Thoughts At Year’s End Tuesday, Dec 29 2009 

Ileen and I recently returned from a trip to Indianapolis to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandson. In a state of recovery from the hassles of holiday air travel my thoughts now turn to the year fast passing.

After observing how much our 3-year-old grandson had changed since our last visit with him in October, I am reminded that change is more evident if you are not watching something on a daily basis. In the light of daily activities it is often difficult to notice change.  As a library administrator I often have to remind myself that patience is a virtue that I should try even harder to cultivate. Ileen, after seeing my impatience at airline difficulties during our recent trip, would encourage me in this pursuit!

As the year ends I am in the beginning part of  my term as president of the Virginia Library Association. It is a great honor to have been elected to this position by my peers and I hope to return their trust before my time ends next October. The coming year will bring many challenges to both the Association and to libraries throughout Virginia as funding at all levels is being cut  resulting in service and staff reductions. I prefer to look at this as a challenge that can be successfully dealt with. Now as to the four columns that I have promised to write for Virginia Libraries, only time will tell!

I remain ever grateful that I am part of a wonderful public library. Twice this year the Williamsburg Regional Library has been honored by Library Journal as a five-star public library. This recognition has been received by only 85 libraries out of the over 12,000 public libraries in our country. This honor was made possible by the excellent financial support provided by our contracting entities and by a talented, dedicated staff that continually seeks new ways of meeting user needs. On a regular basis, I receive positive comments by community members on the service that they receive from their public library.

As president of the board of the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program, I have seen an increase in both community understanding of local adult literacy needs and in financial support for this essential community service. During the year the Program completed a fund drive to enable it to move into the new  College of William and Mary School of Education facility. This move, anticipated by summer of 2010, will enable easier access to program services and activities by clients and their tutors as well as giving staff needed space for operational activities. The Program looks forward to working more closely with School of Education students and faculty in its new location.

I have been a member of Rotary for over 25 years. My current club  the Rotary Club of James City County,  in which I serve as treasurer, has had a good and active year. Scholarships to assist local high school graduates to attend college were increased so that now $8,000 is given on an annual basis.  Fund raising efforts enabled over $25,000 to be provided to various non-profit agencies to assist them in providing essential community services, both here and abroad. Through interesting weekly programs (7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning is early for some) and activities such as road clean-up, assisting with the construction of a local playground, and  social events club members became better acquainted with each other.

The year leaves me older, somewhat wiser and maybe a little more patient. I look forward with anticipation to what next year will bring!

So long for now!

Advertisements

Core Values – First Post Wednesday, Jun 18 2008 

In my May 16 post I promised to discuss the Library’s core values. As it is now mid June the time has come to deliver on that promise.

What is a value? The Free Dictionary defines a value as “a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable”. This is as good a definition as any. In reality, a value is something that is held in high regard or esteem by an institution or individual. Values drive anything that an institution or individual does whether they are stated or unstated.

In committing to a set of values the Williamsburg Regional Library is declaring the institutional basis for its programs and services.

The current Williamsburg Regional Library strategic plan lists seven core values. They are :

  • We value free and confidential access to information.
  • We value all residents in our community.
  • We value a literate community.
  • We value strength found in diversity.
  • We value our staff.
  • We value ethical, fiscally responsible stewardship of public resources.
  • We value working cooperatively with groups in our community.

In this post I will briefly discuss the first four of these values, leaving the last three for a later post.

We value free and confidential access to information – The Library’s mission statement indicates “free access to information is a foundation of democracy”. In fulfilling our mission statement the Library supports the right of residents to select the information appropriate for their individual needs. Access to this information is not restricted, except where required by law, and the library through its confidentiality policy and procedures ensures that this access will be remain private.

We value all residents in our community – The Library pledges to provide each individual with courteous, respectful, and friendly service. We value individuals input regarding all that we do. I enjoy receiving “Ask the Director” Comment Cards and have had many delightful (and to be honest, some not so delightful) discussions with individuals as a result. As we look into future revisions of our strategic plan this value may be clarified to define community to being the residents of our funding jurisdictions. As recent events have shown, the Library is not able to provide full service to non-residents of our funding jurisdictions.

We value a literate community – As our strategic plan indicates, “Literacy is important to the successful functioning of a democratic society”. It is also essential to the successful operation of a public library. Without literate users, libraries cease to exist. Through all our programs, services and collections the Library promotes lifelong literacy. One of my community services, as mentioned in an earlier post, is serving on the board of a local adult literacy provider. This service has given me an increased awareness of the value of literacy to both individuals and society at large.

We value strength found in diversity – Our community is a diverse community embracing many cultures, values, and lifestyles. The adult literacy provider mentioned above had as students in the past year individuals from 50 countries speaking 32 different languages. Each summer brings many international student workers to the library on a regular basis. Through personal interactions with the many members of our community we are enriched and become a stronger and more vital institution.

So long for now!

Adult Literacy Friday, May 9 2008 

Literacy is essential to effective library use and to true participation in a democratic society. Yet many of our adult citizens can not read, or write or are unable to perform either function at a high enough level to enable them to be effective members of society. Why? There are many answers, including a poor school experience, learning disabilities, and economic or social status. In today’s increasingly diverse society another factor is the inability to read or write English due to recent arrival from another country.

One of my personal joys is the experience that I am privileged to have as a member of The Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program board of directors. This group has provided adult literacy instruction in the Greater Williamsburg Area for the past 33 years. This week the Program held its annual awards ceremony. It brings tears to your eyes to see individuals so proud of their achievements. This year 42 individuals were awarded certificates for completing 35 or more hours of instruction. In addition, over 200 more learners received instruction from over 200 volunteer tutors. This instruction enabled individuals to achieve high school completion, pass certification exams to retain or qualify for better employment, obtain their drivers’ licenses or improve their communication skills to become better functioning members of our community. It also enabled many to obtain their first library card and become regular library users.

The Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program began as a way to assist employees of the College of William and Mary in obtaining reading and writing skills, and the program has been housed on the William and Mary campus since its inception. In recent years, the diversity of enrolled learners has increased. The 248 learners this year represented 50 countries and 32 different languages.

What does this have to do with the Williamsburg Regional Library? and Why am I making it a topic of this post?

As we use the library, or have this institution as a place of employment, we tend to forget that there are many in the community that are unable to take advantage of the tremendous programs and services found in the library. Lets us thank organizations such as The Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program and the many community volunteers that are working hard on a daily basis to make the Williamsburg area even a better place to live!

So long for now!