RLRT Rural Resources Symposium

In August, I attended the Rural Library Resources Symposium offered by the Rural Libraries Rountable (Say that 10 times fast!) of the New York Library Association. The event was also part summer meeting to discuss the upcoming conference. It took place at the lovely Cazenovia Public Library and Museum. I missed most of the meeting, I did have a little over an hour drive to reach the library! However, I was able to stay for the entire workshop.

Cazenovia library

The workshop started with keynote speaker Betsy Kennedy, who discussed collaboration & risk are behaviors we can all do. She is the director at the Cazenovia library, and she mostly talked about some of the projects that where created with help from community members and other organizations in the area.

Page the library cat

While talking about ways of making the library a stronger part of the community, Betsy mentioned that recognizing people learn differently and providing a variety of opportunities for attaining knowledge is very important. She asked the question “What can we do to help people get out of the house”? It’s not only about good circulation of books, the library should also work on getting audiences to the write place or just being a space for people. She pointed out that some visitors may never borrow a book, but they do come for games, lectures or movies among other things.

This library has some pretty cool programs, including lectures led by Cazenovia College Faculty. I left feeling inspired with some great ideas for my own library.

The rest of the day was filled with working together in groups, identifying challenges we all face, and ways of solving them with the help of a huge wealth of resources outside the library.  Cazenovia library (1 of 4)Some solutions brought up by various groups and the different challenges included, staff buy in, communication tools, face-face meeting time, a shared vocabulary and a supportive atmosphere.

We where also asked to list skills we personally have, and to imagine how many skills our patrons, or local organizations might have. We learned ways to improve our community through Asset Based Community Development. We thought about, when our community was at its best, what makes it unique and strong, and how we can help make it stronger.

The workshop was around 5 hours long, but it was packed with great information and ideas for ways to improve our own libraries without thinking about how much money we don’t have.

Commute with Audiobooks

I have a thirty minute commute to my library.  When I’m not working I’m often fairly busy getting involved in a number of other things.  Unfortunately, I don’t always find a lot of time to read.  However, I love listening to audiobooks during my commute.  Thankfully, as a member of the Finger Lakes Library System, and the NY Public Library I have access to a huge selection of books through Overdrive.  I found that I enjoy a mix of books, and even listen to Young Adult Books.  Anything that isn’t overly intense, or challenging.  Here are a few of my favorites.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
The story is set in the distant future on a land mass that suddenly formed off the coast of North America.  It follows the life of a young woman raised in exile as she claims her birth right as heir to the throne.  I enjoyed the storytelling in this book, and anticipating the unfolding of the main characters life.  This book is followed by The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. This was also good, but it seemed the style of writing changed, and I began to like the main character less. At the moment I’m waiting for the third book in the series, titled The Fate of the Tearling.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
This was about political intrigue around a elven court, and had very little action.  I really enjoyed this story!  The world was interesting, and detailed.  I hope Katherine will write another book about the same place.  I imagine there are many interesting lives to follow.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
I loved this book!  It’s about a man who accidentally steps into a parallel London known as London below.  The book was written in 1996, however the audiobook was released years later.  The narrator was excellent, and I was sad when it ended, wishing there was more.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Another, great narration that kept me intrigued.  It is another fantasy novel about a village surrounded by a forest corrupted by a malevolent force.  The wizard known as the dragon keeps the corruption at bay.  In payment the village must hand over a young woman to work for him for 10 years in his tower.  Naomi is an amazing story teller!

Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Sometimes I enjoy a good non-fiction too.  This book follows Lyanda’s life with a Starling as she investigates how Mozart’s Starling influenced his music.  She talks about how today the European Starling is the most disliked bird by many naturalists and conservationists.  It was an interesting read, and I learned some interesting facts about Mozart and bird behavior.

Improving the Kids Area

Since starting my position in Newark Valley, I have been finding ways to make the children’s section a friendlier space for our youngest visitors.  All of the kids books and Young Adult books were stuffed on shelves that lined the walls of the basement.  There are two tables one for adults and one for kids, but no really comfortable place to spend time. There are plenty of picture books and easy readers packed in, but very little to encourage people to stay for awhile.
To change that I moved all the Young Adult books upstairs. Personally, I think this will be more inviting for teens anyway. All of the Juvenile books have been shifted over to where the YA books had been. The picture books have been spread out so that now the top shelf contains Parenting, and educational books, the second shelf has front facing books, and the bottom two shelves have all the picture books.
Last year, I asked the local quilting group to create new cushions for the space. They did an amazing job creating adorable pillows we can use for story-time! The only downside is kids fighting over the one Sponge Bob pillow. I’ve also added a rug, and obtained some new Early Literacy games.
During Summer Reading last year I made a jumbo sized Bananagrams game, and even laminated the cards. Along with that I made a fruit matching game taken out of the manual.  This year I created a play mailbox to add to the space. Visitors can send a postcard to their favorite book character, and receive a response.  All of these additions have been positively received by parents. There has been an increase of circulation of the parenting books, and some have enjoyed playing games with their little ones.


Starting Out

It has been over a year since I began my career at Tappan-Spaulding Memorial Library.  Starting as a director in a rural library, while still in grad school was certainly challenging.  However, it was also frequently rewarding.  The time has gone by quickly, and looking back it was certainly not without stress, but overall I’m glad to have made the choice to pursue a career in librarianship.


I have learned a lot about running a library in the past year.  I’ve made many new relationships, and helped people along the way.  I discovered that sometimes people will bring gifts like vegetables from their garden or little tomato plants.  I’ve attended workshops, conferences, and even participated in advocacy.  Most importantly I found that I never felt isolated working in a rural town in upstate New York.   Their have been some nights hardly anyone walks though the doors, but there are loads of opportunities to meet colleagues or interact will local community members.

If had one piece of advice to offer others that are starting out, it would be to make sure that you build many connections with others in the field and your own community!

I am already looking forward to what will come in the future as I continue to gain experience as a librarian.