By Michele Lawrence
When I first learned about ARSL from The University of Alabama’s listserv, I thought, “This is exactly what I’m looking for.” Small and rural libraries have unique issues that other library associations would be at a loss to address. I read about the 2012 conference and knew I had to go as soon as I possibly could. The breakout sessions sounded like a wealth of information for my future in small libraries. I was beyond excited when I found out I was awarded the Dr. Bernard Vavrek scholarship for the 2013 conference in Omaha, NE.
This conference was amazing from the first keynote speaker, Lee Rainie, to the last. The speakers and presenters were full of energy and excitement for libraries and willing to share all their experience and knowledge to help others. Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire novels, is a dynamic and fun speaker. Anyone who has a chance to see him definitely should. How can I choose the highlights? The unofficial theme of the conference was to generate mutual support by getting your library involved in the community. It seems like a simple and obvious plan, but seems to be frequently overlooked.
Rachel Miller and Louise Greene offered great tips to involve your library with community events in Think Outside the Barn. The Power of One presenters shared great ideas to run a library with a small staff smoothly, such as keeping storytime supplies in a box to be ready at a moment’s notice. I’m so excited about GeektheLibrary.org that even if my library doesn’t participate in the program, I’ll be a one woman Geek Squad!
The ARSL conference brings great presenters, vendors, and ideas together in one venue. More importantly, it is an opportunity to meet and talk with others who share a love for libraries and small communities. The conference rejuvenates this passion so you return home ready to face the challenges and rewards of working in a small or rural library.