October 15, 2015
In this Issue
President's Letter

Hard to believe that October is already upon us. And everyone knows what October means: November is coming, and that means our annual MLA Conference is right around the corner. We've been working hard behind the scenes to make this one really shine, so I wanted to take a minute to highlight a few reasons you won't want to miss it.
  • Keynotes--We've got the American Library Association (ALA) President Sari Feldman coming, the Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC) President Andrew Medlar, and our own State Librarian, Jamie Ritter. Three keynotes in two days. Plus, each keynote speaker will be doing one additional session for those who want to follow up with more specific questions or hear more from them.
  • Wide variety of topics--From issues in cataloging to role playing games in the library to how to be more efficient on the job, we really have something for everyone. We're focused on providing programming for all types of librarians: public, school, academic, and special.
  • Meals included--We heard a lot of positive feedback on the food from last year's conference, and we're aiming to please again. (Surprisingly, the food is what often seems to stand out to people the most, for good or ill.) A conference has a lot to offer in programming, but even more to offer in terms of networking. You get to meet people from across the state, and much of those meetings happen best over breakfast or lunch. Don't miss out!
  • Library Memberships--Don't forget that MLA still offers discounted membership rates for libraries that sign their entire staff up at once. As low as $10/member! And all those members can still register for our conference at the cheapest rate. If you want to know more about how to do this, just ask.

Don't forget as well that the early bird discount has been extended through Saturday, October 17th. Rates go up after then, so be sure to register early to make things as economical as possible.

Overall, our current goal with our conference is to get into a nice pattern that we can follow each year. Same venue, same time, same great experience. I look forward to seeing you there, November 16th and 17th, at the Cross Center in Bangor!

Bryce Cundick
MLA President

HSLIC and You

October is Health Literacy Month!  Maine’s Health Science Libraries and Information Consortium (HSLIC) would like to remind all librarians that we are here to help you better serve your patrons.  We can help with medical reference questions that are more complex than what can be answered by standard, public resources.  Good health literacy keeps everyone healthier by assuring better comprehension of medical descriptions and terms, instructions, and services.   For more information about HSLIC, see or contact Susan A. Bloomfield, HSLIC Chair; Southern Maine Health Care; 283-7289.
Susan A Bloomfield, Southern Maine Health Care
NELLS 2015
The New England Library Leadership Symposium (NELLS) was held August 3-7 at Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in North Andover, MA.  I won’t recap the details of the program (they can be found here, if you're interested).  What I would like to make note of was my personal experience – it was an engaging, enlightening week.  Led by former ALA president, Maureen Sullivan, I was reminded time and time again of why I decided to become a librarian.  Maine realizes the need to cultivate leaders for the future and I applaud them on their support for these wonderful opportunities.  I invite you librarians out there to make sure you're taking advantage of these opportunities.  Remember that no one ever stops learning, especially librarians.   

Photo Back Row: Kara Reiman, Holly Williams, Lisa Neal Shaw, Erica Rubin Irish
Front Row: Maureen Sullivan, Mary Beckett, Abby Morrow, Michelle Conners, Marcela Peres


Michelle Conners, Walker Memorial Library
Building Science Programming 

How does a Public Library become a community science resource center? You can start by adding a telescope to your circulating collection. Next, add some traditional print materials and dynamic speakers that augment this equipment. Then you can build a rocket ship in the parking lot for a closer look at the sky, and raffle off seats to fund additional STEM programs and experiences.

Or, you can take a look at the IMLS grant recently jointly awarded to Cornerstones of Science, the Maine State Library, and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The title of the project, “Empowering Public Libraries to be Science Resource Centers for their Communities,” is designed to equip the nation’s State Library Agencies (SLA) with field-tested, replicable science literacy models and tools. Portland Public Library, Auburn Public Library, and Jesup Memorial Library are the pilot library sites in Maine, along with a trio of public libraries in Massachusetts. It is an exciting opportunity for all of these pilot sites to build on our experiences with science literacy, and develop a broader continuum of non-school based learning in the STEM subjects. 

So, while the pilot sites likely aren’t going to be building rocket ships in our back yards, we are developing an approach to science literacy that is community based. This means that we’re trying to pick topics that are relevant to our patrons, inserting discrete learning opportunities for all ages that are disguised as fun. STEM learning, for example, is a buzz phrase in the education community—everyone knows it is important, but implementing literacy projects is another challenge. Text books and classrooms can only go so far to boost interest and excitement in STEM, but offerings like robotics clubs, museum and science center passes, Lego Leagues, science cafes, walking book clubs, and even video gaming, all provide a window into the elusive world of engaging Americans with Science.  

Citizen Science is a wonderful concept that is very relevant to making the library a resource for science literacy—it pairs organizations with non-scientists to gather data as a way to meaningfully contribute to research projects. The activities range from counting birds to track migrations and populations, to playing computer games to collect cognitive data. Public Libraries can offer a spectrum of STEM offerings—patrons can move from borrowing a state park pass, to checking out a geology backpack, to watching an earthquake specialist demonstrate a seismograph, to contributing data to a soil testing citizen science opportunity.

The first step to achieving the ambitious goal of boosting community STEM literacy is very basic, but very scary for a lot of librarians. Our backgrounds are traditionally in humanities subjects, so sometimes just the thought of “doing science” elicits a knee jerk negative reaction. So, we’re starting small and building capacity on the individual level first. We’re library scientists, and can talk all about the difference between Dewey and Library of Congress, but I can’t necessarily name all of the elements on the periodic table—and I’m willing to bet that a chemist can’t expound on library classifications, either. Building relationships is a fundamental concept here, and seeking out experts when possible is key. Even for small or rural libraries, there are local experts in the community that probably can’t wait to tell you all about their trip to count amphibians in the Galapagos. I’ll let David Lankes tell you, too: Why Libraries Cannot be STEM Educators

This 30-month IMLS Leadership Grant  (July 2015 – December 2017) supports the IMLS objective of building public library capacity, engaging community and cultivating durable partnerships to support sustained access to science learning in libraries.

The resources that develop from this grant will be…..

•    the creation of the online STEM Resources Clearinghouse (how-to guides, database of science programming suitable for public libraries, librarian training programs, evaluation tools, etc.); 
•    expanded SLA STEM capacity and advocacy; 
•    the expansion of public library capacity that enables them to successfully support ongoing STEM programming 
•    a Guide that SLA’s can use to nurture STEM in public libraries.

At the local level this increased local capacity will result in an increase in STEM awareness and understanding among individuals of all ages that participate in local library science experiences and a greater awareness in the local scientific community that libraries are a viable venue for disseminating their research findings.

The long-term definition of success is that the nation’s public libraries will become dynamic community science resources centers that are vibrant and valued by community members. As the largest library pilot site, Portland has a unique perspective and will energize the community by offering non-school STEM literacy, age specific and family friendly programs, as well as making connections to other subject areas from the science focus. 2016 will be the year of Phenology @ PPL, and we’re excited to offer opportunities to expound on this interesting branch of the sciences—starting with weather balloons, not rocket ships.  

Samantha Duckworth, Portland Public Library and Janet McKenney, Maine State Library
Friends of Maine Libraries: A Blast in Belfast!
 It was a memorable day for the Friends of Maine Libraries (FoML), hosting their Fall 2015 conference and annual meeting at the Belfast Free Library on October 6th.

Maine State Librarian Jamie Ritter, his predecessor Linda Lord, and smiling Library Friends from across the state of Maine pose for a group portrait during the recent FoML conference held at the Belfast Free Library. Photo: Mariellen Eaton

This epic event offered opportunities to renew old friendships and forge new ones among attendees drawn together by a common love for libraries and a mission to support Maine libraries as the community anchor institutions they are. From Linda Lord and Jamie Ritter, past and present Maine State Librarians, to community members hoping to launch a friends group, to the FoML grant winners-- everyone brought their own energy and passion to the mix. It was a day of sharing challenges and celebrating successes, some excellent food for thought (and speaking of food, excellent lunch!) --and some poignant and powerful insights that make us proud to be Friends of Maine Libraries!

 “What a great day it was! Definitely high energy and overflowing with fresh ideas,” said Belfast Library Director and FoML member Steve Norman, who also enumerated all the library enhancements that Belfast Friends have made possible.  

The day’s discussions ranged from philosophical: libraries as democracy in action—to technical: libraries as content creators and maker spaces--  to tips and tricks for friends’ membership campaigns and fundraising. 

Representing the 2014 FoML grant winners, Heidi Hinkley of Jonesport’s Peabody Memorial Library, and Andi Jackson-Darling of Falmouth Memorial Library shared poignant accounts of how their $750 grants have benefited their libraries with movies and music-- and strengthened their communities in the process. FoML president Laurel Parker presented the 2015 FoML grant of $500 to Tricia Gordon, Cundy’s Harbor Library director, to implement their Inside Out Maker Space, which will integrate the Library into the fabric of everyday events in this small community. 

Cundy's Harbor Library Director Tricia Gordon (L) accepted the 2015 FoML grant award to underwrite the library's planned "Inside Out Maker Space". Photo: Nancy McGinnis

Nicole Rancourt, Program Officer of the Maine Humanities Council, shared a wealth of great information about the MHC's programs for libraries-- and then putting on her other hats, explained about the statewide collaborative Summer Reading Program and the Maine Reader's Choice Award-- all great examples of resources and community programming ideas for Maine libraries large and small. 

Gordon and Rancourt have also volunteered to serve on the FoML board; some vacancies still remain and anyone interested is encouraged to speak up.  

The mission of FoML is to help those who help Maine’s libraries. The Board strives to give away nearly all of the membership dues collected each year in the form of grants to Maine libraries and their friends groups. Over $20,000 has been distributed in grants since FoML was launched in 1992. “We hope to boost our members and our grant funds so that we can plan a fitting 25th anniversary celebration to make an unprecedented difference to Maine libraries,” says Parker.   
To join the Friends, serve on the Board, make a donation, learn more about the Conference and see additional photos or for more information, please visit and like the Friends of Maine Libraries on Facebook.
Nancy McGinnis, FoML Board Member
and Conference Co-Chair
Conference Reminders

Back to the Future
The New England Library Association’s 2015 joint Annual Conference with NHLA will be held October 25-27, 2015 at the Radisson Hotel Downtown in Manchester, NH.  Make sure to friend us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date with all of the latest conference information and updates!  Talk about conference using the #NELA2015!  Registration is still open, although early bird rates have ended.

Please join us on Monday and Tuesday, November 16th & 17th for the annual conference at the Cross Center located on Main Street in Bangor, Maine.
Programming will begin on Monday morning and continue through the day on Tuesday.  In addition we'll be offering vendor exhibits, meals, authors, and plenty of networking opportunities.

We are including light breakfast, lunch, and snacks in the Conference Registration price. Early bird registration goes through Saturday, October 17.

For more details on the schedule, speakers, parking, and other updated conference information, please see the conference details site at

Housing arrangements are separate from registration and must be made by attendees themselves. Information regarding lodging discounts may be found on the conference details site as they become available. 

Please direct all questions by email to: and we will be glad to assist you!
Evaluating and Restructuring Maine State Library's Consulting Services
The Library Development Division of the Maine State Library wants to determine if we can deliver consulting services more effectively by restructuring our current model.

The Maine Regional Library System was established 42 years ago, so we’d like to take this opportunity to review consultant services to ensure we continue to meet the changing needs of all Maine libraries.

We ask you to help us by completing this survey for public libraries.

Another survey is in development for school, academic and special libraries and will be sent out later.  
Survey is open until Friday, October 30 at noon.

We have developed this survey as a starting point to evaluate current use and satisfaction of our existing services.

We currently have 5 consultants:  3 regional “generalists” (CMLD, NMLD, SMLD) and 2 statewide “specialists” (Early Literacy, Technology/E-rate).

We are looking for input from all library staff that use or have needs for consultant services.  With many of our directors facing retirement in the next few years, hearing from staff who may be the next new director is important to us.  The survey is anonymous but upon completion respondents can use another form to enter a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card.
We will draw five winners when the survey is closed.

Once we have the results of the survey, we will use those results to convene regional forums throughout the state to delve more deeply into conversations about meeting current and future needs of Maine libraries.

In addition, our federal funder, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has developed a more results-based data reporting program. Restructuring our service model will help us meet this new requirement.

Through surveys and focus groups, we hope to answer these questions:
  • How are you using the consultants now?
  • What are your needs for the future?
  • Will another model work in Maine?
  • What are the possibilities given current funding and staff?
  • How do other state libraries deliver services?
Thank you for working with us to improve our services so the Maine State Library can serve you better.
Janet McKenney, Maine State Library
Book Award Updates

Maine Readers' Choice Award

The votes are in, and the winner of this year's Maine Readers' Choice Award is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. 

The committee is already hard at work reviewing titles for the 2016 Maine Readers’ Choice Award under the new leadership of Mamie Anthoine Ney, director of the Auburn Public Library.  The 2016 Long list will be announced later this fall. To learn more about the award, please visit

Chickadee Award

Don't forget to look at the Chickadee booklet to get lots of cool ideas on how to use these picture books in your library!

Maine Student Book Award

Have you looked at the Resources section of the Maine Student Book Award lately? There are links to trailers, QR codes for the books, a LiveBinder with information about the books and authors, and a Kahoot game. The Kahoot game is especially great if you're in a 1:1 school situation, because it requires each person to have their own device. The committee has played the game all together and had a great time! Email Laura Phelps with any MSBA-related questions.
We hope you have enjoyed this issue of MLA to Z. Our next issue comes out in January, so get your article ideas ready!

Samantha Cote
MLA to Z Newsletter Editor
Youth Services/Technology Librarian, Winslow Public Library

Librarian Spotlight

This month's Librarian Spotlight is on Joyce Lucas, outgoing president of the Maine Association of School Librarians

Joyce Lucas, Librarian, Winslow High School, Winslow

When did you get started in libraries, and why did you want to?

Libraries were always a part of my life. My grandmother had a room above her insurance agency where people could go and borrow books.It was not a formal library, but all that they had in New Harbor at the time. While I was very young, I'm sure that this left an impression on me. 

My first working experience was at Unity College Library where I did work-study. I had no intention of becoming a librarian at that time as I was sure I wanted to be a wildlife biologist. Dot Quimby was the librarian and an inspiration to me. After college, I married and went north to Aroostook County where my husband had a job as a fishery biologist for the State. Waiting for something to open up for me, I took a job filling in as a library tech. at an elementary school library for someone on maternity leave. She decided not to go back, so I stayed on there. After 5 or 6 years I decided to go for my MLS and library media specialist certification.  

What has changed most over the course of your time being a school librarian?

Technology pops into my mind first because automating made collections so much more accessible. We take keyword searching for granted now, but I remember how amazingly wonderful it was to be a able to look up a book for a child who only knew the character's name, something you just couldn't do with a card catalog.  
The other big change, that makes me very happy, is that students in general are much more sophisticated in their reading and are better able to articulate what they are looking for. Public and school librarians, as well as teachers and parents deserve a great deal of credit.
How long have you been involved with MASL?

I joined the MASL Executive Board in either 2005 or 2006 and served as secretary from that time until November of 2011 when I became president-elect. 

What is your proudest professional achievement so far?

While my work with students at Winslow High School has been very rewarding, I have to say that my proudest accomplishment has been to start a small public library in Smithfield, my town. When the school closed there, the schoolhouse was turned into a town office and fire department. I was asked to get things rolling. It is very small and all volunteer, but it fills a void in our community.

What do you wish other librarians knew about school libraries/librarians?

I so wish that our schedules allowed more time with our public librarians. Our number one goal is to foster in students the idea of life-long learning. Personally, I can think of no more rewarding experience than going into our public library and seeing my students there.  

What is your favorite book to handsell to students? One of your favorite recent reads?

Over the summer I read, The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Richmond.  This science fiction/alternative history for young adults is based on the idea that Nazi Germany and Japan won the war against the Allies. Students in Winslow do a huge unit on the Holocaust and because of that, the book is an easy sell.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder left a huge impression on me.  That Dr. Paul Farmer did what he did for the Haitian people is amazing in itself, but Jeff Kidder's work to learn and write about this doctor was quite remarkable also.
The iLead Civic Hackathon @ PPL

For our ILEAD project we organized a Civic Hackathon, in hopes of having community members create some sort of tool to facilitate online community engagement. Our awesome team also includes Denise Menard of the Scarborough Public Library and Anita Ruff and Janell Lewis of Maine Health.

The day of our event turned out to be a beautiful, late Summer day - a perfect day to spend inside staring at computer screens.  We had roughly ten people show up, we were pleased with the turnout as committing to a twelve hour event is a lot to ask (again please see above, re: beautiful, late Summer day).

Jon Jennings, Portland’s new city manager gave the opening remarks. He had many great things to say about Portland, but he also shared that he feels our city is "behind the curveball" in many tech related aspects. He spoke about ways in which Portland can leverage technology to aid in the democratic process. With that, he really got inspirational-- let's make Portland a "tech hub of the nation.”

Next, people with existing ideas describe their proposed project, and people without projects simply introduced themselves and shared their interests and skills. We then asked people to spend time talking with each other, in hopes organic groups and similar ideas would meld. Luckily, they did!

Three groups emerged--
  • One group chose to tackle the problem from a very technological perspective, thinking about utilizing things like mesh networkinginternet relay chat (IRC), GPL, GNU, and a lot of other very confusing concepts to non-programmers. (Team BetsyRo)
  • Another group came at the problem from a very civic perspective-- how to make public spaces more inviting, how to encourage dialogue, how to eliminate obstacles, and how to ask the right questions. This group seemed very philosophical, and had a lot of intense debate through just the opening hours. (Team Dolphin)
  • A third group came together by thinking about online bulletin boards where organizations can automatically upload their flyers. Programming languages like Ruby, PHP, and Python were tossed around as a way to build out this concept. (Team AllaBoard) 
And with that, people got down to business! We broke for pizza lunch at noon, and heard from Mike Roylos who attended another civic hackathon here in Portland, and came away with not only the winning concept, but a product so viable it has become his day job: The Cigarette Buttler! People got back down to work after lunch, and we could really sense the energy simmering in each room. 

Teams continued working right through until dinner time. The teams were so dedicated, most hackers took their dinners (from a local food truck) back to their workstations and continued to hack! Meanwhile, our ILEAD team members talked shop with the food truck owners, and learned their concept started as a community project, also. 

At 7:30pm, we reconvened and introduced the judges. We had three judges on hand, including the awesome Christina Dorman of the Maine State Library and two local tech experts. We are extremely grateful to the judges, they were very generous with both their time and their feedback to the participants. 

Now it was show time! Each of the teams then had the opportunity to describe their project in detail and share the work that had been accomplished over the course of the day. It was truly amazing to see how far the teams had come since the morning. We, the organizers, were so glad we had professional judges on hand as we would have had great difficulty in choosing a winning team. 

And the winner was (drumroll please…)  BetsyRo. Fun fact: the name Betsyro is a pun on Betsy (Ro)ss and Betsy (Ro)bot. The team couldn't resist following the programmer tradition of using a pun for the name. BestyRo was awarded $1,500 in seed money to continue working on the project.  We look forward to following their project and seeing what unfolds, sign up for updates at

Overall, we were pleased with the event and relieved that we actually pulled it off!  Honestly there were a few moments that we questioned what we were doing, “a hack-a-whaaaat?” If you want to learn more about the behind the scenes fun that went into organizing this event, stay tuned to see our Seed & Grow video that we will be filming at the next ILEAD session in October.

If anyone is interested in hosting a hackathon let us know, we are happy to share resources and our experiences.

Sonya Durney and Samantha Duckworth,
Portland Public Library
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