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

2Dec/04Off

Catching Your Breath from the Jam-Packed Joint Conference

By Jan Meadows, Bookmobile Supervisor, Pikes Peak Library District.

If you are like me, you are just now catching your breath from the jam-packed joint conference of the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services and the Association of Rural and Small Libraries. Libraries that sent their staff this year certainly got a good return on the dollars they spent. Each day started at 8:00 a.m. and didn’t end until 10:00 p.m.! There were great informational sessions during the day and then open houses and programs in the evening. I was able to take in parts of all the breakout sessions because my “job” was to make sure the speakers had what they needed and that everything was running smoothly during the sessions. So I bounced around a lot and in each session people seemed to be getting excellent information. Bless all of the presenters because they each did two, hour and 20-minute sessions a day--that’s a lot of talking! The participants all attended 4 breakout sessions a day--that’s a lot of info to absorb!

Carol Brey-Casiano, President of ALA, gave the keynote speech, “Grassroots Advocacy, how to take it home”. Carol is an inspiring speaker but also an accessible, down to earth person, so many attendees were able to talk with her one-on-one. What an honor to have her attend the conference! Thanks, Carol!

I was very fortunate to sit with two people from New Zealand for dinner the first evening.

Cathie Richards and Glenn Davidson, Mobile Librarians from the Whangarei District Libraries in Whangarei, New Zealand were two of the most delightful people I have met in a long time. Their program, “Mobile Libraries on the Move in New Zealand”, was both educational and entertaining. How lucky their patrons are to have these two folks bringing library service their way. And how lucky we all were to hear about their service, sing along to Glenn’s guitar and enjoy their wonderful wit and humor. They, alone, were worth the trip to Columbus for me, and I hope they felt that their very long trip was worth it for them also. Thank you Cathie and Glenn! I hope I get to visit your country one day!

The program “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad: A special storytelling performance” was another rousing success. Stan Maclin and friends had the hotel rocking and the bookmobilers dancing. Music for the soul!

Personally, I thought the joint conference was a big success. I enjoyed meeting the ARSL members and feel we all had a lot in common and many of the same issues. I hope we continue to combine conferences in the future.

All in all it was another great conference. The best part for many of us is the networking with our partners in library service, which includes the vendors. Thanks to all the vendors who showed us their wares and supported the conference. It couldn’t happen without your participation. We appreciate you!

Right now we are all awaiting the results of the election of officers and the acceptance (or not) of the by-laws of the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. I hope that we can all pull together and that everyone will strive to offer input and effort into getting the association established and working. The officers and the board need to be responsive to the members and the members need to make their wishes known to the officers/board. Only in working together will this endeavor succeed. Are you each willing to work at making it happen? I hope so! One cannot be a passive member and expect anything good in return.

In the next column I will give you the details of the exciting programs OLOS has in store for outreach staff at ALA in Chicago, June 2005. We have some great speakers lined up!

Until then, please remember I can be reached at jmeadows@ppld.org and I am always happy to hear from you! Wishing each of you Happy Holidays and a Bright New Year!

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