New York Library Association Conference

Rochster, NY – November 2018

Thanks to a Professional Development grant through CLRC, I was able to attend the 2018 New York Library Association Annual Conference in Rochester, NY. This conference offered a wide variety of professional development programs to attend and I am looking forward to trying some of the things I learned and ideas I got at my library.

While I was at NYLA, I was able to listen to two great Keynote speakers. They were from the San Francisco Public Library. One of the speakers is the nation’s first Full Time library Social Worker. She is not employed by the library, but her office is there. She is there to help patrons who may need services for substance abuse, mental health issues, and many other things. The other speaker is a Health and Safety Associate (HASA) at the library. She is also there to help provide services to patrons. The HASAs are all people who are former addicts or have had problems in their past that they have overcome. Many of them are still in recovery or going to counseling. The HASA program is typically a first job for these people once they are sober or have recovered from their past. They both spoke about what they do at the library, how they serve the people there, and how everything got started with having them at the library.

I was also able to attend several programs while at NYLA.

1. I attended a program called Gaming with New and Young Adults. This program offered some gaming program suggestions to offer patron who range from starting college and through their 20s. The presenters went through different types of games (video games, board games, and table top games) and suggested games from each type that appeal to this age group. This was a great program and I am hoping to try some of these games at my library.

2. I attended a program called Engaging Your Community. The presenters started out by saying that we should be in the mindset that “I serve ____________ community”. The presenters each spoke about programs they offer at their library where they try to get people from the community to come to them as well as outreach programs where they go out in the community. Some examples include weekly Coffee and Conversation, the library offers coffee and a preset topic that people can talk about. People do have the opportunity to add to the discussion before the actual day of the program. A bulletin board is set up and people can add a sticky note to it. They usually pick topics that people in the community are already talking about but stay away from politics. 1st Friday is another example where the staff from the library chooses a place in the community to set up a table and ask people in the community what they want to see in the community, not just the library. This way people offer program ideas and not just what books or movies to buy. Another example is offering a New Neighbor Night, twice a year, for new and old members of the community. This is an opportunity for people in the community to see what the library has to offer. Local businesses, in the town as well as in surrounding areas, are also invited to set up a table to hand out brochures and let people know what services they provide. A Teen Librarian suggested going to local PTA meetings to speak to parents for a few minutes about programs the library is having for kids and teens. They also suggested having no fees for kids and teen programs.

3. I attended a program called Creating Dynamic Programming through Community Partnerships. The presenters were a librarian from the Rochester Public Library and someone who works for the local PBS station. They spoke about finding people in the community with similar interests to partner with. We should be willing to do outreach, go out into the community to do programs. We should try setting up tables at community events. Suggested places to partner with include the local Parks and Rec department and the local PBS Kids station. The presenters gave some great examples of programs they have done together both at the library as well as in other locations around the city.

4. I attended a program called Discovery through Literacy and Science. This was a great program to attend to get some ideas of things to do that don’t cost a lot of money. The presenters all gave examples of programs they have done at their libraries that involve science. Some of the programs had the science aspect a little more obvious than others. They spoke about doing programs that are hands on, that are fun, and allow children to learn without them really realizing it.

5. The last program I attended was called Teen Volunteers Make Great Tech Tutors. The presenter spoke about her Teen Tech Volunteer program at her library. Her library offers this service to patrons 2 Tuesdays a month and 1 Saturday a month for a few hours each day. She has 3 or 4 teens available and people can drop in and get some help with a tech question. The teens that help with this program must be in grades 9 – 12, and they must apply, get interviewed, and go through some training before they can start. The teens must commit some time with the library and not simply want to be there just for a few hours. They are called tech tutors on fliers because otherwise people think only teens can get help if it is called Teen Tech Help. People can simply drop in to get the help they need.

Not only was I able to attend a lot of great programs while at NYLA, I was also able to network with librarians and other library staff from my area as well as from around the state. Being able to network is always such a great opportunity for me to talk with other librarians not only on a personal level but also on a professional level. We can learn about the things we are doing at our libraries and get ideas on how to make things better at our libraries in terms of program to offer and attendance to programs.

I was also given the opportunity to attend the YSS Luncheon where author Ann M. Martin, best known for The Babysitter’s Club series, was presented the Empire State Award. Again, I was able to network with other librarians. I was also about to learn about Ann M. Martin and how she got the ideas for her books. I was also able to meet her and get a book autographed for our library!

Thank you again CLRC for this great opportunity! 

Melissa Lewandowski

Maxwell Memorial Library


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