March 09, 2005

CA State Librarians Webcast

Libraryman’s notes from today’s: State Librarian's Quarterly Webcast

Webcast: March 9, 2005
Time: Noon - 1:00 PST
Speaker: CA State Librarian, Susan Hildreth

I don’t recall meeting Susan previously, so this was my first time hearing her present. Naturally she comes to the job with the prerequisite impressive work experience and qualifications . As a new Californian reading her bio, I could help but chuckle at: “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Susan Hildreth State Librarian of California in July 2004”. I’m sure the thought of him as governor will lose it’s novelty soon enough, but at this point it still cracks me up a little bit. Besides, how many librarians we appointed to any position by an actor, let alone this guy! At any rate, going into the presentation I wasn’t sure what to expect. Happily it was an informative and pleasant experience.

With our spiffy computers and fast connection at work, the Real Player interface worked pretty flawlessly. Image and sound quality were fair, though they were acceptable and comfortable enough to not be annoying.

Susan started off mentioning that this was their inaugural Webcast. She mentioned that her position hasn’t been officially confirmed yet (ah, the joy of politics). She mentioned that the office wasn’t exactly as homey as she wanted when she moved in and she has been sprucing up the place. Susan talked about her career as a Librarian, starting on the east coast (NY and NJ) moving to Davis, CA in 1980 moving to Venetia (?) in the mid 80’s. At this job she initiated the issuance of library cards, an interesting experience involving letters to the editor protesting the new cards. **edit** From Susan, clarifying for me: "The city I worked in was Benicia, a small town in southern Solano County that has become a SF suburb, one of the first capitols of California and one of the first US military installations on the west coast." Spoken like a true librarian! :) **edit**

Placard (?) Co., then Sacramento Library jobs followed. An MBA from Rutgers topped off her MLS. Susan was the Library Development Services Bureau of the State Library for a couple of years in the late 90’s. Leaving that job for the San Francisco Library where Mayor Brown would later install her as City Librarian. In SF a voter initiative was passed to renovate all libraries, an accomplishment she is especially proud of.

The job of the State Library:
The California State Library overseas six bureaus of the Library. Susan also must also personally support many initiatives, but publicly and behind the scenes.

The CA State Lib has several “bureaus”
The Cal State Library Research Bureau- Provides non partisan research for governmental officials
Office of Lib Construction- Includes issues relating to prop 14 bond acts. With a new initiative up in 2006.
Library Development Services- Responsible for distributing funds LSTA, etc. Manages state library grants from here. InfoPeople (awesome!) LII (to know them is to love them), funding comes from here. For 05-06 competitive grants are available locally and state wide from this bureau.

Primary clientele of the State Library is the state legislature but they also serve the public. Special collections units include, gov docs, law library, and genealogy collection in SF. Also host CA Cultural and Historical Project, which dolls out funding for historical project. Leads Prop 14 and Cal endowment board.

Susan’s first priority is to advocate for State Library. With recent budget cuts, she has to work hard to streamline. Communication of news is a top priority. The CA State Library on-line newsletter is called Connections(s?) and Friday March 11 is the first on-line pub date for this document.

Other Duties and Priorities of the State Library and its Director:

Strategic planning to create a flexible, community focused organization is a top priority.

21st Cent Libraries – Libraries have embraced the Internet. People understand why we need librarians. People understand the need for librarians. Provision of lib services changes with public consumption of information. We must be vigilant to change and be in constant contact with the communities we serve and are a part of. Community service is absolutely vital. This will be different in every community. Knowing what to do where is of utmost importance.

Anticipating upcoming services is very important!

Flexibility is of the utmost importance and change is inevitable. Librarians must welcome and embrace change, be it technological, political or workflow. We must work to become early adaptor of effective technologies. “We cannot put our heads in the sand”.

Customer driven services are being seen more and more in libraries. “Harnessing the power of the patron” is a quote Susan like to use. Self check out/in, on line reserves, sorting before delivering new materials, all help do this.

“Diversity in all aspects of library services is key”. Recruiting community is a goal for us, though it is always a challenge. Services and collections (in all types of formats and languages) need to be focused on needs of the community. Community outreach is important.

The Librarians New Role:
Recognizing and embracing the new role of librarians as teachers and guides is necessary. “The role of librarian as gatekeeper is no longer in step with our society or culture”. “Everybody thinks they are a librarian. “”I can do this myself””. We need to assist users navigate electronic resources, proving effective search strategies and increasing comfort with a wide range of electronic resources.

A Virtual Presence:
An exciting, user friendly, virtual presence is vital. See the SF Public Lib as a great example. No lingo, seamless and open, easy to navigate. Virtual use is as important as in person visits. Funding must be appropriate to encourage use by the generation that is now often most comfortable using our virtual presence.

Community. Again!
We must be the “favorite living room in our community”. The role of the library as an information stronghold is no longer relevant for our society”. Our physical spaces must be neutral and comfortable venues for research, discussion and feedback. The Internet does not fill this role and libraries can be the venue of choice for these interactions. The popularity of book clubs demonstrates this very effectively. The library is the perfect place to house and promote these sort of groups and activities.

Partnerships are the key to being successful. Libraries can marshal resource and open communication, enhancing community and ensuring future success of the library. The

Resource Sharing:
What is happening with the LOC (not sure about my notes on this LOC business)? We promote multi type resource sharing amongst all types of libraries. Resource sharing is a goal we all share, but we have to take a step back to see how we will reach that goal. Too much attention has been focused on infrastructure and not on user end results. Now we unfortunately don’t have funds for this program. ILL is funded through CLSA, though was almost lost in the last governors administration. Resource sharing is a goal, but now is not the time to request funding for this. Susan has her “ear to the ground” for budget increases, but now is not the time. Plans are in place to assess resource sharing though, particularly related to reference services. A consultant is being brought in to analyze and make recommendations for resource sharing.

$, Health, Salinas:
The financial health of libraries: 178 applied for the Public Library Fund 93% qualified.
Unfortunately, the Salinas PL didn’t qualify. It’s a tough situation. Susan visited Salinas on Feb., 23 with several folks (including Michael Gorman *ahem*). Local citizens said over and over again that we just couldn’t leave only one branch open. It was all or nothing. This is what the locals said and therefore limited opening had to be rejected. THE CLA is trying to support adult learning and homework centers. The mayor is working to provide library services despite the closure news. The mayor is really trying to come up with a 500k fundraiser to keep the libraries open. The city council has extended the pre closure period, hopefully until the end of the year. Save Salinas Libraries is another group working hard to save the libraries, and they seem very well organized. There seems to be a need for across the board funding for city services and there may be a special tax election to preserve a variety of services. A library only funding initiative could be called, but it would require a 2/3 approval, which isn’t seen as likely.

You can email questions to Susan at shildreth *at sign*

Questions were fielded related to:
Pre-sorting – Reduces stress injuries and time costs.
Digitization – Upcoming more in the future though some initiatives and grants are in place. Formatting and repository access are major challenges.
State-wide adoption of databases- We are doing what we can with this. The scope of CSL is very, very large with one county alone equaling the size of OH service groups. Vendor issues are often community specific. The state lib does and will try to do what they can to help.
New Gates Initiative – 400k grant, not enough to address equipment updating. It will be used to provide training. Foundation may be considering another initiative with monies for new equipment, but this is speculative at this point.
Joint-use facilities – Current administration (Schwarzenegger) isn’t as focused on this as the Davis administration.
Multi-type library sharing of electronic resources – A great idea, done regionally often times.
Lottery money to libraries – A fascinating idea I wish could happen. I don’t think it will happen. Public libraries loose to school systems everyday (Youch!). Part of why partnerships for resource sharing are vital.
Susan says:
"...did not mean to say that public libraries loose to school libraries. What I meant to convey was that public school libraries are in a desperate state and really need help. Cooperation with local public libraries is all the more important."
This is an example of why you let the folks you are talking about on your blog get a heads up from you, especially in a case like this. My notes were fast and I'm sure I didn't accuratley encapsulate everything Susan was saying or trying to say. This way, she got to tell me exactly what she meant. Considering her job, I'm impressed she would read the whole post and reply so quickly as I just emailed her with the link a little over an hour ago. Maybe that's the sort of things you have to do for twenty or so years in order to become State Librarian? :) At any rate, thanks for the heads up, and keep up the good work, Susan.

Susan thanked everyone and we were all finished.

A hand then covered the lens providing a library budget version of fade to black. Hilarious!

Now that was some furious note taking. Whew! I’m gonna go rest my wrists! Feel free to leave comments. Please pardon typos and missed ideas, This is nice but there just ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby. :)

Posted by libraryman at March 9, 2005 01:46 PM