A Quick MLA Annual Conference recap!

The landmark Duluth aerial lift bridge

It is always great to meet library colleagues – you have so much to talk about right away! Going to conferences is a very good strategy for meeting up with colleagues; and attending a state association conference lets you put faces to the names of people you may be emailing with, talking with on listserves- or maybe did not even know yet!

This year the Minnesota Library Association’s Annual Conference was in Duluth, September 29-30. From everything I saw, did, and enjoyed there, I can say that a good time was had by all! And it was definitely a learning experience, with so many great sessions and presentations, and many opportunities to connect with people from across the state.

Do you want more information about it, or to see some of the events? MLA has you covered!

It all looks fun, doesn’t it?? Sign up for next year’s conference, which will be held in Rochester! Apply to CMLE for some money to offset your registration. If there is enough interest, we can rent a van and drive a group over one day! (Trust me: it’s ALWAYS fun to travel with library people!)

There were so many different sessions, looking at so many different types of libraries and library issues, it was impossible to see it all. No matter what you like to talk about and learn about in libraries: it was here! There were exhibitors, from assorted library vendors; all ready to chat with everyone about products and strategies to make libraries better. There was a poster session, with a variety of ARLD (Academic and Research Division of MLA) people presenting current research, professional activities, and things interesting to the members.

Our own Karen Pundsack, Executive Director of the Great River Regional Library, was part of a panel early on Thursday: MILE 2017: Leading for Life. This panel talked about the MLE’s Institute for Leadership Excellence, their experiences, and what new members might expect. Four librarians from the Hennenpin County Library talked about “Sustainable Social Media for Libraries.” Four librarians presented “50 in 60 Book Blast – Fiction.” Doesn’t this sound exciting? “Buckle up and enjoy the ride as we talk about 50 books in a variety of genres including: Scary Fiction, African Authors, Pretty Books, Books with a Twist, and Austenesque. It’s fast and furious, but always fun, entertaining, and educational!” Two people from the Washington County Library talked about “Coding Camp: Teaching Middle School Students how to Code Python with Minecraft.” A couple of libraries from the University of Minnesota presented “ReThink: Connecting Libraries to Metacognition, Student Learning, and Student Success“This is another one of those skills that extends beyond any specific library type, so it’s valuable for us all.

CMLE was represented in a great session on advocacy. “Library Legislative Process 101” was presented by Barbara Misselt, Director, East Central Regional Library and Jami Trenam, Associate Director of Collection Development, Great River Regional Library. “Library advocacy is for everyone, not just library directors and administrators. Join both seasoned and not-so-experienced library advocates at this roundtable to explore and share how we can advocate for library services for Minnesota citizens at the legislature.” This is such an important topic for all library people to explore, it was great to see it at MLA!

A diverse panel of people from around the library world presented “It’s All About Relationships: Build Your Best Diversity Outreach. Outreach to racially and ethnically diverse communities has always been part of librarianship, but in recent times has been moving from the periphery to the very core of what we do. “As more librarians learn the basics of social justice and community engagement, we need to push for ever-deeper, collaborative relationships with our patrons.” Jason Roy, Director, Digital Library Services, University of Minnesota Libraries presented on A New Look for Minnesota Reflections: Enhancing the User Experience. This presentation discussed the work done to create these customizations, including the use of the CONTENTdm API, the Blacklight discovery platform, and several open source image and document viewers. Remember our recent blog entry on libraries accepting passports? Marcia Anderson, Director, Grand Rapids Library, and a Representative, Customer Service Office of the Regional Passport Agency in Minnesota gave a presentation on the pros and cons of accepting passports in the library.

That evening, there was a social and networking event at the Glensheen Mansion! “The Minnesota Multicounty Multitype Library Systems and the Kathryn A. Martin Library, University of Minnesota Duluth invite you to the Glensheen Mansion for fun, food, and networking. There will be guided tours of the mansion and grounds – including a rare peek into the family library at Glensheen led by Director Dan Hartman – chili buffet and a cash bar.” This was a very fun event, with a lot of opportunities to talk about history and libraries, to chat with people from all over the state, and enjoy learning the history of the house, the inhabitants, and all the household items.

Crabby Ol’ Bills: it’s a landmark, not JUST a good place to have doughnuts! (Though, it’s also that!)

What else happened? So many things! For more information look over the schedule and get some ideas about things you might want to learn about, or people who you might connect with from around the state. You can see all kinds of topics and learn about people who are doing things that you are interested in trying. Don’t hesitate to send an email to people who are involved in things you would like to know more about (politely, of course!). Conferences, and the after-conference discussions,  are a great way to learn about different ideas to try out for yourself!