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Reference, Instruction, and Outreach (RIO)

Guide to provide a forum to learn and share ideas about the various aspects of library reference, instruction, and outreach.

Meeting Notes

Meeting began with a brief description of CDLC's new space. There was a question on how CDLC paid for the move and if there are grants available for moving or space renovations. CDLC had funds put aside years ago for renovations that they used. The State Library offers annual construction grants for public libraries and public library systems. There are a lot of regulations and paperwork around these grants, but they provide needed funding for communities that would have difficulty raising the money themselves. The demographics of a library's service area determines the percentage of matching funds the library needs to provide for the projects.

Question about how other libraries have raised money for renovations. Public libraries that are classified as school district libraries cannot raise money on their own. They need to rely on their Friends groups or Foundation. However, association libraries have more options for raising money. Usually most successful if a very specific project is identified and clearly explained why fundraising is needed. For instance, Schenectady County HIstorical Society recently raised over $30,000 to replace their roof.   

An architectural firm in Ballston Spa, Butler Rowland and Mays Architects is well known for their work on library projects. For a reasonable price they will do a thorough review to provide feedback. Worth looking at them if you want to do a new building, renovation or addition. 

University at Albany is looking at creating a digital scholarship lab. They have visited Skidmore's GIS lab for ideas. 

Skimore also has an instruction room with laptops on a cart, which is much more flexible than PCs. They have wheeled furniture so it is easy for students to move around during the program.

Discussion over which is better for instruction - traditional classroom style with instructor and screen in the front or students around the perimeter of the room with the instructor in the center so the instructor can more easily see when students need assistance. It probably depends on the class and the instructor. The best answer is probably more moveable furniture so space can be flexible and instructors can set it up as they like. 

How to deal with possible theft of devices? Some institutions keep their devices in a locked charging cabinet in a locked room. Others bar code their devices and check them out to patrons.  

Any plans made for renovations and redesign before the pandemic will have to be re-evaluated and possibly completely redone, as needs are different now, especially as it relates to distancing and remote programming. 

Cllifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library is looking at implementing RFID, but that has repercussions for space use, so will need to look at whole building space use in light of that. 

Often in building and renovating libraries, no thought is given to where and how staff will work. Several libraries are now looking at renovations or changes to provide room for staff since they don't have nearly enough now. It is important to involve staff in any discussions of space to reduce this problem in future projects.  

Moveable shelving is becoming popular. It is on wheels and tends to be lower than traditional shelving. It can be easily moved by two people and they have locking wheels. Several branches of the Albany Public Library have this sort of shelving, and it has helped them host events in small branches. Shelving can be moved to the side for events like performances.

In more recent designs, there is often wasted open space. Try to avoid that! 

Having a lot of light and windows is good, but pay attention to the direction of the sun so the building doesn't get too hot. Several libraries have also had problems with birds flying into windows, so may need to set something up to limit that. 

Do people still use reference desks? Most libraries do, and they are often quite busy. Discussion over whether having combined/nearby reference and circulation desks is positive or negative. If the desks are near each other, it can change the nature of jobs, with reference staff doing more and more circulation tasks. When desks are close, it can help with answering patrons' questions because patrons can easily be directed from a circulation desk to a reference desk and reference staff may overhear the questions, which can make it easier on the patron.  

Staff members like the dual screen set up where staff and patron each have a screen where they see the same thing, but this is more expensive to implement than one screen that the staff tilts towards patron.  

What are people doing with their reference collections? Libraries are weeding a lot of reference material. Some are integrating popular reference works into the circulating collections. Some traditional reference resources now have online versions, but may not be used that much. Wikipedia has taken over much of the ready reference work. 

The next RIO meeting is on April 14, 1:00 - 2:00 pm. The topic is Young Adults and Mental Health. 

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800 Troy Schenectady Rd, Latham New York 12110
Phone: 518-438-2500