Event: Public Library Association Conference
Attendee: Meg Curtiss – Children’s Librarian, Plainview Public Library
How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?
Most of the sessions I attended at PLA, in some way, addressed equity for library patorns. Things I learned ranged from making library access more equitable by creating consistent hours to ways to help middle schoolers learn about career readiness, so that they can imagine big futures for themselves. Some of the sessions gave me broad stroke ideas that I can bring back to my library for discussions about improving our presence in the community. Others gave me ideas for improving youth and children’s programs. Deepening my understanding of the library profession will improve the level of service I can bring to my community.
What was your favorite session you attended and why?
Stacy Abrams was amazing. She keyed in precisely on how libraries can make social justice improvements in their communities. I hadn’t realized that her mother had been a librarian, and I wonder if her ability to identify just how libraries are positioned to be helpful comes from that background. My library has been talking about the 2020 census a great deal, but I didn’t know about Fair Count prior to Abrams talk. Personally, this has been a very disheartening period of time politically and it was inspiring to hear Abrams optimism. Libraries are in a position to promote equity, and it was very gratifying to hear Abrams recognize us!
What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?
Libraries are uniquely positioned to advocate for *every* member of our communities. Whether it be helping folks fill out census forms or helping families learn about mindfulness, we are making daily impact on people’s lives. It was inspiring to be surrounded by thousands of individuals who share my passion for creating access points for information literacy and inclusive environments. I learned that my library is doing lots of things really well! It is reassuring that despite our small size we are making consistent gains!
What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?
The program that has the biggest “right now” takeaways was “Why Middle School and College Career Success Go Hand in Hand.” The presenters for this program had been trained at a YALSA project to improve College and Career Readiness and Awareness with middle schoolers. All of the presenters have implemented CCR programs at their libraries and had terrific examples of programs that will work in a variety of communities. I have been reexamining how Plainview offers programs to teens, so this was very timely. I anticipate being able to implement some of the ideas in the near futures.
Would you recommend this event to others and why?
I would definitely recommend PLA to others. I learned a great deal at the various sessions and I am grateful for the opportunity. But much of the events impact was in connecting with other librarians. In my everyday work, other than in my coworkers, I seldom encounter individuals who share my professional values. PLA is an opportunity to realize that we our values are shared by thousands of others nationwide. Gatherings at SELCO permit us to connect with our regional colleagues, but those events are typically focused on a particular training or issue. I found great value in being surrounded by folks who were all dedicated to excellent library service with an emphasis on equity. This week, I am looking at my programs and facility and thinking about all the things I learned. What can I improve? What are we already doing well? I appreciate the opportunity to look at everything with fresh perspectives!