Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NELA 2016

As usual in the fall, I attended the annual conference of the New England Library Association. Here's a summary of the sessions I attended and what I learned. I'm including a sentence or so on takeaways, which are specific ideas I got from the session and things I just don't want to forget about later.

Don't Forget the T: Serving Transgender Patrons
This discussion was led by my coworker who runs our Queer Book Group, and has been partnering with our local council on aging to present an international film series called Reel Queer. We also have some gender-neutral bathrooms in our building. So we are pretty much at the forefront of LGBT issues when it comes to public libraries. Anyhow, I was already pretty informed about these issues but it was still a great, informative discussion.   
Takeaways: include a "preferred name" field in patron library records for those who use a name other than their legal name; "Please bring it back" basket idea to let people borrow certain books without checking them out; A Kind of Justice by Renee James is a mystery novel about a transgender hairdresser.

Making Connections Across Town and Time
This was a 2-part session. The first presenter discussed the Haitian Revolution as rich source material for displays, historical fiction, musicals, etc and wondered aloud at how untapped it still is. It was such a unique event in history, and it's still a very interesting place. Facts learned: 80% of Haitians with a college degree live outside of Haiti; over 1/3 of citizens are under the age of 15. The second presenter told us about an international program she ran in a Boston neighborhood where seniors and teens worked together to create a community quilt. 
Takeways: do a display on the Haitian Revolution cuz it is fascinating; look into a book called Soft Circuits for the library collection and for my own curiosity. (Electronics in fabric? What?!)

Biblioboard: Engage Your Local Creative Community
This was a vendor demo for a product we pay for that I knew almost nothing about. He talked specifically about the SELF-e program where local authors can publish and promote their books. He mentioned that self-published ebooks account for 45% of purchases on Amazon.
Takeaways: This is something lots of our patrons will be interested in! Since we have a local author event coming up soon - and some NaNoWriMo Write-Ins, I requested some promotional materials about this service. Through a module called Curator, the library can upload photos of art in the library, which might be useful for us.

Getting Your Library Noticed: The Art of the Integrated Campaign
Two representatives from the MA Board of Library Commissioners talked about running an organized marketing campaign. They use something called a Creative Brief, which is basically an outline of your goals and your plan. It's an organizational tool and a checklist that covers everything from what you're hoping to achieve to a calendar for deliverables and social media posts. The idea is to create consistency throughout your campaign while adapting to a changing landscape.
Takeaways: The Creative Brief, other materials available at the MBLC site including ready made social media posts.

Keeping Up With Social Media
Three librarians took turn presenting, though they *all* talked about Instagram. This is disappointing because that's the one major social media platform my library doesn't use (because we can't do ALL the things.) The program description should have mentioned it was all about Instagram, not social media in general, or maybe the presenters should have talked to each other and realized they were all discussing the same thing. But they had some great ideas that could be used on other platforms, like book spine poetry and bookface.
Takeaways: Maybe we should be using Instagram; do some book spine poetry, bookface, meet the staff, and bookalike (books with similar covers.)

Community Use in Libraries: overcoming obstacles to safely sharing space
Here's another where the description was a bit misleading. This session was very specifically about using library space during a time the library is usually closed, and when partnered with another town department or organization. Although this is not something we do the presenter, an attorney, had some great information about liability.
Takeaways: We're not actually liable if someone is hurt on our property; the issue is the fear of having a lawsuit initiated. It's very hard to prove liability, but it will still eat up time and money so nobody wants anyone to even try to sue them.

Reader's Advisory Panel: Christian Fiction, Library Reads, and Book Spoilers
I already knew about Library Reads and Spoilers, Sweetie, but I'm very weak on Christian Fiction. Unfortunately, that presenter wasn't able to make it which, honestly, was a bit of a relief since I'm not interested in the genre and never get questions from patrons about it. It was kind of nice for a refresher about Library Reads, and to learn that Spoilers, Sweetie replaced the "red flag" designation with "sticky topics." I had visited the site once and saw a book that had a "red flag" because of a gay character. "Sticky topic" is a little better, but it should be more neutral, like "You might want to know..." but more concise. Because you might actually want to know for reasons that are positive, not negative. I digress.
Takeaways: Peter Heller has a new book coming out! (Celine. And I still haven't read The Painter!) Also, revisit Spoilers, Sweetie, check out the Worst Bestsellers podcast and the We Need Diverse Books app.

Better Graphic Design for Libraries: Improving Your Visual Communication
A self-taught graphic designer gave us lots of specific and useful advice about how make our promotional materials look eye-catching and professional. This was probably my favorite and most useful session I attended. Or maybe I was just so enthused because I've gotten on a hand-lettering kick and this seems to fit in.
Takeaways: She gave us handouts with specific free tools, fonts, image sources, etc that we could use for our materials. Also a handy step-by-step workflow that I will probably forget is in my notes and never look at.

Developing Your Own Readers' Advisory Roundtable
I always look enviously at the emails about our region's readers advisory meetings, but I can't ever go because of the day of the week they are scheduled. The presenters talked about what makes these meetings different from a regular book group (discussing appeal factors rather than opinions about what you liked or didn't like), sources for genre study, LSTA grant for doing all this, and doing it locally at your own library rather than with a larger group.
Takeaways: Take Joyce Saricks's online class through ALA since I have a membership; try to talk coworkers into having our own Readers Advisory Roundtable. (You know, in our spare time.); Display idea: men without shirts (I don't recall how this came up, but it's a good one!)

So there we have it. Hopefully highlighting the takeaways will help me remember them, and act on them!

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