Posts

Scholarship Report: Brigette Rol – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Brigette Rol – Children’s Librarian, Lake City Public Library


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

As a Children’s Librarian working in a public library, attending the PLA Conference relates to almost every aspect of my current role. The breakout sessions provide new & updated ideas, information and support that I can apply to the work I do every day. I’m able to meet and talk with other Children’s Librarians from across the US and share ideas, problems and solutions which have benefited my library over the few years I’ve been attending. The conference is also a place where librarians meet new and potential vendors. We can talk face-to-face with representatives who can answer questions or solve problems we’re having with our current products and services, and likewise we learn about new products, services and technology that can enhance our library for our patrons. The conference also offers concise ‘how-to’ presentations throughout the conference that give libraries a chance to share successful programs and give attendees the framework to build similar programs.

 

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session of the PLA Conference was Setting Healthy Boundaries by the Denver Public Library. While setting boundaries is a skill we’ve been learning about all our lives, it’s also a skill that needs a frequent refresher. My first thought when entering this session was that I would acquire some new approaches to dealing with difficult people, and that would be great. What I left with was a new way to think about boundaries: they define functional and effective relationships. The presentation covered simple boundary-setting techniques and statements and discussed the need for consistency and patience. Instead of a method of ‘dealing with’ people, which leans toward the confrontational, boundaries can actually be a method of maintaining a patron-library relationship that allows us to enable our patrons without overextending ourselves in every interaction. In the short time since returning home, I’ve referenced the ideas from this presentation multiple times each day.

 

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

The PLA conference this year was all about diversity and inclusion. It was about helping people access the information and resources they need. It emphasized the acknowledgement of experiences different from your own, and showing respect to those different from you. In the various sessions and interactions, there was always an element of openness and acceptance, even down to the books in the publishers’ booths. I have always felt a bit of pride working for the library because aside from the emergency services, it’s a place for everyone, no exceptions. It was nice to be reminded of the privilege we have of being a part of that type of service to our communities. The conference this year was an inspiring reminder of that. It feels good to return home with new energy and excitement for the job.

 

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

I can’t wait to get the ball rolling on several new ideas and programs for our library from PLA. Out of them all, the one I’m most excited about is creating book talk videos to use on social media. This idea came from one of the smaller ‘how-to’ sessions, and was presented in a way that makes me feel confident we can pull it off, even without a lot of social media knowledge or experience. It’s something we’ve been tip-toeing around for a while now, but not really acting on because it seems like a large project. In reality, we were overthinking things and there are ways to make it quite simple with a bit of forethought. I’m excited to start creating the videos and watching the response from our patrons.

 

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would recommend this event to others absolutely. I always walk away from this conference excited and rejuvenated about my job. It is a whirlwind of new information coming at you rapidly, but the quality of the information is high and the entire conference is focused on public libraries, so you take away a lot. It’s a great reminder about the purpose of public libraries and the role we play in our communities.

Scholarship Report: Stacie Falvey – Public Library Association Conference

Event: Public Library Association Conference

Attendee: Stacie Falvey – Adult Services Librarian, Lake City Public Library


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

In addition to sessions on how to improve my individual performance, relieve stress, and serve patrons better, there was an abundance of sessions that was geared to specific programming for adults. From reviewing and revising how we market our programs to identifying our demographics and meeting their needs, I feel I gathered important information to improve the programming options we offer our community. I was intrigued by two sessions that were geared toward producing a podcast and making videos to post on our website and Facebook page. Because I also purchase the adult fiction and nonfiction, there were also sessions on genres (sci-fi, short stories, romance, horror) that I’m not as familiar with. Hearing about trends and upcoming publications in these areas was very useful. In addition, I was able to meet with several vendors to discuss new technology, which we will discuss now that we’re back from the conference. Attending the conference gave me the opportunity to learn valuable information to help my colleagues, our patrons, and our community.

 

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

For the last two years, I have been working hard at adding health and wellness programs for adults. I’ve made contacts with a variety of healthcare professionals in the Red Wing-Lake City-Wabasha area and these sessions have been well attended. One of my favorite sessions was How to Add Movement to Library Programming. It gave me a completely new perspective on how to continue adding these types of programs. One of the ideas was that you can take the library outside. We can add walking and biking programs, for example, that begin in a local park. We could post quotes from novels, short poems, facts from nonfiction books on posters and arrange them throughout a park for people to stop and read as they’re out for a walk. We could embrace “play” as a part of movement by inviting people to Wii bowl or dance. We could also extend our collection of “things” (we currently check out bundt pans) to include exercise equipment like kettle bells, jump ropes, weekly passes to a local fitness center. We could also become involved with our local community garden to encourage our community members to be more mobile. Currently we offer a Stepping ‘On class and Tai Chi. We plan to do more research to find other more “movement-focused” programs instead of ones just on nutrition, brain games, integrative therapies.

 

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

I’ve already started brainstorming ideas after one of my favorite sessions. I attended “Enhancing the Patron Experience through Visual Merchandising.” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I walked away with several new ideas on how to improve how I create displays and market my adult programs and events. We don’t have a large budget, so some of these ideas will need to be scaled back. We also have limited space, so I’ll need to get creative on how to adapt the new displays. Some of their ideas were common sense (simplify your flyers, don’t overwhelm with dozens of flyers). They also recommended cross-merchandising (put the bundt pans next to a cookbook display) or put books on health and wellness near by flyers that advertise upcoming programs on Tai Chi, Integrative Therapies, Myths and Facts about CBD Oil, parenting books by toddler books, etc. One of the other ideas they mentioned was creating displays based on the rule of 3: 3 rows across, 3 rows down. Statistics indicate people gravitate toward these types of displays. I also plan to create new book displays based on subject matter and include some other books on the same topic. Typically we have straightforward displays of new fiction and new nonfiction. I just need to take the time to review what we have and be more creative with our space to entice our patrons to take a closer look.

 

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

Absolutely.

 

Scholarship Report: Meg Curtiss – Public Library Association Conference

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!