Observations Thursday, Feb 4 2010 

I have tried to have at least one blog post per month. January 2010 did not make it. Did anyone miss me? Probably not.

But here I am again, like that rusty windmill that continues to spin with the wind. Hopefully, as with the rusty windmill, I am bringing something to the surface that will be beneficial.

January 2010 saw my return to the American Library Association Council for a three year term as the representative of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. For one year in the mid 1990’s I had served on Council as the Illinois Chapter Councilor. I remember that year as one in which Council meetings were long and contentious. This time at the Association’s Mid-Winter meeting in Boston, Council meetings were quick, routine and without major controversy. The third session of Council actually ended several hours before its scheduled time. I am sure that by Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. in June there will be enough issues to keep us fully occupied.

January also saw the quarterly meeting of the Virginia Library Association Executive Committee and Council. The Executive Committee meeting was held in Richmond and the Council meeting at the Twin Hickory Branch of the Henrico County Public Library.  This was different than our normal meeting location of Charlottesville. This change in venue enabled participants to attend the annual Legislative Reception held by the Library of Virginia on Thursday, January 28th. While I was disappointed at the number of legislators in attendance at the reception I am reminded that  it is always difficult to catch these busy individuals. However, good contacts were made and important information on the value of libraries shared with legislators and their staffs. The Executive Committee meeting was held in the Richmond Public Library’s main library. Harriet Coalter, Richmond Public  library director, has done a wonderful job in restoring majestic beauty to this historic structure. I am enjoying my year as president of VLA and am delighted to see individuals enthusiastically responding to the challenges facing our profession.

Budget matters took up considerable time in January. In December 2009, in recognition of the fiscal constraints facing our contractual funding bodies the Library’s Board of Trustees took a proactive position by approving a resolution reducing funding from these localities for the FY10 budget year. At its January 2010 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a funding request to these bodies  for FY11 that is a further reduction in funding for library operations.  If approved, these reductions will mean a loss of approximately 10% of our funded positions as well as less funds for operating budget items. Our challenge in this time of fiscal stress is to continue to provide the excellent service that has garnered the Library two 5 star library recognitions from Library Journal in the past year. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this task but look forward to working with staff, board, and the community as we employ our knowledge and skills in the provision of  quality service to all our users.

On a brighter note the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Program, on whose Board of Directors I will serve as President until this coming July, is looking forward to occupying space in the new William and Mary School of Education facility. The building’s completion is scheduled for late spring or early summer. Furniture has been ordered and staff are excited about having quarters that will be more accessible to both learners and tutors. New cooperative ventures with the School of Education will be possible in our new location. As a part of this move the Program will be changing its name to Literacy For Life. On March 13, in cooperation with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program, there will be a Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars fund raising event held at Phi Beta Kappa Hall on the campus of the College of William and Mary. This will be an interesting and enjoyable evening. Tickets for the event are on sale through the College’s ticket office. In a moment of insanity (of which I seem to have many), I agreed to be a judge for this event. At least you can be thankful that I am not one of the dancers!

As I advance in age I tolerate even the normally mild Virginia winters less well each year. This past week’s snow storm has tested my tolerance more than I would care to comment on. Hopefully, by my March blog post spring will have begun to stretch its tendrils over the land.

So long for now!


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!

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!