Kansas library professionals, forced to mobilize quickly and using social media to rally support and spread their message, convinced lawmakers to remove language from a fast-tracked tax bill that they said threatened the survival of the state’s seven regional systems and, in turn, promised a trickle-down reduction in services for public libraries.
It was a seismic move in the struggle to create a workable ebook access model for the users of America’s libraries. It was engineered by Joanne (Jo) Budler, the Kansas State Librarian, when she realized that an initial proposal in 2010 to renew the Kansas State Library (KSL) contract with OverDrive would increase administrative costs by some 700 percent over the next few years, as the state ebook deal was being restructured. Despite the risk of disrupting and even losing access to ebooks for the users of Kansas libraries, Budler rejected more than one proposal from OverDrive for a new contract until a year ago when she won the right to transfer titles from OverDrive to a new platform. The dispute set off a long (and public) national examination of library service agreements.
How the small staff of eight pulled off the miraculous resurrection of the Independence Public Library exemplifies what makes good libraries and good librarians. Their effort combined innovative thinking with a participatory management style. They collaborated with other Kansas libraries and built partnerships with the community, its leaders, and the agencies, institutions, and enterprises that operate in the library district. For all this and more, the Independence Public Library is the winner of the 2012 Best Small Library in America Award, cosponsored by LJ and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.