New England Library Association (NELA) Conference

The New England Library Association (NELA) conference was Sunday, October 14 through Tuesday, October 16th. I attended the first two days, and every panel and session I went to was valuable. Plus, it was a great opportunity to see former classmates and colleagues, and meet new people (otherwise known as networking, I suppose).

I’ll just do a brief overview with a few takeaway points from each session I attended. Anyone who’s looking for a more exhaustive analysis, head on over to the official conference blog; if you’re looking for specific play-by-play, search for #nelaconf12 on Twitter.

Keynote Address: Librarians’ New Dawn, T. Scott Plutchak

Plutchak spoke personally about his granddaughter, a digital native who also enjoys print media and sees them not as competitive, but simply as different experiences. Print is part of a rich world and a broad range, said Plutchak, but applying print terms to the digital world is rarely successful.

He affirmed that communities do need librarians’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, and encouraged us to take credit for our work: “Libraries don’t do things, people do things. Librarians do things.” The librarians’ mission and function is to connect people with knowledge, something that’s just as important now as it has always been.

New England Library Leadership Symposium (NELLS) panel

This panel was similar to the one I attended at MLA last May; participants and mentors from NELLS spoke about their experience at the “life-changing” week-long program that was described only half-jokingly as “library summer camp.” The focus is on leading from within, managing change, and appreciative inquiry. ALA president Maureen Sullivan helped develop the curriculum and will be moderating at NELLS 2013.

Beyond the Book Sale: Friends of the Library

Representatives of three different Friends groups, as well as Ernie DiMattia, the president of the Ferguson Library (CT), spoke about how Friends groups can help their libraries. The Friends’ purpose is primarily to raise funds beyond the municipal and state money that libraries receive; one common way to do this is a book sale (annually or ongoing). The Friends often provide funds for library programs, as well as museum passes. They should support and promote the library, and be advocates for the library within the community.

That was all for Sunday; I’ll post about the Monday sessions next.

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