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


Important senior health resource updated

The National Instuties of Health (NIH) announced a new update to an important resource for senior health information.  The redesigned NIH Senior Health features nearly 50 health topics, more than 150 health videos, plenty of frequently asked questions (FAQs), easy quizzes and more, the new NIHSeniorHealth should be a first stop for anyone seeking fast, reliable, up-to-date information about older adults and health.

To see the site, please visit http://nihseniorhealth.gov/.


Get the most out of ALA’s National Bookmobile Day resources

By John L. Amundsen, ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services

As many of you are making your preparations for National Bookmobile Day, we’d like to share with you some ways that you can make the most out of the free National Bookmobile Day resources available at www.ala.org/bookmobiles. This post is the first of a series that covers the range of free materials, including publicity templates, marketing materials, and print public service announcements.

This week, I’d like to highlight the downloadable publicity materials, including the press release, Op-Ed, and proclamation templates.  All three documents are ready-made, meaning all you need to do is to add information about designated contact, library name, quote from local dignitary/library representative/etc., and any additional information you wish to include.

Before you move forward, you should ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your library have a PR department or designated publicity staffer?
  • Does your library have an established procedure for approving news items?
  • Do you have a designated spokesperson who can answer questions about the event, the bookmobile, and the library?
  • What local media outlets do you want to target?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can move forward and develop an outreach plan which will outline deadlines and tactics.

Press Release Template – A press release is one of the basic tools you can use to reach out to local media and communicate news from your library. Once completed, the National Bookmobile Day release template is ready to be disseminated to local media outlets as news items.

In the event that your library system already has a PR department or designated publicity staffer, you can submit your release with them and take advantage of any pre-existing relationships that the department or staffer already has with the local media.  Be sure that the department or staffer and spokesperson have talking points and information about the event – which can be downloaded at www.ala.org/bookmobiles.

If your library lacks a PR department or designated staffer, you can do a quick scan of what outlets are there in your community.  Once you’ve identified your local news outlets, look up the contact information for either the city or news desks and call the editor(s) and call them, introducing yourself as a representative of the library, apprising them of your library, your bookmobile, and the upcoming National Bookmobile Day festivities in your town.  Building such relationships with local media can prove to be very valuable down the road.

Op-ed Template - An op-ed, shorthand for ‘opposite the editorial page,’ is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board. We’ve prepared a National Bookmobile Day Op-ed template for libraries to submit on behalf of a library or community leader that speaks to the occasion. Much like the press release template, the Op-ed template only needs designated contact information, an author to attribute it to, and any other information that you wish to include.

The procedures for placing an op-ed vary from outlet to outlet; you can either consult with your PR department or staffer if you have one, or contact the outlet directly – either through the city or news desk – and ask for information  on submitting an op-ed article.

Proclamation Template - Want to make your National Bookmobile Day celebrations truly official? Consider approaching your local government officials and request that they proclaim National Bookmobile Day! We’ve developed a proclamation template which is ready to download at www.ala.org/bookmboiles.

Additional Publicity Resources

Advocacy University


Advocacy Clearinghouse – Media & Messaging


Library Advocate’s Handbook


ALA Communications Handbook for Libraries


Share your Story!

Be sure to share your National Bookmobile Day stories, including programming ideas, media placements, and anything else of interest – either on the ABOS list, through the National Bookmobile Day Facebook fan page, Twitter (@bookmobileday, hashtag: #NBD2012), and the National Bookmobile Day Wiki on www.ala.org/bookmobiles.


Questions? Comments? Concerns?  For assistance, please contact the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4294 between 9:00am and 5:00pm Central Time, or email olos@ala.org.

Filed under: Bookmobiles No Comments

Be Engaged, Set an Example, Be Enthused, Embrace Community: Rural Librarian Leadership Qualities

John D. "Danny" Hales

John D. "Danny" Hales, Jr.

By John D. “Danny” Hales, Jr.

This post is the first in a series from the ALA Committee on Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries exploring qualities of leadership in rural and tribal libraries.

There are literally hundreds of articles and books on being a leader. Many persons are just born leaders, but just about anyone can become one, if they are really committed.

I think being committed to rural librarianship is significantly important to being a good leader.

In my 35 years as a library director of a multi-county rural library system, I believe the following four words, can somewhat encapsulate, a guide to becoming a rural library leader. Being engaged, setting an example, being enthused, and embracing the community are all key elements of being a successful library leader.

Being engaged means a total acceptance of the full objectives of being a library director. In small towns, a vast majority of the public knows or knows of the library director. One must engage and accept, even relish that position. I personally am extremely proud of that position and take pride when I walk into a meeting and someone I do not know, says,”Hello, I know you; you’re the library director, right?” Anywhere I go or any meeting I attend I want that persona to be out front. I believe when people know you are engaged, even consumed by the service or product one provides, that acceptance, understanding, and even respect are given. That acceptance can go a long way in successful librarianship.

Similar to being engaged is setting an example. I had over 45 staffers, none of whom initially had any formal training as library workers, not undergrad or graduate level. I believe setting an example for them, in professional behavior, dress, and demeanor, allowed them to absorb the message a library seeks in its community. That is, we are smart, have abilities, want to serve, and are organized. We also are continually seeking ways to improve library activities, and to improve our own knowledge to better provide services to the taxpayers. It is that example set by the director that will consciously or subconsciously help mold the staff into the type of employees that make good library service and witness to the public that the library is here to serve. By setting an example of learning, being professional, listening to staff and the public’s ideas, and implementing thoughtful improvements, one is most probably on the path to being an effective leader.

I cannot say enough about enthusiasm. An enthusiastic director will be energetic, engaged, and will set good examples. When I speak at Rotary, Kiwanis, before the county commission, or just to someone in the aisle at the grocery store, I make sure my enthusiasm comes through, even on mundane, routine topics. I am animated, I smile, I joke, but most of all I let them know how much enthusiasm we  have for wanting to make their library the best it can be under the constraints provided.  I want them to know that constraints will not dampen our desire to improve constantly, to listen to ideas, and to implement better strategies for service. I want them to know that we will embrace their help if they wish to be engaged in providing a high quality library system.

Lastly, I believe in small or rural librarianship one can more easily embrace many segments of the community. By that, I mean being involved in community activities that are not necessarily just library oriented. Be a member, or be active in the chamber, school advisory committees, 4-H councilor, boy/girl scouts, Kiwanis/Altrusa, art guild, community theatre, historical commission, etc. Find ways for staff to participate in community projects as well. By embracing the community and its varied needs, some outside of the traditional library activities, one becomes part of the community as a whole, and not just the paid library director. Most library directors  will not have grown up in the community in which they direct and embracing the community goes a long way in substantiating that the library director cares, not just about the library but our community as a whole. One also can get a better understanding of the community needs when being involved providing opportunities for the library to expand or improve.

There is so much pride, self satisfaction and success that one can derive from being a good leader. Directing an important part of the communities services such as the library, gave me great joy. These criteria above served me and my community well, and I trust that your engagement, example, enthusiasm and embracement in some way will do the same.

John D. “Danny” Hales, Jr. is the retired director of the multi-county Suwannee River Regional Library System in Live Oak, Florida. Mr. Hales has been an active voice in the profession throughout his 39-year-long career, including serving on the Board of Directors of the Public Library Association, two terms as ALA Councilor, and Past President of the Florida Library Association, in addition to hundreds of state, regional, and national library committees. In 2010, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Florida Library Association. He currently serves on the ALA Committee on Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds.

The ALA Committee on Rural, Native, and Tribal Libraries of All Kinds addresses issues and challenges facing rural, native and tribal libraries of all kinds. It collaborates with other ALA units addressing the needs of rural communities, and serves as an advocate and partner with libraries serving rural, tribal, and native populations.

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries, Inc. (ARSL) is a network of persons throughout the country dedicated to the positive growth and development of libraries. ARSL believes in the value of rural and small libraries and strives to create resources and services that address national, state, and local priorities for libraries situated in rural communities. To learn more, please visit www.arsl.info.