The Top 5 Reasons to Make the Arizona Library Conference an Annual Destination

By Wendy Skevington

1: The Keynotes

Every year, the conference committee lures in quality keynote speakers for the attendees. 2014 saw Lee Rainie grace us with his dapper and charming presence to start the first full day. Quite by accident, I shared a breakfast table with him just before his opening presentation. I was impressed with the genuine interest he expressed in the doings of a rural Arizona library. To the conference at large he shared some PEW survey results that confirmed what we knew all along: libraries are still needed. The surprising bit is they want us, too. Additionally, the surveys revealed that America strongly feels that book circulation and public access computers are services that libraries should provide. What a pickle–finding a way to deliver excellence on both fronts!

Friday’s keynote presentation, “Dreams You Hold in Your Hand: The Enduring Power of Books,” by Connie Willis, left us all crying, laughing, and pondering how we had missed so many titles on her list. She spoke earnestly of the magic that books work to transform and guide the reader. Her insights reassured us that our efforts to reach those that pass through the library doors do indeed make a difference and brighten lives.

2: The Authors

It is always a bonus to make a personal connection with a favorite author, but more importantly the author presentations provide the opportunity to discover new favorites. This year’s author roster was top-shelf per usual at AzLA, but the one that tickled me was Ann Hillerman sharing the communication exchange she had with her editor regarding one of her character’s actions of “pointing with lips.” This is such a familiar action in the Holbrook area that I felt like an insider on the on story as Ann was sharing it with attendees.

3: Old Friends and New Connections

Those pinky swears you made to colleagues for frequent emails and phone calls have gotten a little frayed around the edges. Spending time at the annual conference, away from your day-to-day, clears the path to renew the contacts that nurture us through the weekly grind. This year it was exciting to learn from Rosemary Bebris of the library building project in Florence, get hugs and catch up with all the library doings of Institute alums and L-School classmates, and hear from new wunderkinds like Maria Mucino, with her budget-wise STEAM programs, and experienced veterans such as Lisa Bunker, who has brought social media to the library as if it always belonged there. Both of those ladies have got library Game with a Capital G! You never know what serendipitous sparks will be discovered when creative minds meet.

4: Vocabulary Development

This year’s new word is Tweckle, a transitive verb meaning to heckle the keynote speaker or lecturer via Twitter during his/her presentation. Other social media might also be employed in this manner. Should I ever be the target of such humiliation may I show grace in my response.

5: Bright Spots

Good stuff to apply the R & D (rip-off and duplicate) method: thank you Annette Noyer of Innovative, Nick Escalante and Sarah Kaufman of Social Savvy Seniors, and all those who shared at the Social Media and STEAM roundtables. The ideas implemented out here on the ground since returning from the conference have shown great return on the time invested. The easiest? Changing your library’s Facebook cover photo often a la Noyer. And don’t forget to use that space to advertise big events. The most timesaving? Hootsuite to manage your social media presence. In the coming months there are 30+ tips and tricks that will debut in our library thanks to my time at conference.

The Kicker

Opportunity to share a great meal with good folks!

To paraphrase Warren Miller, “If you don’t do it this year (2015), you will be one year older when you do.” See you at Conference 2015!

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