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.

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.