Diversity & Outreach Columns ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services


Issues facing rural & small libraries to be explored at the Association for Rural & Small Libraries’ 2011 Conference – Frisco, Texas (Sep. 8-11)

ARSL Press Release
CONTACT: Carla Lehn (916) – 653 – 7743 clehn -at- library.ca.gov

LEXINGTON, KY – Unless you actually live there, when was the last time you visited rural America? Our rural areas make a “distinctive contribution” to American life, according to respondents in a W.K. Kellogg Foundation survey. The areas also have distinctive needs.

Dedicated to this idea, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) will hold its 2011 Conference in Frisco, Texas on September 8-11 at the Embassy Suites Dallas/Frisco Hotel and Conference Center.

The conference will bring together staff, trustees, and volunteers from smaller libraries across the nation to share resources and build a spirit of collaboration. The Conference will enable attendees to discuss the growth and development of library services in their communities. By linking together these members of the library profession, the annual event helps them overcome the geographic isolation they often face. “It is a mechanism for members to exchange ideas and cooperatively act together for mutual goals,” according to Sonja Plummer-Morgan, President of ARSL.

The need to address specific issues for rural libraries is indicated by the insightful 2001 W.K. Kellogg survey, Perceptions of Rural America. Survey respondents represented both non-rural and rural America, and both found rural communities to be a contradiction. They were viewed as more friendly and richer in community life than urban and suburban regions. They were also viewed as more serene and beautiful, representing some of our country’s last open space surroundings. Despite the positive qualities, respondents perceived rural residents as plagued by a lack of opportunity, including lack of cultural activities. These unique aspects make the ARSL conference critical for “providing and sharing information about trends, issues, and strategies for their communities,” says Plummer-Morgan.

On the speaker list, the ARSL Conference will feature two separate keynote speakers and a lunch speaker.
Linda Braun, a nationally-known library technology consultant, will be a keynote. Braun has worked in education and educational technology consulting for 23 years. She founded her company, LEO, Librarians and Educators Online, nine years ago with the goal of helping libraries find the best plan to integrate technology into their individual environments.

Initially working as a children’s then youth librarian, Braun watched with fascination as children intently engaged with computers, and noted that teens wouldn’t be coming through the door if the library did not have computers. She consequently enrolled in an online program at Lesley College and earned her Technologies in Education degree to add to her Master of Library Science degree. Braun’s final library job, prior to starting her business, was with a regional library system in Massachusetts where she worked with the youth services librarians at 200 libraries in Eastern Massachusetts. More recently, Braun received the WISE Excellence in Online Teaching Award in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She is the current Immediate Past President of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and has worked on such YALSA groups as the Adolescent Literacy Task Force. Her distinguished career also includes publications such as: Risky Business: Taking and Managing Risks in Library Services for Teens, Technically Involved: Technology-Based Youth Participation Activities for Your Library, and Listen UP: Podcasting for Schools and Libraries. Braun teaches for Simmons College School of Library and Information Science.

Keynote speakers also include Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, the creators of Unshelved, the world’s only library comic strip. Ambaum writes the comics and Barnes is the illustrator. The writer and illustrator promise to keep the conference lively, as well as informative. Their insights into libraries and customer service have led them to speak in 40 states and internationally, and they do workshops at individual libraries and schools. They present on topics such as Graphic Novels from the Inside, a “whirlwind tour through the hundred-plus year history of comics,” and Social Media as a Marketing Tool in which they reveal the secrets of how they used technology to make Unshelved a success.

In addition, ARSL will have Joe Bob Briggs, author, TV personality, drive-in movie critic and advocate of intellectual freedom, as a luncheon speaker. Joe Bob Briggs is actually the pseudonym and acting persona for John Irving Bloom. After attending Vanderbilt University, Bloom began his writing career at The Texas Monthly and Dallas Times Herald. He launched his drive-in reviews as parodies of high-brow movie critics when he was a movie critic for the Times Herald. Bloom has freelanced for Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and Interview and has published five books of satire.

Plans for breakout sessions are underway and promise to continue a stimulating, shared learning environment. A key goal of the 2011 Conference is to increase the number of vendors as a way of responding to a priority of many attendees.

Conference registration will open this spring. Hotel reservations for blocked, specially priced rooms are currently being taken and can be made until August 20th, or until the rooms are sold out, whichever comes first. Additional hotel information and/or reservations can be found >> HERE <<. Founded in 1982, ARSL is a network of people throughout the country who believe in the value of rural and small libraries. Their mission is to provide people and resources to help integrate the library with the community it serves.

For more information, please visit http://www.arsl.info.

# # # # #

For a digital copy of this press release, please click >> HERE <<.