SELCO Staff Conference Report: Chris Austin – MLA 2018

Or – How I spent my MLA 2018 edition

Thursday: First I went to “The Web is Lovely, Dark and Deep.” 7/10 for minor factual errors and emoji use. I did learn that some libraries are now offering the TOR browser on their public PC’s, something that I’d be more that happy to provide on request.

Next I went to “Attack of Killer Computer, is Your Library Ready to Code?” looking for STEM kit ideas. 4/10 didn’t really cover anything I didn’t know, but I did have a nice talk with a children’s librarian from Mankato about what I did with code club.

After that I really need some caffeine, so I went down to common area and had a pop, while making some last minute additions and reviewing my own presentation.  I also visited the vendor area.

Then it was lunchtime, Officially I have no opinion of the keynote “We, Surveilled and afraid, in world we never made.” However I couldn’t maintain a poker face to the delight of the others at my table.       

After lunch I met up with James and we rehearsed our presentation.

For the first afternoon session I attended the “Robot Petting Zoo” with Becky 9/10, not enough time with the robots. But we did get some good ideas of what to put in a robot kit.  I ended my first day with “12 DIY Adult Programs” because the description made it sound like one of the 12 was on 3D printing, turns out that they used their 3D printer to make tools for one program. Not really what I was looking for, but what can you do.

Friday: For the first session, I attended “ I Did It!!: The Tip-Meister Dishes on Effective Processes to Get to the Finish” 10/10 for being useful, upbeat and well attended by SELCO staff. I think the biggest takeaway I got was this;  

Gather your facts; gather input , let it stew BUT

DO go ahead and bring an end to the decision making process.

Be sure to get a broad consensus but realize everyone may not be 100% on board.

Don’t let that untrack you.

For my mid-morning session I attended ”Champagne Library Technology on a Beer Budget: Tech Tools for Small Libraries”  I was hoping for hardware or public PC alternatives, but instead it focused on software, I shared some of my experience with Google forms and saw an interesting tool for doing live surveys. (add name from notes)

Blah blah addended something about teamwork.

Then it was my turn, James and I gave our presentation “Making Virtual Reality a Reality in your Library” The crowd was smaller that I thought it would be but, oh well. We took a tag team approach,  with James discussing programming using a HTC vive for a full VR experience. While my half focused on things to do with Google Cardboard. Our slide deck can be viewed here Despite some technical difficulties with the wifi, everything went okay. But, I consider it a win when I get up to present and don’t end up balled up under the podium.

Scholarship Report: Rachel Gray – MLA Conference 2018

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

Attendee: Rachel Gray – Director, Van Horn Public Library

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

MLA always gives me a lot to think about and this year was no exception. I attended a variety of sessions this year on programming, reader’s advisory and more which has given me good ideas to follow for the next year.  I also love the networking opportunities and being able to talk directly with vendors.  I am refreshed, revitalized and inspired to offer great, innovative library services here in Pine Island.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was Programming Outside the Lines.  Amy Muchmore & Sarah Smith from Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, IA were very dynamic speakers who have a lot of experience with adult programming that goes beyond book clubs & author talks.  Some of their most popular ones are Nerf @ the library (After hours program, 18+.  Most participants bring their own Nerf guns but the library has extra for use.), Bad Art Night (Participants have craft odds & ends, a theme & 45 minutes to create the worst piece of art they can.) and Cabin Fever Mini-Con (All ages event/con for all things nerd/geek.  They have speakers, panels and even some vendors.  This session really got my creative juices flowing and encouraged me to think of unusual library programs.

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

I did a lot of programming sessions this year, so my takeaway is to try to be more creative in what I offer to my patrons.  It is important to bring programming to the public where they are, and to stretch myself & my budget with the things on offer.

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

After talking to our rep in the vendor hall, I am planning to use Baker & Taylor’s subscription service that automatically fills a cart for me of upcoming releases from popular authors.  I can then go in & choose which ones I want for my library.

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.

SELCO Staff Conference Report: Reagen Thalacker – MLA 2018

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

Attendee:  Reagen Thalacker, Regional Librarian – SELCO/SELS

How does attending this event relate to your current role?

The professional development aspect of having been a part of the Conference Committee was a great way to help me build upon current skill sets in the creation of large scale continuing education events as well as work with colleagues from across all types of libraries.  The attending of the event allowed me to not to see the hard work of the Committee come to fruition but also to see and hear from various library connections around the state about what sessions they found valuable.  Attending MLA has always been a great way to reinvigorate my interest in library work as well as come away with new ideas to implement back home.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was entitled “Stop Supervising in Circles: Five Questions to Get Direction in Challenging Situations”.  My supervisory skills are admittedly not my strongest, having no formal training in this arena, and as such I’m always looking for ways to better this aspect of my work.  The speaker not only was an expert with 20+ years in supervisor, but the topics is also something she loves to do – so who better to gain knowledge from?  She provided great steps to walk you though how to tackle difficult situations with staff, as well as offered insights in to better approaches when you need to coach someone and what to do if that’s not working.  Her enthusiasm for the topic was definitely infectious, and I know that both myself, and a fellow SELCO colleague who was also in attendance, were definitely energized and inspired by what she said.

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

I attended a session called “Meeting Users Where They Are: Teaching Information Literacy Online” which was given by two academic librarians.  We’re looking at the option of expanding our online learning engagement opportunities further and since academic librarians create these all the time for their student population, I thought I could gain some knowledge on best practices.  I was able to walk away with some great frameworks and practical pieces as to how to best set-up and deliver online educational content.  Something that’ll definitely come in handy when we have the opportunity to move forward with this aspect.

Scholarship Report: Nancy Hackenmiller – MLA Conference 2018

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

Attendee: Nancy Hackenmiller – Library Assistant, Kasson Public Library

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was “12 DIY Adult Programs” presented by Laura Morlock on Thursday afternoon.  She was enthusiastic about the programs at her library, highlighting her PowerPoint presentation with photos of the various events.  I was intrigued with the variety of the adult programming at Wescott Library.  I have since been in contact with Laura via email to learn more from her and to pass on an activity that has been successful here at my library!

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

Gina Millsap, Friday’s keynote speaker, had a message that has remained with me.  In fact, I am now reading the two books which she recommended: “Rising to the Challenge” and “Built to Last”.  Her call to librarians to embrace their role as community leaders was important to hear.  And her many examples of effecting change in a timely fashion were the impetus to musing on what could be/should be changed at MY library.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Yes, I would very strongly encourage others to attend the annual conference.  It is a wonderful venue for gathering new ideas, connecting with vendors, broadening horizons, and gaining a renewed sense of purpose.  Spending two full and busy days with a large group of people, all committed to libraries, is a very uplifting experience!

Scholarship Report: DeAnna McCabe – MLA Conference 2018

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

Attendee: DeAnna McCabe – Director, Hokah Public Library

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

This was a great opportunity for me!  I learned about advocacy, branding and why it is important to have people see your logo and know right away it stands for your library.  I learned more about summer reading.  I was able to see the different gadgets that were available to purchase for your library.  I learned how to build relationships with teenagers when they come in.

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

I came into this journey very new to the Library world May 2018.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but found out very quickly!  One of the things that the library did was start there Summer Reading Program beginning of June.  One of the sessions I went to was Summer Reading: Keep them Reading!  I learned to do a Kick Off will help, the program will likely get more attendance and participation if you start getting pamphlets out and kids aware of the program the last week in May when they are still in school.  Contact your local newspaper to put a brief in.  Go to the ALS youth service Pinterest page.  Arrowhead libraries have several great ideas about iREAD.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this event to others, even if you have been with a library for years!  There were several good training’s and new ideas!  The speakers over lunch were excellent. T here is a hall full of neat things that could be purchased for your library.  There are a lot of different opinions and comments as to what works for some libraries and what doesn’t work.  I had the opportunity to meet other librarians and aides.

Legislative Update

The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Friday, April 20, 2018 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

There are four weeks left of the 2018 legislative session and as expected all the major decision-making will come down to the last weekend (May 18-20). The state’s constitution prescribes Monday, May 21 as the last day, but it also stipulates that the legislature cannot pass bills on a day prescribed for final adjournment (when they adjourn ‘sine die’). Therefore, midnight on Sunday, May 20 is the last chance for the legislature to pass bills. 
The House and Senate are currently in the process of assembling their omnibus supplemental spending bills that encompass change items across all of state government. In the ensuing week or so we’ll see the House and Senate produce a tax bill aimed at addressing conformity issues with the new federal tax law. 
2018, being the even numbered year in the biennium, is the traditional year for a bonding bill. The bonding bill process has always been a backroom ordeal, making it difficult to track progress on any one proposal. Don’t expect to see a lot of public process on the bonding bill. It will emerge amidst a global deal in the final hours of session. 
What’s specifically at stake for MLA-ITEM?
A public employee pension bill aimed at improving the solvency of the various pension funds is in the mix. The Senate didn’t hesitate to move this bill out and approved it 66-0 in March. House GOP leadership will hold the bill until the last days of session as bargaining leverage for the infamous ‘global’ negotiations yet to come. 
The supplemental budget bill could impact Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA), broadband funding and force school districts to implement ‘academic balance’ policies; legislation birthed from a culture war dust up in Edina schools last fall. Funding for library construction and renovation grants are at stake in the bonding bill.

RLTA (Regional Library Telecom Aid)

The Governor’s supplemental E-12 bill notes the potential for $350,000 in unspent Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) in the current fiscal biennium. Instead of re-purposing these funds for Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS), the administration decided to recommend transferring any unspent RLTA funds to the school Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) program.

MLA has been working with the House and Senate to keep these public library funds in the public library fiscal world.  Despite testimony from the MN School Boards Association (MSBA) saying they want the funds for TEA, the House Education Finance committee is recommending keeping unspent RLTA funds in public library budgets. The House doesn’t go quite as far as MLA had requested in terms of using the funds for general operating purposes. The House supplemental E-12 budget bill would have the MDE Commissioner work with the regional library systems to re-purpose unspent RLTA funds next March on a variety of broadband and technology expense in a more flexibly manner than the limitations of the federal e-rate program (which RLTA is tied to). 
The Senate acquiesced to the MSBA position and their supplemental E-12 bill calls for cancelling unspent RLTA funds back to the state’s general fund and then the bill appropriates $440,000 for TEA. The bill doesn’t make a direct link between unspent RLTA and TEA in how it’s written, but Senate E-12 Chair Carla Nelson confirmed the move and her intent when I testified on behalf of MLA asking to keep the funds in RLTA. Chair Nelson said while she hoped to address library funding issues in the next budget session, she needed these funds for TEA in this non-budget/supplemental session. 
MDE has informally said they support MLA’s request to keep the public library RLTA funds in the public library fiscal world. The issue will be sorted out in the supplemental budget conference committee that will organize in the next week or so and will work until the end of session. 


Library construction has been a mainstay of the bonding bill for many cycles. Governor Dayton proposed $2.5 million for library construction and renovation grants. We’ve had some positive attention this session in the House with the Kimball folks coming forward with a great story and request. Thanks to Rep. Jeff Howe for his continued advocacy for library projects. Hopefully, we’ll see an agreed to bonding bill emerge in the last night or two of session that includes funding for libraries. Broadband


Governor Dayton has proposed an additional $30 million for community broadband funds. The House and Senate supplement bills include $15 million for broadband. Senate Jobs Chair Jeremy Miller spent $15 million of his $17 million on broadband, showing strong support in the Senate. Senator Rich Draheim offered an amendment that would require oversight of broadband service providers and internet speeds. Sen Draheim proposed that providers be required to disclose on their billing statements the average speed they are receiving during the billing period. However, the amendment was withdrawn in the spirit of solely focusing on funding the fund this year, without policy changes, as had been the position of the Rural Broadband Coalition.

In the House, Chair Pat Garofalo also spends $15 million on broadband, but he earmarks $750,000 for satellite providers. The funds are to be spent on 1,000 unserved consumers to aid in satellite equipment installment as well as to lower monthly subscription fees for one year. The Rural Broadband Coalition was disappointed at the amendment, especially since the satellite providers only are only required to meet speed goals of 25/3.

Net Neutrality

Talk of state actions to curb the impact of the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules have been quiet since January when two DFL law-makers announced they would push legislation to address the issue. However, earlier last week Sen. Karla Bigham (DFL Cottage Grove) and Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL Brooklyn Park) introduced legislation (SF 3968 and HF 4411) that would require internet providers doing business with the public sector in Minnesota to abide by net neutrality provisions. The session process is well past policy bill deadlines and the GOP majorities weren’t likely to take up these bills anyway. However, we may see these members make an attempt to offer this legislation as a ‘floor’ amendment in their respective bodies if they can find a bill that is germane to this issue. 


MLA Conference Proposals

Get your session proposals ready for the MLA Conference!

This year’s theme is Radical Librarianship – the power of libraries to provide access to the truth, strengthen our community voices, create opportunity for exploration and innovation, and assist our patrons to build a better future.

In the spirit of radicalism, we are debuting new conference tracks!

  • Imagine – Examine current trends & emerging realities to think big about the future
  • Challenge – Push boundaries, take risks, question conventionality
  • Collaborate – Find allies with common goals, build something together
  • Engage – Practice community-driven librarianship
  • Create & Play – Innovate, explore & invent
  • Transform – Revolutionize librarianship, transform communities, change lives

How have you embodied these radical librarianship themes at your institution? Come share at the MLA annual conference in Rochester on October 5 & 6.

Sessions will run 50 minutes and can take many forms including, but not limited to, presentations, panels, discussions, & interactive/hands-on programs.

Proposals are due May 1st – which will be here before you know it! So start thinking about your session and watch for more information coming soon!

SELCO 2016 MLA Scholarships Awarded


SELCO is pleased to announce the scholarship winners to this year’s Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference to be held September 29 – 30, 2016 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

After reviewing the conference costs this year, SELCO is able to offer four scholarships instead of three.  The winners are:

  • Julie Clinefelter – Austin Public Library
  • Ingvild Herfindahl – Dodge Center Public Library
  • Rachel Gray – Van Horn Public Library – Pine Island
  • Lezlea Dahlke – Winona Public Library

Congratulations! We look forward to hearing about your experiences!

SELCO Scholarships to MLA 2016 Now Available!


SELCO will offer three scholarships of up to $900 each to defray basic costs to attend the annual Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Conference in Duluth, MN, September 29 – 30, 2016.

The application deadline for those interested in being considered as a scholarship recipient will be 12 noon on Friday, August 26, 2016.  Please complete the SELCO online scholarship web form.

For more information, please visit the MLA Conference webpage.