The White House’s FY19 budget proposes eliminating the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). If the budget is passed, a myriad of programs will be cut that America’s libraries utilize to provide essential services to communities through literacy, lifelong learning, and the provision of information resources. What can today’s library leader do about it?
Adriane Herrick Juarez shares her perspective, as a seasoned public library director, on practical things we can do right now about this announcement through our latest Library Leadership Podcast’s library conversation.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:00:06]
Welcome to Library Leadership Podcast. This is Adrian
Herrick Juarez. I’m here today with a special episode. I will be changing roles
with our producer today, Nate
Vineyard, who’s usually on the other end of the mic. But, today Nate is going to interview me. We thought we’d try this as an experiment. We have some new White House budget proposals coming down and we wanted to get to the heart of this issue quickly and get some thoughts out about it. Nate, welcome to the show.
Nate Vineyard: [00:00:39]
Adrian, thank you so much for having me. It’s a thrill to be on your podcast and I’m a huge fan. Even though I’m behind the scenes, I love your work and thank you so much for everything you do for the library community.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:00:51]
Well, it sure is fun to work with you, and it is fun to try the other side of the mic.
Nate Vineyard: [00:00:57]
Today we want to get your thoughts, Adrian. What’s the talk about these budget cuts?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:01:02]
Well, we’ve received word that the White House budget proposal for fiscal year ’19 eliminates the Institute of Museum and Library Services – all funding for that. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to America’s Libraries. That comes through the Library Services and Technology Act, LSTA. These funds are crucial for libraries to make programs happen to serve veterans, to get literacy out into the community. The Library for the Blind in my own state counts on funds from this program and all kinds of GRE programs. We all count on these funds to make important impacts to the people we serve.
Nate Vineyard: [00:01:54]
Adrian, it’s shocking news. Let’s get right to it. What should librarians be doing today about this news?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:02:01]
We all need to be talking to our legislators and stakeholders. It’s an important time to get the word out about why these funds mean so much for our communities and just what they do to benefit all of us. We do know that every dollar invested in libraries gives a return of five to eight dollars to the communities they serve. So taking this money away creates huge financial impact in good that could be serving our nation’s communities.
Nate Vineyard: [00:02:33]
Ok, so we need to be writing our legislators, calling them. What else should we be doing?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:02:40]
We need to get those around us to help tell the story. People who use our libraries and come in every day for these services should be reaching out to talk about why they want their libraries to be supported.
Nate Vineyard: [00:02:56]
It’s hurtful on quite a few different levels. One, of course, being that services will be cut but, it also is really tough in the sense you’re not being supported as a community. It takes support from all different levels and for whatever reason, this particular source isn’t giving that kind of support both monetarily and emotionally. On an emotional level, how do we deal with this?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:03:22]
One of the things that I really like about doing this podcast is the fact that we talk to leaders in the field of libraries. I think what we can do about this is really consider ourselves all leaders in libraries and take a role in speaking out about the importance of these programs, what this funding means to us, being advocates for what these kinds of funds can do in our communities. And, really getting out there and raising awareness so that our legislators know that this is not a good deal for any of our communities across the nation.
Nate Vineyard: [00:04:01]
There’s not many people that are experts in how the processes work but, this is a White House decision. But then, it also has to first be approved by Congress and the Senate as well. Just your gut instinct, should we be really worried? Should librarians and libraries be really worried about this or in your mind is this just a political statement that doesn’t really have any teeth?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:04:32]
I do think we should be worried, Nate, because honestly, the perception that this money could go away and not have repercussion is one we need to overcome every day. Our libraries are the heart of our communities. We perform essential services and we do know that for every dollar invested in a library, communities receive a return of five to eight dollars. This money makes it possible to do a great deal. That this is even part of the conversation is something that we should be concerned about and actively working against.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:05:13]
Libraries are not obsolete. We transform lives every day. We have multiple stories of people telling us just how much our libraries changed their lives and how much our libraries mean to them.
Nate Vineyard: [00:05:27]
I know that’s one of the main reasons why you wanted to start this podcast, to give librarians a focused voice of advocacy and to inform the public and educate them as to all the benefits that they receive by the library and also, what it means to the community to have such a central place. Just would like to get your thoughts on why would there be cuts when the economy is doing well?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:05:51]
Well, really it’s unexplainable. I can’t imagine why the cuts would be happening in the first place. But, we have seen in libraries, a trend in downward funding as some people need reaffirmation of what our libraries do. Here at the Park City Library, our mission is to empower minds, inspire imagination, and connect communities.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:06:16]
Libraries serve many important roles in our communities, with the resources we provide, with programs, with spaces for our community to come together and have conversations about what’s important in the lives of our citizens. We do that through multiple formats. We have books. We have movies. We have music. Here at Park City, we have a 21st-century library with 3-D printers. We have amazing resources, sound recording booths, green screen. Our community is creating information in its library.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:06:50]
What more important time to be in the world of information than now? It’s changing so fast. We need informed librarians and information navigators to help our community come into this new world of information. It’s more important than ever.
Nate Vineyard: [00:07:08]
In your opinion, what is the fundamental reason this information is not being heard by the public?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:07:17]
Well, one of the things that I think we can do is all become advocates for libraries. As leaders, one of our jobs is to not speak so much but to find people who can see the difference we’re making and help us tell those stories to stakeholders, to our legislators, are municipal governments, and to community members across the board who can then take that story forward and let it grow. I think that one of the things that is so important is really creating ambassadors for our mission and our message. We had a wonderful Friends of the Library meeting here in Park City recently and talked about how they are all ambassadors for the cause. They see what we’re doing every day. I think those personal stories mean a lot to people who are investing in their libraries.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:08:16]
I mean, it’s one thing for a librarian to tout a Library Night, that’s what we’re supposed to do. But, when a mom tells you a story about how important storytime is to her children or a retired citizen tells a story about how much they learned in a computer training course and now they can connect with their family better across technology, it just makes a big difference and a big impact. You can start seeing the lives that are being changed firsthand.
Nate Vineyard: [00:08:43]
Let’s say libraries get their message organized and heard. Do you believe that that will be enough to change this tide? Do you believe that it actually could work?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:08:56]
Absolutely, we’ve seen stories change the tide all the time. Here in Park City, our community mobilized around a grand renovation of our beautiful historic high school into the library it is today. That could not have happened without our community members telling stories and telling us what they want in their library, which we were then able to translate into everyday operations, as well as a beautiful new facility.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:09:25]
I realize not everyone has the funds to do that. But, we can do that on a basic level with every person who walks through the door, connecting with them and seeing what they need from their library, and then meeting those needs.
Nate Vineyard: [00:09:40]
Let’s talk digital.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:09:41]
Nate Vineyard: [00:09:42]
Historically libraries have been the place for book knowledge. Today for whatever reason in the public, book knowledge – knowledge specifically that comes from books or book reading, it seems to always lose in the race against or with digital technology. Am I right in that kind of perception that it’s really the book versus the Kindle? Is that one of the top reasons that you hear from people who are advocates, for cutting library services, is that the book itself is no longer relevant?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:10:24]
That’s one of the things we hear and are asked quite often. This concept of information going more digital. I have to say that I don’t see this as a competition between digital information and print information. We love books here at the Park City Library. I am a print user myself as well as a digital information user. We’ve actually seen a renaissance in print. Sometimes people want to disconnect from their devices and just open the pages of a good book, we are getting that more and more. As a matter of fact, millennials are some of the best book readers around. Some of these stereotypes that print is going away and digital is taking over are simply not true.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:11:11]
And in addition, there are different times and different places for different needs. So, while you might enjoy reading a novel or a non-fiction title in print on your bedside table, when you fly on an airplane you might want to download a number of digital books onto your device and have that many more to take with you because you don’t have to carry around heavy print. In addition, people are creating information in their libraries. They’re recording, they’re doing video, and they are creating web content. Information is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere now. We have a job to help our communities transition between the various modes of information and integrate those all into their lives.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:12:00]
So, the book is not dead. I don’t see it going away. We all love books. There’s nothing better than sitting down with a toddler and doing storytime. There’s a beginning, middle, and a beautiful story, with incredible art and images that is classic, and it’s not going away.
Nate Vineyard: [00:12:19]
Just listening to you, I think one of the main messages that needs to be complimented, or integrated with the relevancy of libraries, its power, and its ability to change and transform lives, is the message that books truly are not dead.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:12:34]
They truly are not dead, Nate.
Nate Vineyard: [00:12:37]
I love doing this podcast with you because for me, personally, the books are definitely not dead. I am a heavy book reader and a lover of the classics. There’s no comparison for me, personally, between a book in print and a book on the Kindle. I just can’t do the electronic side. I really love everything about the feeling of a book, and it’s the smell of the book, and it’s history. I get so much more out of it.
Nate Vineyard: [00:13:13]
I wonder, I just wonder if libraries had that message out there as part of their suite of messages, I wonder if that wouldn’t be a great use of communication resources. To tell that story, at least for the millennial generation, that books are truly having a renaissance. What’s your thoughts on that? What’s your take?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:13:37]
There is something magical about the book. We do like to spread that message. People hear us and tell us that all the time. There is a wonderful renaissance in book loving and in print. I am always happy to spread that message.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:13:56]
One of the things that I also think is really important for librarians, is not to simply stay within the walls of their buildings and tell that message. But, also to go out into the community and talk to people about the importance of libraries, the importance of books, the importance of the many resources we have to offer and invite them in.
Nate Vineyard: [00:14:18]
Great point. I want to follow up with that. Okay, lots of librarians can do librarianship because they love being next to a book – that’s how they connect with the world, that’s how they make sense of it. How are we supposed to get out in front of the community and beat that drum, and make sure that’s clear when that’s not our most comfortable position?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:14:41]
Well, that’s a great question and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to start Library Leadership Podcast. Because, the more we hear each other talk, tell stories, share ideas the better prepared we will be to go out into the world and share the importance of libraries with our public, with a constituency, with the communities, and with our stakeholders. The fact that we do like to read, sometimes we would rather have our nose in a book than maybe go out to a public meeting. But, there’s nothing more important than stepping out from behind the walls and really getting in and doing that.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:15:19]
I was asked to speak at a commencement ceremony recently for a group of librarians graduating with their master’s degrees. It was quite an honor. They did talk about this. As a matter of fact, one of my colleagues who’s an amazing speaker said, Be sure to volunteer in your community at bake sales, join clubs, get out in the community, go to Toastmasters, go to a community event and make your presence known.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:15:53]
One of the best things we can do as librarians is have our communities really get to know us so that when the time comes for them to share their stories they can say, Hey I have a personal connection with the library. I know the librarians who run my facility. I trust them. I believe in what they’re doing and I’m also willing to add my voice to their story and share why it’s important to have our library be strong and vibrant.
Nate Vineyard: [00:16:25]
You’re an excellent communicator. Being in Park City, seeing your leadership firsthand, it’s palpable. The community does rally around your personality. What would you recommend for library leaders who don’t have much time between all the tasks and all the duties that librarians have to do, and then also be an advocate in the community? Where can they get their biggest return on their time? What should they be focused on? What should they be doing?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:16:59]
You are right about librarians not always having a lot of time. But, we are in the library every day. We see the impact that libraries have on people’s lives. I think one way, to simply start creating a wave of support for libraries is to collect the stories. What do we see in our libraries that make a difference that we can then share? If it’s even just talking with neighbors who come through the door – say, Here’s what we’re seeing and here’s why this matters.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:17:34]
I remember once when I was a children’s librarian, years ago, I used to do storytime. There was a little boy who came to my storytimes, named Gabriel. Gabriel had some developmental challenges and fortunately, he had a wonderful dad who would bring him to storytime every week and stick with Gabriel. Even when Gabriel couldn’t sit through the storytimes when he was making noises and being disruptive his dad would stick with him. A lot of times he would take him out of the storytimes if he had to. But, they were always back the next week ready to go for the next storytime. Gabriel was older than the other kids. He was maybe five or six, and it was toddlers 2 and 3-year-olds who were sitting through the stories, but Gabriel’s dad kept working with him.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:18:27]
One day I had a book. It was about a little duck, quacking and boots out in the rain. There were a whole bunch of other animal noises in the book. When I finished storytime I looked up and Gabriel was still there. He’d made it through the whole storytime. All the other kids left. At the end, Gabriel’s dad came and said, Hey, he really likes that book. Would you mind reading it to him one more time?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:18:57]
I said, Sure, no problem. And, I said, Come on, Gabriel. We sat on the floor and we started reading the book and Gabriel was making duck noises, and cow noises, and he was really into the story. I looked up at Gabriel’s dad, and he had tears in his eyes. I said, What’s the matter? He said, That’s the first time he’s ever done that. I said, Done what, read a book?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:19:24]
He said, Spoken. It was the first time Gabriel had ever said a word out loud. Then, of course, I broke down into tears. It was one of those transformative moments for me as a librarian where I realized what a difference libraries can make in people’s lives. I think stories like that can help us transform our communities and have people understand the importance of what libraries across our nation do every day.
Nate Vineyard: [00:19:54]
That is the reason why I’m doing this podcast with you because of these meaningful, powerful connections that happen here in the library with books and with each other, with our community. Thank you for sharing that.
Nate Vineyard: [00:20:08]
So, okay, great advice. Libraries have a ton of stories, but they may not have collected them. What should they be doing with them? Where do they post them? Do they submit them as a letter to the editor in the paper? Do they post on Facebook? Do they post them on their website? What do you recommend?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:20:28]
I think anywhere we can get out our stories is a great start, if you have a local newspaper that wants to hear what’s going on and is willing to publicize. When are those storytimes? When should we bring our little ones to the library? What programs are going on? The more we can just get out the word, the better. But, honestly, word of mouth to educate your library boards, educate your friends, the library groups, talk with staff all the time, Hey, what happened in the library today that was really special or had a lot of meaning?
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:20:59]
Just make everyone an ambassador for your library and for your story, and get the word out whenever you can. I think one of the things that we can talk about in closing is a lot of the advocacy work being done out of the Office of Library Advocacy with the American Library Association. They’ve got some wonderful information that they’re trying to share, and for taglines that I always try to remember: libraries transform lives; libraries transform communities; librarians are passionate advocates for lifelong learning, and librarians are smart investments.
Nate Vineyard: [00:21:41]
You just came back from a Library Leadership conference in Denver. Can you share with us what happened there? What was the main message and what should all librarians take away from it.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:21:54]
Well, I am excited to say that next month we will be interviewing Marci Merola, the director of the Office of Library Advocacy right here on Library Leadership Podcast. So, I’m looking forward to that conversation. But, one of the most important things I did at the conference was take part in committee meetings on library advocacy hosted by Marci Merola.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:22:21]
Marci’s office does amazing work with training librarians to tell our stories, to be advocates, and they actually do something called an Advocacy Bootcamp where we learn to tell these stories and practice them with each other. So, it was a great experience. I would recommend anybody who can enroll in an Advocacy Bootcamp, please do so. They are going out across states all over the United States. People can contact the OLA, Office of Library Advocacy to find out more.
Nate Vineyard: [00:22:55]
Adrian, thank you so much for having me. It’s a thrill to be on your podcast. I’m a huge fan, even though I’m behind the scenes. I love your work and thank you so much for what you do for the library community.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:23:06]
Thank you, Nate. It’s an honor to be a librarian, and thanks for all you do for libraries.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:23:13]
You’ve been listening to library leadership podcast. We’ll see you next time.
Adrian Herrick Juarez: [00:23:22]
The library leadership podcast is brought to you by the Park City Library, making film and podcasting possible with green screen, and sound recording resources. Our producer is Nate Vineyard and our host is Adrian Herrick Juarez. For more podcasts, visit our website libraryleadershippodcast.com.