Scholarship Report: Eric Tarr – Food Justice Summit 2019

Event: Food Justice Summit 2019

Attendee: Eric Tarr – Library Associate — Youth Services, Rochester Public Library


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

In the last few years, Rochester Public Library has been working toward a more active role in the area of food justice. We are aware that a large percentage of our community (those we are seeing, as well as those we are not) are facing food access/justice issues. We learned that in trying to connect to the needs of our community, food is often at the core.

Libraries are committed to sharing resources with everyone. And food is one of everyone’s most basic needs. It isn’t always as simple as making connections by sharing books, stories, and knowledge. Sometimes connections must start with more basic necessities. The magic part of sharing food, is that it can then lead to new relationships, stronger connections, and learning of additional resources that the library can offer.

For the past two summers, Rochester Public Library has partnered with Riverside Central Elementary School and Rochester Alternative Learning Center to distribute produce that was planted and nurtured by students during the school year. In the past, the gardens were often neglected through the summer because the students and staff were on summer break. All their hard work had an unhappy ending. But through our partnership (and along with the Bookmobile!), Rochester Public Library had the opportunity to share this produce with the community!

It boosted our summer reach, and highlighted our off-site summer programming, and carried with it a great story.

So great!

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

The event as a whole was pretty darn overwhelming. In the best way. So much to learn. There is so much wrapped up in food access. So much in fact, that food justice is a more correct way of viewing and discussing it. The Food Justice Summit had been previously called The Food Access Summit, but it’s not just about providing access, it’s about repairing a broken system, and there’s a lot that is broken, and a lot of work to do. There were sessions devoted to our history (white supremacy, racism, colonialism, trauma, and genocide) Sessions were devoted to the current issue (ongoing white supremacy, trauma, racism, colonialism, suppression, oppression and lost culture and history) Sessions were devoted to our future (reparations, social change, climate change, science, and our responsibility to history)

It was about food, farming, health, lives, and people. All people. And for far too long, too many people have had food, farming, health,and lives stolen from them.

Whew, it was intense and important and overwhelming and necessary.

I will add this part here, too: Rochester Public Library, Riverside School, and the Alternative Learning Center not only attended sessions, but we presented a session as well. It was great to be a part of the event, and to engage with attendees, and to receive feedback that our work is exciting, inspiring and important. Most of all, important.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from the Food Justice Summit is that we are all in this together. We all have a part to play in repairing our food systems, and in offering assistance to those who have been harmed, traumatized, and ignored by our history and current systems.

I didn’t hear of any other people attending on behalf of public libraries, other than RPL. Maybe we were the only one. But when in conversations with others who worked in other areas (public health, activism, agriculture, food shelves, academics, etc.) I noticed that although we were representative of very different parts of a community, we had a shared interest in food justice, a responsibility, and part to play. When we all spoke of the people we wished to help, and the work that we wished to do, and the changes we wished to make, it sounded like we were all part of the same team already.

We have all been harmed by our history and current food systems, but by no means to the same degree. We can all benefit by helping each other with our basic needs. We can all help to connect and repair relationships by making sure everyone is at the table. Food is something that we can all relate to, and that connects us all.

 

Scholarship Report: Emily Soltis – Equity in Action: Taking Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level class

Event: Equity in Action: Taking Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level Class

Attendee: Emily Soltis – Technical Services Librarian, Austin Public Library


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

The main goal of this class is to learn how to conduct a diversity audit of your collection. A diversity audit is an inventory of a collection that analyzes the data to make sure that we include a wide variety of points of view, experiences and representations. This falls right into my responsibilities concerning the collection. I have been examining our collection development and this course gave me some great tools to use while looking at the diversity within the materials we already own and while ordering new materials. Also, I plan to talk with everyone who orders materials to ensure that each order is audited to make sure that it is diverse on some level, this is called a book order audit.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was by Andrea Blackman from the Nashville Public Library. Andrea works in the Civil Rights Room, where they use historical photographs to teach police recruits, college students, and the public about racial issues in their city’s past. They have a huge collection of photographs that were given to them when a local paper shut down. These tools help community members explore, critically analyze, and combat systemic racism in their city. I love how she juxtaposed photographs of people of different races doing the same thing and how obvious the racism was when looking at the photographs. The program has been very successful in Nashville and is even being used in other cities.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

This was on online class from Library Journal. It was presented over 3 weeks and included live webcasts, group discussions and homework. The downside for me was that they didn’t send any reminders and I missed the first two weeks! (my fault, I know, but a reminder would have been nice) Luckily, everything is in the modules online. I was still able to watch the webcasts and get feedback on the homework, however I couldn’t participate in the discussions, obviously. I would still recommend it to others. There were many different presenters who talked about a variety of topics involving equity and diversity, including ADA accessibility issues, diversity in picture books, programs in various libraries, and partnerships with the community. The discussions were interesting to read as questions were brought up during the presentation and I came away with many resources. The overarching goal of the course was to learn how to conduct a diversity audit of your collection and I feel that I am prepared to tackle it.

Scholarship Report: Jenni Sturm – Assoc. of Bookmobile and Outreach Services: On the Road

Event: Assoc. of Bookmobile and Outreach Services: On the Road | Out of the Box — Omaha, NE – October 19-25, 2019

Attendee: Jess Lind – Library Assistant I – Bookmobile, Rochester Public Library


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

My job duties at Rochester Public Library focus mainly on three areas: bookmobile, homebound and deposit. The annual Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) conference is centered primarily on these three areas of library outreach.

The event does include sessions dealing with programming that you can take on the road with you. Some libraries have a dedicated Outreach department that does on-the-road programming from their bookmobile. For RPL, on-the-road programming is done mainly by the Youth Services department.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was called “#morethanbooks: Scalable Outreach Programming.” The presenter, Rachel Yzaguirre, discussed how her Outreach department has taken their most popular in-library programs and figured out how to perform them in 5 minutes or less when programming offsite.

In order to engage with more patrons, Rachel brings materials that appeal to all ages to programming events. For example, she brings giant sized Checkers, Connect 4, and Jenga games to Senior Living facilities. She brings Lego Wedo, Snap Circuits, and Bee Bots for kids when at events geared towards kids. While the kids and adults are playing, she makes sure to tell parents about in-library programs focusing on STEAM for kids. She also does this for adult Maker Space programming.

One of the things I found most interesting was that she sends post-event surveys to staff. Some of the questions she asks staff deal with: 1) staffing (not enough or too many), 2) if the partnership is viable (some events lack partner communication and it gets messy), 3) what type of patrons were at the event (young, old, non-English speaking, etc. – maybe a bilingual staff member should go next year), 4) overall staff impressions. She uses staff input to determine if the library will go to the event again or how they can better connect with patrons at the next event.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this event to anyone who is trying to start an Outreach department in their library or simply looking for ways to improve upon and/or expand current outreach services offered by their library.

Many of the sessions that are presented at the annual ABOS conference deal with Outreach departments that were recently created or departments that wanted to take a step back, evaluate, and re-design their outreach services. The information provided by the presenters tell you how to start from the ground up, what did/did not work well, what they learned throughout the process, and how they were able to improve their services for their patrons.

Every library is different – while they all might offer the same services, how that service is provided can vary greatly. These presentations are a great way to learn how other libraries offer outreach services. It is also a great event if you want to network with people from libraries across the country.

Scholarship Report: Rachel Gray – MLA 2019

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

Attendee: Jess Lind – 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.

 

Scholarship Report: Alice Henderson – ALA / Hardwood Institute 2019

Event: ALA / Hardwood Institute 2019 — Atlanta, GA – October 15-17, 2019

Attendee: Alice Henderson–Director, Plainview Public Library


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

Every city is different, and has its own goals, needs and circumstances. By aligning library initiatives with overarching goals for the community as a whole, I will be better able to ensure that the work we do is meaningful and needed. The “Turning Outward” philosophy will help deepen my understanding of those overarching goals. It will be my intent to use that understanding as we move through our next strategic planning process.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

As this was not a conference, it did not involve sessions, per se. The topic that I found most helpful was Community Rhythms, which is looking at a community’s capacity for change. Knowing what stage a community is in pushes decision-makers to consider an appropriate scope of initiative. Communities in “Waiting Place” will have a vastly different reaction to something new than a community that is in “Growth” stage. When we go to conferences, it can be easy to look at what someone has tried and want to duplicate it. Adding a step to consider your own community’s rhythm can help ensure that the thing you want to try is received positively.

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

Communities are complex and each has its own story and set of circumstances. Effective leaders are ones who are those who have put the effort in to be authentic in their understanding of their community’s aspirations and concerns.

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

We were asked to create a detailed action plan for when we returned, and we will receive support from our coaches in the weeks to come. Much of my plan involves creating connections with people who might be open to “turning outward” and helping to start building a bank of public knowledge through community conversations.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this training to anyone who is looking to learn more about engaging effectively with their community. On the surface, it appears deceptively easy because it involves conversation and asking people about their hopes and concerns. As you dig into the training, you discover the power and responsibility that comes with having those conversations. The coaches were excellent, and I came home with clean copies of all of the discussion tools as well as a set of contacts that are as committed to community change as I am.
 

Scholarship Report: Jill B Nysse – Information Technology Educators of Minnesota

Event: Information Technology Educators of Minnesota — Brooklyn Park, MN – October 10-12, 2019

Attendee: Jill B Nysse–Online Learning Teacher, Winona Area Public Schools


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

While there were several great sessions, my favorite was “Raising Kids in a Digital Age” presented by Jen Leggatt. We have had several sessions and a lot of information on the dangers of digital devices in the hands of young teens (loss of sleep, bullying, emotional trauma, i.e., Fear of Missing Out, etc.), but this session had very practical tips that we can share with parents. The presenter got right to the crux of the matter, saying “digital devices connect our students to the world, but also are a distraction.” How can we let our kids try new things and still keep them safe? Recent revelations from computer scientists divulge how social media gets kids hooked: autoplay, notifications, Snapchat’s Snapstreaks, randomness, and in-app purchases. It is critical to pay attention to how kids act after interaction on a device. If they retreat to their room and hide, something may have happened. Another important tip is to go to the battery usage on an iPhone and you can see what apps are being used. another important tip is don’t sign in to other sites and apps with Facebook. Look at your privacy settings. She also encouraged parents to consider parent control software for 2019. All the mobile phone carriers can give parents the ability to shut off data and also to see where their child’s phone is at a certain time. Communication (discussing what’s OK and what’s not) and creating a family contract about that are also important.

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

I really enjoy the author panels and being able to talk to authors, since I do a yearly grant from our district’s foundation for an elementary author to visit all our elementary schools. I really enjoy being able to meet and talk to the authors and find out what unique perspective they might bring to our elementary students. And yes, I did find an author I hope will be presenting to our students next Fall.

Another idea I am anxious to try is the Google Tour Creator. I have worked with Expeditions and found them really engaging for students and feel that Google Tour Creator will take that concept to the next level.

I am very grateful to SELCO/SELS for offering such terrific in-house training, as well as offering scholarships to library related workshops and conferences. It is truly a wonderful way to support professional growth and also support the profession as a whole.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this conference to media specialists, technology integrationists and librarians. It is critical that we support our profession and advocate for it, and of course attending the ITEM conference and getting involved with the organization is one of the best ways to do it. However I wholeheartedly recommend this conference to any educator. The strong focus on literacy is perfect for any educator, because we should all be teaching reading and incorporating informational text analysis into content. This year’s keynote speakers, Kelly D. Holstine Why Every Heart Matters) and Sarah Park Dahlen (Diversity in Children’s Literature) both brought fresh perspectives on diversity in our schools, a topic all of us need to know more about. Several sessions featured new ways to use technology in the classroom, and the vendors also showcased technology as well as books. One of the biggest reasons I would recommend this conference to everyone is that it is an outstanding opportunity to network with other educators who are passionate not only about the education, but who are also people who want to share their expertise with others. Teaching is an isolating profession, and apart from the new knowledge and learning that you always gain from this conference, the opportunity to exchange ideas, ask for ideas and just feel good about being with so many dedicated professionals is priceless.

Scholarship Report: Susan Watts – MLA 2019

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

Attendee: Susan Watts – Library Tech I, Lonsdale Public Library


What was your favorite session you attended and why?

Of the sessions I attended on the first day my favorite was “From Good to Amazing? Evaluating and Improving Library Programs” presented by Leah Larson and Eric Billiet from State Library Services. The room was full with many more attendees than the speakers had anticipated yet Leah and Eric retained their composure and got through their presentation with elan. At our library, we are always looking for a more effective way to analyze our programs, implementing both front-end evaluations and other tools, so that we may improve our programs, better serve our community, and realize our goals. And what library doesn’t want to do that? Leah and Eric had excellent, and useful, hand-outs including data collection, goal setting, observation tools, and a resource list of program observation tools. I left once more enthusiastic and with two simple but important tools for our small library: a co-attendee shared with me that her ‘bullet journaling’ program at the University of Minnesota has been a great success. I had been thinking of implementing this at Lonsdale and now know I will! And, the presenters told us of a straightforward way, new to me, to evaluate kids programs using post it notes.

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

My biggest takeaway was a reinforcement of the knowledge I have gained through my many years experience that people who work in libraries are creative, dedicated, and passionate. We are consistently asked to do more, serve more, often with less resources. And we do! Because we love our work and communities and we understand how important libraries are.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Absolutely! Go mingle with your peeps! Get new ideas! Share yours! Get a much-needed injection of support and zeal!

 

Scholarship Report: Jess Lind – MLA 2019

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

Attendee: Jess Lind – Youth Services Librarian, Austin Public Library


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

This was my first time attending any library conference and I graduated with my MLIS a little over a year ago. This conference was a way for me to find out what other libraries offer to their youth. I attended sessions on escape rooms, summer food programs, summer reading, and diversity. All of this is relevant and even if I don’t implement most of what I learned, I can take this knowledge, tweak it and make it work for my community.

I was looking forward to networking when I was told I would be going to MLA this year. My friends in the field mostly live in Wisconsin or Iowa. I wanted to meet other Youth Services Librarians in the state, and I did. I got to meet and exchange information with others that I will reach out to in the future.

I left the MLA conference with so many new resources. Aside from the people I met, the resources are probably the most valuable thing I am taking away from my sessions. I will use the information given to me and figure out how I can make it applicable to my community.
Before MLA, I had a place in my library and my community. After leaving the conference, I feel like I belong to something larger; I am a part of Minnesota’s library world now. I look forward to future MLA conferences and maybe the ALSC conference to expand my network and have more learning opportunities.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was Hello, Universe, Hello, Asian American Children’s… Sarah Park Dahlen was captivating and both she and Paul Lai were passionate. I am an Asian American but never really thought about how that applies to my job as a YS Librarian. My community is diverse, we have a Latinx and African American population but also many Chinese families and an increase of Karen and Kareni families in town.

The speakers informed us that we need to go past the reviews when adding books to our collection. They make a great point because reviews don’t always take into acct. who is writing the book and what knowledge they have about the people/subject they are writing about. Are they unknowingly accentuating a stereotype or exoticization? Are we going beyond cultural differences?

I like that they broke it down to 4 areas where we can engage our communities- collection dev., reader’s ad., displays, and programming. I would expand this to the broader diverse sense and not just Asian Americans. When someone asks for a middle grade book, have options that have protagonists that are strong, smart, clever, etc. reflecting many different backgrounds, cultures and physical appearances; window and mirror options for all.

Like other sessions, they provided excellent resources and articles. They stressed the importance of starting uncomfortable anti-racist conversations in your community. I left the session excited to work on applying some of the info I obtained.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this event to others. The sessions I attended were aimed at Youth Services or other librarian focused areas but I spoke with others that work Circulation, are Library Directors and are Friends of the Library. The conference has much to offer all aspects of Library Services. This was my first time attending; I arrived knowing few and left with a new network of friends that share common interests and passions as myself.

One thing that I appreciate about the conference is that you can attend sessions that aren’t always “in your line of work”. I was encouraged by my director to go to what sounded interesting and what I would find useful. I didn’t’ have to go to every single youth focused session. So, if someone is interested in expanding knowledge in an area unfamiliar to them, this conference is a good way to dip a toe in the water and get a feel for something new.

Anyone interested in what other libraries in the state are up to, there are many sessions they would find appealing. I loved hearing about events, programs and changes that are happening around my state. It is a learning experience that encourages collaboration but also gives us a chance to show our appreciation and awe to others. After attending the conference, the wheels have been turning in my head on ways to incorporate some of what I learned. I think that would be the case for any attendees to the conference.

Scholarship Report: Tara Johnson – Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference 2019

Event: Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference — Burlington, VT – September 5-7, 2019

Attendee: Tara Johnson – Director, Lanesboro Public Library


How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?
The ARSL mission statement promises: “The Association for Rural & Small Libraries provides resources and support that empower those in small and rural libraries to deliver excellent service for their communities.” Every session that I attended helped me to aspire to “do more better.”

What was your favorite session you attended and why?
“The E’s of Libraries demonstrating your library’s value.” The E’s are Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Empowerment, and Engagement for Everyone, Everywhere! This session helped me create a story to share when I advocate for libraries. Remember, you are always the ambassador for your library even when you are off duty!

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?
Libraries are an Essential Service!

What is one idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?
“Let’s GLOW!” a glow-in-the-dark story time. This will be fun with the preschool group and switched up for “tweens” and teens.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?
Absolutely, library directors and library staff need encouragement and inspiration to meet the challenges and the changing needs of their jobs. The ARSL conference offers great sessions with new apps, ideas and tools, plus time with colleagues who remind us that we are not alone and that we can do this!

Scholarship Report: Ingvild Herfindahl – Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference 2019

Event: Association for Rural & Small Libraries Conference — Burlington, VT – September 5-7, 2019

Attendee: Ingvild Herfindahl – Director, Dodge Center Public Library


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

ARSL is a fantastic conference. All the other librarians are from small and rural libraries, so ideas presented are able to be used at my library without having to worry about scaling down for time, money, space, and staffing. In addition to the sessions, ARSL gives me the ability to network with directors of other small libraries around the country and bring their ideas back to better my own library and community.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

There were many sessions that were very interesting and useful, but the session “Open Your Library Space to Discovery and Imagination” is immediately applicable to what I am doing at my library. They discussed different ways to rework your library space for more hands-on learning and dramatic play, all done with a small amount of space and a limited budget.

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

There are thousands of other librarians all around the country dealing with similar situations in their own libraries. Many of them have come up with creative ideas for programs or problems that we all face.

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

There are many ideas I plan to implement, but at the top of my list are some of the free tools that I learned about in the “Innovation on a Shoestring” session. These include online tools for photo sourcing, graphic design, meeting room management, surveys, and project management.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend ARSL to every director in a small or rural library. It is energizing being with others who can relate to your issues and situations. And since the sessions are able to be implemented in your own library without much translation, it gives you a whole list of ideas that you can implement as soon as you get home.