Thanks to the Lake Superior Libraries Symposium!

Before I attended this year’s Lake Superior Libraries Symposium, I was told repeatedly how much fun I would have and how much I would like my fellow attendees. I was suspicious: maybe I wouldn’t have fun, and after getting my hopes up, maybe they would be crushed a little extra.

Fortunately, that was absolutely NOT the case – it was great!

I have been to a lot of conferences, all over the place; and I inevitably spend what seems like hours driving around the venue looking for a place to park where I can be reasonably sure my car will still be there when I get back. Then I discover I missed a pre-conference event, or I can’t find the registration area, or any number of other disasters caused by poor planning

NONE of that happened here! Not only was everything easy to find, but the organizing committee kept us well informed – even sending out maps of the parking area where we could park, stationing people to wave signs at us, and providing a constant series of directions and information before, during, and after the conference! It was wonderful!

Of course, there is more to a successful symposium than just good planning (though, again I stress: that really counts!); and this conference delivered on all of it!

The day before the official symposium started there was a workshop with Dr. Loriene Roy: Libraries Serving Native Communities: Collaborations and Support. That evening was the very exciting Library Pub Trivia and Socializing at Blacklist Artisan Ales Taproom. I’m bragging here (ever so slightly!), but I was on a wonderful team – and we ended up winning a very close, hard-fought battle!! You can see the very exciting award below! (Everyone on the team received one of the fabulous awards – I was just lucky enough to get the Big Prize to take home!)

The next morning things continued to hum right along. We started with the Keynote with Dr. Loriene Roy: Libraries Setting the Stage for Love and Forgiveness.

After that, we were able to attend several different breakout sessions. The theme of this symposium was Beyond Neutral, and the presentations all reflected that. The conference materials gave this description: “As information professionals, we often provide access to information and facts and let our users make their own judgements. But in an age of partisanship, fake news, and acrimony, we felt a need to step away from the role of arbitrator and into that of information advocate.”

I gave a preliminary report on strategies for serving our Emerging Bilingual populations in our libraries. As a multitype system, we are in a great position to see the work libraries do across all types; so we know that our members have a much more in common than any difference in patron focus. Identifying some of the strategies libraries are already using to do great work, then sharing them widely, will be useful to libraries without the resources to spend time developing them individually. Likewise, identifying some of the pitfalls libraries of all types are facing as they work to provide great service can be helpful. Once we know where some of the common stumbling blocks are, we can start working out solutions as a group. Library people really are great, and one of our strengths is our ability to work together to solve problems!

We will be promoting this conference next year, so keep your eyes open for it! And if you can attend, I join in the chorus who worked to convince me: It’s fun, it’s educational, and you meet some great people!