Scholarship Report: Jean Theobald – Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Training

Event: Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Training

Attendee: Jean Theobald – Library Media Specialist, Rochester Public Schools

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

As the high school librarian for Rochester Public Schools, I have over 5,000 students. I want to know the signs of depression and be prepared to act. I want my students to have a positive educational experience in my libraries, and feel safe when they come to use the library. My skills in problem solving and being proactive are important in my job to help my students with life situations as well as educational ones. I also attended this event to learn about any new resources and materials that can aid in prevention of suicide at my high schools, and that I can recommend to my students and staff.


What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

Practicing saying “Are you having thoughts of hurting yourself? Do those thoughts include suicide?” out loud. It feels uncomfortable to ask these questions. So we practiced. I am confident now that I have attended this session that it is necessary to ask, as it is the beginning of taking action to help.


What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

The acronym ACT. It’s easy to keep in mind. A is for acknowledge and ask. It’s okay to ask if someone is having thoughts of hurting themselves. The C is for care and concern. Be empathetic and understanding, but don’t try to fix anything. The T is talk and treat. Make sure the person has connections to support services, and follow up.


Would you recommend this event to others and why?


Scholarship Report: Brigette Rol – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Brigette Rol – Children’s Librarian, Lake City Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

As a Children’s Librarian working in a public library, attending the PLA Conference relates to almost every aspect of my current role. The breakout sessions provide new & updated ideas, information and support that I can apply to the work I do every day. I’m able to meet and talk with other Children’s Librarians from across the US and share ideas, problems and solutions which have benefited my library over the few years I’ve been attending. The conference is also a place where librarians meet new and potential vendors. We can talk face-to-face with representatives who can answer questions or solve problems we’re having with our current products and services, and likewise we learn about new products, services and technology that can enhance our library for our patrons. The conference also offers concise ‘how-to’ presentations throughout the conference that give libraries a chance to share successful programs and give attendees the framework to build similar programs.


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session of the PLA Conference was Setting Healthy Boundaries by the Denver Public Library. While setting boundaries is a skill we’ve been learning about all our lives, it’s also a skill that needs a frequent refresher. My first thought when entering this session was that I would acquire some new approaches to dealing with difficult people, and that would be great. What I left with was a new way to think about boundaries: they define functional and effective relationships. The presentation covered simple boundary-setting techniques and statements and discussed the need for consistency and patience. Instead of a method of ‘dealing with’ people, which leans toward the confrontational, boundaries can actually be a method of maintaining a patron-library relationship that allows us to enable our patrons without overextending ourselves in every interaction. In the short time since returning home, I’ve referenced the ideas from this presentation multiple times each day.


What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

The PLA conference this year was all about diversity and inclusion. It was about helping people access the information and resources they need. It emphasized the acknowledgement of experiences different from your own, and showing respect to those different from you. In the various sessions and interactions, there was always an element of openness and acceptance, even down to the books in the publishers’ booths. I have always felt a bit of pride working for the library because aside from the emergency services, it’s a place for everyone, no exceptions. It was nice to be reminded of the privilege we have of being a part of that type of service to our communities. The conference this year was an inspiring reminder of that. It feels good to return home with new energy and excitement for the job.


What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I can’t wait to get the ball rolling on several new ideas and programs for our library from PLA. Out of them all, the one I’m most excited about is creating book talk videos to use on social media. This idea came from one of the smaller ‘how-to’ sessions, and was presented in a way that makes me feel confident we can pull it off, even without a lot of social media knowledge or experience. It’s something we’ve been tip-toeing around for a while now, but not really acting on because it seems like a large project. In reality, we were overthinking things and there are ways to make it quite simple with a bit of forethought. I’m excited to start creating the videos and watching the response from our patrons.


Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this event to others absolutely. I always walk away from this conference excited and rejuvenated about my job. It is a whirlwind of new information coming at you rapidly, but the quality of the information is high and the entire conference is focused on public libraries, so you take away a lot. It’s a great reminder about the purpose of public libraries and the role we play in our communities.

Scholarship Report: Stacie Falvey – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Stacie Falvey – Adult Services Librarian, Lake City Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

In addition to sessions on how to improve my individual performance, relieve stress, and serve patrons better, there was an abundance of sessions that was geared to specific programming for adults. From reviewing and revising how we market our programs to identifying our demographics and meeting their needs, I feel I gathered important information to improve the programming options we offer our community. I was intrigued by two sessions that were geared toward producing a podcast and making videos to post on our website and Facebook page. Because I also purchase the adult fiction and nonfiction, there were also sessions on genres (sci-fi, short stories, romance, horror) that I’m not as familiar with. Hearing about trends and upcoming publications in these areas was very useful. In addition, I was able to meet with several vendors to discuss new technology, which we will discuss now that we’re back from the conference. Attending the conference gave me the opportunity to learn valuable information to help my colleagues, our patrons, and our community.


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

For the last two years, I have been working hard at adding health and wellness programs for adults. I’ve made contacts with a variety of healthcare professionals in the Red Wing-Lake City-Wabasha area and these sessions have been well attended. One of my favorite sessions was How to Add Movement to Library Programming. It gave me a completely new perspective on how to continue adding these types of programs. One of the ideas was that you can take the library outside. We can add walking and biking programs, for example, that begin in a local park. We could post quotes from novels, short poems, facts from nonfiction books on posters and arrange them throughout a park for people to stop and read as they’re out for a walk. We could embrace “play” as a part of movement by inviting people to Wii bowl or dance. We could also extend our collection of “things” (we currently check out bundt pans) to include exercise equipment like kettle bells, jump ropes, weekly passes to a local fitness center. We could also become involved with our local community garden to encourage our community members to be more mobile. Currently we offer a Stepping ‘On class and Tai Chi. We plan to do more research to find other more “movement-focused” programs instead of ones just on nutrition, brain games, integrative therapies.


What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I’ve already started brainstorming ideas after one of my favorite sessions. I attended “Enhancing the Patron Experience through Visual Merchandising.” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I walked away with several new ideas on how to improve how I create displays and market my adult programs and events. We don’t have a large budget, so some of these ideas will need to be scaled back. We also have limited space, so I’ll need to get creative on how to adapt the new displays. Some of their ideas were common sense (simplify your flyers, don’t overwhelm with dozens of flyers). They also recommended cross-merchandising (put the bundt pans next to a cookbook display) or put books on health and wellness near by flyers that advertise upcoming programs on Tai Chi, Integrative Therapies, Myths and Facts about CBD Oil, parenting books by toddler books, etc. One of the other ideas they mentioned was creating displays based on the rule of 3: 3 rows across, 3 rows down. Statistics indicate people gravitate toward these types of displays. I also plan to create new book displays based on subject matter and include some other books on the same topic. Typically we have straightforward displays of new fiction and new nonfiction. I just need to take the time to review what we have and be more creative with our space to entice our patrons to take a closer look.


Would you recommend this event to others and why?



Scholarship Report: Meg Curtiss – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Meg Curtiss – Children’s Librarian, Plainview Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

Most of the sessions I attended at PLA, in some way, addressed equity for library patorns. Things I learned ranged from making library access more equitable by creating consistent hours to ways to help middle schoolers learn about career readiness, so that they can imagine big futures for themselves. Some of the sessions gave me broad stroke ideas that I can bring back to my library for discussions about improving our presence in the community. Others gave me ideas for improving youth and children’s programs. Deepening my understanding of the library profession will improve the level of service I can bring to my community.


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

Stacy Abrams was amazing. She keyed in precisely on how libraries can make social justice improvements in their communities. I hadn’t realized that her mother had been a librarian, and I wonder if her ability to identify just how libraries are positioned to be helpful comes from that background. My library has been talking about the 2020 census a great deal, but I didn’t know about Fair Count prior to Abrams talk. Personally, this has been a very disheartening period of time politically and it was inspiring to hear Abrams optimism. Libraries are in a position to promote equity, and it was very gratifying to hear Abrams recognize us!


What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

Libraries are uniquely positioned to advocate for *every* member of our communities. Whether it be helping folks fill out census forms or helping families learn about mindfulness, we are making daily impact on people’s lives. It was inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of individuals who share my passion for creating access points for information literacy and inclusive environments. I learned that my library is doing lots of things really well! It is reassuring that despite our small size we are making consistent gains!


What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

The program that has the biggest “right now” takeaways was “Why Middle School and College Career Success Go Hand in Hand.” The presenters for this program had been trained at a YALSA project to improve College and Career Readiness and Awareness with middle schoolers. All of the presenters have implemented CCR programs at their libraries and had terrific examples of programs that will work in a variety of communities. I have been reexamining how Plainview offers programs to teens, so this was very timely. I anticipate being able to implement some of the ideas in the near futures.


Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend PLA to others. I learned a great deal at the various sessions and I am grateful for the opportunity. But much of the events impact was in connecting with other librarians. In my everyday work, other than in my coworkers, I seldom encounter individuals who share my professional values. PLA is an opportunity to realize that we our values are shared by thousands of others nationwide. Gatherings at SELCO permit us to connect with our regional colleagues, but those events are typically focused on a particular training or issue. I found great value in being surrounded by folks who were all dedicated to excellent library service with an emphasis on equity. This week, I am looking at my programs and facility and thinking about all the things I learned. What can I improve? What are we already doing well? I appreciate the opportunity to look at everything with fresh perspectives!


Scholarship Report: Ann Walter – What’s NEW in YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE

Event: What’s NEW in YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE and How to Use It In Your Program

Attendee: Ann Walter – Media Center Paraprofessional, Southland Schools

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

I am the Middle School/High School Media Paraprofessional at Southland Schools. We just weeded out an immense amount of outdated and unused books. We are moving to a new facility next year and I wanted to learn about current books that would be relevant for our students. I will be ordering new books in the upcoming months to increase our collection.


What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

The Resource Book will be very helpful as I begin to order books for our new Media Center. It gives me the titles, a summary, age level appropriate for. The presenter’s insights about the books reviewed was helpful.


Would you recommend this event to others and why?

No, it was very overpriced. The Resource Book we got had all the information that was covered in the workshop. They could have just sold the resource book


Scholarship Report: Karen Lemke – Library Marketing and Communications Conference

Event: Library Marketing and Communications Conference

Attendee: Karen Lemke – Head of Marketing and Community Engagement, Rochester Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

LMCC is the best conference for library marketing professionals. Everything shared at the conference directly relates to every aspect of my position: community engagement, marketing, and public relations.

Several sessions at LMCC focused on developing more meaningful relationships with community members, providing insight into using data to guide community engagement. Surveys, comment cards, available data from other sources, and certain software programs were all highlighted. Some of these tools I am able to bring back to our library to improve our own engagement work.

Various marketing strategies and tactics were presented at this year’s LMCC. With marketing always changing and evolving, keeping up on the latest trends is vital to what I do. Without having that knowledge or exposure to new tools, I am unable to reach our full marketing potential.

Lastly, public relations continue to be a large part of my role at Rochester Public Library. Other libraries are facing the same challenges and issues, and one presenter shared their struggles with crisis communications after a fire damaged their building. For me, after dealing with a major water leak at our library, I was able to assess how we can continue the conversation months after the situation.

I will continue to highly recommend this conference for any library staff member who provides marketing and communications services. The sessions cover broad topics and always include valuable takeaways.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session that I attended at LMCC was a presentation on using Insta-Stories. This one-hour session was timely for our library as we just started using Insta-Stories this past year. We have struggled to maintain our Story content, and Catherine Fonseca from the Sonoma State University Library shared her experience and insights on using the short-story feature of Instagram.

While social media is only one tactic that we use at RPL, we learned through other LMCC sessions that utilizing social media is incredibly important to certain segments of our population. In 2020, Instagram users will spend an average of 28 minutes a day on the platform, and users are increasingly interacting through IG’s Stories.

Fonseca says that the key to successfully using Stories is to make the content feel exclusive, authentic, casual, and intimate. At the same time, she also reiterated that the Stories don’t need to be overly complicated. In fact, she says simple stories can yield strong results. For example, using stock photography that speaks to community norms and values can go a long way. At her library, she used photos of a particular type of Mexican sweet bread and simple text. The Story felt authentic and included a poll to encourage interaction.

The content in the presentation, as well as how it was presented, made for an interesting session full of practical tips and tricks that I can implement at RPL.

What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I left the conference with an idea on how to completely revamp our social media strategy by creating a well-defined, library-wide plan. This plan will allow for more staff engagement and provide clearer direction for our social media activity, which will in turn help us to reach new audiences and better engage with our current audiences.

I attended three sessions to help inform this idea: “Using Insta-Story,” “20 Tips for Making Social Media Work for Your Library,” and “Marketing to Diverse Populations.” All three of these talked about social media and the best practices for different platforms.

“Using Insta-Story” was very Instagram focused, but also included insights into the audiences using that platform and different ways to manage the content that’s used there.

The “20 Tips” session covered multiple platforms, trends, as well as the organization of content. One tip is to recognize YouTube as the social media channel it is, and also to understand that it’s a search engine so we should use it more, if possible.
In Susan Lucas’ presentation on “Marketing to Diverse Populations,” she touched upon how different populations interact and use social media. For example, Hispanic Americans tend to be younger, and use more social media. Meanwhile, African Americans tend to utilize television and YouTube for information.

By attending these sessions at LMCC, I feel fully prepared to develop a robust, successful social media plan at my library.

Scholarship Report: Audrey Betcher – Library Journal Directors’ Summit

Event: Library Journal Directors’ Summit

Attendee: Audrey Betcher – Director, Rochester Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

As we go through the strategic planning process, we need to be thinking into the future. The need to build social infrastructure is something we have to do thoughtfully and intentionally. Listening to thought leaders discuss the topic from various angles was EXTREMELY helpful!!!

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

Yale Sociology Professor Marissa King talked about the importance of networks for both personal health and well-being as well as community health (including economic). She talked about why two different types of networks are needed to promote a connected and resilient community — convening networks and bridging networks. 40% of adults are chronically lonely. This really got me thinking about the role of libraries to bring people together!

What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

Thinking about how to build strong networks made me question our current building program that is going through revisions. Having more gathering spaces for the community to meet will require different kinds of spaces as we plan for growth of the Rochester Public Library. I’ve already discussed this with the administrative team, and we’ve made changes to the document.

Scholarship Report: Eric Tarr – Food Justice Summit 2019

Event: Food Justice Summit 2019

Attendee: Eric Tarr – Library Associate — Youth Services, Rochester Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

In the last few years, Rochester Public Library has been working toward a more active role in the area of food justice. We are aware that a large percentage of our community (those we are seeing, as well as those we are not) are facing food access/justice issues. We learned that in trying to connect to the needs of our community, food is often at the core.

Libraries are committed to sharing resources with everyone. And food is one of everyone’s most basic needs. It isn’t always as simple as making connections by sharing books, stories, and knowledge. Sometimes connections must start with more basic necessities. The magic part of sharing food, is that it can then lead to new relationships, stronger connections, and learning of additional resources that the library can offer.

For the past two summers, Rochester Public Library has partnered with Riverside Central Elementary School and Rochester Alternative Learning Center to distribute produce that was planted and nurtured by students during the school year. In the past, the gardens were often neglected through the summer because the students and staff were on summer break. All their hard work had an unhappy ending. But through our partnership (and along with the Bookmobile!), Rochester Public Library had the opportunity to share this produce with the community!

It boosted our summer reach, and highlighted our off-site summer programming, and carried with it a great story.

So great!

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

The event as a whole was pretty darn overwhelming. In the best way. So much to learn. There is so much wrapped up in food access. So much in fact, that food justice is a more correct way of viewing and discussing it. The Food Justice Summit had been previously called The Food Access Summit, but it’s not just about providing access, it’s about repairing a broken system, and there’s a lot that is broken, and a lot of work to do. There were sessions devoted to our history (white supremacy, racism, colonialism, trauma, and genocide) Sessions were devoted to the current issue (ongoing white supremacy, trauma, racism, colonialism, suppression, oppression and lost culture and history) Sessions were devoted to our future (reparations, social change, climate change, science, and our responsibility to history)

It was about food, farming, health, lives, and people. All people. And for far too long, too many people have had food, farming, health,and lives stolen from them.

Whew, it was intense and important and overwhelming and necessary.

I will add this part here, too: Rochester Public Library, Riverside School, and the Alternative Learning Center not only attended sessions, but we presented a session as well. It was great to be a part of the event, and to engage with attendees, and to receive feedback that our work is exciting, inspiring and important. Most of all, important.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from the Food Justice Summit is that we are all in this together. We all have a part to play in repairing our food systems, and in offering assistance to those who have been harmed, traumatized, and ignored by our history and current systems.

I didn’t hear of any other people attending on behalf of public libraries, other than RPL. Maybe we were the only one. But when in conversations with others who worked in other areas (public health, activism, agriculture, food shelves, academics, etc.) I noticed that although we were representative of very different parts of a community, we had a shared interest in food justice, a responsibility, and part to play. When we all spoke of the people we wished to help, and the work that we wished to do, and the changes we wished to make, it sounded like we were all part of the same team already.

We have all been harmed by our history and current food systems, but by no means to the same degree. We can all benefit by helping each other with our basic needs. We can all help to connect and repair relationships by making sure everyone is at the table. Food is something that we can all relate to, and that connects us all.


Scholarship Report: Emily Soltis – Equity in Action: Taking Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level class

Event: Equity in Action: Taking Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level Class

Attendee: Emily Soltis – Technical Services Librarian, Austin Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

The main goal of this class is to learn how to conduct a diversity audit of your collection. A diversity audit is an inventory of a collection that analyzes the data to make sure that we include a wide variety of points of view, experiences and representations. This falls right into my responsibilities concerning the collection. I have been examining our collection development and this course gave me some great tools to use while looking at the diversity within the materials we already own and while ordering new materials. Also, I plan to talk with everyone who orders materials to ensure that each order is audited to make sure that it is diverse on some level, this is called a book order audit.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was by Andrea Blackman from the Nashville Public Library. Andrea works in the Civil Rights Room, where they use historical photographs to teach police recruits, college students, and the public about racial issues in their city’s past. They have a huge collection of photographs that were given to them when a local paper shut down. These tools help community members explore, critically analyze, and combat systemic racism in their city. I love how she juxtaposed photographs of people of different races doing the same thing and how obvious the racism was when looking at the photographs. The program has been very successful in Nashville and is even being used in other cities.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

This was on online class from Library Journal. It was presented over 3 weeks and included live webcasts, group discussions and homework. The downside for me was that they didn’t send any reminders and I missed the first two weeks! (my fault, I know, but a reminder would have been nice) Luckily, everything is in the modules online. I was still able to watch the webcasts and get feedback on the homework, however I couldn’t participate in the discussions, obviously. I would still recommend it to others. There were many different presenters who talked about a variety of topics involving equity and diversity, including ADA accessibility issues, diversity in picture books, programs in various libraries, and partnerships with the community. The discussions were interesting to read as questions were brought up during the presentation and I came away with many resources. The overarching goal of the course was to learn how to conduct a diversity audit of your collection and I feel that I am prepared to tackle it.

Scholarship Report: Jenni Sturm – Assoc. of Bookmobile and Outreach Services: On the Road

Event: Assoc. of Bookmobile and Outreach Services: On the Road | Out of the Box — Omaha, NE – October 19-25, 2019

Attendee: Jess Lind – Library Assistant I – Bookmobile, Rochester Public Library

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

My job duties at Rochester Public Library focus mainly on three areas: bookmobile, homebound and deposit. The annual Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) conference is centered primarily on these three areas of library outreach.

The event does include sessions dealing with programming that you can take on the road with you. Some libraries have a dedicated Outreach department that does on-the-road programming from their bookmobile. For RPL, on-the-road programming is done mainly by the Youth Services department.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was called “#morethanbooks: Scalable Outreach Programming.” The presenter, Rachel Yzaguirre, discussed how her Outreach department has taken their most popular in-library programs and figured out how to perform them in 5 minutes or less when programming offsite.

In order to engage with more patrons, Rachel brings materials that appeal to all ages to programming events. For example, she brings giant sized Checkers, Connect 4, and Jenga games to Senior Living facilities. She brings Lego Wedo, Snap Circuits, and Bee Bots for kids when at events geared towards kids. While the kids and adults are playing, she makes sure to tell parents about in-library programs focusing on STEAM for kids. She also does this for adult Maker Space programming.

One of the things I found most interesting was that she sends post-event surveys to staff. Some of the questions she asks staff deal with: 1) staffing (not enough or too many), 2) if the partnership is viable (some events lack partner communication and it gets messy), 3) what type of patrons were at the event (young, old, non-English speaking, etc. – maybe a bilingual staff member should go next year), 4) overall staff impressions. She uses staff input to determine if the library will go to the event again or how they can better connect with patrons at the next event.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this event to anyone who is trying to start an Outreach department in their library or simply looking for ways to improve upon and/or expand current outreach services offered by their library.

Many of the sessions that are presented at the annual ABOS conference deal with Outreach departments that were recently created or departments that wanted to take a step back, evaluate, and re-design their outreach services. The information provided by the presenters tell you how to start from the ground up, what did/did not work well, what they learned throughout the process, and how they were able to improve their services for their patrons.

Every library is different – while they all might offer the same services, how that service is provided can vary greatly. These presentations are a great way to learn how other libraries offer outreach services. It is also a great event if you want to network with people from libraries across the country.