Janelle’s ARSL Conference Highlights

Rebecca Heinz and Janelle Mercer posing in the robes available in the room as well as magazines available in the room.

Rebecca Heinz and Janelle Mercer posing in the robes available in the room as well as magazines available in the room.

I attended the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) in Tacoma, Washington September 3-6, 2014 along with Emily Sitz from SWKLS and Rebecca Heinz from Fowler Public Library.  Our days were filled with great speakers and breakout sessions.   Several times there we so many interesting breakout sessions that it was hard to choose which one to attend!   A few of my favorite sessions included “Gizmo Garage: Closing the Digital Divide One Device at a Time”, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Apps”,  and “Tablet Slinging Librarians”.

The Gizmo Garage Session was a preconference presented by a library in Idaho.  In this session the library shared best practices they learned from their Gizmo Garage Sessions at their library.   The library was very good about making sure each staff member knew how to use at least one gadget from the gizmo garage really well.  One of the tips that stood out for me the most was that not all devices work the same for everyone.  The presenter shared how one staff member took a certain device home and hated it.  The next day, the staff member took home another device and totally loved it.  The same thing was discovered with patrons.  Another tip she shared was to keep the gizmo garage sessions small and have plenty of staff on hand to assist patrons.  Notes from the presentation can be found here:  http://www.slideshare.net/jezmynne/gizmo-garage-il-2014-2

The “What We Talk About When We Talk About Apps” session was presented by a children’s librarian who demonstrated and discussed several of his favorite iPad apps and how they have been used successfully in his library.    Reviews for some apps he has tried out as well as his presentation can be found here:  http://libraryapps.tumblr.com/.

The “Tablet Slinging Librarians” session was presented by the former director of Wamego Public Library in Wamego, Kansas.  In her session she discussed the creative ways the library has been using tablets to provide services to library patrons as well as ways to make work easier at the library.  Some of the ways they have integrated tablets include roving checkout and reference, touch screen catalog stations in the children’s area, library inventory, credit card payments, as well as many other things.    A lot of the presentations and handouts from ARSL have been posted on the ARSL website and can be found here:  http://arsl.info/2014/09/2014-conference-handouts-presentations/.    I also wrote notes on my blog for several of the sessions I attended while I was at ARSL, http://janellegant.wordpress.com/category/arsl2014/.

We are also excited to be having the current director or Wamego Public Library presenting at our Tech Day at the end of January.  The ARSL Conference will be held October 1-3 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I definitely recommend attending an ARSL Conference if you get a chance.