Do you know what the best thing about the ARSL annual conference? Hint: It has to do with ARSL’s foundation. The best thing about the ARSL conference the fact that this organization is designed specifically for rural and small libraries. Seems simple, right?
Haven’t we all viewed a webinar where the presenter boasts an amazing program that you can offer your public with the absolute minimum of staff members—and then goes on to describe how she only needed eight staff members. Eight staff members? My library doesn’t even have eight staff members! Duplicating that program idea seems daunting.
Or what about the blog post or article that describes wonderful things you can accomplish with community partnerships: all you need to do is partner with the local chocolatier, the ice skating rink, or the African dance troupe to solve all your problems. My community doesn’t have those resources. We have a grocery store and a fast food restaurant. How do I get these organizations to partner with my library?
Attending a conference with a room full of librarians who either currently work or have experience working at a rural or small library is invaluable. Every person in the room understands that I can’t plan a children’s event that requires eight staff members, and that I don’t have community partners knocking at my door to give me their time and money.
The ARSL annual conference introduced me to other small and rural librarians who knew exactly what I am experiencing. The great thing is that these librarians are willing to share their expertise and provide suggestions. I learned how one library built a partnership with a chain restaurant. Another library used a pet turtle for marketing. Yet another library fought for more funding. The sessions and networking opportunities provided practical ideas that I can use and implement upon returning home.
Looking for a cozy opportunity to share experiences, solve problems, and get ideas for your small or rural library? Go to ARSL’s annual conference!
Submitted by Jeanna Allums, Dr. Bernard Vavrek Scholarship recipient