News

Nomintating Committee Seeks Board Members

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Nominating Committee seeks current ARSL members willing to serve as board members for the Association. If you are interested and believe that you have both a commitment to rural and small libraries and a willingness to serve, please carefully review the job description and application for ARSL board members found here.

Sonja Plummer-Morgan, immediate past president and nominating chair shares:

From personal experience, I found service on the ARSL Board rewarding for many reasons. I met dynamic, diverse library staff from all over the country at our annual conference and during the year, formed lasting professional networks, felt as though I made a positive difference in the lives of rural and small library staff, and built leadership skills that I used to improve my community.

Interested members should send completed applications to Carla Lehn (clehn@library.ca.gov) by April 27, 2012.

Additionally, there are opportunities for you to volunteer for the Association that are not Board positions. To learn more about ARSL and its many committees or to discuss particular gifts or skills that you believe would benefit the Association, see Get Involved.

2012 Board Application »


Celebrate Libraries: 2012 ARSL Conference

Join us for the 2012 Annual Conference of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries when we “Celebrate Libraries.” This year’s conference will be held September 27 – 29 at the Sheraton in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Highlights include keynote presenter, Susan Hildreth, director of IMLS and lunch with keynote mystery author Margaret Maron. Join us for a Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening, September 26, when we’ll celebrate the 200th birthday of the State Library of North Carolina, our conference partner. The scheduled workshops will cover a number of relevant, current issue topics such as using social media, E-books, advocacy for your library, event and programming topics and much more. A full schedule of workshops will be available shortly. 

The hallmark of the ARSL conference has always been that the workshops and speakers address real world, practical issues facing small and rural libraries. This emphasis allows the Association to focus its conference on the needs of this unique set of library directors, staff, board members and consultants and offers not theories but real world solutions, tried by their peers in other areas of the country. The 2012 conference committee has been working hard to continue that commitment and hopes that those working in rural and small libraries will make attending this year’s conference a priority. 

Conference hotel room rates are $139 per night (plus tax) and can be made by calling the Sheraton Raleigh Downtown at 800-325-3535. Be sure to identify yourself as an attendee of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference. Hotel rates include internet access in all rooms. Those flying into the Raleigh airport should make arrangements with a shuttle company for the 20 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. There are several companies available including Super Shuttle (No conference rates are available for this ground transport). 

Early Bird Rates for members will be $220 per person, non-members $275 per person.  Early bird rates are good until midnight, Friday, August 31st, 2012. Regular rates for members will be $280 and for non-members $350.

Conference rates include admission to all conference events including:

  • Wednesday, September 26, Welcome Reception
  • All workshops
  • General sessions
  • Thursday breakfast
  • Friday breakfast & author lunch
  • Saturday lunch
  • Plus occasional refreshment breaks

Online Registration will open soon and additional information including a conference schedule will be released shortly. Conference updates and additional information will be posted online at www.arsl.info.


ARSL Joins the School, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition

The Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) has become a member of the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition.  The mission of the SHLB Coalition is to improve the broadband capabilities of schools, libraries and health care providers so that they can enhance the quality and availability of the essential services they provide to the public and underserved populations more effectively.

At the invitation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an ARSL representative was part of recent meetings with the SHLB Coalition and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding a comprehensive reform of its Universal Service Fund (USF).  In late October, the FCC announced creation of a new Connect America Fund with a $4.5 billion annual budget to help expand high-speed Internet to rural America over the next 6 years.  A key project goal, something the SHLB Coalition helped assure, is universal availability of modern networks capable of providing voice and broadband service to anchor institutions such as rural libraries.

John Windhausen, SHLB Coalition Executive Director, said, “The SHLB Coalition applauds the FCC for ensuring that recipients of USF support must serve the broadband needs of community anchor institutions in rural America.  We are particularly pleased that anchor institutions are given an opportunity to participate in the design of the broadband networks serving their areas, and that recipients of USF funding must include the anchor institutions served in their annual reports. Providing rural schools, libraries, health care providers and other community anchors with affordable, high-capacity broadband will go a long way toward improving educational opportunities, medical care and economic growth in rural America.”

The SHLB Coalition emphasizes that public libraries make wired and wireless broadband connections available to the public at no charge.  These connections allow people to submit job applications, apply for e-government benefits, participate in distance education and complete school homework assignments, with the additional benefit of support from on-site professional librarians.


“Pushing the Limits” Announcement and Application

ARSL members are encouraged to apply for the Pushing the Limits pilot grants!

Real People, Real Lives

Pushing the Limits: Making Sense of Science

A Reading, Viewing, Discussion Series for Rural Libraries

Application deadline: March 5, 2012

Date posted: January 18, 2012

I.  Program Description

The CALIFA Group (a California-based library consortium) presents Pushing the Limits: Making Sense of Science:  a Reading, Viewing, and Discussion Series for Rural Libraries. This program extends the building blocks of science literacy to two new audiences:  rural librarians and adults in the communities they serve.

Pushing the Limits

Since the beginning of time, humans have imagined and achieved ways to push the boundaries of the physical world.  We want to be stronger, smarter, and more aware, and we create stories to bring those dreams to life. But many of those stories are no longer just stories; and with great new advances in science and technology, we are finding ways in which all of us are able to push the limits every day.

The Pushing the Limits public programs will explore these ideas through a discussion led by a STEM professional (science, technology, engineering, math) and the local librarian, using a blended science café and book club model that integrates feature film quality videos and a recommended (popular) book reading. The overarching theme is one of real people, real stories, and real science.

The program will launch with 20 pilot sites (stage 1) and using feedback from the pilot phase, will expand to 100 additional rural public libraries (in stage 2). It is the work of a unique team of library professionals, scientists, and filmmakers from Dartmouth College, The Association for Rural and Small Libraries, The Califa Group, Dawson Media Group and Oregon State University.

In phase one, 20 pilot public libraries in the United States will receive a grant of $2,500, program materials including videos, and will participate in an on-site training program in fall 2012, Portland, Oregon.

More information: http://califa.org/limits.php

To complete the online application: http://bit.ly/xA4Am4

Online applications must be submitted by March 5, 2012.

II. A programming grant opportunity: Engage your rural community in science adventure

The CALIFA Group is opening a national search for 20 rural libraries to join as pilot sites in a grant project funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal is to strengthen adult science programming and resources in small and rural public libraries and to enhance public interest and involvement in STEM topics– science, technology, engineering and math.

Your application will have a narrative component. Before you compose the narrative part of this proposal, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines carefully. If you do not, your proposal is unlikely to be competitive.

PROPOSAL NARRATIVE

Please write a brief narrative describing your plans for hosting Pushing the Limits:  Making Sense of Science: a Reading, Viewing, and Discussion Series for Rural Libraries.

  • Describe your program plan, including overall goals, description of target audience(s), any plans for related programs, and name(s) and role(s) of your partner(s). (When possible, include letters of support from any partner.)
  • Provide the name and title of the local project scholar, the scholar’s highest degree, and his or her discipline. In lieu of academic credentials, discuss his or her knowledge of science and why he/she would be a good choice for project scholar.  (Note: Applications without a confirmed project scholar will not be considered.)
  • Describe the publicity efforts that will be used to attract participants.
  • Describe the methods that will be used to evaluate how well your program met its goals and objectives.
  • Summarize your library’s commitment to adult programming in general, including any prior successful programming, if any.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE

If selected, you will be required to submit a Program Schedule, indicating proposed dates, times and projected attendance for the Pushing the Limits series of programs.


Call for Submissions!!

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries invites workshop submissions for the 2012 Conference to be held in Raleigh North Carolina, September 28th- 30th.
The workshop proposals can be submitted using our online form found at this link below. We are accepting applications for ½ day pre-conference proposals as well.
http://tinyurl.com/ARSL2012presenters
The deadline for submitting the form is February 17th, 2012.  All presenters will be notified whether their workshop was selected or not by March 2nd, 2012.
We remind presenters that workshops that are practical, hands-on, and how-to are preferred.  This is not the proper venue for post-graduate dissertations or marketing products. Additional instructions are included on the form.
All proposals will be reviewed by the Conference Presenter Committee. Workshop presenters will receive ONE complimentary conference registration per workshop title selected. (i.e. a team of three presenters working on one workshop will receive one complimentary registration).

We look forward to your submissions and good luck!

Judy Van Acker
Conference Presenter Chair


PEARL Project: Community Outreach by Texas Rural Libraries

These rural Texas communities know their libraries! Through the PEARL Project (Promoting & Enhancing the Advancement of Rural Libraries), the University of North Texas is working with 105 rural libraries in Texas to enhance the role of public libraries in their communities. With funding from the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, the three-year project is addressing the roles of the small rural library as:

  • A community resource.
  • A gathering place for people.
  • A facilitator for community partnerships.

The project’s team includes Louise Greene, ARSL board member and secretary, who is one of the Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) students who serves as a mentor to the project’s rural librarians. Dr. Robert S. Martin is also a part of the project team and he will be presenting on the PEARL Project at the Small but Powerful Forum for Winning Big Support for your Rural Library at ALA Midwinter.

A core component of the project are the Community Outreach Plans. Each plan has a detailed step-by-step action grid that describes how to complete a program with community partners. Programs among the more than two dozen plans now available in .pdf format include: game day, summer reading for teens, homebound delivery, reaching low income patrons, developing a local history collection, offering ESL classes and more. Each plan was written by a librarian in a rural community in conjunction with PEARL grant students and is designed to heighten the visibility of the library within the community and improve library servies. The plans are proven workable models. New plans are added continually as they are written.

Find out more about the project and browse the Community Outreach Plans, and if you’ll be in Dallas for Midwinter, please come to the Small but Powerful Forum. And if you won’t be there, urge your regional or state representatives to join on your behalf!

And special thanks to the PEARL Project and staff for their support as ARSL Annual Conference Sponsors in 2011!


Newest ARSL Board Members

Some of you may have met our newest board members in Frisco but we wanted to be sure to introduce them to all in the ARSL community. Please say hello to Lorie, Sharon and Paul; they bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to the board.

Lorie WomackLorie Womack – Roosevelt Library Branch Manager, Roosevelt, Utah

Rural libraries are expected to provide a wider variety of services with a limited availability of resources. It is critical that we learn to tell our story and provide the services needed by our patrons. As rural librarians we need to be advocates for the services we provide with elected officials and the community members we serve.

Michie, SharonSharon Michie – Steele Memorial Library Branch Manager, Wayne County Public Library, Mount Olive, North Carolina

My passion for the ARSL extends beyond our mission- it comes from personal experience. Attending the conference in past years has given me practical knowledge and ideas to transform my community. We may be leading small libraries, but they can be mighty! The ARSL sponsored me in last year’s ALA Emerging Leader program, and I am eager to give back to our close-knit community of rural librarians.

Healey, PaulPaul D. Healey, JD, PhD – Senior Instructional Services Librarian and Associate Professor of Library Administration, Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Law Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I believe strongly in the need for vibrant libraries in small communities, because libraries provide a bedrock of literacy, and a gateway to the larger world. I am very interested in how the delivery of information services is changing in an increasingly digital world, and in the particular challenges and issues that those changes create for libraries that may not have the resources and access of their large community counterparts.

Also elected to a second term were Steve Seale and Donna Brice.

See full list of your current ARSL board members»


ARSL Announces 2012 and 2013 Conference Locations

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries announced the locations for their 2012 and 2013 Annual Conferences today. The 2012 ARSL Annual Conference will be held at the Sheraton Raleigh, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 28, 29 and 30, 2012. The Sheraton Raleigh is located downtown, within easy walking distance to restaurants, museums and other entertainment. Be sure to mark the dates on your calendar today.

The ARSL partner for the 2012 conference will be the State Library of North Carolina. In 2012, the State Library will be celebrating their 200th Birthday. In light of this landmark, the theme for the 2012 conference will be “Celebrate Libraries”. ARSL hopes you will make plans now to join us and help us blow out the candles on the birthday cake. Information about conference rates and registration will be available shortly.

The 2013 Annual Conference will be held in the Council Bluffs (IA) / Omaha (NE) area in September of 2013. Conference partners for this event will be the Iowa and Nebraska (The Iowa Small Library Association and representatives of the Nebraska library community are co-hosting). Further details will be announced as they become available.

Designed for those who work for small and rural libraries, the ARSL conference features practical, peer-led workshops and keynote speakers who are leaders in various areas of librarianship. Additionally, the conference’s after hours activities are a wonderful time for library staff, directors and trustees to network, share ideas, and encourage one another in an informal setting.

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries is an organization dedicated to the positive growth and development of libraries. ARSL believes in the value of rural and small libraries and strives to create resources and services that address national, state, and local priorities for libraries situated in rural communities. Created in 1982 by Dr. Bernard Vavrek, Director of the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, ARSL became an independent entity in 2007. ARSL is an ALA Affiliate organization. For more information on the association including contact information and how to join, visit our website at www.arsl.info.


ARSL Brochures

Thanks to the Membership Development Committee, and to our partners at the ALA OLOS Office, for their great work in the creation of the new ARSL Brochure! The brochure can be downloaded as a PDF here. All are welcome (and encouraged!) to share with others in your networks to bring more members into the fold!

If you would like to order brochures and/or conference badge ribbons to share at your state / regional conference, we will soon be ready to accommodate you. Please email your request (along with desired quantity, delivery date, and address) to committee chair Carolyn Petersen at carolyn.petersen (at) sos.wa.gov.

ARSL Brochure

Please also feel free to use these About ARSL Slides to help promote the association at your local events or information booth.


2011 ARSL Scholarship Recipient Experience (and why you should attend next year)

I was very lucky to have been selected as the Ken Davenport Scholarship recipient for the ARSL 2011 Conference held in Frisco, Texas. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to be part of something I had never experienced. My experience was eventful, fun, and slightly overwhelming. Not overwhelming in a bad way, but overwhelming in the sense that I walked away with about a million new ideas and stories that I wanted to share.

In addition to working in a smaller library, I am also an Information Technology Rural Librarians Master’s Scholarship (also known as ITRL) Program Recipient at the University of Tennessee. The scholarship is made possible by the Rural Library Professionals as Change Agents in the 21st Century Grant provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. I mention that, because there were really two reasons I felt that this conference was important for me to attend. It aligned perfectly with my current education focus and could help me in my current library position as the Information Specialist at the Lumpkin County Library in Dahlonega, Georgia.

The group sessions were everything from inspirational to entertaining. Linda Braun spoke to us about moving forward and being willing to leave things behind as libraries move toward being a community center and less of a book repository. Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, otherwise known as the two guys behind the comic strip ‘Unshelved,’ reminded us of the humor that can be found in the daily life of working in a library.

My favorite part of the conference was the variety of breakout sessions offered. This gave each individual the ability to explore different topics that were appealing to them or their library situation. These topics covered everything from grant writing tips, adult programming with no money, library signage, and getting teens in the library. And trust me, that is in no way an extensive list of topics. The breakout sessions were well run and presenters were excited to share whatever lessons they could pass along.

But even if there had been no group sessions and no breakout sessions I still would have walked away with more library knowledge than I showed up with. Having the opportunity to speak and interact with librarians who are in similar library situations as your own is an experience in itself. Bring up one topic, such as computer classes at the library and you immediately get 10 responses from 10 different people. Everyone comes willing to share about how things happen at their library. You learn very quickly that there are multiple ways to do one thing at a library and believe me there are ideas out there that have never crossed your mind.

I hope everyone takes full opportunity of the 2012 Conference – which I believe will be in Raleigh, North Carolina. Please pass the word around about ARSL. It is an amazing organization that works hard for the members and offers so much in the way of learning and growth. If you have never attended an ARSL conference before, please take the opportunity to apply for a scholarship for the 2012 Conference. Come to share or come to learn – you will end up walking away from your experience having done both.

Thank you again to ARSL for the scholarship opportunity and for presenting an awesome conference. Hope to see you next year!

Angela Glowcheski
Lumpkin County Library, Dahlonega, GA
angela.glowcheski@gmail.com


ARSL Conference Raises Hopes and Concerns

[Jeff D. Saunders was one of this year's ARSL Conference Scholarship Winners. Thank you Jeff, for the excellent post!]

In my application essay for the Bernard Vavrek Scholarship the big justification I had for attending the ARSL 2011 Conference was sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas relating to our work at the Information Institute on the North Florida Broadband Authority (NFBA) and Florida Rural Broadband Alliance (FRBA) Middle Mile Projects. While NFBA and FRBA are more concerned with bringing better Internet connection speeds to rural Florida, the Institute’s task was a needs assessment of different community anchor institutions, libraries, schools, police departments, etc. and to give recommendations on how NFBA and FRBA could tailor their programs to get said anchor institutions to adopt broadband connections.

Of course, in the process we happen to get a pretty good picture of the state of technology use in rural and small libraries throughout Florida. So I must admit I had an ulterior motive for attending the ARSL conference, to gauge the situation at other rural and small libraries across the country. Through the presentation panels and conversations with some wonderful librarians I came away feeling a lot better about the world as most told me they recieved E-rate, had technology plans, were part of some type of consortium to pool resources for technology, and understood how free access to technology at their library provided a huge value to their community.

What was most concerning was the fact many believed it didn’t matter what value or impact the library had on the community to local administrators or politicians. Some noted the fact that despite the overwhelming support from the community and evidence of the importance of the library, funding got cut anyway. It is something that is downplayed, or not mentioned at all, in library schools today. The fact that despite best efforts and overwhelming empirical evidence libraries, especially rural and small libraries that are the backbone of public libraries in this country, are vulnerable to political ideologies.

We like to think we live in a time when access to information and continuing education for all are accepted as basic needs. Of course, all you have to do is turn on Fox News and you can see that is not the case. Libraries find themselves in a constant political battle with those who do not understand the purpose for them or the role they play in the community, one that everyone I talked to either mentioned or had an opinion on. It is also something that is not mentioned in library schools. Professors, at least most, shy away from explicit discussion about politics and the way it affects libraries. While it was normally the first topic of conversation with the librarians I had the pleasure of meeting at ARSL.

In terms of specific things I took away from the conference, the comments of one Director at the “Small but Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library,” panel who noted the lack of an IT standards system for libraries. This is something extremely interesting to me as I spent the summer hearing pretty much the exact same thing from library directors in Florida. Why there are no standards for the types of technology in libraries is due to a number of factors. For one it is difficult to say what is best for all libraries given the different contexts, situtations, and communities libraries exist in. Second, the power of who decides what the standard is, or more importantly what vendors’ product will be the standard, is a highly contentious proposition. For example, you can imagine the controversy it would cause if the ALA set the standard OPAC system with one company and not another. However, providing general guidelines on what kind of connection speed a library of a certain size should have or the most advantageous number of computers for a library that serves a certain population size are more general questions that do need answering. These are also questions that will be largely answered through forces far outside of the libary’s control.

Libraries are somewhat caught in a shifting paradigm as they become more centered around technology and a new service role. It is unclear, especially to those like me just entering the field, how things will shake out. But I am certain of one thing after my attendance at ARSL, rural libraries are extremely adaptable, more so than their larger urban counterparts, and will profit most from their dedicated and highly skilled staff. When I tell other MLIS students I am interested in working in rural and small libraries they often give me a quizzical look and immediately ask, “but why?” It is pretty understandable. Most in my generation are more concerned with getting a high paying job in some city somewhere and library students are no exception. However, after attending ARSL I am more than ever enthusiastic about joining the rural and small library community.

Jeff D. Saunders
Research Associate
Information Use Management and Policy Institute
The Florida State University
Master’s Student
School of Library and Information Science
College of Communication and Information
The Florida State University


Kansas comes to ARSL on the bus, again!

As in past years, many ARSL attendees were fortunate to receive scholarship funds to attend the conference by organizations within their state. A special thank you to those Conference Scholarship Providers for 2011 who made the conference a possibility for so many attendees!

The seven regional library systems in the state of Kansas have provided scholarships AND transportation to ARSL’s annual conference since the 2009 conference in Gatlinburg, TN. We asked them to share a bit about their bus adventures.

ARSL 2011 Kansas Bus

The day began with a picture, a birthday request from Wendy Mitchell, Director of Clay Center Carnegie Library in Clay Center, who asked everyone to pose in their Kansas Geek the Library t-shirts. They celebrated her birthday with cupcakes on the way to the conference! Wendy is in the front row, furthest right.

Kim Rutter shared:

SEKLS pays for the bus cost for everyone in our region who wants to go to ARSL. In addition, we have four $400 scholarships to cover conference costs for library staff who sign up first and $150 scholarships to help with expenses for later enrollees. People who are going to ARSL for the first time get first shot at the big scholarships. In spite of the bus breakdown on the way back from Gatlinburg, in the first year of the magic bus, library directors and staff in Southeast Kansas have continued to board the bus to Denver and to Frisco and have benefited from the camaraderie with their counterparts from around the state. Nothing like spending 7-8 hours on a bus together to forge friendships! I highly recommend this mode of travel to other states: our bus dropped us off right at the front door of the hotel with our luggage. No baggage being dragged over tarmac, no luggage carousels to wait on, no airport shuttles or taxis to cope with…did you notice how the Kansas people just rolled right off that bus and straight into the gaming mixer? We might not have had the reputation as party animals before now, but all this bus travel has changed that!

Carol Barta shared:

NCKLS scholarships cover registration only, so our librarians appreciate the bargain of riding the bus. And did you know that buses are the most environmentally friendly way to travel long distances? They are even greener than trains. And the bus driver had decorated the bus with bunting and flags in honor of 9/11 and our trip home.

The best thing about riding the bus is having someone else drive. We didn’t have to pay attention to where we were, or stress about finding exits and reading maps. We arrived without being worn out from travel and even got a nap or two on the way home. Though we did practically meet our quotas of talking for the week on the bus alone.

And what better way to build bonds between librarians in your state! These Kansas librarians connect and collaborate throughout the year based on the connections they make on the bus. But as Chris Rippel from CKLS shared, in some cases, “What happens on the bus, stays on the bus.”

Thank you to all our Kansas ARSL members! We may not see the Kansas bus make it all the way to North Carolina next year, but perhaps another state will step up and fill a bus?!


Shoe Shopping with Librarians

[Thank you to Jan Williams, Director of the Russell Public Library, Kansas, for her guest blog post!]

I recently attended the ARSL (Association for Rural and Small Libraries) Conference in Frisco, TX. I was fortunate to attend several very helpful and informative sessions which I know will help me and my staff be the best library we can be.

But the most important thing I learned wasn’t in one of the sessions or talking to one of the presenters. I learned a very important lesson shopping for shoes.

I have very small feet and finding shoes that fit has always been a challenge for me. One of my goals during my off-time was to find a pair of decent shoes to replace the worn-out, uncomfortable ones I was wearing.

The first night of shopping at the mall produced nothing but sore feet while on my quest for shoes. Several of my colleagues offered help but I found nothing within my price range.

The second night, I had only forty-five minutes in which to find the elusive perfect shoe before the mall closed. One of the librarians discovered that one of the department stores was having a big shoe sale so four of my CKLS colleagues got it in their heads that we were going to find shoes no matter what!

One of our system consultants was amazing as she swooped through the aisles honing in on perfect shoes. I’m sure the sales people thought me someone very important to have all these people helping me. I finally found some shoes but I also learned a very important lesson.

Librarians are in the business of helping. Every one of those women that were shopping with me were like bloodhounds on the trail. They were determined to find what they were looking for and weren’t going to give up until they found it. They did that for me and I know that’s what they do for their patrons because that’s the kind of people they are.

Aren’t all of us like that? Isn’t that why we do what we do? The nature of a librarian is to help; not giving up until we squeeze every bit of information out of whatever source we have. It is essential to make our patrons feel important by going above and beyond to find what they need.

That attitude, that drive, and that thirst for knowledge will always be needed and appreciated by our patrons and by our communities. That is what will keep libraries vital and thriving into the twenty-first century and beyond.

Jan Williams
September 2011


Member Power

One of the highlights of our year as an organization is always the conference.  The opportunity to see old friends and the possibility for making new ones creates an excitement that cannot be duplicated by other events.  Perhaps because we are a association of library staff who are, for the most part, isolated during the year, or perhaps because our work in small communities gives us insight into the power of face-to-face networking, the conference is always a big deal.  I cannot encourage you strongly enough to do what you can to be there.

But beyond the 3 days that make up the annual conference, I encourage you to become active in this, your organization; for this is your organization.  A place where those serving as a vital element in the life of their community can communicate, and sometimes commiserate, about their situations.  Where you can “pick the collective brain” for solutions, and resources from those who are doing what you are doing, in the next town down the road.  ARSL is an organization for you, powered by it’s members.

At the conference and for several weeks after, we will be issuing a call for committee members. As a growing organization, with an all volunteer board, we rely on the help and participation of our members.  If you are in Texas for the conference, stop by the table we will have set up with committee information and see what part you can play.  If you cannot come to Texas, look for that same message over the listserv.  There is a piece to this puzzle that has your name on it. Get involved.  It is the best way to assure that the ARSL remains your organization, carrying your message and speaking with the voice of rural librarians everywhere.


But can you afford to not be there?

My library, like libraries everywhere, has had to evaluate and re-evaluate and re-re-evaluate where we are putting our money.  One of the pluses to dwindling funds is that it forces you to select what is truly important, which of your community’s needs are of utmost priority?  Programs, collections, staff salaries, outreach, facilities . . . where should the money go?  Too often, one of the first line items to be cut is staff training.  Seen as a nice plus, more often than not, boards and even library staff do not place this item in the top tier for funding.  Instead, it is something that is done if there is money. I say that philosophy is hogwash. In person training provides opportunities that no other training can offer, and it is vital to the growth of your library.

Training, especially in this day and age of fast changes and even faster technology, is a necessity, not a want or a desire – a must have necessity.  And for those working in isolated, rural or small libraries who do not often have access to in-house or collobrative training, it is even more urgent.  Think of the benefits of an in person training day – you get your batteries recharged, you get to talk to and hear about wonderful, new and exciting ideas that others in your situation are accomplishing and ask them how did they do that?  You have the chance to build your network of experts whom you can contact over the next year and bounce ideas off of and share opportunities for online training.  It is a time to immerse yourself, even for a day, in the pool of “What we could do”. 

The ARSL conference is coming up in a month.  This conference is designed for you – the library staff and board members working in small, rural, perhaps isolated places who want to infuse some new ideas, network with new friends and ask quetions of those who are doind what you want to do.  I know that budgets are tight, that travel money is difficult to come by, but I believe that you will not find a better bang for your buck.  There is little Theory here – it is substance, practical and down to earth.  I encourage you to talk to your board, your Friends, your rich uncle and get yourself to this conference.  It is an investment in your professional life and in the life of your library that I believe you will find pays big returns in the coming months.  You can not afford to miss this opportunity.

See you in Frisco, Texas!


Join your colleagues at the 2011 ARSL Conference!

Join your colleagues at the 2011 ARSL Conference!

Registration for the annual Association for Rural & Small Libraries
Conference continues at www.arsl.info

It will be held in Frisco, Texas, on September 8-11 and will be infused with a welcoming atmosphere
and sense of camaraderie unlike any other conference.  Also, ARSL is pleased to announce that the University of North Texas as our conference sponsor.  Online registration ends August 28, 2011.  You may register in-person at the conference after that date.

Affordable
*              Registration for the full conference is only $200 for
members and $250 for non-members.
*              Conference hotel rates are only $109 per night.  (Rooms
are going fast, so book yours soon.)
*              Free events are scheduled throughout including a
pre-conference mixer, morning yoga classes and closing luncheon.
*              A field trip to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas is only
$20.

Relatable
*       Birds of a Feather facilitated group discussions offer a chance
to gain new perspective while consulting with others about topics
affecting your library such as Summer Reading Club #’s, Fines and Dewey
Alternatives.
*       A Member MatchUp will be offered, pairing those new to the ARSL
conference with experienced conference-goers. 
*       Sessions are geared towards all levels of service that you
provide: Adult, Teen and Children’s Programming, Trustee/Board
Development, Community Partnerships, Technology Issues and much more!

Surprising
*       Free, instructor-led yoga sessions in the mornings.
*       A session on Recycling Books for Fun & Fashion will be offered.

*       National library leaders peeking around the corner during a
What’s Next general session.

Still not convinced that you should register?  Read Sarah Washburn’s (of
TechSoup for Libraries) post:  Best conference, hands down:  ARSL!

I’ll see you in Texas…

Tena Hanson
ARSL Membership Development Committee, Chair


ARSL Conference in this month’s issue of ALA Direct.

We are eagerly anticipating the ARSL National Conference in Frisco, Texas.

In case you were wondering, here is a taste of what is coming during those three days!

“Featured presenters will include Linda Braun, nationally-known library technology consultant and past YALSA president; Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, creators of the “Unshelved” comic strip; and Joe Bob Briggs, TV personality, film critic, author and champion of intellectual freedom.

Free events and activities at the conference include the pre-conference mixer, instructor-led yoga sessions in the morning, Birds-of-a-Feather discussion groups and the closing luncheon.  Attendees new to the conference can be matched up with more experienced conference goers to get the most out of their ARSL conference experience.

For more information about the conference, and to register, please visit www.arsl.info.”

The entire post can be found here – ALA Direct On the ARSL Conference


Heading to New Orleans for ALA Annual

Heading to New Orleans for ALA Annual?

List of sessions and events relevant to the work you do in your rural library. Be sure to join two of our ARSL board members, Larry Grieco and Dwight McInvaill, and this year’s ARSL Emerging Leader, Sharon Michie, for Public Programs that Work in Rural Libraries on Saturday, June 25, from 4-5:30. And if you have additional not-to-be-missed recommendations for folks attending the conference, be sure to post them to the listserv!      – Jennifer Peterson

 

Sessions Recommended to ARSL Members attending ALA Annual in New Orleans 2011(Compiled by Jennifer Peterson, ARSL board member)

Browse ALA Annual Conference Schedule: http://connect.ala.org/conference/ala11 and verify times and locations for events listed below.

Turning the Page 2.0        http://connect.ala.org/node/137992

Friday, June 24, 8:30am – 12:00pm

Convention Center, Rm 345

Description:  Turning the Page 2.0 addresses core issues of advocacy, communications and relationship building in a convenient blended-learning format. This half-day kick-off introduces librarians and supporters to the basic tenants of TtP 2.0. Participants will leave this pre-conference ready undertake a six-week course of synchronous and asynchronous online work aimed at completing an individual advocacy work plan. Attendance at this meeting is encouraged but not mandatory for participation; non-members are welcome. For additional information: http://www.pla.org/ala/mgrps/divs/pla/plaevents/turningthepage/index.cfm

 

Beautiful (and Cheap) Websites and Tools for Low-Tech Libraries http://connect.ala.org/node/137211

Saturday, June 25, 8:00am – 10:00am

Convention Center, Rm 343

Speaker: Bob Keith, Technologist, New Jersey State Library
Speaker: Veronica Rutter Reynolds, Web & Collection Dev. Librarians, New City Library

Description:  No money? No technological savvy? No problem! With the incredible rise of content management systems and open source tools, no library needs to be without technological necessities. The presenters will display several easy tools to create simple, clean websites as well as other tricks like tracking reference questions using Google Apps or set up an SMS service using Meebo. In this economy, no one can afford NOT to know about these tools.

Diversity and Outreach Fair (ALA)       http://connect.ala.org/node/137618

Saturday, June 25, 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Convention Center, Special Events, Halls I/J

Description:  The annual Diversity and Outreach Fair celebrates local library services, programs and collections to underserved and under-represented communities. Visit with program implementers, learn details and strategies for success, and consider how they might be repeated in your library community. Enjoy the festive atmosphere while networking and learning about these important programs! Sponsored by DEMCO, Inc.

Perceptions of Libraries, 2010     http://connect.ala.org/node/138167

Saturday, June 25, 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Doubletree Hotel, Madewood

Description:  In Perceptions of Libraries 2010: Context and Community, OCLC explores how changing contexts impact how people perceive and relate to libraries and information sources. Technologies and economics are vastly changed from 2005, when OCLC released the first Perceptions report. Join Cathy De Rosa for discussion of trends, perceptions and attitudes of the information consumer from this 2010 study.

Public Programs that Work in Rural Libraries    http://connect.ala.org/node/137333

Saturday, June 25, 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Convention Center, Rm 346-347

Speaker: Larry Grieco, Library Director, Gilpin County Public Library
Speaker: Dwight McInvaill, Director, Georgetown County Library
Moderator: Sharon Michie, Branch Manager, Steele Memorial Library

Description:  This will be a panel presentation and discussion of a variety of public programs with a proven success record in rural libraries. Each panelist will describe one or more programs that have worked in his or her library, from inception to implementation including the development of an idea, funding sources, target audience, and how to replicate in another rural library. Dwight McInvaill will describe “The Hurricane Project” and “The Smart Investing Project”, two programs that have worked in his rural library in South Carolina.  Larry Grieco will describe his “Artist-in-Residence” program, in its third year at the Gilpin County Public Library in Colorado (winner of the 2010 EBSCO Award for Excellence), and his library’s ongoing viewing and discussion series, in the sixth year of showing 15 to 20 films a year; and his library’s twice-a-year poetry readings, “A Midsummer Night’s Poetry Reading,” and “A Midwinter Night’s Poetry Reading,” which have drawn capacity (50) crowds at his library for the past two years.

 NEH’s Picturing America: Model Programs for Public Libraries http://connect.ala.org/node/137350

Sunday, June 26, 10:30am – 12:00pm

Convention Center, Rm 274

Presenters:

Speaker: Malore Brown, Program Officer, NEH

Speaker: Lainie Castle, Project Director, ALA Public Programs Office

Speaker: Amber Creger, Children’s Librarian, Chicago Public Library Woodson Regional Library

Speaker: Colleen Leddy, Director, Stair Public Library

Speaker: Laura Moran, Library Programmer, Western Sullivan Public Library

Speaker: Brandy Morrill, Librarian III, Chicago Public Library Chinatown Branch

Speaker: Jude Schanzer, Director of Public Relations and Programming, East Meadow Public Library

Description:  Since Picturing America was launched by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2007, 3,600 public libraries have been awarded this collection of American artwork. Public librarians who have the Picturing America artwork in their collections are invited to attend this session to learn more about developing related programs for public audiences. Model program formats presented will include book and media discussion programs, local history presentations, lecture series, poetry programming, and more.

Includes: Stair Public Library (Morenci, Mich.) – Located in a rural community, the Stair Public Library sought to offer a museum-like exhibit experience to their users with the model program “Picturing New York…in a Tiny Midwest Town.” The “New York, New York” Art Show featured related works from the Picturing America collection, as well art from local high school students. Library programs that highlighted the themes in the art displays included a musical performance, author visit, book discussion, storytimes for children and a gaming day at the library.

 

Come visit with ARSL board members at the ALA Affiliates Booth!

Sunday, June 26, 10:00am – 11:00am

Booth # 2122 in the Convention Center

We’ll be there to chat and share information about ARSL’s fall conference in Frisco, Texas. For more information about ARSL 2011 Conference: http://www.arsl.info/annual-conference-awards-calendar/frisco-conference-2011/

 

Bookmobile Sunday – Panel Discussion

http://connect.ala.org/node/137000

Sunday, June 26, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Convention Center, Rm 284

Speaker: Susan Baker
Speaker: MaryAnne Marjamaa
Speaker: Michael Swendrowski
Speaker: Kathryn Totten

Description:  The annual Bookmobile Sunday program will feature a panel of experts discussing a range of bookmobile-related topics including advocacy, Bookmobiles 101, new bookmobile tips, bookmobile outreach, and bookmobile programming.

 

FREE One-on-One Consulting
Sunday, June 26, 1:30-5:30pm

Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Magnolia Room

Description:

PLA, in partnership with the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, is pleased to present “Consultant’s Giving Back” at ALA Annual. Schedule a complimentary half-hour session with a nationally-recognized library consultant to talk over your library’s most pressing concerns.

List of more than 15 consultants who will be available: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/ascla/asclaourassoc/asclasections/ilex/2011consultantsgive.pdf
Registration is open through Monday, June 20. Schedule directly with your consultant of choice.

 

Raisin’ Readers: Improving Literacy for Rural Children and Youth

http://connect.ala.org/node/136989
Sunday, June 26, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Convention Center, Rm 348

Speaker: James Bartleman, author, As Long as the Rivers Flow
Moderator: Loriene Roy, Professor, University of Texas, Austin

Description: Rural, Native, and tribal libraries sponsor, host, and launch initiatives that support young and teen readers and their families. This program will feature the Honorable James K. Bartleman, Canadian diplomat, author, literacy advocate, and member of the Mnjikaning First Nation, to share his thoughts for engaging youth in literacy programs and read from his young adult novel, “As Long as the Rivers Flow.” As Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Bartleman initiated the Lieutenant-Governor’s Book Program in 2004, collecting over 1.2 million books to stock school libraries in First Nations communities; launched a program to pair Native and non-Native schools in Ontario and Nunavut; and set-up summer camps for literacy development in five northern First Nations communities.

 

President’s Program featuring Marilyn Johnson

http://connect.ala.org/node/137870

Monday, June 27, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Convention Center, Rm 274

Description: Join ALTAFF President Rod Gauvin as he hosts best-selling writer Marilyn Johnson (This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians can Save Us All). Marilyn has been a national champion of libraries and was the moving force behind ALTAFF’s “Authors for Libraries,” a large and growing group of authors who are willing and ready to speak out at the local and national levels about the importance of libraries. A book signing will follow.

 

Common Sense Preservation Assessment

http://connect.ala.org/node/137772

Monday, June 27, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Convention Center, Rm 269

Moderator: Mary McInroy, Reference & Library Instruction, University of Iowa Libraries
Speaker: Jacob Nadal, Preservation Officer, UCLA Library

Description: Learn common-sense approaches to preservation risk assessment and set priorities for collections care. Learn about proven models for preservation assessment; free tools for gathering information about your facilities and collections; and resources to help you understand risks and take effective action. This session will include time to connect with colleagues and talk with preservation experts about preservation issues shared by small, rural, and tribal libraries.

 

ALA Advocacy University: Frontline Fundraising

http://connect.ala.org/node/137622

Monday, June 27, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Hilton New Orleans Riverside, River

Description: The hardest part of getting started with fundraising is figuring out what tools your library should use. The Frontline Fundraising Toolkit is an initiative of ALA President Roberta Stevens which empowers small and rural libraries to engage in fundraising without development staff. During this “town hall” session, you’ll interact with the toolkit writers who will walk through their sections which provide current fundraising techniques and information to help you build a long-lasting base of support for your library.

 

Other Resources for Browsing ALA Events:

ALA Annual Conference Schedule

http://connect.ala.org/conference/ala11

 

Programming Librarian

Guide to the ALA National Conference

http://www.programminglibrarian.org/annual/


Conference Proposals

The 2011 Conference planning is well on its way! We look forward to a great time in Frisco, Texas, but we need your help.

Proposals are being accepted for workshops for the 2011 conference. The workshop times are one of the highlights for any conference, and the ARSL membership is no exception. If you, your library, your system or your staff are doing something new, creative and innovative that can be replicated elsewhere, consider submitting a workshop proposal.

The Online Proposal form is here . We look forward to seeing what wonderfully new and fun ideas you have to share with all the ARSL members.


2010 ARSL Scholarship Recipient Feedback

As an ARSL scholarship recipient, I had the opportunity to go to the 2010 Annual Conference in Denver, which I can say, without a doubt, was the most useful, relevant, professional conference I have ever attended. I serve as a consultant librarian at North Country Library System in Watertown, New York. We are a cooperative library system of 65 member libraries, all separate entities governed by their own boards of trustees. The largest library in our system serves a community of roughly 27,000; the smallest, 121. More than half of our libraries have annual operating budgets of less than $50,000; fifteen have budgets of less than $25,000. We have some of the poorest libraries in the State and everyone works very hard with limited resources. It was so exciting to be in a place with others around the country who understand my work environment and programs tailored to meet the needs of the smaller, rural library.

My primary areas of interest are education (of both staff and trustees), adult reference service, advocacy, marketing and customer service. There were program sessions aimed at all of my interests. I arrived in Denver early to participate in the pre-conference program, “Dealing with Runaway Boards.” The workshop was helpful to me on so many levels. What was most eye-opening to me that day was to see how states are set up so differently in terms of how their libraries and systems are structured. I found it really fascinating and I look forward to learning more about that in the future.

Every program session I attended was interesting and I learned so much from each presenter. One thing I really appreciated was that most of the programs were offered at multiple times. That way, if there was more than one session of interest taking place at one time, it was okay, because I could attend one and catch the other at another time. I managed to go to all of the workshops that were a priority for me. I heard so much new information and I have a list of web sites I wasn’t familiar with that I need to check out. I was reminded of many things I already knew, but that need occasional reinforcement. One thing that sticks out in my mind is that “change is difficult, but can be exhilarating.” Thank you, Lisa Lewis!

What really struck me while I was in Denver was how stories play such a great role in illustrating who we are, what we do, why we’re important. In fact, in one program session on the use of stories in an advocacy initiative, I clearly remember presenter, James LaRue, saying, “We are not in the book business. We are in the story telling business.” That one simple idea has given me so much to think about, not only in terms of advocacy, but in how I go about doing much of what I do.

While at the conference, I heard all kinds of stories… funny, sweet, touching, inspiring, disturbing and even one that was downright chilling and creepy. Since returning from Denver, I’ve been sharing these stories with co-workers, staff at member libraries, friends, family, pretty much everybody. The New York Library Association Annual Conference begins next week. This year’s theme is “The Library: YOUR story starts here.” How fitting that is. I will be sharing some of stories I heard in Denver. Many of them resonated with me and I hope they will with others as well.

I put my conference experience to work immediately… literally. As soon as activities ended on Saturday afternoon, I was back in my hotel room tweaking a customer service workshop I was preparing to present the following Tuesday. I was able to add information, stories, examples, even a video clip from various ARSL program sessions.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the experience was meeting so many people truly making a difference and adding value to their communities. It was so nice to be among such dedicated, library people. While I arrived in Denver alone, I never once felt lonely or out of place. Everybody was so friendly and welcoming. It was so easy to connect with others. I never had to worry about having a lunch or dinner partner. There was always a new friend available. I felt right at home.

To anyone considering attending the ARSL Annual Conference next year, I highly recommend it. It left me feeling recharged and with renewed enthusiasm for my work. I really can’t say enough about this conference.

To all who made my experience possible, I will use a new word learned in Denver thanks to Dr. Loriene Roy… Megwitch! I hope to make it to Frisco, Texas in 2011!

Joan E. Pellikka
Consultant


So glad to have seen you in Denver!

It’s been a week plus since our conference, and perhaps this is a little on the late side, but I wanted to thank you all for the wonderful turnout in Denver this year!  The conference planning committee was overwhelmed and overjoyed at the response to this year’s conference program. It seems that the Programs and Presenters group found just the right speakers to meet the needs of your libraries and bookmobiles.
I hope you remembered to thank whomever may have been responsible for making sure you made it to Denver and have already started planning on how to get to Frisco next year. The dates for 2011 will be out shortly.
Anyway – thank you to our Denver partners and local libaries for a warm and sunny time in the Mile High City! It was a conference to remember!


Hope to see you in Denver, Colorado

Join us in Denver for the 2010 Annual Conference

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries 

and 

The Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services

are pleased to announce that registrations are now open for their

2010 Joint Conference

Magic in the Mile High City!

to be held in Denver, Colorado at the

Crowne Plaza Hotel

October 14-16, 2010

 There are some interesting, educational and exciting plans for this year’s conference. 

The Keynote Speaker for Thursday’s Opening Session will be Dr Loriene Roy, past President of ALA.  For the Closing Session on Saturday morning, Pat Wagner from Pattern Research will address the group.  Both individuals are well known and respected speakers in the library world. 

In addition, local author and radio personality Dom Testa will speak at an Friday Author’s Lunch.  A Wednesday night Welcome Mixer is planned to allow you to meet old friends and make some new ones.  There will be dine-arounds on Thursday evening and a Magic Show on Friday night.  A time to visit bookmobiles, stop by the vendor tables as well as to reconnect with friends and associates from across the county will be included in this year’s schedule. Workshop selection is being finalized and workshop titles will be announced in a few weeks. Some of the topics for this year’s workshops include gaming in the library, using outreach programs for children and teens, ethics, library advocacy, and managing change. 

 Early Bird member’s rate for conference registration is $200.  https://www.bcr.org/ARSL/conf10/index.html   (good through 8/29/2010)

 Three exciting pre-conferences are planned as well. 

All are scheduled for Wednesday, October 13, 2010 

Dealing with a Runaway Board will offer real world solutions for those who are having difficulty managing boards, directors or other library personnel who are out of control.  A panel of experts will work with attendees to develop solutions for your situation. 

 10 Things You Should Know Before Disaster Strikes will take you step by step through disaster preparedness; what you need, who you should call and how to organize now, before a disaster hits your library.  This workshop includes a hands-on salvage workshop for restoring damaged library materials.

 Think Outside the Box is a 1/2 day tour of the two newest libraries in the Anything Library System.  LEED Certified and completely Deweyless, these two new libraries offer an opportunity for you to see a different kind of library.  Meet with the architect, talk to the directors and tour the facilities.  Transpiration to and from the libraries is included.

 

The Crown Plaza Hotel - Denver Airport - is situated just outside lovely Denver, Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  Minutes from the Denver International Airport, the hotel offers a lovely lobby area, a restaurant with a wide variety of meals, an exercise room, business center and swimming pool.  All the rooms for the conference will have free internet access and the conference room rate is only $99 per night (single or double occupancy).  This rate is good for 3 days before and after the conference, so plan an extra day and do some sightseeing. The hotel also will provide a free shuttle service to and from the Denver Airport.  Be sure to ask about it when you register (303-371-9494).  www.cpdenverairport.com 

Conference registration information and an online conference brochure can be found at the following link:   http://www.arsl.info/annual-conference-awards-calendar/denver-conference-2010  

 To register, please stop by the Conference Registration and Exhibitor website – https://www.bcr.org/ARSL/conf10/index.html

 If you have any questions regarding the upcoming conference – please  send email to arslannualconference@gmail.com

I really hope to see you there!


Library Olympians

Well the Vancouver Olympics have begun, with medals being given to those who are the fastest, the strongest, the best at what they do.  I would, however, suggest that small and rural libraries have been involved in a Library Olympic competition of our own.  Here are a few of the events that we see daily.

2010_winter_olympics_logo1

We have the Short Track Circulation Desk Relay Competition where staff strive to serve customers and check in items while not running into each other or tripping over the carts of items stored behind the desk.

There is also the Reference Desk Bi-athalon, an entertaining sport that requires the participants to do any two skills from the following at the same time: answering reference questions, offering reading suggestions, solving computer problems, fixing a stuck printer, explain why we can’t do your taxes for you or fielding phone calls.  Points are given for style, smile, customer satisfaction and being able to discern what the customer wants versus what they actually asked.

 If you like team sports then you should watch the infamous Downhill Weather SuperG which pits an entire library staff and their movie collection against the fury of Mother Nature in full winter mode.

skater
and here is an Olympic quote for the week -

“The important thing in life is not to triumph but to compete.”

- Pierre de Coubertin (French Educator, primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894)

Keep Competing!

 


The Librarian’s Christmas Tree

Librarian's Christmas Tree

Librarian's Christmas Tree

This whole library tree idea has been floating around for some time.  We found a few examples on the Internet.  In fact, our Main Branch in Exton, PA created a similar tree in the local mall, which is where we got the idea.  We did  tweak it a bit for our lobby – here are some instructions:

Start with some books – actually, start with lots of books.  We used adult non-fiction books because they are all of similar size (height, depth and width).  Most of the books we used were donated titles.  We selected them for their cover colors (red, green, white, gold).  For once – it was good to judge a book by its cover.

Lay out your first row – placing the books end to end in a gentle circle.  Each layer needs to be made of books that are the same depth so your tree does not tilt to one side. the next row should be staggered – like laying bricks.  For the third row, we chose to make that layer of books open – this added a Pine Tree feel.  You don’t have to do this – but if you do, you need to make sure the open books are also about the same height. For every 2 or 3 rows, the book in the back will have to be turned 90 degrees so that the rows begin to get every so much smaller as the tree goes up.  Don’t rush this – it seems to happen on its own.

After approx 12 rows, we place a set of boards across the tree to tie the sides together.  We used old wood shelves, but any strong board or even heavy duty cardboard would do.

We placed a second set of boards under the first vertical row of books.  This row has 2 titles with the spine out and then one with the pages out. The “backward” book is fanned open to help support the rows above it.

After some additional horizonal books, we used a round piece of cardboard and some old VHS cases for the second set of vertical titles.  Then topped the tree with small Books on Tape cases and a bow.

The whole tree is just under 6 feet tall.  We forgot to count the items used – but best guess is around 250. We put the restraints around it because the tree’s exsistance created a need in people both young and old to see if they might be able to pull one book from the tree – sort of a monsterous Janga puzzle.  It has received numerous comments and we are already wondering how we can top this next year.

Happy New Year!