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Advocacy/Year in Review
Winter 2003

Across the Board | Winter 2003 | Topic: Advocacy/Year in Review
The Mid-Hudson Library System's Quarterly Newsletter for Public Library Trustees

Libraries Under Attack
The recent defeat for libraries when the Supreme Court upheld the CIPA decision, which requires computer filtering in libraries in order to get funding, and the USA PATRIOT Act, which threatens library patron privacy, demonstrates how fragile the rights are that we take for granted. It is the purview of Library Boards to determine what libraries should provide access to and that power should not be abrogated with funding blackmail. Public libraries not only provide a wealth of resources to a community, they protect the rights of access to unfettered information and user privacy. Chipping away at these rights doesn’t just chip away at libraries — it chips away at the very foundation of Democracy itself.

Making Your Library A Community Asset
Part I of 2022: the Shape of Library Services, a Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS) project funded by the federal Library Services and Technology
Act (LSTA) resulted in the report “Across the Valley,” based on findings from more than 30 focus groups conducted with service-sector organizations throughout the Mid-Hudson region. The report outlined regional changes which are expected to occur within the next 10–20 years. Out of this report, guided by the American Library Association’s (ALA) The New Planning for Results written by Sandra Nelson, MHLS developed Part II, “Tools for Transition.”

“Tools for Transition” is a toolkit of suggestions and strategies that libraries can use to help them become more valuable partners in community development. Libraries can use the Toolkit as a community needs assessment tool when they consider what information, programs, services and connections to offer their communities. Contents of the Toolkit include:

Building Better Boards
The Mid-Hudson Library System Trustee Education Series has seen more participants this year than ever before — representatives from libraries in every county attended this year. The series included Trustee Essentials, Advanced Trustee Education and Board Leadership. The Trustee Essentials training addressed the structure of libraries in New York State, the roles and responsibilities of Trustees and how to conduct effective meetings. Advanced Trustee Education covered topics such as policies, personnel, planning, Friends groups and fund-raising. (One trustee remarked that after attending and reporting back to the rest of the Board about what a valuable experience Trustee Essentials had been, the library’s Board decided to make attendance mandatory for all board members next year.) In 2004 Essentials and Advanced sessions will be held again in early summer and fall. This past November MHLS held an Executive Committee/ Directors Forum. The topic was “The Board’s Role in Working with Staff Leadership.” Over 30 library directors and Trustees attended, learning to identify staff leadership roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis the Board, its officers and committees; to enhance constructive and supportive communication; and to develop problem-solving methods.

Anytime, Anywhere, Service
This year the ability to select items from home and do research from home has ballooned. With the MHLS Request-A-Title program, patrons can search our 2.2 million holdings, choose what they want and have it delivered to their local library. With the combination of NOVEL databases (supplied through New York State) and those purchased with MHLS/Central Library funds, patrons can search for health and medical information, investment information and business news, consumer information, and read The New York Times or thousands of other magazines and newspapers from the comfort of their homes. Students who waited till the last minute to complete, or start, their homework, now have a reprieve. Check your library’s web page to access these fundamental resources.

All Libraries Automated
By early next year the dream that all MHLS libraries will have an automated circulation system will become reality. In 2003 ten more libraries began using the Millennium system for circulation. This leaves six libraries to go. Only Garrison, which is automated through a standalone system, will not be part of our automated network.

Summer At The Library
Picture 8,394 children, babies to teens, enjoying stories, crafts and programs at their local library in the Mid-Hudson region this past summer. Imagine how much fun they had and how significantly their reading skills were sharpened by reading 81,345 books and spending 6,981 hours immersed in great stories. Most of the 65 libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System participated in Picture This…Imagine That…READ! ¸ the 2003 New York State Summer Reading Program. Each year youth services consultants from one or more library systems coordinate the planning of this very popular program. In 2003 Margaret Keefe, Coordinator of Youth Services, Mid-Hudson Library System, and Randall Enos, Youth Services Consultant, Ramapo Catskill Library System, undertook the tasks of finding an illustrator of children’s books to create art work, hire someone to write the planning manual and coordinate the selection of incentive prizes for participants of the program. Libraries across the State did their usual fantastic job of making reading fun for young people over the summer; and more than 960,000 children learned about the visual and performing arts, museums and, above all, experienced reading great literature on their own terms.

MHLS Web Site Recognized
The Mid-Hudson Library System web site has been cited across the state as one of the best system sites. Not only was the advocacy section cited by one of the nation’s top experts on advocacy, Pat Schulman, and the president of the American Library Association, Mitch Freedman, but every page of the site has proven to be a valuable resource for library staff, Trustees and Friends of the library. With over 900 pages, there’s something for everyone. Check it out at

Homework Help Site
For years, libraries have shown how valuable they can be in assisting students with homework. Homework mentoring programs coupled with the MHLS Lifelines web site offers students support in their studies.Designed to support public schools, libraries, parents and teachers, the site is structured to facilitate the search for help with homework and other school projects in all of the major K–12 academic subject areas. The Lifelines web site, based on the New York State education curriculum, has received national recognition. Find it at

HIP, Hooray For The Health Information Project
Another MHLS program and web site that has received national recognition is the Health Information Project (HIP). The HIP project provides consumer health and substance abuse prevention materials through public libraries in our region. Accolades arrive yearly for the Teen Reviewer Project each summer which enables target libraries to hire teen interns to select the best health videos and web sites for their peers. These videos and web sites are then offered to member library patrons through the HIP site, linked directly to the on-line public library catalog. This site also provides an excellent list of consumer health links:

Continuing Education
MHLS provided many continuing education (CE) opportunities for member library staff and Trustees this year — in fact, by November there were over 900 attendances at MHLS CE events. One of the highlights was a series of workshops held this summer, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to improve library staff comfort levels withelectronic resources in the library. Training focused on introducing library staff to the databases available to patrons through HomeAccess, to the On-line Public Access Catalog and to some basic search techniques when using the Internet. A recent analysis of HomeAccess usage statistics showed a 250 percent increase since the training ended. Workshops were also held on Book Sales, Disaster Preparedness, Interlibrary Loan Essentials, Genealogy and Data Entry.

Building And Renovating: Where's The Money?
Currently over 40 libraries in the Mid-Hudson region are engaged in an expansion project or are in the planning stages that lead up to expansion. The need for more space is not surprising since libraries are busier than ever, and communities want meeting space which libraries are uniquely situated to provide. The Philmont and Town of Ulster libraries moved into new buildings this year, and work has begun on the Kent, Mahopac and Beekman libraries. The financial need in the region totals over $66 million. The proposed New Century Library bill includes money for library construction — if passed it could triple the amount of money for our region. At this time we receive about $29,000 for member library construction projects.

$$ for Libraries. Eight libraries put their budgets up for votes through a Chapter 414 proposition and seven won—typically doubling their budgets. Having the public vote on your library budget results in increased funding. Currently 18 libraries in the System have succeeded in their Chapter 414 votes; there are 22 library districts.

Numbers Tell The Story…
At the 44th MHLS Annual Meeting in November, Lee Miringoff, Ph.D., Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, revealed the results of a poll conducted in October 2003. The objective of the poll was to gather information on which library services are important to the public and how willing people are to approve extra tax monies for libraries in order to obtain those services. Information gathered from “The Public Library: A National Survey” shows us that 67 percent of respondents rate libraries as very valuable, 27 percent rate them valuable; 31 percent strongly support an increase in taxes to support public library services, 32 percent simply support; and respondents said they are willing to pay an average tax increase of $49 per year to support public library services in their communities.
A link to the PowerPoint presentation of the complete Marist poll is available on the MHLS web site at



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