Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – American Library Association Annual Conference 2019

Event: American Library Association Annual Conference — Washington, D.C. — June 21-25, 2019

Attendee: Heather Acerro – Head of Youth Services, Rochester Public Library


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

As the Head of Youth Services at Rochester Public Library, attending was valuable to my role as an administrator and leader. I made connections with new and familiar vendors, networked with colleagues to build stronger relationships and share resources, and attended informative sessions that will enable Youth Services to improve programs and services. For example, “Real Talk: a framework for youth-led dialogues” provided information that will help us as we work to make connections with local teens. Furthermore, since RPL is currently appraising a variety of food-related services, the session “Food for Thought: Nourishing Mind and Body at Public Libraries” contained several ideas that will move our services forward.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

“How to Avoid Disability Faux-Pas” was my favorite session as it contained a wealth of information. Fifteen panelists spoke about their experiences as disabled customers and library staff members and provided guidance for updating our language, services, and procedures to be more accessible. Panelists spoke on terminology, hearing loss, visual disabilities, learning disabilities, invisible disabilities (mental health and chronic illness), and physical disabilities. Suggestions included providing staff with disability awareness training, removing ableism from marketing, and being aware of comments that are actually micro-aggressions (calling attention to someone and making them feel “other”).

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

One suggestion from How to Avoid Disability Faux-Pas was to use a microphone as a standard tool in library programs. I am planning to work with Youth Services programmers to make this change for all of our storytimes and auditorium events.

Scholarship Report: Samantha TerBeest – Lake Superior Libraries Symposium 2019

Event: Lake Superior Libraries Symposium — Duluth, MN — June 6-7, 2019

Attendee: Samantha TerBeest – Adult Services Librarian, Winona Public Library


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

The theme of the conference was “Sea Changes in Libraries” and was focused on the ever changing role of libraries. This is very fitting for my role as the Adult Services Librarian as the technology I work with is ever changing and the generations and people I work with is ever changing.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was called “Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Vital Role All Libraries Play in Developing Empathy.” In this session, the presenter talked about the difference between sympathy and empathy. Talked about how empathy is a learned behavior especially from reading. Had us work in groups to discuss books that show empathy and identified ways that a library can be empathetic to its patrons.

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

I took away a lot of different programming ideas but I also took away a staff in service training that I think would be really beneficial in being inviting to all patrons of all types and backgrounds. I, also, have ideas, programs, and trainings for a the Dementia Friendly Community Committee that I am on and how we can better help our community. Really, I didn’t have one big takeaway from the event. I had several.

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

I already booked a program date for a library after hours event I learned about called Humans vs. Zombies. I am planning on doing several passive programs in May for Mental Health Awareness month. One of them is called Stress ReDUCKtion and involves hiding rubber duckies around the library. I even reached out to a presenter to see if I could use his presentation for staff training.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes! The sessions were excellent. When you go, you meet librarians from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. The conference is, also, affordable and only one day.

Scholarship Report: Tricia Wehrenberg – Power Up Conference 2019

Event: Power Up Conference — Madison, WI — March 28-29, 2019

Attendee: Tricia Wehrenberg – Youth Services Librarian, Winona Public Library


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

What was unique about this conference is that it pertained solely to youth services topics. Because of this, it gave me a chance to really focus on subjects that I’ve long been keyed into, such as streamlining and assisting vulnerable youth, that I haven’t had time to really delve deeper into or find CE opportunities about. It was also nice to bounce ideas off of other youth librarians because we all see similar situations and can give each other great advice. The topics of the sessions were very relevant to me. I had a hard time choosing which breakout sessions I wanted to attend, and I’m thankful that many that I missed have the notes & PowerPoints up on the website so I can review them later.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was An Empathetic Approach to Customer Service Training. This session was presented as a sort of “train the trainer” concept so we could take the information back to our staff. While I always strive to lead with empathy while serving at the customer service desk, it was great to get tips on how to train new hires in this approach as well. Teaching empathy is not an easy task, so I really appreciated the tips & tricks that were given by the instructor. She also gave us her PowerPoint presentation & notes so that we could craft our own training session for staff who were unable to attend. I’m excited to start incorporating this with our new hire that will begin in April in youth services and also with the rest of staff library-wide.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I 100% would recommend this conference. I went in expecting it to be mostly Wisconsin & Minnesota librarians, and I was pleasantly surprised to meet librarians who flew from all over the country. For example, I had presenters from Colorado, California, New Mexico, and Delaware. It was great to have such a high profile conference so close by. It had the feel of a national conference with the breadth of topics covered without having to hop a plane. I came away with a lot of great connections that are willing to chat with me cross-country while I’m working on implementing some ideas they presented. I will definitely be attending the next one in 2021, and I’ll be encouraging others to do so, as well.

CANCELLED: Code.org Workshop

Due to low registration, the Code.org Workshop set for Saturday, March 30, 2019 has been cancelled.  Thank you so much for your interest in the event.  If you have any questions regarding future events, please feel free to contact our Learning Engagement Services department.

Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – ALA Midwinter Meeting

Event:  American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting — Seattle, WA — January 25-29, 2019

Attendee: Heather Acerro – Head of Youth Services, Rochester Public Library


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

My biggest takeaways from attending ALA Midwinter and participating on the 2019 Randolph Caldecott Committee are the skills and colleagues that I gained through this experience.  In terms of the Caldecott Committee–which involved preparing for meetings, reviewing picture books throughout the year, writing and presenting about picture book art, and participating at in-person meetings at midwinter–my skills in evaluating and discussing art and picture books have increased considerably. I developed a unique methodology based on the preparation materials and the discussions with colleagues.  During the past two years, I have had the opportunity to share my collection selection and evaluation methods with Rochester Community & Technical College literature classes.  Now, after my attendance at ALA Midwinter meetings, I feel that I have much more to share with literature students. I have also gained a wonderful group of fourteen peers who passion for and ideas around youth services work and literature will continue to benefit me and Rochester Public Library for years to come.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

Each year ALA hosts an “online pajama party” to encourage children to watch the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards press conference.  After attending the Youth Media Awards Press Conference, meeting with colleagues in the exhibit hall, and discussing the activities around this big event, I would like to work with area teachers to host Mock Award programs throughout the year and then celebrate by participating in the pajama party. (http://www.ilovelibraries.org/pjparty)

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would highly recommend participating on an award or booklist committee and attending ALA Midwinter for in-person book discussions.  It is valuable to not only learn book evaluation skills, but also how to respectfully and productively have discussions with colleagues.  These discussion skills do not only apply to books, but can be used for discussing any topic that requires careful listening, thoughtfulness, and clear articulation.

SELCO Staff Conference Report: Chris Austin – MLA 2018

Or – How I spent my MLA 2018 edition

Thursday: First I went to “The Web is Lovely, Dark and Deep.” 7/10 for minor factual errors and emoji use. I did learn that some libraries are now offering the TOR browser on their public PC’s, something that I’d be more that happy to provide on request.

Next I went to “Attack of Killer Computer, is Your Library Ready to Code?” looking for STEM kit ideas. 4/10 didn’t really cover anything I didn’t know, but I did have a nice talk with a children’s librarian from Mankato about what I did with code club.

After that I really need some caffeine, so I went down to common area and had a pop, while making some last minute additions and reviewing my own presentation.  I also visited the vendor area.

Then it was lunchtime, Officially I have no opinion of the keynote “We, Surveilled and afraid, in world we never made.” However I couldn’t maintain a poker face to the delight of the others at my table.       

After lunch I met up with James and we rehearsed our presentation.

For the first afternoon session I attended the “Robot Petting Zoo” with Becky 9/10, not enough time with the robots. But we did get some good ideas of what to put in a robot kit.  I ended my first day with “12 DIY Adult Programs” because the description made it sound like one of the 12 was on 3D printing, turns out that they used their 3D printer to make tools for one program. Not really what I was looking for, but what can you do.

Friday: For the first session, I attended “ I Did It!!: The Tip-Meister Dishes on Effective Processes to Get to the Finish” 10/10 for being useful, upbeat and well attended by SELCO staff. I think the biggest takeaway I got was this;  

Gather your facts; gather input , let it stew BUT

DO go ahead and bring an end to the decision making process.

Be sure to get a broad consensus but realize everyone may not be 100% on board.

Don’t let that untrack you.

For my mid-morning session I attended ”Champagne Library Technology on a Beer Budget: Tech Tools for Small Libraries”  I was hoping for hardware or public PC alternatives, but instead it focused on software, I shared some of my experience with Google forms and saw an interesting tool for doing live surveys. (add name from notes)

Blah blah addended something about teamwork.

Then it was my turn, James and I gave our presentation “Making Virtual Reality a Reality in your Library” The crowd was smaller that I thought it would be but, oh well. We took a tag team approach,  with James discussing programming using a HTC vive for a full VR experience. While my half focused on things to do with Google Cardboard. Our slide deck can be viewed here Despite some technical difficulties with the wifi, everything went okay. But, I consider it a win when I get up to present and don’t end up balled up under the podium.

Scholarship Report: Diane Yliniemi – ITEM Conference 2018

Event:  Information Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) Conference — Alexandria, MN — October 25-27, 2018

Attendee:  Diane Yliniemi – Library Media Specialist, Sunset Terrace Elementary School – Rochester


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

Currently, I am a library media specialist for an elementary school in Rochester, MN.  The ITEM conference is the state professional conference for library media specialists, technology coordinators and specialists, technology integrationists, and anyone else interested in application of information and technology to learning.  The people, speakers, information, and sessions are focused on all of the topics and information I can use in my job.  I am also able to be informed on new trends and information and relay this back to my district and the other media specialists I work with.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

I love meeting all of the authors from Minnesota who did several sessions at the conference.  It is always so interesting to find out the background of our authors and illustrators of the books we purchase in our schools.  I am always so impressed by the talent in Minnesota.  I was able to talk to several of the authors afterwards and have them autograph some of the books I was purchasing for my school.  I read for the Maud Hart Lovelace committee here in Rochester and we are always looking for books written by Minnesota authors.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I went to a session on Native American Literature sponsored by the MN Department of Education.  The media specialists of Rochester are currently working on updating our collections.  It was great to see the list of books that have been recommended for educators.  Last week, we had a staff development day in Rochester and the media specialists were pleased to see this bibliography that I brought back.  We plan on ordering books from this list as well as doing book studies on some of the new books we are purchasing.  I have also picked out two of the books that I will be using in my classes next week.  I am encouraging some of our team to present at ITEM next year when we will have a Thanksgiving curriculum written which has been vetted by our Native American liaison and our Rochester parent group and focuses on historical accuracy.

Scholarship Report: Rachel Gray – MLA Conference 2018

Event:  Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference — St. Cloud, MN — October 11-12, 2018

Attendee: Rachel Gray – Director, Van Horn Public Library


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

MLA always gives me a lot to think about and this year was no exception. I attended a variety of sessions this year on programming, reader’s advisory and more which has given me good ideas to follow for the next year.  I also love the networking opportunities and being able to talk directly with vendors.  I am refreshed, revitalized and inspired to offer great, innovative library services here in Pine Island.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was Programming Outside the Lines.  Amy Muchmore & Sarah Smith from Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, IA were very dynamic speakers who have a lot of experience with adult programming that goes beyond book clubs & author talks.  Some of their most popular ones are Nerf @ the library (After hours program, 18+.  Most participants bring their own Nerf guns but the library has extra for use.), Bad Art Night (Participants have craft odds & ends, a theme & 45 minutes to create the worst piece of art they can.) and Cabin Fever Mini-Con (All ages event/con for all things nerd/geek.  They have speakers, panels and even some vendors.  This session really got my creative juices flowing and encouraged me to think of unusual library programs.

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

I did a lot of programming sessions this year, so my takeaway is to try to be more creative in what I offer to my patrons.  It is important to bring programming to the public where they are, and to stretch myself & my budget with the things on offer.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

After talking to our rep in the vendor hall, I am planning to use Baker & Taylor’s subscription service that automatically fills a cart for me of upcoming releases from popular authors.  I can then go in & choose which ones I want for my library.

Scholarship Report: Layna Mestad – MLA Conference 2018

Event:  Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference — St. Cloud, MN — October 11-12, 2018

Attendee: Layna Mestad – Youth Services Librarian, Northfield Public Library


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

I am the Youth Services (teen focused) Librarian at the Northfield Public Library.  Attending the Minnesota Library Association Conference directly relates to what I hope to accomplish in serving the Northfield community.  This conference gave me an opportunity to connect with other youth services librarians across the state of Minnesota, learn about new programming ideas to implement with my Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and how to ensure our library services reflect the core values of librarianship.  Many of the sessions I attended related to my youth services responsibilities, such as early literacy skills implementation in storytime, working with teens, under the radar young adult books, visual merchandising, and self-care.  The self-care session was helpful not only for myself, but also what I hope to bring into the library via conversation and programming.  The presenter for this particular session stressed, “You cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”  I believe by providing a space that encourages lifelong learning, in whatever form that takes, we have the opportunity to encourage self-care and mindfulness, and help destigmatize the conversation about mental health.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

“Teens are Humans Too” was my favorite session that I attended.  The St. Paul Public Library’s CreaTech Team presented this session that focused on how teen librarians, and all library staff, can best serve the teens in our communities.  One of the quotes they included in their presentation was, “Be who you needed when you were younger.”  This resonated with me because, as we all know, being a teenager is a significant time in our lives where we are discovering our identities and our place in this world amongst our friends, family, and society.  This session validated my personal librarianship experience, and inspired me in what I hope to accomplish with Northfield’s youth going forward.  I appreciated their discussion about building the relationships with teens over time.  They mentioned how as teen librarians, it is important to focus on balance by, “Respecting teens enough to hold them to a high standard of behavior, but also appreciate that they will act out as part of learning to be an adult.”  It is important to keep this in mind while remembering not to take anything personally because this is not about us, it is about the teens.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

“Manga and Graphic Novels” was another session I attended.  It explained the difference between the two forms of illustrated novels, and the common misconceptions attributed to both.  Members from my Teen Advisory Board have expressed interest in starting an anime and manga group at the Northfield Public Library.  This session provided me with the background I believed necessary for myself to get this group off the ground.  The Teen Advisory Board and I have planned to start a Teen Anime and Manga Club that will start in November.  As one of my TAB members pointed out, this Teen Anime and Manga Club will interest teens who would not be interested in joining TAB, which is crucial.  My hope is to reach as many teens as we can with library programming.  I am excited and hopeful about the direction this group will take, especially because it was initiated by teens.

Another session I attended was about visual merchandising, which relates back to the Teen Anime and Manga Club.  The visual merchandising session mentioned imagining where hot zones are located in your library.  When promoting the anime and manga club, I kept this thermal map in mind.  In addition to social media and , event graphics were posted in the young adult graphic novel section where the manga is located because teens who use that particular collection are likely already interested in manga.  This collection is one of the locations on the heat map for teen anime and manga enthusiasts.

SELCO Staff Conference Report: Reagen Thalacker – MLA 2018

Event:  Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference — St. Cloud, MN — October 11-12, 2018

Attendee:  Reagen Thalacker, Regional Librarian – SELCO/SELS


How does attending this event relate to your current role?

The professional development aspect of having been a part of the Conference Committee was a great way to help me build upon current skill sets in the creation of large scale continuing education events as well as work with colleagues from across all types of libraries.  The attending of the event allowed me to not to see the hard work of the Committee come to fruition but also to see and hear from various library connections around the state about what sessions they found valuable.  Attending MLA has always been a great way to reinvigorate my interest in library work as well as come away with new ideas to implement back home.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was entitled “Stop Supervising in Circles: Five Questions to Get Direction in Challenging Situations”.  My supervisory skills are admittedly not my strongest, having no formal training in this arena, and as such I’m always looking for ways to better this aspect of my work.  The speaker not only was an expert with 20+ years in supervisor, but the topics is also something she loves to do – so who better to gain knowledge from?  She provided great steps to walk you though how to tackle difficult situations with staff, as well as offered insights in to better approaches when you need to coach someone and what to do if that’s not working.  Her enthusiasm for the topic was definitely infectious, and I know that both myself, and a fellow SELCO colleague who was also in attendance, were definitely energized and inspired by what she said.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I attended a session called “Meeting Users Where They Are: Teaching Information Literacy Online” which was given by two academic librarians.  We’re looking at the option of expanding our online learning engagement opportunities further and since academic librarians create these all the time for their student population, I thought I could gain some knowledge on best practices.  I was able to walk away with some great frameworks and practical pieces as to how to best set-up and deliver online educational content.  Something that’ll definitely come in handy when we have the opportunity to move forward with this aspect.