I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the 2016 ARSL [Association of Rural and Small Libraries] conference in Fargo, ND, with several of my colleagues. Next year the conference will be held in Utah; sadly, not nearly so accessible from SW Minnesota …
Slides and resources from the sessions will be available on the ARSL website in coming weeks. [ http://arsl.info/2016-conference/ ] Below are the sessions I attended:
Move Past the Edge of Normal: Identifying low-cost and no-cost ways to engage with your community and improve your library’s public access technology
Disappointingly, the presentation focused primarily on the use of the Edge toolkit – a paid feature – to help identify needed improvements in public access technology and locate resources to achieve support and funding to complete improvements. States can also subscribe for all their libraries, but Minnesota does not. However, the benchmarks themselves are available publically at http://www.libraryedge.org/benchmarks, and many are easily achievable.
Teenagers Assemble!: How we revitalized our teen program with a little help from the Avengers
The North Logan City Library of Utah recently reinvented their teen programming, using after-hours programming, very large-scale events, and reusable activity equipment. Attending their biggest event required library volunteer hours, which let the library use teens to help run events for other age groups at other points in the year. They are a relatively large library, by rural library standards, and had several staff members who could assist with youth events, but many of the costs were covered by local sponsors and volunteers.
How to Break Up Boredom
The McLean County Public Library of Livermore, KY, runs various interactive events, primarily targeted at kids/teens, but also open to adults. These low-cost games include life-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos, life-sized Quelf, a variation of basketball, indoor mini golf, and dinosaur digs. These events were brainstormed, organized, and executed with just two librarians available.
Lights, Camera, Advocacy
This presentation highlighted ways to promote and advocate for your library using digital video and social media video outlets. In general: be precise and concise with the purpose of your video. Outline, storyboard, and/or script your video with that purpose in mind. The speaker recommended some equipment for use in recording sound and video, though for a very basic video, even a smartphone and free video editing software will work.
Inspiring Young Authors Through Digital Storytelling
The Madison County Public Libraries of North Carolina partnered with a local middle school to run a writing class at the school during an elective block. Using the website Storybird and its collection of illustrations, students wrote a picture book. Several were printed for use in the library. Storybird is free to use, but be aware that students do not retain the copyright to their work.
Digitize It Yourself!: A Method of In-House Digitization
This presentation explained the necessary equipment and processes to digitize both print and physical items using a digital camera, which is safer than a scanner for print items. The presenter also demonstrated how to build a very cheap chamber box, which helps standardize image quality. A chamber box is great for other media projects, too, like stop motion video. You can view her presentation and see how she assembles the box here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/12bF7kQM0KWHWj8ir4KeMNxXK1mvWXbIGoVSLHx8RDFA/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=30000#slide=id.gef95d870e_0_84
Be Your Own Graphic Designer
Librarians from the Altoona City Public Library of Iowa listed and demonstrated various free programs and resources for designing print materials online. Several of these can also streamline the process for creating infographics and resizing into formats for various social media outlets. Suggested free online resources include: canva.com (MS Publisher-style program online for design for print and web); piktochart.com and easel.ly (for creating infographics); librariandesignshare.org (ideas and examples); and pixlr.com (web-based Photoshop-like program).
Reaching the Teachers: Leading a K-12 Faculty Outreach Initiative (Mostly) On Your Own
A Youth Services librarian from the Seminole County Public Library of Florida attempted to provide new outreach to dozens of local schools over the course of one school year. This involved presentations at faculty meetings as well as discussions with media specialists, paras, and reading coaches. She also noted ways in which she attempted to document the success of this outreach, including tracking each type of communication and each person with whom she interacted.