The NYLA Annual Conferences included 32 on-demand sessions, with the broadcast sessions being added-in after the live event was over. Below is the third of several blog posts of things that stood out to me from the sessions I watched after the conference ended.
Grassroots Community Organizing for Socio-Economic Development
Program Description: This workshop will showcase projects available to libraries in partnership with community members and organizations, as well as the meaningful impacts that they can have towards their community's socio-economic development. We will discuss Library projects regarding Self-publishing and Digital Literacy, Coding, and Electronics with Underserved Populations, as well as Advocacy and Sustainability.
- Dragana Drobnjak
- Trudi Antoine, Onondaga County Public Libraries
- Librarianship exists in the creative design field.
- Social economic status (SES) is the social standing or class of an individual group. It is often measured as a combination of education, income, and occupation.
- SES has an impact on how people live and how they see themselves.
- Syracuse, NY has a rich history and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It provided resettlement opportunities for former enslaved people. In more recent history, Syracuse built an interstate highway through the city. Now Syracuse has pockets of extreme poverty of Black and Brown people. 80% of students in the Syracuse City School District live in poverty. (Drobniak shared a number of statistics around this.)
- City of Syracuse libraries are based in areas of poverty.
- They gave overviews of three Syracuse branch libraries:
- The downtown branch (Central Library) sits in an area that has been revitalized with more stores and high-end housing. There are also homeless shelters in or near this area. Many of the visitors to the Central Library are people who live in poverty or are low-wealth.
- The Beauchamp Branch, which Antoine works, is on the South Side of Syracuse in an area of poverty. In 2017, 31.2% of people in that zip code lived below the poverty level. The poverty level in Syracuse is now 40%.
- The White Branch is on the north Side of Syracuse in an area with many immigrants, refugees, and New Americans. People in this area must overcome many challenges, including the challenge of learning English and finding employment.
- What can be done? Grassroots organizing and collective action.
- Graphic journalism workshops to alleviate trauma and increase storytelling skills.
- Teach skills (e.g., 3-D printing) that lead the learners to other learning opportunities and then job opportunities.
- Libraries can help community members build the skills to solve 21st century problems.
- Teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills.
- Drobniak and Antoine provided many examples from the work they have done in Syracuse.
Library Law for the Win!
Program Description: Libraries are governed by a complex web of law and regulations. As trustees focus on operations, budget, and strategic planning, the need to consider legal compliance can feel overwhelming. How can a Board transform this perceived burden into a benefit? By exploring several common scenarios, attendees will learn techniques and practice with materials to help trustees not only comply with the law, but to use a focus on legal compliance to enhance your library's mission
- Stephanie (Cole) Adams, The Law Office of Stephanie Adams, PLLC
- Adams included this disclaimer on her handouts, which I want to note here: "This is not legal advice. Any compliance notes or tips in this document should be reviewed by an attorney for consistency with bylaws and other policies before being included in your institution's policies or practice."
- How can you use library law not as a burden but as a way of helping you win or define yourself?
- Adams laid out a fictional scenario abut a library flooding and its aftermath, and used that to discuss take-aways.
- Take-away 1 - Every library director should have have a binder or database with all of the library's legal paperwork, including the library's charter, bylaws, information on the board of trustees, past trustee meeting minutes, board policies, plan of service, organizational chart, property deed, property survey, insurance information including the carrier's contact information, and copies of major contracts.
- Take-away 2:Every library board member should have a binder or online file containing bylaws, current members and terms, last year's worth of board minutes, list of committees and current members, oath of office, plan of service, organizational chart, board code of ethics, all library policies, insurance summary, and conflict of interest disclosure form.
- Adams believes that every board member should have a script for entering executive session. Her script says:
- BE IT RESOLVED, that per Section 105 of the Public Officers Law, this board shall now move into executive session for purpose of discussing:
- discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation;
- collective negotiations pursuant to article fourteen of the civil service law;
- the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation;
- the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body (but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof).]
- [OPTIONAL Attendance at this executive session shall include non-board member ___________________.]
- Take-away 3: Every library should have their board members and executives review and sign the conflict of interest policy annually.
- Take-away 4: Every board should know which board committee is designated with addressing claims related to civil rights complaints (sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation).
- Take-away 5: Libraries are entrusted with not only personal information, but with patrons’ confidential library records, which are protected from disclosure by CPLR 4509. CPLR 4509 says:
- Library records, which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, free association, school, college and university libraries and library systems of this state, including but not limited to records related to the circulation of library materials, computer database searches, interlibrary loan transactions, reference queries, requests for photocopies of library materials, title reserve requests, or the use of audio-visual materials, films or records, shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except that such records may be disclosed to the extent necessary for the proper operation of such library and shall be disclosed upon request or consent of the user or pursuant to subpoena, court order or where otherwise required by statute.
- Take-away 6: Job descriptions should be reviewed annually for accuracy and updated as needed. You may want to include some flexible language, so a person can take on additional duties (as what has happened during the pandemic).
- Adams noted that the requirements on the job description should fit the duties of the job. For example, do not require a driver's license for a job, when that job does not require that the person drive.
- Take-away 7: Independent Contractors should only be used when the term truly fits the relationship with the contractor. In other words, understand the difference between an independent contractor and employee. Who are you doing business with? NYS Department of Labor website contains a definition of an independent contractor.
- Talk to your insurance carrier about risk management and risk thresholds.
- A concern is who covers the person's worker's compensation insurance.
- Take-away 8: Any library using volunteers should have a "Volunteer Policy" to ensure volunteers are properly vetted, covered by insurance, and the scope of their volunteer services are confirmed by a letter.
- Adams said that a volunteer should clearly understand what person is allowed and not allowed to do.
- Volunteers include students, friends of the library, and others who are providing short or long-term volunteer work at the library.
- If students from a particular school volunteer regularly at the library, the library could create an agreement with the school and not with each individual student.
- Take-away 9: Make sure that staff understand how to handle angry phone calls without saying anything in the heat of the moment that might disadvantage the library later. She suggested that there be script next to the phone for staff to use.
- Take-away 10: Insurance coverage is important.