This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was a wonderful experience and I would like to share some of the highlights.
First, traveling with two colleagues was great. I have known Val Haverhals, the director at Hawarden for over 20 years. She is one of my "go to" people when need advice. Having Becky Bilby, who recently took over the reins at Sioux Center, along was also a plus. The three of us talked libraries all the way east and back. In Raleigh we joined several other Iowa librarians. Among them was Tena Hansen, the director at Estherville. She will become president of ARSL in 2014 which is an honor and a tribute of respect from librarians all over the 50 states.
Sessions I attended were varied. They included ones on library promotion through social media, ebooks, google docs, public presentations and customer service. I have six pages of notes from one titled "Surviving and Thriving during Challenging Times." The presenter stated that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste and then proceeded to outline how change can be a good thing. Another favorite was "Strategic Planning on a Shoestring" from the Cherokee County Public Library in South Carolina. I will be able to use a lot of that very practical information.
I listened to two interesting speakers. Margaret Maron is the author of a mystery series that we have in our library and her talk about how she became a writer and how sometimes the characters in the book write their own plots was very entertaining. More serious was Susan Hildreth, who was recently appointed to the directorship of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an agency of the federal government. She threw many plans for national technology at us and our heads were spinning by the time she was finished. At least we will recognize the acronyms when we see them in the news.
Of course, one of the best things was the chance to connect with librarians from all over the US. There were a lot of southern accents at this conference, but over the span of three days I met people from many states including Alaska. We all have different facilities but similar problems and concerns.
All of us from Iowa are excited that next year this national conference will be held in Omaha and hosted jointly by the State Library of Iowa and the Nebraska Library Commission. I anticipate helping with it and enjoying the chance to show off our area of the country.
I owe the Library Board and the Friends of the Library a big thank you for supporting my trip to ARSL. I appreciate it and look forward to using information and ideas that will make the Cherokee Public Library a better place.