RAC Presents to the Board of Regents
Submitted by Claudia Depkin, Chairperson, Regents Advisory Council on Libraries & Director of the Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library & Carol Ann Desch, Coordinator of Statewide Library Services & Director of Library Development, NYSL
On April 19, 2016, the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries (RAC) had the opportunity to meet with the Board of Regents Cultural Education Committee and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to discuss how New York’s libraries and library systems are creating the future. Cultural Education Committee Chair Regent Roger Tilles, in the spirit of National Library Week, complimented the Council, the State Library and New York’s library community on the strides made during the past four years toward implementing the Council’s recommendations in Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision and Plan.
State Librarian Bernard A. Margolis spoke about the upcoming 200th birthday celebration of the New York State Library, which will occur on April 21, 2018. Then 15 of the 17 members of the Board of Regents heard presentations about three exciting and innovative collaborative library initiatives, illustrating the critical importance of library services for New Yorkers of all ages as well as the importance of local, regional and statewide partnerships.
Dr. Colleen Sadowski, Director of School Library System & Media Services, Rochester City School District introduced Julianne Wise, School Librarian from the Rochester International Academy (RIA) and three of her students. RIA students are newly arrived in this country and new to acquiring English language skills. A vast majority of students have refugee status and many have interrupted or no formal education. Ms. Wise and her students shared stories of how the children are empowered by several different initiatives in the school library. Using the Autonomous Circulation Station, students take responsibility for checking out their books. Older students teach the younger ones, providing a continuum for knowledge sharing and ownership of this vital task. The Makerspace, which is a cooperative project with the Rochester Public Library’s Harold Hacker Fund, allows students to envision, plan and create using a 3D printer, robotics, Little Bits and other tools to support STEAM learning. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a Storytelling Festival for public and private schools. Four students brought home trophies for their efforts in sharing culturally-relevant stories.
Steven Manning, Director, Regional Information Center/Computer Services Center at the Greater Southern Tier BOCES, introduced Brian M. Hildreth, Executive Director and Ken Behn, Assistant Director, Head of Information Technology from the Southern Tier Library System (STLS). Mr. Hildreth and Mr. Behn shared information about an initiative that is connecting rural communities to broadband internet via their public libraries. STLS serves 44 public libraries in a 3,500 square mile area. Given the technological and financial challenges facing these rural community libraries, STLS is partnering with the local industrial development agency and the Southern Tier Network to create a robust fiber network that exceeds NYS Broadband Standards for connectivity. STLS has applied to the federal Appalachian Regional Commission, the New York State Library’s State Aid for Library Construction Program and for federal E-Rate discounts in order to advance this important broadband infrastructure project. The project will result in fiber connections to 27 sites.
Regents Advisory Council Chairperson Claudia Depkin introduced Cristina Pope, Executive Director of the Upstate Medical Center Library, who discussed the Healthy Pet Project (HPP). Partnering with the Baldwinsville Public Library, the Fayetteville Free Library, and the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York, HPP was created to enhance the health of our communities through our pets. With federal funding from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Healthy Sciences Library System of the University of Pittsburgh, HPP provides information and hands-on training for pet owners on a variety of pet health subjects including allergies, arthritis, diabetes and emergency first aid.
In addition to Regents Advisory Council Chairperson Claudia Depkin and members Steven Manning and Dr. Sadowski, Council members Emily Peterson, and Arlene Way also attended the Regents meeting.
The Regents Advisory Council on Libraries advises the Regents regarding Library policy, works with the officers of the State Education Department in developing comprehensive statewide library and information policy and makes recommendations to the Regents concerning the implementation of the program.