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 We just weeded out an immense amount of outdated and unused books.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.

Scholarship Report: Rachel Gray – MLA 2019

Event: MLA 2019 — Prior Lake, MN – September 19-20, 2019

Attendee: Rachel Gray – Director, Van Horn Public Library

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

One Chapter At A Time: How Fergus Falls Built Its New Library. This session went into detail on how one community remodeled and expanded it’s public library. Both the library director and the architect were speakers, which was a lot more informative than I had anticipated. They didn’t just highlight the ups of the project, but also provided a timeline from the earliest conversations about this massive remodel to moving the books in and reopening to the public. They were lucky to have a parking lot across the dead-end street so they could change the road. This opened my eyes to thinking a bit more outside the box on my upcoming building project.

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

I was impressed at the amount of sessions there were this year about diversity. I attended sessions on everything from serving diverse populations to making sure to use own voice authors with collection development. This is an area I haven’t had a lot of experience in, so I was very excited to learn more about it and see it as an expanding library trend.

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

I was very impressed and inspired by St Paul Public Library’s session on going fine free. So impressed that I already presented it to my board and they jumped right in and voted to do so January 1, 2020! It’s amazing how much the possibility of having an overdue fine can affect library usage, and I look forward to leveling the playing field in this way.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

MLA is one of the highlights of my year. I love networking and seeing library friends from all over the state. I love learning about library treads. I love how energized I am about libraries when I come home.


Scholarship Report: Alice Henderson – ALA / Hardwood Institute 2019

Event: ALA / Hardwood Institute 2019 — Atlanta, GA – October 15-17, 2019

Attendee: Alice Henderson–Director, Plainview Public Library

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

Every city is different, and has its own goals, needs and circumstances. By aligning library initiatives with overarching goals for the community as a whole, I will be better able to ensure that the work we do is meaningful and needed. The “Turning Outward” philosophy will help deepen my understanding of those overarching goals. It will be my intent to use that understanding as we move through our next strategic planning process.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

As this was not a conference, it did not involve sessions, per se. The topic that I found most helpful was Community Rhythms, which is looking at a community’s capacity for change. Knowing what stage a community is in pushes decision-makers to consider an appropriate scope of initiative. Communities in “Waiting Place” will have a vastly different reaction to something new than a community that is in “Growth” stage. When we go to conferences, it can be easy to look at what someone has tried and want to duplicate it. Adding a step to consider your own community’s rhythm can help ensure that the thing you want to try is received positively.

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

Communities are complex and each has its own story and set of circumstances. Effective leaders are ones who are those who have put the effort in to be authentic in their understanding of their community’s aspirations and concerns.

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

We were asked to create a detailed action plan for when we returned, and we will receive support from our coaches in the weeks to come. Much of my plan involves creating connections with people who might be open to “turning outward” and helping to start building a bank of public knowledge through community conversations.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this training to anyone who is looking to learn more about engaging effectively with their community. On the surface, it appears deceptively easy because it involves conversation and asking people about their hopes and concerns. As you dig into the training, you discover the power and responsibility that comes with having those conversations. The coaches were excellent, and I came home with clean copies of all of the discussion tools as well as a set of contacts that are as committed to community change as I am.

Scholarship Report: Jill B Nysse – Information Technology Educators of Minnesota

Event: Information Technology Educators of Minnesota — Brooklyn Park, MN – October 10-12, 2019

Attendee: Jill B Nysse–Online Learning Teacher, Winona Area Public Schools

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

While there were several great sessions, my favorite was “Raising Kids in a Digital Age” presented by Jen Leggatt. We have had several sessions and a lot of information on the dangers of digital devices in the hands of young teens (loss of sleep, bullying, emotional trauma, i.e., Fear of Missing Out, etc.), but this session had very practical tips that we can share with parents. The presenter got right to the crux of the matter, saying “digital devices connect our students to the world, but also are a distraction.” How can we let our kids try new things and still keep them safe? Recent revelations from computer scientists divulge how social media gets kids hooked: autoplay, notifications, Snapchat’s Snapstreaks, randomness, and in-app purchases. It is critical to pay attention to how kids act after interaction on a device. If they retreat to their room and hide, something may have happened. Another important tip is to go to the battery usage on an iPhone and you can see what apps are being used. another important tip is don’t sign in to other sites and apps with Facebook. Look at your privacy settings. She also encouraged parents to consider parent control software for 2019. All the mobile phone carriers can give parents the ability to shut off data and also to see where their child’s phone is at a certain time. Communication (discussing what’s OK and what’s not) and creating a family contract about that are also important.

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

I really enjoy the author panels and being able to talk to authors, since I do a yearly grant from our district’s foundation for an elementary author to visit all our elementary schools. I really enjoy being able to meet and talk to the authors and find out what unique perspective they might bring to our elementary students. And yes, I did find an author I hope will be presenting to our students next Fall.

Another idea I am anxious to try is the Google Tour Creator. I have worked with Expeditions and found them really engaging for students and feel that Google Tour Creator will take that concept to the next level.

I am very grateful to SELCO/SELS for offering such terrific in-house training, as well as offering scholarships to library related workshops and conferences. It is truly a wonderful way to support professional growth and also support the profession as a whole.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this conference to media specialists, technology integrationists and librarians. It is critical that we support our profession and advocate for it, and of course attending the ITEM conference and getting involved with the organization is one of the best ways to do it. However I wholeheartedly recommend this conference to any educator. The strong focus on literacy is perfect for any educator, because we should all be teaching reading and incorporating informational text analysis into content. This year’s keynote speakers, Kelly D. Holstine Why Every Heart Matters) and Sarah Park Dahlen (Diversity in Children’s Literature) both brought fresh perspectives on diversity in our schools, a topic all of us need to know more about. Several sessions featured new ways to use technology in the classroom, and the vendors also showcased technology as well as books. One of the biggest reasons I would recommend this conference to everyone is that it is an outstanding opportunity to network with other educators who are passionate not only about the education, but who are also people who want to share their expertise with others. Teaching is an isolating profession, and apart from the new knowledge and learning that you always gain from this conference, the opportunity to exchange ideas, ask for ideas and just feel good about being with so many dedicated professionals is priceless.

Scholarship Report: Susan Watts – MLA 2019

Event: MLA 2019 — Prior Lake, MN – September 19-20, 2019

Attendee: Susan Watts – Library Tech I, Lonsdale Public Library

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

Of the sessions I attended on the first day my favorite was “From Good to Amazing? Evaluating and Improving Library Programs” presented by Leah Larson and Eric Billiet from State Library Services. The room was full with many more attendees than the speakers had anticipated yet Leah and Eric retained their composure and got through their presentation with elan. At our library, we are always looking for a more effective way to analyze our programs, implementing both front-end evaluations and other tools, so that we may improve our programs, better serve our community, and realize our goals. And what library doesn’t want to do that? Leah and Eric had excellent, and useful, hand-outs including data collection, goal setting, observation tools, and a resource list of program observation tools. I left once more enthusiastic and with two simple but important tools for our small library: a co-attendee shared with me that her ‘bullet journaling’ program at the University of Minnesota has been a great success. I had been thinking of implementing this at Lonsdale and now know I will! And, the presenters told us of a straightforward way, new to me, to evaluate kids programs using post it notes.

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

My biggest takeaway was a reinforcement of the knowledge I have gained through my many years experience that people who work in libraries are creative, dedicated, and passionate. We are consistently asked to do more, serve more, often with less resources. And we do! Because we love our work and communities and we understand how important libraries are.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Absolutely! Go mingle with your peeps! Get new ideas! Share yours! Get a much-needed injection of support and zeal!