Arizona Library Leader’s Summit

By Sandy Edwards

I had the privilege of attending the Arizona Library Leaders’ Summit in Flagstaff on June 6-7. As incoming President of AzLA, I found this meeting of State Library staff; Arizona county librarians; the directors of Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, and Scottsdale libraries; some academic librarians; and a couple of others, to be very informative and enlightening!

This summit was a follow-up to one that was held in 2014.  The facilitator for this year’s event was Sam McBane Mulford, and she was excellent! During the day and a half, we participated in large group discussions, small group discussions, and interactive activities, with the goal of determining the direction of libraries within the state in the upcoming five years.

One of the guest speakers was Robin Dale, Associate Deputy Director for Library Services, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). She gave a very informative presentation on Library Servcies and Technology Act (LSTA) grants. Did you know that IMLS is the federal voice for 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums? IMLS currently offers grants totaling $155,789,000. IMLS has requested $182,429,000 for FY17-18, and ALA is pushing for an even larger amount. The LSTA grants in Arizona are overseen by the State Library. Arizona is in the top 25% of receiving money, and dollar for dollar, Arizona gets more projects done (75 projects and 1 administrative) with their funding in a similar project band. For information on applying for a grant, or information on projects that have been funded in the past, read more here.

On Monday evening, Summit attendees had dinner with Summer Library Institute attendees. Guest speakers for the evening were Michele Reagan, Arizona Secretary of State, and Micah May, Director of Business Development, New York Public Library (NYPL). After Secretary Reagan shared her story of how she came to be Secretary of State, each of us at the table had an opportunity to share our “stories” of where we’d been, where we were, and where we’re headed in the future. After dinner, Micah May spoke on what NYPL in doing in terms of Technology Initiatives. NYPL has developed an app called Library Simplified, which brings together all of the various ebook vendors available through a library, and lets patrons log in and read everything available in one location, with one login. They are leading the project with participation from a dozen libraries throughout the country, and with IMLS funding. After a patron logs in with a barcode and pin, the content available comes from whatever sources the library has (i.e., Overdrive, 3M, Baker & Taylor, enki). Micah attended the Leaders’ discussion on Tuesday morning, and attendees learned how libraries in the State of Arizona might get involved.

After a day and a half of information and discussion, the group decided on three themes that seem to be the most important to focus on in Arizona libraries. They are: collaboration, building community wealth (resources and partnerships, not $$) and customers first. To me, this is a start down the right path.

Sandy Edwards is AzLA President-Elect.


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