Diversity & Outreach Columns ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services


American Dream Blog now up & running

Visit www.olos.ala.org/americandream to check out the latest news and stories from the 75 American Dream libraries!


C’mon, let’s talk!

Submitted by Cindy Welsh, Outreach Coordinator
High Plains Library District, Greeley, Colorado

“What I really want is for you to talk with each other” wrote Dale Lipschultz in her recent OLOS Columns posting.   A directive for those of us participating in the American Dream Starts @ your library project, Dale’s comment bears repeating—it is indeed important for us to be talking to each other.  Why?  I’ll explain that in a bit, but let me do an introduction first so that you’ll understand why Dale’s wish makes sense to me.   

 My name is Cindy and I’m the Outreach Librarian for the High Plains Library District  (HPLD) based in Greeley, Colorado.  Due to the need for adult literacy resources among our service population (particularly English language acquisition materials), we applied for and received an American Dream Starts @ your library grant in 2008.  HPLD used the funding to donate $300.00 worth of GED, ELA and citizenship materials to each of the eleven Head Start centers in our service area, which is just less than 4000 square miles.   Head Start, in addition to housing the new literacy collections placed in specially-marked plastic tubs (purchased at Dollar General), was to provide a designated computer in every center for adult learners to use while their children attended classes.  The remaining funds were to be used to host a series of open houses at library facilities and/or Head Start centers to promote usage of the literacy tubs, demonstrate online library resources, and issue library cards to Head Start families and staff.   

For the most part, things went as planned.  We selected, purchased and distributed the physical materials to the centers and were able to train Head Start staff on the online resources at a staff training day.  Presentations at parent nights elicited oohs and ahhs from parents and an eagerness to use the literacy tubs.   All the same, every project—no matter how well planned—runs into complications and ours was no exception.  Our biggest obstacle involved a new filter on Head Start’s computer network (at that time operated by the county) that prevented access to the library’s entire website.  Were there other hindrances?  Yes.  Were they insurmountable?  By all means, no.  It helped that I was able to glean ideas from other American Dream librarians for work-arounds.

So, why do we need to be communicating with one another via this blog, e-mails, at conferences or something old-fashioned like the telephone?  

Creativity. True, we American Dream librarians are a creative bunch (need I site our grant proposals as examples?), but sometimes we need to be even more creative and reading about someone else’s efforts might give us an “AHA moment!”

Assistance. As we all know (too well?), these are hard times in library world. We all have to work smarter with reduced resources—even when those are supplemented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation.  Why waste time re-inventing the wheel when another American Dream library may have a solution for you? Yet another reason to make good use of all the resources found in the American Dream Toolkit as well as this blog.

Sustenance.  Just as every caregiver needs some respite, every librarian needs a support system--particularly when you are providing pathbreaking services for your community. We’ll have your back when someone questions why you are doing this important work.  

Time.  Do any of us have too much of it?  It’s the old “a stitch in time saves nine” thing; taking a few minutes to learn about/from someone else’s experience may save you more than you can imagine. 

C(reativity), A(ssistance), S(ustenance), T(ime) = CAST.  We need to talk to because we are the cast in this production.  Dollar General Literacy Foundation is our producer.  Dale, Vivian, John and the rest of the ALA crew are our directors.  Our patrons are our audience and we are the cast.  If we are to wow our audience (and we know they need us to do just that), please our producer, heed our directors and support one another we have to converse.   I’ve just finished my “monologue,” who’s up next?


The value of visiting.

Posted by Dale Lipschultz, OLOS Literacy Officer

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a large, complex project I temporarily loose sight of what’s really important.  For the last few months, I’ve been buried in American Dream  paperwork – proposals, budgets, contracts, and endless strings of emails.  I know the importance of this kind of paperwork. I also know that it’s what I have to do before I get to do what I love. I love visiting libraries, talking with directors, library staff, and community partners. I love seeing what’s happening at your library.  Last week’s ‘road trip’ to the Wauconda (IL) Area Library confirmed the importance of these face-to-face meetings.

When we were planning this phase of the American Dream project I knew that I wanted to build in time for collaboration and conversation. Of course, I want to see libraries, but that’s only a small part of it. What I really want is for you to talk with each other.

This time around, establishing a virtual community was (relatively) easy – thanks to ALA Connect, Facebook, and John Amundsen. Virtual communities lay the groundwork, but it’s conversations that develop organically and take unexpected turns that really move our work forward.

Whenever possible, I want to bring the American Dream libraries together. We have clusters of libraries – four in South Carolina and New Mexico, five in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, seven in North Carolina and New Jersey, and 11 in Illinois. We will reach out to the local ALA chapters.  We’ll certainly will meet at ALA’s Annual Conference and Midwinter meetings.

Right now, we’re looking at calendars and studying local maps. This Thursday we’re traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma and Bentonville, Arkansas. I’ll keep you posted.


Save your spot for Bookmobile Sunday – Advance Registration Deadline Approaching

Posted by John Amundsen, OLOS Communications Specialist

Interested in learning about new trends, advocacy, and best practices for mobile delivery outreach?  There’s still time to save your spot at the fifth-annual Bookmobile Sunday, held on Sunday, June 27 during ALA’s 2010 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The deadline to register online is May 14, 2010.

Held during ALA’s Annual Conferences since 2005, Bookmobile Sunday is organized by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS), the OLOS Subcommittee on Bookmobiles, and the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS).

Bookmobile Sunday features a keynote by W. Ralph Eubanks, Director of Publishing at the Library of Congress; an author luncheon with Andrew Smith, author of Ghost Medicine and In the Path of Falling Objects; and moderated discussions on advocacy, eco-friendly vehicles and fuels, mobile service options, Bookmobiles 101, and Marketing.  An author book signing and Parade of Bookmobiles, where attendees can board and explore a comprehensive range of bookmobiles, conclude the event. The event will be held in the Washington Convention Center, in room 207 A/B.

Registration, both online and on-site, is $25 and includes lunch.  Advance registration is strongly recommended.

For more information about Bookmobile Sunday, and to register, please visit www.ala.org/annual. 



Videomaking Tips for Libraries

Submitted by John J. Roe, Bookmobile Staff Member Bookmobile and Outreach Services Department Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library

“Show, don’t tell” is advice from which any writer can profit, and in the age of digital video and YouTube, that advice can be applied to showing off your library’s programs with ease. With the right software, you can add polish to your productions with minimal impact to your library’s budget.

The following highlights, from start to finish, the lessons we learned while making our first YouTube video, which featured our children’s bookmobile program.

Step One: You’ll Feel a Slight Pinch...

There is one unavoidable expense when it comes to making amateur video: Barring a grant or a gift, you have to buy the camera. The Flip Ultra Camcorder, a popular choice that features a USB port for direct connection to a computer, a tripod mount point, and its own onboard video editing software, has a listed price of about US$149.00. For our own YouTube project, we went with its cousin, the Flip UltraHD, which records in high-resolution format and retails at about US$199.00.

Most modern cell phones also record video, and the frugally-minded might find that to be a “two birds with one stone” solution. Be advised that you might also need to buy a special cable in order to transfer your video files from your phone to your computer in order to work with them. They usually also require that extra memory be purchased in order to match the storage capacity of comparably-priced camcorders. Picture quality in jack-of-all-trades phones tends to suffer in comparison to the specialized camcorders as well, but again, the phone is considered something of a compromise solution.

If you’re having trouble deciding which camera is the one for you, Consumer Reports has a full breakdown of camcorder features on its website, http://consumerreports.org, though they require you to subscribe for product ratings. Of course, you could always take a mosey on down to your Periodicals section...

Another sound investment is a tripod. This will keep the camera steady and avoid unnecessary movements (and thus a seasick viewer) that come with holding the device in your hand. If there’s one thing the experience of making our first video has taught me, it’s this: No matter how steadily you think you’re holding the camera in your hand, the slightest motion will be seen onscreen. If you went the cell phone route, there are in fact tripod mounts available for them as well, and Lifehacker has posted a do-it-yourself mounting solution on their website (see Addendum).

So that’s the hardware acquired. Now on to the fun part...

Step Two: I’m Ready for My Close-Up, Mister DeMille.

Before we start rolling, a few words about the law: While an argument can be made for not needing permission to film someone in a public place where he or she would have no reasonable expectation of privacy, nothing keeps your proverbial bacon out of the fire quite like a signed release form. A stack of these forms, a pen, and a clipboard can go a long way toward helping you avoid potential hassles when you go out on your “shoots.”

Permission to film is especially important to bear in mind when it comes to filming minors, who must have a parent or guardian sign for them. When we made our video, which required visits to a couple of the preschools taking part in the Books-Go-Round program, we relied upon that old stand-by, the parental permission slip.

When it comes to filming, it pays to follow another old adage: “It’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.” Whether following your bookmobile around on its day, or recording a book talk in the common room, the luxury of having a variety of shots from which to pick and choose will be a great asset. A later viewing of what you’ve shot will often suggest new ways to present your point.

Or to put it another way: YouTube videos have a maximum length of about ten minutes. A Flip has the storage capacity for about two hours of footage. Don’t be afraid to shoot more than you need to fill that ten minutes.

Speaking of that ten minutes, it’s time to pick and choose...

Step Three: The Cutting Room Floor

When it comes to no-cost video editing software, there is a wide range of possibilities. Microsoft Movie Maker comes free with Windows Vista and later operating systems. The same goes with Apple’s iMovie, which is bundled with the free iLife suite of applications for the Macintosh. As mentioned before, the Flip comes with its own simple editing software (FlipShare) that can be installed to any PC. On the open source front, there are applications such as VirtualDub (available for Windows) and Kino (an application for the Linux operating system). Each has their own particular advantages and disadvantages, and the prospective videographer is encouraged to try a wide variety of software to see what makes for the best fit for your taste.

There is one software combination that I would like to recommend, regardless of your final choice for your main editor, and that’s the effective one-two punch of Avidemux and Audacity. Early on in the production of our debut YouTube video, it was decided that we would include voiceovers and background music, both of which were incorporated thanks to the applied combination of these two programs.

Avidemux is a video processing application. While it is capable of editing video, that is not where the program’s strong points lie. Where Avidemux shines is in its ability to copy out the audio track of a video and then mix it back in from a file, saving the results in a variety of formats.

Once you’ve pulled the audio track, that’s where the sound editor Audacity comes in. With it, you can add music tracks and dub in dialogue. Audacity also has a number of built-in features, such as the ability to remove the hiss of a microphone via audio sampling. Another feature is the ability to “split cut” or “split delete,” both of which insert blank space into where portions of a track have been removed, preserving synchronization with the video.

Of course, whenever you add music or splice other footage into your production, always be mindful of proper copyright protocol. Your slick new video won’t seem like such a feather in your cap if it brings a letter from Time Warner's legal department to your director’s “in" box.

After the final audio file is created, it can be mixed back into Avidemux to create your production.

Step Four: Show the World What You’ve Got

You’re done and ready to show off your video to the world, which in this day and age means you’re ready to upload it to YouTube. As of this writing the service is still free and there’s little I can say to illuminate the process, as YouTube guides you through it quite effectively themselves.

That said, the only thing that I can add is that the video isn’t immediately available to the whole wide world upon upload. YouTube needs a certain amount of time to “process” a video, so your best bet would be to give it about a day before sending out links.

But after that, you're done! Go ahead and send links far and wide to show off your new video!

We had a lot of fun making ours, but more importantly, we felt we had found a tool that would let us continue to promote the importance of our Outreach and Bookmobile services through today's relevant media.

Happy film making!

Addendum: I’d Like to Thank the Academy...

Some additional resources:

Avidemux - available at http://avidemux.sourceforge.net

Audacity - available at http://audacity.sourceforge.net VirtualDub - available at http://www.virtualdub.org

Lifehacker’s Do-It-Yourself Cameraphone Tripod Mount - http://lifehacker.com/5346020/diy-cameraphone-tripod-mount

Sample video/photo release form, courtesy of the American Library Association - http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslissues/Video-Photo_release_form2.pdf.

Our video, “Getting Started: A Children’s Travelling Library and the Love of Books” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o3OQjbLIzk

YouTube’s own YouTube channel, including the useful and often entertaining “YouTube 101“ series - http://www.youtube.com/user/YouTube

Dan-O, a talented musician who makes his work publicly available through a Creative Commons license and provider of our video’s background music - http://danosongs.com

The Internet Archive Moving Images Archive, an excellent source for stock footage and public domain movies - http://www.archive.org/details/movies

130 Projects to Get You Into Film Making by Elliot Grove,2009, Quarto Publishing - A title I wish I’d found closer to the beginning of the project rather than at the end.