Association of Rural Libraries Conference

Burlington, Vermont – September 2019

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Association of Rural Libraries Conference in Burlington Vermont early September 2019 with help of a CLRC Professional Development Grant. 

On our first day Jenee Gerardo and I went out in search of Burlington Public Library.  We found it in a shopping mall. This was of particular interest to us because the library where we work will undergo an extensive renovation in the next few years. Our tour of Burlington Public Library allowed us to see how our Library may be able to undergo a transition. 

The conference programs I attended and a VERY brief take away:

WHY-brarian: How to Reconnect to your BEST – It is paramount to know WHY you are planning a program, building an addition, etc. Knowing why is motivating and helps focus you.

The Age Limit Does Not Exist: Combining Youth and Adult Services into Unique Programs – If multiple generations are considered when planning a program, the theory is that there will be more sustained attendance. A family that learns together will better understand each other. 

Making the Most of the Space You Have – Attendees were asked to assess their current library floor plan and explore ideas on how to think outside the box to carve out “new space.”

From Paper Airplanes to Critical Thinking – Don’t be afraid to explore with those that have a curious mind. Focused on Teen Services but curiosity and discovery is for all ages!

The E’s of Libraries Demonstrating Your Library’s Value to Everyone, Everywhere – This was an advocacy workshop. I took away a comprehensive document that lists the services provided by libraries. Reminding library staff of the work they do for their community is motivating.

Open Your Library Space to Discovery and Imagination! – Create a space where families are welcome to visit, explore and learn. Libraries can be a Children’s Museum, ideas how. 

Tap Into Employee Engagement with the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – Based on the 5 Languages of Love. This was new to me. It is understanding someone’s emotional give-and-take style to better communicate your appreciation. 

The Smart Spaces Process: Co-create and Transform Your Community – Ways the library can promote and support local businesses through programming, technology and meeting space.

Friends and Trustees Under 40: Recruit Them. Retain Them, Engage Them –  Our Board is supportive but by this time next year they will all be retired or of retirement age. I left this workshop better understanding the importance of having a more diverse Board of Trustees. 

Conference networking is so valuable. We met Kathy from near Kansas, Irene from Idaho and Julie from Alaska on our first day. We shared stories about our libraries while attending the open house at Fletcher Free Library, a Carnegie Library. Learning the little things from our colleagues around the country is as enlightening as workshops. We were also able to network with many New York State library professionals due to the location of this years’ ARSL Conference. All conference meals and vendor time provided an opportunity to put a name to a face and get to know people on a personal level.  

I would like to thank CLRC for understanding the importance of professional development!

April Bliss

Director, Dunham Public Library

Are you interested in being our next Professional Development Award recipient? Check out the award page for the rules & requirements!