Ok – now that you are stuck singing this silly song for the next few hours, here’s why I called this post by such a title. One of the best parts of the ARSL conference, which is now officially concluded, is meeting and sharing with librarians, trustees and library staff from other parts of my state, other states and even across the county. Doing so has made me aware of several things.
First – the ARSL conference allows you to travel all over the county by traveling to one location. Here in Tennessee I have become aquainted with California, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, North & South Carolina, Maine, Alabama, Georgia as well as my home state of Pennsylvania. I have learned how their libraries function, are funded, the tales of their towns and villages, the stories from their trenches.
Also I have learned that while some librarian’s talk funny (you can decide which ones those are) we are often telling the same story. We have the same struggles, the same joys, the same insecurities, the same pet peeves; it is as if we run the same library, just in the next town or state over. If you will allow me to use an over-used phrase – we are all in the same boat. Their tales are similar to my tales, their funding woes are like mine, their insecurities are mine, their crazy patrons visit me in PA and their trenches look surprising like the ones I visit daily.
Perhaps that is why this conference and this organization has struck a resounding chord at the heart of so many? ARSL members and conference attendees know they are not in this alone and they know that someone else is working and may have already come up with a solution to the problem they just found that they have.
As we travel together over the next weeks and months – remember this. We are all in this together. The land of small and rural libraries is truly a small, small world.
Such a supreme pleasure to meet so many people from all over the country at the 2009 ARSL Conference in Gatlinburg, TN. With one remaining day, I can see the fatigue on faces. However, our speakers were, thanks to the Conference Commitee and Don Wood in particular, outstanding and inspiring today, yesterday, and I know will be tomorrow too. Usurping the tired expressions is a look of satisfaction.
ARSL presents an incredibly well-rounded speaker’s bureau during their conference. What does this mean? Well, it means that participants hear from all types of librarians in myriad circumstances as a matter of course each year. This is as it should be. Our membership is a broad spectrum of persons in a variety of library and economic circumstances. What perhaps I am suggesting is that what makes the ARSL conference well-rounded are the speakers that represent the locale and, in this case, the State of Tennessee.
Examples of speakers–consultants, former ALA President, local author and columnist, a park ranger (representing the Smoky National Park), an officer from the Public Safety Coalition (how to stay safe when dealing with the public), a representative from the National Rural Assembly, speaker from the University of Tennessee MLA Rural Scholarships, and someone to speak about customers service and the importance of libraries to ecomonic development from the Department of Economic and Community Development. A beautifully coordinated set of speakers that, I believe, leaves participants with a snapshot of life in another part of our country and history.
What makes conferences special and memorable are several things, including the quality of speakers. Learning more about our profession, how to exact positive change, to communicate better, best practices, or even how to be a better librarian is priceless. The experience of the library-related information, hearing the ideas, meeting new colleagues, and gathering innovations relevant and retrofitted to your own mission, priorities, and community are a few significant things. Doing so, in a small way perhaps, builds our tolerance for diversity.
We learn information about a place, meet the librarians that live and work here, interact with local people, hear dialects, eat traditional foods, hear the stories, probe the local lore, and see the landscape that strongly imprints on our memories. All of this contributes to a greater understanding for our colleagues and their sense of place and brings us closer as professionals scattered throughout every corner of the country with our renewed understanding.
Welcome to our new blog site, new website and new logo! It’s as if we have turned over a new leaf, and we are so glad to include you in the Grand Opening. As we go through the next few weeks, we will be glad of your comments, suggestions and ideas.
As for my blogs, I believe they will focus very much on programming, networking and partnering with local organizations to allow libraries to continue to reach their communities even with budget cuts at every turn. I hope to share the great ideas gathered from this year’s conference. I look forward to hearing from you as to the great ideas you have found in your piece of “God’s acre.”
Greetings from Gatlinburg!
It is exponentially good news that ARSL bloggers can communicate better than ever with members and constituents on the new ARSL website! It is my pleasure and honor to participate. Please be patient as our developers and project managers train us to use the site to maximize its usefulness.
As a reader, you can expect to find news that is relevant to librarians in small and rural communities, resources to assist your daily endeavors for best library practices, and other content that we believe you as members find interesting and useful. Moreover, your ideas are valued and this blog is the ideal venue for an exchange of ideas, to make us feel connected regardless of our geography, and to build a rural community that exemplifies the best networking and finest of librarianship. Future posts will contain interesting photos, links, and information.
For now, it’s off to the 2009 Conference in Gatlinburg, TN where we’ll learn together, exchange ideas, and at last get to meet in person.
Yours very truly,
Our membership has spoken! Newly elected ARSL Board members are as follows
- Dwight McInvaill & Jim Connor
- Larry Grieco and Becky Heil were reappointed and Sonja Plummer-Morgan, elected VP/Pres Elect
Who are they?
Dwight McInvaill, Director, Georgetown County Library, Georgetown, SC
James D. Connor, MBA, IOM, Hastings, Nebraska
Becky Heil, Director, Dubuque County Library System, Farley, Iowa
Larry Grieco, Director, Gilpin County Public Library, Black Hawk, Colorado
Sonja Plummer-Morgan, Director Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, Maine
Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. Your voice matters and you as members are extremely valuable. Our membership is at the forefront of all planning, decisions, and discussions.
I was invited to attend a pre-conference a few weeks ago during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. It was sponsored by the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Committee on Library Services to an Aging Population and they wanted, not me in particular, but someone from ARSL to attend.