by Karly Scarbrough and John Walsh
As with everything in 2020, the AzLA Annual Conference was anything but normal. Even the planning of the conference had a host of challenges we never encountered before. It did not start out that way, and even when the statewide stay at home order was announced, we still believed that we would be meeting face to face in October and things would be back to normal. Little did we know that this year’s Conference and Program Committees would have to rethink our plans, TWICE!, on how we were going to meet. Much like we have done all year, we adapted and instead of gathering in one location, we convened online. While the way we met changed, one thing that did not was the variety of high quality professional development programming we have all come to expect from our Annual Conference.
Our two day face to face event that was scheduled to be crammed full of feature programs, became an eight week long series of webinars that included an opening and closing ceremony. The opening ceremony was presented on the same day we planned to start our face to face conference, October 14. The full day of events started at 8:45AM with an opening statement from the AzLA President and the election results for the newly elected officers. The opening keynote address was presented by Brian Pichman. It was titled 20 Ideas to Spawn Innovation in 2020. Brian is from the Evolve Project and provided a list of excellent technology suggestions that could be featured in library services, like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. The day also included a promotional video from the State Library introduced by Holly Henley, a Book Browse Session with author Davina Morgan-Witts, and a great program offered by Dan Stanton (ALA Councilor), Robin Salthouse, Caroline Nickerson. The very timely program was titled Caught Off-guard? Virtual Is Doable! Programming Resources for our Future. COVID PROOF Your Library with Citizen Science and received a number of positive reviews. The final session of the day was our closing keynote speaker, Christina Roberts, from EPI-USE, whose presentation focused on cybersecurity in libraries. More than 70 attendees enjoyed the day’s activities.
The opening ceremony was followed by a six-week long series of webinars that included an eclectic and far ranging set of topics, from connecting underserved communities with legal resources, to Drag Queen Story Hours (DQSH) serving marginalized communities. The titles of each program are listed below. Though each individual session was lightly attended, more than 50 members enjoyed the sessions over the six weeks.
All presentation videos are available on the AzLA YouTube Channel
|Gretchen Hornberger||Law4AZ: Empowering Public Libraries to Advance Access to Justice|
|Paloma Phelps||At Your Service: City Directory Research during a Pandemic|
|Michelle Miranda Thorstad, Jill Lassen, Lenore Filipczuk||Bring Inclusivity to Story Hours! Serving the LGBTQ+ community and beyond|
|Julie Swarsstad Johnson||More than Books Under Glass: Innovative special collections exhibits|
|America Curl||The Talk-Back Board|
|Diana Manasse||Jumpstart Youth Services Virtual Programming|
|Michelle Gohr, Andrew Barber, Alexis Juarez||Unacknowledged Labor and Precarity: Stories from student workers|
|Mary Beth Riedner, Brian Gonzales, Jan Dougherty MS, RN, FAAN||Forget Me Not: Becoming a dementia friendly library|
The closing ceremony was held on December 9th and was as well attended as the opening with over 100 participants registering for the event and over 70 in attendance. The morning began with another timely topic presented by the closing keynote speaker, Jamie LaRue. Jamie has a public library background and his inspirational presentation, What’s Next? Building Community Through the Pandemic was very well received with much positive feedback from attendees. His message of future roles libraries will play in building communities was uplifting for all and very welcome during a time of building closures. Programming included another promotional video from the state library staff which was very informative and highlighted many services that are highly beneficial to the Arizona community, but often are overlooked within our membership. The final program of the day was presented by Alex Soto, an Indigenous librarian from the Labriola National American Indian Data Center located within the ASU Library. Alex’s presentation was a personal favorite of the entire series. He detailed how meaningful inclusion of Indigineous librarians within the profession can support educational attainment, engagement activities, and creative outlets for Indigenous peoples. This presentation was a fitting tribute to the whole series and really exemplified saving the best for last.
Both the opening and closing ceremonies featured sponsorship content from a variety of AzLA friendly vendors, including BookBrowse, OverDrive, Amigos Library Services, Gale, Janway, Bound to stay, Bound Books, and Bodart. In the end, approximately 200 attendees were treated to diverse and high quality programming and judging from the survey responses this was a highly successful event and our hats are off to all those involved with the planning.. Instead of convening all together this year, we came together while being apart through teleconferencing. Just the transition to an unfamiliar platform of delivery is a commendable feat. In times of uncertainty like these, it is good to know we can all come together in mutual support and pull off an annual conference. Come what may in the future, we are AzLA, we build strong libraries, and libraries build strong communities. Great appreciation goes out to the following list of contributors to the planning of the series.
Karly Scarbrough, Webinar Series Chair, Program Committee Chair
Karen Gronidn, Program Committee Co-Chair
Jusdina Nolin-Brown, Program Committee
Natalie Menges, Program Committee
Patty Jimenez, Professional Development Committee