Idaho Commission for Libraries Blog

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Libraries Inspiring Libraries

November 25, 2014 - 2:08pm
Book Tree_web.jpg

The Inspiration: In October, the Idaho Board of Library Commissioners toured seven libraries in southwest Idaho. At Ada Community Library, Lake Hazel Branch, one of the many things that inspired the Commissioners was their Book Tree. Commissioner Dave Mecham, who is the Principal at Firth Middle School, took the idea back to his students, who thought it would be a fun project to do for Christmas.

The Makers: The students who built the Firth Christmas Book Tree chose the name "The Golden Eagles."  They are a group of 7th-grade students working on some projects this school year to use the things they have learned in class, as well as some of their individual talents, to add some fun and excitement to the school. They scoured the storage areas of the building looking for red and green books they could use to build the tree. The red books selected are not being used this semester, but will be used later in the year. The green books are mostly old encyclopedias and science books that were replaced this year. The students loaded the books on carts and took them to the room they do their projects in. 

The Process: The students estimated they wanted a 6-foot base, so they made a 6-foot base out of paper and started building their practice tree.  They quickly found they had started too big:  It became obvious they would run out of books.  They adjusted down to a 4-foot base and built quite a nice practice tree. Using Post-it notes they numbered the books as they took the practice tree down so they would have some idea of how to put it back together in the library.  November 20th they got all their assignments done ahead of time in their afternoon classes so they could build the tree. They built the tree in about an hour, but they noticed it didn't look as symmetrical as they wanted.  So they took it half-way down, climbed inside it, reshaped it a little, and then rebuilt it to look like it does now. 

The Results: Dave Mecham is very appreciative of the idea and was proud that the students took ownership of it and wanted to do a great job all on their own (with some adult help).  He said, "It gave some special kids something to get excited about and it has been so good for them to hear the 'cool kids' say how much they like the tree."

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Categories: Idaho Library News

ICfL Board Tours SW Libraries

November 25, 2014 - 8:49am

See tour photos at

The Idaho Board of Library Commissioners visited seven libraries in southwest Idaho in October. The Board tours libraries annually, choosing a different area of the state each year. This year’s tour included Desert Sage Elementary School; Ada Community Library, Lake Hazel Branch; College of Western Idaho library; Caldwell Public Library; Meridian Library District, main branch; and Garden City Public Library on October 9; with a tour and a regularly scheduled board meeting at Mountain Home Public Library on October 10.
At the Desert Sage Elementary School library, librarian Karen Stahlecker, Principal Lisa Hahle, and 2nd grade teacher Jean Boyer described how they worked on Idaho Commission for Libraries’ (ICfL) Summer Slide Pilot Program with our VISTA volunteer and Ada Community Library staff. Kids loved the book choices the program offered; being able to choose was a powerful experience for them. Next year they will add more presentations from community members, as well as a toddler component because entire families came in during the summer program.
At Ada Community Library, after a welcome from director Mary DeWalt, Anna Langrill and Alex Hartman gave the tour. They explained how they use the Glades system, a blend of bookstore and Dewey decimal; described how their “Dog tale” stories get kids reading out loud; and demonstrated their maker area and resources, with 3D printers, squishy circuits, snap circuits, and soldering irons. The library is also in the second of five years of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. 
College of Western Idaho’s Kim Leeder described how starting a new library is both a challenge and an opportunity with freedom to try new things. Since 2009, the college has gone from 0 to 19,000 students. The library supports a variety of technical programs and staff is slowly building a collection for the many different degrees and certifications, many times purchasing books on demand. The library serves the community as well as the students, allowing use of Wi-Fi and computers and making every effort to give back to the community.

Caldwell Public Library was getting ready for the October 23 Grand Reopening of their children’s and community/programs areas. Director Lacey Welt and board chair Larry Blackburn explained that the sturdy 1970s architecture of the building is able to handle the remodel and they gave the Commissioners a sneak preview. The colorful murals in children’s room are interchangeable and the entrance that kids can crawl through is sure to be a hit. The remodeled community room has a demonstration area for programs like cooking. The library is also building a self-checkout and a “book store” area, revitalizing itself to better serve the community.

At Meridian Library District, director Gretchen Caserotti and librarian Cheri Rendler described the massive changes and growth in the district, which is still a blend of urban and rural. The library is well supported and well used by the community, with an annual circulation of 1 million. Using an RFID automated sorter and a self-checkout makes staff more available for reader services. Meridian tries to make the library as welcoming as possible. They posted signage that tells people what they can do rather than what they can’t do, enclosed the teen area to allow for  reasonable noise without disturbing other patrons, and built a 24-hour holds section in the lobby. They are participating in ICfL’s Make It at the Library project and developed Make It–Take It maker kits for check out.

Garden City Public Library was preparing for the October 23 Grand Opening of their Legacy Courtyard, which was funded by their Library Foundation. Director Lindsey Pettyjohn and trustees Jim Owens and Carolyne Pietz were happy to give the Commissioners a peek. Garden City has a wide range of income levels and they are currently researching demographics on cardholders. The library is open 54 hours per week and sees about 600 people per day, 40-50% of whom use computers. 67% of residents are card holders but staff is trying to take the library to people in lower-income neighborhoods who can’t make it in to the library. Their Bells for Books bookmobile already distributes books and snacks, along with mittens and hats in the winter.

On Friday, at Mountain Home Public Library, director Luise House, Mayor Tom Rist, two trustees, and the entire staff greeted the Commissioners. Trustee Kelly Everitt led the tour and explained that the architect designed the building for 2nd story expansion. The library entrance is a spacious commons area, with a café and beverages, frequently used for community presentations and a place to do homework. The library is committed to serving Spanish speakers and also works closely with area schools. Their Tech Center is well-used; a patron working at a computer realized that the Commissioners were on a tour and she took the time to tell them how much she appreciated public access at the library because she needed to create a presentation and didn’t have the software at home. 

The annual fall tour of libraries is a highlight for the Commissioners. They enjoy getting into libraries; meeting the librarians; and seeing first-hand the range of services, facilities, and challenges in Idaho. 

Categories: Idaho Library News

District Libraries: 2015 Election Calendar

November 25, 2014 - 8:13am

In 2015, district libraries will have, at a minimum, two trustee positions open.

Remember that if you have a trustee resign (or there is a vacancy for any reason), the person who is appointed to that position will have to stand for election in the May election. If elected, they will serve out the term of the trustee whose place they took. (33-2716)

If you are planning a “special question” election (i.e., bond, temporary or permanent levy override or plant facilities levy), this is the time to let the county clerk know and save yourself additional notification.

Below are links to an election calendar for 2015 (including statutory dates for the general election in November) and 2015 election FAQs:
- 2015 Calendar
- 2015 Election FAQs

Questions? Contact your regional field consultant, your county clerk, or the Secretary of State.

Categories: Idaho Library News

Public Libraries Nurture Entrepreneurship

November 24, 2014 - 7:51am

by Erica Compton, project coordinator

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to present at the 2014 Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship in Louisville, KY, October 15–16. With a focus on “Making an Entrepreneurial City,” over 120 mayors, economic development staff, and entrepreneurship experts came together to discuss ways to promote startup activity and encourage higher levels of entrepreneurship in their cities.

The conference was convened, in partnership with Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that aims to foster economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. One area of focus was the growing “maker movement,” and its role in innovation, entrepreneurship, and building a city’s economy. My invitation to present was due to the national recognition of the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ innovative statewide “Make It at the Library” project, which I co-lead with my colleague Sue Walker. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share the role that libraries can play in this vital area.

I sat on a panel featuring Ross Baird, CEO of Village Capital, and Alexander Bandar, CEO and Founder of the Columbus IDEA Foundry. Our moderator, Mayor Paul Soglin of Madison, WI, led us in a robust and interesting discussion on the role of the maker movement on entrepreneurship. I was able to focus on a very specific topic: how do we cultivate entrepreneurship and innovation at an early age so our youth are prepared for an ever-changing job market and future? How do we provide our youth with important “soft” skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration, AND introduce them to emerging technologies like 3D printing, robotics, and wearable electronics, so they are ready to tackle any challenge, job, or career? My answer—making! And more specifically, making in libraries!

To help frame this statement and provide some background, I shared with attendees a startling fact: typical 18-year-olds spend only 18.5% of their waking hours in formal educational settings! That means a lot of out-of-school time can be maximized for our youth and help them build valuable skills.

But, the reality is that not all children have the opportunity to attend an afterschool program. Afterschool Alliance just released the America After 3PM report with statistics from 2014:
•  19% of Idaho’s children (54,797) are alone and unsupervised between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.
•  42% of Idaho’s children would participate in an afterschool program if one were available.
Only 8% of Idaho’s children participate in an afterschool program (compared to 9% in 2009 and 9% in 2004).

These statistics show a huge unmet need in our communities. And since major barriers include ability to pay and program availability, I believe that making in libraries is key to filling this need.

So back to building innovators and entrepreneurs ready to take on any future….

Libraries can offer free and open out-of-school learning opportunities that provide kids with the chance to create, innovate, explore, and problem-solve. They are places where kids can work with new tools and emerging technologies, enhance current skills and learn new ones, and learn the importance of failing forward (the process of learning from mistakes or failures to improve upon a design or concept).

Libraries are well-positioned to ensure that entrepreneurship and innovation are second nature to our children, preparing them for the possibilities ahead. Through the Make It at the Library project, the Commission will continue to support and develop Idaho libraries’ efforts to bolster economic growth in their communities through entrepreneurship and innovation.

See a blog about the Maker Movement discussions at the conference, including a quote from Compton,  at

Categories: Idaho Library News