A Message for our Membership on Black Lives Matter

Greetings Membership,

The Missouri Library Association stands with library workers, with library users, and with members of the communities we serve and support who are susceptible to acts of prejudice, threats of violence, and discrimination based solely on their race or ethnicity. The pervasive racism present in our nation denies its residents equal rights and equal access and as such is a barrier to the goals of this association and to everything that libraries stand for. 

Often, we hear that libraries should be neutral organizations, that taking a stand is not appropriate.  There is no neutral here.  Hatred, violence, prejudice, or exclusion of people because of their appearance is not a political argument; there are no sides to this debate.  Freedom from oppression is a human right.   Representation is important.

I am proud of Missouri Libraries as we serve our communities through these difficult times.  The anti-racist actions of the last few days are commendable. We are providing resources, creating booklists, providing safe spaces, and supporting those who depend on us. I urge all MO libraries to curate book lists and provide resources for those who wish to educate themselves.  Let us stand together and support those who need it most.

Cynthia Dudenhoffer
Missouri Library Association President, 2020
#blacklivesmatter #blackstoriesmatter

MLA Featured Library Employee — Whitney Gerwitz

Whitney Gerwitz

Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Whitney Gerwitz!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Whitney Gerwitz; St. Charles City-County Library; I am the Government Documents coordinator at the Middendorf-Kredell branch.  I work with the Government Publishing Office to deliver current and relevant government information to the public.  I teach classes on voter registration, how to research candidates and issues for the election, how to search and find Congressional and local bills, decipher fake news, and many other government-related classes.  I love keeping people informed and making sure they have fun while learning!

I also work with another coworker on a series we created in 2017 called Current Conversations where we focus on current and somewhat controversial topics within our community such as racism, immigration, climate change, and prison reform.  We bring in local professionals who are experts within a specific field in order to allow open and honest discussion between members of the community.  After running it for a year, we contributed a chapter to a recent publication, Social Justice and Activism in Libraries, on how other libraries may implement a similar series at their own libraries based on our experiences.  This year, we successfully applied for a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council to help fund the series, so that’s exciting!

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I actually ended up at the library completely by accident.  I spent most of my college life in a library instead of a sorority house or going to college parties (lame, I know).  After I graduated college, I applied to the library near my house in order to work while I was in grad school, but little did I know that twelve years later, I’d still be here.  When I started working for the library, it was right around the time the recession hit, and I realized how big of an impact the library has within the community.  I never realized the extent to which public libraries go for its patrons and how much of a cornerstone it is to a free society.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Knowing that you are a part of the community and being able to fulfill any need within the community is what keeps me focused on my job.  Being in Government Information, patrons approach me frequently regarding government and social services in hopes that I am able to help them enroll in social security, apply for disability, or help with taxes.  I may not be able to offer direct assistance, but I guide people on where to go and how to get the information they desire.  It also gives me ideas on what our community needs and can help plan programming accordingly, such as Medicare enrollment assistance or legal assistance with a non-profit legal organization, so those people can get help when they need it.  It always amazes me the amount of trust people put in libraries and librarians. They will come to us for any and every need they have.  Maybe I feel flattered that people put so much trust in me and the wonderful people I work with, but it’s a feeling that makes you want to keep coming back.

In light of recent events, it has become even more obvious how important libraries are to the community.  Libraries from all over have been able to come together and adapt to the needs of their community whether it’s offering virtual programs, providing hotspots, using their buildings as emergency distribution centers, utilizing their 3D printers for face shields, and more.  This took us all by surprise but the way libraries and their staff have adapted, it makes me proud to work in this profession.  I look forward to being able to walk back into my building and see what the future holds for libraries.

What’s challenging about your work?

No one day is alike when you work at a library, so there are always different challenges you face whether it’s dealing with the public, staffing issues, or keeping yourself up to date with technology.  I think the biggest challenge, however, is something every library faces and that’s trying to be resourceful while continuing to be creative and captivating when you have limited funding.  While challenging, this can be done!  Government Documents may not be the most exciting topic to some but when you build a photo booth from PVC pipe and equip it with an iPad, you can have people express why certain Amendments are important to them, give them patriotic photo booth props, or have them read famous speeches from history, and it will suddenly spark an interest in that topic.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

It has certainly made me more passionate when it comes to information literacy and making sure people receive credible information.  I love that I work in a Special Collection made up of primary sources.  When someone asks me to find a book on a certain topic, specifically something they just heard in the news, there may not be a book published on the topic yet but I can almost guarantee I can find a Government Document on it!  Being able to find documents that are obscure to spark other’s curiosity or documents that are applicable to current events is like Christmas for me.  I love being able to share my passion with others!

Who is one of your mentors?

I have so many influencers in my career and personal life that it is really hard for me to pick a mentor.  I will have to say we have a great and supportive Government Documents group in the St. Louis area that meets a few times a year to see what everyone is doing in their libraries.  They are always available for questions and assistance when you need it and everyone works together so well.  Our regional coordinator at the University of Missouri, Marie Concannon, is such a great advocate for open records and mentor!

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I grew up in the 90s and am starting to feel really nostalgic lately so I have been listening to a lot of 90s music.  This must be how my parents felt in the 90s when they wanted to listen to 60s music all the time.  I don’t know how to persuade you on why you should pick this up, but just that listening to a little grunge and hip hop may make your work day a little better.

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA 2020 Conference Proposals – DUE By June 1, 2020

This year your Missouri Library Association conference is focused on the future. We want you to envision what’s next for your library, engage your staff and empower your users.  We are committed to providing attendees the opportunity to make new connections, experience new ideas, and innovate together for better libraries.

Please use this form to submit your proposal for the 2020 Missouri Library Association Conference, MLA 20/20: Envision, Engage, Empower September 30 – October 2 in Springfield, MO. We are accepting submissions for pre-conference sessions, breakout sessions, poster sessions, and table talks.  ALL PROPOSALS ARE DUE BY JUNE 1, 2020.

This is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with your fellow library folks in Missouri!  Others may find new and fascinating something that seems commonplace for you.  Showcase an event or program your library is doing, illustrate a problem your institution faced and how you solved it, do a genre presentation, talk about your favorite technology for particular library tasks, highlight the awesome leadership training program you attended…the possibilities are endless!

Your conference coordinators will distribute these proposals to MLA Communities of Interest (CIs) as appropriate for sponsorship or co-sponsorship. Based on physical space and available rooms at the conference site, the conference coordinators will recommend the slate of selected programs.

PLEASE NOTE: Presenters are required to register for the conference. Vendors who would like to present at conference must partner with a library/librarian and must register for the conference under the full conference, single day or single session guest presenter pass.

Questions? Send them to mla2020sgf@gmail.com

MLA Statement on Covid-2019

Greetings MLA Membership,

We are entering unprecedented and uncertain times. The health and safety of our members and our communities is a top priority of the Missouri Library Association, especially in light of the presidential guidelines released today. These new guidelines issued by the CDC and the President recommend no gatherings over 10 people and to close schools.

The Missouri Library Association commends the libraries and local officials who have made the very hard decision to close their doors to the public and at the same time, we encourage others to take action.

The Missouri Library Association serves as a leader and advocate for Missouri libraries, and we call on all libraries in Missouri to close their doors until Sunday, April 5th, and to ensure that staff are fairly compensated during this crisis.

Libraries must do their part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and protect our staff and communities. The Missouri Library Association will do our best to stay on top of this quickly evolving situation and to communicate regularly as conditions change. We are providing resource lists for remote work, as well as virtual services and programming to patrons, and are here to aid in any way we can to support Missouri library workers. We must all work together to protect the most vulnerable among us, and to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Good luck and stay safe as we navigate through these difficult times.

– Missouri Library Association Executive Board

Library Advocacy Day 2020

Library Advocacy Day is about a month away! Join fellow librarians across the state on Wednesday, March 11th to talk to your legislators about how important libraries are to their constituents! It’s a day of education and advocacy for you and your elected officials. We will start the day with an overview and tips on talking with your legislators. Then, in the afternoon, there will be time to set up appointments with your legislators.

Just like last year, we will have some talking points prepared for everyone who attends. That seemed to work really well, and attendees liked having them as a quick reference. For those of you who participated in our Virtual Advocacy Campaign last year, we will have the same opportunity this year. Look for more information on that this week.

Registration is $30.00 and includes lunch. Register here: https://molib.wildapricot.org/event-3636093. Be sure to start making your appointments! To find your legislators, visit https://www.senate.mo.gov/LegisLookup/Default.aspx.

If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let me know. The Legislative Committee is happy to help!

Dan Brower
Legislative Committee Chair
Missouri Library Association

MLA Statement on HB2044

The Missouri Library Association is aware of and monitoring Missouri House Bill 2044 (known as the “Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act”) and any other legislation that has an impact on libraries. The Missouri Library Association will always stand against censorship and for the freedom to read, and therefore opposes Missouri House Bill 2044.

The Missouri Library Association is committed to supporting all types of libraries. MLA exists to support the mission, vision, and values of those libraries, which connect their communities to vital resources. We support the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement. Public libraries exist to provide equitable access to information to all of its users, as it is key to having an informed populace. Public libraries already have procedures in place to assist patrons in protecting their own children while not infringing upon the rights of other patrons or restricting materials. Missouri Library Association will always oppose legislation that infringes on these rights.

Cynthia Dudenhoffer
President, Missouri Library Association.

MLA Featured Library Employee — Liz Prewitt

Liz Prewitt

Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Liz Prewitt!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

I’m Liz and I work at the lovely Prairie Commons Branch. I’m shocked I was nominated because I am just a clerk. Someone once told me to never say you are “just” something. So with that being said, I am a clerk at the library!

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I’ve been going to Prairie Commons with my mom since I was a baby. However, I wasn’t that kid who loved reading. I did however, love books. I loved the art on all of them. I was drawn to how cozy and quiet the library is. So when I was in high school and decided to apply for my first job, I thought, what could be better than the library! The summer I turned 18, I started working here. Fast forward 13 years later and I’m still surrounded by all these beautiful books.

What’s challenging about your work?

Working at the library has a lot of great perks. First of all, I have worked and work with some incredible people. It makes me the happiest when I can find that book a parent can’t wait to show their child or when I got to go to school assemblies for Summer Reading Club. It’s so sweet when a child runs up afterwards telling the YS and I how much they read and they got a joke for us. I remember this one little boy who always came in the library and I would just help him find material or give him a library sticker and one time he told his grown up that I was the coolest person here. Stuff like that makes my day. Lastly, I am really blessed that I get to work at a place where I can use my artistic skills. I have made some really fun interactive displays for all ages. I like to be able to make the library look welcoming and fun for all. I want books to stay cool!

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I have grown up at the library. When I started here I was just 18 and naive about a lot. I still can be at times. I think the past few years especially I have been awestruck just to see all the programs we offer and materials we offer now. Like, want to see the moon? We have a telescope you can check out. Have a child with sensory needs? We have a sensory storytime. I am just so proud of the workers here who make so many things possible for everyone. I think we really impact some people’s lives in such a great way and that’s what makes me passionate about my job.

Who is one of your mentors?

I feel like thinking of a mentor is always a hard question. For instance, my go to answer would be my mom. But so many people have shaped the way I have grown in my life. I have had and have some incredible bosses and co-workers that have shaped me and taught me so much. Whether it was to help me through hard situations, show me how to have thicker skin, helped me artistically, or just remind me that I got this! With that being said, I have to mention my 4 nieces. They are my little mentors that remind me to always just live in the moment and all the bad things will pass.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

One day I was at a bookstore and came across the book, Notes to Myself, by Hugh Prather. It just explores his daily life thoughts and really hit so many parts of my heart. Anyway, St Louis County Library didn’t have any of his other books. But now that we have access to Mobius, I requested many of his other works from various libraries all over. I am super excited for them to come in. If you want to sit by the window this winter and sip a drink while getting into your feelings about life, this is the book.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I feel really humbled and honored that I was nominated for this. I love my library and I hope you come out to Prairie Commons and come see some of our unique, crafty displays and grab some materials while your here!

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

National Library Legislative Day 2020 – Register Today!

Happy 2020, Missouri Librarians!

National Library Legislative Day has been announced and registration is open! On May 4th and 5th, 2020, librarians from across the country will meet in Washington, D.C. to speak with U.S. Representatives and Senators. Arrangements have been made at the Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center, just a few minutes from Capitol Hill.

The first day, at Georgetown, will involve briefing and training on issues and how to talk to your federal legislators. That afternoon, we will try to visit Senators Blunt and Hawley. On the 5th, we will meet with all of our Representatives.

It is a unique experience, and I would encourage you to consider it. Registration is very limited (capped at 400 attendees nationwide), so register early! Registration is $175 and includes breakfast and a reception on the evening of the 4th. Hotel information is also available at that link. ALA has reserved a block of rooms at $219 per night and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. You cannot sign up for the room block until you have registered for the event, though. There are other hotel options around Georgetown and DC. However, most lodging will be at least that much. Now that the cost is out of the way, find more information and register: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/nlld.

If you know a library supporter (trustee, friend, general supporter) who would like to attend for the first time, there are scholarships available to non-librarians here: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/NLLD/funding.

As we get our group together, I will send out more information. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Dan Brower
Legislative Committee Chair
Missouri Library Association

Library Advocacy Day Registration is officially open today!

Missouri Librarians:

Registration for Library Advocacy Day is officially open today! This unique day gives you the opportunity to join fellow librarians from across the state to speak with and educate our state legislators about the fantastic things happening in Missouri libraries.

Save the date for Wednesday, March 11th, 2020. The day will last from 9:30am to 5:00pm in Jefferson City. Registration will be $30.00 and includes lunch.

Are you ready to share your story with legislators? Register here: https://molib.wildapricot.org/event-3636093

What is Library Advocacy Day?

Library Advocacy Day (LAD) is a day that the Missouri Library Association sets aside each year for library representatives to speak with their respective State Representatives and Senators to discuss the importance of all libraries. The day is open to library staff, trustees, and friends across the state of Missouri. The event occurs in Jefferson City, starting at the Interpretative Center in the Secretary of State’s office and continuing to the capitol building where face-to-face meetings occur.

The face-to-face meetings is where the magic happens. It is our opportunity to brag about how important libraries are in our communities. It is also our opportunity to advocate for continued library funding. If you are at a larger library, funding may not seem as important to you as it is for smaller libraries. However, larger libraries have a unique position in that you may be able to provide more extensive services to individuals in your communities who need our services the most. Those individuals are also important to our legislators. They need to improve job skills, continue their education, build early literacy skills in preparation for school, register to vote, become citizens, and contribute to the economy. Of course, this list goes on and on, but these results/goals are impactful to legislators.

Why Library Advocacy Day?

Through meetings with elected officials, we raise awareness of the importance of State Aid to Public Libraries and the services of the Missouri State Library.

By coming together in Jefferson City on Missouri Library Advocacy Day, we promote libraries in a visible way, and, by our numbers, show the importance of libraries state-wide. Face-to-face discussion is the most effective means of communication and is essential to the establishment of a solid working relationship.

Ongoing Library Advocacy

While this event is important, it is only one communication with your legislators. Your meeting with your legislator should make it easier to contact him/her during the session as issues arise and we ask for your support. Building long term relationships with your legislators is the key to effective communication. This event is a great opportunity to begin building relationships with your elected officials. If you would like help making those first contacts or tips on nurturing your new relationships with legislators, please contact me. The legislative committee is happy to help.

Dan Brower
Legislative Committee Chair
Missouri Library Association

MLA Featured Library Employee — Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen

Meet this issue’s Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Kelli Hansen!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

My name is Kelli Hansen, and I am in Special Collections at the University of Missouri Libraries

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

As an M.A. student in art history, I worked on an exhibition collaboration between the Libraries and the Museum of Art and Archaeology at MU. I was fascinated with Special Collections and decided to change my career track from museums to libraries after I finished my first master’s degree. I went to UT Austin to get my MSIS, and am happy that I got to come back to Columbia to work in the Libraries here.

What’s challenging about your work?

A large part of my work is instruction, and I teach across a wide range of subject areas. One morning I might lead a class on graphic novels, only to turn around and teach medieval manuscripts in the afternoon. I sometimes get to help put together course sessions on topics I know very little about, so research plays a big role as well. I learn new things at work all the time.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I’m constantly awestruck by the materials we hold in Special Collections, and connecting those materials with students and researchers is my passion. I love those moments when students say, “I can actually touch this?” and I get to say “Yes! This is yours to use and appreciate! Make the most of it!”

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!