New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Executive Director's Report

by Jeremy Johannesen, NYLA Executive Director

Fall as Time of New Hope

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

September means back-to-school, and throughout my school years that meant a new beginning and a chance at personal re-invention.  This typically met with failure as I attended a very small rural school and everyone’s roles were very well prescribed by the time we all reached fourth grade.  But none-the-less I started each new school year with boundless optimism.  To this day turning leaves and crisp air stirs feelings of new possibilities and hopefulness.

Fall at NYLA means readying for the annual Conference, and preparing for the Annual Membership Meeting, and that means preparing our annual report.  Taking time to look over the accomplishments of that last year is always gratifying – examining what milestones have been achieved and what goals remain to be worked on. 

As we all strive to accomplish the day to day grind of our work it is easy to lose sight of the ground we have covered.  During this season of harvest, I encourage you all to make some time to reflect on how you have advanced your organization’s mission.  Take notice of how your efforts benefit the community the community that you serve; and what opportunities lie ahead to do things even better.

As for NYLA, this year saw membership exceed 5,000 for the first time ever; with thanks to our library advocates, a $4M increase in NYS Library Aid, and $5M increase in the Library Construction Aid program; plus, the implementation of revised organizational bylaws; and the establishment of the NYLA Sustainability Initiative.

Here’s to another fruitful year of leading, educating and advocating for the advancement of the New York Library community!

School Librarians and ESSA

On October 1 NYLA was pleased to host a workshop sponsored by the Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the NYLA Section of School Librarians (SSL), on the important topic of how school librarians can use provisions in the newly enacted federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to advocate for their programs and positions.

What I’m not going to do is summarize the content of the workshop – there are more than adequate resources online ( to take care of that.  ESSA expressly authorizes the use of Federal dollars that come to local schools (Title I, Title II, etc) to be used in support of school library programs.  On average Federal dollars make up less than 3% of a local school district’s budget in New York State.

ESSA won’t save any school librarians on its own, but what it does do is ensure that school libraries and certified school librarians remain part of the conversation as the education infrastructure of our nation is once again reinvented.  By appearing in the bill language, school librarians have been provided the justification for a hard-won seat at the table.  It is up to us, at the state and local level, to continue to cultivate collation partners and carry forward to victories that were won in Washington, by ensuring that advocates for school library programs staffed by certified school librarians keep the pressure up and use this opening to advance our collective goals.

School librarians must continue with their difficult and endless work, of defending and promoting their programs and role within the school communities that they serve.  Changes in Federal education law are not going to save school librarians.  School librarians that collaborate and integrate their programs across the school’s curriculum, and build strong relationships with the parents of their student will save school librarians.  It is a difficult truth that our school librarians find themselves in, having to advocate and justify the value of their positions and programs – but that is indeed the reality.  Those that step up to the challenge and ensure that their building administrators, school boards, and perhaps most importantly, parents, are well educated on the invaluable role that a school librarian plays in student learning, might just be what ensures that the next generation continues to enjoy those benefits.

Training for Everyone

Clerks, library assistants, support staff, library managers, whatever you call them there are people who work in libraries without an MLS, and this program is for them.  The NYLA Library Assistant Training Program is offered on the same day over the course of three weeks (e.g. three consecutive Tuesdays), each class is six hours long (9:00 AM – 4:00 PM), and is offered in conjunction with Public Library Systems. It is open to individuals already working or newly hired in libraries, or people interested in working in libraries. To receive a certificate of completion, the participants must complete the entire 18 hour program.

The three weeks are divided into:

Introduction (Day 1, morning)
An introduction to libraries and library service.  Discussion topics include the history of libraries, the foundational principles of library service, the major types of libraries, the different functional areas of library work, the various jobs and roles in library work, an overview of the current employment landscape in the library field, and a discussion of “hot topics” such as censorship, privacy, rights of access, social media, etc.

Reference Services (Day 1, afternoon)
This component of the training program is an introduction to reference and information services in libraries. Topics include the organization of information, the reference question, and search strategies.  Electronic reference products, trends in reference work, types of reference materials, and library/bibliographic instruction/information literacy, are discussed. The role of the library assistant in this aspect of library service is explored.

Public Services (Day 2)
An introduction to public services in libraries. This section covers access policies and procedures, collection management, customer service, and public relations.

Technical Services (Day 3)
An introduction to technical services in libraries. This section covers technical services policies and procedures, also technical components of general utility across the library.

Complete details:  Library Assistants Training Program

NYLA is currently seeking hosts for the program from 2017, and typically partners with public library systems.  To find out more about bringing the LATP to your region, click here.


Library Advocacy Day 2017
, March 1, 2017


As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
See you in Saratoga Springs!

Jeremy Johannesen
NYLA Executive Director
518-432-6952 Ext. 101