Library of Michigan Dispatch Newsletter November 2016

November, 2016

1. Turning Outward

Randy Riley, State Librarian

by Randy Riley, State Librarian

Helping Michigan libraries find new and improved ways to engage with their communities has been a priority of the Library of Michigan’s (LM) for the last several years. We have successfully partnered with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to help LM better understand what libraries need statewide. We have also worked with MCLS and Harwood to provide 100 librarians with the opportunity to participate in the Public Innovators Lab workshops to better prepare them to conduct community conversations. As a profession, we have traditionally been good at telling people what they need, but not so good at asking them what they want us to be and then becoming it. The Public Innovator Labs are one good way to better prepare libraries of all types and sizes to organize these conversations and discover how they can change their image into something more than book warehouses.

At the recent MLA Annual Conference, I had the privilege to recognize Amanda McLaren, the director of the Benzonia Public Library, and her staff as the recipient of the 2016 State Librarian’s Excellence Award. Besides bragging rights, they received an impressive trophy and a $2,000 “cash prize” made possible by a donation of Roger Mendel in memory of his wife June. Benzonia is a rural Class 1 library with a budget smaller than $100,000. However, it is a living, breathing example of a library that is fully engaged with the people it serves daily. 

There is a motivation and passion demonstrated by the staff that is drawn directly from the community and as a result, the community provides wonderful volunteers, informed users and shared support of the library’s central place within the community. It is refreshing to see the novel approach the staff takes in creating new programs and services; they simply ask the community what programs it wants. Benzonia Public Library has created a culture where it would be unthinkable to not be at the table when the community comes together to discuss challenges.

The library profession is rapidly changing. It is a constant battle to keep up. Moving forward libraries must do more to be viewed as problem-solvers changing how communities work together. The Harwood Public Innovator Labs are one way of doing this, but it is essential that librarians get out of their buildings and start interacting with the communities they serve, like Benzonia has done. 

We are the voices that will change how our libraries are viewed within our communities. Start today. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and ask patrons, chambers of commerce, local leaders, and schools what aspirations they have for your community and then work with them to make change happen. The important work we do every day will become even more apparent when these conversations get rolling.

2. Collaboration in Action: Troy and Bloomfield Township Libraries Meet To Network and Learn about Library Security


by Cathleen Russ, Director, Troy Public Library


The joint Troy Public Library (TPL) – Bloomfield Township Public Library (BTPL) staff in-service day featured Black Belt Librarian author Warren Graham. He discussed library security and how staff can approach uncomfortable situations with awareness and cautious confidence. There was also time for information-sharing between staff from both libraries.

"Cathy Russ, the director at Troy, and my Assistant Director Tera Moon, both heard Warren speak recently. We commented to each other how our staffs could benefit from hearing his practical tips," explained Carol Mueller, BTPL director.

"Our staff training goals often exceed our staff training budget," said Troy assistant director Phillip Kwik. "Coordinating our training efforts with Bloomfield Township helped us offer expertise we might not have been otherwise able to offer."

For the in-service, the libraries divided their staff by departments. In the morning, some departments heard Graham, while others toured the Troy facility and met with their peers from the other library. In the afternoon, the groups switched, so that everyone could learn from the presenter, as well as from each other.

"Feedback from our staff was overwhelmingly positive," said Tera Moon, assistant director at Bloomfield Township. "Several told me it was the best in-service ever. People really liked spending time with the Troy staff. It was educational for everyone."

Both libraries are exploring ways to continue to work together on joint programs for their staff.

3. MeL Business Portal

Deb Biggs Thomas

by Deb Renee Biggs, Library Consultant & MeL Coordinator, LM

Michigan eLibrary (MeL) Business was successfully launched this past July 2016. It is a complete redesign of the former Business Gateway and features a video series designed to assist entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses. MeL Business offers everything from subscription resources available at no cost to all Michigan residents to targeted websites which cover “How To”, “Business Support” and “Social Media”.  A short four video series helps users to understand how MeL Business has helped Michigan entrepreneurs and those who work with them, specifically librarians and business support providers. These videos are engaging and they can be shared. They can also be found on MeL’s YouTube channel.

Directly linked on the MeL Business homepage are six resources that can assist entrepreneurs to Start, Grow, Support and Succeed.  They are:  BusinessDecision, DemographicsNow, Small Business Resource Center, Business Insights: Global, Gale Virtual Reference Library: Business Collection, and Gale LegalForms

Click on the “How To” tab just above these resources and scroll down to find “Helpful Links” which include additional tutorials and training information specifically for BusinessDecision and DemographicsNow.

Public, academic and school libraries can take an active role in helping with and providing resources that support economic development in their communities. Academic and school libraries can help train students to become future entrepreneurs and corporate employees able to use research tools for their businesses.  Public libraries can assist their patrons interested in opening a business or those who want to take existing businesses to the next level. MeL Business is your launchpad.

For more information about MeL Business email:

4. Continuing Your Education Courtesy of the LM and the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Evette Atkin

by Evette Atkin, Continuing Education Coordinator, LM

Did you know that you may be eligible to participate in a continuing education event for little or no cost?  The LM always has strived to support libraries’ efforts to provide quality service and programming to their communities. A major element of excellent service is empowering library staff to learn and implement new skills and best practices. Because of this, the LM, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has implemented the Librarian Continuing Education (CE) program. This program provides financial support for approved library staff who wish to participate in CE via the reimbursement of allowable expenses up to the amount of $1500.

Michigan public, academic and school library staff are eligible to apply for continuing education stipends. A maximum one CE stipend per fiscal year may be awarded to each individual. Program details and criteria can be found in our Program Criteria document.

Applications may be submitted quarterly, up to the last business day of March, June, September, or December for a CE event that is AFTER the quarterly submission deadline. You will be notified of the funding decision within two weeks of the last business day of the quarterly submission deadline. Successful applicants will be required to sign and return an agreement form within two weeks of notification of the award.

After attending the event, you must submit a reimbursement form, receipts and a required article or presentation no later than 30 days after the end of the event to receive reimbursement. Within 30 days of submission of the reimbursement form, the LM will notify the attendee of the final approved amount. Libraries MUST be a State of Michigan vendor to receive funds.

5. How to Make a Collaborative Library Project Work


by Lisa Waskin, Director, Superior District Library

The initial reason for considering a collaborative enterprise is the perception that there is a need.  Participants see the possibility of pooling resources – intellectual, technical and financial – to make a purchase or develop a program with benefits to the user community that override local autonomy.  Once you have an idea, leaders of any collaborative effort need to convince all stakeholders that more can be accomplished by working together and that there is a benefit to the user community by pooling resources in a formal agreement.

Sounds fabulous, right?  But is forming a collaboration with another library right for you?  There are four key questions to ask when deciding on whether to do a collaborative project:

  1. Is there a benefit for all the participants? 
  2. And likewise - is there a mutual risk for all parties?    
  3. Do you have the commitment of the organizations’ leaders?  And,
  4. Is more being accomplished jointly than could be individually? 

If the answer to all of these is yes, then it is time to take the next step in creating a mutually beneficial collaborative relationship. 

In the case of the Bayliss Public Library and the Kenneth J. Shouldice Library at Lake Superior State University (LSSU), we had two libraries sharing the same community. Both libraries had limited budgets and a defined patron base. Or did they? By creating a joint library card and sharing programs and resources, these two diverse library communities could meet a need in Sault Ste. Marie that maybe people weren’t even aware existed. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, each library focused on their strengths and let the other organization pick up their slack. For example, a university library’s focus is generally non-fiction research and databases – all very costly items in the library world.  On the other hand, the public library focus is more on families, leisure reading and entertainment through programs and materials. 

By working together, these two entities did not waste valuable time, staff and resources trying to copy what each other already was doing well. And by creating a joint library card and promoting each other, each facility became richer and the perception in the community was that all of its literary needs were being met by the Sault Ste. Marie library "system."  It indeed was a win-win-win for all involved.

6. Your LM

Matt Pacer

by Matt Pacer, Reference Librarian, LM

There are many new and interesting things happening at the LM. First things first: events. The LM hosts the Clark Historical Library's Native Treaties Shared Rights Exhibit November 5 - December 22, 2016. It will be located in the Lake Erie Room on the second floor. Later in November, Randy Asplund, demonstrates book illumination as part of Silver Bells in the City, the annual holiday event in Lansing. Please check our website for date, time, and location. January starts off with a great presentation on Private Book Collecting: Beginning Basics. Please stay tuned to our website for date and time.

We constantly are  adding new and new to us books, pamphlets, maps, etc. to our collections. There are some really good recent additions. If you are interested in railroad history, we now offer a wonderful collection of books, newsletters, and magazines. 

You may ask yourself, what else have we done? Our microfilm move is complete. Our newspaper microfilm all is located in one spot nearer the microfilm viewers and reader/printers. If you are on Instagram, please check out and follow #mimondays - a fun hashtag about items in our collection. Also, please check us out on Facebook and on the LM website. There’s always something new to read.

7. Much Ado About the Fair Labor Standards Act

Clare Membiela

by Clare Membiela, Library Law Specialist, LM

Worried about the updated overtime regulations that are due to go into effect on December 1, 2016? Here are some basic facts and links to information that may make it easier to determine if the changes will affect your library.

These amendments only affect professional, executive and administrative employees (typically referred to as “white collar workers.”). They do not effect part-time workers (who, regardless of type, are eligible for overtime [including compensatory time] if they work more than 40 hours in a week.)

The revised regulation raises the salary ceiling for overtime eligibility from $455 per week to $913 per week (from about $24,000 annually to about $48,000 annually). For comparison, the 2016 Federal Poverty guideline is about $24,000 for a family of four).

These updates amend existing regulations that determine if an employee is Exempt (not entitled to any overtime compensation) or Non-Exempt (entitled to overtime pay or compensatory time = to 1.5 times salary or time over 40 hours a week).

An employer must consider three separate tests when determining if an employee is exempt:

1.     Salaried Basis Test - Employee has a fixed and predetermined salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work.

2.     Salary Level Test - Paid more than a specified salary level, which is $913 per week (the equivalent of $47,476 annually for a full-year worker).

3.     Duties Test -  The types of work the employee does, the responsibilities the position requires, and the educational or certification requirements for the position.

Text of the Salary & Duties tests, via the DoL, Wage & Hours division Fact Sheet 17A (note that the sheet is dated 2008 – which is current for the duties tests, which were not affected by the updated rule. However, the salary numbers on this sheet have not yet been updated to reflect the upcoming changes).

For additional information, see:

This information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not meant to be considered legal advice. Determination of an employee’s status is one that should be made in collaboration with your attorney or HR professional. 

8. The 24th Annual Letters About Literature Contest is Now Open

Cathy Lancaster

by Cathy Lancaster, Youth Services Librarian, LM

As Nathaniel Hawthorne so elegantly wrote in The Scarlet Letter, "She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom." I read it in the ninth grade and while many in my class moaned and groaned, and quite frankly hated it, I was absorbed into the world of Salem, Massachusetts in 1642. Absorbed into the plight of Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl. It was an awakening to examine how the world has, or has not, changed in our treatment of women in the centuries since. Now the details of the plot and much of the book itself have faded from my memory, but I definitely recall the impact the book and its author had on my view of the world.

"How did an author’s work change your view of the world or yourself?" is this year’s Letters About Literature (LAL) contest theme. It is designed to encourage students to select a fiction or nonfiction book, a poem or play that gave them strong feelings. LAL asks students to reflect on how the work changed them, how they knew of its effect and why they or their view is different. Finally students are asked to write a personal letter to the author supporting their ideas with specific details. Deadlines for submissions are December 2, 2016, for Grades 9-12, and January 9, 2017, for Grades 7-8 & 4-6. Details, resources and submission forms can be found on the LM website or at

A committee of volunteers will select Michigan finalists in early spring and those selections will be sent to the National level for award consideration. We are looking forward to learning what books and authors are inspiring and opening our students' minds today. 

9. Libraries Transform Campaign at the Ferndale Area District Library

Libraries Transform

by Jeff Milo, Ferndale Area District Library

Participating in the Libraries Transform campaign this summer was such a morale boost for myself and the Ferndale Area District Library. Camaraderie and common cause between our neighboring members in the The Library Network of Oakland County was reinforced and strengthened for the foreseeable future when we forged a joint public awareness campaign through press releases, social media posts and blogs, that promoted our efforts to help transform communities through access to information and enriching programs.

The public libraries of Ferndale, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Hazel Park, Southfield, and Oak Park each used the resources of the Libraries Transform online toolkit for display or distribution in their main space. Each also promoted “the 5 E’s” at the core of the campaign: Empowerment, Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Engagement. Since we had six libraries in our team, we added a sixth E: Entertainment. Each social media post or blog essay provided concrete examples demonstrating how this aspect of library service substantially enriches each of their communities.

Here at the Ferndale Library, we printed our own 20”x 23” posters from the campaign in vivid color and framed them in the Corridor Gallery. Once patrons saw that, they came to the circulation desk with positive remarks, or they inquired about the nature of the campaign, creating a perfect opportunity to converse with them. Then we invited patrons to fill out note cards with personal messages declaring why they personally believed libraries matter more than ever in the digital age. We collected these on a board near our main entrance. We also received support from local businesses in our Instagram campaign to offer gift cards as prizes.

We’ll celebrate the spirit of this advocacy campaign all year long, while encouraging everyone to share their own personal stories or perspectives on how libraries have helped change their lives or communities.