Executive Director's Desk - October 13, 2016


Kathleen’s article today highlights many of the exciting speakers and events scheduled for MLA 2016 in Lansing at the end of the month. As you are aware, each year the conference schedule is spearheaded by the MLA Annual Conference Work group and dedicated work group chair. As a result, the event has changed and grown each year. This year the group has expanded on their mission to provide outstanding professional development by identifying some of the most important trends in the library community.

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Features include Brian Charlson who is the Director of Technology for the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts where he manages a team of adaptive computer instructors working with blind and visually impaired people. You’ll get a chance to see, hear and touch many of the book reading devices and programs used by those who are visually impaired. Learn how you can make your library a place where everyone can feel welcome. This session addresses the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concerns that are popping up across the state and around the country.

Also new this year is a special government relations panel. Hear four very different government relations success stories and take away ideas to spark your own participation in the legislative process.

Panelists include: John Chrastka, EveryLibrary; Gary Owen, Governmental Consultant Services Inc.; Mary Rzepczynski, Delta Township District Library and Lance Werner, Kent District Library.

Learning to better serve immigrating populations was also identified as a much needed area for further education. The session on bilingual programs for children and families addresses the country’s ever-changing patchwork of languages and cultures. You’ll learn a variety of methods for designing and implementing bilingual storytimes. The presentation covering perceptions of homeless patrons will help library professionals better serve homeless patrons. Labeled “third-sector” community organizations, public libraries serve homeless individuals by default. While these constituents may view libraries as a refuge, library staff members have a more complicated relationship with them. Hear recommendations for enhanced collaboration between social service agencies and public libraries.

The work group also expanded on the highly successful MLA Mentor Program by bringing in Pinky McPherson to help you pinpoint your behavior styles and emotional intelligence to enhance your professional growth.

Work group Chair Vanessa Verdun-Morris, Taylor Community Library, and work group members all deserve our appreciation for making this conference forward looking and offering resources to help guide our library professionals into the future. Thank you to work group members:

Jessica Enget, Portage District Library; Gretchen Evans, Bridgman Public Library; Mary Higginbottom- Johnson, Genesee District Library; Maria McCarville, Public Libraries of Saginaw; Joshua Neds-Fox, Wayne State University; Kip Odell, Kent District Library; Josh Rouan, Baldwin Public Library; Kim Senior, Spring Lake District Library and Jennifer Sunderhaus, Shelby Township Library.

It is also important to remember that much of our learning at conferences goes on in the hallways between sessions and at social events. You can often learn as much talking to your peers as you can listening to presentations. The discussion den and executive exchange are two great examples of that concept. Take advantage of the time to learn from your colleagues.

I look forward to seeing you in Lansing.


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