Category Archives: Programs

Budget Woes: IMLS Funding in Tennessee Libraries

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

Budget woes, everybody has them. Whether you are a minimum wage clerk or a fortune 500 CEO you have to decide how you’re going to parcel out your income. We all know what we have to have, our needs, and what we want to get, our wants. However there are a few gray areas that fall under headings like clothes and cars where what we want to get may be different than what we need. This discretionary funding is where the budget woes begin. The proposed budget for next year for the federal budget tries to trim the excess from a lot of these gray areas and one of those is the funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The Institute of Museum and Library Services was created in 1996 in order to “create strong libraries and museums that connect people with information and ideas.”[i] It was established by the Museum and Libraries Service Act which must be renewed every five years. So far it has been renewed by both the Obama and Bush(43) administrations.  In fact, George W. Bush augmented the IMLS by rolling the powers of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science and some of the activities of the National Center for Education Statistics into its purview in order to create a more streamlined system for federal support of library services.

In the past 21 years the Institute of Museum and Library Services has funded several programs and initiatives for the betterment of American society. They have maintained a very strong focus on funding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects across the country and providing our country’s students access to education in the skills deemed most necessary for the 21st century. The IMLS has also shown a commitment to the technological side of libraries and museums by funding digitization projects, accessibility projects and forward thinking studies to predict the next tech that will be important for the people of tomorrow. They have a great focus on the future, but also know that our present and history are important as well. They fund collection conservation and preservation projects in order to make sure our history of knowledge and ideas is not lost, such as the Carton Plantation, and have a strong focus on community history and culture as well as programs for learning experiences in our communities. Finally they look out for the libraries’ customers by working on programs to develop staff to best suit your needs and by creating a focus on early learning so that the next generation will group up in an environment of knowledge.

The IMLS makes up a very small portion of the federal budget, but does a great deal with what it is given. The asked for expenditures of fiscal year 2016 for the federal government were almost 4 trillion dollars. The amount given to IMLS was 230 million dollars. That is approximately 0.00575% of the federal budget. To continue the analogy from before of a personal budget, if you had a budget of $50,000 then the IMLS budget would account for $2.88. You may ask, but what does that mean to a community like ours? Aside from the funding for rural communities (such as Leiper’s Fork and Bethesda) to increase and maintain their books for children, the IMLS does a great deal for libraries like ours.

What IMLS funding does for our library…

  • The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) is a collection of databases ranging from career help to research sources for students kindergarten through college. More than 70% of the databases available are brought to us through IMLS funding.
  • Library services for the blind and physically handicapped, funded by the IMLS, allow for braille, audio and large print materials that are circulated at a rate of 1000 titles a day, state wide.
  • IMLS provides support for library technology infrastructures that helps maintain those computers everyone seems to need from time to time.
  • If you’ve used the card catalog or requested an interlibrary loan, programs paid for by the IMLS have helped put the item you need in your hands.
  • Our adaptive tech stations, for individuals with disabilities, are from IMLS fund via a state grant.
  • The books in the career center are also from the IMLS fund via a state grant.
  • Most importantly, the IMLS funds Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. This is the system that our patrons love the most and is probably the most visible of the IMLS funded programs. This system is where your eBooks and eAudio-books come from. Three million titles were checked out through R.E.A.D.S. last year.

What it comes down to is the need versus want argument. Are the programs funded by the IMLS something we like having but don’t need, or something we need to maintain our educational, intellectual, and technological edge and keep America great? If you think IMLS is something Tennessee needs, then click here to go to the Tennessee Library Association’s legislative action center and tell your legislators.


[i] “About Us”. Institute of Museum and Library Services. 2015-02-19. Archived from the original on 2015-09-16. Retrieved 2017-04-13.

 

Why We Should Celebrate National Library Week April 9 – 15

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department

This year’s theme supplies a good reason: “Libraries Transform.” Over twenty years ago, some were saying libraries would go the way of VHS tapes, floppy disks, and beanie babies. But libraries are still going strong! Again, one big reason is how libraries transform people who visit. Please let me illustrate with a few examples.

One morning as the doors open to WCPL, a very focused patron marched in and went immediately to the computer center where he started searching for jobs. After 20 minutes of what he called, “Nothing,” he asked for help. He explains how he just lost his job and desperately needed to find employment. A librarian responds to his request by leading him to a few of the better job search sites, while at the same time helping him narrow his search. This was so helpful that he found three promising jobs to apply for. But he soon asks for help again, as his computer skills were challenged by the application process. The librarian takes time to help him set up a profile and become familiar with just what the applications are seeking. Upon finishing the applications, the man stops to tell the helpful librarian, “Thanks for being so kind to me and taking time. It restores my belief in human kindness.” This patron continues to come to the library, and will never forget how a librarian took time to help transform his situation.

Several weeks later a library patron approached the reference desk with a request. She had retired from two careers but, in her words, “had missed the computer age.” Her children and grandchildren asked her again and again to learn computers, but she held back. Until today. The patron wanted to “turn over a new leaf” and learn how to use a computer, so as to surprise her children by being able to look up answers online all by herself. The librarian gladly set up a one-on-one time with the patron, during which time, the patron disclosed, “I have to tell you, I have arthritis and trembling so bad that I have trouble using the mouse.” Not to be deterred, the librarian scheduled three months of one-on-one times starting with exercises on using the mouse. Although slow going at first, the patron learned to control and use the mouse, which led to creating her first email account. She learned to make and evaluate online searches as well as how to make lists and write letters in Microsoft Word. Over three months she went from being fully dependent on the librarian to semidependence to joyous independence. She reported how her children were impressed with her “entering the computer age,” but that now she uses the computer just because she enjoys it. The patron and her family were grateful that “libraries transform.”

There are many other stories I wish we could relate about patrons who experience the library as a place for transformation. They would talk about learning new skills like Excel; finding interesting books never before considered; discovering Powerspeak Languages to learn a language for their summer vacation; enjoying their first eBook; seeing a program on square foot gardening that doubled their gardening production; tailoring a resume and cover letter for a new career; finding a dyslexia friendly font; and many other stories. All would tell of how libraries transform and become very personal reasons why we celebrate National Library Week.

 

 

 

It’s National Friends of the Library Week!

By Jeffie Nicholson, Reference Departmentfotl-wcpltn

What is a Friends of the Library group?  They are outstanding individuals who value the services a public library provides to a community.  They are willing to volunteer their time and talents plus dedicate themselves to the promotion and support of their local library.

To recognize and celebrate the volunteer and fundraising work of Friends in local community libraries, the United for Libraries division of the American Library Association designates one week in October as the National Friends of Libraries Week.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed October 16-22, 2016, as Friends of Libraries Week in Tennessee and encourages all citizens to join in this worthy observance.fotl-1

Our own Friends of the Williamson County Public Library group was established in 1961.  They held their first meeting on December 3 at the War Memorial Public Library. Over the years, they have contributed thousands of dollars to our  library.  Nearly $15,000 for books was raised this year. They also provide support for staff training and education, and other endeavors as they arise.fotl-2

Our Friends raise these funds via membership fees, their book sales and events such as the Special Children’s Book Sales and by selling t-shirts and book bags. Members volunteer to help out with these and library events plus special Friends events like October’s “Boo Books” on October 24.fotl-summer-2012-book-sale

“The library has always played such an important role in my life and in my family’s life,” said Friends president Debbie Eades. “I truly enjoy being able to give something back – and being an active member of this group is fun!”

Our Friends of the Library are truly priceless and our library system would be bereft without their contributions. Did you know that the value of a volunteer hour is now assessed at $20.56? It leaves you speechless when you think about all the time our Friends give to the library.

“Our library would be much poorer without the Friends,” said Library Director Dolores Greenwald. “The funds they raise are such a valuable contribution to our community. I think most patrons would be surprised to learn how much support is provided by our local Friends groups.”

— Andrew Gold video : Thank You for Being a Friend!

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Guest Post: Spring is in the Air, Pollen is Everywhere

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Spring means beautiful flowers, blooming trees, and fresh cut grass.  But if you are 1 out of the 50+ million people in the U.S. that suffer from nasal allergies, it can be miserable!

  • Allergies are abnormal immune system reactions to things that are typically harmless to most people.
  • Allergens or triggers are substances that cause the allergic reaction.
  • Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, nasal congestion, but no fever are all symptoms of allergic rhinitis also commonly known as “hay fever.”
  • Seasonal allergies are caused by tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen and airborne mold spores.
  • Perennial allergies, which occur year round, are caused by animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and indoor mold spores.

Tips to Reduce Your Exposure:allergies

  • Use air-conditioning in your home and car.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Avoid pets in the home.
  • Bathe dogs twice a week.
  • Vacuum carpets weekly using a HEPA filter.
  • Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water 130°F.
  • Don’t dry laundry outside.
  • Stay indoors on dry windy days.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed during pollen season.
  • Avoid mowing grass or raking leaves.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning.

You can also attend out upcoming Using Essential Oils to Prepare our Sinuses for Spring event. Preparing for spring sinuses and maintaining our sinuses is key to having a great season. Learn how to use Essential Oils to keep our sinuses happy.

 

20 Year Retrospective of Thelma Battle’s Williamson County African American History in Photographs

thelma

Over the past 20 years, since her first exhibit in 1996, Ms. Thelma Battle has displayed over 3000 images in 18 exhibits in observance of Black History Month and in celebration of the culture of Williamson County’s African American community.

This year, the Williamson County Public Library hopes to honor her tremendous effort, commitment, and contribution as a grass roots historian.

The 130 images on display this year are taken from all of the past exhibits Ms. Battle has compiled. The complete display can be viewed in the downstairs and upstairs display cabinets next to the elevator, and in the Special Collections department on the 2nd floor.

thelma 2

 

Also, in honor of Black History Month, Jane Landers, professor of history at Vanderbilt University, will lecture on her more than twenty years of research on the African Diaspora in various parts of the Americas. Her graduate research on the first free black town in in the Americas (formed by runaways from South Carolina who fled to Spanish Florida) supported archaeological investigations, a National Landmark registry and a museum. Since then she has also worked on diasporic sites in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Brazil. Landers now directs an international effort to digitally preserve the oldest records for Africans in the Americas.

This presentation will present an overview of the rise of the African slave trade and the subsequent diaspora of Africans through the Americas.  Main themes will include differences among European slave systems in the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French colonies of the Americas and the resulting varieties of cultural expression and resistance of the enslaved.  You will also be introduced to the wide variety of evidence now available for studying the African diaspora in the Americas.

The African Diaspora_Feb.26

National Spirit of ’45 Day

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department70thAnniversarylogo.REVISEDjpg

This year Williamson County Public Library is having a program on Saturday, August 15 in conjunction with Spirit of ’45 to commemorate the end of World War II and the soldiers who fought, served, returned or died during the war.

Why August 15th? The Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw so eloquently named them, would know immediately. Japan surrendered on august 14, and August 15 immediately began to be celebrated as V-J Day (as June 6th was V – E Day.) 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. As those who served in World War II and those who lived during it pass away, many people began to realize that as they pass away, so does our connection to World War II and remembering the cost and sorrow of the war.

Led by Susan Collins, Senator from Maine, supported by Senators Daniel Inouye and Frank Lautenberg, who co-sponsored this resolution, Congress in 2010 voted unanimously to create a national day to preserve and honor those who served in World War II. Spirit of ’45 Day is observed on the second Friday of August this year, aligning with August 14, 1945, when spontaneous celebrations broke out across America at the news that the most destructive war in history was over. The purpose of Spirit of ’45 Day is to renew the sense of community, national unity, shared sacrifice and “can do” attitude that were the hallmarks of the generation that endured the difficult times of the Great Depression, fought to defend democracy in the largest mobilization of manpower since the building of the pyramids, and led an unprecedented effort to assure a better future for their children and their children’s children, for both former ally and foe alike.

Spirit of ’45 Day has been steadily gaining traction each year, and is now being celebrated throughout the country with events and activities organized by museums and community history associations, WWII heritage groups, senior living communities and care providers, veterans’ organizations, youth leadership organizations, and others.  This year, Scarlett Johansson and Elton John both are stepping up in a big way to help commemorate this generation. John’s mother manned an anti-aircraft gun during the Battle of Britain, and Johansson’s great uncle was the last soldier to die in combat on August 15, 1945.

WWII in Images: Remembrance and Reflection


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Collecting and Saving Seeds!

By Sharon Reily, Reference Departmentseed library

Late summer and autumn are not always the most beautiful and fruitful times for many of our plants. Our vegetable patches have stopped yielding and our flowers are faded and brown. But this is the perfect time to gather seeds you can use to start your gardens next year. Here are just a few benefits of collecting and saving seeds.

  • It’s fun!
  • It’s easy!
  • It’s economical! The price of a packet of seeds seems to increase every year. The seeds you collect from your garden are free.
  • You can share or exchange seeds with friends – a great inexpensive way to try new plants.
  • Your favorite plant may not be readily available at local nurseries, but if you save seeds you can continue to enjoy it in your garden year after year.
  • Many varieties of heirloom plants are lost over time. They actually become extinct! You can help preserve different heirloom plants by collecting, saving and replanting heirloom seeds.
  • By raising many generations of plants, you’ll be able to see how certain traits are passed on, and how you can select the qualities you want to bring out. Over time, you can even “customize” your plants to suit your backyard conditions and your tastes.
  • You can benefit your community. If you collect more vegetable seeds than you can use, which is likely, you can donate your surplus seeds to a community garden that gives free fruits and vegetables to needy families.

Collecting and saving seeds is an ancient tradition. For thousands of years, farmers collected and saved seeds to insure the next year’s harvest. They also studied the results of their plantings and then saved and sowed seeds from the best plants, fine-tuning the plants to meet their needs and match local growing environments. This selection led to a genetic diversity of crops adapted to many growing conditions and climates, and created a large base for our food supply.

While farmers and hobby gardeners collect and save seeds to plant and share, seed vaults or banks do just the opposite. From the beginnings of agriculture (possibly as early as 8000 B.C. in what is now Iraq), farmers understood their seeds needed protection from the weather and animals. Scientists have discovered evidence of seed banks in Iraq from as far back as 6750 B.C. Today, there are more than 1,500 seed banks around the world that hold a wide variety of seeds to preserve crop diversity and act as insurance against disease and natural and man-made disasters that might wipe out the world’s seed reserves. The best known is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, often called the “Doomsday Vault,” located in a remote frozen mountain in Norway. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a huge international project with the capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of crops for a maximum of 2.5 billion seeds. Currently, the Vault holds more than 860,000 samples, originating from almost every country in the world.

svalbard exteriorSvalbard Global Seed VaultSvalbard Global Seed Vault

Amid all the interest in preserving and sharing seeds, libraries around the country have started seed exchanges, and the Williamson County Public Library joined that movement in March of 2015. The first year of our seed exchange, we “checked out” (gave away) more than a thousand packets of flower, vegetable, fruit, and herb seeds. It was suggested – but not required – that those who participate in the program collect seeds from their gardens this fall and return a few of them to the Library in the spring so we can keep our seed exchange going. Go to WCPL Seed Exchange to find out how our seed exchange works and see a list of helpful resources on seed collecting.

If you want to learn more about harvesting your seeds, the Library is hosting a program on Collecting and Saving Seeds with UT/TSU Horticulture Extension Agent Amy Dismukes on Monday, August 31 at 1pm. Registration is required, but the program is FREE and open to anyone who is interested in attending. Just call 615-595-1243 or click here to register.


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Guest Post: Hot Topics in Astronomy

May 2015By Billy Teets, Ph.D.
Outreach Astronomer
Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory

If the planets are your favorite objects to view through a telescope or even just by eye, then May has a show in store.  Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye and thus have been known since antiquity.  Except for Mars, all of these planets will put on an evening performance for skywatchers in May.

By far the hardest to spot of the four planets will be Mercury.  Mercury’s small orbital radius (about one-third the Earth-Sun distance) never allows the planet to stray far from the Sun, so most of the time it is easily lost in the glow of sunrise or sunset; however, Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation on May 7, which simply means that it will appear about as far from the Sun in the evening sky as it can get.  During this time Mercury can be found as a moderately bright “star” just above the west-northwestern horizon after sunset, and the planet will take on a very small, crescent-moon shape when viewed through backyard telescopes.  Mercury and Venus both go through a complete cycle of phases for the same reason that our Moon exhibits phases.  At all times, half of the surfaces of Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and any other round body orbiting the Sun are always illuminated just as half of the Earth is experiencing daytime as you read this.  Using his small telescope Galileo Galilei was the first to observe this in the early 1600s, and these observations provided direct observational proof that some objects, namely Venus, go around the Sun and not the Earth.  In addition, as these planets move closer to and farther away from us as we all orbit the Sun, they appear to enlarge and shrink in telescopic views due to the changing distances between us and them.  If you get a chance to observe Venus and Mercury through a backyard telescope, you will see both of these phenomena quite well.

Speaking of Venus, even casual observers will have noted the bright planet in the western sky after sunset. Over the past few months, Venus has been creeping higher up in the evening sky as it rounds the Sun to catch up to the Earth.  For the next few months, Venus will only be outshone by the Moon in the evening sky as it continues parading as the “Evening Star.”  Venus’s high brightness is due to its clouds, which are highly reflective and completely enshroud the Venusian surface.   Just like Mercury, Venus’ orbit will never let it stray far from the Sun in our skies, but its larger orbital radius lets it get significantly higher in the sky as compared to Mercury.  On June 6, Venus will reach greatest eastern elongation and show a distinctive half-moon phase when viewed telescopically.  From this point onward, it will grow larger in telescopes as it takes on a thinner and thinner crescent phase.  When it finally catches up to and passes us in August, Venus will begin creeping up in the eastern sky before sunrise as it changes to its “Morning Star” persona.

Jupiter continues to ride high in the sky just after sunset.  The most massive of the solar system’s planets puts on a new display each night as its four largest moons, also discovered by Galileo, continually change positions.  Folks with medium- to large-aperture telescopes will note that each of these moons appears as a small disk under high magnification as opposed to pinpoints of light.  Though these moons are roughly a half-billion miles from us, they are large enough (about the size of our moon, to first order) that even backyard telescopes can resolve them.  Occasionally we are treated to additional performances by the moons as their ink-black shadows are cast on the planet and sweep across its atmosphere in a matter of hours.

Finally, the real gem of the solar system makes its debut in the evening skies by early May.  During the first part of May, Saturn will appear as a bright “star” near the east-southeastern horizon just above the star Antares, the brightest star of the constellation Scorpius.  As the month progresses, Saturn will gradually slide west among the stars and move from Scorpius to Libra.  Normally, as Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun, one would expect the planets to move eastward among the stars.  However, as Saturn approaches opposition on May 23 (another fancy term that simply means Saturn rises as the Sun sets), it will appear to move backward in its orbit as Earth catches up to and passes it.  This retrograde motion will continue until the start of August at which point skywatchers will note that Saturn will halt its backwards movement and resume its normal, easterly trek among the stars.  Opposition is a great time to view Saturn as it means that the planet will also be visible for the majority of the night, giving those with telescopes plenty of time to admire the giant rings of the planet and even spot a few of its moons.

During the start of May, around 10pm CDT, folks with clear eastern and western horizons can spot all four of these planets simultaneously.  Starting low on the west-northwestern horizon one can first spot dim Mercury, then brilliant Venus high up in the western sky, then Jupiter almost overhead, and finally Saturn near the east-southeastern horizon.  If the ground were transparent and no atmosphere was present, one could continue this line, known as the ecliptic, around to form a complete circle and also intercept the planets Uranus, Neptune, and Mars.  The Moon would also lie fairly close to this line, and the Sun would lie directly on top of it.  This alignment is not coincidence – the ecliptic is the orbital plane of the Earth, or as viewed from Earth, it marks the apparent path of the Sun through our sky.  The planets and Moon do not stray far from the ecliptic because the orbital planes of Earth and the planets are in close alignment, and this alignment is a result of the formation of the solar system.  Approximately five billion years ago, a large, rotating cloud of gas and dust began collapsing in on itself due to its own self-gravity.  As the rotating cloud collapsed to a smaller, more compact size its rotation speed increased just as a rotating ice skater spins faster as she pulls her arms closer to her body.  But, as anyone who has spun around has experienced, centrifugal force causes a spinning ice skater’s arms to want to fly outwards – this is also experienced by the collapsing cloud.  As the cloud collapses down, it not only spins faster but centrifugal force tries to halt the collapse in the direction perpendicular to the cloud’s rotation axis but not the collapse along the rotation axis. The end result is the cloud flattens down to become a rotating disk – the Sun forms at the center of the disk and planets form in the outer portion.  The planets slowly build up in the rotating disk of material and, once the cloud of material is depleted/dissipated, the newborn planets continue their orbits around the Sun in approximately the same orbital plane.Hot Topics in Astonomy_May 8,2015

Teen Tech Week

photo 1By Erin Holt, Teen Department

It’s officially Teen Tech Week ! Libraries around the country are celebrating in many different ways, combining crafts, technology, and more! Here at WCPLtn, we celebrated by hosting our final Lego Mindstorms Club meeting, playing the Wii U, and even putting technology to the side one afternoon by playing various board games!

photo 2Our Teens did a great job under the guidance of Middle Tennessee State Community College professor Alan Fisher. They started out learning the various parts of the Lego Mindstorm, moved to building their own robot, and finally learned the intricacies of programming the robot! By the end they had their robots sensing colors, objects, and even doing dances to various pop songs! Everyone had a blast and some even used the sessions to aid in earning their merit badge for boy scouts!

photo 3If you’re interested in attending an upcoming Lego Mindstorms program, follow us on Twitter @wcplteen14 and keep your eye on our website http://www.wcpltn.org where we’ll post slides to let you know when registration opens for the April session!

What did you do to celebrate Teen Tech Week?

 

robot

 

Williamson County Public Library to Host Writers Workshop

4119241Award-winning author Sara J. Henry will conduct a novel-writing workshop on Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 pm. In “How to Write a Book that Grabs the Reader and Doesn’t Let Go,” Henry will discuss strong openings and review some – participants are encouraged to bring in a copy of a favorite novel – and talk about why these openings work. She also will critique on paper opening pages of participants’ work – please bring up to ten pages, double-spaced (some will be discussed aloud, with participants’ permission, anonymously if desired). Henry will also cover the importance of pacing and how to keep things moving; choosing what tense and person to use; what genre your work falls into; how to find critique partners and how to utilize critiques; the importance of revision; tips on making your manuscript come alive. She will also touch on how to write a query letter (bring yours, if you have one) and select the right agent, and talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing.

learning+to+swimSara J. Henry is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and has a Master’s degree in Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She was an editor at Rodale Books and at Women’s Sports & Fitness magazine, and attended Squaw Valley Writers Conference. She has edited many nonfiction books, worked as a correspondence writing school instructor, written for numerous magazines, and written and co-written nonfiction books on health and fitness. (She’s also been a soil scientist, website designer, and bicycle mechanic, among other professions.)

Her first novel, Learning to Swim (2011), won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, A Cold and Lonely Place (2013), won the Silver Falchion Award and was nominated for the Anthony Award.

Henry’s workshop is sponsored by the Williamson County Library Foundation. There is no cost to attend, but seating is limited, and registration is required. Register online at http://lib.williamson-tn.org/ or call 615-595-1243.

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