September 22, 2009

Lessons Learned in the OSLC Library Remodel Project

• Talk to EVERYONE! We placed clipboards in all of the rooms we were considering making changes to and asked people to write down how they used the room or if they knew how another group used the room. We also held a congregational meeting and several meetings with the Church Council seeking input.
• Research EVERYTHING! The internet and the public library are great tools. American with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements, Library Space Planning Guide by the Connecticut State Library, Libraries in Churches List, National Church Library Association, Webjunction (library furnishing recommendations), Google images (search church library for examples) and the professional development collections at public libraries. Some of these are tools for larger public libraries but they can still be applied to small libraries.
• Be considerate of those who designed the original rooms. There are many reasons why they did things the way they did and that information will help you plan any changes you make. Remember they worked just as hard on that design as you are on the new design.
• Understand early that you will not be able to please everyone but be considerate of their concerns.
• Pick a well-rounded team with a variety of skills and abilities. Carpenters and metal shop workers are important to include. The custodians will also be very helpful but remember they have their own normal work to do so don’t expect them to be able to clean up after every step of the project.
• Compare prices and products with library specific catalogs, office supply companies, and then check local sources.
• Be prepared for budget overruns!
• Ask for volunteers early and often.
• Have Fun!

Grand Opening / Rally Sunday

Northern Minnesota is known for short summers when residents spend weekends on vacation and out at the cabin on the lake. So Rally Sunday, the first day of Sunday School is known as the day most members return to church after a long summer vacation. Our goal was to have everything ready by that day and we came very close. We have a few pieces of furniture we would like to add and would like a thick fun rug for the children’s area so they can sit comfortably on the floor.

The reaction of the congregation to the changes has been very positive and the space is a hub of activity on Sunday mornings that would never have been possible with the previous layout. Parents now have somewhere to sit and relax and visit with other parents while their children are in Sunday School classes. Teachers visit, plan their schedules and share last minute preparation tips for upcoming lesson plans. Older students not in Sunday School meet there to see if they can help anywhere or sit and visit as well. We even have one high school teacher who uses the conference table to grade student papers while he waits for his son. We have also subscribed to a local Sunday paper and judging by how it is spread across three different tables by the end of the Sunday School hour, I would say it is well read!

The lounge has also been well received. It is still large enough for the choir to use for practice and has a meeting room style table to be used as a buffet for small groups and is comfortable and private enough for brides getting ready before their ceremony. The only disadvantage to its location is the steps that limit handicapped accessibility.

Final Two Weeks of the OSLC Library Remodel Project

New carpeting is installed in the library and now it is time to dismantle the shelves in the storage area, carry them to the new library and reassemble them in their permanent locations. Since we had just assembled the shelves a few short months ago you would think this would be an easy task, but it was still a challenge!

I had three middle school age volunteers that were a huge help to me this week. I placed labels on the shelves to indicate where each category (we use a modified John system with 15 categories) should start and they moved 1500 books into their final locations in our new space. While checking their work and finalizing shelving placement I was amazed to discover they had less than a dozen books out of order. They also helped me prepare new materials for our new book display. Ryan, Kyle, and Sarah H. are the best kids around!

Final week
An incredibly busy week! We had a team of eight assemble chairs and desks and it became a competition to see which group could assemble a chair the fastest! Desks and boxes of supplies were moved back into the work area and the computer was installed. My husband was very busy finishing special shelving design projects while I finished all the details that make everything actually work in the library.

Week Ten of the OSLC Library Redesign

The old carpet is reinstalled in the new lounge this week and old stains we did not notice were very noticeable in the smaller room! Fortunately, we had a volunteer who was good with a steam carpet cleaner and the carpet looks brand new! Carpet for the library is on order and will be in the end of next week.

This week we installed our old shelves that will be against the walls and (hopefully) never moved. One evening I screwed the framework for the shelves together and hauled all the shelves up into the new library. The next day my husband secured the shelves to the walls and a night of book moving was planned. This was a team process with one person filling a box from the shelves on our storage area, another carrying it down the hall up eight steps (trust me I know there are 8 steps!) where a third volunteer loaded them into the shelves for another temporary stay until the rest of the shelves were installed.

This same evening there were volunteers moving furniture and decorating the new lounge. They also did a great job arranging the original couches, chairs and tables into a very cozy area for small group meetings and counseling sessions.

We ordered nine new meeting room style chairs, five comfortable chairs, a computer desk, and a storage cabinet that will arrive in two weeks. The team decided we could assemble the furniture ourselves to save some money and we scheduled an evening for that task.

Weeks 3 - 9 of the OSLC Library Redesign Project

Weeks 3 -7

Contractors worked on finishing walls, electrical wiring, new ceiling lighting and a new ceiling throughout the space and a new closet was built for the new lounge.

Week Eight

With the contractors done, it was back to the design team to select paint colors and carpeting. Our interior designers selected a soft yet bright yellow for the library walls and we chose multicolor institutional grade carpeting. Being good stewards of the Earth, we also chose carpet made from recycled materials. Our first choice for carpeting was backordered and would not be available until mid September. That was a major problem considering our grand opening was scheduled for September 13th! We ended up going with a shade darker than the original choice but it looked fine.

The next step was painting, priming to be exact. It took about a week to paint due to taking time to tape off the areas not painted and the variety of wall textures we had – painted cement block, never painted cement block, brand new sheet rock, metal radiator covers, and old plaster walls. In addition, if you didn’t see the pictures, the walls were a dark blue and dark pink! So, between the textures and the dark colors it took two plus coats of primer to get a nice surface for our new yellow paint!

Week Nine

Still painting! My husband I finished the yellow paint in the library. Having a husband that is 6’3” tall helps when painting! He did the high areas and I followed behind doing the lower areas. We had two more volunteers help paint the lounge and even with its two-color scheme, we were able to get two coats on that room in just two evenings.

September 16, 2009

Can Church Libraries Survive in a Digital World?

Stories about e-books and digital information dominate the news today. Every day we hear news of the latest products being developed and about titles newly digitized, along with tales of publisher woes and disputes about copyright issues.

The publishing industry gathered at the London Book Fair last spring to discuss the future of the book business. The Daily Telegraph (UK) article, E-books: Is the writing on the wall for books? describes this scene: “Among the vast stands carrying the latest paperbacks was a digital zone where academics and executives explored ways in which the book industry could embrace the electronic age.” They report “The Association of American Publishers has singled out e-book sales as the fastest growing segment in the industry, with sales of traditional books declining across all major markets . . .” Read Daily Telegraph article>>>

Libraries too, are watching and evolving with the trends. A recent CNN article, The Future of Libraries, With or Without Books begins “The stereotypical library is dying — and it's taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it.” While this picture sounds grim, the article goes on to note new trends in the library world and spotlights several public libraries that are piloting innovative ways to gain an edge. Read CNN article>>>

Church libraries too, need to reevaluate their role in this changing information environment. In the Libraries Alive article Capturing the Church Library Market, Dolores Walker asks readers, “Is your library an echo of the past? Or an entry gate to the future?” and shares a helpful research survey with us. Read Libraries Alive article>>>

Taking Dolores’ line of questioning one step further, we church librarians can do some self-examination of our future library ministry goals. Ask yourself, “Where does my church library want to be in regards to its community and our changing technology? And perhaps more importantly, “How is it going to get there?”

Church libraries recognize the value of digital information. Many have made online catalogs and broader Internet access available onsite. That’s just a start. The next time you sit down to strategize about your library goals, begin exploring how and when e-books, digital databases, electronic forums and social networks might be integrated into your resource offerings.

Can your church library survive a future when the physical book may become less important? The answer is “Yes!” if you keep your ears, eyes and minds open to new possibilities for library ministry.

New! Automation User Groups Forming

While software companies provide support for their products, it is invaluable to be able to talk with others and share the little nuances of a program you are using. “We found this worked,” “have you tried this?” or “I didn’t know you could do that!” are conversations you can now have with fellow software users. Louise B., librarian at St. Aidan’s United in Victoria, BC Canada, is setting up email user groups for individual programs in use by church librarians.

The idea originated with Louise and our friends at the Congregational Libraries Association of British Columbia (CLABC). Louise is a member of both NCLA and CLABC and she is graciously extending an invitation to NCLA members to participate.

If your library is automated (or considering it), email your name, church, contact email and name of the program you are using (or interested in) to Louise. Louise will put you in touch with everyone using your software. Click here to email Louise>>>

Thanks Louise and CLABC for the partnership!

Washington DC Chapter Reviews Cataloging Programs

Submitted by Mary Bowen

Our February 28 meeting was very productive! First, thanks to Kathy S., Roberta L., Mary Beth K., and Evelyn H. for hosting the meeting and providing the program. The breakfast was delicious, and we enjoyed hearing about the library at Church of the Good Shepherd, Episcopal. Our program focused on library cataloging programs and members shared their experiences with programs they are using.

Mary Beth K. provided information about Readerware. Records can be entered by scanning the ISBN code found on the back of most books. Technical support is provided by the developer, who is very responsive. The standard book version costs $40. The three product (books, videos, music) bundle comes with a free bar code reader and costs $85. The three product bundle is not essential since videos and music can easily be entered into the book version.

Mary B.’s library uses Cross Library 1.7 and is fairly happy with it except that it does not have good keyword searching and it has fields for only two subject headings. This can be problematic when so many books have more than two subjects. The cost is $150.

In another library where Mary volunteers she uses ResourceMate and has been happy using it. It is easy to download records from the Library of Congress as well as enter records manually. It has a separate module for users to search so they will not have access to the librarian's version and cannot change records. The basic version is $195. The Plus version is $395.

Avery B.’s church library uses Surpass. She said that the product works very well although they did have some initial difficulties with installation. The basic church library program (Surpass CL) sells for $495, allows for self-checkout and offers quick cataloging via the Internet.

Melissa H. uses LibraryThing. Melissa has no computer in her church's library and no money for a computer or software. She has a card catalog in her library and has entered all of her library holdings into the free website, LibraryThing. This way her library users can look at her library holdings on the Internet.

In two of our group’s libraries, the current catalog was developed by a member of the church who is no longer available for help with the program. Both of these libraries are looking for a new program.

The topic chosen for our spring meeting is collection building. We plan to cover mission statements, policies on purchases and donations, weeding, sources of materials, fund raising, and budgets.

Whew! Sounds like enough for several meetings!

Librarians Helping Librarians

"I'm looking into replacing some of our videos with DVDs. I'm wondering to what extent that I should go. A vast majority of my collection is from the 90's when videos were hot. Like McGee & Me, Beginner's Bible, Donut Man, Odyssey, etc.

"I'm just wondering to what extent that I should spend the $$$? I've replaced the VeggieTales, Visual Bible Gospel series, Miracle Maker, Prince of Egypt. I am mentoring with a library that is selling off their videos for 25 cents each and not purchasing any DVDs.

"What are your thoughts on plunging into DVDs in this era of quickly changing technology?" -Bev E.