Director’s Report: January 2021
I drafted, submitted, and reduced the Library budget of $959,336 for FY22. The Custodian position has been removed and a Facilities manager position has been recommended to the Building Department. This full-time employee would deploy staff to the library for regular cleaning and maintenance and special projects. Further reductions are likely coming.
I continued to manage and oversee COVID-19 protocol, no-contact curbside pickups, and remote services for the Library, and participated in construction and building committee meetings and activities in January.
We renewed the Freegal digital music subscription. Borrowers can stream up to three hours of music per day and download up to three songs per week to keep! Visit https://grafton.freegalmusic.com/ to set up a free account.
In other music news, our technical services librarian has been working to make our CD music collection more user friendly, and today staff took the final step of alphabetizing genres. Now, instead of deciphering labels against a chart, the collection has common genres like Opera and Pop-Rock instead of Q or MA.
I’ve been dealing with a procurement issue; we wanted to continue working with our magazine vendor, but they are not on the state contract, so we asked them to hold off on purchasing on our behalf until we were confident they were low bidder and they agreed and then pushed the order through. Legal council is helping us to address this issue.
I started working on our Annual report. January Social Media Metrics got their own report this month, thanks to Allison Cusher for providing a report and stats (including on the Infographic).
January kicked off our winter session of Young Scientists presented by STEM Beginnings and sponsored by the YFCP through grant funding. We noticed that the fall session’s attendance was low, so we moved the program back to the typical Monday morning spot and have seen an increase in program participation.
Our Friday Fun half day activities for school aged children continued in January. This month’s activities included distributing 50 Baby Yoda puppet kits, 40 foam lightsaber bookmark kits, 30 Borax Crystal Snowflake STEM kits, and a live zoom mystery reader virtual visit.
As we continue to celebrate our Star Wars Winter Reading Program, this month we offered a special all ages Cookie Decorating kit where registrants got all the supplies needed to create 6 Star Wars themed cookies. 40 kits were offered for this sweet winter program. Only a few reading programs on Beanstack are tracking books read, and most current challenges involve activities to earn badges.
Preschool visits continued this month with a focus on winter and snow! Songs, rhymes, and stories were shared with each of GPS preschool classes virtually.
This month the children’s department attended the Discovery Museum Speaker Series session Talking to Kids About Race and Racism: A Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, President Emerita of Spelman College, moderated by Tiziana Dearing, Host of WBUR’s Radio Boston. This free virtual session is now available online for anyone wishing to be a part of this important discussion.
In January we held an at home cookie decorating program with Star Wars themed cookie kits from The Cookie Lady’s Daughter (located in Millbury). The people we heard from had a lot of fun and thought the cookies were delicious. This program was supposed to be paid from by a grant, but as we have not heard back, we decided to fund it from programming. We are hoping that if we do receive the grant to offer a similar program in June with a summer reading Tails & Tales theme.
In addition to the General and Teen newsletters, Allison helped Sarah and Jen with Constant Contact to set up a Children’s newsletter and is hoping to transfer ownership of the General newsletter to another staff member, as Beanstack requires more of her time.
A search for teens interested in joining a Teen Advisory Group to help plan programs, give feedback, and share their opinions is underway. Email email@example.com if you are a teen in grades 6-12 interested in serving. We are waiting for the building design team to give me some options on fabrics and materials to be used in the teen and tween space to share with the group.
The Crescent Manor outreach program, which we had conducted in a socially distanced format, has been suspended due to the pandemic; we were saddened to learn in February that they have lost five residents to COVID-19.
Homebound delivery has increased by 25% – we had 6 before the pandemic are up to 8 recipients. One person was COVID-19 positive, and another kept missing curbside due to a lack of vehicle, so we dropped off items. Susan Leto reports “During January we had 4 delivery days, with a total of 42 books and audiobooks delivered to 8 different patrons. One volunteer has resumed delivery, on the 4th week of the month, and I’ve been doing the other weeks. I’ve found the time I spend on my phone conversations with these ladies has at least doubled, as they are isolated and really look forward to our weekly calls.”
No volunteers, due to our Red Zone status. In 2020, 30 unique volunteers donated 286 hours of service shelving library materials, delivering items to homebound patrons, completing clerical tasks and other activities. We are not currently accepting new volunteers and have suspended the program with the change in COVID status to red. Thank you to all over our volunteers!
In the month of January, we put out 749 bags. January 11 was the biggest day, at 66! We have been managing the winter curbside system without any big problems. When it is raining, we put the bags inside “clear” plastic bags. If the shelves are wet, we cover them with plastic bags underneath the paper bags. So far, we’ve been plowed and shoveled so patrons can access the porch, thank you to DPW and the Building Department.
Heidi facilitated the following virtual book discussion groups for adults online via Slack:
- “Not Just for Young Adults” Book Discussion Group met to discuss The Sound of Stars, by Alechia Dow
- Daytimers Book Group met to discuss Before She Was Helen, by Caroline B. Cooney
- GPL Mystery Book Group met to discuss The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker
“Reads Well with Others” Adult Book Discussion Group met to discuss Gravity is the Thing, by Jaclyn Moriarty
- The “Inspirational Book Club” met to discuss Creativity Rules: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World, by Tina Seelig
Heidi put together a LOT of bookbags for people!
265 items were added in December. Donna is working on replacing faded spine labels and shortening over-long call numbers in adult non-fiction. Evergreen database clean-up is ongoing.
Susan Leto and Donna Bates-Tarrant both presented letters of intent to retire in June 2022 by the December 31, 2020 deadline. Susan has already conducted one training session for Allie and Sandhya on ILLs, both Clio and ComCat, with Sandhya has been processing them on her onsite days. Donna spent intensive time evaluating our current acquisitions procedures and has no recommendations at this time; we are cost-effective, speedy, and efficient! I appreciate their work in beginning to plan for succession and making sure procedures are up to date.
Thank you to Sandhya Shenoy, Allie Picone, Ranjita Hegde and Jane Burough for helping to fill gaps left by Jan Parise’s retirement.
Beth Patch DeBord resigned this month, Feb 18, from her administrative assistant position. Her work on special projects, including the library garden, will be missed, and we wish her only the best.
I attended the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference, attending sessions on core technology trends that included troublesome tech trends such as deep fakes, video surveillance, voice biometric surveillance, disaster capitalism and privacy concerns; library worker wellness initiatives; library responses to COVID-19; virtual professional development; advocacy; anti-racism work; racial injustice; and the youth media awards (visit ala.org/yma for all the winners!)
This year, Michaela Goade became the first Native American artist to win the prestigious Caldecott medal for best illustration in a book for children for her book We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. A variety of publishers hosted virtual author visits and booktalks that inform library purchasing decisions. Keynote speakers included author Ethan Hawke, groundbreaking and award-winning actor Cicely Tyson, the US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and closing speaker Dr. Jill Biden.
I began planning our March professional development day. We are looking forward to a webinar on self-care and a Laughter Yoga session via Zoom! The Library will be closed to remote assistance all day on Friday, March 12 and will get back to patrons on Saturday 13; we will offer curbside pickup.
I have been invited to speak on the topic of Self-Care at the National Library of Medicine’s 3-day symposium, BLOSSOM, in March.
Staff attended professional development sessions on:
- C/WMARS Catalogers Connect on Zoom
- Director’s Round Table
- Penguin/Random House Book Buzz
- UN Sustainable Development Goals: Libraries in Action (Bibliotheca)
- Filling Your Cup During COVID-19: Self Care Practices in Librarianship (NNLM)
- Race and Childbirth in America (Waltham Public Library)
- Admin 101 (Ingram)
- Talking to Kids about Race & Racism: A Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum Moderated by Tiziana Dearing. Part of the Discovery Museum Speaker Series
- Graphic Novel Showcase: Titles for Young Readers Coming this Spring
- Filling Your Cup During COVID: Self-Care Practices in Librarianship (National Library of Medicine)
“Yes, I will keep your books outside until 4:20 so you can pick them up on your way to church.”
No one anywhere seems to own I Like Art…What Jobs are There? by Susie Hodge.
1/28 “I’ve been reading a lot. I wish more people would.”
1/28 “Can’t wait to be back.”
1/26 “Thank you for all that you do in connecting me with books.”
1/26 A note left for us: “Hello, Shame on me for not doing this sooner. When I picked up books on Saturday I about cried when I saw my books so lovingly cared for. Thank you.”
1/23 “I just wanted to say thank you to Cyndi for going above the call of duty to get the Yoda puppet for my son after the pick-up day. He absolutely LOVED it.
1/16 “Wow! What a great selection (Heidi picked out mystery books for a patron. I am looking forward to not only enjoyable reading, but also meeting some new authors.”).
1/14 “This is my first time picking up materials [curbside pickup]. I’ve been using Hoopla a lot. But my friend said I should sign up for Libby. It’s a whole new world for me. 🙂 We loved the Frosty Stop bags. They were great! We haven’t even done all the crafts yet.”
1/13 “… thanks for your help. I don’t know what we would do without our public library! We are very fortunate.”
1/12 “Merry Xmas to us and thank you SO much! You’ve outdone yourself….it feels like we have a whole section of the library right here!! Please feel free to go a little wild any old time ok? You’re the best!”
1/12 “I miss coming into the library to volunteer. Hopefully next year!”
1/12 “It’s like Christmas to get a [curbside pickup] bag from you! *smile*”
1/11 “Thanks again [my son] will be so happy! You made our day.” (Helped update son’s library account)
1/9 “I’m grateful we were able to use the card we were issued in Holden to check books out in both Grafton and Westborough since moving to N. Grafton – it’s nice that the libraries are so connected!”
1/9 “It worked! Thank you so much! You just prevented a stressful Monday of online learning with my girls.” (Hoopla / library account help)
1/5 “Thanks again for helping us stay busy and enjoying reading the books you (Heidi) picked for us.”
12/30 “I so enjoyed all the good mysteries that Heidi Fowler picked out for me (each one was a treat). I am a new Harlan Coben fan!…” -one of your loyal patrons…”