System Director’s Report, June 2010

What Matters Now

Last December, Seth Godin (one of my favorite bloggers and thinkers) and a group of “big thinkers” released a small ebook called “What Matters Now.”  Each page is written by a different author on a different big idea ranging from “compassion” to “willpower” to “expertise.”  For the past six months, I’ve been using the pages to inspire myself and to share with staff.

Today, I stumbled on “evangelism.”  The introduction reads, “The future belongs to people who can spread ideas.  Here are ten things to remember.”  The first couple of points fit so neatly with what I’ve been thinking and reading this month related to library advocacy that I just have to share them:


1.        Create a cause.  A cause seizes the moral high ground and makes people’s lives better.

Thankfully, the “cause” of libraries is already well-established, along with the value in people’s lives.  At our July board meeting, Cheryl Becker will be sharing a statistical picture of SCLS libraries that will illustrate the use of libraries in our system.  And last month, we shared with you the press release related to the value of the Summer Library Program. 

This month, I’ve come across a couple of interesting articles that provide further evidence of the impact of libraries:

·         A recent, large study by the University of Nevada found that the presence of books had more impact on the number of years a child stays in school than parents’ income or years of education. 

While the study focuses on books in the home, libraries can provide books for those families that can’t afford to own a library of books.

·         A wonderful article from the Wisconsin State Journal on June 27th talks about the value of the Dane County bookmobile to the rural residents it serves.   My favorite part:

““It’s more important today than ever,” said Glodowski. Not everyone can afford the latest version of a Kindle electronic book, or the $7.99 for a paperback book, or even driving to the library, she said.


“You can read a book anywhere, you don’t have to have a battery, you don’t have to have a power source, you can read a book upside down, in a tree.”



2.       Love the cause.  “Evangelist” isn’t a job title.  It’s a way of life.  If you don’t love a cause, you can’t evangelize it.

More great news for libraries is that people are passionate about them.  The wonderful stories at our “Libraries for Real Life” site illustrate that.   The site continues to grow, and some SCLS libraries are now planning to add video stories. 

Another great illustration of the passion for libraries comes from the Milwaukee School District, which is expecting to start the next school year with as few as five librarians for nearly 100 elementary and K-8 schools in the district.  Some students formed the “Rescue our Librarians Club” and one of them read this statement at a public meeting about the issue: 

“We are the future of America. We are students at La Escuela Fratney who formed the Rescue Our Librarians Club—the RLC. We want the budget cuts to stop so we can keep our library and librarian. Some adults say ‘Read a lot, don’t watch TV,’ but then they take away our library. That’s not good. . . . It’s not fair if a school doesn’t have a librarian. And it’s not fair if some schools have a librarian and others don’t. We want to help other students and schools to have their own librarians, too.”


The love of libraries and the willingness to evangelize for them clearly spans the generations.  While libraries and library systems are facing very serious budget threats, if we are all willing to become evangelists for this worthy cause, the future can belong to us.



If you’d like to read more from the “evangelism” page or any other part of “What Matters Now”, here’s the link:

If you’d like to read more about that study on books and education, see

To read the complete article on the Dane County bookmobile, see

For the complete piece on the school librarian crisis in Milwaukee, see