Archive for August, 2011

Member Power

One of the highlights of our year as an organization is always the conference.  The opportunity to see old friends and the possibility for making new ones creates an excitement that cannot be duplicated by other events.  Perhaps because we are a association of library staff who are, for the most part, isolated during the year, or perhaps because our work in small communities gives us insight into the power of face-to-face networking, the conference is always a big deal.  I cannot encourage you strongly enough to do what you can to be there.

But beyond the 3 days that make up the annual conference, I encourage you to become active in this, your organization; for this is your organization.  A place where those serving as a vital element in the life of their community can communicate, and sometimes commiserate, about their situations.  Where you can “pick the collective brain” for solutions, and resources from those who are doing what you are doing, in the next town down the road.  ARSL is an organization for you, powered by it’s members.

At the conference and for several weeks after, we will be issuing a call for committee members. As a growing organization, with an all volunteer board, we rely on the help and participation of our members.  If you are in Texas for the conference, stop by the table we will have set up with committee information and see what part you can play.  If you cannot come to Texas, look for that same message over the listserv.  There is a piece to this puzzle that has your name on it. Get involved.  It is the best way to assure that the ARSL remains your organization, carrying your message and speaking with the voice of rural librarians everywhere.

But can you afford to not be there?

My library, like libraries everywhere, has had to evaluate and re-evaluate and re-re-evaluate where we are putting our money.  One of the pluses to dwindling funds is that it forces you to select what is truly important, which of your community’s needs are of utmost priority?  Programs, collections, staff salaries, outreach, facilities . . . where should the money go?  Too often, one of the first line items to be cut is staff training.  Seen as a nice plus, more often than not, boards and even library staff do not place this item in the top tier for funding.  Instead, it is something that is done if there is money. I say that philosophy is hogwash. In person training provides opportunities that no other training can offer, and it is vital to the growth of your library.

Training, especially in this day and age of fast changes and even faster technology, is a necessity, not a want or a desire – a must have necessity.  And for those working in isolated, rural or small libraries who do not often have access to in-house or collobrative training, it is even more urgent.  Think of the benefits of an in person training day – you get your batteries recharged, you get to talk to and hear about wonderful, new and exciting ideas that others in your situation are accomplishing and ask them how did they do that?  You have the chance to build your network of experts whom you can contact over the next year and bounce ideas off of and share opportunities for online training.  It is a time to immerse yourself, even for a day, in the pool of “What we could do”. 

The ARSL conference is coming up in a month.  This conference is designed for you – the library staff and board members working in small, rural, perhaps isolated places who want to infuse some new ideas, network with new friends and ask quetions of those who are doind what you want to do.  I know that budgets are tight, that travel money is difficult to come by, but I believe that you will not find a better bang for your buck.  There is little Theory here – it is substance, practical and down to earth.  I encourage you to talk to your board, your Friends, your rich uncle and get yourself to this conference.  It is an investment in your professional life and in the life of your library that I believe you will find pays big returns in the coming months.  You can not afford to miss this opportunity.

See you in Frisco, Texas!

Join your colleagues at the 2011 ARSL Conference!

Join your colleagues at the 2011 ARSL Conference!

Registration for the annual Association for Rural & Small Libraries
Conference continues at

It will be held in Frisco, Texas, on September 8-11 and will be infused with a welcoming atmosphere
and sense of camaraderie unlike any other conference.  Also, ARSL is pleased to announce that the University of North Texas as our conference sponsor.  Online registration ends August 28, 2011.  You may register in-person at the conference after that date.

*              Registration for the full conference is only $200 for
members and $250 for non-members.
*              Conference hotel rates are only $109 per night.  (Rooms
are going fast, so book yours soon.)
*              Free events are scheduled throughout including a
pre-conference mixer, morning yoga classes and closing luncheon.
*              A field trip to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas is only

*       Birds of a Feather facilitated group discussions offer a chance
to gain new perspective while consulting with others about topics
affecting your library such as Summer Reading Club #’s, Fines and Dewey
*       A Member MatchUp will be offered, pairing those new to the ARSL
conference with experienced conference-goers. 
*       Sessions are geared towards all levels of service that you
provide: Adult, Teen and Children’s Programming, Trustee/Board
Development, Community Partnerships, Technology Issues and much more!

*       Free, instructor-led yoga sessions in the mornings.
*       A session on Recycling Books for Fun & Fashion will be offered.

*       National library leaders peeking around the corner during a
What’s Next general session.

Still not convinced that you should register?  Read Sarah Washburn’s (of
TechSoup for Libraries) post:  Best conference, hands down:  ARSL!

I’ll see you in Texas…

Tena Hanson
ARSL Membership Development Committee, Chair

ARSL Conference in this month’s issue of ALA Direct.

We are eagerly anticipating the ARSL National Conference in Frisco, Texas.

In case you were wondering, here is a taste of what is coming during those three days!

“Featured presenters will include Linda Braun, nationally-known library technology consultant and past YALSA president; Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, creators of the “Unshelved” comic strip; and Joe Bob Briggs, TV personality, film critic, author and champion of intellectual freedom.

Free events and activities at the conference include the pre-conference mixer, instructor-led yoga sessions in the morning, Birds-of-a-Feather discussion groups and the closing luncheon.  Attendees new to the conference can be matched up with more experienced conference goers to get the most out of their ARSL conference experience.

For more information about the conference, and to register, please visit”

The entire post can be found here – ALA Direct On the ARSL Conference