Author Archives: Sam Shaw

2020 State Aid Information Has Been Posted

The 2020 state aid calculations are now complete. This year, we’ve transitioned from paper state aid letters to electronic distribution of information to public libraries. You should have received an e-mail notification about your aid if you are an accredited public library. Here is some general information about the state aid program and eligibility, and how it is distributed. There is also a posted list of the state aid distributions for 2020 (including this year’s formula, the payment amounts, and aid per capita). Finally, here is a link to a press release you can customize and use for your particular library.

This year, there were 46 libraries that will be receiving Dollar$ for Data payments. Those libraries are now eligible to apply for accreditation.

The next public library survey collection cycle (required to maintain accreditation for accredited libraries and required for unaccredited libraries to receive Dollar$ for Data payments) begins in November.

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COVID-19 Data and Maps

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

As a result of COVID-19, we are collecting data about library closures, modified schedules, and alternative services. For updates to your schedule, submit this form. The data is available here.

Additionally, we are updating maps with this data (every few days).

Nebraska Libraries With Modified Services

Nebraska Libraries Offering Wi-Fi During Closures

Finally, there are some questions about collecting data and statistics for the next public library survey. Undoubtedly, there will be declines in some numbers (visits) and likely increases in others (electronic circulation). One common question thus far is how to count online or virtual programs. If the online program is a planned event, then you count it as a regular in-person program. Count everyone in virtual attendance. If other services are offered remotely, those might be counted as reference transactions, depending on the nature of the Q&A.

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Friday Reads: The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home

In addition to the history of the Biltmore estate, this book also covers the Vanderbilt family. After a bit of background into the wealth inherited by George Washington Vanderbilt, the youngest son of William Henry “Billy” Vanderbit, the book focuses its attention mostly on the life of George, the building of the Biltmore estate, his wife, Edith Dresser, and the chronology of their lives and the evolution of the Biltmore estate. The Vanderbilt wealth was expanded through railroads and shipping and increased through inheritances. In 1877, Billy inherited nearly $100 million from his father, and when he died in 1885, his wealth had doubled to over $200 million. George was the youngest son of Billy, with seven siblings. Being the youngest, his inheritance was less than his siblings, although still in the millions of dollars. George was an eccentric cat, introverted with interests in art and books. Longtime bachelor until his marriage to Edith at age 37. In many ways, the book is also about Edith and her relationship with the Biltmore, especially since George died at the age of 51.

At any rate, the book covers interesting background information about the Vanderbilts, their fortune, philanthropy, and super-rich lifestyles. The book details George’s vision for the Biltmore, and its construction and maintenance. The estate was built from 1889 to 1895. Some of the statistics are staggering; especially considering this was pre-1900:

  • A woodworking factory and brick kiln was produced on site, generating 32,000 bricks per day;
  • 175,000 total square feet, with more than 4 acres of floor space;
  • 250 rooms in the house, including 35 guest rooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 3 kitchens;
  • Over 100,000 acres of surrounding area, including a robust forestry program (after George’s death Edith sold over 85,000 acres back to the federal government); and
  • A library with over 10,000 volumes, many rare and collectible.

The Biltmore has been open to the public since 1930, with a brief hiatus during World War II, when various paintings and sculptures were moved there from the National Gallery of Art to protect them in the event of an attack on the U.S. The home continues to be owned by a private company ran by the Vanderbilt heirs. The Last Castle is overall an interesting read, not only pertaining to the construction and maintenance of the Biltmore estate, but also the Vanderbilt family and surrounding Asheville community.

Kiernan, Denise. The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s largest Home. Atria Books, 2017.

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The Public Library Survey Deadline is Approaching

The deadline for submitting the public library survey on Bibliostat is approaching fast. Surveys need to be submitted by February 14, 2020.

Here is the link to the survey. There is also a training guide on our website. If you need your password, or have questions about the survey, feel free to contact me. You can also enter your e-mail in the lost password part of our website.

For other guides, and copies of the survey you can review or print before entering your data into Bibliostat, check out the main Bibliostat page on our website.

I am here to help you with the survey. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

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Broadband Facts for Your County

Is your community wanting to work to improve the broadband speed in your library? Often times, library speeds lag behind what the community really needs, or the community might not understand how impactful improving the library internet might be. Sometimes, it is difficult to even determine what your community needs might be. One first step in having these conversations is to look over our now available broadband fact sheets. These are available for every county in Nebraska, and are intended to be used to help start community, county-wide or regional discussions about broadband availability, adoption, and digital inclusion. More information, including data sources and suggested discussion questions are also included. To view or download these, go to the main broadband page on the data services portion of our website. From there, you have the option to select by county, or pull up a map and click on a county for the fact sheets. The main page also has a broadband discussion guide, to help you with these conversations.

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Friday Reads: Live Young Forever

What I was really looking for was a biography about Jack LaLanne, but unfortunately, I was not able to find any. The next closest thing (although I later found out there was a documentary film made about Jack, called Anything is Possible, but only about 39 minutes in length) was Live Young Forever, which did just fine and it was written by Jack himself. How did I get to the point of seeking out this book? Well, for one I never learned of Jack’s world famous feats until years after they occurred, having mostly known him for his juicer infomercials that aired when I was a kid after the Saturday cartoons. Jack’s exercise show was before my time. I remember him as the old health nut in the jumpsuit hawking juicing machines. Then recently, I clicked PBS on and got intrigued by the documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. The documentary follows Australian entrepreneur, author, and filmmaker Joe Cross across the U.S., as he went on a 60-day journey of consuming only juices from fresh fruits and vegetables. While Jack advocated healthy doses of exercise, juice, fish, fruits, and vegetables, Joe’s condition (he weighed over 300 pounds and had a host of health conditions) necessitated a juice only “fast” to kick start his health. Then I realized I’d unfortunately (for me) sold my mom’s Jack LaLanne juicer at a garage sale for $10, so it was off to find another.

Back to Jack. For anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle, this book has quite a few essential elements such as diet, exercise, and motivation. However, it was Jack’s personal stories that I liked the best. Aside from his health advocacy and TV show, this book also contains numerous stories of his famous feats. Such as a 21-year old Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in 1968 came to Venice beach in California and witnessed a 54-year old LaLanne doing chin-ups and push-ups. Arnold declared a challenge, and lost badly to LaLanne. Said Arnold: “That Jack LaLanne’s an animal! I was sore for four days. I couldn’t lift my arms.” Some of Jack’s other feats included:

  • 1955 (age 41) swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, while handcuffed;
  • 1956 (age 42) set a claimed world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes;
  • 1959 (age 45) did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes;
  • 1974 (age 60) swam the same Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf route, handcuffed, shackled at the ankles, and towing a 1,000 lb boat;
  • 1976 (age 62) swam one mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed and shackled, towing 13 boats to represent the original 13 colonies, and containing 76 people; and
  • 1984 (age 70) swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed and shackled, towing 70 rowboats containing various guests.

Finally, my favorite Jack LaLanne quote:

“15 minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ No! He just goes out there and eats that sucker.”

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The Public Library Survey is Now Available

The public library survey is now available on Bibliostat. The survey is open for data collection from today (November 4, 2019) thru February 14, 2020, and covers the 2018-2019 fiscal year (typically either July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 or October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019).

Here is the link to the survey. There is also a training guide on our website. If you need your password, or have questions about the survey, feel free to contact me. You can also enter your e-mail in the lost password part of our website.

For other guides, and copies of the survey you can review or print before entering your data into Bibliostat, check out the main Bibliostat page on our website.

I am here to help you with the survey. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

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E-rate @ West Point

Have you registered for the upcoming E-rate workshops? In person workshops are still open for Grand Island (October 28), and Ashland (November 12). Registration information can be found here:

E-rate Workshops

Don’t worry if you miss (the workshop that is), as you can always register or view the online session. It’s the E-rate you don’t want to miss out on. You can also make it a full day and attend the afternoon Digital World session. For more information about the impact of E-rate, check out this week’s Adobe Spark video. Like the others, this was created using all free resources. This week’s story is from the John Stahl Public Library in West Point:

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E-rate Story

Special thanks to those public librarians who recently completed our technology and E-rate survey. As of today, we have received over 200 responses. While we are working on analyzing the results, here’s a little 2 minute video (see below), with special thanks to the Pawnee City Public Library. FREE tools were used to create this video using Adobe Spark. If you are interested in learning more about E-rate, consider attending one of the upcoming workshops:

October 21, 2019 – Columbus (Central Community College)
October 28, 2019 – Grand Island Public Library
November 5 – Online via GoToWebinar

The video has sound, so make sure to turn yours on. Here you go:

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Technology and E-rate Survey

NLC is currently collecting data from Nebraska public libraries regarding technology and E-rate. If you have not yet responded to the survey, please take a few minutes (it should take around 5 minutes to complete) to submit your survey response. Your input is essential. Here is a link to the survey:

Technology and E-rate Survey Link

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Friday Reads: Dog Man: Unleashed

In keeping with the tradition of, er, I mean, my tradition of, lowbrow reading, this week’s installment is a little write up about Dog Man Unleashed. While the intended audience here is definitely grades 2+, uncultured readers of any age will enjoy the originality of this story. Dog Man Unleashed is the second installment in Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series. The Dog Man series tells the post-accident stories of Dog Man (of course), a surgical union of a police officer and his sidekick police dog, Greg. An explosion resulted in injuries to both, so to save them, a surgeon sewed Greg’s dog head onto the human police officer’s body, resulting in (you guessed it), Dog Man.

The writing appeals to younger reluctant readers and often isn’t grammatically correct (e.g. Super is “Supra”, and Laughs are “Laffs”), but who cares? You aren’t reading this for the highbrow storyline, you read it for the cartoonish illustrations and over the top tangents. And let’s face it, some educators need to lighten up a little bit and not worry about all these details. The antagonist Petey the cat (not to be confused with Pete the Cat), is the recurring up to no good villain who also appears in a couple of the Captain Underpants books, and has multiple schemes throughout the Dog Man Series. This installment (Dog Man Unleashed), while simplistic (Dog Man working to save the city from the evil, up to no good Petey), is effective in that it ultimately demonstrates kindness, empathy, friendship, teamwork, etc. However, the side stories, such as Dog Man tracking things with his smell, chasing cars, and hiding bones are equally entertaining. That and the simplistic illustrations will surely give the reader some welcome laffs.

One final note on those that express displeasure with the grammatical incorrectness of this book. Let me say that we often are caught up in rigidity at the expense of art and creativity. And (yep, I’m starting a sentence with And), that is evidence of one’s missing out on truly imaginative and unique things.

Pilkey, Dav. Dog Man Unleashed. Graphix (2016).

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Preliminary 2018 Public Library Survey Data is Now Available

The 2018 public library survey data is now available on the NLC website. This is preliminary data (meaning that it has not yet been certified by IMLS) so keep in mind that it is subject to change. Thanks to all of you who submitted your statistics. Historical data (back to 1999) is also available on our website. The next survey cycle begins in November, but you should be collecting those statistics now. If you are a new library director, check out the Bibliostat guide.

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2019 State Aid Letters Have Been Mailed

The 2019 state aid calculations are now complete. State aid letters have been mailed and payments will be processed soon. In the meantime, you can read (in general) about state aid and how it is distributed. Here is a list of the state aid distributions for 2019 (including this year’s formula). Finally, here is a link to a press release you can customize and use for your particular library.

This year, there were 47 libraries that will be receiving Dollar$ for Data payments. For those libraries, you are now eligible to apply for accreditation when the cycle opens this summer.

For libraries that aren’t accredited, now may be the time to consider the accreditation process, as you would then be eligible for state aid next year. You also need to submit your public library survey online via Bibliostat. The next public library survey collection cycle begins in November.

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Friday Reads: Stoner

This book is a bit of false advertising, as it is nothing like the title suggests. Nevertheless, I did stick with it, after learning that Stoner actually is a reference to William Stoner, the main character in the novel by John Williams (1922-1994). The book was originally published in 1965. Stoner tells the story of William, born and raised on a small farm in Missouri, who eventually goes off to Columbia, MO to college. The original plan is for Stoner to complete a degree in agriculture, and then return to implement his knowledge for the benefit of the family farm. However, while in Columbia, Stoner develops an interest in literature, eventually earning his Ph.D. and subsequently teaching at the University in Columbia. While Stoner tells the semi-interesting story of his lackluster marriage, his relationship with his daughter, and life teaching English (including faculty relationships and conflicts), it is really more about his stoicism.

After reading more about stoicism, it sounds great in theory, but after reading Stoner I’m not buying what the stoics are selling. For some filler material, I also read a bit of the well-known stoic and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD), whose book Meditations is a mix of hell yes (“The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have”) and fortune cookie philosophy (“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy”). I dunno, sometimes it seems as though revenge along the style of Ray Donovan or Donnie Yen seems appropriate. Depends on the circumstances I suppose. OK – back to the stoics. Generally speaking, the stoic endures hardship or pain without feelings or complaint, and this is exactly the life of Stoner, sans a few very brief moments of joy and happiness. However, after reading Stoner I realized something I had not thought of before or maybe did not see. And that is that the stoic life seems to not only suffer through hardships without complaint (dispassionate), but to also be void of any passion. Let’s face it — sometimes I like to be passionate about the fact that I’m dispassionate about certain things. And that I think is where Stoner falls short, at least on a philosophical level. On a literary level, it’s an OK read, but man you really come away thinking that Stoner is a real sad sack.

Williams, John. Stoner. NYRB Classics, 2006.

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Public Library Survey Deadline Friday February 15, 2019

The deadline for the annual (2017-2018 fiscal year) IMLS public library survey (submitted via Bibliostat) is Friday, February 15, 2019. Completion of the survey is required for your library to receive state aid if you are accredited. If you aren’t accredited, you still have an incentive to complete the survey ($200), called Dollar$ for Data.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions throughout the process. Thank you in advance for your participation.

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Friday Reads: The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret

A little while ago, I had just finished reading The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret and I was listening to a story on NPR about music students attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Ironically, the story highlighted current student musicians that were contributing to the music world in a way quite similar to the wrecking crew of the 1960’s and 1970’s. You see, the original wrecking crew was a collection of backup (or maybe background would be a more appropriate word) musicians that played on numerous studio recordings. Like the Berklee music students, the wrecking crew played on jingles, theme songs, film scores, and commercials (the Berklee students have expanded to playing music for podcasts, video games, and other things).

So The Wrecking Crew documents the lives of these studio musicians, how they started and expanded in the business, and their interactions with some of the writers, producers, arrangers, and other notable artists. These include, among others, Brian Wilson, Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, and the Mamas and the Papas. While one of the more well-known members of the crew was Glen Campbell (who also toured as one of the Beach Boys), the book also focuses on drummer Hal Blaine and guitarist Carol Kaye (shown here hilariously giving Gene Simmons a lesson on bass). Incidentally, the name wrecking crew, penned by Hal Blaine, is disputed by Carol Kaye, who mentions that the group of musicians weren’t generally known as such (but sometimes called “the Clique”). Call them whatever you choose, but this set of musicians were the go-to’s when it came to studio recording, and the point is that the work was good enough for them to earn a living doing it. Most of the recorded music you hear from this time has these musicians playing on it instead of the actual bands that toured. And the kicker is that you would never know it; most of the time (if not all of the time) they weren’t credited.

The book also offers an interesting insight into many of the colorful (both in a healthy creative way and sometimes controlling and abrasive) characters in the music world at the time. For the creative but meticulous, think Brian Wilson. For the controlling and abrasive (and sometimes downright crazy), think Phil Spector. The Wrecking Crew offers access into not only these major artists but also those behind the scenes. A documentary film about the Crew, based on the book, may also be of interest (some of the original footage illustrates things in a worthwhile way).

Hartman, Kent (2013). The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret. St. Martin’s Griffin.

 

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Public Library Survey is Now Available

While it doesn’t seem like it should be time yet, the public library survey is now available on Bibliostat. The survey runs from today (November 5, 2018) thru February 15, 2019, and covers the 2017-2018 fiscal year (typically either July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 or October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018).

A few things of note: We are now using a new version of Bibliostat. Multiple browsers are now supported, including Chrome. This also means we have a new link to the survey. There is a training guide for the new format on our website. If you need your password, or have questions about the survey, feel free to contact me. You can also enter your e-mail in the lost password part of our website.

For those of you who may be new to the survey, or if you want a refresher, check out the upcoming NCompass Live: Public Library Survey Using Bibliostat on November 28, 2018.

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Friday Reads: Dopefiend

For a little while, I have been thinking of reviewing an urban fiction book for Friday Reads. Not that I am an avid urban fiction reader, because I am not. But rather this is a specific genre of fiction that no one has ever reviewed on FR. Urban fiction, for me at least, is very difficult to read, but I finally made it through one to write about it here. First, a basic definition of urban fiction. Sometimes called “hood books” or “the good books”, urban fiction often tells stories of inner cities, typically graphic in nature and tackling issues of poverty, abuses (drug, domestic, and others), crime, hustling, and street life. A number of urban fiction books have been written by authors while in prison. The challenge here is that for me some urban fiction is just plain unreadable. I tried numerous books and did not get very far into them before giving up. Some examples: True to the Game series (didn’t make it to chapter 2), The Thug Series of books (I tried a few, including Every Thug Needs a Lady, Honor Thy Thug, and Justify My Thug), and the Girls From Da Hood series (I thought they must be decent because there are 13 of them – unfortunately in my opinion they weren’t readable). About to give up, I finally decided to try Donald Goines’ classic Dopefiend, published in 1971. While I made it through, I cannot say I would recommend it overall. However, it might serve a purpose in a scared straight sort of fashion, maybe to high school or college aged students.

Dopefiend tells the story of a group of addicts in an inner city (Detroit) in a raw and graphic manner. The story mostly follows the decline of the main character Terry, spiraling downward into the depths of her addiction. Most of the story is disturbing, following not only Terry but also the side characters Teddy, Minnie, Porky, Snake, and Dirty Red. The story involves numerous crimes to support their habits, lies and ruined relationships, exploitative drug dealers, and prostitution. For me it was reminiscent of parts of Requiem for a Dream (both movie and book). While the depiction in Requiem for a Dream consists of mostly white characters, the characters in Dopefiend are overwhelmingly African American. Dopefiend is uncomfortable on many levels. I will say that after trying to read contemporary urban fiction, which often glamorizes the life of the hustler, Goines paints an entirely darker and realistic picture in the opposite direction.

Goines, Donald (1971). Dopefiend: The Desperate Rage and Suffering of a Hardcore Junkie. Holloway House

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Friday Reads: Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes

For years, I overlooked the simplicity and beauty of Tom Petty’s music. Some points of clarification at the outset: I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Heartbreakers to Tom Petty, and it should be noted that the band (both collectively and individually) did a fair amount of side work, including backing Johnny Cash and the Travelling Wilburys (among other things). I owe it to my daughter (11-year old astrology expert and member of the counterculture) for my renewed interest in Petty, and the Heartbreakers. As a youngster, I never really listened to him much. Not that I had anything against him or his music, but I guess I just did not have the appreciation at that time. At any rate, the daughter, oddly and I’m not sure how, became a huge Petty fan. She likely was drawn to his simplicity, musical genius, and willingness to tell it like it is. Speaking of how Tom and the Heartbreakers got hooked up with Johnny Cash, Tom mentions that the band was interested in all forms of American music, pure forms that is, “not what they would call country today. What they would call country today is sort of like bad rock groups with a fiddle.” Tom and the Heartbreakers backed Cash on American II: Unchained. As much as I could go on about Cash, this little review today is about Petty, so let us steer back in that direction.

Petty, written by former Del Fuegos guitarist Warren Zanes, chronicles Tom’s upbringing, complete with an abusive alcoholic father in 1950’s working class Gainesville, FL.  Arguably, the most difficult obstacle in Petty’s childhood was his lack of familial support for his interests and passion (music), but some might argue that being severely beaten around age 5 would be just as bad or worse. At any rate, Tom did not have an easy childhood, and while struggling through the monotony and boredom of school, he did get hooked up with other musicians, notably taking guitar lessons from Don Felder (the Eagles), forming various cover bands, and then the assembly of Mudcrutch. Most of the members of Mudcrutch subsequently became members of the Heartbreakers.

The account provided by Zanes relies on interviews from various people around the band and Petty himself. I think Tom wanted to tell his story, but felt the need to have it done independently, so that it seemed more credible. I can’t say I blame him, as I’ve often read autobiographies (especially by musicians) that come across as braggadocios, even if not intended. This one doesn’t play that way. Petty is such a likeable figure because of his honesty and humility. That is not to say that the duration of the Heartbreakers was without conflict, because it certainly was not. In addition to the Heartbreakers and various producers (notably Jimmy Iovine and Rick Rubin), numerous other prominent figures played a role in his life, such as (to name just a few) close friends Stevie Nicks, Jeff Lynne, Bruce Springsteen, and George Harrison. One of the reasons Petty has appeal (aside from his work with the Heartbreakers) is his work and friendship with these other musicians. For a nice little example of this, check out the performance at George Harrison’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2004), and a cat named Prince who makes an appearance around 3:29.

Zanes of course also covers personal aspects of Petty’s life, including his relationship with his first wife, Jane Benyo, his kids, and his second wife, Dana York. Zanes also chronicles Tom’s depression and heroin use, and while that certainly is a large part of his story, it does not overwhelm the reader. It just seems to be an honest depiction and part of his story. As far as biographies go, this is one of the better ones.

Zanes, Warren. Petty: The Biography. 2016. Print.

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2018 State Aid Letters Have Been Mailed

The 2018 state aid calculations are now complete. State aid letters have been mailed and payments are in process. In the meantime, you can read (in general) about state aid and how it is distributed. Here is a list of the state aid distributions for 2018 (including this year’s formula). Finally, here is a link to a press release you can customize and use for your particular library.

Here is also a list of the libraries that will be receiving Dollar$ for Data payments. For those libraries, you are now eligible to apply for accreditation when the cycle opens this summer.

For libraries that aren’t accredited, now may be the time to consider the accreditation process, as you would then be eligible for state aid next year. You also need to submit your public library survey online via Bibliostat. The next public library survey collection cycle begins in November.

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