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Archive for April, 2007

So here’s my response…

Salado Village Voice Candidate Response for
Taylor Willingham
taylor@austin-pacific.com
254.947.3793

Question 1:
What is the strongest aspect of the Salado Library? What is its weakest aspect and how would you approach improving that? (100 word total)

Saladoans proudly claim, “our library is GREAT” followed with, “for a small village.” Let’s make this a great library – period! Let’s:

• Develop innovative programming with community partners,
• Aggressively adopt new technology, especially a new web site,
• Apply resources for rural libraries and adapt strategies of larger libraries. (Why should we travel to Temple or Austin?)
• Expand our “collection” within our limited space by promoting interlibrary loans and buying online databases.

We have excellent, but underutilized resources (e.g., the grant-writer’s database). We need to promote these resources and ensure that patrons know how to use them.

(word count – 100)

Question 2:
How often do you check out books from the library? What do you think of the total collection? How would you improve it, if it needs to be improved? (100 words total)

I treasure books. (My library is catalogued online: (http://www.librarything.com/catalog/TexasTaylor)

But books are the means, not the end. Libraries cannot simply warehouse books and measure success by circulation.

To remain relevant, libraries must be more than books. They must be:
• catalysts for intellectual exploration, social interaction and civic discourse,
• caretakers of local history and culture,
• advocates for literacy and intellectual freedom,

The board should not micromanage collection development, but should engage the community in big questions:

• “What is the greatest value the library offers?”
• “How do we measure our impact?”
• “How are we changing lives?”

(word count – 100)

Question 3:
Do you think there are any demographics in Salado that are overserved by the Library or underserved by the Library and how would you address these discrepancies, if they exist? (100 words)

To reach the underserved, the library should:

Allocate resources and programming to serve the senior population. Partner with local organizations for adult programming (e.g., financial, computer and information literacy). Meet the civic and community information needs of new residents.

Develop innovative strategies to attract and serve new users, perhaps through local literacy providers and ESL programs. Eliminate barriers to access for working families.

Cultivate future library advocates and determine youth needs through a Youth Advisory Board. Become an access portal for free resources such as 24/7 online reference services and homework help.

(See: http://www.austin-pacific.com for more of my ideas.)

(word count – 99)

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Taylor’s Platform Reported in Salado Village Voice


The Salado Village Voice gives each of the candidates in the three local elections…Village Alderman (restricted to only those within the official Village limits and not including me), School District (a much wider district) and Library Board (mirroring the school district board map.) In other words, you have to care about the school board and/or library board to even show up. Anyway, I digress. The point of this posting is to share with you the comments I wrote in response to the questions posed by the Village Voice. I was limited to 100 words and it was one of the toughest writing assignments I’ve ever tackled, primarily because I think that these are the wrong questions to ask.

None of these questions give the candidates an opportunity to share their values or decision-making strategies. These questions do not tell us why someone is qualified to be on the board. (Unless you think that one who checks out lots of books MUST know how to run a library.)

None of these questions challenge potential board members to articulate a vision for the future and a strategy for addressing the growing challenges that rural libraries face and the amazing opportunities technology can bring (under the trusted mantle of the library) to our remote regions.

None of these questions ask us to describe our strategy for keeping our citizens apprised of the encroachment of land-grabbing towns and how to effectively embrace the growing population of rural dwellers/city workers.

None of these questions talk about funding strategies, sustainability, innovative programming, future growth, economic development, growing tourism, sense of place, civic initiatives, etc.

None of these questions provided a means for me to paint the grand and glorious landscapes that I believe can be the picture of our library. None of these questions asked me to share the 14 points so eloquently stated by the Project for Public Spaces that I shared in an earlier blog.

No, these questions did not do any of the things I hoped they would…things that could provide our voters with good decision-making information about how to best exercise their democracy. But at least I learned (I think) how to take the wrong question and turn it into the right question with limited verbage.

Does that make me the worst kind of politician or is that a positive thing to do?

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How to Make Your Library Great


The Project for Public Spaces (PPS)
a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining public spaces that build communities, recently published “14 lessons from local libraries all over the continent that can make them great public spaces. I’ve witnessed these lessons from my own research and experiences as a library school instructor on Change Management and the co-founder of the American Library Association’s Membership Initiative Group, “Libraries Foster Civic Engagement“. I propose that we in Salado can benefit from these lessons and pledge to make them key to my service as Library Board Trustee if elected.

1. Great Libraries Offer a Broad Mix of Community Services

2. Great Libraries Foster Communication

3. Great Libraries Showcase History and Information

4. Great Libraries Build Capacity for Local Businesses

5. Great Libraries Become Public Gathering Places

6. Great Libraries Boost Local Retail and Public Markets

7. Great Libraries Offer Easy Access

8. Great Libraries Make the Surrounding Area Come Alive

9. Great Libraries Feature Multiple Attractions and Destinations

10. Great Libraries Are Designed to Support Function

11. Great Libraries Provide a Variety of Amenities

11. Great Libraries Provide a Variety of Amenities

13. Great Libraries Depend on Wise Management

14. Great Libraries Catalyze Community Revitalization

I am pleased to note that I have actually consulted with or advised some of the libraries cites as examples of these 14 principals!

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Forum Introduces Candidates

On April 12, the Salado Chamber of Commerce provided an opportunity for the candidates for Village Aldermen, Salado Independent School District and Salado Library Board to make short statements and take comments from the public. Here’s the report of my speech by the Salado Village Voice with minor clarifications and additional information in parenthesis and italics:

Taylor Willingham
Taylor Willingham said that she is running for the Library board because she wanted to do something that would have a long and lasting impression in her own community.

“I have the skill, talent and expertise to put me in the position to contribute to the causes of the library,” she said.

She is a member of the Texas State Library (I was a consultant to the Texas State Library and am a member of the American Library Association), has worked on public television programming for Bill Moyers and is (was) the treasurer of the National Literacy Coalition. (I was also an ALA presidential appointee and founding member of the American Library Association’s Committee on Literacy and a mayoral appointee to the Fremont Library Advisory Commission.)

Willingham serves on the Salado Education Foundation board and is active in literacy programs around the state and nation.

The library, she says, is vital to a community. It is a place people can go to “feel connected to others.”

“At the library, you can see a single mother go on-line to pursue a degree while her child does homework next to her or reads in the children’s section,” she said, adding that the library gives opportunities for people to expand their knowledge and expertise.

Willingham is a professor of library sciences. “I spend a lot of time thinking of the library of the future and how it will continue to be an important part of the community,” she said.

Willingham said that because she believes that “An informed citizenry is the most important prerequisite for a democracy to function,” she will, if elected, “have a passion that I will bring to the position.”

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Two Amusing Stories About My Bid For Fame

How’s that for a title? I’m not really bidding for fame, but if I were, then these stories that take me down a notch would be even funnier.

First, I was invited to participate in the Salado Public Library’s Local Author night. I’d never pitched myself as an author even though I’ve written numerous articles (See my vitae) and five book chapters which, as I said in another blog post:

If the chapters had ANYTHING in common, I could put them together and have a whole book to myself, but I’ve never had the attention span required to publish a full book.

The other reason I would not have pitched myself as an author is that I’m not really sure who would be interested in reading what I’ve written! But my dad threw my hat into the ring so there I was for an evening of cheese and punch with eighteen other local authors. (There is SOME talent in this town!) Mom introduced me to a woman named Nell who remembered reading all about me in the newspaper recently when they announced my civic entrepreneurship fellowship. Oh, she just couldn’t say enough about how smart I am. “Yes,” she said, “You must be smart because I don’t understand a thing you do or say!”

DOWN A NOTCH!

Earlier tonight my mother called to tell me that someone who heard me speak at the candidate’s forum last week not only commended my speech, but also said that everyone he talked to felt the same admiration for my qualifications.

This is where mom should have said, “Thank you and I do hope you will vote for her and tell your other friends.” But she wanted to pave the way for a soft landing in case I am not elected so she said, “Well, she is talented, but may not be as well known as the others…still…I’m sure she’ll be an asset even if (emphasis ALL mine!) she is not elected.” (Now I know why you pay handlers to keep your staff and family “on message!”)

After little contemplation, he countered (hopefully not TOO enthusiastically), “Well, if she’s not elected, then perhaps she’ll serve on the Cemetery Board!”

DOWN ANOTHER NOTCH!

Not a criticism of the cemetery board. That’s probably an interesting – and quiet – board. After all, this is an historic community and most of the stakeholders don’t complain much. But I worry about campaign slogan that goes something like this:

“Don’t elect her, she’ll do the job anyway AND still have time to serve on your board!”

So my reputation thus far is:

  • We don’t understand what she does so she must be smart.
  • Even if she’s not elected, we still love her.

Hmmm, I guess I can live with that, after all.

UP A DOZEN NOTCHES!

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A Brief History of the Salado Public Library

[Many people in the village of Salado may not know the history of the Salado Public Library. The following excerpt from library planning documents is a concise summary of the high points in this small library’s short history.]

In 1985 a committee of the Salado Chamber of Commerce was appointed to establish a village library. A Board of Trustees was formed to seek a state charter and to find appropriate library space. With the help of consultants from neighboring libraries and the Central Texas Library System, the Salado Public Library was created in 1986 and opened its doors to patrons on November 7, 1986 staffed entirely by volunteers. The initial collection of about 1,000 books was donated by citizens of Salado and other libraries in Central Texas. The Salado Public Library became a member of the Center Texas Library System in 1987.

As the community and library use grew, larger quarters were required. In the fall of 1993 the Library moved into 1,700 square feet in the Salado Civic Center, a former school building. The collection contained nearly 8,000 items. The Library’s automated catalog allowed patrons to search the collection. One Library computer was dedicated to genealogy and another to Internet use. Volunteers ran the library until 1995 when the first paid part-time certified librarian was hired.

Because the village was unincorporated there was never any tax support for the library. All operating expenses were met through donations, gifts and memorials, and fund-raising activities. In May 1998, the Salado Public Library District was created by a vote of the citizens of Salado. The Salado Public Library was the second library in the state to benefit from new legislation allowing the creation of library districts. A one-half percent sales tax now provides most of the operating revenue for the library.

In March 2003, the library moved in to its beautiful, new 4000 square-foot building located at 1151 N. Main. The staff of the library is now two part-time librarians, a full time director and a part time library assistant. Regular volunteers at the library number more than forty. The Friends of the Library organization was regenerated in 2006 and continues to grow in members and support for the library.

The current estimated population of the Salado Public Library District is 9000+, with more than 1200 students in the school system. The community continues to grow each year by nearly five percent. Usage metrics for the library have more than kept pace with population grown with year over year increases of almost 10% in 2005 and 2006.

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