The Friday Follow-up: Celebrating Library Pioneers by Recognizing Volunteerism & Advocacy

Friday Follow-up:
a message from Brian M. Hildreth, STLS Executive Director
Celebrating Library Pioneers by Recognizing Volunteerism & Advocacy



“One cannot leave the discussion of the forces that shaped American public libraries without noting the significant contributions of women’s volunteer organizations most notably women’s clubs… Although the exact percentage of public libraries established through the efforts of women’s clubs in the early part of the twentieth century is unclear, estimates range between 50 percent and 75 percent total. In some instances the clubs provided support for additional materials and clubs members volunteered as librarians. Some women’s clubs were influential at the state level, lobbying for library legislation and the need for state library commissions.”
Richard E. Rubin’s statement above from Foundations of Library and Information Science is apparent in the Southern Tier today. Most STLS member libraries were founded by women’s clubs and are chartered as Associations. Additionally, most STLS libraries are led by female directors and trustees.
This tradition of leadership should always be celebrated. What would library access look like today for 280,000 residents without the volunteerism and advocacy of these activists? I am sure we would not have 48 library locations throughout our region available for lifelong learning and enlightenment.

Moreover, it this tradition that sustains our library system’s pursuit of year-round stewardship. With each passing decade, our directors, trustees, staff and community members become stronger advocates for public libraries at both the local and state levels.

For example, our two state senators ranked 4th and 6th of all senate representatives for receiving the most emails, phone calls and letters during the 2017/2018 budget session. Additionally, state advocacy day participation has increased by more than fifteen percent between 2014 and 2016. In 2017, participation doubled. Lastly, since 2014, 34% of member libraries have advocated locally for long-term funding solutions.

I couldn’t be more proud of our library community. And to be truthful, I acknowledge the heavy responsibility that is required to sustain the tradition these pioneers started 130 years ago. It is for this reason, I take pleasure in announcing our 2017 recipients of the Outstanding Library Advocate Award and the Library Volunteer Award.

On Tuesday, October 10, STLS member libraries are invited to join us in acknowledging the accomplishments of Hannah Little Waschezyn of Southeast Steuben County Library (SSCL) and Lynn Fulmer of Cuba Circulating Library.

Hannah Little Waschezyn is the Digital Literacy Specialist at SSCL who has been engaged in carrying out the library’s strategic plan by moving beyond physical spaces to connect with the community. In 2016, Hannah set out to meet with as many residents and organizations as possible to determine unmet needs. Based on her findings, she determined the library had a real opportunity to provide programs through pop-up library services. Basically, she is packaging as many library offerings as she can and hitting the streets to bring public awareness to her institution.

Lynn Fulmer is presently a volunteer at the Cuba Circulating Library. She has been heavily involved in library operations since 2002 assuming multiple roles. Her most noteworthy include trustee and volunteer. Although Lynn has served as a trustee for 13 years actively fundraising, developing policies and hiring the current director (a previous STLS Library Director Award recipient), Lynn focuses much her time on active volunteerism. Lynn has logged enough hours at the library that most patrons believe she is a paid staff person. She is able to circulate library materials, provide reference support, build promotional displays and assist with programs. Her attention to customer service is a real asset because Lynn typically greets most library patrons by their first name.

Hannah and Lynn are two individuals who represent our system’s shared vision for advocacy and volunteerism. I really value the work they do. At times, going above and beyond what is expected can be easily ignored. Thank you, Hannah and Lynn for living-up to a tradition of selflessness and not ignoring the call to volunteer and advocate!

Don’t forget to register for our 2017 Annual Meeting & Conference of the Southern Tier Library System. Registration links can be found at the beginning of this message.

Have a great September 16 and 17, STLS!

Warmest Regards,

Brian Hildreth, Executive Director
Southern Tier Library System

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