Thursday, February 9, 2017

Love Letters for the Library

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the February 9, 2017 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

 It’s no secret that many of you love the Morrill Memorial Library. We receive compliments each day – at all the desks of the library – from many of you.

Often, we hear it on Norwood’s community Facebook page, Norwood Now. You praise us for the print books and magazines we have in the library. You love the streaming and downloading services we offer 24/7. You are thrilled that we now offer appointments for passport and notary services.

You attend and applaud our children’s and adult programs and make appointments for our technology training from our staff who solve problems for you every day. You recommend our Outreach services to the homebound and public-assisted housing, and you commend our amazing literacy programs and services.  Finally, you appreciate the varied answers to most of the questions you can think to ask. Remember, if we don’t already know the answer, our talented and educated reference staff who will try to find it for you.

Each year, around this time, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners fights for additional funding for libraries. You already know that the Town of Norwood generously funds the library (all 360 towns in Massachusetts rely on local funding for basic library services), but are you aware  that we rely on state support too? That funding awards grants so that we can provide innovative programming (for example, Norwood Reads in 2013-2014 and the children’s STEAM programs in 2015-2016.) The Commonwealth also provides the State Aid to Public Libraries grant that we receive each year (if we meet the regulatory and statutory requirements.) That grant allows us to offer terrific programs such as Titles on Tap, our many movie series, and fantastic technology additions to our collection such as ROKU steaming players, Wi-Fi hotspots, digital downloads.  And so, so much more.

            The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, or MBLC, is the agency of our Commonwealth that has the responsibility to develop and improve library services for Massachusetts residents. The nine commissioners and the MBLC staff have a mission to provide each and every resident equal access to the resources that the library has to offer in every town across the state.

            State budget lines not only pay to staff and fund the MBLC, but they provide necessary funds for online resources, for the talking book libraries for the blind at Perkins and Worcester, for digital resources, and for additional funding for the nine library networks across the state (Minuteman is ours, for instance.) State funding pays for 100% of the operating costs for the Massachusetts Library System, a cooperative that provides training for library staff, fosters innovation in all libraries, and nurtures cooperation between all types of libraries (public, academic, law, medical, school, etc.) Most importantly for most of Norwood’s library users, the Massachusetts Library System operates the free service known as delivery – sharing books and other materials between libraries in the state. If you request an item from another library, the delivery service provides the sort and travel to you and back to the home library.

            Won’t you take a minute or so to send a little love to the state senators and legislators to thank them for their support? Let’s face it - we know that there is only one funding pie.  All agencies and services in the Commonwealth are fighting for its share. Legislators in the State House have tough decisions to make and letting them know how much you appreciate us is important to them.

            I’m proud to serve on several of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners task forces and committees and I’ve been a member of the Public Relations Advisory Committee since 2006. We are the ones responsible for getting the word out about libraries –letting every resident know about the library jewels in their town.

            This February, it’s time for us all to thank our legislators for their past, present and future support of libraries. That’s why we are hoping you’ll show a little love for us. We have valentines all ready for you to send so that you can praise us to them.  Those valentines will be on the delivery vans to Boston where they will then be delivered to legislators around Valentine’s Day by staff at the MBLC.

You can also visit lovemasslibraries dot com and fill out the online version and tell them why you love YOUR library. As that website says: “During our busy everyday lives, we don’t always get a chance to let our libraries know how much we care about them. And we rarely take the time to share that with our state legislators.” Why do you love visiting your library? Is it a smiling face at one of our desks? Is it the cozy reading room? Or perhaps the fantastic selection of items you can borrow? What critical service does it provide to you or your family? Is it free internet and Wi-Fi? Incredible educational or entertaining programs offered almost every day of the week? Or answers to your many questions?

            Please share a little of your love for us! #LibraryLovers on Facebook.