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ARSL, Rural and Small Libraries

Sails Up for ARSL Conference

By Jim | September 20th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Coinciding with National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Joan Frye Williams kept the opening session rolling by encouraging the 280 attendees here to practice their best “Ahoy”, “Avast”, and “Aye”. One example of the laid-back, easy feel this conference always seems to deliver. Day one in Sacramento was full of tips, tricks, laughs, and fun. The presenters have shared their hand-outs and presentations with everyone, and they are available on the ARSL site. So if you’re not here with us, pull some of those slide decks and follow along at home.

A theme running through the first day’s sessions is to meet your members and guests where they are…go with their strengths and experiences. Williams told folks to emphasize their mainstream convenience (“Librarians are the only one’s who like searching. Everyone else likes finding.”), and stop thinking of them as clients and patrons (See: aforementioned members and guests). Bill Harmer stressed the importance of thinking like an entrepreneur, and getting out there. His mantra: “Don’t ask permission.” Just be passionate and connect with your community. Try new things. A senior “lock-in”, and a free monopoly tournament for seniors are two of the many examples he gave of connecting with that important segment. His slides give recipes for many of the successful programs that made Chelsea District Library the Best Small Library in America.

Finding a place at the table for everyone in your community is really the key task of those who work in libraries. Williams told folks: “Allow others to work at the top of their game rather than trying to prove you are at the top of yours.” That’s what everyone here is working on: How can I better serve my youth, my seniors, my tech savvy, etc. Which really comes down to leadership. Leaders don’t need to have the world know they are at the top of their game. They just act it. They succeed when those around them succeed.

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