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


New 2013 National Bookmobile Day Resources Available!

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

The fourth annual celebration of National Bookmobile Day is just around the corner, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 – prompting libraries nationwide to begin their preparations!

ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) and the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) collaborate every year to assemble free downloadable and customizable resources to aid libraries as they plan their National Bookmobile Day activities and events.

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 will be the first in a weekly series that explains all of these resources and highlights notable examples of how they’ve been used in the past. This week, we’ll focus on the press release, proclamation, and letter-to-the-editor templates.

Marketing your NBD Events

As mentioned above, we've developed templates for libraries to issue a press release, letter-to-the-editor, and proclamation. All three of these 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.

Here are some examples of placed press release templates from previous NBD celebrations:

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.

Letter-to-the-Editor Template -  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.

Here are some examples of proclamations from past NBD events:

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: #NBD2013), 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.


(CANCELLED) EMIERT launches quarterly webinar series: 2/28 session to focus on library services for refugees


The ALA Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) will be launching its new quarterly webinar series this Thursday, Feb. 28 from 1-2pm CT with an hour-long session focusing on library service to refugee populations. This special group of immigrants encounters many challenges as they adjust to their new life in the United States. Join Homa Naficy, Hartford Public Library, Director of Multicultural Services, and Sanja Bebic, Center for Applied Linguistics, Director, Cultural Orientation Resource Center as they lead a discussion on how libraries can help ease the transition of refugees and become a home away from home for new arrivals in your community.

Registration: $20 for ALA Members, $25 for non-members, and $120 for groups.

Click here to register.


Engage with USCIS @ ALA Midwinter

by Dale P. Lipschultz, Ph.D., Literacy Officer, ALA OLOS

Mary Herrmann, the chief of USCIS’ Public Engagement division will facilitate a discussion on digital access to immigration resources and benefits at ALA's Midwinter Meeting in Seattle.

What: USCIS Engagement on Digital Access
When: Sunday, January 27, 2013, 3-4pm
Where: Washington State Conv. Ctr, Room 205

Click here to add it to your MW 2013 Schedule

In the very early years of the 20th century, my grandparents fled czarist Russia, traveled through Europe, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and ended up in Chicago. Their immigrant stories shaped and colored my childhood. I was always surrounded by adults who spoke many languages and told remarkable stories about their early years in ‘the old country’ and their harrowing voyage to America. Every family dinner ended with my uncle raising a glass and declaring in heavily accented English, “America, I love you!”

When my grandparents arrived in Chicago, they went to work, they went to school, and they went to the nearest public library. It’s been a hundred years since my grandparents came to the United State and more than 60 years since I heard these stories. Times have changed and the world has changed. One thing remains the constant…immigrants still rely on our public libraries for assistance, education, and at times, solace.

Our public libraries continue to provide information and resources for an increasingly diverse and steadily growing immigrant population. In large and small communities across the country public libraries have diverse collections in a myriad of languages. I know that the many branches of the large, urban Queens Borough (NY) Public Library has collections in every language from “Arabic to Urdu”… and that’s to be expected. Surprisingly, the Jackson County Library in small, rural Newport, Arkansas is expanding their ESL collections to meet the demands of their growing population of English language learners.

In addition, public libraries offer free and equitable access to technology. We know, that if you can get to the library you can get to a computer. Immigrants use library computers to write to family members scattered across the globe, read the online editions of their hometown newsletters, search for employment, access naturalization information and apply for citizenship.

As librarians, you’ve helped countless immigrants locate the resources they need to live, work, and thrive in America. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is profoundly aware of the essential and expanding role libraries play in the immigrant integration process. In fact, USCIS is developing an electronic system to accept more benefit requests online. They fully expect the public library to be a primary source of access to this online system. USCIS is interested in talking with librarians about the future of immigrants’ access to immigration services and benefits at ALA's Midwinter Meeting, in a discussion group called "USCIS Engagement on Digital Access," to be held on Sunday, Jan. 27 in room 205 of the Washington State Convention Center. The session will be facilitated by Mary Herrmann, chief of USCIS' Public Engagement Division.

Hosted by the ALA Committee on Literacy, ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services, and USCIS, this hour-long session will also be an opportunity for attendees to discuss potential citizenship education partnerships between USCIS and public libraries.


REFORMA Book Donation Spreads Joy in 4 Countries

The recent donation of 500+ books by Hector Marino was a bigger gift than even he could have imagined.  The books were first brought to René Bue, Bilingual Outreach Coordinator at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville Wisconsin by Armando Trejo, then president of the REFORMA Midwest Chapter.  With René’s connections to international libraries, the books were about to take a journey to 3 different countries, where they would bring smiles to many children.

The first group to receive some of the books was the Friends of Emiliano Zapata in Emiliano Zapata, Chiapas, Mexico.  As noted on their Facebook page, the “Friends of Emiliano Zapata began with 14 people from the United States traveling to Chiapas, Mexico after Christmas 2010, to learn about the long-time work of our United Church of Christ among the Maya people of Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state. In 2012 we will return to complete a comprehensive assessment of health, nutrition, and resources, in order to start a process to promote sustainable wellness for the beautiful people of this rural community of Emiliano Zapata.”  According to member,  Shirley DiFrancesco, “A small group just returned from a trip down there and the books were greatly appreciated.”


(Pictures from the Friends of Emiliano Zapata Facebook page)

The Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas (W/NP) Lending Library program in Nicaragua also received a box of books.  These books will be sent to Nicaragua via cargo ship in the near future to use in some of the more than 17 lending libraries.

From the W/NP website (www.wisnic.org): “According to the World Bank, Nicaragua is listed among the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Education efforts have improved over the years, yet at the present time, there are still approximately 300,000 children outside the educational system. The ability to read, write and understand printed material is a fundamental skill necessary for academic success, most employment and daily life in general. Access to quality reading material is nearly non-existent for many children.  The Lending Library project meets the acute need for accessible quality reading materials in rural and urban communities. The primary goal is to offer reading opportunities for children and adults in selected communities of Nicaragua. Being able to check out books and take them home encourage leisure reading and parental involvement in various reading environments (home, school and library.)”




(Pictures from Amy Wiza, W/NP)

The next program to receive books was Weave Hope Inc. in Santa Catarina Palopó in Guatemala.  Weave Hope’s founder, Erin Conway, came to Hedberg Public Library to pick up 2 boxes of boxes of books when she was home for a week in July.

According to the Weave Hope Facebook page, “Weave Hope Inc. is a non-profit founded to directly support literacy promotion in the community library Ru K'ux Na'oj in Santa Catarina Palopo, Guatemala.  Weave. Hope. Inc.'s mission is to promote a local and sustainable economic and educational circle in order to enhance the opportunities for academic advancement in the student and youth population for the Mayan village of Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala by providing support of traditional artisan crafts and the circulation of informational resources and learning support programs in a local library/community center that aids all levels of educational and community development.”

Weave Hope  Inc.  fills two specific needs in the village. It seeks to adapt and provide a market for these artisan creations as a means to increase a market for the women involved and provide an economic boost to the community as well as reinvesting the profit made on the sales into the support of the community library project. As a result, reinvesting in the village through educational resources and programs.

Since 2010 activities have centered on promotion of the library resources through reading contests, professional development provided by non profit literacy organizations working in Guatemala, principally Child Aid, workshops focusing on literacy instruction for teachers in the local primary school and community outreach. Weave. Hope. Inc. also officially formed in 2010, seeking primarily to solicit funds for a full time librarian, a larger space and the necessary furniture, tables, chairs, and bookshelves to house the growing student use.





(Photos from Erin Conway)

Ms. Bue was also able to keep some of the books to add to the Children’s Spanish collection at Hedberg Public Library and some to use as give-aways at their annual Día de los niños program in April.  This was a very generous gift that will change a lot of lives for children in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and locally in Janesville, Wisconsin.  ¡Muchísimas gracias Señor Marino!



Literacy at a Glance @ Anaheim

Interested in learning more about literacy trends and initiatives across the profession at Annual Conference?

The ALA Committee on Literacy and the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) Advisory Committee have compiled this list of programs at Annual highlight literacy efforts across the Association.

Download the .pdf Literacy at a Glance guide

Featured Programs

Saturday, June 25

Literacy for All: Adult learners @ your library

10:30am-12:00 pm


Sponsors: OLOS, Committee on Literacy; OLOS Advisory Committee; California State Library

This session focuses on how public libraries in diverse communities deliver, promote, fund, and sustain  essential literacy services for adult learners -- native English speakers and English language learners .

Monday, June 25

Digital Literacy at the Front Lines of Library Service: Issues, challenges, and opportunities

10:30 am – 12:00 pm


Sponsors: Committee on Literacy; OITP Digital Literacy Task Force; OLOS Advisory Committee,  PLA

Librarians serving diverse, underserved communities are regularly confronted with digital literacy dilemmas. In addition to providing access to technology and basic and increasingly creative instruction, they must address the boundaries of patron privacy, the increasing importance of adaptive technology, and the complex issues around digital citizenship. Panelists will address these issues and begin a national conversation.

Other Selected Literacy Programs

Friday, June 24

ALA Literacy Assembly
Doubletree, Tuscany DG
Sponsor: Committee on Literacy
The Literacy Assembly is a forum for information sharing, building Association-wide collaboration, and promoting literacy efforts in libraries of all kinds.
Many  Voices, One Nation
Sponsor: Committee on Diversity
Many Voices, One Nation brings together writers and artists from different perspectives in a rich program of spoken word and performance.

Saturday, June 25

You want me to circ WHAT?! or How to best utilize toys as a literacy tool
Sponsor: ALSC
The newly revised Every Child Ready to Read recognizes that play is an important part of early literacy development.  This hands-on session focuses on effectively using toys to  educate and entertain.
Back to Basics: Strategies & Techniques for Teaching Basic Digital Literacy to Underserved Populations
Sponsor: LITA
Many underserved populations lack the basic digital literacy skills needed for 21st century work and life. Libraries are meeting these needs in diverse ways. This session will feature successful programs, options for serving  specific populations and effective funding strategies.
Smart investing @your library: Everyone Counts!
Smart investing @your library grantees are at the forefront of financial literacy programs that reach all economic and interest levels. Learn how these programs are creating innovative models that provide unbiased financial education and resources.
Diversity and Outreach Fair
ACC-Exhibit Hall A
Sponsor: OLOS Advisory Committee
The Diversity and Outreach Fair celebrates library services to underserved and under-represented communities.  Visit with program leaders, learn strategies for success, and consider how similar programs can be implemented at your library.  Sponsored by DEMCO, Inc.
Digital Literacy and Libraries: Designing What Comes Next
Sponsor: OITP
This panel discussion will challenge you to think strategically about the future of digital literacy services in academic, school and public libraries.  Speakers will address key roles for libraries and present alternative strategies for addressing evolving and shifting literacies.

Sunday June 24

Touching Literacy: iPads in the School Library Serving Incarcerated and Detained Youth
1:30-3:30 pm
Sponsor: ASCLA
This program features three library staffers who brought iPads to school libraries serving detained youth in New York City. The program addresses the “how to’s” of technology pilots; collection development for tablets; collaborating with multiple institutions; and maintenance, marketing, and funding these projects.

Monday June 25

Youth, Online Privacy, and the New Literacies
8:00-10:00 am
Sponsor: AASL
Today’s youth may not understand the impact the Internet and social media have on their privacy. Learn how school librarians’ traditional commitments to literacy and privacy must also encompass information, media, and digital literacies.

Reinventing the Rural Library

Melinda Tanner

By Melinda Tanner

This post is the second 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.

In today’s struggling economy, many businesses have closed. Others are doing things they never thought they’d do to stay in business. A perfect example is McDonald’s. On a recent visit, the manager was pushing their soft baked chocolate chip cookies. He said, “Boy, never thought we would be baking cookies at McDonald’s.” My reply was, “or making mocha frappes and fruit smoothies or serving oatmeal for breakfast.” Businesses are reinventing themselves for the sake of sustainability.

There is a sign on our staff bulletin board that reads: “Blessed are those who are flexible for they shall not break.” Rural and small librarianship requires flexibility in the ever changing landscape of our communities. Flexibility will allow libraries to address the unique needs of their communities. Flexibility will position libraries as valuable community solutions... whatever the challenge.

As funding has decreased and the number of unique community agencies has dwindled, the role of the public libraries has changed. We are filling the service voids within our communities. Libraries have a history and reputation for doing more in times of less. These past few years have been no exception. Small and rural libraries are demonstrating their value by doing whatever it takes by being flexible to meet the needs within their community. Libraries are doing things they may not have ever imagined they would. Some examples I’ve seen in Southwestern Pennsylvania include:

A very small library (two rooms in an old storefront) opens its doors once a week to a local diagnostic lab. Patients needing regular blood draws know they can have it done every Tuesday at the library. They no longer need to drive the 40 plus miles to the nearest hospital or out-patient facility.

In a different area, the library has become the community center. They offer classes in yoga, self-defense, and healthy eating for diabetics. You can also rent a room for a baby shower or birthday party. Another library will even provide programming including stories and crafts for birthday parties held within their facility.

In light of the recent influx of Marcellus Shale related industries, small and rural libraries are serving as research centers for assistance with property rights, deed location and heirs for mineral rights from generations past. The director of a small library was asked to help with the nearly 100 children of out-of-state drillers living at a local hotel during the summer. Summer reading programs are now taking place at the hotel!

The label “rural” in 2012 STILL means that the library is most likely the only place around with free Wi-Fi and free computers. Libraries are the go-to spot for assistance and are still offering beginner technology classes as many residents find themselves at a loss with applications and forms available only online.

Gone are the days of traditional libraries and traditional library services! Gone are the days of traditional library leaders. Library leadership involves creativity, flexibility and nontraditional thinking. And, like McDonald’s, libraries everywhere are “reinventing themselves” for the sake of sustainability--especially small and rural libraries.

No one is baking cookies…yet.

Melinda Tanner is a District Consultant Librarian for the public libraries in Washington, Greene and Fayette Counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  She has been an active voice for rural & small libraries, founding a rural and small libraries roundtable for the Pennsylvania Library Association.  Melinda is a member of ARSL.


New online gallery highlights selected artwork from Coretta Scott King Book Awards winning and honor titles

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Illustrations Gallery is a new feature on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards website.  The gallery includes beautiful, large images from the award-winning and honor titles, and showcases the outstanding illustrators who have received the award.  We hope the gallery will inspire you to read these beloved books in your library, your classroom, and your home.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee is dedicated to celebrating and promoting the artistic expression of the African American experience through literature and the graphic arts.  We are excited to celebrate the contributions of Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner and Honor illustrators in a new and exciting way!

Check back often for new additions, and happy browsing!


Community Workshop Series: An academic library, public libraries, and library school collaboration

Ellie Boote (left) and Dani Brecher (right) – Coordinators of the Community Workshop Series

By Amanda Foster, Carolina Academic Library Associate

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Each Friday and Saturday morning, members of the Chapel Hill, Durham, and Carrboro communities make their way to their local public library to attend a computer or information literacy class put on by the Community Workshop Series (CWS). But before you think this is another case of traditional public library computer class offerings, keep reading to learn about the unique partnership that brought the CWS about.

The CWS was started in 2005 by a SILS graduate assistant working at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Undergraduate Library. Since 2006, UNC University Libraries has funded a graduate assistant whose responsibilities include organizing the CWS. Current UNC SILS student, Ellie Boote, is the Coordinator of Community Workshops. Each week, she schedules a volunteer instructor and floaters to staff around three classes per week. Classes are offered throughout the Research Triangle at the Carrboro Cybrary, Chapel Hill Public Library and the Durham County Southwest Regional Library. Last year, 255 members of the community attended a class.

One of the primary audiences of CWS classes is job-seekers wanting to build their computer skills. Classes on applications in the Microsoft Office Suite are the most popular for job-seekers, as are classes on resume writing and online job searching. Courses on online shopping, social networking, finding health information, and creating e-mail accounts are also popular.  Recently, the CWS began offering “Open Labs,” at some locations. Open Labs allow community members to bring their own projects to the library and receive help from a CWS volunteer.

Another primary audience for CWS classes is older adults wanting to learn more about computers because their children are using them. Dani Brecher, another SILS graduate student who will be the Coordinator of Community Workshops for the 2012-2013 academic year, says one of the more rewarding aspects of leading CWS classes is having participants come back later and say they’ve used their newly created e-mail accounts to send pictures and notes to out of state relatives.

Recently, the CWS has been reaching out to other organizations in the community. Boote has noted an increase in referrals from Parent University, with the goal of getting parents up to speed on current technology so they can help their children with their homework.

The workshops are staffed almost exclusively by student volunteers from UNC’s School of Information and Library Science and librarians from UNC University Libraries. In a way, the CWS serves the purposes of both the participants and the volunteers. Because the majority of CWS volunteers are current SILS students, they gain valuable instruction experience which will help them on the job market.

In 2007, the CWS won the ACRL Instruction Session Innovation Award. Since then the CWS has continued to be a unique example of collaboration between an academic library, public libraries, and students from a library school. CWS allows UNC Libraries to give back to the local community by offering computer and information literacy classes while also helping library school students gain much-needed instruction experience.

Would you like to learn more about CWS? Check out their website.


Literacy for All! Brand new toolkit features tools and resources for serving adult new and non readers

By Dale P. Lipschultz, Ph.D., Literacy Officer, ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services

For the last year, ALA’s Committee on Literacy has been writing, editing, and revising a toolkit devoted to serving adult learners, titled "Literacy for All: Adult Literacy @ your library."  The purpose of the toolkit, simply stated, is ‘…to help you add, expand, and advocate for adult literacy services at your library.’ Our goal in compiling this resource is to provide tools, tips, resources, promising practices, and encouraging words to help even the most hesitant and financially challenged library reach out and serve the adult learners in their community.

Compiling the toolkit proved to be both deeply satisfying and deceptively complicated. I thought that identifying the resources and writing the text would been an easy task for the members of the Committee and its staff liaison (that would be me). After all, we’re all library literacy ‘mavens’ with years of practical, programmatic experience; we’re well grounded  in the multiple theories of literacy development across the lifespan; we have easy access to legions of dedicated colleagues working in libraries and providing literacy services, programs, and funding opportunities; and we frequently collaborate with national literacy organizations that share our vision and mission.

As it turned out, collecting the resources and writing the toolkit was much more difficult than I anticipated. In fact, the lengthy process made me question my own expertise and assumptions. Maybe I know – or think I know –too much about the issues, challenges, and implications of serving adult learners @ your library. Or maybe I’ve been away from the library literacy frontline a bit too long to fully appreciate the kind of determination, resources, and support it takes to make literacy an integral part of  library services.

The Committee was determined to feature a wide range of promising practices. With that in mind, I reached out to state libraries with a long history of supporting and promoting adult literacy on the local level.   I wanted examples of library literacy programs that were, in my words, ‘effective, low cost, and easily replicable’.  Cyndy Colletti, Literacy Manager, Illinois State Library Literacy Office, responded to my message in great detail and took me task in the nicest possible way. Cyndy wrote:

I want to gently differ with you.  Adult literacy programs, when effective, are not “low-cost, and easily replicable.”  I think it is necessary that we not mislead well-intentioned people to think that all adult learners will learn easily…It is in everyone’s interest that we all pull together on this issue and fully support the educational aspirations of adult learners.  Libraries that offer adult literacy programs are accomplishing that goal.  Libraries that work in close cooperation with literacy programs are also helping to accomplish that goal.

Cyndy’s cautionary, but encouraging, words reminded me just how difficult it is to be a literacy provider in the library and in the community. The new toolkit is a starting point…and a very good one…for libraries with literacy hopes and dreams. It is a compilation of tried and true resources that will help libraries serve adult learners. But there is room for improvement, expansion, and of course, discussion.

The toolkit is available as an eight page print edition, an easily-navigable Web edition or as a downloadable PDFfile. Printed copies of the toolkit are available in packages of 25 for ALA members. Orders for under 25 toolkits will be sent free of charge (please include ALA personal or organizational membership number); for orders of 25 and over, the charge is $.50/toolkit plus a $7 flat fee for shipping.  If you would like additional toolkits please contact Elliot Mandel, OLOS Program Coordinator, at emandel@ala.org.


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/.