June 18, 2018

City of Library Love | PLA Preview 2018

Philadelphia welcomes public librarians from across America to the biennial Public Library Association conference

This spring, the Public Library Association (PLA) biennial conference returns March 20–24 to one of the many birthplaces of the American library: Philadelphia, where Benjamin Franklin founded his Library Company (still extant and calling itself “America’s first successful lending library”) in 1731. Today’s city remains home to many thriving libraries, ­including the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP), the city’s ­recently reinvigorated public library, led by ­Siobhan A. ­Reardon, LJ’s 2015 Librarian of the Year.

Below, LJ editors attending the conference call out a few sessions that caught their eye from the many compelling programs on offer, particularly those grappling with current social issues, from racism to the opioid epidemic, and drawing on the firsthand experience of librarians from Philadelphia, around the country, and beyond.


Barbara Hoffert
Editor, Prepub Alert

Millennials Take over the Library
Thurs., Mar. 22, 10:45–11:45 a.m.

Canada’s Calgary Public Library turned its oldest branch into a literary, music, and create space center for millennials.
Providing Immigration Services in Public Libraries: Making It Possible Is Not Impossible
Thurs., Mar. 22, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
Librarians are obtaining a credential from the Department of Justice to provide immigration services outreach, screenings, and referrals.

Top 5 of 5: A Current Affair
Thurs., Mar. 22, 4–5 p.m.
Readers’ advisory (RA) experts highlight titles about hot topics in the news, featuring top fives in science, international fiction, diversity in youth books, political issues, and pop culture.

Listen to This: Finding Audiobooks in Languages Other than English
Fri., Mar. 23, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
With audiobooks the big growth area in library materials and many libraries serving diverse populations, this guide to audiobooks beyond the English language should be invaluable. Presented by experts from the New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center.

The Opioid Epidemic: How Can My Library Help?
Fri., Mar. 23, 2–3 p.m.
With more than 20,000 of this country’s 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involving fentanyl and synthetic opioids, libraries are providing education, collaboration, and even first response. With presenters from libraries nationwide.

Drag Queen Story Hour: Reading Fabulously
Fri., Mar. 23, 2–3 p.m.
Not only is the Brooklyn PL’s initiative involving drag queens reading to children important for promoting acceptance and inclusivity, it’s fun for everyone.


Rebecca T. Miller
Editorial Director, LJ and School Library Journal

When the Mayor Calls: Answering the City’s Call for Support
Thurs., Mar. 22, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
Three urban library directors—Seattle’s Marcellus Turner, Detroit’s Jo Anne Mondowney, and Cleveland’s Felton Thomas—share how they connect to city priorities on social issues.

Voter Perceptions: Getting from Awareness to Funding in 2018
Thurs., Mar. 22, 4–5 p.m.
This promises an update, with new research findings, to 2008’s “From Awareness to Funding” report on library supporter attitudes, with takeaways advocates can use to help ensure future funding.

Ensuring the Future of Libraries: Connecting the Academy and the Profession
Fri., Mar. 23, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
Susan Hildreth, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the University of Washington iSchool; faculty; and working librarians on connecting the key dots between library schools and libraries.

To Connect and To Serve: Building Community with Law Enforcement
Sat., Mar. 24, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
Hear about Salt Lake County Library Services’ fresh approach to deep collaboration with law enforcement.

How To Start Training Your Staff To Be More Culturally Competent
Sat., Mar. 24, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
Two librarians from Oak Lawn PL, IL, will share how they work to improve staff cultural awareness and competence.


Lisa Peet
Associate Editor, News

Libraries Aren’t Neutral: Programming and Resources for the Political Climate
Thurs., Mar. 22, 4–5 p.m.
We live in polarizing times, and libraries are well positioned to take a proactive, frontline stance on civic engagement—but challenging the library’s role as “neutral” space is not always simple. Information services librarians will explore programming, resource, and service strategies for media literacy, political awareness, and facilitating community dialog.

Libraries Strengthening the Talent Pipeline
Fri., Mar. 23, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
This session will look at ways libraries can up their involvement with workforce development, meeting the changing needs of employers as well as potential employees and exploring opportunities for partnerships at the local, state, and national levels.

Breaking Barriers to Employment: Embedding Legal Services in Public Libraries
Sat., Mar. 24, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
DCPL and DC’s Neighborhood Legal Services Program have joined forces to help address roadblocks experienced by patrons with criminal records, bringing free legal services to participants in library job seeker clinics.


Meredith Schwartz
Executive Editor

Reflecting Community: The Importance of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Library Staffing
Thurs., Mar. 22, 4–5 p.m.
Librarianship remains one of the whitest professions, and our diversity numbers have actually declined, so sessions such as this, about the importance of hiring staffers who mirror your patron base and how to create an inclusive library culture, are crucial.

Applying an Equity Lens: Shifting Resources To Reach Low Income Audiences
Thurs., Mar. 22, 4-5 p.m.
I am excited to see Seattle PL’s equity analysis framework in practice, as applied to case studies of mobile services, and summer and other youth programs, leading to major resource allocation shifts.

The ABCs of DNA: Helping Patrons Unravel the Mystery of Genetic Information
Fri., Mar. 23, 4–5 p.m.
Considering libraries’ longtime role in genealogy and health research and the increasing popularity of home genetic testing, patrons bringing results to the library seems like the logical next step. Learn about privacy issues, reliable resources, and more.

Curious About #FreeLibraryofPride? A Successful Collaborative Story
Sat., Mar. 24, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
One of the things I love about moving conferences is learning from the host city. Here, three librarians at FLP built a collaborative event for the LGBTQIA+ community culminating in more than 55 programs.

Moving from Compliance to Inclusion Within the Library
Sat., Mar. 24, 9:30–10:30 a.m.
The ADA is the beginning, not the end, for accessibility. I’m looking forward to learning how the Arlington, TX, library rethought its service model better to include patrons with disabilities.

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