Web Site of the Week: The Whitney Plantation

March 24, 2015 Leave a comment

The Whitney Plantation website may be the most informative – and the most disturbing – website about slavery on the Internet. Opened to the public in 2014, the Whitney Plantation is the only plantation museum in the state of Louisiana dedicated to telling the story of slavery. Readers may wish to start with the History tab, which describes the founding and expansion of the plantation, from 1721 onward. The gorgeous Photo Gallery offers readers a visual representation of the plantation’s many buildings, including a Spanish Creole mansion, a church, and various shacks and outbuildings. The meat of the site, however, lies in the tab titled Learn. Here, readers are confronted with the hard truth of slavery, told through short articles sorted into three categories: the Slave Population, the Owners, and Historic Buildings and Memorials. From there, the content covers topics as Resistance, Slavery in Louisiana, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the Big House and Outbuildings. [CNH]

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015.


ACLS FY2016 Budget Presentation

March 20, 2015 Leave a comment

below is a copy of our budget presentation to the County Commissioners on Thursday 3/19,2015.

FY2016 Budget Presentation

Thank you for having us present today

I would like to recognize the Library Board members who came out today to show their support just as they do everyday as the library’s representative in the community.

Allegany County Library System is busier than ever


See the dashboard for FY 2014


Some may think that now that library collections, are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can be downloaded and used from home school or office, that our facilities are less important.   But that turns out not to be true,

With over 300,000 walk in visitors last year, Our 6 locations are busier than ever with kids, teens, and adults.   And the vibe that is created in the give and take between library staff, library users, and library materials creates an energy and excitement that can be found at all our libraries.

but right now, there is a special energy at our South Cumberland Library because we are preparing for the complete renovation of the facility since its opening in 1982.

We are in the architectural drawings and engineering phase of the renovation project.   We are planning a more open, colorful, library with the flexibility to take care of current concerns and position us to take advantage of whatever comes in the future.

We expect construction to begin in summer of 2016 and take about 6 months.


As you can see we are busy in the library system and there is always something happening, but we are working more and more with other partners to reach our goals.   And our goals are the same as yours and our partners to make Allegany County the best that it can be and to provide our citizens all the opportunities they need to succeed and to make the most of their lives and community.

For example, Two Saturdays ago we celebrated School Readiness Fair at the County Club Mall with over 30 community partners making sure kids were as prepared as they could be for school and how they could take advantage of the many services available to them. We saw just over 2000 people walk thru.

Hug a book month

Coming this April we are partnering with the Frostburg State University Children’s Literature Center for Hug a Book Month.   Inspired by the book, Hug Machine by Scott Campbell, we will be promoting the Children’s Literature Festival by photographing kids and families hugging their favorite books at all 6 library locations. Scott Campbell, the author will also be visiting the LaVale Library to speak to the community as well as classes from Parkside and Cash Valley Elementary schools.

Working with the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing, we have started an

Indie Lit Book club to promote our joint Indie Lit Festival held each October. We also like to support the small and regional publishers in our area, while also bringing new literary talent to our community .

We are participating in Free Comic book day on May 2, 2015.

Free Comic Book Day is is the comic book industry’s annual event where they give away comic books. Since there are no comic book stores in Allegany County, we are standing in their place and using the event to promote our summer reading club.

Our Summer reading clubs are a great way to keep in touch and keep reading over the summer for kids and learners of all ages. Last year we had over 14,000 participants of all ages.    Again this summer we will have a rotating series of events every Wednesday at every library from June to August.

For Next Fall and Winter we are in early stages of offering a series of programs to connect our community to opportunities in science, engineering, and math and include the local companies that are looking for people with those skills.

Working with the Allegany Arts Council, next winter we hope to introduce digital art days. This program is to introduce students to digital arts technologies, which are used in a host of industries, including those that require STEM-trained employees.

We need these partnerships to reach the goal of making Allegany County the best that it can be because our dollars have to start to work before we get to the starting line.  In some Maryland counties, the building maintenance and utilities are paid out of the County’s budget and not the library’s budget. So not only do they receive more funding, but they can spend all of it on direct services like collections and story hours.

Proposed FY2016 Operating Budget

Turning from a system snapshot to the actual budget request…

The recession of 2008 has been tough for us and took the wind out of our sails, we thought we had crested the hill, but the 1.2 billion dollar deficit revealed in November forced us to make some unpopular choices in how to provide services in the future.

In the proposed FY2016 operating budget we are focusing on maintaining and improving the services most used by the community we serve.   In doing so, we have shifted scarce funding from staffing to collections, technology, and maintaining current facilities and furnishings.


Please see Table 1 for the proposed FY2016 Revenue.

Since the recession of 2008, the Allegany County Library System has used a significant portion of its Board Restricted Funds to maintain hours. Those funds are now at absolute minimum levels and can no longer be used to buoy the operating account and keep the doors open

The mandated $1 per capita increase in Maryland funding unanimously approved in the 2014 General Assembly has been scaled back to a $0.27 increase. This partial increase cannot be guaranteed and remains in jeopardy for the duration of the current session of the General Assembly.

In the last 2 years we have used grant funding to support additional part-time staff at our libraries to maintain hours.   As we prepare for the renovation of the South Cumberland Library in FY2017, those funds (in FY2016 and FY2017) will be diverted to provide the furniture and equipment funds needed to complete the renovation. Neither State Capital nor County funding can be used for “Furniture and Equipment.”

Given this revenue forecast, we must adjust our hours to reach our goals within the funds available. Hours of operation will be maintained at 3 library locations while the hours at the remaining 3 libraries will be adjusted to maintain operations across the county.   By adjusting the hours of operations, savings will be gained as staffing will be reduced at all libraries.   Total weekly hours of operation of ACLS will go to 249 hours per week from 296 hours per week.


Please see Table 2 for the proposed FY2016 Expenses.

While total expenditures will decrease in FY2016, we have expanded funding in those areas that are core services as determined by our community.   Increases in spending will occur in collections (materials to loan); technology (ensuring robust and speedy library network, internet access, and public computers); and maintaining library facilities and furnishings.

Savings in the Wages & Salaries line are due to the realignment of hours across the library system. Specifically, 3 of 12 positions will be renewed for FY2016 to support minimum staffing at the libraries with the 54 hours per week schedule.

The increase in Health Insurance costs are associated with increases in the premium rates and administrative fees in the County’s insurance plan.

All of our libraries serve as community meeting and gathering places. To maintain them as functional, inviting, and sufficiently furnished libraries, we have increased funding in the Equipment and Repairs budget line. The increase will begin a furnishings and coverings improvement program that will refurbish furniture and other wall and floor coverings on an ongoing basis.  Since the 2008 recession only emergency repairs have been completed and all of the facilities and furnishings are showing significant signs of wear.

Like the facilities and furnishings, our computer and technology replacement cycle has been suspended since the 2008 recession. The additional funds designated in the IT Systems budget line will restart the computer and network equipment replacement cycle at all locations.

We will spend an additional $30,000 on our collections in FY2016. In our community, which has the 2nd lowest Median Household Income and is ranked 3rd in poverty in the state of Maryland[1], providing as many free resources to the people we serve should be a priority.   Despite this increase in funding, our collections spending would still be below the pre-recession 2008 levels


We are requesting the same amount for FY2016 as we received in FY2015. These funds make up a proposed budget that realigns the hours of operation across the Allegany County Library System to yield improved collections, facilities and technology for the community we serve.

Going forward we will invest our scarce resources into our collections, facilities and technology in support of our community rather than defer action in the hope of a better fiscal picture “next year.”   It is our long-term goal that providing the additional materials, robust Internet access, and well-maintained facilities will promote additional individual opportunities and yield increased economic vitality for the entire county.

Nonetheless we at the library are committed to combating the opportunity gap so that where a child grows up does not determine where he or she ends up.


[1] 2012 Maryland Statistical Handbook, Tables 2A and 2K, http://www.planning.maryland.gov/msdc/md_statistical_handbook12.pdf


Categories: Community, Goodtoknow

Q&A: Raising Kids Who Want To Read : NPR Ed : NPR

March 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Web Site of the Week: NASA Women of STEM

March 17, 2015 Leave a comment

NASA Women of STEM is a wonderful site dedicated to celebrating women who have made contributions to NASA in the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Readers will find a number of fascinating profiles, interviews, and articles about women at NASA who are engaged in a wide range of STEM fields, from teaching children about science to engineering rockets. For instance, the interview with Nancy Roman, retired Chief of NASA’s Astronomy and Relativity Programs, offers insight into when she became interested in outer space, her career at NASA, and who inspired her. In addition to the numerous inspirations for girls that populate the site, educators may like to take advantage of NASA Educational Professional Development, in which NASA Educator Ota Lutz teaches fun ways to bring STEM into the classroom. [CNH]

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015.


Web Site of the Week: Looking at Appalachia

March 10, 2015 Leave a comment

As Roger May, the founder and curator of Looking at Appalachia, notes, Appalachia has often been associated exclusively – and unfairly – with poverty. This project, founded 50 years after Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” unwittingly helped create such stereotypes, seeks to set the record straight by snapping pictures of the people and places of the region in all their complexity. Readers may like to start by reading the excellent Overview of this crowd-sourced internet project. In addition, the tab Defining Appalachia provides a complete map of the stretch of country from Mississippi to New York that defines the region. From there, readers may explore the beautiful, often haunting, portraits that make up the site by clicking from state to state. [CNH]

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015.


Rescheduled: 2015 “Backbone Mountain Review” Reading & Reception

March 10, 2015 Leave a comment


Due to the weather last week, we postponed the Reception.

The Reading & Reception for the 2015 Backbone Mountain Review (BMR) literary journal will now be held on Sunday, April 19, at 2PM in the Allegany Arts Council’s Community Room, located at 9 N. Centre Street in Downtown Cumberland

The Reading & Reception is free and open to everyone, and complimentary copies of the 2015 Backbone Mountain Review will be available at no charge during the event. New this year: a chance to win a signed, 20″ x 20″ framed print of the cover art featured above:Breathing Life (16) by Michael O. Snyder. Raffle tickets will be sold in advance and the winner will be announced during the reception.

Categories: Community, Goodtoknow

Web Site of the Week: State House Women’s Leadership Project

March 3, 2015 Leave a comment

The State House Women’s Leadership Project offers readers a look into the contributions women have made to the state of Massachusetts, and beyond. The exhibit includes a work of art that honors six women, including the  educator, Dorothea Dix, and the suffragist and anti-slavery activist, Lucy Stone. On the site, readers may navigate a virtual tour, learn more about the women who are being honored, and read about the dramatic representation of Lucy Stone that has been performed around the state. Educators will find much to appreciate under the Resources and Curriculum sections, with a teacher’s guide, resource guide, and primary source documents located under the latter. [CNH]

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2015.



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