Blogger Abby Johnson

Steer Around the Sharks #PLA2020

Have you ever seen a Deafblind person surf? Hmm. Neither had the surfing schools that Haben Girma approached about taking surf lessons. But Girma being Deafblind was not her barrier to surfing. What was stopping her from surfing was that people were not willing to try to make surfing inclusive. Until she found a company that was willing to work with her and teach her how to surf. This morning, we had the extreme pleasure of listening to Haben Girma, a disability rights lawyer who was the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law. Again and again, she implored us to break down barriers and make the choice to be inclusive to all. She is a phenomenal speaker and shared many moments from her personal life, from learning how to surf (with a guide accompanying her to steer her around other surfers and sharks) to salsa dancing to insisting…

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Setting Healthy Boundaries at #PLA2020

What are boundaries? Boundaries define functional and effective relationships between people. Librarians need to learn how to recognize their own boundaries before those boundaries are crossed, so they can see when a patron is approaching the limits of the boundaries and deal with the issue before it becomes too complicated. There are boundaries at play in every “helping profession” such as healthcare workers, teachers,and social workers. Librarians are also in a helping profession. Other helping professionals have industry research and standards that help keep their relationships positive but not over-or-inappropriately involved. Librarians need to define those boundaries for their own profession. What are some patron behaviors that require boundaries in the library? Unwanted advances Mismatched expectations Disruptive behavior and many more – you can’t list them all, so you need to know how you will react when they’re crossed. Don’t forget about safety – sometimes setting boundaries doesn’t go well….

Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

“Hire for tomorrow, you’ll get through today” – hiring a stellar staff at #PLA2020

The staff of a library can make or break the patron experience. In an increasingly online world, patrons are searching for interaction and positive experiences at their library. How can you hire the best staff possible, and treat staff departures as an opportunity, not an emergency? Things to consider: This before hiring: Who is your customer and what do they need? You should hire for the person first, the position second. Remember that you’re hiring for the whole library, not just for one area. Depending on the person’s experience, their degree (or lack of a degree) is less important than their skill set. Reconsider your job titles! Do people who are applying to your jobs know what your job title describes? Do they connect with it? Recruit outside the normal channels: look at people who give exceptional customer service, like retail employees, theater workers, hospitality workers, etc. Another big takeaway was…

Guest Blogger

The Bookstore Model of Customer Service at #PLA2020

Coming from a bookstore background, I was excited by this session as I feel that there are aspects of retail that librarians can adapt in order to make their organization successful.  All four presenters are currently in the library world, but were in the bookstore world at one time (or are still).  Here are a couple of tidbits that I pulled out of this session: The Internet has changed customer service from transactional to relational.  The only places that can get away with transactional service are ones where you can’t go anywhere else (ex. the DMV). People judge customer service by the same standard, whether it is at the store, the library, or the doctor’s office. Libraries can define service expectations for their employees based on their mission and values. Companies who are known for good service (ex. Apple, Disney, Trader Joe’s) use customer service templates.  A template isn’t a…

Guest Blogger

Books, Bright and Early at #PLA2020

In the early morning darkness I leapt out of bed, stumbling into my pre-arranged Lyft. It was 6:25 AM, and I was planning to attend the Children’s Author Breakfast. Admittedly, I thought about bailing and sleeping in, but I really love bacon and hoped (really hoped!) there might be some at breakfast. Oh, yeah, and some great authors would be there too. Before you get too concerned, there was bacon. And fingerling potatoes, asparagus, quiche, croissants, and many breakfast beverages. Like a true bacon enthusiast, I didn’t ‘gram before I slammed. I was too busy plowing through all 3 slices. The true highlight of the breakfast was, of course, the authors that joined us in those early morning hours. Minh Lê, Lisa Moore Ramée, Lin Oliver & Rebecca Stead each spent approximately 15 minutes talking about their forthcoming books, their process, and sharing a few laughs. Henry Winkler was originally…

Blogger Alexa Newman

Long Time Member, First Time Attendee #PLA2020

Although I have been a librarian for 25 years, and have been attending ALA and Midwinter for as many years, this is my very first PLA conference. I must admit I’ve been a little nervous about being the new kid on the block.  It’s been a mix of the familiar and shiny new to me. Since it is smaller in scale than ALA Annual,  I think it would be a great first conference for new library staff to test the waters. Some of the things I’ve liked the most are the scheduled breaks, free coat check, snacks and bevvies on the exhibit floor,  and the fact that the featured speakers are not in competition with programs and meetings. For me it has been easier to have a more rounded conference experience. I also really enjoyed the yoga class in the Wellness Center this morning.  There are still openings for the…

Call to Action

Don’t reimagine education, start over! #PLA2020

Dr. Bettina Love rocked the PLA audience this morning! So many takeaways as she traced the evolution of racism in education—from pulling indigenous children away from their families and insisting on assimilation to requiring English-only programs, to charter schools and “corporate reforms.” Meritocracy hurts all of our kids, but black and brown kids disproportionately. Dr. Love compared the “educational survival complex” with the prison complex. Her conclusion is that “education can’t save us, we have to save education.” She called in white people to move from being allies to becoming co-conspirators. The education system is too broken to reimagine; we need to spend our unearned white privilege and stand up like the abolitionists once did, boldly helping black and brown leaders start over with a system whose goal is wellness for staff and students. If we link anti-racism, wellness, joy and creativity, we can “freedom dream” a blueprint for education…