Tuesday, December 4, 2012

WLA Redux, Part 2

This is Part 2 of the WLA Conference reflections of Monica LaVold, Youth Services Librarian in River Falls.  Many thanks to Monica!

Some stand-out highlights of the conference:

              The Keynote speaker Lewis Feldstein was phenomenal. He lit a fire under me and made me really start thinking about how we measure library “success”. Maybe we shouldn’t be relying on numbers and statistics, but looking at the human component and really amping up our social capital factor.
                I also had the chance to attend the YS Luncheon and hear Joyce Sidman speak. Let me just say, “Wow.”I have always loved and been drawn to poetry, and I have even written a good bit of it. But hearing Joyce Sidman say that she had never found her voice as a writer until she turned to poetry was the first time I ever considered that as a “real” way of writing and a means of giving us a voice. She was inspiring and made me want to have some poetry reading and writing sessions at my library.
                As far as individual sessions go, I attended a lot of memorable ones. One of the best ones I went to was the Reach Out and Read session on early literacy and collaboration with clinics. Dr. Navsaria was brilliant and funny and was able to show some of the medical benefits of reading in a way that highlighted the importance of early literacy. Also, he wore a candy-corn bowtie, and how can you not enjoy someone who can wear something like that with a straight face?
                I also attended sessions on programming for boys, booktalking teen titles, making promotional videos, the library as a “makerspace”, collaboration between schools and libraries, and others. I left with specific program ideas that even a one-person department in a relatively small town like me can make happen.
                I think the thing that I took away that I value the most is the sense that I am not alone in my job – even though I am alone in my library, and making connections is not easy to do. I am in a small building, on the very edge of the state (so, we don’t get a lot of people just passing through), and I have only had a very few opportunities before now to meet or chat with other librarians. This conference allowed me to meet and get to know people all over the state, and, importantly, also in my own system. I came away with some energy and a willingness to try things even if they seem a bit daunting at first. And I came away knowing that I had connections that I could turn to if need be. And that there are others facing the same issues and worrying about the same problems as me. All in all, I would call this a very successful conference and I am excited for what lies ahead for my next one.

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