With much hope and trepidation I wrote an essay and was awarded the scholarship to attend my first ARSL Conference. Would I find workshops to fit my needs? Would I have anything worthy to share with others? Would I “fit in”? The “Empowering Small Libraries” conference met my expectations and calmed my anxieties. The sessions and speakers shared not only knowledge, but also introduced me to tools to equip me to better serve my community. Several sessions empowered me with an “I can do it” attitude. Finally, talking to other conference attendees inspired camaraderie of a shared purpose.
My preconference session, Shifting Sands, presented by Bonnie McKewon made me aware of changes coming to libraries of all sizes and some ways to meet the changing needs of our communities and patrons. One of the early sessions with keynote speaker, Lee Rainie, shared Pew research data that confirmed the important role that libraries fill in our community and how that role is changing.
With my mind now set on meeting those challenges and equipping myself to meet them, I made my final decisions on which break out sessions to attend. The presenters were librarians who were willing to share with others how they too could achieve success in specific areas in their libraries.They exemplify what ARSL does best – sharing problems, sharing different ways to overcome those difficulties, and sharing success with others. One presenter mentioned that she plans children’s programs that she enjoys doing. That was a novel thought for me. It made sense, because if I don’t enjoy what I’m doing the program has less chance for success. Mary Stenger, the recipient of the 2013 best small library award, encouraged me with her “if I can do it, you can do it” attitude.
I was also inspired by the presentations from the authors, Craig Johnson and Joe Starita. I enjoyed meeting new people and sharing meals and discussions with them. I enjoyed the volunteers serving at the registration area and everywhere.
I remember the day Becky Heil called to inform me that I was being awarded the scholarship. I was preparing for our summer reading finale and wondering how I was going to do it all. I needed super powers. She remarked that the ARSL conference would make me a “Super” librarian every day. While I didn’t quite receive super powers, I came away with an attitude and knowledge to do my job better. Thank you ARSL and thank you to everyone who makes these scholarships possible. It was an opportunity I will treasure.