Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – American Library Association Annual Conference 2019

Event: American Library Association Annual Conference — Washington, D.C. — June 21-25, 2019

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, attending was valuable to my role as an administrator and leader. I made connections with new and familiar vendors, networked with colleagues to build stronger relationships and share resources, and attended informative sessions that will enable Youth Services to improve programs and services. For example, “Real Talk: a framework for youth-led dialogues” provided information that will help us as we work to make connections with local teens. Furthermore, since RPL is currently appraising a variety of food-related services, the session “Food for Thought: Nourishing Mind and Body at Public Libraries” contained several ideas that will move our services forward.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

“How to Avoid Disability Faux-Pas” was my favorite session as it contained a wealth of information. Fifteen panelists spoke about their experiences as disabled customers and library staff members and provided guidance for updating our language, services, and procedures to be more accessible. Panelists spoke on terminology, hearing loss, visual disabilities, learning disabilities, invisible disabilities (mental health and chronic illness), and physical disabilities. Suggestions included providing staff with disability awareness training, removing ableism from marketing, and being aware of comments that are actually micro-aggressions (calling attention to someone and making them feel “other”).

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

One suggestion from How to Avoid Disability Faux-Pas was to use a microphone as a standard tool in library programs. I am planning to work with Youth Services programmers to make this change for all of our storytimes and auditorium events.