In fact, never before have I seen a PLA program with such a consistent, political purpose. Gone are the workshops on speed dating, beer making, and outreach to millennials in the suburbs.
Instead, look for presentations on equity of access, institutionalized racism, media literacy, service to immigrants and refugees, paths to citizenship, the opiate crisis, and more. Even the maker movement has been pushed outward, now more focused on working with at-risk youth and in venues beyond the library.
Is this the Trump effect at work? One thing is certain: Buoyed by the knowledge that they make a difference in individual lives as well as communities, public librarians are coming to Philadelphia to share how they are addressing the needs of their communities and seeking to better the lives of all they serve, including the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
Below are my personal picks from the PLA program. As always, please consult your program for any last-minute cancellations or room changes. Thursday, March 22 Expect plenty of hands-on work. At this panel discussion, four urban-library leaders will discuss how their libraries are assisting their cities while building support among staff to make it happen. Push Comes to Shove: Supporting Patrons of Color in Your Institution Explore how systems of oppression are built into policies and procedures, and emerge from this high-interaction workshop with the skills and strategies to create change within libraries.
Perhaps now more than any time in recent memory, libraries need to support their Latin-American populations. Discover the variety of shared programs such a facility can provide, and learn more about effective collaboration among staff and the opportunity to engage new users. Library Cards for All Students A large panel of librarians from Northern California will explain how they created a successful library-card drive using a bulk data exchange with their local public school district.
Librarians will get the tools needed to replicate their success. Libraries make great strides in inclusivity when they ensure that all students in their communities have library cards, yet for many reasons, this goal has been difficult to achieve.
Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 4—5 p. Lost in the Library? Never Again, with User-Centered Design Hear from three seasoned pros about user-centered design and how it relates to new and at-risk populations, how to eliminate barriers to use, and how to empathize with new library users. This is an important conversation, as we all want our libraries to feel welcoming, to be intuitive to use, and to utilize staff in the best possible way.
Programming and Resources for the Political Climate Fake news, media bias, and extreme partisanship are all major topics of discussion as the midterm elections approach—and they are also opportunities for libraries that want to engage their communities.
Hear about programs and resources to increase media literacy, political awareness, and dialogue. Shifting Resources to Reach Low-Income Audiences The Seattle Public Library is conducting an equity analysis of its services, and in the process it has identified several youth programs that are failing to reach children because of barriers to access. This case study will demonstrate how to initiate an assessment from the perspective of equity and how to allocate resources to address it.
I know at least a dozen libraries, mine included, that are discussing the elimination of fines on youth materials.
What was once a radical idea is now being framed as necessary to remove a significant barrier to library use, especially for low-income families. Understand the pros and cons from the research, learn from libraries that have taken the plunge, and get the data to build a case. Citizenship Can Start at Public Libraries This wide-ranging panel will discuss the needs of immigrants, including sources and programs libraries can offer, and how to find trusted information.
Citizenship and Immigration Services to bring federal resources to libraries serving these populations. Turning Common Heritage into Common History: Preserving Local African American History The best local history collections are those that reach out to the community, creating excitement about a shared heritage while sharing the tools to preserve that heritage.
The Athens—Clarke County Ga. Learn how other libraries can adapt similar programs to their communities. Now come and meet some of the librarians who are making drag queens reading to kids a reality. The drag queens themselves! How Can My Library Help? Every community is affected, and a panel of librarians from across the country will discuss the roles that libraries can play, involving education, working with partner organizations, and direct intervention in overdose situations.
Not to be missed. But though many people are seeking information about their ancestry for fun, genetics is also increasingly seen as a factor in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Learn from two librarians from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine about the issues surrounding genetics, and get the resources to assist patrons in locating and evaluating sometimes complex and confusing information.
Hear from a trio of librarians about how the Choose Civility movement is playing out in their communities. Works for libraries of all sizes. Because one thing we librarians are awful at is jettisoning those tired, underperforming programs and services. Hear how libraries can help people navigate an information environment filled with fake news and weaponized narratives, and learn how to distinguish between the information engaged and the information wary.
A Successful Collaborative Story Talk about stepping it up: With a logo, flyer shell, citywide brochure, and Storytime Traveling Trunks, they successfully promoted more than 55 programs across the Philadelphia area.
Come learn how they did it. A Cup of Conversation: The Houston Public Library brings neighbors together over refreshments to discuss issues that affect their communities, including refugee resettlement and language skills.