Scholarship Report: Layna Mestad – MLA Conference 2018

Event:  Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference — St. Cloud, MN — October 11-12, 2018

Attendee: Layna Mestad – Youth Services Librarian, Northfield Public Library


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

I am the Youth Services (teen focused) Librarian at the Northfield Public Library.  Attending the Minnesota Library Association Conference directly relates to what I hope to accomplish in serving the Northfield community.  This conference gave me an opportunity to connect with other youth services librarians across the state of Minnesota, learn about new programming ideas to implement with my Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and how to ensure our library services reflect the core values of librarianship.  Many of the sessions I attended related to my youth services responsibilities, such as early literacy skills implementation in storytime, working with teens, under the radar young adult books, visual merchandising, and self-care.  The self-care session was helpful not only for myself, but also what I hope to bring into the library via conversation and programming.  The presenter for this particular session stressed, “You cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”  I believe by providing a space that encourages lifelong learning, in whatever form that takes, we have the opportunity to encourage self-care and mindfulness, and help destigmatize the conversation about mental health.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

“Teens are Humans Too” was my favorite session that I attended.  The St. Paul Public Library’s CreaTech Team presented this session that focused on how teen librarians, and all library staff, can best serve the teens in our communities.  One of the quotes they included in their presentation was, “Be who you needed when you were younger.”  This resonated with me because, as we all know, being a teenager is a significant time in our lives where we are discovering our identities and our place in this world amongst our friends, family, and society.  This session validated my personal librarianship experience, and inspired me in what I hope to accomplish with Northfield’s youth going forward.  I appreciated their discussion about building the relationships with teens over time.  They mentioned how as teen librarians, it is important to focus on balance by, “Respecting teens enough to hold them to a high standard of behavior, but also appreciate that they will act out as part of learning to be an adult.”  It is important to keep this in mind while remembering not to take anything personally because this is not about us, it is about the teens.

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

“Manga and Graphic Novels” was another session I attended.  It explained the difference between the two forms of illustrated novels, and the common misconceptions attributed to both.  Members from my Teen Advisory Board have expressed interest in starting an anime and manga group at the Northfield Public Library.  This session provided me with the background I believed necessary for myself to get this group off the ground.  The Teen Advisory Board and I have planned to start a Teen Anime and Manga Club that will start in November.  As one of my TAB members pointed out, this Teen Anime and Manga Club will interest teens who would not be interested in joining TAB, which is crucial.  My hope is to reach as many teens as we can with library programming.  I am excited and hopeful about the direction this group will take, especially because it was initiated by teens.

Another session I attended was about visual merchandising, which relates back to the Teen Anime and Manga Club.  The visual merchandising session mentioned imagining where hot zones are located in your library.  When promoting the anime and manga club, I kept this thermal map in mind.  In addition to social media and , event graphics were posted in the young adult graphic novel section where the manga is located because teens who use that particular collection are likely already interested in manga.  This collection is one of the locations on the heat map for teen anime and manga enthusiasts.