Lessons Learned from a Drive Through

By Su Epstein

Saxton B. Little Library,  Columbia CT

There is something about the sound of shattering glass that represents all things ‘not good.’  Twice in my career I’ve heard this sound in a Library, I am truly hoping not to have a third.

The last time that horrible sound spun its web around me was a mild day last spring.  It was a Thursday, but not unlike any other, around 3:40 in the afternoon.  The afterschool crowd was in and settled, our later afternoon elderly doing their end of day pass through.  I was gearing up to leave early and cash in some comp time for some much needed rest.su1

The crash sounded at first like a bookcase had toppled and my heart sank, as I heard my Children’s Librarian cry out, “Oh my God, Oh my God.”  We all ran, and I’m sure I was not the only one with a growing sense of fear.

Our library is very small.  In total it sits on a 4800 s.f. footprint that consists of three rooms.  So it took mere seconds to reach the main library but several seconds for my brain to process what I was seeing.

One of our elderly patrons had driven down our walkway, through two metal book drops and a window to arrive literally seven feet into the library.  Realizing what he’d done, he then backed out.

In front of the window had been a four drawer cd holder.  Thousands of discs had flown like fall leaves throughout the room.  Later, we would marvel that not one had broken.   The cd drawers appeared a bit off kilter.  The car had also clipped a six foot magazine shelf.  It had tipped, causing magazines to waterfall and its hanging shelves to swing.  Our television and stand had, prevented the bookcase from crashing down on the periodical seating.  What faired worst was the side of the building that then sported a large whole.

We were lucky.  Thankfully, no one, not even the driver was hurt.  Although many were shaken, no one had been seated or standing in that particular area.  911 was called immediately and with no one harmed, most of us, myself included, mulled around in a stunned state of disbelief.

It was later, after police, fire department, ambulance and television crew had left that several things dawned on us.   First, and foremost, we should have left the building until we knew it was structurally sound.  We didn’t and no one instructed us to.  Fortunately, it wasn’t an issue, but it was a line immediately added to our disaster plan and an idea I’ve tried to drum into my brain.

Second, the disaster plan!  We have one, not that it included a car drive through, but we didn’t even think of our plan at the time.  What was really driven home by this event was that a copy of the plan should be located not only outside of the building, but somewhere local.  I had followed all good wisdom and have a copy of our plan at home — home, which is forty minutes away from the library.  If we had needed to vacate the library and take immediate action, the carefully constructed do lists and phone numbers in our disaster plan would have done me no good at home.  After this event, a copy of our disaster plan lives in a safe spot in our neighboring town hall and their plan lives in a cozy spot next to ours in the Library.

The last lesson learned from this event was to trust in our insurance company.  Since it was a town building and clearly the driver’s fault, it was suggested to simply let the driver’s insurance handle the claim and avoid the library’s insurance.  The driver’s company settled with the driver and the town within weeks, but after 3 months, they had still not settled for the damages within the library.  After filing complaints with the insurance commission and seeking legal counsel, our insurance company suggested we file the claim with them and allow them to seek reimbursement from the driver’s insurance carrier.

Our insurance required only documentation of our loss.  The driver’s insurance was insisting upon sales receipts from the damaged items.  Unfortunately it had been over eight years and two director’s ago when the furniture had been purchased and no one knew where or when those purchases had been made.  While sure, the receipts were in file boxes in the building, who knew which boxes?  After providing photos of the accident and replacement list, our insurance company issued a check and our part in the process was completed.

Now, our furniture replaced, our window and wall repaired and we continue on.  Though we all wish that the jokes about putting in a drive through would come to an end,  I simply say, “do you want fries with that?”

“This is exactly what I’m looking for” – Michele Lawrence, Scholarship Winner

By Michele Lawrence

Michele LawrenceWhen I first learned about ARSL from The University of Alabama’s listserv, I thought, “This is exactly what I’m looking for.” Small and rural libraries have unique issues that other library associations would be at a loss to address.   I read about the 2012 conference and knew I had to go as soon as I possibly could.  The breakout sessions sounded like a wealth of information for my future in small libraries.  I was beyond excited when I found out I was awarded the Dr. Bernard Vavrek scholarship for the 2013 conference in Omaha, NE.

This conference was amazing from the first keynote speaker, Lee Rainie, to the last.  The speakers and presenters were full of energy and excitement for libraries and willing to share all their experience and knowledge to help others.  Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire novels, is a dynamic and fun speaker.  Anyone who has a chance to see him definitely should.  How can I choose the highlights?  The unofficial theme of the conference was to generate mutual support by getting your library involved in the community.  It seems like a simple and obvious plan, but seems to be frequently overlooked.

Rachel Miller and Louise Greene offered great tips to involve your library with community events in Think Outside the Barn.  The Power of One presenters shared great ideas to run a library with a small staff smoothly, such as keeping storytime supplies in a box to be ready at a moment’s notice.  I’m so excited about that even if my library doesn’t participate in the program, I’ll be a one woman Geek Squad!

The ARSL conference brings great presenters, vendors, and ideas together in one venue.  More importantly, it is an opportunity to meet and talk with others who share a love for libraries and small communities.  The conference rejuvenates this passion so you return home ready to face the challenges and rewards of working in a small or rural library.


Dickinson County (Iowa) libraries come together for home-grown training

On a blustery fall Wednesday in October, the independent public libraries of Dickinson County, Iowa, closed up shop for a very important purpose:  their annual all-staff continuing education event.  Hosted by the Arnolds Park Public Library (a tiny resort town boasting what is believed to be the 13th oldest wooden roller coaster in the U.S.), the group consists of 5 city libraries ranging from populations of 366 to 4,925.  With staff ranging from 2 (part-time) to 9 (2 full-time and 7 part-time), this group of libraries has been committed to ensuring that all staff members, not just directors, have a chance to attend at least this one event each year.

Beginning the day with refreshments and a welcome message, they quickly set about the first of 3 (50-minute) sessions taught by local experts.  A library director from a neighboring county gave a session on getting started with genealogy reference.  The lead consultant from the library district office taught a session called “A Sweet Suite of Resources,” featuring databases and other resources provided to libraries through the state.  A staff member from one of Dickinson County’s own libraries offered a session entitled “Little Things Mean a Lot:  Being a library professional when you are on the job.”

The day was wrapped up with a round table discussion on youth programming, but not before the group had a chance to walk downtown for lunch on their own, networking among their peers and patronizing the local businesses.

A few staff members from neighboring county libraries made their way over to join the fun, making for around 22 in attendance, total.  There was no charge for the event, which drew on the experience of local library practitioners.  Bonnie McKewon, former ARSL Board Member and Consultant for Iowa Library services, says “For me, the strength of this countywide staff c.e. approach is that it fosters communication and collaboration among colleagues within the county and adjoining.  Plus, a big bonus of this format: it features local talent …Local library staff step up to do the presentations, which I think is a real plus.  That’s ‘staff development’ in itself, since local staff need to prep and deliver a 50-minute presentation—that’s real skill-building!”

By Tena Hanson, ARSL President


Super Librarian! – Kathy Hale, Scholarship Winner

kathy scholarshipBy Kathy Hale

With much hope and trepidation I wrote an essay and was awarded the scholarship  to attend my first ARSL Conference. Would I find workshops to fit my needs? Would I have anything worthy to share with others? Would I “fit in”? The “Empowering Small Libraries” conference met my expectations and calmed my anxieties. The sessions and speakers shared not only knowledge, but also introduced me to tools to equip me to better serve my community. Several sessions empowered me with an “I can do it” attitude. Finally, talking to other conference attendees inspired camaraderie of a shared purpose.

My preconference session, Shifting Sands, presented by Bonnie McKewon made me aware of changes coming to libraries of all sizes and some ways to meet the changing needs of our communities and patrons. One of the early sessions with keynote speaker, Lee Rainie, shared Pew research data that confirmed the important role that libraries fill in our community and how that role is changing.

With my mind now set on meeting those challenges and equipping myself to meet them, I made my final decisions on which break out sessions to attend. The presenters were librarians who were willing to share with others how they too could achieve success in specific areas in their libraries.They exemplify what ARSL does best – sharing problems, sharing different ways to overcome those difficulties, and sharing success with others. One presenter mentioned that she plans children’s programs that she enjoys doing. That was a novel thought for me. It made sense, because if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing the program has less chance for success. Mary Stenger, the recipient of the 2013 best small library award, encouraged me with her “if I can do it, you can do it” attitude.

I was also inspired by the presentations from the authors, Craig Johnson and Joe Starita. I enjoyed meeting new people and sharing mealsKathy and discussions with them. I enjoyed the volunteers serving at the registration area and everywhere.

I remember the day Becky Heil called to inform me that I was being awarded the scholarship. I was preparing for our summer reading finale and wondering how I was going to do it all. I needed super powers. She remarked that the ARSL conference would make me a “Super” librarian every day.  While I didn’t quite receive super powers, I came away with an attitude and knowledge to do my job better. Thank you ARSL and thank you to everyone who makes these scholarships possible. It was an opportunity I will treasure.


#chatARSL – Twitter Chat 101

The Future is Now: Rural Library as Innovation Incubator was a webinar collaboration with WebJunction.  In case you missed it, the full archive of the webinar and learning guide are available.

We’d love to continue this conversation with you! Follow ARSL’s Twitter feed and participate in #chatARSL.  If you are new to Twitter or if you have never participated in a Twitter Chat, here are a few tips that will help you get started.

Twitter Chat 101

Q1: What is a Twitter Chat?

A1: When people use a specific hashtag (#) on Twitter to discuss a specific topic.

Q2: Why do you need to use a hashtag?

A2: The hashtag is a way to search and filter tweets that are part of a chat. The # symbols, letters and numbers are used.  For example, #chatARSL.

Q3: How can I get started?

A3: First, sign up for a free Twitter account at

Q4: Okay.  I have a Twitter account.  Now what?

A4: Follow ARSL on Twitter.  In the search box at the top of your Twitter homepage, type @RuralLibAssoc. Click Follow. This will allow you see all the posts from ARSL (@RuralLibAssoc) on your Twitter feed.

Q5: I’m following ARSL (@RuralLibAssoc) now. I’m ready to participate in the Twitter chat.  What’s next?

A5: In the search box, type our hashtag, #chatARSL. This will display all of the tweets so far in the conversation. You will be able to read the moderator’s questions and comments as well as everyone’s recent posts on the topic.  Feel free to jump right in!  The moderator will pose a question. To create a response, click on the blue square at the top right corner of the page.

Q6: I just typed my response.  Is there anything I should remember before I hit “Tweet”?

A6: Yes, a Twitter response (Tweet) can only be 140 characters.  And don’t forget it has to contain the hashtag #chatARSL so everyone participating in the conversation can see it.

Q7: I see the moderator’s questions.  How should I answer?

A7: Here’s an example (it’s very similar to the question and answer on this page)

     @RuralLibAssoc: “Welcome to #chatARSL! Q1:What was your favorite webinar in 2013? #chatARSL”

     @Your Tweet: “A1:I loved the webinar on the library programs on a budget. #chatARSL”

Q8: I did it!  Are there other ways to engage?

A8: Yes! You can reply to any participant’s tweets.  If someone says something you like, there’s a small “reply” button at the bottom of each tweet.  Don’t forget to include the hashtag #chatARSL!

Q9: What does Retweet mean?

A9: A Retweet is a way to re-post someone’s tweet.  It’s kind of like forwarding the tweet to share it with others.

We look forward to sharing innovative stories, ideas, and helpful tips!

Library Director – Sedro Woolley, WA

Today’s Date: 01/06/2014

Job Closing Date: 02/06/2014

Job Title: Library Director

Institution Central Skagit Regional Library District

Library Location: Sedro Woolley, Washington

Website (if applicable):

Duties / Job description: The newly formed district is looking for a library director. The new director will provide leadership in the design and implementation of new library services for a previously unserved area. The Library Director reports to a five member volunteer Board of Trustees. The Director provides system-wide strategic, visionary, and inspirational leadership. Because the district is in its formative stages, the Library Director will be required to have a broad knowledge of library administration, budgeting, personnel management, relationship building, and community engagement.

Qualifications: State of Washington Librarian Certification or the ability to obtain one; a valid driver’s license; and a minimum of five (5) years of relevant experience and leadership. Essential knowledge, skills and abilities include: knowledge of the principles practices and procedures of library administrative management; knowledge of contemporary best practices for libraries; knowledge of budget preparation, maintenance and forecasting; knowledge of electronic resources and technology; excellent interpersonal and communication/listening skills; collaboration and consensus building skills; as well a knowledge of Washington State law as it relates to Library Districts. Proven success working effectively as director with a governing board is a valuable skill. Visit the district website and check under recent news for a complete job description.

Will out of state candidates be considered? Yes

Salary Range: A starting salary is negotiable and dependent on experience and qualifications

How to apply? Send a cover letter and your resume as Word or pdf attachments to Joy Neal at: Position closes January 31, 2014.

To post job openings, please see Job Submissions.

2014 Call for Proposals

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) is pleased to announce that proposals for break-out session presentations as well as pre-conferences for the 2014 Conference to be held in Tacoma, Washington, September 3-6, 2014 are now being accepted.

Proposals for these 1-hour sessions can be submitted using our online form. We are also accepting applications for 4-hour pre-conference sessions (scheduled for Wednesday, September 3rd), as well.

The deadline to submit proposals has passed. All those who submited a proposal will be notified whether or not their proposal was accepted by March 10, 2014. For proposal questions, please contact Lisa Lewis using the information below.

Proposals we would like to see should include the following:

  • Customer Service
  • Social Media
  • Digital literacy: teaching methods for public and staff
  • Fund Raising
  • Working with Trustees
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Managing Staff
  • Cultural competencies: increasing your cultural awareness when working with
  • Children’s programming: Preschool, Youth, Teen
  • Looking over the horizon: What new trends are coming of which libraries should be aware

We remind presenters that presentations need to be geared toward the small and rural library audience. Practical, hands-on, and how-to formats are preferred. This is not the proper venue for post-graduate dissertations or marketing products and such proposals will not be considered.

All proposals will be reviewed and chosen by the Conference Programming Committee. Awarded presenters will receive ONE complimentary conference registration per presentation selected. (i.e. a team of three presenters working on one presentation will receive one complimentary registration).

We look forward to your submissions and good luck!

Lisa Lewis
Conference Programming Committee Chair

Library Manager – Hertford, N.C.

Today’s Date: 01/03/2014

Job Closing Date: 02/28/2014

Job Title: Perquimans County Library Manager

Anticipated hours per week: Full Time

Institution Part of the Pettigrew Regional Library System

Library Location: Hertford, N.C.

Website (if applicable):

Duties / Job description: Provides leadership, direction, and professional guidance in the delivery of library services in Perquimans County. Supervises staff of 4. Responsible for all operations in management of a very active county library. Reports to the Director of the Regional Library.

Qualifications: MLS from an ALA-accredited institution; minimum of three years of public library experience; supervisory experience; eligible for certification by North Carolina Public Library Certification Board. Must have good interpersonal skills and the ability to work with community groups and county officials as well as work as a team member with the 3 other county librarians an the director. Experience working on a building or renovation project preferred.

Will out of state candidates be considered? Yes

Salary Range: $37,125/yr. min. + full. benefits. A 365 hour a week position.

How to apply? Send resume, with cover letter, and three professional references to: Judi Bugniazet, Library Director, Pettigrew Regional Library, 201 East Third Street, Plymouth, NC 27962 or e-mail attachments to

To post job openings, please see Job Submissions.

2014 Conference – Visiting Tacoma

Tacoma + Pierce County is a place for fearless exploration

Museum of Glass

Museum of Glass

Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma Art Museum

Hiking near Crystal Mountain

Hiking near Crystal Mountain

Tacoma's Theater District

Tacoma’s Theater District

Tacoma's Light Rail

Tacoma’s Light Rail

Stretching from the banks of Puget Sound to Mount Rainier National Park, Tacoma + Pierce County is a place for people who are unafraid to trek through the woods of Mount Rainier in the rain and fearless of breaking a sweat in the heat of the hot shop while blowing glass. Stare down a black bear at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park or learn how to blow glass at one of the many local hot shops. Hop on the Link Light Rail and make your way through the Museum District to get your daily dose of art history, Washington state history and automobile history all in one day!

Explore a new restaurant and drink in the craft beer buzz or find your own story in the historic Museum District. Waterfront recreation, fine dining, antique shopping and once-in-a-lifetime experiences [shark diving anyone?] will keep you busy all weekend. Learn more at

From Travel Tacoma – Places to See

Known for its world-renowned glass art, Tacoma’s vibrant urban core is alive with culture. Find yourself surrounded by creativity and city sophistication when you eat, shop and stroll Tacoma’s downtown. The friendly city inspires many to celebrate the melding of old and new. See historic architecture amidst urban design.

The city’s many districts abound with culture. Stroll the museum district where you can explore art, glass and history. Wander amongst the eclectic mix of upbeat restaurants and music venues on Sixth Avenue. Shop the unique boutiques in the historic Proctor and Stadium districts, which bustle with foot traffic. Rooted in the arts, Tacoma is the place to be.

Tacoma is ideally situated along the saltwater banks of Puget Sound. Boasting stunning natural surroundings, you don’t need to pack hiking boots to enjoy the mesmerizing outdoors. Explore the parks, gardens and wildlife that make Tacoma a nature wonderland. The nature in Tacoma extends beyond just land. Comb the beaches of the water’s edge and test the open waters in a kayak or boat. Come experience Tacoma’s nature—rain or shine. There’s plenty for you do to, both indoors and out.

Things to do in Tacoma

Tacoma’s Art Scene

Tacoma’s Nature Scene

  • Cruise the waters of the Puget Sound and learn the history of Tacoma on a guided boat tour with Destiny Harbor Tours. Enjoy Pacific Northwest seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants along Ruston Way.
  • Venture to Point Defiance Park for endless outdoor activities and while you’re there check out the Point Defiance Zoo + Aquarium. Encounter wildlife by riding a camel, watching polar bears swim or talking with walruses.
  • Sample local and fresh ingredients, grown right here! Meet local farmers at more than four farmers markets throughout Tacoma’s neighborhoods, featuring fresh produce, meats, music, arts and crafts.


2014 Conference – Hotel Information

Tacoma’s Hotel Murano is offering special conference rate rooms for the 2014 ARSL Conference. In 2013 Forbes travel guide gave the Hotel Murano four gold stars, in 2012 the Hotel Murano made the Conde Nash Traveler Gold list, in 2011 it was number #17 on the Conde Nash traveller’s Readers’ choice of the top 200 hotels, and the Alaska Airlines magazine says “This hotel is a great attraction in and of itself –it’s an international art gallery”. Each floor features a different internationally know glass artist.

About the Hotel Murano

The Hotel Murano houses a collection of glass that stands up to the country’s finest.

Centrally located in downtown Tacoma, Hotel Murano is just blocks from the best Tacoma restaurantsTacoma shopping and of course, our world famous Tacoma sightseeing. With wireless high-speed Internet (access fee), 24-hour fitness center, 24-hour business center, Spiritual Menu and many other unique amenities, this Tacoma hotel provides all that a traveler needs.

The fireplace in the lobby of the Hotel Murano

The fireplace in the lobby of the Hotel Murano

The lobby bar of the Hotel Murano

The lobby bar of the Hotel Murano

The lobby of the Hotel Murano

The lobby of the Hotel Murano

Hotel Glass Tours

Tours of the hotel’s glass pieces will be available on a first come, first served basis for $5 each. Tour registration is available when you register for the conference. A summary of the artwork available can be found in the Hotel Murano Collection brochure.

  • Thursday, September 4th 4:30-5:30PM (maximum of 20)
  • Friday, September 5th 4:30-5:30PM (maximum of 20)
  • Saturday, September 6th, 1:00-2:00PM (maximum of 20)


Reservations can be made by visiting the Hotel Murano registration page.

Hotel Murano
1320 Broadway Plaza
Tacoma, WA 98402
(253) 238-8000