September 2012, Volume 4, Issue 8
Check Your Calendars!!
Library Card Sign-Up Month
Indian Ed Summit
Festival of Books
Banned Books Week
Sept. 30 – Oct. 6
SDLA Annual Conference
Teen Read Week
National Friends of Libraries Week
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Tips for getting better online search results
Certification changes and why being certified is important
By Daria Bossman, Assistant State Librarian for Development Services
Increasingly we have more public librarians seeking state certification. The SDSL took over the certification of public librarians and the accreditation of public libraries in 2008. Previously this was handled by the South Dakota Library Association, a professional organization for all types of librarians within the state of South Dakota. Most state agencies handle certification and accreditation.
I would urge all public libraries from the smallest to the largest to become accredited. It is simply good practice for library boards to spend several sessions per year examining the best practices of this public institution and asking themselves the simple questions, "How can we improve? How can we serve our community better? How can we demonstrate our value for the tax dollars which are entrusted to us each year?" Start with the Essential level and review each standard. (library.sd.gov)
“Are we meeting that standard? What steps can be taken to meet that standard?”
When you find that you have met all the requirements of one level, move on to the next level.
The application process is simple. Accreditation applications are taken in the late fall and public libraries meeting the tiered criteria are recognized each year at the Capitol Rotunda in mid-January. It is a big deal and a great honor. By the way, it is a wonderful time to invite your local legislators to join in for a photo opportunity for your local paper.
Certification, however, is just for your local librarians. It was expanded in 2009 to give all staff, not just directors, an opportunity to work toward and apply for state certification. It is for three years. This application deadline is the end of August with recognition being given at the fall SDLA conference at the opening State of the State Library address given by our State Librarian. This year the SDLA conference (sdlibraryassociation.org) is in Huron, Oct. 3-5.
Recently, with the advent of a new librarian technician program at Western Dakota Tech, the State Library Certification Committee reviewed the requirements for each level. A two-year diploma in library studies for Library Directors at the Level Three and a two-year diploma in library studies for non-directors at the Level Two were added as options for certification other than the traditional SDSL Institute training which takes four one-week sessions at Northern University over the course of four to seven years.
As library boards, encourage your library employees to seek more education and continued training. Plan to work this into your budget. Scholarships to the SDSL Institute are provided by using federal LSTA funds. Apply early! These are given based on financial need, but early applicants have the best chance to receive them. However, you may have donors in your area who wish to support your director working on his/her two-year associates' degree from WDT (www.wdt.edu), or from any of the many online diploma programs now offered across the country.
Even if tuition cannot be paid, library boards can do many things to encourage and incentivize additional training and education. Simple things can make all the difference. Provide substitutes for your staff to get away to training, reimburse mileage and pay hourly wages while away at training. Additionally, if he/she earns a degree, increase their pay. Reward them for striving to know more and provide better services for your community. One thing is constant: everything is changing in this day and age, and changing rapidly. Often we can have a survival mentality. We want to stick our heads in the sand, but we can't. We need to ask our funding bodies (i.e. city councils or county commissioners) for the resources to do an efficient and effective job reaching the informational, recreational and cultural needs of our local citizens. That is, after all, our mission; the reason we exist. Think of the public library as the "everyman's university." It is where we all can learn and grow. Everyone is equal and has equal opportunities to expand their horizons, dream, change the direction of their life, change careers, know and learn more.
Why is accreditation and certification important? For accreditation, it is a statement that says to your city or county that the local library is a value added to your community. The library is working to offer more and be more effective and efficient. Regardless of your size or population, you are meeting the best practices of the field. For certification for the library director and staff, it says that they are life-long learners, and they have new knowledge to share with their local citizens.
Don't put it off. Start working on your library's accreditation today. Encourage your librarian and library staff to become certified if they aren't already. It is a badge of honor and respect. Call the State Library, 1-800-423-6665, and ask to speak with Kathleen Slocum, the Continuing Education Coordinator, contact Kathleen via email, email, or check out our website at library.sd.gov.