I laughed, I cried: why the ARSL-ABOS 2010 conference was a hit!

Librarians, bookmobiles, and a whole lot of inspiration captivated and captured my attention a couple weeks ago. The setting was the mile high city of Denver, where over 400 rural and small librarians and bookmobilists convened to share ideas and spark new ones.

I've attended two ARSL conferences, and I've left both with a smile on my face. The low-key and friendly vibe of this event coupled with a comfortable pace--all sessions are in one locale and most sessions happen more than once--make this conference feel a lot more homey and a lot less hectic than the larger library conferences. I was astounded by the number of attendees this year, and my jaw dropped into an audible "wow!" when all of the scholarship winners stood up to be recognized. Kudos to all of the state libraries and other local agencies for acknowledging the importance of this convening!

A few notable moments and practical tips

I attended a bunch of sessions (check out my photos!), and rather than share all of my notes, I thought I'd share some of the highlights.

Create digital stories with ease: Shelly Drumm shared a bunch of great tips and free tools, but one stood out for me: StoryBird.com. Imagine engaging children and teens in creating their own online stories. I crafted my first story that night!

Invite your community to talk about your library: Jamie LaRue (Douglas County Library, CO) told many stories, all compellingly, and one even made me cry. His presentation illustrated the power of a good story, especially when a community member--not a library representative--tells it. Rather than me describing his impressive project, visit the Big Hairy Audacious Goal and find a site packed full of ideas, resources, and tools on how to engage volunteers--those who are already good speakers--to promote your library. One tidbit from Jamie's talk: when a patron at his library starts to tell a librarian how the library influenced them, or how a program was particularly good, or any story about their library, librarians pull out a Flip Camera and start recording. How cool!

Workforce recovery resources: Shelley Walchak (Colorado State Library), Jennifer Peterson (WebJunction), Kathleen Rainwater (Arapahoe Library District, CO), and Jackie Kuusinen (Bud Werner Memorial Library, CO) shared statistics, stories from statewide and local programs, and many opportunities to learn. From the simple to more involved partnerships and programs, visit WebJunction's post on their ARSL session to find resources to help patrons seeking employment.

Gaming in your library: Kieran Hixon (John C Fremont District Library), a regular contributor to our site, shared his vast knowledge of engaging kids and teens around games. One tidbit that sent session attendees to their pens and pads was Kieran's suggestion to buy used games. He didn't stop there: when kids lose a game, replace the lost one with their personal games of equal value. Kieran will surf the Internet to find used game values and the child will hand over games until that value is met. A super creative idea that invites kids to take responsibility while adding to the library collection. Kieran also fielded questions about games ratings. Audience members shared differing views on whether or not to keep M-rated games in their collection; for more information on that topic, check out the latest edition of Library Journal to get Liz Danforth's take on that topic.

Resources from my ARSL session

After my session at ARSL, I compiled answers to questions I had received about TechSoup for Libraries and sent an email to participants. I thought it might be useful to share some of that email on our blog. Here it is:

TechSoup newsletters

If you'd like to receive updates on webinars, product donation for libraries, and the latest content on our site, sign up for our once-a-month TechSoup for Libraries newsletter.

If you’d like to learn when we add new software/hardware donations to our catalog, sign up for the New Product Alert. Remember that if your library appears in the IMLS database, you’re eligible for products at TechSoup. If your library does not show up in the database, please get in touch with me.

Some resources you requested

The following resources were culled from questions asked by my ARSL session audience:

  • Someone asked for “Ultra-cheap PCs”: TechSoup offers refurbished computers through our RCI program. Save money and reduce your carbon footprint!
  • Virus protection: TechSoup offers many Symantec products. The admin fee is around $4-10 on each product, for both Windows and Mac.
  • Illustrator or Quark: Typically, only 501(c)3 libraries and organizations are eligible for Adobe software donations, however sometimes Adobe includes their software in the TechSoup Limited category, which is open to all organizations, including libraries.

We rely on your feedback

Please share your library with us here: http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/getintouch

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!