A Year in the Pandemic

On March 16, 2021, we marked one year since the pandemic drastically altered how we at MLS work and provide service to our membership.

It’s been a trying year with many changes and demands on the physical, mental, and emotional health of our staff and the staff at our member libraries.

In the spring of 2020 MLS made adjustments to services, in response to the pandemic –

  • BiblioTemps- our temporary staffing service lost 17 positions due to the pandemic and suspended the acceptance of any new placements until the fall of 2020.
  • Commonwealth eBook Collection – the OverDrive K-12 Shared Sora Collection for schools has seen record levels of enrollment by our school members and use by students across the state.
  • Delivery – the physical transport of materials across the state shut down on March 16th 2020 and resumed in phases between the end of May and June 2020.
  • Interlibrary Loan – In March there were over 1,400 items on loan. Due to Library closures the ILL team dedicated a significant amount of time to submitting and obtaining renewals (estimated 500+ total renewals) on behalf of member libraries.
  • Databases – The statewide databases experienced a drop off in usage after many schools and academic institutions switched to remote learning during the last few months of the school year. A downward trend in usage is somewhat typical for the last few months of the fiscal year as the academic year comes to a close.
  • Consulting and Training Services – In the spring of 2020 the team cancelled their in person spring workshop series and pivoted to virtual trainings. They introduced a series of virtual check ins to provide support and connection to our members.

This past year we’ve also worked with our colleagues at the MA Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) to advocate on behalf of library staff on everything from sector specific protocols to vaccines for library staff. 

In 2020, we wrote a new Strategic Plan and Action Plan that will guide MLS through 2024. In light of the increased demand on our Commonwealth eBook Collection, we’ve invested additional funds into the materials budget. We are developing new ways for our members to engage with MLS virtually including our new MLS LIVE events.

Please read our monthly updates on our Action Plan progress, available on our  resource guide. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if we can assist you in your work. 

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Resumes & Interviews – Upcoming BiblioTemps Webinars

This May through June, BiblioTemps® will be hosting a webinar series for Library workers interested in developing their job searching skills. The full schedule of webinars will be announced in the first half of April. Included in this series will be programing on resumes and interviewing.

To help us prepare the content for these programs we invite you to submit questions on resumes and interviews. Please use this Survey Monkey link to anonymously submit questions.

Your submission will be used to either inform the content of the program, as a question to the programs presenter(s), or to develop supplemental materials.

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The OverDrive K-12 Shared Sora Collection Surpasses 1 Million Checkouts

The OverDrive K-12 Shared Sora Collection (referred to more broadly as Commonwealth eBook Collections) has reached one million checkouts! The count officially started on July 1, 2018, when the Commonwealth eBook Collections program moved to OverDrive as the vendor for the program. However, more than half of the one million checkouts occurred in the past year, as a result of many schools joining the program during the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded $300,000 in federal CARES Act funds that will allow for increased support to schools and students during this time, with a special focus on summer reading. Read the press release here: https://mblc.state.ma.us/news/news-releases/2021/nr210208.php.

Enrollment in Commonwealth eBook Collections: the OverDrive K-12 Shared Sora Collection program for schools remains open. Any school that is a member of the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) is eligible to join the program, with the addition of a small fee. View the program information sheet here: https://guides.masslibsystem.org/ld.php?content_id=56262489. Sign up to join the program here: https://masslibsystem.libwizard.com/f/cecenroll2022.

Questions? Please contact Tressa Santillo, Electronic Resources Coordinator at tressa@masslibsystem.org.

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Summer Library Program 2021

Summer 2021 may look a lot like 2020, with many libraries planning to provide remote programs, contactless pickup of books and materials, and outdoor events with “pop-up” libraries. Early this spring April Mazza, MLS Consultant, held virtual brainstorming and discussion sessions for those who work on Summer Library Programs. MLS also collaborated with Rhode Island and Connecticut to put on the first ever Tri-State Summer Summit. You can explore many of the compiled resources, including video recordings of sessions, on the 2020/2021 Summer Resource Guide: https://guides.masslibsystem.org/slp/20202021

More archived webinars can be found on our Summer Library Program Vimeo Showcase https://vimeo.com/showcase/4970180

Join us next week for a meeting with Liz Babbitt, State Aid Specialist at the MBLC, to learn about what and how to count statistics for your summer library program. We will be taking questions before and during the program – come with your questions and examples of scenarios! This session will be recorded.

Register: https://calendar.masslibsystem.org/event/7633799

For questions about the Statewide Summer Library Program please contact April Mazza april@masslibsystem.org

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Essentials for Library Workers Training Suite

MLS has partnered with ALA to provide library workers throughout Massachusetts with access to the Essentials for Library Workers training suite, which currently includes pre-recorded webinars, two of which have been updated:

  1. Customer Service, by Laurie Brown (1 hr.)
  2. UPDATED Intellectual Freedom, by Deborah Caldwell-Stone (40 min.)
  3. UPDATED Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Libraries, by Kristin Lahurd (45 min.)
  4. Creating a Welcoming Environment for Patrons with Disabilities, by Brenda Hough (50 min.)

If you have already requested access to the training suite, you should already see the updated materials in your account. If you want to take advantage of the training suite, please fill out this form and we will email you the access information. The link to this form is also available on our Other Training Resources LibGuide.

Access to this training suite is supported by a generous grant from The Manton Foundation.

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Staff Profiles

Each month we will be highlighting two MLS staff members and sharing a little bit about them. This month we would like to introduce you to…

Sarah Sogigian, Executive Director
As Executive Director, my position allows for a lot of engagement opportunities: with our staff, our director team, and MLS Board Members, member library staff, colleagues at partner organizations, and legislators.

Read More…

Alison Demers, Resource Sharing Librarian
As a member of the Resource Sharing Team, I work on interlibrary loan requests for member libraries, searching for lenders across the state and country that can fill requests for their patrons. 

Read more…

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MLS/MBLC Reopening Information

As Massachusetts plans to enters into Step 1, Phase 4 on March 22, 2021, of their reopening plan, the MBLC and MLS reopening team has been reviewing documents and questions about what this means for our libraries. The general guidelines, among other things, names:

  • Gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.
  • Residents must continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and are encouraged to avoid contact outside of their immediate households. The Travel Advisory and other public health orders remain in effect.

The MA Safety Standards and Guidelines for Libraries were updated for March 1, 2021. It’s possible that it will be updated again for March 22, and we will share that news when we receive it. Among the most notable guidelines:

  • Require face coverings for all workers and patrons, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability 
  • All public computers and other shared technology and equipment accessible to multiple users must be wiped down and disinfected between uses. Provide disinfectant wipes at each work station for patrons to wipe down equipment after use
  • Books and other materials should be placed in marked containers after patron handling or return and subject to 24-hour quarantine before being returned to shelves by library workers

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Advocacy on behalf of Massachusetts Libraries

The Mass Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), the Massachusetts Library System (MLS), and the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) have consistently advocated on behalf of library staff since the beginning of the pandemic on everything from sector specific protocols to vaccines for library staff.

We encourage you to reach out to your local legislators with information on how your library has remained in service to your community and invite you to use the attached in your local advocacy.

Additionally, we encourage library staff, trustees, friends’ groups, and supporters to engage with local municipal leaders to make sure that the concerns of the unvaccinated library workforce are understood when making decisions to expand library in-person services.

Find your local legislators here.

Full Update-

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MLS Live Schedule

Join us for one of these 30-minute Q&A sessions!

  • March 30th – Delivery
  • April 27th – Library for the Commonwealth (BPL)
  • May 25th – MLS Management Report on training needs in Libraries
  • June 29th – No session

Register to attend: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYvc–vrT8pEtZI8fkBCKz9H5MBrMcuKF5w

The purpose of this new series is to strengthen connections with our members and partners in our new virtual work environment. This series will offer attendees the opportunity to learn about and engage with MLS.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions about these topics either using the chat feature in Zoom or by emailing sarah@masslibsystem.org  in advance of the session (please note: this session will be recorded. Attendees will be muted to preserve audio quality). 

Sessions will be hosted on Zoom and recorded; we invite you to participate by attending the live session or watch the recording on your own time.

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