ILA – Good Times Had By All

Hello Blog Friends, sorry for my lack of posting over the past few weeks. I guess I’ve been too wrapped up in learning, observing and doing and need to take a bit more time to sit down and reflect. Sounds pretty consistent with my life.

In this post I’d like to address my experiences and observations after attending my first ILA conference. My conference was kicked off by attending the opening session led by Verna Myers on the topic of the equity lens. This was especially timely as just the week before, I had participated in SPL’s word of the month discussion on the same topic. Beyond being in entertaining presenter, Meyers gave valuable insights into “naming” my own lens, recognizing unconscious bias, and ways to expand my comfort zone. I found her point about the need for all to be actively anti-biased especially true. However, a huge take away for me occurred during the questions section at the end of the presentation. It became apparent from the questions being asked that there was a true desire to fight bias and offer programming that offered a variety of viewpoints and was helpful in educating community members, but there was also fear in doing so. The participants were fearful of doing the wrong thing or, maybe simply based on lack of knowledge, offending others. It made me realize, once again, how grateful I am to be part of the Skokie Public Library and the community of Skokie. The library is already taking steps, maybe even painful steps at times, to address controversial or unpleasant topics to advance the community. Additionally, with a diverse community like Skokie, there are members of different represented groups that can be used as resources to learn more about the viewpoints and experiences of that group. Other communities that don’t have this amount of diversity also don’t have the opportunity to gather that type of insight.

Additionally, I attended some very informative programs including one on pop-up libraries, which prompted me to think of a few additional ideas for our bikemobile needs analysis, as well as additional ways to “go where the patrons are” in general. I also got some great outreach ideas from learning what the Chicago Public Libraries are doing regarding diversity and diversability and programming for all. And to add to my love of surveys and assessment, I attended the program on the customer satisfaction survey conducted by the Palatine Public Library and was in awe of their 6,000+ responses.

I must end this post with a very blatant, SPL Adult Services plug. Although I knew that I could talk with Allyson and Kathy at any time regarding their topic of inclusive readers’ advisory, I really wanted to hear their “official” presentation, especially since I’ve been gathering the data on the titles suggested for the summer Book Matches. They expressed the goals (completely my summary, not theirs) of expanding the reader’s exposure to the experiences of others or challenging them to read out of their traditional comfort zones and go-to genres. During their presentation, it dawned on me that this philosophy has already rubbed off on me. I would not classify myself as a reader of celebrity memoirs, as I don’t usually find celebrities to be all that interesting. However, I realized that I had just finished reading Alan Cumming’s biography, a title that I had selected off of the Book Match list, and I loved it. Here’s to a new genre for me!

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