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Scholarship Report: Heather Acerro – ALA Midwinter Meeting

Event:  American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting — Seattle, WA — January 25-29, 2019

Attendee: Heather Acerro – Head of Youth Services, Rochester Public Library


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

My biggest takeaways from attending ALA Midwinter and participating on the 2019 Randolph Caldecott Committee are the skills and colleagues that I gained through this experience.  In terms of the Caldecott Committee–which involved preparing for meetings, reviewing picture books throughout the year, writing and presenting about picture book art, and participating at in-person meetings at midwinter–my skills in evaluating and discussing art and picture books have increased considerably. I developed a unique methodology based on the preparation materials and the discussions with colleagues.  During the past two years, I have had the opportunity to share my collection selection and evaluation methods with Rochester Community & Technical College literature classes.  Now, after my attendance at ALA Midwinter meetings, I feel that I have much more to share with literature students. I have also gained a wonderful group of fourteen peers who passion for and ideas around youth services work and literature will continue to benefit me and Rochester Public Library for years to come.

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

Each year ALA hosts an “online pajama party” to encourage children to watch the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards press conference.  After attending the Youth Media Awards Press Conference, meeting with colleagues in the exhibit hall, and discussing the activities around this big event, I would like to work with area teachers to host Mock Award programs throughout the year and then celebrate by participating in the pajama party. (http://www.ilovelibraries.org/pjparty)

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would highly recommend participating on an award or booklist committee and attending ALA Midwinter for in-person book discussions.  It is valuable to not only learn book evaluation skills, but also how to respectfully and productively have discussions with colleagues.  These discussion skills do not only apply to books, but can be used for discussing any topic that requires careful listening, thoughtfulness, and clear articulation.

Scholarship Report: Diane Yliniemi – ITEM Conference 2018

Event:  Information Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) Conference — Alexandria, MN — October 25-27, 2018

Attendee:  Diane Yliniemi – Library Media Specialist, Sunset Terrace Elementary School – Rochester


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

Currently, I am a library media specialist for an elementary school in Rochester, MN.  The ITEM conference is the state professional conference for library media specialists, technology coordinators and specialists, technology integrationists, and anyone else interested in application of information and technology to learning.  The people, speakers, information, and sessions are focused on all of the topics and information I can use in my job.  I am also able to be informed on new trends and information and relay this back to my district and the other media specialists I work with.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

I love meeting all of the authors from Minnesota who did several sessions at the conference.  It is always so interesting to find out the background of our authors and illustrators of the books we purchase in our schools.  I am always so impressed by the talent in Minnesota.  I was able to talk to several of the authors afterwards and have them autograph some of the books I was purchasing for my school.  I read for the Maud Hart Lovelace committee here in Rochester and we are always looking for books written by Minnesota authors.

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

I went to a session on Native American Literature sponsored by the MN Department of Education.  The media specialists of Rochester are currently working on updating our collections.  It was great to see the list of books that have been recommended for educators.  Last week, we had a staff development day in Rochester and the media specialists were pleased to see this bibliography that I brought back.  We plan on ordering books from this list as well as doing book studies on some of the new books we are purchasing.  I have also picked out two of the books that I will be using in my classes next week.  I am encouraging some of our team to present at ITEM next year when we will have a Thanksgiving curriculum written which has been vetted by our Native American liaison and our Rochester parent group and focuses on historical accuracy.

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.

Scholarship Report: Jill Nysse – ITEM Conference 2018

Event:  Information Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) Conference — Alexandria, MN — October 25-27, 2018

Attendee:  Jill Nysse – Library Media Specialist/Instructional Coach – Winona Area Public Schools


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

This year I have changed grade levels and also had Instructional Coach/Technology Integrationist added to my library media position. The Information Technology Educators Conference had so many sessions that related to both the library media specialist and the technology integrationist.  The conference committee always invites a number of authors, and I loved visiting with the authors and enjoyed the author panel during lunch.  I organize a yearly Elementary Author visit, so this was the perfect opportunity gather contacts and ideas for next year.  The professional development this conference offered was some of the best I’ve seen and I found myself wishing there was more time in the day!  The sessions on Google Classroom and Flipgrid were especially good, but I also enjoyed seeing what had been done using WeVideo, as well as a top 10 list of tips and tricks from Google.  The final event on Saturday was an “unconference”.  At an unconference, the participants get to set the agenda and suggest topics that they could either teach or topics that they want to learn more about. This was perfect for me–and yes, I was of course, the learner.

I sincerely thank SELCO for their ongoing commitment to professional development.  It is, without a doubt, the backbone of our profession!  The SELCO workshops I have attended have all been excellent and I am very grateful for the scholarship opportunities SELCO offers.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

I would have to say the “hands on” sessions with Flipgrid were my favorites.  I use the plural intentionally since the Flipgrid team offered a session on Friday, and during the “unconference” on Saturday, the very first session proposed was on Flipgrid.  In fact, Flipgrid unconference sessions were offered in all three slots, so obviously many people were interested in learning about it.  I had been looking for an easy way to record the voices of kindergartners reading.  Anything we used also had to be free.  Flipgrid was free and was advertised as easy, so it definitely was something worth looking into.  The developer of Flipgrid spoke at the opening keynote session.  I was impressed with his description of Flipgrid as a way to give the students a voice.  It definitely has a use as a platform that creates a community and provides a voice to members of the community.  In my case, I was looking at it in a more utilitarian way.

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

My biggest takeaway was that our profession is constantly changing and most of us have had to, or will have to, reinvent ourselves and become advocates for the profession.  It was really frightening to hear that districts continue to eliminate library/media professionals, even in the face of declining reading scores.

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

I am interested in trying to use Flipgrid to record voices and then create QR codes of young readers.  I also appreciated some of the ideas, and tips from the Google team in their session.  I know I will be using those right away.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this to others.  Whether you are a library media specialist or tech integrationist or any of the many titles/jobs that we encompass, belonging to and supporting a professional organization is vitally important.  As incomprehensible as it is to us, many school districts are replacing licensed staff with paras or even eliminating the positions completely.  Our organization speaks to and lobbies for the continuation of professionals in our schools.  The organization needs our support.  The sessions offered at ITEM 2018 were excellent and offered something for everyone.  The opportunity to network with others in the profession is priceless (no humor or reference to the credit card ad intended).  I made two contacts with people from my area that I feel with be invaluable as I transition to this new role.  I should add that there is fun built into the conference with the trivia night (plus prizes!).  Whether you are a book person or a techie–or likely both–this conference has something for everyone.

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: Chris Beckman – ABOS Conference 2018

Event: Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services (ABOS) Conference — Raleigh, NC — October 17-19, 2018

Attendee: Chris Beckman – Bookmobile Driver, Rochester Public Library


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

The ABOS conference is held every year in a different quadrant of the country.  The gathering of library staff are strictly associated with outreach outside of the brick and mortar walls.  There are a lot of Bookmobile drivers/associates to speak with regarding all the outreach activities that I do at Rochester Public Library including homebound, deposit collection delivery to assisted living centers and daycares, and Bookmobile service in Olmsted county.  These conversations can be used during day to day services.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

There was a session called “Bookmobile Buzz” that I keep thinking about.  The presenter is a vendor that specializes in Bookmobile request for purchases.  We used him when we designed ours at Rochester.  Generators have always been a stickler nationwide on bookmobiles because of their nature.  They run at high speeds and susceptible to dirt and road debris causing a lot of maintenance problems.  The future is close at getting rid of generators totally using cadmium and lithium ion batteries that have tons of power storage.  We are using lead batteries currently and replace them every 3 years, these [ion batteries] last 15-20 years.  Hopefully we can get by in 3 years from now to start using these!

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 on truck checklists before starting the route.  I am going to start using this form to see if it is better than our current checklist.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

The conference is well organized and set up well for all staff dealing with outreach and would recommend to others.  It can give staff ideas gained from other libraries around the country that can be implemented at your library.  Face to face conversations can be priceless compared to modern day email and texting!

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.

Scholarship Report: Jon Allen – ALSC National Institute 2018

Event: Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) National Institute — Cincinnati, OH — September 27-29, 2018

Attendee: Jon Allen – Librarian I, Rochester Public Library


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

This is event is the single most relevant conference I know of relating to my job as a Youth Services Librarian where 100% of the content of the conference is focused on services to children/youth.  I am able to learn what other libraries and experts are doing and how I might be incorporate their practices/research into my own work.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

My favorite session was called “When Leveling Helps, When it Doesn’t, and How Libraries Can Make the Best of It” in which James Erekson, Coordinator of Masters in Reading Degree Program and Associate Professor at the School of Teacher Education, University of Northern Colorado talked about the history and intent of leveling systems and how they are used today in conjunction with various national and state standards.  It was a controversial topic and has been a source of frustration for many youth services librarians around the country for some time now.  It was very enlightening to learn the history of such systems and the presenters gave some good advice as to how to deal with their use in the community/schools vs. at the (public) library.

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

One of the biggest takeaways was learning about Anji Play which is a Chinese philosophical approach to play and learning in children ages 3-6.  I am eager to try to implement parts of this philosophy into our programs.

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

Anji Play – perhaps not in an official “branded” way but to use a similar approach in designing programs.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this conference to all Youth Services Librarians as it really is the best youth centered conference for librarians out there.  This is the second time I have been and each time it has been extremely rewarding and enriching.  They announced the location in 2020 will be in Minneapolis!

Scholarship Report: Lezlea Dahlke – ARSL Conference 2018

Event: Association of Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference — Springfield, IL — September 13-15, 2018

Attendee: Lezlea Dahlke – Director, Winona Public Library


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

Several of the sessions I attended were in direct correlation to current trends or projects we’ve been working on, big or small: building diversity and social capital, improving library signage, serving underserved or homeless populations, designing a strategic plan.  It was timely to inspire new ideas and have a lot of questions/concerns answered.  I am always in awe of the big things small libraries are making happen for their communities, on shoestring budgets.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

The standout session I attended was “Your Library within Your Community” by Gavin Woltjer, the Director of Billings Public Library.  It focused on identifying the community’s needs–who do we serve?  How would they describe us…and does it make you happy?  How are we a voice within our community and is it passive or proactive in building goodwill?  He talked about how people have a bond of affection around their libraries and our leadership philosophy should match that: we are the host and patrons are our guest.  We want warm fuzzies when they think of us.  Craft a narrative that gives a heartbeat so people can believe in our mission.  Identify the 3-4 things we do really well and build on that to grow a cooperative spirit and use staff talents.  Libraries can always do better at transparency–how we get our message out and how people know about us.  Be adaptable–know what season we are in and be preparing for the next season, ability to change with the world.  “Serving Underserved” by the Director of Trinidad CO Public Library had some succinct takeaways: The most important service we offer is that we are welcoming.  Listen w/o judgement and help as much as you can to humanize connections.  Going fine-free gives people grace…don’t make them choose between belly hunger and hunger of the imagination.  I also enjoyed the “Library Signage” session with Curtis Rogers from SC State Library Services–do a sign audit on your building…good for a laugh!

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

I really enjoyed the networking at mealtimes: breaking bread with folks from Washington State, Alaska, North Carolina, Virginia and Arkansas.  It was great to hear how (mostly) alike we are in service populations and to also hear lots of other sessions summarized and brainstormed around the table, as there were many great options on the agenda.  Biggest takeaways: new ideas on growth mindset and how to build human capital, challenges vs. opportunities, how important it is to also be part of the community we serve and to be the third place–where people want to be if they aren’t at work or home.