Monday Briefing - March 7, 2022

Book Challenges Update

Last week the State Librarian and State Education Department received criticism for posting the book ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’ by Maia Kobabe to their Twitter account as part of the "Read Across America" campaign. Complaints originated because of the pictures in the book and the thought that the title was being promoted to children in public schools. Like most book challenge issues, this situation is fraught with misinformation and statements out of context. The System has already received two negative messages about this book and I suspect that we'll be sent a few more. Being that this is another 'Book Challenge' situation in the media, your library may receive comments or concerns about this or similar titles in your collection. If you do, I am happy to talk it through with you.

Also, on Thursday I will be chatting with Directors and Trustees during the Trustee Workshop: A Board's Guide to Book Challenges in Public Libraries if you would like to learn more. We'll mainly be talking about policies, handling book challenge situations, and censorship in general.

Youth Services Email List

Be sure your Youth Services staff is on the YSL email list so they do not miss important updates, including upcoming workshops, Summer Reading information, and book giveaways. Email to have them added.

Traveling Summer StoryWalks

The Pioneer Library System will partner with eight OWWL Libraries (two from each county) that do not currently have, support, or sponsor a StoryWalk ® (or variation of) in their library community. The System will fund and create nine StoryWalks ® to rotate among these partner libraries each week from July 3 through September 3, 2022.

OWWL Docs page


Limited Edition OWWL Kids Card

If you're interested in this limited edition run, please fill out the Interest Form.

SHPO Workshop

New York State Library is hosting a webinar titled "Understanding SHPO: A Primer for Library Construction Project." This may be helpful for those of you with older buildings who planning library construction projects over the next few years. Click here for more information and to register.

Employee Handbook Template

If you missed the Employee Handbook Template discussion last week, here is the OWWL Docs page -

The Word file, as well as the workshop recording, can be found there. The initial setup can be a challenge, but once you get it set up you will have a solid policy for all of your employment practices.

Question of the Week: Reserve Funds

Can my library have Reserve Funds? What is the limit to the funds? Do I need separate bank accounts for all of these funds?

Reserve funds are always a fun topic and this week a few libraries have asked a variety of questions about them. The best information comes from the Trustee Handbook:

Library boards may establish other special purpose funds for accounting and planning purposes. Monies may be transferred into and out of such funds only with formal board approval at an open meeting. It is common for the library to maintain an “undesignated” fund, or “fund balance,” to meet the cash flow requirements of the organization prior to the receipt of taxes. Each fund must be defined in the library's Reserve Funds policy, identified in the library’s annual audit and its purpose understood by every trustee. There is no limit to such reserve funds in law or regulation, but recent State Comptroller’s audits have questioned extraordinary reserves (i.e. in excess of the library’s annual budget).

Having acquired funds from a local government, community taxpayers or other sources, the board has an obligation to spend the money! Although a reserve fund is prudent and appropriate, the library should not hoard excessive amounts of money as a hedge against the proverbial rainy day. There should be justification, based in reality, for all reserve funds. Local governments, voters, and donors do not give or appropriate money to the library so the board can put it away in a safe place. They are buying service from the library! Trustee Handbook, pg. 61

Aside from a Capital Reserve Fund, which is recommended to be a separate bank account for tacking in the Annual Report, Reserve Funds may be in the same account and tracked through your traditional budget practices.

You can view the System's Assigned Reserve Policy as a reference point. Your library will not need the same Reserve Funds, but you can get an idea of what the descriptions should look like.

HBR How to Interrupt Someone Without Completely Disrupting Their Flow

Interruptions are a fact of work life. Sometimes it’s necessary to disrupt someone’s flow to ask a question or to communicate key information that’s just come up. When this happens, do what you can to ensure your “sorry to bother you” moment isn’t annoying. Before interrupting, look out for signs that they might be busy or focusing. Are they listed as “away” or “available” online? Do they have the hour blocked off on their calendar? These cues can give you a sense of how intrusive an interruption might be at that moment. If you determine that the person might be available, think about how you can reduce the ask ahead of time. How can you keep the interruption succinct? Are there steps you could complete on your own before bringing them in? It’s all about how you’re perceived — even if these details don’t feel like a big deal to you, presenting the interruption in a manner that highlights your respect for the other person’s time can have a major impact on how they react.

This tip is adapted from “How to Interrupt Someone’s Workday — Without Annoying Them,” by Elana Feldman

The PDF version of the article is available here - Article How to Interrupt Someones Workday.pdf
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