November 24, 2017

Rising Higher | PLA Preview 2016

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In its inaugural visit to Denver, April 5–9, the Public Library Association (PLA) conference schedule offers a thought-provoking yet playful agenda full of replicable exemplars from innovative libraries across the country. The packed schedule contains far too much to sum up; what follows is a smattering of sessions that caught the eye of the LJ editors who will be attending, ranging from civic inclusion to the first-ever mini hands-on how-to festival.


Barbara Hoffert

Editor, Prepub Alert

LibraryReads Best in Debut Authors
Thurs., Apr. 7, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 501–504)
Great first reads from Gina Wohlsdorf (­Security, Algonquin), Lindy West (Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, Hachette), ­Rumaan Alam (Rich and Pretty, Ecco: HarperCollins), and Mona Awad (13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Penguin).

Top 5 of the Nonfiction 5
Thurs., Apr. 7, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 102/104/106)
Presenters Andie Paloutzian, Mid-Continent PL, MO; Kaite Stover, Kansas City PL, MO; Rebecca Vnuk, Booklist; Barry Trott, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA; and Craig Clark, Clark Free Lib., Columbus, OH, give expert advice on nonfiction RA in five key areas: history, sports, microhistories, the occult, and pop culture.

Extraordinarily Engaged: How Three Libraries Are Transforming Their Communities
Thurs., Apr. 7, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 601/603/605/607)
Amber Williams and Patrick Roewe, Spokane Cty. Lib. Dist.; Erica Freudenberger, Red Hook PL, NY; Cindy Fesemyer, Columbus PL, WI; and Sarah Ostman, American Library Assn., talk about leaving the confines of the library to engage the community and understand its needs.

LibraryReads Mystery Authors Revealed
Fri., Apr. 8, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 501–504)
Scary doings with top-selling mystery authors C.J. Box, Badlands (Minotaur: St. Martin’s), Laura Lippman, Wilde Lake (Morrow), Stephanie Barron, Jane and the Waterloo Map (Soho Crime), William Kent Krueger, Manitou Canyon (Atria), and Heather Gudenkauf, Missing Pieces (MIRA: Harlequin).

Developing a Holistic Collection Development Policy
Fri., Apr. 8, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 708/710/712)
Michele Paladines and Elizabeth Marszalik, Oak Park PL, IL, show how to create a flexible collection development policy rooted in strategic planning and community needs.

Steal This UX: Improving Your Collection with Content Strategy and User Testing
Sat., Apr. 9, 9:30–10:30 a.m. (Rm. 405–407)
Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie PL, IL, and Stephanie Anderson, Darien Lib., CT, reveal how interviews, evaluative research, A/B testing, and other fast, inexpensive UX techniques can revitalize collection management.

Crossover Appeal: Books That Work for Teens and Adults
Sat., Apr. 9, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 501–504)
Sophisticated teen reading that adults will love from authors Paul Rudnick, It’s All Your Fault (Scholastic); Robin Talley, Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin TEEN); Marissa Meyer, Heartless (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan); and Matthew Quick, Every Exquisite Thing (Little Brown Books for Young Readers).


Rebecca T. Miller

Editorial Director, LJ and School Library Journal

Tame Your Digital Strategy
Thurs., Apr. 7, 2–3 p.m. (Rm. 405–407)
Many libraries need insight on getting serious about digital service delivery. This panel, including the insightful Toby ­Greenwalt (Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh), promises to help frame the many issues at play.

Sustainable Connected Learning for Youth
Thurs., Apr. 7, 2–3 p.m. (Rm. 301–303)
I am eager to hear how Cuyahoga County PL, OH, has approached applying the concept of Connected Learning in its programming across 27 branches.

Organizational Health: Capitalizing on Your Most Important Asset
Thurs., Apr. 7, 4–5 p.m. (Rm. 501–504)
Always interested in strong organizational design, I want to hear about what San Antonio PL’s focus on Organizational Health means for staff, services, and the library’s ability to be transformative.

The Visible Library: Exposing Collections Through Linked Data
Fri., Apr. 8, 10:45–11:45 a.m. (Rm. 301–303)
This panel of early adopters in the Libhub Initiative promises new views into what’s been accomplished so far as libraries strive to surface on the web.

Inside the 2015 New Landmark Libraries
Fri., Apr. 8, 4–5 p.m. (Rm. 301–303)
This highly visual presentation, by me and LJ’s New Landmark Libraries (NLL) project coordinator Emily Puckett Rodgers, will dive into the trends revealed by the exciting public library buildings identified in the 2015 round of selected NLLs.


Kiera Parrott

Reviews Director, LJ and School Library Journal

Creative Merchandising Strategies for Libraries
Thur., Apr. 7, 2–3 p.m. (Rm. 201/203/205/207)
Libraries are still judged (and often funded) based upon their circulation statistics. Any time I see a program or workshop focusing on how to merchandize and attract patrons to check out materials, I’m in!

Data Driven Collections: Right-Sizing Library Collections
Thurs., Apr. 7, 4–5 p.m. (Rm. 601/603/605/607)
Spreadsheets and ILS reports full of data may not be the sexiest things, but understanding existing collections, patterns of usage, and coverage across subject areas is crucial to building collections that support and engage community interests and needs—and make the most of budget dollars.

How Two Libraries Quit Summer Reading and You Can, Too
Fri., Apr. 8, 2–3 p.m. (Rm. 601/603/605/607)
What? Quit Summer Reading? Did they ditch it completely, move to a more inclusive model, replace it with something totally different? I need to know.

Understanding Microaggressions: A Catalyst for Climate Change in the Workplace
Fri., Apr. 8, 4–5 p.m. (Rm. 201/203/205/207)
For anyone interested in building a more inclusive and diverse culture, this seems like a must-attend.


Meredith Schwartz

Executive Editor, LJ

De-identifying Patron Data To Balance Privacy and Insight
Thurs., Apr. 7, 4–5 p.m. (Rm. 708/710/712)
In the constant tension between gathering more data to deliver better, more customized service at point of need and protecting patrons’ increasingly beleaguered privacy, any session that promises a way forward has my attention.

We Are Tech Workers: Cultivating a Library Technoculture
Thurs., Apr. 7, 4–5 p.m. (Rm. 401–404)
Librarians from Canada’s Markham PL will explain how they addressed skill gaps in the workforce by “develop[ing] a deep understanding and appreciation for technology.” Since virtually every library seems to face similar gaps, I’m excited to see a model for changing the culture without leaving anyone behind.

Engaged and Inclusive: Institutional Approaches to Racial Equity and Social Justice
Fri., Apr. 8, 2–3 p.m. (Rm. 707/709/711)
Public libraries can be key drivers of civic efforts to reduce and redress the impacts of ongoing systemic racism. But, of course, libraries themselves are not immune from those effects, and an active effort is needed to overcome them. In this session, librarians from Madison, WI, will describe “a model that focuses on dismantling structural barriers to equity.”

How-To Festival
Thurs.–Fri., Apr. 7–8 (Exhibits Hall)
This first-ever PLA event, a miniversion of the annual 4,000-person event at the Louisville Public Library, KY, will feature 20-minute demonstrations of hands-on skills; likely to be a font of inspiration for programming librarians.

A Planner and a Librarian Walk into a Bar…
Sat., Apr. 9, 9:30–10:30 a.m. (Rm. 501–504)
I’m always interested in new ways for libraries contemplating renovation or new construction to develop spaces that will serve parts of the community not already actively using the library. Wisconsin’s Madison PL developed a new model for applying community planning principles to library service and design. I’m particularly intrigued by “the perspective of a professional of color in designing methods of equitable engagement.”

LJ Author Party

Wed., Apr. 6, 6:30–8:30 p.m. (History Colorado Center)

LJ will present food, drink, and conversations with New York Times best-selling Eleanor Brown, The Light of August (Putnam); LJ Best Book author Justin Cronin, The City of Mirrors (Ballantine); American West authority Mark Lee Gardner, Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge up San Juan Hill (Morrow); Edgar-nominated Heather Gudenkauf, Missing Pieces (Mira: Harlequin); 2016 Carnegie Medal winner and LJ Best Book author Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (Grove); and National Book Award finalist Brad Watson, Miss Jane (Norton). Space is limited; sign up today at libraryjournal.com/PLAparty.

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