single adults, seniors, and families – stargazing offered an intersection of hands-on learning, an inter-generational activity, and it lends itself from being a simple hobby to a complex, all-consuming passion.

During Summer 2018, to test public interest in stargazing, we scheduled a one-time star party called Sidewalk Stargazing @ Your Library for November 7, 2018. As many of you know from experience, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida on October 10, 2018, causing devastation throughout the Florida Panhandle. Our Facebook event garnered more than 200 interested notices.

Throughout the summer, while I studied more about stargazing in libraries, I kept reading about lending telescopes. Cornerstones of Science, a nonprofit in the Upper Northeast that works with public libraries to facilitate informal science education through public libraries, has the Cornerstones’ STAR (Sharing Telescopes and Astronomical Resources) Program to foster interest in astronomy by getting quality telescopes into the hands of the public. A very popular telescope, the Orion 4.5” Star Blast is modified by a large group of volunteers to make them friendly to the public. After the storm, Bay County Public Library was closed to the public for a short time as the librarians and staff were reallocated to recovery efforts. Amid these efforts, I received word about the looming deadline for PLAN’s Innovation Projects program. At some point, I asked my administration if I could submit an application for purchasing these telescopes to kick off the stargazing program, which I had been trying to lift off prior to the storm.

Since I had researched and planned to eventually incorporate lending telescopes into the stargazing program, I had all of the necessary information. I submitted the application and waited.

To my great surprise, among all the great applications, my request was funded. It felt very good. We received funding to purchase books and three telescopes, two for circulation and one library programs. I owe thanks to the comprehensive grant writing class I took during my graduate studies at Florida State University with Dr. Linda Swaine. Also, I owe a debt of gratitude to Heather Ogilvie for taking the time to listen to my rambling about the project and reading my drafts while she was writing hers, too. Without the encouragement of Robin Shader and Lynn Elliott, my library director and department head respectively, I would never have even started this program.

Lending more than books has already taken place in my library system. Before telescopes, NWRLS already lent maker kits, cake pans, ukuleles, and dulcimers. Our staff was familiar with cataloging strange new items and knew what questions to ask in regard to storage, the method of lending, changing policies, and generalities. After a bevy of meetings with administration, technical services, circulation, and reference departments, we determined that we would allow the telescopes to be borrowed like any regular item for three weeks with the opportunity of two renewals. Many public libraries lend their telescopes for a week to encourage more circulation; however, we differed in order to keep our lending policies uniform. Since the telescopes are more expensive than the average book, we did follow the general practice of requiring an adult to check out the telescope. In addition, we require the borrower to sign a waiver of claims and a borrowing agreement describing correct use. Some libraries require patrons to agree to transporting the telescope in a car; however, our talks led to the decision that implementing a car-only transportation requirement limited those who borrowed the telescopes. Finally, we decided to test the circulating procedures for a short period only from Bay County Public Library before allowing circulation throughout the system.

As of now, we are still working out the kinks to lending the telescopes. We expect by June to allow our courier to ferry the two telescopes. The first Sidewalk Stargazing @ Your Library was held on March 24th with a total attendance of nine people. We have scheduled more throughout the summer in conjunction with a Universe of Stories, the space-themed summer reading program. Two stargazing parties will be held in Gulf and Liberty counties to encourage and highlight stargazing among the smaller branches where there is less light pollution than in Panama City.

In the beginning, I expect the stargazing program to be modest, but with time it will grow in popularity. I hope it sparks curiosity about space exploration and positively bonds those who stargaze together.

Can You Weather the Storm? by Carol DeMent

I have been thinking a lot about resiliency. Since Hurricane Michael caused wide spread damage in the Florida Panhandle last October, there has been an emphasis by civic leaders on our communities’ ability to “bounce back.” I recently read two blogs posts on libraries, librarians, and resiliency.

In “Characteristics of a Change Resilient Librarian,” [ ] Ron Aspe discusses the importance of librarians being change agents.

While this post was addressed to special librarians, I believe it applies to all library staff. Every library deals with challenges on a regular basis. “Libraries must cope with staff shortages, budget cuts, outdated technology, competition from unexpected sources, and even negative stereotypes.”

Resilient librarians look for ways to expand their relevance in their larger organizations (i.e., town, county, university, etc.). They look for ways to use their skills in new ways and with new tools. They tie their services to clear goals and objectives for their libraries. These proactive librarians look for ways to contribute to the larger organization/community and show the value of the library. They make connections with their peers in other departments and agencies.

In “Reasons to love your library: Think of them as ‘resilience centers’,” [] Amy Brunvand discusses how libraries are not only essential in times of crisis but also in creating sustainable communities.

“The reason libraries are so effective to re-ground and re-center communities in crisis is that they already serve a similar if less urgent role in more normal times, with goals for literacy, civic engagement and community resiliency, as well as collections that preserve community memory, identity, history and a sense of place.”

Following a disaster, libraries are critical as sources of information, venues for distribution of supplies, and communication centers. They often provide a place for FEMA to set up locations to assist the victims of the disaster. If the library can be reopened quickly, it restores a small piece of normalcy in the lives of people who may have nowhere else to go.

Are you and your library resilient? What do you need to do to improve your library’s ability to bounce back? Disaster planning? Training? Making connections with other agencies?

“The Road to Resilience” page of the American Psychological Association website [] has a list of ways to build resilience.  While these suggestions are designed for individuals, many of the ideas can be applied to organizations. What will you do to make sure you and your library can adapt to changes, big and small, that may come your way.

Playaways – Another Audiobook Format

Photo of The Silent Patient on a Playaway

My parents were recently in New Mexico, and a friend of theirs showed them the audioboook she was listening to on a device called a Playaway that she had checked out from the Alamogordo Public Library. I had never heard of it, and I can’t help but feel like I should have known about this.

So if you’re like me and never heard of Playaways, I’ll help you out. Basically, a Playaway is a portable listening device with an audiobook preloaded onto it. It has some pretty nifty features:

  • Reverse by chapter or within a chapter
  • Fast forward by chapter or within a chapter
  • 5 narration speeds

It’s easy to use, great for technology-challenged patrons. And it’s small. It’s about half the size of a deck of cards. It bookmarks the spot where you left off so you don’t lose your place in the book. You can also lock the controls so that you don’t accidentally fast forward or something while you’re listening.

It requires 1 AAA battery, which the company says lasts for about 30 hours of play. You will also need earphones or speakers. You can plug it into your car’s aux jack.

The price is a little more than either a CD audiobook or e-audiobook, but it does come with a 1 year limited warranty. Here are the prices I found for The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (which, by the way, Carol and I listened to on our way to a conference in Knoxville and highly recommend!):

  • Playaway $69.99
  • RBdigital $47.49
  • Amazon CD $25.94

Please let me know in the comments section if your library carries these (I know the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library has some), and how they are working for your patrons.

The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Regina Burgess

Cover of book Just One Damned Thing after Another by Jodi TaylorIn today’s blog post, I want to share with you a series that I absolutely love: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor.

The first novel in the series, Just One Damned Thing After Another, introduces us to our heroine, Dr. Madelaine Maxwell, known as Max, who joins the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research. St. Mary’s consists of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who study major historical events in contemporary time.

Do NOT call it time travel!

The goal of the historians is to observe and document to try to find the answers to some of history’s unanswered questions – and not die in the process.

In the first novel, they time travel…er, visit 11th century London, World War I, the Cretaceous Period, and the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria.

The books are hilarious – seriously laugh-out-loud fun! I love them so much that I also read all of the short stories and novellas in the series, and I am not usually a fan of short stories.

I found the books on Amazon (I don’t know how), but I probably wouldn’t have found them in a library because they would be shelved in SciFi, and I don’t read SciFi.

I mean, obviously I do, or I wouldn’t have read these books, but I don’t actively seek SciFi materials.

There are currently nine novels in the series (plus several short stories):

  • A Symphony of Echoes
  • A Second Chance
  • A Trail Through Time
  • No Time Like the Past
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and History
  • And the Rest if History
  • An Argumentation of Historians

Book 10 is scheduled to be published next month:

  • Hope for the Best

Other historical periods the historians visit include Jack the Ripper’s London; the murder of Archbishop Thomas á Becket; Stone Age hunters; a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton; dodos eating cucumber sandwiches; the Great Fire of London; and the Bronze Age of Troy.

But will they ever discover why all the travel pods smell like cabbage?

I highly recommend this series, and I also recommend that you read it in order. Enjoy!

Edit: Thanks to Vicky Stever’s suggestion, we will order the entire series on RBdigital.

8 Reasons Why You and Your Coworkers Should Attend the PLAN Library Essentials Conference: Community Engagement on April 12th

Graphic of people networkingHere are 8 reasons why you and your coworkers should attend the PLAN Library Essentials Conference: Community Engagement on April 12th at Florida State University – Panama City:

  1. BRIAN HART – Brian is the Deputy Director of the Greensboro Public Library & Board member for EveryLibrary, the only library-related political action committee. Brian is a fun, interactive speaker (I saw him at the Northwest Regional Library System staff development day a few years ago), and you will leave the conference ready to go engage with your community! Brian will present both the opening and closing sessions.
  2. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IS HOT – Libraries can no longer wait for the community to come to them. They must seek out community members, and the presentations at this conference will give you some ideas, whether you work for an academic library, public library, or special library.
  3. ALL STAFF MEMBERS COUNT – Community engagement is not just something for management. All staff members can contribute to community engagement. Are you a member of a local club? Attend church regularly? Play on your spouse’s softball team? These are all opportunities for community engagement.
  4. HEATHER HAS A GREAT TITLE FOR HER PRESENTATION – How can you not want to attend a breakout session entitled “The Last Book Club: Love, Rage, and Squandering Flowers.” (I mean, just who is squandering flowers? What kind of lowers?) But seriously, Heather will be speaking about senior outreach, and with our rapidly aging population, this is a topic we all need to know more about.
  5. INCREASE ACADEMIC RETENTION RATES – It’s great when colleges and universities can increase admission rates, but how can libraries help retain these students, especially commuter students, who face unique challenges? Maria Goodspeed and Melissa Davis of Pensacola State College will provide you with all the answers.
  6. SARAH PLAYS THE DULCIMER – I’m not quite sure what a dulcimer is (looks like a weird guitar thingy…), but playing a musical instrument can increase happiness, confidence, and brain power, and I could use all of that! So could your patrons, so attend Sarah’s breakout session and learn how to start a music class at your library.
  7. SUBJECT LIBRARIANSHIP IS HOT, HOT, HOT – Academic libraries have learned that the best way to facilitate a working relationship between the library and faculty is to have subject librarians assigned to academic departments. Mohamed Berray and his colleagues from FSU will give you tips on how to implement or improve your own program.
  8. CONTINUING EDUCATION IS VITAL TO ALL LIBRARY STAFF – Besides providing ideas and knowledge, continuing education can re-energize you and your staff!

Register now at

Music at Your Library with Guest Blogger Rachel Nicholas

Music at Your Library with Guest Blogger Rachel Nicholas of West Florida Public Libraries

When my director asked me to start a dulcimer class at my library, I was incredulous to say the least as to whether it was a good idea. “Who cares about dulcimers?” I thought. “It’s a simple enough instrument, and it is not hard to learn. They’ve got to be passé by now.” Boy, was I wrong. After a fair bit of convincing on my director’s part and watching Robin Shader’s PLAN Quick Class: How to Start a Ukulele Program in your Library I set about starting a dulcimer program at my library.

The first thing I did was go to my local guitar store and see if they still carried any. They were actually in the process of downsizing. But they were able to tell me a little about what they watch out for with instruments and a couple brands they avoided as their workmanship was suspect. Armed with that information, I set off to the trusty internet. After a bit of looking and reading reviews, I found a company based in California who made dulcimers and sold them to schools and other places. I gave them a call, talked about what my goal was, and asked if their advertised price was one they would be willing to beat given I would need multiple. Thankfully, they were amenable to not only offering a price just a bit above cost, they were even willing to send a dulcimer over for me to inspect for quality — they were so sure of their product. So, sure enough their product met my expectations, and the library placed an order for some to be used in the program.

From there the library advertised the same way that it advertises everything: on the website, with a press release, flyers, and Facebook event.

After a few fits and starts, we have a steady, weekly, dulcimer class. Many students use our dulcimers, but a good few of the regulars have decided they wanted their own. Our routine seems to work pretty well at this point. Prior to class, I pick one song to work on with everyone based on their performance in weeks prior. I always have simpler songs on hand as well in case new people come in. Some patrons are so excited about the class they arrive early just to help set up and make sure the instruments are in tune.

When we start, the flow of the class is dictated by the attendees and their proficiencies. If it is mostly returning students I let them pick songs to warm up/review. I prefer encouraging us to play songs that we worked on in weeks prior so that some of the more modest players can see that they are indeed improving and making progress. After review, we move on to the new song for the evening. I may play the new song once so that everyone has an idea of what we are aiming for. If it is a very familiar song then I may skip the example part, and go straight to working through the song one measure at a time with everyone. If it is a small enough class, we will work on pieces together for the first half of the class in this fashion, while in the second half I’ll pull students aside and work with them individually so that they don’t get lost in the group.

This pattern seems to have served me well thus far. I’ve had patrons from elementary school on up in attendance, regulars are getting to the point where they help others in class and, without fail, new attendees always seem surprised by their progress by the end of the evening.

A few takeaways:

  • Do you remember the joke about the two men being chased by a bear where the punchline is one, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, just you?” You don’t have to be the best at anything to teach, you just have to stay ahead of the group. There are times when I stumble but patrons are there to have a good time, not question your proficiency.
  • Is there a: dulcimer, ukulele, underwater basket weaving group in your area? Check in with them before you get started! Groups are as varied as the people in them. Some groups are very set in their rhythm. They may not want to leave their cozy meeting space to be part of your program, but they sure have tips and input. I’ve yet to see a group that would put guarding their “territory” over spreading their passion.
  • Publicity: A local newspaper picked up that our library was giving lessons. After that article ran attendance skyrocketed. Is there a newspaper, blogger, media personality you know of?
  • This is one thing on the dulcimers I wish I had known before. I learned from Sarah Burris in the Northwest Regional Library system that cardboard dulcimers are a legitimate thing. Now these wouldn’t be ones that you’d send home with people but it is definitely a gateway or opportunity to test the waters.
  • Above all, have fun! Pick something you enjoy. If you enjoy x hobby, chances are you aren’t the only one.

[If you’re interested in more training on starting a music class at your library, come to the Library Essentials Conference: Community Engagement on April 12th where Sarah Burris from the Northwest Regional Library System will be providing a breakout session on “Music Classes at Your Library.”]

Read & Ride: Pedaling toward a Lifelong Love of Reading with Guest Blogger Sara Ratliff

By Guest Blogger Sara Ratliff, Innovation Specialist at Warrington Middle School (Escambia County)

Photo of a student reading and riding a stationery bikeEvery school year, I think about new ways to ignite a spark in dormant readers and re-energize the passion in active readers. My focus this year has been improving my students’ access to books, and one way I have done that is through a Read & Ride program in the library. By providing an area where my middle schoolers can read while they cycle on stationary exercise bikes, students have improved their focus, attention, and mood as they read.

I purchased two FitDesks and updated my audiobook collection with current titles. I chose FitDesks for several reasons: they are economical ($250 plus an inexpensive extended warranty); they make almost no noise; they are lightweight and can be easily relocated; and they can be adjusted for students who are under five feet tall. FitDesks also have workspaces so that students can read books or listen to audiobooks. The workspace also easily accommodates a tablet or laptop for ebook access.

Kids typically lead very physical lives, but as the academic workload intensifies in middle school, too much of students’ academic lives become sedentary. By combining exercise with reading, my students experience several health benefits. A reading workout on the FitDesk affects the brain by increasing serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline levels. The rush of neurotransmitters help students focus their attention and improve their reaction times. Students will return to class with more than just a library book; they will return with a more focused and attentive brain.  

Photo of a student reading and riding a stationery bikeThe FitDesks are equipped with performance meters so that students can track their time, speed, distance, and calories burned. A read & ride session typically lasts fifteen minutes, and the meters can be reset for each ride, except for the total mileage on the bike. Students can adjust the tension on the bike if they want an easy or difficult ride, but my students are instructed not to exceed 20 mph. Students are not limited to what they read or how they read it, but a very high speed makes it difficult to focus on the reading material. The performance meters make Read & Ride challenges possible. I held a Read & Ride competition for both students and teachers to win book fair gift certificates. The top three students and teachers from each grade with the most mileage won. Students are always eager to share their mileage with me after they get off the bikes, and I track the results in a spreadsheet. For the safety of the students, it’s best to inspect the nuts, screws, and knobs on the bikes on a weekly basis.

Stationary bikes are an easy way to implement fine forgiveness. My students are allowed to check out books even if they owe lost/damaged book fines, but I wanted to promote a fun way for them to take ownership of their education. Students can read & ride away lost/damaged book fines at the rate of $1.00 per mile. There are no reading logs that I have to keep track of, and I do not have to worry about whether students actually do the reading because they are reading in front of me. An amnesty program like this means that I do have to replace a lot of the same books every year. Providing my students with consistent access to quality books is worth the cost. If you are looking for a way to get students’ hearts pumping for literacy, invest in a Read & Ride program!

Wakulla County Public Library – Library of Things with Guest Blogger Robyn Drummond

By Robyn Drummond, Wakulla County Public Library

Photo of library of thingsI am so proud to say that the Wakulla County Public Library is not just books. Our library strives to provide services and programs that offer help, learning, and entertainment. Now the Library can help in a bold new way.

Enter the Library of Things. Need to trim a tree limb? Come check out a pole saw. Have family visiting with a small child? Come check out our portable toddler bed, our play pen, or our booster seat for your dining room table. Having a party? We have a pre-loaded karaoke machine and yard games like horseshoes, bean bag toss, and ladder toss. Want to try out camping but not sure that you are quite ready to commit? Check out our four-person tent and camping lanterns. Other items include yard tools, a pressure washer, a ukulele, badminton, stud finder, laser level, caulking gun, extension pole for painting, adult and child life vests, telescoping extension ladder (it will fit in the trunk of your car!), tools for digitizing VHS and cassette tapes, and so much more.

This exciting collection was purchased by funds through a Panhandle Library Access Network Innovation Project, and some items have even been donated by patrons. We hope to continue to add useful items to the collection as more funds become available.

Any adult (user agreement required) with a library card clear of overdue items and fines can check out items from the Library of Things. We ask that they only check out one item at a time, but we will consider multiple checkouts on a case-by-case basis. Checkout is for one week with no renewals. Wakulla County Public Library and the Library of Things: Why buy when you can borrow?

The Library of Things was so easy to start using our PLAN Innovation Project funding. We were only awarded about half of what we requested, but in a way, I am glad that is all we received. If we had been granted the full amount, we would have been overwhelmed.

Starting a Library of Things is simply as easy as polling your patrons to see what they need/want, purchasing the items, cataloging them, and putting them out for circulation. The challenges are finding somewhere to store them and figuring out the best way to tag them as library property in a tasteful way. We were able to premiere the Library of Things during our annual Take Your Child to the Library Day on Saturday, February 2nd. Things started checking out the very next week, and the people borrowing them expressed a great amount of gratitude about us being able to make these items available for them to use. We are always excited to be able to provide more services for our patrons, but this project has already been so very rewarding.

Our full list of currently available items includes

  • A Horseshoe Set
  • Karaoke Machine
  • Giant Connect Four
  • A Film and Slide Scanner
  • An LED Work Light
  • Child and Adult Life Vests
  • A Ukulele
  • A portable Badminton Set
  • VHS to DVD converter and VCR
  • Ladder Toss Game
  • A portable Playpen
  • Record Player
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Stud Finder
  • Laser Level
  • Extendable Paint Roller Handle
  • Shovel
  • Garden Hoe
  • Garden Rake
  • Post Hole Diggers
  • Four person Camping Tent
  • Vacuum Food Sealer
  • Bean Bas Toss games for adults and children
  • Booster Seat for dining table
  • Tile Cutter, Hedge Trimmers
  • Portable Toddler Bed
  • Pressure Cooker/Canner
  • Jumbo Checkers
  • Pole Saw
  • Metal Detector
  • Pressure Washer
  • Telescoping 12.5 foot Extension Ladder (that will fit in the trunk of a car!)
  • Giant Uno
  • Cassette to MP3 Converter
  • Caulking Gun
  • LED Camping Lanterns
  • A Portable Document and Image Scanner
  • Wrench Set
  • Dremel Engraver
  • A set of Two-Way Radios

We also have one really cool story about the Library of Things already. The first family that checked out the Metal Detector did so to find a time capsule that their son, who is about to graduate from high school, buried in their yard upon starting Kindergarten. They buried a metal bat over the top of it, but have no clue where they buried it. Library of Things to the rescue!

Team Library:  Library Staff CAN Proactively Influence Commuter Student Retention with Guest Blogger Maria Goodspeed

By Guest Blogger Maria Goodspeed, Pensacola State College

Enrollment for commuter colleges will continue to trend upward for the next several years. Encouraging news is that among these enrollees will be first generation and minority students, but quite disappointingly, a large percentage of commuter students will leave college before they complete their degree requirements. This statistic compels library staff to examine the role we collectively play in helping the cause of retaining these capable students, and it IS a cause. As the hub of many campuses, the library is where all students potentially intersect with faculty, with staff and, perhaps most essentially, with each other. The library is where students may make a connection that inspires them to stay the course. We should not underestimate the power of the influence a library can have on students, for the library is a community within itself.

It is a community where the environment and the effort of staff can make a difference in the outcome for all students. Investing in our students is investing in our community at large, and we must not only comprehend the gravity of our role, but we must also act.  While all library staff believes in the importance of our mission in helping all students excel, it is what we put into practice that can truly affect the results. We must ask ourselves, what are some practical ways in which we can help our students succeed?

First, we can actively work to combat costs for students. Cost is one of the leading factors in losing students, but libraries can aid in mitigating this problem in numerous ways. Enlisting faculty to have books on reserve will allow students to have free access to required materials. Actively communicating with departments in a liaison capacity will also result in obtaining relevant academic materials in the library. Traditional collection development techniques and collaboration with individual faculty members to ensure materials in circulation line up with course assignments is also beneficial.

In addition, increasing more modern efforts to acquire Ebooks will allow students to access material remotely and remove obstacles that transportation issues may cause commuter students. Influencing adoption of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and using programs such as LibGuides and Curriculum Builder would allow faculty to build their classes within a learning management system entirely utilizing free library resources. These are all viable and implementable solutions to help lessen costs for at risk students.

The need for excellence in our libraries can influence and drive the need for excellence in our students. Other ways we can work toward student success is to use best practices for research instruction, continually revising classes to maintain relevancy (fake news vs. academically sound resources) and working with colleagues to have a uniform presentation of material. Focusing on students’ needs with individualized help from reference desk, be it technical or research oriented can be a factor in helping students achieve in classes, one assignment at a time.

Yes, working to build liaison relationships with faculty, creating Research guides/LibGuides and pointedly ordering materials to support the curriculum takes a collective enthusiasm and effort amongst library staff to make it happen, but where student retention and success is our end game, when the effort is made, everybody wins.

Share Your Passion

Library staff members often wear many hats, especially in smaller libraries. But there is usually that one activity (i.e., youth services, genealogy, maker spaces) that sparks their creativity and passion. It’s what they most enjoy doing. It’s the topic that their conversations revolve around when they speak with colleagues at meetings or conferences. At a small library, there may be no one with whom they can brainstorm ideas. They may not be able to attend conferences to get new ideas. Perhaps they continue to do things the way they have always done them because they are not sure an idea will work.

PLAN Interest Groups offer library staff the opportunity to share ideas, ask questions, and learn about new resources. These groups also provide input to PLAN staff on training and projects. Online meetings allow staff to connect with others without leaving their library. Face-to-face meetings at PLAN conferences provide an opportunity to build relationships with staff from other libraries.

Participants in the Interest Groups also share information on PLAN’s Community Forums. Visit the Forums to view resources provided in the Interest Groups and discussions of other topics.

There are currently three PLAN Interest Groups: Marketing & Promotion, STEM, and Youth Services. Check the PLAN website for the next scheduled meeting. We would like to sponsor additional groups. If you would like to assist with an existing group or start a new group, please contact me. It’s not difficult, when people are passionate about what they do. For more information about PLAN Interest Groups, please visit our website.