Monday, July 30, 2007

Each June, the Ridgefield Library Association’s Board of Directors gets an infusion of fresh energy, when new directors are elected to this group of talented and dedicated volunteers who provide governance to the organization. We are pleased to introduce our two newest Board members, the first of which is profiled this week.

Eileen Walker has a long history of professional and volunteer leadership which will be an important asset to the Library. She has already shown her commitment to the organization through her service for the past year on our capital campaign steering committee and will bring valuable professional human resources experience to the personnel committee. “My support and interest in community, literacy and education make this opportunity a natural fit for me,” Eileen notes.

After graduating from Cornell University with an AB in Industrial Psychology and an MBA concentrating on Organizational Theory, Eileen began an 18-year career with IBM in Human Resources. In 1994 Eileen left IBM and shifted her energy to local activities.

Eileen has served on the Boards of many area organizations, including the Ridgefield Community Kindergarten and The Harvey School in Katonah, NY. When the Branchville Elementary School re-opened, she became Co-President of the Branchville PTA and served in that capacity for two years.

Eileen is also very involved with the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, joining its Development Committee in April 2006 and its Board of Directors and Business Development Committee in October 2006. In July 2007, Eileen became President of the Board of the newly formed Western Connecticut Youth Ballet Company, which promotes excellence in dance for young people who want to pursue a professional career in ballet.

Eileen stays involved with Cornell University, serving on numerous alumni and advisory councils and as the current President of the Class of 1976.

Eileen is married to Jay Walker, and they have two grown children. They have lived in Ridgefield since 1990.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Numbers Tell a Story

Visits to the Ridgefield Library during the last fiscal year (7/1/06-6/30/07) were up 3.4% to a record high of 392,223 people, bearing out locally the findings of a nationwide study released by the American Library Association in April. According to the ALA survey, public library use continues to grow, increasing overall by 61% from 1994 to 2004 - the same period during which the World Wide Web and Google were becoming household words.

In Ridgefield, this translated to 1,150 visitors per open day last year, or an average of 16.26 annual visits by each man, woman and child in Ridgefield. And just what did those people do here?

· Borrowed an average 16.5 items per capita, nearly double the state average. At the same time, due to lack of space, our collection size stayed nearly unchanged, at 135,673 items of all types. During the year, we discarded 17,577 items to make room for 17,051 new releases and patron requests – the perfect example of a “capped collection!”

· Logged onto our wireless connection 3,245 times. This is an impressive total for our first full year of this service, even taking into account May 17th (the day after the Big Storm), when we tallied 153 log-ins, including at one point 27 people at the same time.

· Attended book discussions, concerts, lectures and other programs. Driven by the popularity of our Seriously Shakespeare program, the new Sense of Place series created with the Ridgefield Design Council and myriad other activities, adult program attendance rose 10.8% to an impressive 5,664 people enjoying 230 events.

· Asked 17,411 reference and readers advisory questions. Despite easy access to the Internet, Ridgefielders remain eager to consult our expert librarians, whether they are looking for a source of reliable health information, a read-alike for P.D. James or help finding details of life in Ancient Egypt.

Stop by soon and become one of this year’s statistics!

Report on Emerging Leaders participation

Here's a report from Geri Diorio, our Teen Services Librarian and Children's Services head, on an extraodinary opportunity she has had this past year.

For the past 6 months, I have been participating in the first American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders program, created to enable young and new-to-the-profession librarians to get on the fast track to professional leadership. The program accepted only 100 librarians for this first session. Those selected were required to attend two conferences for leadership training, complete a group project, and serve on an ALA committee for two years.

The group met for the first time at the ALA Midwinter conference in Seattle in January 2007, where the focus was on leadership and team dynamics within the association and in the workplace. Presenters and mentors were drawn from the ranks of the profession’s most experienced and inspiring consultants and practitioners.

We were divided into smaller groups of three or four to work on a project for the next six months. Communicating through conference calls and e-mails, my group chose to explore “what technologies will most affect libraries in the next five years?” And instead of making up a static list, we decided to use the more dynamic tool of a wiki, where we’d link to articles on new technologies that are impacting libraries as well as established technologies that are being used in new ways. Our wiki is called “Tech Casting” and can be found at

In June at the ALA Annual conference, the entire group once again took part in leadership seminars, this time on principles and practices in three important areas: collaboration, conflict and ethics. We also presented a “poster session,” attended by hundreds of conference participants, which explained our group work and showed off the wiki in real time on two laptops.

My service portion of the program will be fulfilled by serving for the next two years as the intern for the ALA Awards committee, which is responsible, among others, for the Newbery and Caldecott prizes.

I’d like to express my gratitude to the library staff and the Friends of the Ridgefield Library for their support of my participation in this program.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

In late June, the General Assembly finally passed and the governor signed a state budget for the coming year. Why should Ridgefield Library users care?

Several key services offered by the Connecticut State Library and related agencies received level or increased funding, ensuring access by Ridgefielders and all state residents to some very useful resources without having to pay for them on a local basis.

Connecticard is the core reciprocal borrowing and Inter-Library Loan delivery service that makes it possible for a Ridgefield library card holder to access free-of-charge materials from virtually every other public library on the state –and have them brought directly to your local library’s door for your convenient pick-up. Support for Connecticard was increased substantially for a second year, helping to better align funding with actual operating costs.

Funding for iCONN, the Connecticut Digital Library, was increased to cover ongoing operation and subscriptions to its dozens of online databases and other resources, all available to every Connecticut library card holder. Among other things, the increase will allow iCONN to continue access to the Hartford Courant Historical archive database, a project that was implemented this past year with contributions from many individual libraries, including the Ridgefield Library.

Have you tried InfoAnytime, the 24/7 virtual reference service that was initiated last year by a group of several dozen libraries (including Ridgefield)? If you have benefited from this superlative source of information and research assistance, you will be pleased to know that the General Assembly added a new budget line specifically for this service and funded it in the amount of $150,000. If you haven’t tried it yet, visit our website at and see what creative public/private collaboration can make possible.

If you value any of these services, be sure to tell Governor Rell, State Senator Judith Freedman and State Representative John Frey how much you appreciate their support of Connecticut libraries – including your own.