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.