Sunday, March 25, 2012

3 more Journal Entries

The Keynote Program: The Anythink Libraries
--Pam Sandlian-Smith presented this fantastic and very moving presentation about the amazing turnaround of the Adams County Library District in Colorado.  She explained how Anythink is not just a program for change, but an actual mindset.  It is upbeat, positive and fun.  Ms Sandlian-Smith is an exceptional motivational speaker and I feel ready to leave and change all of the Libraries in Cordova!!  
(That was my journal entry immediately after the program)
--Now upon reflection....I am still motivated by the interest that her programs have gathered and the changes that she and her staff were able to put forth in her community.  But with that said, I have a bit of a different opinion now that I have had time to reflect on the entire concept.  I think that some of the ideas are great, but as a whole, I think that the entire project turns the libraries into a interactive children's museum.  I like using some of the ideas, but we already have Barnes and Nobles and Boarders and I hate to see libraries turn so commercial.

Everyone is Creative
Ms. Sandlian-Smith was the presenter of this fun and interactive program.  The motto of the presentation is that everyone can do this and that we are all creative in our own right.  After we were given the tools, we were to form a group and create our own hand-on experience zone, and then present it to the group.  We used the Zone plan outlines that we were given and it was a loud, fun, and interesting experience.  Once again, I must say that I feel that a lot of what she is trying to so with the Anythink program is better served in a museum setting, but this was an interesting way to get the patrons involved in the learning and library experience.

President's Program:  Marketing That Makes a Difference
A few minutes to absorb all of the information from the previous hour with Ms. Sumerall at the Building Clout in a tough climate program was enough of a break before we jumped into Marketing That Makes a Difference, also with Ms. Sumerall.  It was a natural segway and a necessary expansion on the information from the previous hour.  If nothing else was gained from this presentation, the 10 things that hold true for Libraries to be vital to the community was needed information.  Coming up with a communication plan and mapping how and what the tools are that will be used during that process was enlightening.  Excellent information to return to a small community with and a needed resource for beginning to form a plan of funding for community libraries.

Winning your Next Budget Battle

This was a wonderful pre-conference session offered by Merris Sumrall.  Merris is the director of the Library Foundation which services as the support foundation for the Multnomah County Public Library system in Portland, Oregon.  The session began with each participant introducing themselves and their library.  But perhaps the most interesting part of introductions was the request to identify their current challenges and identify the key decision makers that affect their library.   For example, University of Alaska librarians identified the chancellor, while public libraries identified their borough assembly.  Throughout the conversation it became more apparent that the question was much more complicated.  For a school library for example, the principal may set the individual library budget, the principal’s budget is determined by the school board, and the school board’s budget is dependent on borough funding.

The session than focused on creating PR campaigns that targets those who hold the purse strings.    In addition to advocating for secure funding, the Library Foundation also seeks to engage library patrons.  The Multnomah County Public Library has a friend’s organization that any library would envy.  However, Sumrall gave useful ideas that can help any library master the art of advocacy.  You can learn more about the Library Foundation at

Opening Reception

Although these are often seen as purely social event, I find it to be the most important event of the entire conference.  This is especially true if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and sit at several tables throughout the evening.  Last night I sat at five different tables.  By doing so I was able to meet an author and have an in person conversation about his upcoming visit to our community.  I was able to have a conversation with a public library director and share ideas about improving our Guys Read program.  I was introduced to three school librarians I had never meet before.  A fabulous discussion of collection development and integration of young adult fiction in the history curriculum ensued.  Of course you can never go wrong when there are bag pipes.  One of the things I love most about is AKLA is the opportunity to meet with old friends and former colleagues.  Most often the new people I meet that I learn the most from.  So go ahead and take a chance.  Introduce yourself to at least one new person every day of the conference.

Authors to Alaska Luncheon

Seated at my table during the luncheon were Claudia Lively and Judy Ferguson, both known in the North Star Borough. Claudia’s local claim to fame is her acting ability and stellar performances in several dramatic productions. Her first picture book, co-authored with her sister Holly, was recently self-published. Judy Ferguson also is self-published so we had an interesting discussion on the difficulty of getting published and the pros and cons of not working with an agent as well as their separate journeys taken through the self-publishing route. I believe Judy's publisher is in an eastern European country!

I think many AkLA members are surprised that the North Star Borough (and interior Alaska) has so many authors of note.

I was so busy making certain the authors were seated and taken care of that I did not take notes on Sneed Collard’s presentation. I do remember that he has had many varied experiences beyond writing, particularly in the world of science. It was also comforting to hear how he has instilled the love of reading in his son and how they both talk about what they are reading.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Four Journal Entries-

Secrets of the Stressed Out Brain by Heather Higgins                                     10:00-11:30 am  
This was an amazing workshop.  I learned a lot.  Ms. Higgins said that stress is a normal part of life that can either help us learn and grow or can cause us significant problems.  It all depends on how one deals with it.  Stress kills brain cells, compromises the immune system function, and activates the limbic (more emotional) brain.   Moderate anxiety produces optimal performance but if anxiety stays high performance will decline.  Very interesting information!

Jack’s Brain, Jill’s Brain by Heather Higgins                                                         2:30-4pm
This was another great workshop by Ms. Higgins.  She talked a lot about brain development and how male and female brains are different. These differences make for distinctly different learning styles for boys and girls.  As a teacher as well as a librarian, I think the information I learned here can help me in dealing with the children in my programs at the library.  An interesting fact; the average person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25.  No wonder people in their late teens and early twenties still do crazy things! 

Meeting Mental Health Reference Needs in Alaska by Julie Niederhauser         9:45-11:15 am 
I received some free resources at this session that are now on display in our library.  One in six adults lives with mental illness.  The three most common mental illnesses are anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.  Alaska has a very high suicide rate.  Sadly, many are young people in the villages who take their own lives.  There are websites available to aid families, young people, and community leaders in preventing and dealing with these tragedies.  

Summer Reading Program 2012 by Sue Sherif and panel                               4-5:30 pm     
We learned about the upcoming Summer Reading Program called “Dream Big-Read.”  The librarians had great ideas with everything from making owl shaped cupcakes to hosting stuffed animal sleepovers!  I got a lot of tips and ideas from this session that I plan to use at our library this summer.  I met some really nice, helpful librarians here.  This was probably the most useful program of the whole conference for me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Conference Dinner - Poetry and the Alaska Native Oral Tradition

Over 150 Alaska librarians and guests were treated to a dynamic talk by Alaska Native storyteller and author Ishmael Hope during the 2012 AKLA Conference Awards Dinner.  Ishmael joined the conferences as the 2012 Alaska Spirit of Reading featured author.  His talk entitled Poetry and the Alaska Native Oral Tradition challenged listeners to redefine their definition of poetry.    Ishmael told the audience that, “poetry can exist without language.  It exists in body language and in the echoes of a mountain, the lapping of waves, with or without human beings”.  Only when we open our minds to the different forms of poetic expression can we begin to see the value of Alaska Native oral traditions.  Ishmael shared the original poetry of Nora Dauenhuer, as well as, work from Nora and Richard Dauenhauer’s translations of traditional Tlingit stories.  You can read a full transcript of Ishmaels address to the AKLA Awards Dinner at .

The Alaska Spirit of Reading program is celebrating its fourth year of promoting the joy of reading by providing youth with books and author visits.  The program was created by Sitka librarians Erika Drain, Kari Sagel and Ginny Blackson.  Previous authors in the program have been Ben Mikaelsen, Roland Smith and Will Hobbs.  Since 2008 the program has coordinated author visits across Alaska including: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel, Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, and Mat Su.  The 2012 program is featuring the comic book "Strong Man," which highlights a traditional story set in Southeast Alaska. “Strong Man " author Ishmael Hope and illustrator Dimi Macheras will be visiting with students throughout the state in February, March and April.  Ishmael will be the featured guest on APRN’s Talk of Alaska on Tuesday April 24.

The Alaska Spirit of Reading program is made possible through the support of the Alaska Association of School Librarians and an Interlibrary Cooperation Grant from the Alaska State Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  For more information on the program go to

Alaska Library Network General Membership Meeting

The Alaska Library Network work held its Annual Membership Meeting as part of the 2012 AKLA conference in Fairbanks on Saturday February 25, 2012.    Over nineteen representatives of member libraries were present for the meeting.  The Alaska Library Network is a membership organization made up of public, school and academic libraries from across Alaska.  During the meeting members had the opportunity to meet the new board members and hear about current ALN activities.  Although ALN provides many services to its members, ListenAlaska is it most popular.  This subscription service allows member libraries to provide patrons with access to thousands of audio books and eBooks.  ALN also access as the manager of the Alaska Digital Pipeline.  This year the Pipeline added Mango Languages to its statewide database program.  During 2011, ALN added new member benefits through participation in LYRASIS.  LYRASIS is a library membership organization comprised of more than 1,700 libraries.  LYRASIS offers training opportunities, vendor discounts and library advocacy opportunities.  ALN is exploring ways to meet libraries need to meet patron request for access to music.  In 2012, ALN will be exploring ways to provide this service through a group purchase of services like Freegal.