The Riverwalk was teeming with librarians last week during the 2017 Texas Library Association Annual Conference, and I walked among them. These are my notable takeaways:
-In a session on marketing “like a professional,” the speaker expressed her disdain for using Microsoft Word to create a flyer. “Word kind of makes me want to rip my hair out sometimes when I’m designing flyers,” she bemoaned. I’m with her wholeheartedly on this. If you’re making a flyer or anything graphic heavy, just say no to Word. Use Publisher. Use PowerPoint. Heck, even use MS Paint. Spare yourself the senseless pain.
-As I surveyed the conference attendees while walking from place to place, it struck me how much cooler YA librarians are than I and pretty much all other librarians. They seemingly all have interesting colors in their hair and tattoos of hip book references like “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
-If a person is alone in a crowded place but has a smart phone that connects him or her to a robust universe of information and digital socializing, is he or she still alone? (The answer: Yes)
-Usually when I attend a session, I sit on the end of a row of chairs, partially so I can make a quick exit if it turns out to be a dud. At one particular session, I made the mistake of sitting in the seat second to the end of the row rather than the seat at the very end. To my bafflement and mild annoyance, despite an abundance of empty seats on the other side of me and all around elsewhere in the giant room, someone sat on the end seat directly next to me. Surely this violated some sort of unspoken social etiquette, and Larry David would most definitely have something to say about it. Unlike Larry, I didn’t unload a rant at the person, nor did I move down a seat or two to create space between us for fear of offending her. Thankfully, she left about ten minutes into the session, and I basked in my restored personal space.
-BPL has done a spelling bee before (and will again), but we’ve never done one quite like Grand Prairie Public Library has. In a session on incorporating beer into library events, a GPPL librarian in attendance shared how his library has done a “Sip and Spell” spelling bee that worked just like a traditional bee, except the participants got to imbibe during the proceedings. Whether the beer helped or hurt their spelling, he didn’t say. I don’t know if beer-infused programs are on the horizon in Benbrook, at least not on-site at the library itself, but it’s something we’re looking into.
-Also at the beer programming session, the speaker, who works in an academic library, shared how when faculty members who didn’t regularly use the library attended her event, they had some surprising questions, like, “Can I check out a book from the library?” While such a question is sort of funny, it’s simultaneously sort of sad and a reminder that libraries need to be relentlessly dedicated in our efforts to promote our services and resources. Staff members who are immersed in library land for half of their waking lives know library offerings inside and out, but we can’t assume our potential users do, even when it comes to the basics.
-For those who haven’t heard, funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is in danger of being eliminated. IMLS funds support interlibrary loan, grants, the TexShare databases, summer reading programs, and other pillars of library service, and their loss would be devastating to libraries across the country. Needless to say, those in the library field are very much against the cutting of IMLS, and library users, supporters, and advocates of all kinds should be as well.
Some fine folks at the conference ran a booth at which they offered attendees pre-drafted letters to state representatives urging them to make efforts to save IMLS. I and I’m sure hundreds of others signed, and those running the booth kindly took care of the rest. If you’d like to join the effort to save IMLS, you can find out how to contact your representatives by phone here and by e-mail here.
-In one session, I oversaw an attendee who appeared to be in her sixties confidently tweeting about the session and using hashtags. It was a reminder to be careful about making age-driven assumptions about people’s technology prowess. Those in the library field are likely to be especially savvy, regardless of age. #techsavvy4lyfe #ineverusehashtags #howdoyoudothis #walkingcontradiction