Event: Public Library Association Conference
Attendee: Brigette Rol – Children’s Librarian, Lake City Public Library
How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?
As a Children’s Librarian working in a public library, attending the PLA Conference relates to almost every aspect of my current role. The breakout sessions provide new & updated ideas, information and support that I can apply to the work I do every day. I’m able to meet and talk with other Children’s Librarians from across the US and share ideas, problems and solutions which have benefited my library over the few years I’ve been attending. The conference is also a place where librarians meet new and potential vendors. We can talk face-to-face with representatives who can answer questions or solve problems we’re having with our current products and services, and likewise we learn about new products, services and technology that can enhance our library for our patrons. The conference also offers concise ‘how-to’ presentations throughout the conference that give libraries a chance to share successful programs and give attendees the framework to build similar programs.
What was your favorite session you attended and why?
My favorite session of the PLA Conference was Setting Healthy Boundaries by the Denver Public Library. While setting boundaries is a skill we’ve been learning about all our lives, it’s also a skill that needs a frequent refresher. My first thought when entering this session was that I would acquire some new approaches to dealing with difficult people, and that would be great. What I left with was a new way to think about boundaries: they define functional and effective relationships. The presentation covered simple boundary-setting techniques and statements and discussed the need for consistency and patience. Instead of a method of ‘dealing with’ people, which leans toward the confrontational, boundaries can actually be a method of maintaining a patron-library relationship that allows us to enable our patrons without overextending ourselves in every interaction. In the short time since returning home, I’ve referenced the ideas from this presentation multiple times each day.
What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?
The PLA conference this year was all about diversity and inclusion. It was about helping people access the information and resources they need. It emphasized the acknowledgement of experiences different from your own, and showing respect to those different from you. In the various sessions and interactions, there was always an element of openness and acceptance, even down to the books in the publishers’ booths. I have always felt a bit of pride working for the library because aside from the emergency services, it’s a place for everyone, no exceptions. It was nice to be reminded of the privilege we have of being a part of that type of service to our communities. The conference this year was an inspiring reminder of that. It feels good to return home with new energy and excitement for the job.
What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?
I can’t wait to get the ball rolling on several new ideas and programs for our library from PLA. Out of them all, the one I’m most excited about is creating book talk videos to use on social media. This idea came from one of the smaller ‘how-to’ sessions, and was presented in a way that makes me feel confident we can pull it off, even without a lot of social media knowledge or experience. It’s something we’ve been tip-toeing around for a while now, but not really acting on because it seems like a large project. In reality, we were overthinking things and there are ways to make it quite simple with a bit of forethought. I’m excited to start creating the videos and watching the response from our patrons.
Would you recommend this event to others and why?
I would recommend this event to others absolutely. I always walk away from this conference excited and rejuvenated about my job. It is a whirlwind of new information coming at you rapidly, but the quality of the information is high and the entire conference is focused on public libraries, so you take away a lot. It’s a great reminder about the purpose of public libraries and the role we play in our communities.