Scholarship Report: Rachel Gray – MLA 2019

Event: MLA 2019 — Prior Lake, MN – September 19-20, 2019

Attendee: Rachel Gray – Director, Van Horn Public Library

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

One Chapter At A Time: How Fergus Falls Built Its New Library. This session went into detail on how one community remodeled and expanded it’s public library. Both the library director and the architect were speakers, which was a lot more informative than I had anticipated. They didn’t just highlight the ups of the project, but also provided a timeline from the earliest conversations about this massive remodel to moving the books in and reopening to the public. They were lucky to have a parking lot across the dead-end street so they could change the road. This opened my eyes to thinking a bit more outside the box on my upcoming building project.

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

I was impressed at the amount of sessions there were this year about diversity. I attended sessions on everything from serving diverse populations to making sure to use own voice authors with collection development. This is an area I haven’t had a lot of experience in, so I was very excited to learn more about it and see it as an expanding library trend.

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

I was very impressed and inspired by St Paul Public Library’s session on going fine free. So impressed that I already presented it to my board and they jumped right in and voted to do so January 1, 2020! It’s amazing how much the possibility of having an overdue fine can affect library usage, and I look forward to leveling the playing field in this way.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

MLA is one of the highlights of my year. I love networking and seeing library friends from all over the state. I love learning about library treads. I love how energized I am about libraries when I come home.