Monday, October 7, 2013

Libraries Rock! MLA 2013

“This premier educational event equips library staff with new ideas and tools to stay up-to-date, innovate, and succeed in their careers, and attracts more than 400 library professionals, Friends of the Library, and library trustees from across Minnesota.” — Minnesota Library Association

On Thursday and Friday I will be in St. Cloud, Minnesota, site of the 2013 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference. This year’s conference theme is “Libraries Rock!” The program takes its cues from a multi-day rock music festival, complete with headliners, sets, jam sessions, intermissions, and after-parties. Headliners and featured presenters include: Kee Malesky, National Public Radio librarian, with Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio senior reporter; Overdue Media’s Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum; Erin McKean, founder of Wordnik; The Geek Girls; and authors Mary Sharratt and Laura Salas. (I first met and worked with Sasha Aslanian from MPR years ago—I can't remember the exact date—I think on a documentary related to Eugene McCarthy. It will be good to see her again.) According to a recent Twitter “tweet” over 550 folks will be attending. If you’re unable to attend, you can follow the conference hashtag on Twitter: #mnlib13. You can also join the festivities on Facebook or follow the blog. Check out the MLA website for additional information. I’m presenting during “Set 6” (Rocked and Rolled: Lessons From Closing the U of M Library School) and looking forward to a great time.

The MLA news release (from which I quote below) gives a little more information about “Libraries Rock!”

New for 2013 is the Talkin’ ’Bout My Generation mini-conference focused on library services for older adults, featuring hands-on activities, displays, and breakout sessions with:

• Diantha Schull, author of 50+ Library Services: Innovation in Action
• Brain Fitness – Keeping brains sharp; public libraries and the Alzheimer's Association working together
• Maura O’Malley, presenting Encore: Libraries, the Arts, and Older Adults
• Joyce Yukawa, presenting Finding the Fires that Burn Within: A Community-Based Framework for Developing Older Adult Services

The 2013 Annual Conference offers more than 60 sessions across nine simultaneous tracks (Administration & Leadership; Authors, Literature, and Programming; Children & Young Adults; Collection Management & Technical Services; Digital Information & Technologies; Diversity; Professional Development; Public Services; Library Trustees & Friends), Appy Hour breakfast showcase, a silent auction fundraiser, countless networking opportunities, and an exhibit hall with more than 40 vendors showcasing library products and services. New features this year include a Battle of the Bands Trivia Night and a member directory photo booth.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to me at the MLA conference is a chance to converse with colleagues I don’t see every day, to hear about their lives in the trenches, to pick up a few new tidbits of information that will assist me in my work, and to be provoked toward longer, more contemplative thoughts. Not every conference does this for me, but I’m full of hope that this year’s MLA offering will give me some things to bring back home and chew on. This year MLA also offers a conference “app” for creating a personalized schedule. I’ve plugged in sessions of interest into the app and am ready for the first headliner on Thursday morning.

I may have more to say after the conference. For now, I’m concentrating on making sure I have my act together for my presentation on Friday. With my book still in search of a publisher it has been a while since I’ve given a close look at the manuscript. But I’ll have facts and figures, stories and personalities at the ready on Friday afternoon. In the meantime, I’m trying to cram five days of work into three. The weather promises to be clear and warm, perfect autumn days in central Minnesota. I hope to see many of you there!

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