I had a really wonderful time at the ARSL conference in Fargo, ND! This was my first time attending ARSL, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect — it’s a much more national conference than I had expected, which was great. The sessions I attended were really useful — it’s easy to feel like big ideas/big programs won’t work at a very small library, so the ideas presented really helped. I attended a session about graphic design that was especially useful because they presented on ways to (legally!) beef up your graphics without using Publisher. I use Publisher all the time, but would love to get away from it and would also love to use some of the internet-based sites they used. I also attended a session about pop-up libraries. The presenter currently creates a “pop-up” library in 2 locations — a senior citizens living center and at a food bank. Her ideas were very practical and she talked a lot about the logistics of working in those types of spaces. She has also started a seed library where people can donate/borrow/use seeds, which is an idea I love (and this has just become legal in Minnesota!)
Two Kentucky-based librarians presented a program on how to break up boredom (mostly with teenagers) — they were wacky and really fun women with tons of ideas. They showed ideas about life-sized games, some of which I used this summer. I liked their idea of “trashketball” — basically basketball, but played with trash cans instead of traditional hoops. Two Washington state librarians did a presentation titled “Backpacks and Cache Boxes: Self-Directed Family Programs that Encourage Active Learning” that was really informational. One of them has put together four backpacks that contain a variety of items — they are themed for Fishing, Hiking, Geocaching, and Birding. Through grants and some self-funding, they have filled the themed backpacks with items that would be useful to the novice in each category. I got really excited about that idea!
Like I said, ARSL was really useful because it allows you to see what other smaller-scale librarians are doing around the country. I really enjoyed myself and would love to attend again!