December 2014

Carolyn Ashcraft
Carolyn Ashcraft   
State Librarian
This month we are introducing a newsletter just for the Arkansas library community.

We are sharing the latest news on the 2015 Letters About Literature reading and writing contest, a new leadership program for Arkansas librarians and library workers, If All Arkansas Read the Same Book, and the Arkansas Teen Book Award.
 We are also sharing grant opportunities from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the American Library Association.  And, finally, ALA just released a report on library programming. I encourage everyone in the library community to read the report and provide appropriate feedback. 
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your colleagues and encourage them to join our mailing list by using the button on the right.. 

for libraries

In This Issue
Letters About Literature
If All Arkansas Read the Same Book
Arkansas Teen Book Awards
FY2015 Sparks! Ignition Grants
StoryCorps @ your library
Just released: Library programming report

2015 Letter
s About Literature reading and writing contest underway

The Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library announces that entries for Letters About Literature, a national reading and writing contest for students, are now being accepted by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

      The Center encourages young readers in grades 4 - 12 to enter this year's letter writing competition.  The contest challenges young readers to write a personal letter of reflection to an author, living or dead, explaining how that author's work somehow changed the readers' view of their world.

     Letters About Literature awards prizes on both state and national level in three competition levels: Level 1 for children in grades 4 - 6; Level 2 for children in grades 7 - 8; and Level 3 for children in grades 9 - 12.  The winning state letter at each level is entered into the national competition.

     One national winner in each competition level will receive a $1,000 cash award; one national honor winner in each level will receive a $200 cash award. One state winner in each level will receive a $100 gift card. Second place state winners will receive a $50 gift card and third place winners will receive a $25 gift card.

     State winners and finalists will be recognized at a special awards ceremony in Little Rock next Spring.

     There are two deadlines for this year's contest. All Level 3 entries must be postmarked by Dec. 15. All entries for Levels 1 and 2 must be postmarked by Jan. 15, 2015.

     To learn more about the contest or download an official entry form visit or .

     The Arkansas Library Leadership Institute (ALL*In) is a three-day leadership event for library staff, created to develop emerging leaders within the library profession, the local community, and in life.
     Topics include fostering collaboration and leading group work, community engagement, leading from any position, power and influence, innovation and risk taking, coaching and developing others and developing your leadership plan.
     The program was announced at the 2014 ArLA conference in October.
     For more information about ALL*In, contact Debbie Hall at the Arkansas State Library, 501.682.2836 or
If All Arkansas Read the Same Book

Arkansas Center for the Book kicks off statewide reading program with Perfect Peace by Daniel Black

     Perfect Peace, an award-winning novel by Daniel Black, is the selection for the 2014 statewide reading program, If All Arkansas Read the Same Book.  

     The yearlong program kicked off in October with author visits to libraries and bookstores in Hot Springs, Van Buren, Conway, Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Morrilton, Wynne, Newport, Blytheville and Jonesboro.  

     To see a YouTube clip of Daniel Black reading at That Bookstore in Blytheville, click here.  

     Although the emphasis in the past has been on limiting If All Arkansas Read the Same Book programming to one month, the Arkansas Center for the Book is now encouraging libraries to feature the book and author in local programming until the next book and author are announced. Depending on his schedule, Black may be available to participate via telephone from Atlanta. Contact Zoe Butler at the Center for the Book for contact information. 

Perfect Peace cover      Perfect Peace is the story of the seventh child of the Peace family. When the child named Perfect turns eight, her mother Emma Jean tells her bewildered daughter, "You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain't what you was supposed to be. So, from now on, you gon' be a boy. It'll be a little strange at first, but you'll get used to it, and this'll be over after a while."

     From this point forward, Perfect's life becomes a bizarre kaleidoscope of events. Meanwhile, the Peace family is forced to question everything they knew about gender, sexuality, unconditional love, and fulfillment.

     The story is set in rural Arkansas in the 1940s.

     Daniel Black was born in Kansas City but reared in Blackwell, Arkansas, where his great-grandmother played a key role in his life. "She spent her final days grooming my spirit for the life of a transformer," he says.

Daniel Black reading to students at Central High School in Little Rock

     After graduating from Morrilton High School, Black attended Clark College in Atlanta on a full academic scholarship where he earned his bachelor's degree in English. He received the prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies fellowship and earned a certificate in English literature.

     He earned his master's degree and doctorate in African-American Studies at Temple University. He currently teaches African-American Studies at Clark Atlanta University.

     Black is the author of three other novels - They Tell Me of a Home, The Sacred Place, and Twelve Gates to the City. His novels are published by St. Martin's Press.


Daniel Black signs copies of Perfect Peace
for Anita Paddock, a trustee on the Fort Smith Public Library Board.

     If All Arkansas Read the Same Book is presented by the Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library and all programs are offered free-of-charge to the public. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Arkansas State Library under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.  Copies of Perfect Peace are available at all 230 public libraries throughout the state.

      The statewide reading program started in 2001 with author Terry Kay's To Dance With the White Dog. Other past programs have featured books by Laura Castoro, Rick Bragg, Sandra Cisneros, Doug Kelly, Charlaine Harris, Jennifer Paddock, Sid McMath, Jeff Shaara, Shirley Abbott and Kevin Brockmeier.
Winning titles announced for the 2014 Arkansas Teen Book Award

Arkansas teens have chosen six books to share the 2014 Arkansas Teen Book Award.

     The Level 1 winner, chosen by seventh- through ninth-graders, is Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine and Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate were voted honorable mention. 

     The Level 2 winner, chosen by students in 10th through 12th grades, is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo were voted honorable mention.

     The Arkansas Teen Book Award is in its fifth year of recognizing young adult books. A steering committee comprised of public librarians, school library media specialists, and a State Library representative oversees the award process. The primary sponsoring organization is the Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library.

     The intent of the Award is to encourage young adults to read for enjoyment; promote teacher, library and parent involvement in young adult literature programs; commend authors of young adult literature; and promote the use of libraries and media centers.

     Nominations meeting certain criteria are accepted from the public and all eligible materials are included in the yearly reading lists. These books are read and voted on by volunteer librarians and teachers across Arkansas in order to create a more manageable reading list for teens. The final reading lists are distributed across the state; teens read and cast their votes for their favorite titles to determine the ultimate winners of the awards. Students have 10 months to read and vote for books on the lists. Voting opens each November and closes the following August. 

     Teachers and librarians wishing to nominate titles for the next reading list or volunteer as readers are encouraged to complete the appropriate online form on the Arkansas Teen Book Award blog at The group is active on social media with a Facebook page (Arkansas Teen Book Award), Twitter account (ARTeenBookAward), YouTube channel  ( and GoodReads page ( For questions or concerns, please contact the steering committee at

     The Teen Book Award is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant LS-00-14-0004-14).
FY 2015 Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries

     The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting applications for Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries. The application deadline is February 2, 2015.

2 color IMLS logo      Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries are small grants that encourage libraries and archives to prototype and evaluate innovations that result in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. They enable grantees to undertake activities that involve risk and require them to share project results-whether they succeed or fail-to provide valuable information to the library field and help improve the ways libraries serve their communities.

     The funding range is from $10,000 to $25,000, and there are no matching requirements. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2015. Click here for program guidelines and more information about the funding opportunity.

Public libraries invited to apply for 'StoryCorps @ your library"

StoryCorps, in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, is accepting applications from public libraries and library systems interested in hosting StoryCorps @ your library programs.

     Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), StoryCorps @ your library will bring StoryCorps' popular interview methods to libraries while developing a replicable model of oral history programming.

     Program guidelines and the online application are available at The application deadline is Feb. 6.

     Ten selected sites will receive:      

  • a $2,500 stipend for project-related expenses;
  • portable recording equipment;
  • a two-day, in-person training on interview collection, digital recording techniques and archiving on April 8-9, 2015, led byStoryCorps staff in Brooklyn, New York (Note: Travel and lodging costs will be covered by StoryCorps.);
  • two two-hour planning meetings to develop a program and outreach strategy with StoryCorps staff in March 2015;
  • promotional materials and technical and outreach support;
  • access to and use of StoryCorps' proprietary interview database.

     Each library will be expected to record at least 40 interviews during the six-month interview collection period (May-October 2015). In addition, each library must plan at least one public program inspired by the interviews they collect. Local libraries will retain copies of all interviews and preservation copies will also be deposited with the Library of Congress.

     This StoryCorps @ your library grant offering represents the second phase of the StoryCorps @ your library project, following a pilot program in 2013-14. Read more about the pilot libraries at and

ALA releases report on library programming impact, calls for feedback from the field

     A report released this week by the American Library Association (ALA) explores the growing area of library programming and proposes an ambitious, eight-year research plan to explore how programs reach library users and impact communities.

     The National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA) presents a research agenda to understand and quantify the characteristics, audiences, outcomes and impacts of library programming in the United States. The project also seeks to start a conversation among practicing library professionals and partners about programming efforts, accomplishments and concerns in their libraries. Librarians, patrons and partners can share experiences at

     The report is the result of a one-year planning grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and led by ALA's Public Programs Office in collaboration with a team of library advisors and facilitated by researchers at New Knowledge Organization, Ltd. Among the key questions it poses are:

  • What counts as "success" in library programming?
  • What impact does programming have on participants and communities?
  • What skills must programming librarians hone to maximize impact and reach underserved communities?

     "As library professionals, we see the impacts of programming every day, but we often lack sufficient data on whether, and how, these efforts are working," said Mary Davis Fournier, deputy director of ALA's Public Programs Office and NILPPA project director. "This is a largely unexplored area of research in the library field. We hope that NILPPA will inspire an array of in-depth studies to chart the impact trajectory of library programs, develop best practices, help to leverage community support for libraries, and foster lifelong learners of diverse backgrounds."

     During the proposed three-phase research plan, researchers will "map the terrain" of library program types and experiences; collect quantitative and qualitative data to better understand programs, particularly program innovators; create tools and professional competencies related to library programming and develop a model to explain how programming responds to change, affects the perception of libraries and even predicts change in communities.

     Prior research has shown a marked increase both in library program participation and offerings. In 2011, 89 million people attended 3.8 million programs at U.S. public libraries, according to the 2011 IMLS Public Libraries in the United States Report. This represented a 32 percent increase in attendance and a 46 percent increase in the number of programs compared to 2004.

     The report is available at Readers are invited to comment on the report's findings and discuss their own practices, questions and concerns related to library public programming; reader comments will help inform the next phase of NILPPA research. Comments may be shared privately on the website. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #libraryimpact.

The Arkansas State Library provides the resources, services, and leadership necessary to meet the educational, informational and cultural needs of the citizens of Arkansas, and provides guidance and support for the development of local public libraries and library services. For more information on the library's services, visit


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