The Year in Review

This year has been amazing for the Utah State Library. We want to share with you some of the notable things we have done in 2022.

Utah State Library for the Blind

Lisa Nelson and her team at The Utah State Library for the Blind participated in a pilot program with the National Library Service for the Deaf and Blind (NLS) to distribute braille e-readers in several states including Utah. These e-readers provide digital access to braille books on a convenient and portable device. These devices can be life changing but are also cost prohibitive for the average user. The library was thrilled to put these devices in the hands of readers at no cost to them and provide valuable data to NLS.

The program for reading and recording audio books for the blind at the Utah State Prison started this summer after a long pandemic hiatus allowing us to make more audio books available to our patrons. With the help of our skilled new Audio Recording Manager, Jason Powers, we now have capacity to host and record podcasts and have released our first training video for patrons. We also welcomed Michelle Nealey as a new Reader’s Advisor.


The Resources Team hired two new employees this year.  Katie Larsen as Cataloging Librarian and Rachel Haberman as State Documents and Metadata Cataloger. The Book Buzz program had a record year! The collection increased to 650 titles and Hannah Jones circulated thousands of books to clubs all over the state. You can learn more about the amazing growth of the Book Buzz program in a recent blog post. In 2022 Brian Tober, Metadata Librarian, started working on a project to help libraries expand and improve their online presence in an effort to better connect with their communities. To learn more about the program, or to discover if it would be a good fit for your library, click here.

Digital Access and Education

The Utah State Library and Liz Gabbitas worked with the Utah Broadband Center to secure $5.6 mil from federal funds to create our state’s Digital Connectivity Plan! We started the planning process early with a summer of community outreach in partnership with Internet Essentials. Then in the fall and early winter we began working with local governments to ensure every community is represented in the finished plan. This project will continue until next summer. We’re excited to be such close partners with the Broadband Center and a leadership figure in Utah’s digital equity efforts!

Youth Services

Summer Reading Training 2022

Youth Services worked hard this year to serve all youth across the State of Utah! Karen Liu, Youth Services Coordinator, worked with Rachel Cook, Grants Coordinator, to create a Spanish and Other languages grant which funded 93 public and school library collections. Karen developed Spanish language collections to circulate to public school libraries, as well as Spanish Wonderbook audiobook collections to circulate to public libraries through inter library loan. Youth Services also sponsored multiple days of Summer Reading training workshops to promote CSLP’s 2023 theme “All Together Now”. Finally, in various partnerships with the Division of Multicultural Affairs, Utah Refugee Center, Salt Lake County Health Department, and others, Youth Services helped distribute thousands of free children’s picture books to various organizations in Utah.

Training and Education

The Utah State Library and Rachel Lenahan hosted a successful Directors Summit in Park City with keynote speaker Karin Peabody, discussing facilitation and leadership. We heard from several of our own directors as well. Over 60 library directors from all over Utah came together for three days of professional development, networking, recognition, and inspiration.

UPLIFT Professional Development Grants were awarded to Utah library staff and students with funding to assist with tuition and conference attendance. Dozens of Utah library staff participated in the UPLIFT Technology course over the summer gaining valuable knowledge in technology trends and programming resources.

We also created some valuable partnerships this year. We partnered with EveryLibrary Institute to provide training and coaching to library board members and library staff for many topics concerning their libraries. And with Utah Arts and Museums alongside Lifetime Arts to provide libraries an opportunity to train in offering creative aging programming which pairs Utah libraries with teaching artists for older adult programming and events.


This was a record breaking year for grants! We have never even come close to this amount of grants in the past and we were glad to see libraries step up and use additional funding to help their communities.

Grants funded: 503
TOTAL Amount funded: $3,151,358.14
State Amount: $579,765
Number of State Grants: 71
Federal Amount: $2,571,593.14
Number of Federal Grants: 432

Rachel Cook and Faye Fischer did a four-stop grant training tour throughout the state for the first time in recent memory. We had a great time with all of you who attended! It was wonderful to see so many people, library staff and others, who wanted to improve skills to serve their community. Here are some quick tips from our training in case you missed it.

  1. Ensure that your grant project and your organization are a good fit within the grantor guidelines.
  2. Focus on your community need, not your library need. The most compelling grant projects are the ones that focus on serving the end user – your patrons or students.
  3. Have someone not involved in your project read through your application to make sure you aren’t missing any important details.
  4. Proofread. Poor spelling and grammar can sink an application faster than you would think!
  5. Read the grant guidelines. Typically the keys to the kingdom will be written in those guidelines, don’t miss out on using this resource.

Data Coordination

USL’s Data Coordinator, Heidi Fendrick, had a year full of successful partnerships. She and Olivia Wilkinson worked with Demolished SLC to record a podcast about Utah’s Carnegie libraries. Listen here! She also partnered with the Utah State Historical Preservation Office during Library Week and Preservation month to highlight Carnegie libraries in Utah with posters, bookmarks, webinars, tours, and programming. We joined the Great Salt Lake Collaborative and planned six different events raising awareness about the issues and solutions surrounding the lake with Salt Lake City Public Library, Weber County Public Library, and Davis County Public Library. We also developed a strategic planning training for library directors and trustees. Heidi will be serving as a member of PLA’s Measurement, Evaluation and Assessment Committee until 2024. And, at the State Data Coordinator Conference in December both Heidi and Library Director, Chaundra Johnson received Keppel Awards.

Here’s to another great year!

We want to hear about your library! If you have something that you would like to share with us please reach out to Faye Fischer at [email protected]. We are happy to post milestones, successful programming, employee achievements, etc. in the USL Update newsletter, or in a longer article for the blog.