February 16, 2018

Beth-Ann Ryan | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Tech Leaders

Beth-Ann Ryan


Deputy Director, Delaware Division of Libraries, Dover


MLS, University of Maryland, College Park, 2005


@RyanBethAnn (Twitter); delawarelibraries.org; libraries.delaware.gov; libraries.blogs.delaware.gov

Photo by Joe del Tufo, Moonloop Photography

Inspiration Authority

When Beth-Ann Ryan started at the State of Delaware’s Division of Libraries (DDL) in 2008, the Delaware Library Catalog included half the public libraries, a handful of academic libraries, and a couple of schools. Since then, it’s grown to a statewide single system that includes every public library, six academic libraries, seven school libraries, and 13 special libraries. As deputy director of DDL since September 2011, Ryan has been instrumental in making this connectivity happen.

In a small state that’s home to many small, financially strapped libraries, each governed locally, Ryan has managed to harness DDL’s resources to provide much of the technology and infrastructure for each library, says nominator Carson Block, a library technology consultant who has worked with Ryan and the DDL for the past three years.

One example is the statewide implementation of Dewey Delaware, the brainchild of Delaware State Librarian Annie Norman. This library assessment logic model uses the Dewey system as a way to sort program and other data, Ryan says. “Libraries are already collecting [book and media] stats by Dewey, so why not collect reference and program data by Dewey as well? It [helps us]…see gaps in programs and services just like we can see gaps in collections and circulation.”

Dewey Delaware identified a gap in science programs, whereby demand outpaced supply. In response, DDL developed state-level partnerships with science organizations to bring year-round science programs to all public libraries.

Another example of Ryan’s efforts is the creation of Inspiration Spaces, “mini–Maker spaces,” says Block. “Beth-Ann was crucial in funding, designing, and implementing…programming.” These were developed out of a three-year federal stimulus grant aimed at creating job centers at libraries. When the grant ended, “I really wanted to do something more inclusive,” Ryan says. “Helping people find jobs is critical to a stable economy but so are entrepreneurs and discovery.”

DDL rebranded the job centers as Inspiration Spaces—collaborative, creative spaces in which people can learn about and experiment with technology, entrepreneurship, and DIY activities. So far, three Delaware public libraries, in Dover, Wilmington, and Georgetown, have dedicated Inspiration Space rooms, but every library participates in Inspiration Space activities, with materials and coordinators provided by DDL, including specialized instruction, job coaching, laptops, 3-D printers, and MaKey MaKeys [easy-to-use invention kits]. The materials are tailored to an individual library’s needs.

“Beth-Ann is thoughtful down to the smallest details and personally has a stake in each of her projects—especially when it comes to ensuring [that] libraries offer the best services for their specific users,” says Block.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.