Wednesday, November 24, 2021

#NYLA2021: Notes from Day 1 In-person Conference, Nov. 4

Keynote session
This year, the New York Library Association held its annual conference in both virtual (Oct. 28-29)and in-person (Nov. 3-6) day 1 of the in-person conference.

The conference began - as it always does - with the NYLA Business Meeting and breakfast. For me, the most important item on the agenda was approval of the revised NYLA bylaws, because I had helped ot work on them.  Bylaws should be reviewed regularly and updated as needed. Unfortunately, the NYLA bylaws hadn't been touched in a while so an update was needed. NYLA members voted to adopt the new bylaws!

The roles of the conference facility were that we had to wear masks at all times, except when we were eating. For me, this cut down on the free food I was willing to eat, because that meant removing my mask.  In all of the sessions, people were spaced out (see photo above) to maintain social distancing. The exhibitors in the Trade Show area where also spaced out more for the same reason.

After the business meeting is the keynote speaker.  This year, the speaker was author Robert (Bob) Kolker, who wrote Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family (paid link). No notes can capture his ability to tell a story and the complexity of the real-life family in this book. The parents had 12 children (10 male, 2 female), with six of the males having schizophrenia. It is extremely rare to find Schizophrenia in that many siblings, which means that have been studied by medical researchers in order to learn more about this disorder. You can read about this book on the book website, NPR interview, and Forbes review.  It is a complex story and one that will likely draw the reader in. 

New York State Librarian Lauren Moore held a session entitled A New Way to RAC (Regents Advisory Council). The description was:

Building on the success of the Vision 2020 plan, RAC (Regents Advisory Council on Libraries) is looking at newer ways to improve services.  This program will include a discussion and we need your input.  The RAC Vision Plan 2020 presented strategic directions for New York's libraries and library systems and was developed in partnership with the state's library community.  It provided a clear vision of what excellent libraries should look like, and affirmed the ongoing value of the library system.
This was a brainstorming/feedback session, where Moore provided background on information being collected by RAC statewide, then asked for our input. We worked in small groups. 

The Regents Advisory Council thinks deeply about the needs of all type of libraries across NYS and provides information to the Board of Regents.  Having served on RAC, I think most people have no idea this group exists and how influential they can be.  It really behooves people - especially library staff - to know who represents their region on RAC and to help them think about the needs of libraries. Some members of RAC are not librarians, so giving them input can be quite helpful.

The last session I attended on Thursday was Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolbox with Kelly Harris and Trina Reed. The session description was:
In 2020 a group of library administrators from Nassau and Suffolk counties came together to address the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion in libraries. Together, they created a toolbox to empower libraries to give employees access to equal opportunities, no matter who they are or where they are from. Our goal is to educate, engage and create policies for staff, trustees and patrons to make libraries truly a place where everyone feels that they belong. The toolbox provides tips and templates to create policy, educate staff and trustees, and provide resources to help recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

A good portion of the content they covered can be found in the Nassau County Library Association The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolbox.

Additional Resources:

And that was the end of day 1 in-person!

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