Director Briefing - May 22, 2023

Intent to Apply - State Aid for Library Construction

The Intent to Apply for the next State Aid for Library Construction cycle is due on Friday, May 26, 2023. This is a firm deadline.

Click here to access the most up-to-date Construction Aid information including the link to the Intent to Apply form.

Please reach out to Suzanne with any questions.

414 Legislation Update

Earlier this month, Library Systems coordinated another push for the 414 petition reduction legislation. To help, I created a slightly modified letter to the one that several libraries signed earlier this year and sent it to Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and Senator Iwen Chu (chairs of the Senate and Assembly committees on libraries). The supporting libraries that signed on earlier this year were also included in this letter. Thank you for everyone who is supporting this legislation. Bill Summary: Sets the number of petitioners necessary to call for a vote on increasing the amount of funding of the annual contribution for the operating budget of a registered public or free association library at twenty-five qualified voters of a municipality.

Aspen: Administrative Logins Coming Soon from Dan

Aspen administrative logins

Libraries are invited to sign up to have administrative logins for Aspen issued.

Administrative logins will allow you and your staff to customize your library's Aspen individual entry point.

In addition to the main consortial view of the catalog at, libraries have their own individual entry points at [Evergreen code] For example, Dansville's is at Right now, these individual entry points mostly match the main version of Aspen, but they're ready to be customized to highlight your library's collection.

Administrative logins will allow staff to create browse categories, public lists, manage materials requests (if applicable), and more!

Excited? Sign up here! We'll get back to you soon.

Aspen resources and training

We have several pages on OWWL Docs that have more information about the options available to you.

Start here to learn more about what you and your staff can do with administrative logins. Recordings of previous trainings are linked to at the bottom of the page.

Interested in the materials request module? Learn more about it here.

We'll have a training that focuses on Aspen administration on Wednesday, May 31 at 10am. Please register to attend. We'll send out information about this training in OWWL Post, too, since this email is just being sent to directors.

Next for Aspen

In the coming weeks, we'll switch the search box and links on to direct patrons to Aspen. There will be some changes to the search box because of the way searches in Aspen are structured. The Evergreen OPAC will still be available during the transition period.

We'll also start contacting you to switch your OPAC computers to use Aspen.

We're wrapping up work on a series of pages for patrons that have more information about how to use the catalog and about the transition. These pages will be featured more prominently by the time the changes are made to the search box and links from Get a sneak peek at these pages (still works in progress!) at


Please email if you have any questions. This message has been sent to d-all only.

PLSDAC Meeting - June 2, 2023 at Walworth-Seely Public Library

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend June's PLSDAC meeting, but I've included the System Board Agenda, Director Briefing, and Minutes from the May meeting on the PLSDAC agenda below.

Suzanne will attend with the Owl Camera setup, so people will be able to join via Zoom.

Watch out for Phishing Emails

There have been a lot of reports about phishing emails in the last couple of days—one about a DocuSign and another about a missed call/voicemail.

DocuSign Phishing Email.pngVoicemail Phishing Email.png

These are both phishing emails. Please mark them as spam/junk to help the Zimbra filters get smarter.

If you're ever unsure about an email, forward it to and we will take a look at it.

A few libraries have encountered issues with community groups and meeting room policies. To help, I reached out to our attorney and she responded with the information below. She also created a Template Public Library Meeting Room Policy that you can use to update/replace your current policy or for your board to approve if you do not currently have a meeting room use policy.
Question: If a public library in New York allows groups and individuals to reserve and use rooms for meetings, can that library deny access if the use is for a group advocating removing books from libraries or another goal antithetical to the core values or existence of the library?

Attorney Response: The short answer is no: libraries cannot restrict the use of library facilities based on the viewpoint of the group. Whether it be groups seeking to ban books, white supremacists, or anarchists, controlling access based on viewpoint or content is not permitted by the First Amendment.

When evaluating what restrictions on speech or expressive activity are permissible, a threshold question is “what type of ‘forum’ does the restriction affect?” There are three types: public forums, limited public forums, and nonpublic forums. Think of it as a spectrum, with sidewalks and parks being the most public forums and private offices being the least public forums. The way the law works, as the forum becomes more public, the government must meet higher and higher standards in order to justify regulation.

Of the three types of the forums, the only relevant one for our purposes is the “limited public forum.” That is because courts uniformly sit libraries within this category. For limited public forums, there is a two part test to determine whether the restriction is permissible: any restriction must be (1) “viewpoint neutral” and (2) “reasonable in light of the purpose served by the forum.” “Viewpoint neutral” means that restrictions on expression must be based on the category of the expression, rather than the content of that expression. This is the reason why, in our introduction, we noted that the library must provide meeting rooms to book clubs and book banning organizations on equal footing – since the type of activity they’re engaging in is similar.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals (the highest authority in New York below the Supreme Court of the United States) phrased the viewpoint neutrality requirement as follows: “in a limited public forum, government is free to impose a blanket exclusion on certain types of speech, but once it allows expressive activities of a certain genre, it may not selectively deny access for other activities of that genre.”

This raises the question, what is a category of speech that a library may restrict? One such restriction, upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, was a rule that no religious worship services were permitted in meeting rooms. Forums such as libraries and schools also frequently ban “political activity” and these restrictions have also been upheld. These restrictions are upheld because they apply to entire categories of activities (rather than prohibiting specific religions or specific school courses), but also because of the second requirement: reasonableness in light of the purpose served by the forum.

What does it mean for a restriction to be reasonable in light of the purpose? Well, taking the above example of prohibiting religious worship, the “purpose” of libraries is not to serve as houses of worship. According to the Supreme Court, a library is “a place dedicated to quiet, to knowledge, and to beauty.” Courts have also upheld hygiene policies for libraries because unkempt personal hygiene interferes with the library’s mission of providing the maximum benefit to the community.

Let’s now apply this standard to the question at hand. What type of restriction prohibiting anti-library groups to meeting would pass the reasonableness test? We know that, because of the viewpoint-neutrality requirement, any rule that applies differently based on the content being discussed would not be allowed. So what about a rule that prohibited all groups from meeting in the library? Well, that might be upheld. In Kreimer, the Court upheld a rule that provided: “Patrons shall be engaged in activities associated with the use of a public library while in the building. Patrons not engaged in reading, studying, or using library materials shall be required to leave the building.” The Court reasoned that “The Library need not be used as a lounge or a shelter.” As such, perhaps a ban on every type of meeting would be permissible – but such a ban would also go against many libraries’ core values. Therefore, as much as one may disagree with the viewpoints of certain groups and/or patrons, restricting services because of those views is just not allowed under the First Amendment.

On a practical level, evaluating these various tests and circumstances can be difficult for a library to untangle. As such, members are well-advised to adopt library room rental and room use policies. One of the best ways to minimize exposure is to require that meeting rooms be checked out as resources to individuals who have library privileges, rather than rented or provided as a gratuity. This is because, if rooms are available for free to anyone, there are concerns about the use being an “inurement.” Though addressing that question goes outside the scope of our discussion here, we previously addressed the problem of inurement in an "Ask the Lawyer” RAQ. In order to assist OWWL member libraries in obtaining thoughtful, goal-oriented compliance, accompanying this answer is a flexible room usage template and policy.

In summary, (1) avoid restricting room usage based on viewpoint, (2) consider the library’s meeting room usage policy, and (3) be careful with free room usage so as not to run afoul of the inurement problem. As always, consult your attorney with specific questions!

Upcoming Trustee Workshops

Workshop Date Time Link
Q&A with Ron at Newark Public Library (click here to submit questions ahead of time) June 8, 2023 4:30 PM Registration
Trustee Handbook Book Club: Financial Planning & Budgeting June 20, 2023 5:00 PM Registration
Budgeting Q&A with Ron and Kelly July 17, 2023 5:00 PM Registration
Patron Privacy and Access Policies (Hybrid) August 7, 2023 5:00 PM Registration
Trustee Handbook Book Club: Strategic Planning August 15, 2023 5:00 PM Registration
Trustee Handbook Book Club: Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Access & Justice October 17, 2023 5:00 PM Registration
Trustee Handbook Book Club: Financing & Managing Construction Projects December 19, 2023 5:00 PM Registration
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding OWWL Docs? Send feedback

This website is using cookies. More info. That's Fine