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Partnering with your State Library

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Presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association annual meeting about a partnership we had with the Library of Virginia to promote collaboration between public librarians …

Presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association annual meeting about a partnership we had with the Library of Virginia to promote collaboration between public librarians and local emergency planners and community agencies.

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  • A couple of years ago, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine offered funding to anyone who could come up with an idea for providing outreach to community agencies supporting emergency preparedness and response activities.
  • Susan Yowell and I offered this idea. A meeting in Richmond where librarians, local emergency planners, and representatives from community agencies from all over the commonwealth could gather to discuss and develop roles for libraries and librarians. Our proposal went through the normal competitive review process, and was funded.
  • Now there are many libraries in Virginia. Most of these libraries are public libraries, and since we were promoting outreach to community agencies, it made sense that we target these libraries. And public libraries are a great place to bring people together. As Andrew Carnegie wrote, There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library…where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.
  • Visually, this is what we were hoping to achieve. Public library A might partner with their local American Red Cross to assist them with providing health care information at shelters. Library B might partner with their county’s Emergency Management Department for using the library’s annex as a backup command center. Librarians at Library C might partner with their Community Emergency Response Team to staff their disaster information help line. [Pause] Now, we don’t want you to think that this idea was in anyway new or groundbreaking. Other states had done similar programs so we saw ourselves as building on their successes.
  • Based on studying similar events, it seemed that the best path to success was to have at least two of the three elements on this slide: a strong network, a motivated audience, and a common geography. By network, we will use the definition of a group designed to function in a specific manner, as opposed to an association, which is composed of an organized body of people with a common interest, activity, or purpose. The distinction is important. The function of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, for example, is different than the Medical Library Association. The function of Lyrasis, a library network in our region, is different than the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of MLA. [Pause] Motivation. Motivation is usually generated by impending threats, such as an approaching hurricane, tornado reports in May, or an act of terrorism. Ideally, this type of outreach works best when motivation levels are high. In other words, a high tide is better than low tide. A rising tide is better yet. Finally, Geography. People like to share stories about shared events. People in coastal areas have different stories to tell than people in mountainous areas. People in Greenville, North Carolina have a different story to tell of Hurricane Irene than people in Winston-Salem. Those that live around the Pentagon or Shanksville, Pennsylvania, have a different story to tell about 9/11 than the rest of us. [Pause] The three elements: A strong network, motivation, and common geography. Where did we stand with our project?
  • No. We had yet to identify any network.
  • Motivation? Not good. This chart shows the number of monthly views on the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Toolkit from 2008 to September 2011. The four distinct peaks from left to right are, summer of 2009 pandemic, two winter snow storms in 2010, and, more recently, Hurricane Irene. Let’s take a break for a moment and talk about Irene. How many of you did any emergency preparedness planning or were aware of emergency planning activities at your library leading up to Hurricane Irene? How about pandemic planning activities back in the summer/fall of 2009? Why? Because you were motivated. How many of you did any emergency preparedness planning last week or plan to do some this week? The months that we were planning our event, circled here in red, represented a low interest period.
  • Traditionally, librarians aren’t motivated very much to partake in emergency preparedness activities, as hurricane season is wrapping up, snow storms are still a few months away, and tornado activity is low. This is a picture from yesterday’s roundtable luncheon. All tables were full except for the Disaster Planning for the Medical Library table. We live with peaks and valleys.
  • Geography? Remember, we were planning one meeting in Richmond. Yes, centrally located, but we did not take in account different regions with different stories. This map shows the many different regions in Virginia, from the coastal areas, to the Piedmont, across the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the valley region, and then mountains again. Holding one meeting in Richmond would likely exclude nearly half of the state. [Pause] Therefore, when we added it up, we had zero elements. All was not lost, though, because we soon discovered a very valuable partner.
  • That partner was the Library of Virginia. And the face of the Library of Virginia was Cindy Church, continuing education consultant, who is here with us today. According to the Internet, and the Internet does not lie, the Library of Virginia offers consultation support to more than 300 public libraries as well as library staff in state agencies, schools, colleges, museums, corporations, and private organizations throughout Virginia. A very wide net, indeed.
  • So I gave Cindy a call and we met one morning at her office. I can still vividly remember Cindy sitting behind her desk listening pensively as I talked about our plan. When Cindy began to talk, I realized that her gift was not of gold, but of wisdom and experience. As she continued to speak it became clear that we had found the perfect partner. We now had a communication channel, a marketing tool, a registration system, and logistics support. Cindy would announce the event, register attendees, secure a facility, and even handle evaluations. All of that while wielding the influential power of the Library of Virginia, the sponsor of the event. By the end of our meeting we decided that three events were be better than one, as public librarians are very busy and have little or no travel money. This strategy also allowed us to address the geographic element, and we went about designing meeting content of regional interest. [Pause] Within a short period of time, we had gone from zero elements to two: a strong network and a consideration of geography. Motivation, we had little control of. But we had two of three, and a new sense of enthusiasm.
  • The three events were held in Richmond, Christiansburg, and Hampton. The first meeting, in Richmond, targeted central and Piedmont Virginia, and featured Rebecca Hamilton, the State Librarian of Louisiana. She spoke about the roles the State Library and other public libraries played in their state in response to Hurricane Katrina. This meeting was designed to flesh out potential roles that libraries and librarians could play, creating a foundation for the other two meetings. The second meeting was held in Christiansburg, targeting southwest Virginia. This event featured Neal Turner, one of the first responders to arrive at the Virginia Tech shooting. He presented a compelling story about the events of that morning and the many partnerships that developed. The final meeting, in Hampton, targeted the Tidewater area. Theresa Blakeslee, coordinator for the Peninsula Medical Reserve Corps, spoke of their activities protecting the health of people in the Tidewater area. [Pause] At each meeting, local stories were shared and partnerships were developed.
  • And outcomes were achieved. Librarians identified new skills, and community agencies and planners were made aware of the interest and value of libraries and librarians in emergency preparedness and response.
  • To summarize, we encourage all of you to be active in outreach. It is a very rewarding endeavor and can create exiting partnerships. As you embark upon outreach look for a strong network, a motivated audience, and be cognizant of geography. If you are outreaching to the public, consider a partnership with your state library.
  • A cursory look at state libraries in our region shows that there are a variety of models. Some states, such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina have actual state library buildings, while Maryland’s state system functions through a city library, Pratt Library in Baltimore. The District of Columbia has a main library and 23 branches. West Virginia, on the other hand, has a library commission, not a building. What this means is that you may be challenged to find the Cindy Church in your state. However, if you search you will discover; if you look you will see.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Dan Wilson, Susan Yowell, Claude Moore Health Sciences LibraryUniversity of Virginia
      Cindy Church, The Library of Virginia
      Partnering with Your State Library to Provide Outreach Services to Public Libraries and Community Agencies
      2011 MAC/MLA Annual Meeting
      Richmond, Virginia
    • 2. Background
      … provide outreach to develop partnerships with libraries/librarians and community agencies supporting emergency preparedness and response.
    • 3. The Proposal
      Hold a meeting in Richmond and invite librarians, local emergency planners, and representatives from community agencies all over the state to develop new roles for libraries and librarians in emergency preparedness and response.
    • 4. Libraries in Virginia
      encourage librarians to outreach to local emergency planners and non-government organizations
    • 5. Andrew Carnegie
      There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the free public library…where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.
    • 6. Ideal Plan
    • 7. Elements of a Successful Partnership
      Strong network
      Network: A group designed to function in a specific manner.
      Association: An organized body of people who have an interest, activity, or purpose in common.
      Motivation (Impending threats, hurricanes, etc.)
      Outreach works best when motivation levels are high
      Geography
      Share stories about shared events
    • 8. 1. Strong Network?
    • 9. 2. Motivation?
    • 10. 2011 MAC Roundtable Luncheon
    • 11. 3. Geography?
    • 12. Library of Virginia
      Cindy Church
      Continuing Education Consultant
      Professional consultation and support is given to more than 300 public libraries in Virginia, as well as to library staff in state agencies, schools, colleges, museums, corporations, and private organizations throughout Virginia. 
    • 13. Cindy’s Contributions
      Marketing
      Cultural awareness
      Communications channel
      Registration
      Logistics
    • 16. Achieved Outcomes
      Librarians identified skills for assisting their communities in emergency preparedness and response.
      Community and public health planners were made aware of libraries’ interests in emergency preparedness.
    • 17. Value of a Network
      Marketing
      Cultural awareness
      Communications channel
      Registration
      Logistics
    • 18. State Libraries
    • 19. Dan Wilson, Assoc. Dir. Coll & Lib Services,
      University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library danwilson@virginia.edu
      Susan Yowell, Historical Collections Specialist,
      University of Virginia Claude Moore Health Sciences Library syowell@virginia.edu
      Cindy Church, Continuing Ed. Consultant
      Library of Virginia
      cindy.church@lva.virginia.gov
      Contact Information