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.

Scholarship Report: Sandy Pilarski – Enhancing Quality Staff in 2018

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

Attendee: Sandy Pilarski – Library Associate, Winona Public Library

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

I work a service desk where I help the public with whatever they bring to me. Most of the time I can answer their questions or give them some guidance, but all interactions require elements of customer service. I feel everyone can learn more to assist in performing their job well, even if it comes down to self-assessment and self-care to help you be a better you. This symposium provided tips, tricks, and components of relatable moments from other library staff.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

Cultivating a Seed Library: Sowing and Growing a Successful Seed Library Program at Your Library. I found this session very interesting since so many people like to garden and eating whole foods is such a popular topic. It was the story of how the St. Paul’s Riverview Library began their seed library. They explained how they staffed it from inception to harvest making just $57 to support the next year’s seed packets lending program. A real grassroots effort and story.

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

I liked the fundraiser idea of selling your garden harvest and partnering with our Friends of the Library volunteers.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this event to others as a way to connect with other library staff and share ideas and failures. There are so many people willing to share their thoughts and talents once you make the initial connection. It is a large group of helpers with a wide array of talents.

SUMmit Q&A

As previously posted, on April 27, SELCO will host an all-day meeting titled SUMmit (SELCO/SELS User Meeting). There will be presentations, conversations, discussions, and demonstrations of various issues affecting the library community as a whole and some on the SELCO region in particular.
One of the events will be a Q & A with the administrative team of SELCO. For 45 minutes, Krista, Donovan, and Jen will answer your questions on why SELCO does what it does, how it does what it does, or anything else which you care to ask.
If you’d like to submit a question, please fill out the form here:
We’re asking for the questions to be submitted by April 18 so we can research any answers needed. And while the form does ask for your name, it is in confidence. Tyler Irvin is the only one who will see what you ask and will scrub identifying information before passing the questions on if you are worried about anonymity. Your name is only requested so he can ask for clarification or pass on a response if you are unable to attend on the day.
Any SELCO/SELS library staff member is welcome to attend SUMmit. Registration isn’t strictly required but we ask that you do so in an effort to coordinate rooms and refreshments. You can do so here:
The information for SUMmit has now also been posted to the SELCO website here:

Registration Now Open!: Operation Advocate



When: Wednesday, August 23, 2017  |  9:30a – 4:15p

Where:  SELCO office

Registration: Click HERE to register (Open from 7.6 to 8.16)


Training Regimen:

  • Recon – learn about the legislative process, the funding, and lingo
  • Identify & Strategize – define the issues and craft your message
  • Witness Reports – hear from regional and state legislators about the best ways to engage with them
  • Rules of Engagement – walk through various sample scenarios to practice your techniques