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


The Good and the Bad

By Jan Meadows, bookmobile supervisor at Pikes Peak (Colo.) Library District.

Are there parts of your job that you really dread doing? I love my job, every part of it, except one little task. Now, it may sound crazy, because it is such a small thing, but it is a source of embarrassment (and humor after the fact) each time I have to do it. What is it? Buying wet wipes! Books are a dirty business, not to mention the library card that a child has been holding in his mouth while waiting in line to check out. Without a sink on board we carry antibacterial wet wipes to wash our hands occasionally. Buying those wet wipes is the part of the job I don’t care for. Here are a few of the comments I have received from other shoppers and store cashiers when I have 50 containers of wash & wipes in my basket. "You must have a lot of babies!" "Are you having a lot of sick people over for Thanksgiving dinner?" "Oh, good, you left a couple for me." Once I stopped in an aisle to look at something else and a lady started taking the wet wipes out of my basket. I motioned to my purse in the child seat and said it was my basket. She was all embarrassed and said, "Oh, I’m sorry, I thought it was a sale basket!" Yes, there is more to the bookmobile job than meets the eye!

But, enough of that, and on to one of the better parts of the job, training and conferences!

This year is a banner year. Because ALA is in Chicago (June 23 – 29), which is surrounded by many states with libraries that have bookmobiles and other outreach services, the Office of Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) has gone all out to provide programs for staff in these departments.

First, there is a package of four sessions scheduled for Saturday and Sunday so that they will be more convenient for Outreach staff to attend.

Equity of Choice: Comparing Outreach Services through Cost and Equity
Saturday, June 25, 10:30 – Noon
Two Library Directors, one from a small library system (John Paul Myrick) and one from a large library system (Jose Aponte), will share with you their perspectives on what components need to be considered/compared when deciding what outreach services will work best for your library. A library consultant (Sandra Rios Balderrama) will guide you on how to present your research and ideas to your manager/director/board. Equity should be as high of a priority in the decision as cost and these speakers will help you get that point across!

Reach Outside the Box: Unique Outreach Programs
Saturday, June 25, 1:30 – 3:30
Three speakers who have developed exceptional Outreach programs to serve the underserved will share how they got started and how they have maintained their service. They will inspire you to go home and start your own outstanding program! The three programs highlighted are service to the incarcerated (Glennor Shirley), service to Native Americans (Dana John) and service to immigrant populations (Linda Suggs).

Stellar Senior Outreach: Big Programs and Small Tips for Reaching Seniors
Sunday, June 26, 10:30 – Noon
Three experienced managers (Jeannie Dilger-Hill, Mary Anne Marjamaa & Jane Karp) will share ideas on how to start senior bookmobile or van service, give you new ideas for your already established senior service, offer innovative senior program ideas and impart some important tips on how to make your service/programs run smoothly. The baby boomers are coming and we must be ready!

Outreach 101
Sunday, June 26, 1:30 – 3:30
How do you get started with an Outreach Program? What problems might you encounter? What resources are available to help you? Is Outreach important in small rural libraries as well as big city systems? Experts in the Outreach field will answer these questions and many more. (Satia Orange, Robin Osborne, Dwight McInvaill & Miriam Rodriguez). Reach out to provide equitable service for all!

Many of these speakers were contributors to the publication that debuted last year at ALA entitled From Outreach to Equity: Innovative Models of Library Policy and Practice. Each has unique and practiced experience to share with us. Be sure to mark these sessions as "must attend" in your ALA program! Also, go to the ALA – OLOS track for more exciting programs such as Your Library's Community Starts at Home: Four Steps to Really Connecting With Everyone On Your Staff. Visit the OLOS Meetings page to see the entire list of programs and meetings sponsored by this office.

Now, if all of that isn’t enough, this year a "Conference within a Conference" is debuting especially for library support staff! ALA has also initiated a new $35 membership rate for library support staff. Together, these make attending ALA more affordable for this important group of staff. The conference within a conference is a condensed (lower priced) ALA experience of intense educational sessions and networking opportunities provided on Saturday (June 25) and Sunday (June 26). Two of the above mentioned programs (#s 1 & 2) are included in this conference as well as the Diversity Fair and much, much more. Go to the Annual Conference website or go directly to the Conference within a Conference web page for all the details.

The ALA conference is only three months away as I write this! Register now! I will be the moderator for the above four programs and I hope to see you attending. Please come up and introduce yourself to me. I love to connect with other Outreach staff from across the country and would be happy to hear any ideas you have for programs that would be useful to you at future conferences. If you won’t be there this year, please contact me with ideas, questions, or just to say "Hi!" at jmeadows@ppld.org. Hope to see you soon in Chicago!!

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