Scholarship Report: Jon Allen – ALSC National Institute 2018

Event: Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) National Institute — Cincinnati, OH — September 27-29, 2018

Attendee: Jon Allen – Librarian I, Rochester Public Library


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

This is event is the single most relevant conference I know of relating to my job as a Youth Services Librarian where 100% of the content of the conference is focused on services to children/youth.  I am able to learn what other libraries and experts are doing and how I might be incorporate their practices/research into my own work.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was called “When Leveling Helps, When it Doesn’t, and How Libraries Can Make the Best of It” in which James Erekson, Coordinator of Masters in Reading Degree Program and Associate Professor at the School of Teacher Education, University of Northern Colorado talked about the history and intent of leveling systems and how they are used today in conjunction with various national and state standards.  It was a controversial topic and has been a source of frustration for many youth services librarians around the country for some time now.  It was very enlightening to learn the history of such systems and the presenters gave some good advice as to how to deal with their use in the community/schools vs. at the (public) library.

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

One of the biggest takeaways was learning about Anji Play which is a Chinese philosophical approach to play and learning in children ages 3-6.  I am eager to try to implement parts of this philosophy into our programs.

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

Anji Play – perhaps not in an official “branded” way but to use a similar approach in designing programs.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this conference to all Youth Services Librarians as it really is the best youth centered conference for librarians out there.  This is the second time I have been and each time it has been extremely rewarding and enriching.  They announced the location in 2020 will be in Minneapolis!

Scholarship Report: Lezlea Dahlke – ARSL Conference 2018

Event: Association of Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference — Springfield, IL — September 13-15, 2018

Attendee: Lezlea Dahlke – Director, Winona Public Library


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

Several of the sessions I attended were in direct correlation to current trends or projects we’ve been working on, big or small: building diversity and social capital, improving library signage, serving underserved or homeless populations, designing a strategic plan.  It was timely to inspire new ideas and have a lot of questions/concerns answered.  I am always in awe of the big things small libraries are making happen for their communities, on shoestring budgets.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

The standout session I attended was “Your Library within Your Community” by Gavin Woltjer, the Director of Billings Public Library.  It focused on identifying the community’s needs–who do we serve?  How would they describe us…and does it make you happy?  How are we a voice within our community and is it passive or proactive in building goodwill?  He talked about how people have a bond of affection around their libraries and our leadership philosophy should match that: we are the host and patrons are our guest.  We want warm fuzzies when they think of us.  Craft a narrative that gives a heartbeat so people can believe in our mission.  Identify the 3-4 things we do really well and build on that to grow a cooperative spirit and use staff talents.  Libraries can always do better at transparency–how we get our message out and how people know about us.  Be adaptable–know what season we are in and be preparing for the next season, ability to change with the world.  “Serving Underserved” by the Director of Trinidad CO Public Library had some succinct takeaways: The most important service we offer is that we are welcoming.  Listen w/o judgement and help as much as you can to humanize connections.  Going fine-free gives people grace…don’t make them choose between belly hunger and hunger of the imagination.  I also enjoyed the “Library Signage” session with Curtis Rogers from SC State Library Services–do a sign audit on your building…good for a laugh!

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

I really enjoyed the networking at mealtimes: breaking bread with folks from Washington State, Alaska, North Carolina, Virginia and Arkansas.  It was great to hear how (mostly) alike we are in service populations and to also hear lots of other sessions summarized and brainstormed around the table, as there were many great options on the agenda.  Biggest takeaways: new ideas on growth mindset and how to build human capital, challenges vs. opportunities, how important it is to also be part of the community we serve and to be the third place–where people want to be if they aren’t at work or home.

Scholarship Report: Ingvild Herfindahl – ARSL Conference 2018

Event: Association of Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference — Springfield, IL — September 13-15, 2018

Attendee: Ingvild Herfindahl – Director, Dodge Center Public Library


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

This is a great conference because it is geared to small libraries with small budgets.  The sessions cover everything from managing staff to program planning to collections.  Since small library directors have to cover all those things (and more), this is a very useful conference.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

I enjoyed the Library of Things session, because it expanded the idea of what a library is and what items can be lent out of your collection.

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

ARSL is a wonderful resource and a great way to network and get ideas from libraries all over the country who are in a similar situation.

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

A session I went to talked about removing barriers to access, including fines.  I would like to look at scaling back or removing fines on late items at our library.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Definitely.  More than any other library conference, the ideas that you gain from ARSL are immediately applicable in your library.  The librarians there are helpful, resourceful, and more than willing to share ideas that have worked for them.

Scholarship Report: LaVonne Beach – ARSL Conference 2018

Event: Association of Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference — Springfield, IL — September 13-15, 2018

Attendee: LaVonne Beach – Director, La Crescent Public Library


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

Attending this conference is a way to learn what other library’s are doing on small or nonexistent budgets.  It is always interesting to see how others are making their library’s be the focal point in their communities.  The break out sessions are relevant to what I/we do on a daily basis or what we strive to do.  The committee that puts together the break out sessions reviews the topics to be sure that they are something that rural and small librarians can use.  The topics ranged from programming, fund-raising, making your library relevant to your community, human resources, physical arrangement of your library and everyone’s favorite statistics.  One of the great things about this conference is the breakfast and lunch sessions.  I always try to sit with a different group every time.  The conversations around the table are normally about what sessions we attended and what we learned.  It is not only a great way to connect with other librarians but to get the executive summary on the sessions you didn’t attend.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

I had two sessions that stand out more than the others although I will say that all but one of the sessions were extraordinary!  “Attracting the Elusive Teen” was a favorite.  They outlined what they feel teens need: a safe place; a place to hangout; free WiFi; privacy/respect; direction in relation to future plans; a friend/place to belong.  What teens want from the library: technology that they do not have at home; a study space.  To build teen services we need to make them feel welcome and build the relationships with the teens that are currently coming in.  Go to where the teens are to attract the ones that are not coming in to the library.  For one of the presenters that meant going to the local Quick Mart and connecting with the teens there.  Build your base with the tweens and change your expectations.  Eavesdrop to find out what teens are talking about and what is important to them.  Try different program names like: Bad A$$ Crafts, Hipster Crafts or DIY Crafts.  “So Bad it’s Good Movie Night” with heckling encouraged.  Give them marshmallows or cotton balls to throw at the screen.  Make it interactive.  I loved when one of the presenters said that we want teens “running in to the library not running out”.  Another favorite was “30 Ways to Extraordinary”.  This focused more on staffing, which seemed to be a thread at the conference.

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

We focus so much on the patrons that it is easy to forget that we need to also focus on staff.  In the session “Low Cost/No Cost Ways to Reward Your Staff” I was reminded that in the craziness of our work days it is easy to overlook how over-worked and stressed the employees are.  We as directors need to show our employees that they are appreciated and valued.

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

I have more than one, of course!  1) Giving the staff that filled in for me so I was able to go some extra time off – with pay. I want them to know that the extra effort was appreciated and so are they.  2) In terms of making our library extraordinary — * Pay attention to the entrance of the library making sure it is safe, clean and attractive;  * Make sure our signage is consistent and contains all of the information (like if something is out of order when it will be fixed);  * Make sure the circulation desk is clean and uncluttered (if possible);  * Scent – people will stay 30% longer if a place smells nice;  * Implement a printed monthly newsletter.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend ARSL to all directors.  Even the one session that I had trouble relating to gave me a few ideas that I could apply to my own library.  That session was on rearranging the physical layout of the library presented by the director of the Perry Public Library in Ohio.  They have a staff of 17.1 and a building where my library would fit in the space that they have their books.  They also had the support of the Ohio State Library to conduct a study on usability and flow and see it through to the end.  To my knowledge we do not get that type of support from the Minnesota State Library Services or SELCO.  Would be nice if we did.

Scholarship Report: James Hill – ARSL Conference 2018

Event: Association of Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference — Springfield, IL — September 13-15, 2018

Attendee: James Hill – Library Director, Zumbrota Public Library


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

This conference was particularly relevant in presenting administrative issues at smaller libraries.  This was a chance to get more targeted presentations towards smaller libraries.  Normally, I find some presentations at larger library conferences (ALA, MLA, PLA) a bit less relevant because often topics revolve around institutions that have much higher funding streams and are often department specific instead of generalized for smaller libraries.  As a library director of a small library, I was able to get information that is more useful to what I am able to do in my current position.  It was great being able to speak to other library directors facing the same demographic and funding challenges that I do, as well as listen to presentations from library directors around the country with similar service populations to my own.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session that I attended was titled, “How Relevant is Your Library”.  The session revolved around developing a culture of “yes” at a public library in Eagle, ID.  The library’s director presented this session and talked about the changes he made to transform his library into a community hub.  In particular, he talked of his experiences developing ways to listen to community input about what the residents wanted to happen at their library, and how he stressed to his library staff that saying “no” should be the exception and not the rule.  I took away a number of great ideas from this session and am already working on implementing several ideas presented.  I have not traditionally been a fan of non-traditional circulation materials, such as cake pans, but I really feel like this presentation made me think more about how a library of things is a good idea.  I really liked the idea behind trying not to say no to ideas brought forth by the community since it is, after all, a resource for those residents and meeting their collective needs.

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

I plan on implementing more data visualization techniques in my data reports.  One of the sessions I attended was really informative about bringing annual report data in a more appealing manner.  Every year, I present what is essentially raw data tables to my board and after attending this session I got a better idea of how to actually present the data using more informative, colorful graphs and images.

Scholarship Report: Martha Chapin – Society of American Archivists 2018

Event: Society of American Archivists (SAA) 2018 Annual Meeting – Washington D.C. – August 12-18, 2018

Attendee: Martha Chapin – Librarian 1, Rochester Public Library


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

SAA 2018 provided professional development for my new role with Rochester Public Library’s digital archives.  Sessions I attended supported my work on our library’s digital collections of city directories, yearbooks, library and local history.  I also learned about updates from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration as well as successes and pitfalls from organizations of all sizes including other public libraries that can be applied to my work in Rochester.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was “True Confessions: Paying Off the Technical Debt of Early Digital Projects”.  The panel discussed case studies from their institutions including decisions to pull the plug on legacy projects or start over.  This was pertinent to my new responsibilities working with Rochester’s digital collection.

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

An idea that I can implement now that I am back is to add documentation of decisions that were made before I started.  This will help me understand processes/procedures in place.  Documenting any new decisions or progress I make going forward will also save the future me (and future librarians working on Rochester’s digital collections) time and prevent having to start over.

Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – ALA Conference 2018

Event: American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference – New Orleans, LA – June 20-26, 2018

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, ALA annual is a wonderful opportunity to both make new connections and re-connect with leaders from organizations throughout the country.  I am developing my leadership skills as Chair of the Melcher and Bound to Stay Bound Scholarships Committee.  Attendance at ALA Annual allows me to connect with fellow chairs for advice, guidance, and support.  By actively participating in ALA and attending ALA Annual, I am better equipped to stay on top of trends in the field of youth librarianship.  Many sessions at this conference focused on racial equity, which is an important topic for our community.  Attending sessions and hearing speakers on this topic further validates the work that we are doing at RPL, as well as provided me insight on new resources.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was “Let’s Talk About Race with Kids: Library Programs and Activities that support Parents, Caregivers, and Educators in Talking to Young People About Race.”  This program provided ideas for do-able activities and programs that I could easily use at RPL.  The most useful suggestion was working with community partners to create workshops for parents.  I learned best practices, that will prove valuable in all the work that we do, such as: acknowledge and push through discomfort; don’t rely on a community of color to do all the work, co-facilitate; allow people to reflect and answer – silence is okay; put your heart into the work; don’t try to do this work alone; and research white fragility.  Additional resources are available at: tinyurl.com/ALA2018Talkaboutrace

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

As a member of the 2019 Caldecott Committee, I found ALA Annual to be an invaluable conference to attend.  I had the opportunity to meet with my entire committee for the first time and we reviewed our joint process and discussed standard guidelines.  K.T. Horning provided a presentation about evaluating picture books that was enlightening and will help guide my work moving forward.  The Caldecott work is time intensive and intimidating, but my biggest take away from ALA Annual was that with a strong committee, this is completely possible and will have a wonderful result.

Scholarship Report: Courtney Wyant – ALA Conference 2018

Event: American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference – New Orleans, LA – June 20-26, 2018

Attendee: Courtney Wyant – Adult Services Librarian, Austin Public Library


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

ALA Conference 2018 was an amazing experience for myself to attend.  I feel the ALA conference was very relevant to my work as an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting.  The first workshop I attend was the “Libraries Transforming Communities: Dialogue and Deliberation” this was a very useful pre-conference that helped me to build a program using the Conversation Café Model.  This program will be very important in starting a program for adults in my community.  I would also like to use it to find more partnership in my community to work with.  The overall idea of a Conversation Café is to pick a topic of discussion and use it to bring in opinions from each participant in a neutral and respective manner.  Then as those conversations deepen on issues you could build upon that with book clubs, film clubs and special events on that topic.  Overall the whole conference was very accurate and relevant to my job with information on civic engagement and social justice challenges that every community faces in America.  It was so refreshing to see librarians in the field coming up with program ideas and resources to meet the challenges of racism and sexual biases in their communities.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

The “Public Libraries: Leading Communities in Family Engagement” was very useful since I would like to start to offer family friendly programs.  Family programming is very important for a community because it helps to create relationships throughout the community.  The 4 R’s of family program involve the library to Reach Out: Libraries reach out to families to promote the programs, collections, and services that are vital in a knowledge economy; Raise Up: Libraries elevate family views and voices in how library programs and services are developed and carried out; Reinforce: Libraries guide and model the specific actions that family members can take to support learning, reaffirming families’ important roles and strengthening feelings of efficacy; Relate: Libraries offer opportunities for families to build peer-to-peer relationships, social networks and parent-child relationships; Reimagine: Libraries are expanding their community partnerships; combining resources and extending their range; improving children’s and families’ well-being; and linking to new learning opportunities.  The library is an important place to build family programming because nationally we are the best organizations to provided equitable learning opportunities for families living in poverty.  Some great program ideas discussed were: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and partnership with school systems helped to uniform reading for children before school begins, Petite Picasso Programs art for children and families, Digital Learning Night for all members of the family, Multi-language story times, and Home School connection groups.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes, I would recommend attending ALA.  As a participant I learned about many ways to develop my professional role in my library and to better serve my patrons and wider community.  I had many workshops that included a range of discussion about the changing role of the library and the library can stay relevant while reflecting societal trends.  The biggest take away for me was the focus on mental health, inequality, & human rights that librarians face every day to help their patrons.  The informal conversations with my peers were also amazing to see the types of libraries they serve and idea sharing while networking.  The most inspiring person I met was a librarian in the Conversation Café workshop that works for a library that is located on the border of Arizona and Mexico where tensions have risen and trying to have a conversation with her community is so sensitive that sometimes leads to violence.  The best part of attending ALA was utilizing this community of librarians to creatively resolve library issues that are affecting us all.

Scholarship Report: Sara Steinhoff – Enhancing Quality Staff in 2018

Event: Enhancing Quality Staff in Changing Times 2018 – St. Paul, MN – May 23, 2018

Attendee: Sara Steinhoff – Library Assistant/Administrative Assistant, Austin Public Library


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

Though I learned a great deal from each of the sessions, I have to admit my favorite session was on Sleep Wellness.  While this session was one that focused more on personal well-being than on library issues, the things I learned have already positively affected my energy and performance on the job.  (That’s the whole idea of the symposium – providing education on topics that enhance our ability to do quality work.)  Presented by the Vice-Chair for Education in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota, the session provided great information on “sleep hygiene” strategies to address sleep difficulties, many of which I have already put into practice and shared with many coworkers and friends.  I also found the session on Community Partnerships very helpful in providing a model of how a successful long-term collaboration can be structured for maximum benefit to the community.

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

We have a number of writers’ groups that meet informally in our library and a flourishing crop of self-published authors in our community.  I learned a lot about the Minnesota Writes Minnesota Reads project in the “BookBusters – Libraries Supporting Self-Publishing” session, and will be talking with our library director about how we can better promote that project and support local authors through this intriguing statewide effort.  I also heard several helpful tips and ideas from the session on “Getting to Know Your Friends” I believe will be helpful going forward in working with our local Friends of the Library group.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this event to any library staff member.  The organizers do a terrific job of providing a mix of sessions that truly address the whole person – both the professional life and personal identity.  The symposium does exactly what the title promises – works to enhance the ability of attendees to maintain a high-quality level of work in our libraries amidst a changing and challenging world.  It does that by offering a range of workshops from topics on personal well-being, such as Sleep Wellness (presented by a U of M neurologist and sleep clinic physician) and how we can improve our health and overall quality of life via better sleep, to library-focused subjects like “Getting to Know Your Friends,” which offered practical advice and suggestions for libraries on how best to foster and maintain relationships with our Friends of the Library groups.  The symposium also hit the middle ground with subjects that undoubtedly hold both personal and professional relevance, such as “BookBusters – Libraries Supporting Self-Publishing.”  Any libraries seeking to support staff members and help them be at their best – both personally and professionally – would find this event well worth the cost.  I am very grateful that SELCO recognizes the value of this program and provides scholarship funding to assist libraries in sending people to it.

Scholarship Report: Joyce Koerner – Enhancing Quality Staff in 2018

Event: Enhancing Quality Staff in Changing Times 2018 – St. Paul, MN – May 23, 2018

Attendee: Joyce Koerner, Clerk I – Red Wing Public Library


What was your favorite session and why?

Behind the Book was an interesting class.  The instructor went through about 11 lessons or steps that authors use in writing their books.  He had interviewed about 10 authors and compared their thoughts on the thought process they used to write their books.  Everything from coming up with the initial idea to actually publishing.

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

As we are ever expanding into an online presence, I would like to see more use of ELM in our library.  More of our patrons are reading e-books, either on an e-reader device, a tablet, phone, or computer.  It would expand the services we already offer.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes, I would recommend this event.  It is a good way to find out what services are offered in other places and how to get more information about them.  It is also a great way to connect with people from other library and other types of libraries.