Monday, March 24, 2008

Congratulations, Sue

North Branch Librarian Sue Monroe has completed a class in American Sign Language. Sue says it was a very intense 6 weeks where she learned "the very basics of American sign language."

She very quickly found her new skills useful and told us about it in this e-mail:

Today I had a deaf woman come into the library for the first time. She brought her granddaughter with her and wanted to get her a library card and to check out Scooby-Doo materials. The granddaughter is not hearing impaired and it was so interesting watching the two of them interact with one another. I was able to communicate with the deaf woman with my very limited ASL vocabulary on such items as establishing that she was the grandmother and not the parent of the young girl, taking the registration form to a table to fill out, the need for two pieces of identification (I used finger spelling for this as I do not know the sign for ID), and a 3 week CKO period on materials. I was able to understand some of her signing, but certainly not all of it. She knows that I am just learning to sign, so she was patient with me. I felt that it was a positive experience for both of us.
About her training, Sue further stated, "A couple of items that I found interesting was that ASL is NOT a universal language, there is no universal sign language. In fact not only is it not universal, but some ASL signs are geographical as well. A sign that is used in Minnesota, may not be used in another part of the country. Also, deaf people do not view themselves as disabled or handicapped, but as whole & complete. . . Sign language is just like learning a foreign language. It takes practice, practice, practice."

Keep practicing, Sue. ECRL Assistant Director Nick Dimassis said this in an e-mail to Sue: "Congratulations, Sue, on finishing the class, putting what you've learned into practice for your patrons/community and for providing yet another set of skills from which ECRL staff can draw." And from me -- thanks for your dedication to serving your community!

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Legislative Session Now On

This time of year the Legislature is in session and much of my energy and attention is spent on the Capitol in Saint Paul. There is a tension and excitement to the process. With the economy on the downturn, and the economic forecast predictions that state revenues will decline, legislators are displaying fiscal conservatism -- especially in the House, where all the members are up for re-election in 2008. My task is to remind them that funding libraries is especially important during rough economic times, when library use has historically increased. Availability of the free services libraries provide is especially important when families and businesses cannot afford to pay for information and recreation access.

February 27th was Library Legislative Day. The Capitol was full of library workers, board members, and Friends, who were engaged in talking to their legislators. I enjoy Legislative Day, and always end up dead tired after walking the tunnels between the State Office Building, the Capitol, and the Judicial Center. Our first appointment this year was at 8:15 a.m., and the last was at 3:30 p.m.

This year is a bonding year, and our biggest issue is to encourage legislators to include money in the bonding bill to fund the Library Construction and Accessibility Program. Six communities in the East Central Region are in various phases of planning for new or expanded libraries. Funding for the bonding bill is critical to library growth.

While Legislative Day is important, we need to keep talking to our legislators through visits, phone calls, and mail (both e-mail and via the postal service.) A super tool to find your state or federal representatives is at: Click on "Who Represents Me?" And then start calling or writing -- tell them how important the library is in your community! Thanks for helping us.

Barbara discusses library construction needs with Senator Betsey Wergin, District 16
Sen Betsey Wergin, District 16 11 March, 2008 (Photo 2/27/08)

Barbara Misselt, ECRL Director