Saturday, October 26, 2013

NELA 2013

Whoops - thought I posted this days ago and here it is sitting in my drafts. Well, better late than never!

Hello! The reading - and reviewing -  is going pretty slowly, partly because I was just at the New England Library Association conference for a few days, where I presented about my Not-So-Young Adult book group. It was held in Portland, ME, one of my very favorite places. For those interested in librarianish things, here's my rundown of the conference.

Extending the Harwood Practice to Libraries
The Harwood Practice was introduced in the keynote speech by Richard C. Harwood. I missed the keynote, but thought I'd get at least the basics at this session on how to apply his ideas. Unfortunately, it was mostly Q&A about the keynote so I felt like I walked in to the middle of a conversation. It's an interesting conversation though, because Harwood's aim is to end divisiveness and acrimony in favor of focusing on shared goals for the community.

Working with Trustees and Friends
I almost didn't attend this session because I felt it would be more relevant to library directors, but it turned out to be quite interesting. Panelists included a library director, a long-time trustee, and the MA Board of Library Commissioners' liaison for Trustees and Friends (who also happens to be a friend of mine.) All panelists were good speakers with interesting things to say about the sometimes complicated relationships between all these parties.

Annual Banquet
I always attend the Sunday night banquet at NELA, even if I don't know the featured author. This year the featured author is retired Maine game warden John Ford, author of Suddenly the Cider Didn't Taste So Good, and This Cider Still Tastes Funny. His books are stories about his experiences as a game warden, and this guy is really funny! I grew up in Maine and he reminded me of so many other older Maine guys who tell crazy (and likely embellished) stories that tend to revolve around things like hunting and fishing. He was a very good speaker and kept everyone laughing. The food was unusually good for a conference too.

BYOD: Supporting Patrons' Devices in the Library
Two presenters discussed the ways in which they provide information and support for patrons having trouble using various devices, especially trying to download ebooks from the library. A third presenter talked about using old computers as dedicated catalog stations, which was a little technical for me and didn't quite fit in with the other subject matter. In general, it was a pretty good session though I kind of wish I had instead attended Library Trends: Pew Research which was apparently fantastic.

Not Your Average Book Group
Really great, fantastic session! Ok, I was a presenter so maybe I'm biased. I spoke about my Not-So-Young Adult book group, where adults gather to talk about YA books. Another presenter has one about cookbooks and she demonstrates a few recipes from each one, which sounds like a TON of work but she has amazing attendance so I'm sure it's worth it (plus she likes to cook.) The third presenter talked about her adult summer reading program, which is a great thing to remind people about - every library does summer reading for kids, and usually for teens, but not necessarily for adults. And we deserve fun prizes too. Finally, our fourth presenter discussed his nonfiction book group, which is totally something we should have at my library but I think we all have a full course load already. But I'm always surprised how often book group members request nonfiction. It was a fun and popular session and people seemed to really like it.

Community Makerspaces: How Libraries Can Help
Clint Crosbie from the Port City Makerspace in Portsmouth, NH discussed what makerspaces are, how their goals are similar to that of libraries (sharing, community) and how libraries can integrate these ideas even if you don't have a permanent space of budget. Holding classes and workshops, mini maker faires, or even having small semi-permanent spaces like one library that has an area for 3d printing. He gave a special shoutout to my local neighborhood makerspace, Artisan's Asylum, which he said is the best out there and exactly what other makerspaces strive to be. Yay, Somerville!

How to Make Those Challenging Relationships Work Better and Easier
I'm always a sucker for this kind of thing. Presenter David Lee talked about how to bring your best self to conversations and help others bring their best selves. He stressed that we have no control over others, but can control our own attitude and reaction to situations. A lot of what he talked about wasn't new to me (in fact, some of it is coming up in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, which I'm reading right now) but it's exactly the sort of thing I need to be reminded about. Lots of great ideas and tips that I'm trying to keep in mind every day. Hopefully they'll stay in my head, because this is useful stuff.

Outreach to Queer Communities: Successes and Challenges
I'm not the only one at my library with a cool book group - one of my coworkers runs Queer Book Group (QBG) and she spoke about it in this session. This is a fairly new book group but she's been thinking about it for a while. She shared some very sad stories about teen suicides in our library's town (not necessarily of LGBT kids) and talked about making people feel like they have a safe space. She's a very good speaker - both conversational and dynamic. Another presenter spoke about the Vermont Queer Archives, and the third, the president of the Vermont Library Association, talked about Que(e)ry Party. They all had interesting stories and great points about the importance of outreach to the LGBT community.

Trends in E-Books
I was especially interested in this because there's a statewide ebook project in Massachusetts that aims to empower libraries through a new model of ebook lending. The goal is for us to be able to purchase content (right now we are basically leasing it) and have more control over the platforms and user experience. My library is going to be a pilot in this project, which was one of the subjects of this panel. We also heard about a library system that uses the 3M Cloud Library and has had a good experience. A third panelist talked about ebook accessibility for vision-impaired patrons. It was interesting, but obvious that we still have a long way to go before ebook lending is more streamlined and easy for patrons to use.

Urban Library Success Stories: Engaging Your Community in Positive Change
Panelists from three different urban libraries spoke about their success stories. Two were from my old library in Somerville, MA, which just built an awesome new teen room, and I was mostly there to hear them. They were really good, speaking in a conversational way and showing a couple of photos of the teens and their space. There were also people from the Portland, ME and Springfield, MA library talking about their projects, but honestly they were very PowerPoint-heavy and I find that sort of presentation difficult to focus on. But I was happy to hear positive stories from the Somerville Public Library. Even though I don't work there anymore, I still live in Somerville and want the library to do well.

Those are all the sessions I attended, but of course I also got to catch up with other librarians, some of whom I only see at these conferences. I also won a raffle sponsored by the Maine Library Association (co-sponsors of the conference). My prize was an L.L. Bean backpack full of really great hiking and camping supplies like a guide to Maine trails, L.L. Bean socks, a first aid kit, emergency blanket, water bottle, water purification tablets, knife, compass, protein bars and a ton more. Of course, I also came back with lots of inspiration and a ton of ideas!

For now though, I'm exhausted. I need to get some rest and catch up on my reading.

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