Pre-conference Presentations

NLSI_no_backgroundNASA’s “Explore: Marvel Moon” Hands-on Activities

Presenter: Eve Halligan, NASA Lunar Science Institute

Open the door to another world by providing hands-on science experiences for your community! Undertake hands-on NASA activities that are designed to engage children ages 8 to 13 and their families in the library environment and rely on inexpensive, fun materials. Receive NASA activity plans, resources – and lots of ideas! In this full day pre-conference, Eve Halligan from the NASA Lunar Science Institute will show you how to incorporate science education in your library programming.

Price: $65-Includes continental breakfast and boxed lunch
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25
Times: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Shifting Sands: A Changing Library LandscapeBonnie McK

Presenter: Bonnie McKewon, Iowa Library Services

Shifting Sands: A Changing Library Landscape” examines how trends affect libraries’ decision-making in meeting community needs. In this half day pre-conference, see how library spaces are being reimagined as creative gathering places. Look at how staff job descriptions are changing to meet workplace expectations. Discuss what fresh skills library trustees need to bring to the 21st century board table. And see how Planning for Results leads library staff and boards to respond to community needs. Yes, the sands are shifting, but good news – it’s not quicksand – we can best navigate a changing library landscape by working together!

This session is FULL.

Michael SauersVideo Book Talks: From Script to Screen

Presenters: Michael Sauers and Laura Johnson, Nebraska Library Commission
Laura Johnson
In this half day pre-conference, Michael and Laura will discuss the how and why of video book talks – and demonstrate making one, from writing your script, editing your video, and posting it online. If you want to engage your teens, market your book discussion group, or just encourage people to read, check out this easy, fun way to add book talks to your website.

Price: $35
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25
Times: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Head shot 1 (1) (2)Inspired for Greatness

Presenter: Heather Woody, Success Coach – Heather Woody Unlimited

Learn ways to motivate, influence and inspire the people within your team in order to keep them engaged, fulfilled and enthused about the work they are doing on a daily basis. These key intangibles are important in reducing turnover and increasing overall job satisfaction. People and their performance excel when they are able to add fun into their daily mix of tasks, projects and goal achievement. Learn ways to implement productive, performance enhancing fun into your library in this half day pre-conference and be empowered!

Price: $50
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25
Times: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

See more information about 2013 ARSL Conference

2013 ARSL Scholarship Recipients

The Association for Rural and Small Libraries offers three annual conference scholarships to promote the organization and the conference. The Dr. Bernard Vavrek Scholarship goes to a current LIS student and the Founders and Ken Davenport Scholarships go to current library professionals.

Thank you to our ARSL Premier Members who have helped make these scholarships possible through a $10 contribution as part of their membership and thank you to the members of the Scholarship Committee for all of their hard work.  More than 90 applications were submitted and each committee member read each application as part of the evaluation process.   It is a lot of work with some very difficult choices as there are only 3 scholarships and so many worthy applicants. Thank you to:   Hope Decker, Julie Elmore, Judy Grandstaff, Valerie Haverhals,  Becky Heil and committee chair, Shirley Vonderhaar.

On behalf of the ARSL Conference Scholarship Committee we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Scholarships to attend the ARSL Conference this fall in Omaha, Nebraska.

ARSL Conference Scholarship Winners for 2013

Bernard Vavrek Scholarship
Michele Lawrence
Student at the University of Alabama and library assistant at North Suffolk Public Library

Founders Scholarship
Kathy Hale
Director, Savonburg Public Library

Ken Davenport Scholarship
Jennifer Milligan
Director, Sherrill-Kenwood Free Library

We look forward to sharing blog posts from Michele, Kathy and Jennifer when they share about their conference experience!

And thank you to the state library agencies who are providing additional scholarships for rural librarians to attend the conference in September.

ARSL Market Research Report

In March, the ARSL Board met in Chicago to begin work on planning for our future. There were a number of pieces put into place before this meeting including several surveys and focus groups conducted by Lucas Consulting.  Several of you participated in these surveys and groups.  When all the data was collected, the teams of Lucas Consulting and Rainbow Research analyzed the data and created a report for our organization.

Since those meetings, the Board and Executive Committee of ARSL have been working to incorporate much of this data into our operations.  We are evaluating a number of processes we use to reach members, working to develop an updated strategic plan and revamping how our board does business.

Many of the changes we are incorporating and projects we are undertaking are due to the input, suggestions and contributions of our members and potential members.  We thank you for your honest, forthright and (as always) practical advice.  This is your organization and we want to take every opportunity to make it responsive to your needs and wants.

We were fortunate to have such an opportunity and want to thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making this project possible and for providing top quality professionals to facilitate this work. We are extremely grateful to them for making this opportunity to view our Association from a new perspective and to prepare for future growth.

We hope you will continue to let us know what is important to you.

Market Research Report – Executive Summary

Market Research Report – Full Report

Conference Registration Now Open – ARSL 2013

By Jet Kofoot, member of the 2013 ARSL Conference PR Subcommittee, and Consultant, North-Central District, Iowa Library Services

So, hopefully, you’ve found a ride to the ARSL 2013Conference. Now is the time to register, apply for a scholarship and check out (no pun intended) the sessions being offered. The conference planning committee is excited about this year’s conference, and we’re sure you will be too!

First things first, however; make sure you have the correct dates on your calendar, your GPS is set for the correct location and you’ve reserved a room. The conference will be held September 25th–28th at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

The hotel is currently accepting reservations so book your room today.

  • Make reservations via phone at 800-222-TREE (8733), or by calling the hotel directly at 402-346-7600 (Attendees must mention “ARSL” for the $99 conference rate)

  • Or place your reservation via the ARSL Personalized Group Web Page

  • Don’t pay more than $99 / night (plus tax / fees) for a room! Our contract covers our guests under this rate during, and also three days before and after, the conference, as available (please note that rooms may be sold out — all over town — Saturday night).

Now that you have a place to stay, go and register for the conference, sign up for one of the exciting pre-conferences (offered on the 25th) and a fun tour.

Meals provided:

  • Mixer (Wednesday evening)
  • Breakfast (Thursday morning)
  • Lunch (Thursday)
  • Breakfast (Friday morning)
  • Lunch (Friday)
  • Brunch (Saturday mid-morning)


  • Michael Sauers and Laura Johnson – Video Book Talks
  • Keliann Laconte – NASA Explore Marvel Moon
  • Bonnie McKewon – Shifting Sands: A Changing Library Landscape
  • Heather Woody – Inspiring Small Libraries

Be sure to register early for pre-conference sessions as space is limited.

  • Tours

    • On, In, Up & Down Tour of Council Bluffs: Tour public art, parks, historic Dodge House, Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs. Eat lunch at Dixie Quick’s restaurant (featured on Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives!).
    • Spooky Sights and Scary Nights! Council Bluffs Ghost Tour: Do you believe in ghosts? How do you get rid of a ghost? Attend the Council Bluffs Ghost Tour and you’ll find out!

What, you don’t have the money in your budget to pay for the conference!? Apply for a scholarship.

The paper work’s out of the way.  Now you can relax and take some time to peruse the information about the awesome keynote speakers and breakout sessions.

  • Keynote Speakers

    • Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
    • Sally Gardner Reed, Executive Director of ALA’s United for Libraries
    • Mary Beth Stenger, director of the Southern Area Public Library, and winner of the 2013 Best Small Library in America award from Library Journal
    • Craig Johnson, will be the featured speaker at the Author Luncheon
    • Joe Starita, Nebraska author of “I am a Man:” Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice
  • Breakout Sessions

    • Too many to mention them all but here’s a sampling
      • The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Librarian

      • Dazzling Displays on a Dime

      • Chocolate Orgy & More Fun, Free Community Involvement Programs

      • Excel at Rearranging Your Library

      • I Didn’t Know Directors Had To Do THAT!

      • Innovation on a Shoestring

      • No Cost Staff Recognition

      • The Power of One

      • Super Hero Leadership

      • Tech Tools Get-er Done for Free

You should be set-to-go, but if there’s something I missed you might find the answer on our Conference FAQ page.

Wow, you’ve got a ride (hopefully) and a hotel room. You’ve registered for the conference, a pre-conference and a tour. Your scholarship application is in the works, and you’ve scrutinized the offerings for keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Go take a nap; you deserve it!!

ARSL board election are coming!

Nominations for the ARSL board are now closed and the nominating committee has met to determine the list of names put forth on the ballot.

Due to a recent resignation, we are looking to fill six board positions. Two of the nine applicants will be current members, up for a second term.

We anticipate having a ballot with the nine individuals available by mid-June. The election will close in mid-July and the new board members will be notified shortly thereafter.

Short applicant statements will be made available to members to inform your vote. We look forward to your participation in this year’s ARSL board election!

State Library Agency 2013 ARSL Conference Scholarships

Again this year, we’re learning of state library agencies making scholarship opportunities available to librarians in their state! In addition to these state-provided scholarships, ARSL has opened up the application process for three ARSL scholarships.


The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) is pleased to announce the formation of 2 grants for this year’s Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference in Omaha, Nebraska from September 26-28, 2013. Funding through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), in conjunction with APLS, provides up to $1,500 reimbursement for registration, travel, hotel and meals for each grant recipient.

Criteria for grant applicants:

· Must work in an Alabama public library
· Never attended an ARSL Conference before
· Have a library service population of less than 25,000
· Have a willingness to network and share
· Agree to write a 1-page article (300 word minimum) for APLSeeds by November 1, 2013.
· Agree to speak at the October 17th Administrators’ Meeting about your conference experience
· If not the head of a library, supervisor approval of the application is required

Completed applications must be postmarked by June 14th, and grant winners will be announced by July 1st. It is up to the recipient to make all travel arrangements. Applications are available on the APLS website ( under Homepage Quick Links or for download here. Reimbursement forms and receipts must be returned to APLS by October 11th. Any questions should be directed to Denise A. Wetzel at or 800-723-8469, ext. 3949.


The California State Library is again sponsoring up to 30 rural and tribal library staff scholarships for the ARSL Conference in Omaha this year. A message and application were sent to library directors on June 5 describing the process to use to potentially secure a scholarship for themselves and/or a staff member. Questions? or


Please find the application for first time conference attendees from Idaho here: Due July 31, 2013.


Montana State Library is offering 3 scholarships for Montana librarians from small (under 10,000 service population) libraries and/or tribal libraries to attend the conference. Please contact MSL’s Statewide Training and Development Specialist, Jo Flick, with questions. Her email is


The Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) will be targeting all of the funds available this year for Continuing Education and Training Grants toward grants to Nebraska public library staffers to attend the ARSL Conference. We hope to send about 35 to 40 Nebraska librarians to the Conference.

The grant will cover virtually all the expenses of attending the conference—registration, mileage, lodging, and meals.

See all the details and get the application form at

The application deadline is July 3, 2013.

New Jersey

The New Jersey State Library is awarding one $1,000 scholarship to attend ARSL. Application due by July 31, 2013.

North Carolina

The State Library of North Carolina is now accepting applications for scholarship funds to attend the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference in Omaha, Nebraska from September 25-28, 2013.  Since there are limited funds available, this is a competitive scholarship.  Priority will be given to first time conference attendees in libraries serving rural/small populations.  The brief essay question about benefits of conference attendance will also be weighted heavily in the awards.

The scholarship will cover:

  • conference registration (which may include a one-year membership)
  • hotel lodging
  • airfare

The State Library will pay conference registration up front.  Grant agreements between the State Library and the awardees’ library will cover hotel and airfare not to exceed $750 based upon receipts submitted.  All other expenses such as meals, ground transportation, parking, or other incidentals are the responsibility of the staff person and/or library.

The application is available online – and will close on July 30, 2013.  If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Jeffrey Hamilton at 919-807-7417 or

North Dakota

The North Dakota State Library offers a CE grant award for the attendance of two public librarians to the annual meeting of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) conference. Each award will be for an amount not exceeding $2,000. The funds provided by the CE grant may be used to cover the costs of registration, travel, hotel and meals (per diem). Eligible costs shall be payable based on the travel cost policies of the State of North Dakota. Funding for the two awards is made possible through the use of Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) received by the North Dakota State Library. The grant award amount will be paid post conference and reimbursement will be based on the provided copies of qualifying expenses. Selection for the award of the CE grant will be made based on an  essay submitted by the applicant. For more information on the CE grant and to download a copy of the application please go to:

The awarded applicants must meet the minimum criteria specified on the application. For full consideration, applications for the CE award must be received by the North Dakota State Library before July 19, 2013. Announcement of granted awards will be made no later than August 1, 2013.  See: for details of the upcoming September 25-28, 2013 conference in Omaha, Nebraska.


The Office of Commonwealth Libraries is pleased to announce the formation of four scholarships to attend this year’s Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference in Omaha Nebraska  from September 26-28, 2013. Funding through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) provides conference registration plus up to $850 reimbursement for travel, hotel and meals for each scholarship recipient.  It is up to the recipient to make all travel arrangements.

The scholarship’s criteria for applicants include:

  • Must work in a Pennsylvania small or rural public library
  • Never attended a previous ARSL Conference
  • Willingness to network and share
  • Agree to participate in a Webinar to present what you learned to PA librarians
  • If not the head of a library, the supervisor must approve the application

Please complete this application.  It should be completed and sent to Bonnie Young no later than Monday, June 10.  Please let Young know if you have any questions.


For information on the Utah ARSL Scholarship, visit:
Application Deadline May 30, 2013


The Washington State Library, thanks to funding from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), is making full scholarships available for rural and tribal library staff to attend the 2013 conference of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), which will be held from Wednesday, September 25 – Saturday, September 28, 2013, in Omaha, Nebraska. Scholarships will include all conference fees, transportation, and other expenses.

Eligible applicants must:

Work at a small and rural library (serving 10,000 or fewer), or in a tribal library in Washington State;
Be a first-time attendee at the ARSL conference;
Demonstrate a willingness to share knowledge gained from conference attendance with fellow library/district staff through a webinar, printed article, blog post, etc.;
Show how conference attendance will help to meet the library’s goals as they relate to the eight LSTA priorities (;
Attach authorized (signed) permission to the application.

Deadline for applications: Friday, May 31, 2013. To apply, contact Carolyn Petersen at, 360.570.5560, or toll-free at 1.866.538.4996.


Wisconsin’s Division for Libraries and Technology will award four scholarships at $750 each to support first-time attendees who work in Wisconsin libraries to the ARSL conference. Qualifications, information and the online application is available here: and applications are due 7/15/2013.


The Carol McMurry Library Endowment will offer any Wyoming library worker up to $1500 to attend this or another conference:

Applicants can contact Jamie Markus ( if they have questions about the application.

Pew Report: Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading

By Gail Sheldon

I am pleased to represent the ARSL Board of directors as a member of the Pew Internet & American Life Advisory Committee. As librarians, we all know that children and parents have a very special relationship with reading and libraries. We see it every day. Whether it is for story hour, early literacy, homework, school projects, or other programs – parents (grandparents, too) and children love their library. We see their smiling faces, their inquisitive natures, and the joy at finding just the “right” book.

Even though we see this every day and understand how important libraries are to parents and children, oftentimes those who are in control of our funding do not. They do not see how essential we really are. Today, you have ammunition – you have facts and figures that you can use to advocate for your library and the vital role it plays in in the lives of children and parents in your community.  The Pew Internet and American Life Report, “Children, Parents, Libraries, and Reading” was released today. You can find the entire report at

Some of the facts you will find:

“The importance parents assign to reading and access to knowledge shapes their enthusiasm for libraries and their programs:

  • 94% of parents say libraries are important for their children and 79% describe libraries as “very important.” That is especially true of parents of young children (those under 6), some 84% of whom describe libraries as very important.
  • 84% of these parents who say libraries are important say a major reason they want their children to have access to libraries is that libraries help inculcate their children’s love of reading and books.
  • 81% say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries provide their children with information and resources not available at home.
  • 71% also say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries are a safe place for children.

Almost every parent (97%) says it is important for libraries to offer programs and classes for children and teens.” (Part of the report summary)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t be afraid to read these reports – while some research can seem dry and difficult to read – these are very accessible and easy to understand. They are full of visual representations of the data so you can see how each question relates to the other. It will really get you thinking, “How can I use this? What will make the most difference?” The answers to these questions will be different for each of us depending on our situations. But find something you can use from this report and pair it with YOUR own observations and statistics, and library stories from YOUR patrons. Nothing speaks like stories. You know your library and your stakeholders best. Please share your ideas for using this research with the Listserv; it generates ideas for all of us.

Thank you to the Gates Foundation for funding this research, and to the Pew Research Center for their significant work.

2013 – Breakout Session Descriptions

See also:

21st Century iBrary
Matthew Cross
Ak-Chin Indian Community Library

For the past four years the Ak-Chin Indian Community Library has prided itself with using new innovative methods to teach digital media and 21st century skills. Our presentation is about telling our story and is meant to inspire others to think outside their box for programming at their libraries.

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Librarian
Sarah R. Day
Dr. Grace O. Doane Alden Public Library

I describe our after school program (a 3 week rotation of games, crafts, and movies) and explain how anyone can implement a similar program at their library, no matter their size. In the second half of my program, I teach a simple craft.

Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring
Paul Healey

Reference questions seeking legal information are fairly common, but most rural and small libraries do not have the materials, or the expertise, to answer such questions. This presentation will explain the ins and outs of answering such questions, including potential legal issues in providing help. We will also look briefly at the array of legal materials and resources available for free on the Internet.

Ask Them…The Right Way: Creating Community Surveys
Kim Kietzman
Altoona Public Library

Writing questions for community surveys that get responses and results is frequently something libraries pay someone else to do – at great expense. Get tips and tricks to create your own!

Build Library Awareness by Engaging Your Community
Jennifer Powell

Jenny Powell, Field Manager for OCLC’s Geek the Library community awareness campaign, will use the experience of libraries participating in this free program as a platform for a broader discussion about the importance of library personnel getting out of the library and into the community to make connections, build relationships and educate the public about the library’s important local role. Jenny will inspire with examples of library leaders and staff who successfully engaged the local community.

Cataloger as SEP Expert
Melissa Powell

The cataloging database is the foundation of the library’s web presence and as such drives traffic to the pertinent information in the PAC. How well are you ranking your resources for your users? Discussion of access points, notes, and subject headings. Essential for copy catalogers and frontline staff as well.

Community 3E: Innovative Programming/Community Involvement
Gail Sheldon
Oneonta Public Library

The presentation describes the initial conception, and continued organization and presentation of Oneonta Public Library’s two annual premier events – our Public Safety Fair: “Don’t be Lucky – Be Safe” and Haunted Library: “Terror in the Stacks”. These events are part of the Library’s Community 3E initiative (Education, Engagement, and Entertainment).

Community Connections
Becky Baker
Seward Memorial Library

A panel discussion on various ways to help the library connect with the community, especially the business community, in ways that don’t cost too much! Summer promotions and more will be included.

Dazzling Displays on a Dime
Leah Krotz
Belleville Public Library

Displays don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Learn to create captivating displays, using everyday objects and fun themes to bring your library to life. You’ll see tons of pictures to get your creative juices flowing, and go home with resources and practical tips for creating displays that dazzle!
Jamie Hollier
Public Library Association

Information session about the Public Library Association’s, an IMLS funded project launching in June 2013. is an online hub for digital literacy support and training, with a special focus on rural and small libraries. Included in are self-directed trainings for end-users and a community of practice for digital literacy trainers.

Establish a Seed Saving Library
David Mixdorf
South Sioux City Public Library

Describes how to establish a seed saving library for minimal expense.

Excel at Rearranging Your Library
Chris Rippel
Central Kansas Library System

Eventually, librarians need or want to rearrange their libraries. Rearranging bits of paper is tricky. Chris Rippel demonstrates using Excel to easily create a variety of patron-friendly layouts. It’s free, quick to learn and use, and perfect for small libraries.

Family Read – Family-Centric Reading Program
Heidi Schutt
Muir Library

This summer, a few libraries in southern Minnesota are trying a new style of a summer reading program. We are compiling family-oriented resources to create a FamilyRead program that involves and encourages entire families to read together and talk about what they’re reading. We want to share our resources and results.

From Cozy to Exotic:  Not your typical library program
Carrie Falk
Shenandoah Public Library

Will share programs that work at our library and make suggestions for people, organizations and local businesses you can partner with to enhance programs and save costs. We’ve had everything from a car cruise to a gadget zoo to Saturday craft day projects. Will include many more examples and pictures.

Fundraising to Build and Sustain the Best Small Library in America
Amy McBride
Montrose Regional Library District

Learn how the Montrose Regional Library District raised $1 million to build a National Medal-winning library in Naturita, Colorado (population=546), and how it raises at least $30,000 annually to sustain it.

 The Future is Now
Andrea Berstler
Wicomico Public Library

With the technology landscape constantly shape-shifting, libraries must respond as futurists to changing patron needs. Learn strategies on how to remain relevant, if not core, to your community’s needs by providing the means and support for patrons to create and innovate. Rural and small libraries with limited resources can become community innovation incubators, by providing patrons access to transformative technologies and by creating the space for new ideas to be explored. From makerspaces to editing suites to digital learning labs, libraries are empowering and impacting their communities, now and in the future.

Gaming and Game Programming in the Library
Josh Barnes
Portneuf District Library

Got game? Come and explore the many types of games, consoles, and programs available to make your library the hottest place on the block. We’ll also discuss ways to get started: everything from the equipment you’ll need to getting your library’s management on board.

Genealogy Basics for the Non-Genealogist Librarian
Sarah Uthoff
Kirkwood Community College Library

Librarians have to take on many unexpected roles. One of these is the preserver of local history and sidekick in people’s quest to find their family tree. This session will give you the background knowledge to help you help your patrons find the right track.

Hitting It Out of the Park:  Leadership and Advocacy
Valerie Haverhals
Hawarden Public Librrary

The presentation combines library leadership and advocacy to ensure that your library is newsworthy, active, and partnering with groups in the community.

I Didn’t Know Directors Had To Do THAT!
Maryann Mori
Iowa Library Services

Would-be directors often have misconceptions about the role of director, and many newly-appointed directors are surprised to learn exactly what their job description means when they start the job. Understand the joys and challenges of becoming a director, and gain practical tips for finding help when help is needed.

Innovation on a Shoestring
Christa Burns, Nebraska Library Commission
Louise Alcorn, West Des Moines Public Library

Libraries everywhere are dealing with tight budgets and shrinking staff. Small and medium libraries are particularly hard hit by these issues. How are these libraries maintaining a respectable level of technology and library service innovation with little or no money and staff? They are starting new programs, bringing in new resources, and developing new partnerships. This session will highlight some very creative responses from small and rural libraries in middle America.

Into the Wild Blue:  Initiating an Educational Rocketry Program in Your Library
Steven Arthur
Ellis Public Library

Six year successful and growing program of rocketry. taught to kids in the community, other locations in the county as well as to other communities in Western Kansas. It is presented at 4H Space Tech Days, have offered this program to boy scouts and girl scouts and have been approached to offer it in surrounding schools. Program is a collaborative effort between the library and county extension, provides passive remedial instruction in sciences, and has grown exponentially. Annual launch is attended by the community and is a fixed feature in local fair. Kids develop a sense of pride when launching a rocket they built. City made proclamation to declare Ellis ʺRocket Townʺ each year at annual launch. Also supported by local businesses.

Laughter for the Health of It:  Using therapeutic laughter in library programming
Wendy Street
Pella Public Library

I am a Certified Laughter Leader and do library outreach programs that incorporate information about the health aspects of laughter as well as laughter exercises. My presentation will include how to do a Laughter Club, how to incorporate laughter exercises in library programming, and participation in an actual laughter session.

Makers and Mentors and More
Timothy G. Owens
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Looking for new ways to reach teens without breaking the bank? Get ideas to adopt and adapt from the maker movement, learning labs, and more, by exploring projects supported with federal LSTA funding. Leave with tips and tools for engaging teens on a shoestring budget.

Mind Mapping Your Library, Mind Mapping Your Life

Denise Anton Wright
South Central Library System

Mind Mapping is an incredibly powerful visual tool that was first popularized by Tony Buzan in the 1960s. Since that time Mind Mapping has been successfully used as a planning model in a variety of library settings. Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with Mind Mapping to achieve both professional and personal goals.

No Cost Staff Recognition

Sheila Urwiler
Starke County Public Library System

Our staff are our best resource for marketing, advocating and providing outstanding service; with limited budgets and time, we don’t always appreciate them as much as we should. This presentation will discuss low- and no-cost ideas for implementing a staff recognition program, and empowering staff to appreciate each other.

Pew Panel
Lee Rainie

This panel discussion will offer follow-up information regarding data presented in Lee Rainie’s opening keynote presentation.  Those interested in learning more about applying the data to their own situations and libraries won’t want to miss it.

Physical Change by Mental Change
Lola DeWall
Pocahontas Public Library

Marketing your library to appear fresh and new on a budget. How many times have you said, ʺI can’t do anything to change the appearance of my library. This is the only way it works.ʺ Ideas presented to physically market your library to the community. (Design on a Nickel)

The Power of One
Judy Calhoun
Southeast Arkansas Regional Library

Running a one-person library can be a daunting task. In the Power of One, we will show how you can transform from mild mannered librarian to Super Librarian! Discover your superpowers to unleash skills that will help to make your life easier and more efficient.
Topics that will be included are: Time Management, working well with others: board members, volunteers, Friends, etc., financial Matters, technology Issues and more!

Pushing the Limits
Al Bennett

Larry Grieco, Director of the Gilpin County Public Library in Colorado

Pushing the Limits is entering the fourth and final year for funding by the National Science Foundation. Twenty rural libraries offered four programs each in 2013 for their communities featuring reading, viewing project-developed videos and discussions involving local scientists. Leaders from participating libraries will describe their activities. The additional rural library grantees will be in introduced. The future of the program after 2014 will be discussed.

Reader’s Advisory on the Run
Carolyn Petersen
Washington State Library

This presentation is aimed at the librarian who is too busy to read everything he/she would like to, but still wants to keep abreast of adult reading trends so they can recommend materials for their patrons. Topic covered: book awards, best seller lists, internet sites to follow, How to judge a book by its cover.

Refurbishing Reference
Terry Elsey
Laurens County Public Library

  • Survey holdings in reference
  • Decide reference depth and breadth with typical update periods
  • Include decisions on print vs eresources such as ebooks and databases
  • Make reference policy
  • Significantly weed print collection, possibly move to circulation, local history collection, discard or update
  • New signage, print placement
  • Arrangement of databases on website

Small Libraries Can Make Big Impact
Joan K. Weaver
Kinsley Public Library

The small, rural library can stay relevant by being instrumental in preserving their community’s heritage through oral histories. Presentation will show how small libraries can follow the example of the Kinsley Library (recognized throughout Kansas and as a two-time 2012 ALA award winner) in gathering, preserving and making accessible the lives of 66 citizens. See ʺPatchwork of Dependencyʺ, ʺPatterns of Changeʺ, and ʺ1979 Tractorcade to D.C.ʺ at

Start a 1,000 Books B4K Program at Your Library
Karen Drevo
Norfolk Public Library

Learn how to launch a ʺ1,000 Books Before Kindergartenʺ stealth program at your library to ensure kids enter kindergarten ready to read, reinforce parents’ role as their child’s first teacher, instill the lifelong love of reading in young children, encourage frequent visits to the library, and boost your circulation–all on a shoestring budget.

Super Hero Leadership
Lisa Lewis
Huachuca City Public Library

ʺEMPOWERʺ your library by developing ʺSUPERHEROʺ leadership skills. Channel your inner superhero and lead your library through difficult challenges such as budget, innovative programs, community outreach, staffing difficulties and much more. You will leave this presentation armed with all the tools necessary to conquer the world!!! (maybe a slight exaggeration).

Tapping Into Transnational Communities
John Thill
Napa County Library

This program examines the way in which transnational communities, those based on extended families and hometowns within a country of origin, can be used to create specifically tailored library services that reflect the true demographics of a library’s Spanish speaking community. The presentation will include tips on identifying transnational communities within a service area by using internet resources and on-the-ground cues and how to utilize this information in collections and programming.

Tech Tools Get-er Done for Free
Kieran Hixon
Colorado State Library

Join Kieran as he unpacks his toolbox full of 25+ free tech tools that you will be able to use at your library with a flick of a mouse.

Teen Programs That Pack a Punch
Hope Decker
Cohocton Public Library

Every library can provide teen programs that teens will love; “If you build it they will come”. Three simple programs will be presented (Extreme Cupcake Decorating, Ultimate PB&J Challenge and Duct Tape Crafts). At the end participants can share their own teen programs, pit falls of teen programming and brain storm solutions.

Think Outside the Barn @ your library
Rachel Miller
Forsyth Public Library
Louise Greene
Richland Community College

Advocate for small and rural libraries in the festive atmosphere of a fair, farm show, or community event. Bring “Think Outside the Barn@Your Library” to your area and connect with patrons on their turf. These venues are perfect to remind people with rural roots what libraries do for them.
What will participants learn from this program?
1. What resources are needed to be a presence at a fair, farm show, or community event.
2. How to operate a booth including staffing, decor, and visitor interactions.
3. How to uncover local opportunities to promote your library

Working Together: The Library Director’s Relationship with Library Trustees & City Government
Susan Mannix
LeClaire Community Library

Maintaining effective & productive relationships with the Library Board of Trustees, City Government & City Administration can be among the Public Library Director’s most important and challenging roles. Join in a discussion on how a Director can confidently and successfully manage these pivotal professional relationships.

Weeding: The Good, The Bad, and the Mustie
Jeremy Bolom
Lincoln Parish Library, Ruston, LA

Weeding is not a dirty word! Change your attitude about weeding and take charge of your collection. Learn the essential steps to make your collection more useful, comfortable, and attractive for your users.

See more information about 2013 ARSL Conference including Registration.

See also:

2013 Conference Registration Now Open

The Conference Planning Committee is pleased to announce the opening of registration for the September 25-28, 2013 ARSL Annual Conference to be held at the Doubletree in downtown Omaha, NE. Start the process by following the link listed on the registration page of our website, here: Registration Overview Page.

Be sure to take advantage of early bird member pricing (membership pays for itself if you’re coming to conference), and also the special events that will soon sell out, such as:

  • Preconferences scheduled for Wednesday, September 25th (featuring 1 full day and 3 half-day options)
  • Tours (featuring your choice of a full day tour of several local sites filled with history, shopping, and a famous restaurant for lunch, or an evening ghost tour!)

Our conference will feature the following keynote speakers, in addition to a wide variety of breakout sessions:

  • Thursday opening keynote: Lee Rainie of the Pew Research Center
  • Thursday luncheon: Mary Beth Stenger, winner of the 2013 Best Small Library in America Award
  • Friday opening keynote: Joseph Starita, award winning author and American Indian history scholar
  • Friday Author Luncheon: Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, featured on A&E’s hit television program
  • Saturday closing keynote: Sally Gardner Reed, Executive Director of United for Libraries

In addition to all of these excellent speakers, we invite you to join us the evening of Wednesday, September 25th from 7:00-9:00 pm at the Omaha Public Library (just over a block from the conference center) for a welcome reception complete with music, an array of foods originating in Nebraska, a cash bar, and excellent company. Conference registration includes all meals (this also includes the Author Luncheon) from Wednesday evening’s reception through Saturday’s brunch), with the exception of Thursday and Friday evening, when you are invited to sign up for the “dine-around” of your choice at conference. Thinking of bringing a guest, or the whole family? This year, we are offering a meal package option for the conference, and also an author luncheon ticket for those who are not registering for the full conference. Your guest is welcome to join you at our meal events, thanks to this provision. There is plenty to see and do in the area, and our hotel offers a free shuttle to local attractions. Take a look at for more information.

With a low registration fee, conference rate hotel rooms at $99 per night, free wireless Internet, and a free airport shuttle, this is a great opportunity to network with peers from all over the country, and take in a conference devoted entirely to the needs of those from small and/or rural libraries.

We hope to see you in Omaha!

Tena Hanson
2013 Conference Co-Chair on behalf of the Conference Planning Committee

Don’t be Left Behind, Find a Ride to the 2013 ARSL Conference

By Jet Kofoot, member of the 2013 ARSL Conference PR Subcommittee, and Consultant, North-Central District, Iowa Library Services

Row a boat, charter a bus, catch a plane, drive a car, hire a taxi, ride a train, rent a truck do whatever it takes to get to the 2013 ARSL Conference in Omaha, NE. The conference will begin with pre-conferences & tours on Wednesday, September 25, tentatively scheduled from 1:00-5:00 PM with a welcome reception that evening from 7:00-9:00. The full conference will begin at 8:00 Thursday morning, September 26, and will run through noon Saturday, September 28. The conference hotel (Doubletree by Hilton) is open for reservations and conference registration will be opening April 12. Additional conference and hotel information including room rates and conference fees can be found on the ARSL web site

The conference planning team is excited to announce that Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, will serve as our opening keynote speaker Thursday morning. Sally Gardner Reed, Executive Director of ALA’s United for Libraries, will be our closing keynote on Saturday. Also, Mary Beth Stenger, director of the Southern Area Public Library, and winner of the 2013 Best Small Library in America award from Library Journal, will address our group to tell her story. Craig Johnson, of Longmire fame ( will be our featured speaker at the 2013 Author Luncheon, held on Friday September 27.  Those in the area who wish to attend this event alone can purchase tickets for $40.  Those registered for conference will find that this event is included. We are very excited about the conference programs in 2013! We look forward to announcing additional keynote, pre-conference, and breakout session speakers as they are confirmed.

If you’re thinking about bringing family or friends, there is plenty to keep them occupied in the Omaha / Council Bluffs area while you are busy soaking up our excellent sessions. Our conference, this year, has built in a meal plan option for those who wish to attend only the meal events. For $160 your guest(s) can attend all meal functions, which includes the Wednesday evening reception, breakfast and lunch both Thursday and Friday, and brunch on Saturday.

While you’re in Omaha, plan to spend some time exploring this great city full of history, culture and adventure. Walk across a swinging rope bridge suspended over a tropical rainforest at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. Hop aboard historic train cars at The Durham Museum. Climb in, on, and through everything imaginable at the Omaha Children’s Museum. Step into pioneer life at the Mormon Trail Center. Explore more than 100 acres of botanical beauty at Lauritzen Gardens, and marvel at exquisite works of art inside the Joslyn Art Museum. Boys Town is a national treasure featuring an expansive campus, historic chapel and museum. El Museo Latino is the first Latino art and history museum in the Midwest, and Love’s Jazz and Art Center captures the heritage of jazz in an area where Duke Ellington, Count Basie and others once played. To learn about more things to do in the Omaha / Council Bluffs area visit the Convention and Visitors Bureaus for Omaha and Council Bluffs.

Grab your oars, buy your tickets, tune-up your car, or hire your ride so you’ll be ready to travel to the 2013 ARSL Conference in September. It promises to be an educational and fun event that focuses specifically on the needs of rural and small libraries.

Join the Global Public library program!

The Global Film Initiative is now accepting applications from public libraries to join the Global Public library program.

GlobalPublic.logoGlobal Public is a unique opportunity for public libraries to revolutionize arts and education in their communities through exhibition of the award-winning narrative world cinema series, Global Lens. Libraries work with the Initiative and local partners on vibrant exhibitions of the series and after presentation, libraries are invited to keep films for their permanent lending collection.

The Global Lens film series was established to showcase unique and compelling stories of the world through film. From Rwanda to Mexico, India, Bosnia and beyond, the series features award-winning films by innovative filmmakers from around the globe, and is seen in locations such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution, to cinematheques, festivals, schools, universities and of course, public libraries.

If your library is in the U.S. or U.S territories and would like to join Global Public, visit our website to learn how you can submit a proposal.

More Information >>

Call for Presentation Proposals for 2013 ARSL Conference

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) is pleased to announce that proposals for break-out session presentations as well as pre-conference sessions for the 2013 Conference to be held in Omaha, Nebraska, September 26-28 are now being accepted.

Proposals for these 1-hour sessions and 4-hour pre-conference sessions can be submitted using our online form found at the link below. Pre-conference sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, September 25th.

Click here to access online form.

The deadline to submit proposals is February 17, 2013. All those who submit a proposal will be notified whether or not their proposal was accepted by March 8, 2013.

Our theme for this year’s conference is entitled “Empowering Small Libraries.” We welcome all proposals that can benefit small and rural libraries in any way but would love to see proposals that include some of the following:

  • Think Outside the Box” Ideas that go beyond book clubs, book sales, story times and other commonly-practiced library programs and services.
  • Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Community Engagement
  • Outstanding Youth Services

We remind presenters that presentations need to be geared toward the small and rural library audience. Practical, hands-on, and how-to formats are preferred. This is not the proper venue for post-graduate dissertations or marketing products and such proposals will not be considered.

All proposals will be reviewed and chosen by the Conference Programming Committee. Awarded presenters will receive ONE complimentary conference registration per presentation selected. (i.e. a team of three presenters working on one presentation will receive one complimentary registration).

We look forward to your submissions and good luck!

Lisa Lewis
Conference Programming Committee Chair

2013 ARSL Annual Conference Announced

We are pleased to announce that the 2013 ARSL Annual Conference will take place September 25-28, 2013 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Omaha Downtown in Omaha, Nebraska.


  • Wednesday, September 25, 2013:  Preconferences & Welcome Reception
  • Thursday, September 26, Friday, September 27th, through approximately 12:00 pm on Saturday, September 28:  Full Conference
  • Saturday afternoon, September 28 – Sunday morning, September 29:  ARSL Board Meeting


  • DoubleTree by Hilton Omaha Downtown in Omaha, NE. Website:
  • Rooms will be $99 (plus tax)
  • Within walking distance of Omaha’s Old Market, featuring “unique shops, boutiques, pubs, restaurants and entertainment in a historic neighborhood. Shop bookstores to bakeries, art galleries to antiques, clothing to collectibles, then dine in one of more than 30 area restaurants. Accessible.”  (Taken from

Perks for our guests include: 

  • Complimentary parking in attached garage
  • Complimentary wireless internet service in guestrooms and meeting space
  • Complimentary airport and local shuttle

Reservation Information:

  • The hotel is ready for reservations via phone at 800-222-TREE (8733), or by calling the hotel directly at 402-346-7600 (Attendees must mention “ARSL” for the $99 conference rate)
  • Place your reservation via the ARSL Personalized Group Web Page

As always, you can find the latest information about our upcoming conference on our website at

I look forward to seeing you all there!

Tena Hanson
2013 Conference Co-Chair and President-Elect

Do you work in a small or rural library?

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries needs your input. We are engaged in an effort to more fully understand the important work of small and rural libraries and learn from people like you working in these libraries about your concerns and needs. Last month, we held several focus groups, both online and in person.  This month we are conducting an online survey to gather more information.

Please help us by completing this online survey

Completing the survey will take approximately 10 minutes for non-members and approximately 15 minutes for ARSL members. Click on this link to take the survey now.

This survey is being conducted on behalf of ARSL by Lukas Consulting and Rainbow Research, Inc. with generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. ARSL’s mission is to “provide a network of people and materials to support rural and small library staff, volunteers and trustees to integrate the library thoroughly with the life and work of the community it serves.”  We look forward to sharing the survey results with you on the ARSL website ( in early 2013.

Your responses will be kept completely confidential. Rainbow Research, Inc. will collect and analyze the data and will present findings in summary form. While participation in the survey is voluntary, we sincerely hope that you take part and encourage you to respond with candor. If you have questions or comments about survey content, please contact Barry Cohen, Executive Director of Rainbow Research, Inc., at 612-824-0724 ext. 202 or

On behalf of ARSL and the rural and small library community, thank you in advance for your participation. We appreciate you taking the time to inform us about your concerns, needs and opinions. Feel free to share this invitation to colleagues at your library and others working in rural and small libraries whose opinions you value.

Sincerely yours,

Becky Heil
ARSL President 2011-2012

Andrea Berstler
ARSL President 2012-2013

2012 ARSL Conference Recap

First published in Pennsylvania Compendium

By Linda Orsted, Flenniken Public Library, Carmichaels, PA

The Association of Rural and Small Libraries is an amazing organization. It is managed by volunteers whose energy and commitment to its mission of addressing the needs of small and rural libraries keeps it focused and productive. I was honored to meet library staff members from Maine to Alaska at the recent ARSL annual conference in Raleigh, NC. Conferences often advertise their networking opportunities. It’s really true at ARSL. As great as the speakers and workshops were, I got as many ideas from casual conversations with other attendees as I did in the formal sessions. Every person who attends has a story about ‘what works for us’, or ‘these are the hurdles I overcame to get the funding the library needed.’

I attended a 4-hour pre-conference session called “What Do I do Next?” with Don Reynolds, retired director of the Nolichucky Regional Library in Tennessee. Don has a wealth of knowledge about how libraries operate, what challenges public libraries face now, and what challenges they may be facing in the future. Each person attending the session shared a threat or challenge their library is facing now. To no one’s surprise, many were similar—funding, marketing, the rapid change in technology, and keeping the library relevant in the community. One library director commented that they were ‘too successful.’ They are running so many programs and have such a high circulation that they are exhausted!

Don’s presentation focused on ways library directors and staff (if they are fortunate enough to have other staff) can find the community’s pulse, assess its health, and address the needs of its residents. Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Get out in the community. Library leaders should spend at least 10% of their time outside the building. Find out what business leaders are doing and what kind of information they need. Talk to official and/or perceived community leaders about the library as a community commons.
  • Gather ideas from outside of the library literature. Marketing and leadership gurus have great ideas that can be transformed for the library world. Find some brands and logos that you like and go from there.
  • Find library fans to help you get the word out about how wonderful the library is. Don quotes Will Rogers: “Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.”
  • Look at past winners of Library Journal’s Best Small Library award. Get inspired to try something innovative, and then apply for the award for your library. (The library director of the Independence, KS library spoke at the conference about winning the award.)
  • Don’t get lost in the digital divide. Make sure you know about emerging technology and implement its use in your library. (Don winks and suggests hiring a sixth grader as your technology coordinator.)
  • Be customer-friendly in everything you do at the library, and around your community, for that matter. Your next patron, donor, or advocate might be standing behind you in the grocery line. Can it hurt to return their books to the library for them?

After that whirlwind start to the conference, I wondered if the rest of the events would be as information-packed and energizing. Yes, they were!

There was quite a bit of discussion at the conference about libraries as community commons (i.e. gathering places for civic discourse). Lisa Lewis, the library director in Huachuca City, AZ, titled her workshop ‘Turning Your Library into a Community Anchor.’ She used the anchor as a metaphor for the library. It provides support and stability as well as flexibility in the community. The library is a champion of the arts, culture, youth services, the community itself, and a supplier of information.

Lisa talked about how she and her staff have made sure the library delivers on its promise to be a community anchor. The library provides support to the community in many ways, including workshops on subjects related to job hunting (résumé writing, dress for success, life after high school) and other life skills; ongoing classes for computer skills, GED preparation, needlework, genealogy, Every Child Ready to Read, and parenting; and regular programs (story time, family literacy night, art festival, back-to-school night, etc.) In response to community surveys, the library provides Internet access, a collection of best-sellers in book and other formats, databases, job listings, e-readers, reference services, and activities especially for seniors. The library is open to trying new things, partnering with other organizations in the community, and being responsive to community needs.

She reminded us that 6 out of 10 people want to live in a community with a library. Even if they don’t use the library, they see it as an essential part of a healthy community. The library is open to everyone. It’s a great place. In order to make it a great community anchor, Lisa says, “Show up, pay attention, then act!”

It was an inspiring four days. It met lots of wonderful, committed, energetic people. This was the first conference where everything applied to me! It reminded me that small and rural libraries are significant forces in our communities. We can make a real difference in people’s lives. The 2013 annual conference will be in Omaha. Go!

Even if you did not attend the conference, you may read the handouts at Conference handouts go all the way back to the 2006 conference, so there is a wealth of information on the site. Please check it out. You will want to bookmark it for future reference.

The P Factor

By Tameca Beckett
Youth Services Librarian
Laurel Public Library (DE)
ARSL Board Member

There are so many equations out there that can help determine the value of success. These metrics provide a glimpse, a snapshot into the library in whole or in part.  However, metrics, as important as they are, aren’t everything. Usually people talk about an unknown compelling force as the X Factor. But X is an unknown and it is constantly in flux. Rural and small libraries have a very solid constant that I’d like to call the P Factor.

This year I had the great pleasure of attending the ARSL Conference in Raleigh, NC. Throughout all the sessions (fabulous!), what struck me most were the people that attended. I talked with people from all over the country, many wearing two and three hats. We all converged in Raleigh for the common purpose of engaging, educating and encouraging each other. The P Factor that we, as rural and small libraries, have is our people. We have, as a library community, successfully tapped into the value of people connection.

Think about how many patrons you know by their first name. Consider the regulars that don’t even need to tell you what they need…you already know.  No, we’re not big, huge organizations. And some might consider this a weakness. I would argue that our size is our strength. This People Factor is engrained in our policies, our level of service, and our commitment to our community. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that “gets” people. We are building our communities one person at a time. And these people that we are pouring our heart and soul into know it. They know who we are and what we’re about…them.

“just do it”

How many libraries would be willing to take on the challenge of providing an hour long summer reading program four days a week for 8 weeks– and then top off that challenge with the additional duty of providing lunch to the children immediately after the program?

That challenge would daunt most libraries who have multiple library staff. Sprague City (population 441) librarian Judy Boutain knows what her community’s kids needed and didn’t back away from the challenge.  Beginning the last week of June and continuing until August 23rd Judy with the help of one summer youth worker provided an hour long summer reading program and then took the kids across the street to the park for lunch.  Her attendance varied from 14 to 42.

The Sprague community recognized Judy’s achievement by electing her as the parade marshal of Sprague Days, a local community celebration.  Sitting down in the car during the parade probably gave Judy some well deserved rest!

Kudos to Judy Boutain of Washington State for being willing to provide both mental and physical nourishment to the kids of her community and kudos to the  many rural librarians out there who have taken on challenges just like the one Judy accepted.  They “just do it.”

Zoom, zoom! – Hope Decker, Conference Scholarship Winner

The call of all those who work in small and rural libraries…zoom, zoom! When Mazda launched its Zoom Zoom commercial  several years ago, I felt it was my theme song. Busy but happy: a joyous celebration of zipping around from one thing to the next.

The moment I got back from this year’s ARSL conference in Raleigh I was greeted with a long list of tasks that needed to be done immediately. I had to: plan and make a float for the Fall Foliage Parade, prepare the gift basket raffle and book sale for Fall Foliage Festival, move books and furniture for the carpet cleaners after the Festival, get documents notarized for lawyer (we are suing our insurance company for failure to cover a building collapse) and prepare to move into the section of the building that collapsed (after over a year, the final repairs were completed the week I got back!). For the most part it’s all good stuff (not the battling our insurance company part), I zoom from one thing to the next and somehow everything gets done.

Over the last seven years our little Library has grown in square footage, hours of operation, circulation, funding, programs, and people at an astounding rate. It is all I can do to keep up. I feel like I am doing the doggie paddle in this vast sea of Library success, I’m happy, it’s exciting, but I don’t get the big picture. I don’t really even understand my job anymore (bigger library, bigger everything…my job as director has indeed changed). Zooming from one task to the next, with little reflection, leaves me feeling like I never get anything done in the midst of doing a lot!

At the ARSL conference I had an “Ah-ha moment” during Andrea Berstler’s workshop, The Entrepreneurial Librarian. Our Library has changed, and it needs a new strategic plan. I need to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time specific). The “Zoom, Zoom!” method of doing Library business may not always be the most effective way to serve my community. It may eventually even lead to burn out. I could get lost in doing lots and lots of things instead of having specific goals and doing the things that help us reach those goals. I’ll still be “busy but happy”; I’ll just be “busy but happy” with a plan!

Hope Decker
Cohocton Public Library

Kate Skinner – Conference Scholarship Winner

I never did get to write my take away from the conference on the board at the registration table because I was dithering with the choice, fine tuning and editing my phrase and then I lost the moment. The board had gone. We moved on. I was flying across the country again still pondering a good catchy summary phrase.

Would my take away  have been something to do with the repeated urging to connect with our community, be present, be where the action is, participate, be the library 24/7 gleaned from the many library advocacy sessions available:  Best Small Libraries, Building Community Partnerships, Celebrate with Successful Family Literacy Events, Curation vs Creation, Easy Advocacy, Knock Their Socks Off, Mentoring as Subversive Activity.

Would it have something gleaned from the meal table and conference corridor networks – all that talking and sharing which took place? Perhaps something to do with the amazing experience of commonality derived from being amongst almost 400 librarians from across the nation who all have the same issues, same sized budgets, same missions. We all had so much to say, to share, to question one another about, compare. We experienced that deep meaning of the word conference – to confer, to gift one another with our experiences. We see anew and are refreshed.

Back up a little: I heard I had been awarded the conference scholarship around about the same time that I also heard that the funding for my library was being cut 50% in the coming fiscal year. So it was with tempered excitement that I accepted and started on the journey to a conference on the theme of celebrating libraries. Was this the right time to leave my community? Wasn’t it better to be at home answering questions and comforting those who feared the loss of their more than 100 year tradition of public library?

Going to conference allowed me to step back, take a breath and bring in reinforcements – in the form of the  knowledge of all those other small and rural librarians I was meeting who faced the same challenges and who found solutions and made plans. From the first presentation I attended, David Singleton’s on Surviving and Thriving in Challenging Times, I knew I was in the right place. I began to feel more optimistic about the future not only of my library, but of rural libraries across the nation. They are in good hands.

ARSL 2012 conference was an intense 3 days of mingling, learning, laughing, talking, introducing, sharing which invigorates, refreshes and renews

I have come away full. The long return flights, three plane changes and three hour time difference gave me time to ponder and digest.

We live in different time zones, have different climates yet we can learn, strengthen and grow by gathering together. Ultimately the one word which sums up this conference for me is relevant. For small and rural librarians in the USA,  this is the most relevant conference out there. Every aspect of the programming is geared to our specific concerns, size of budgets, staffing issues and communities. All the networking which takes place, is with colleagues across the nation who have some much in common.

If one is in a rural or small library in the United States, the ARSL is one of the associations really worth joining. The listserve has already brought me professional community and valuable advice. The conference reinforced this. The generous scholarship award enabled me to be there in Raleigh, NC.  Without it I would not have been able to afford the considerable expense of the trans-continental flights, the hotel and conference registration. We weigh and balance membership in professional associations these days where each expenditure has to earn its place in our budget. Membership of ARSL and this conference attendance is certainly real good value.

The 2012 conference in Raleigh with its quality presentations and invaluable connections will inform and strengthen my future practice in a myriad ways.

Thank you.

Kate Skinner

(Kate Skinner is a Manager with Libraries of Stevens County in rural north eastern Washington State where she manages Chewelah Public Library. She was the recipient of the 2012 Ken Davenport Conference Scholarship.)

Julie Elmore’s Conference Experience

As excited as I was to learn that I had been awarded the Dr. Bernard Vavrek scholarship, nothing could compare to the excitement and energy that arriving at the conference actually held. There is a certain energy that flows when you are able to network with your peers. And with over 300 other Librarians who work in libraries just like yours in the house, you are certain to get caught up in the energy.

I was lucky enough to arrive in Raleigh in time to attend a preconference, where I heard Don Reynolds “What Do I Do Next.” There were loads of ideas on how to market our libraries as well as resources to utilize to make our days easier. Afterwards I had a wonderful experience at the mixer held at the old state capitol building. Here I was able to meet with a youth services worker from North Carolina and a Librarian from Alaska! How cool is it that while we are from all over the United States, we all share the same goals of promoting our libraries as places for all to come?

Thursday brought the official start of the conference and after much highlighting and rearranging my session schedules, I was able to attend 3 great sessions where I saw some awesome material displays, learned about signature events (really who doesn’t want to hear about a program called Chocolate in the Stacks???) I also learned a ton at a session on Google Docs.  Matter of fact, by the next week I had informed our staff that our transition to Google was coming and our communication logbook would soon be in the trash! My shopping list is already set up and I know it will make shopping very easy when I can access our needs list from my cell phone!  The evening wrapped up by attending dinner with another Indiana Library Director and some new friends from California and New York at The Pit. The Dine-Around was a wonderful way to wind down after a day of learning. Many of us attending work in districts where we can’t afford to send more than one person. Going to dinner alone is never fun.  The Dine-Around allows for a fun evening where we can get to know other people from across the country while enjoying a great meal.

If I thought Thursday was a good day, I was totally blown away on Friday. I started my day with a session on adult programs. There were tons of program ideas presented to attract adults to the library including a great tip to advertise special events on water bills and to never forget the power of advertising on bathroom stall doors!  Next up, Arkansas Librarians shared fabulous customer service tips and a staff program that I will soon be implementing at our library. The afternoon brought a program on ways to build computer training programs for seniors.  The evening wrapped up with several librarians going to dinner at another Dine-Around and a most fun evening of relaxing with more librarians over a glass a wine and shared stories.

Just when I thought I could absorb no more, Saturday rolled around and I heard a presentation on using sales tactics to sell the library.  My final session was on after school programs. By the end of the program, I truly just wanted to go hang out in the presenter’s library and play. This program was fast and jam packed full of ideas to take home.

These experiences, of course, don’t even touch on the products I learned about while visiting with vendors.  After visiting with my ILS vendor I learned about several new products that will be coming soon, including a FREE upgrade with PC management (YEAH!!!) and it looks like we may be getting a mobile app soon. Also, who could predict how cute the Collaborative Summer Reading Program t-shirts are for next year.  Trust me until you see it in person, the photo doesn’t do it justice!

As a Library Director and a MLS student this conference recharged my batteries. No matter how hard the universities try they cannot recreate the energy and excitement that 300+ Librarians bring to a room. Not to mention the lessons learned by sharing stories of real world experience.  It also reminded me how blessed we are to work in a field that encourages sharing resources and knowledge.  And this conference illustrated just how much we can learn from one another. I cannot recommend this conference (or organization) enough to anyone who works in rural or small town America. And I for one can’t wait for Iowa in 2013!

Conference Survey

It is hard believe that we are done already.  Here we are on the last day of the conference.  There have been so many great lessons, discoveries, and friendships.  The conference committee certainly hopes that you have not only enjoyed this week, but that there are take aways from the conference that you will be able to put to work for you, right away.

While everything is fresh in your mind, would you help us make 2013 even better by filling out the conference survey.  Here is the link –

I look forward to seeing many of you at the 2013 conference.  I know a number of you have asked about the location for next year.  The Committee is working on a site in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area on the Iowa/Nebraska border.  As soon as we have dates and location nailed down, we will get that out in an email.

It has been my honor to serve as this year’s conference chair.

Andrea Berstler
President – ARSL

Staying Connected with #ARSL12 Conference

Even if you’re not traveling to Raleigh this week for the ARSL Conference we want to use this opportunity to extend our networking opportunities. Help us collaborate and share ideas! There are a number of ways you can stay connected. Some folks are posting to the Facebook event page  or others are connecting through our main ARSL Facebook page. If you’re posting to Twitter, be sure to tag with the conference hashtag #ARSL12 and follow ARSL’s Twitter feed. And we look forward to seeing conference goers adding photos to the ARSL Group on Flickr. We look forward to the week ahead, connecting with old friends, making many new ones and we’ll do our best to post updates for those unable to join us. The conference program has been posted and we’ll continue adding presentations and handouts to the site in the coming weeks.

2012 – Program and Handouts

Click here to open a PDF of the full 2012 Conference Program

General Session  – Thursday, September 27th
General SessionFriday, September 28th
Keynote FridayA Vision of 21st Century Libraries (PDF) – Susan Hildreth
General SessionSaturday, September 29th
Closing SessionKeynote (PDF) – Dr. Ron Carlee

Adult programming on a limited budget – Molly Keating

  1. Adult programming on a limited budget (PPT)
  2. Adult Programming (PDF)

Aiming at a Moving Target: Ebooks in Libraries – Diana Weaver

  1. Favorite Resources (DOC)

Best Small Library – Julie Hildebrand

  1. Best Small Library (PPT)

Building Community Partnerships – Kari May

  1. Building Community Partnerships (PDF)

Celebrate with a Successful Family Literacy Event! – Rosemary Chance

  1. Family Literacy Event Plan Questions (DOC)
  2. Picture Books for Family Literacy Events (DOC)
  3. Celebrate with a Successful Family Literacy Event! (PPT)

Community Impact Planning – Michael Kumer

  1. Community Impact Planning (PPT)

Curation vs. Creation: the Evolution of the Public Library into the 21st Century – Kieran Hixon & Judy VanAcker

  1. Action Plan (PDF)
  2. Outcome Based Resources (PDF)

De-clutter Your Collection – Becky Heil

  1. DeClutter (PPT)
  2. DeClutter (PDF)

Easy Advocacy – Gail Santy

  1. Advocacy Resources (DOC)
  2. Crafting Your Message (DOC)
  3. ECL Talking Points (PDF)
  4. Evaluating Your Efforts (DOC)
  5. How will you deliver the message (DOC)
  6. Library message worksheet (DOC)
  7. Library Advocacy Trading Cards (PDF)
  8. Parking lot speech (DOC)
  9. Sustained advocacy (DOC)
  10. Tips for Talking with Your Legislator (DOC)
  11. Tips for Working with the Media (DOC)
  12. worksheet – Audience (DOC)
  13. worksheet – Goals (DOC)
  14. worksheet – Plan (DOC)

Ebooks and Audiobooks: What the Vendors didn’t tell Us – Colleen Eggett

  1. eBooks and Audiobooks (DOC)

The Entrepreneurial Librarian – Andrea Berstler

  1. The Entrepreneurial Librarian (PPT)

Going Google – Leah Kulikowski

  1. Cheat Sheet – Getting Started with Google Drive (PDF)

Google Apps for Libraries – Jezmynne Dene

  1. Google Apps for Libraries (PDF)

It’s Your Birthday – Lauren Drittler

  1. Customer Service Training Information (PDF)
  2. Goals and Procedure (PDF)
  3. Personal Goals Sheet (PDF)
  4. Survey Sheets For Patrons (PDF)
  5. Tally Sheet (PDF)

Knock Their Socks Off! Advocating For Your Rural Library  – Angela Glowcheski & Julie Forkner

  1. Knock Their Socks Off! (wiki)

Mentoring as a subversive activity: growing community leadership – Jennifer Peterson

  1. Mentoring as a subversive activity (PDF)

Pages and Stages Sheryl Siebert

  1. Pages and Stages (PPT)

Perfecting Your Presentations – Jamie Matczak

  1. Perfecting (PPT)

Promoting Your Library Using Social Network Media – Yunfei Du

  1. Promoting Your Library Using Social Network Media (PDF)

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em: the Glitz, Glam, and Gusto of Material Displays – Jeremy Bolom

  1. Razzle (PPT)

Reinventing libraries: new model for a new world – Molly Rodgers

  1. Workbook

Shakin’ the Money Tree – Susan Wolf Neilson & Elena Owens

  1. Shakin’ the Money Tree (PDF)

Sharing the Best of the Web: Creating Online Resource Guides for Your Patrons – Jane Sandberg

  1. Sharing the Best of the Web (PDF)

Signature Events for Small Libraries – Cassie Guthrie

  1. Planning Worksheet (PDF)
  2. Sample Budget (PDF)
  3. Signature Events for Small Libraries (Prezi)

Silver Surfers on the Web – RoseAleta Laurell

  1. Assessment of Computer Skills Example (PDF)
  2. Hand out example Setting up a Gmail Account (PDF)
  3. Resource lists (PDF)

Social Media Tools – Denise Wetzel

  1. Social Media Tools (PPT)

Strategic Planning on a Shoestring – Lana Gardner

  1. Strategic Planning (PPT)
  2. Strategic Planning Plan Outline (DOC)
  3. Strategic Planning Resource list (DOC)
  4. Strategic Plan survey (DOC)
  5. Strategic Plan swotform (DOC)

Surviving (and Thriving) During Challenging Times – David Singleton

  1. Surviving (and Thriving) (PPT)

Volunteers: The Core of Your Library – Dee Crowner

  1. Title page (DOC)
  2. Volunteer policy (DOC)
  3. Application for Volunteer Service (PDF)
  4. Teen Volunteer Application 2012 (PDF)
  5. TAG Brochure 11 (PDF)
  6. Recruitment of volunteers (DOC)
  7. Types of volunteers & Pros and Cons (DOC)
  8. Benefits for volunteers (DOC)
  9. Things to remember (DOC)

What do I do now? – Don Reynolds

  1. So…..What do I do now? (PDF)

The World is Yous Oyster – Mel Hager

  1. The World is Your Oyster (PPT)
  2. Hey Y’all (WMV)
  3. Hunger Games Party Promo Cut (YouTube)
  4. Imma Teen At The Bean (YouTube)
  5. Teen LockIn October 2011 (YouTube)
  6. Thriller Zombie Lockin (YouTube)
  7. YAYA and John Green (WMV)

Conference Registration Information

The Association for Rural and Small Libraries Conference Planning Team is excited to announce the opening of registration for the 2012 conference in Raleigh, NC, and the availability of a preliminary conference schedule! The conference begins on September 26 with preconferences and an evening reception and continues through lunch on September 29. All items can be found on our website on the following pages:

On the Registration Information page you will find instructions as to joining the association (which will save $55 off the cost of full-conference registration for non-students), and instructions that will help you navigate our online store when purchasing your conference registration. You may pay online, or select the billing option.

We hope you’ll peruse the preliminary schedule under Program Information to see all of the exciting speakers and sessions we have planned, and stay tuned as more details are finalized. As always, if you have any questions about the conference, please contact us at

Looking forward to seeing you all in Raleigh!