Conference Home


Preconference Workshops | Wednesday, September 20

8:30 AM12:30 PM

"How Can I Help You?" & Other Ways You're Losing Your Patrons
In this session, attendees will gain valuable insights into the significance of crafting favorable experiences for library patrons. We will equip you with practical tools and techniques to improve patron experience, even if you're not sure where to begin. We will explore innovative ideas for staff interactions with patrons, as well as strategies for fostering positive relationships between staff members. Furthermore, we will share a sample customer service policy/manual to help you develop effective policies for your library.
Phillip Carter, Starkville-Oktibbeha County Public Library System (MS), Director
Planning & Facilitating Accessible Community Conversations
How can libraries create accessible and engaging conversations with the community they serve? In this workshop, participants will learn the principles for planning and facilitating community conversations, including finding applications for existing library programming and exploring how to engage the community in discussing topics of importance. Participants will also learn about accessibility best practices for community conversations, including approaches for communications, facilities, and using multiple modes for conversation. Library staff will leave this session with the skills and resources needed to implement accessible best practices for their next program or event, and plan for future engagement.
Courtney Breese, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, Executive Director

Keiva Hummel, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, Communications Coordinator
Samantha Oakley, American Library Association, Project Director

What the $@!! Am I Getting Myself Into? A Library Building & Space Planning Overview

Are you unsure how to navigate through the building and space planning process? Based on his recently released guidebook written for individuals working in small libraries, the presenter will walk you through it all. He will highlight the various steps in the process including assessing your space, projecting the size of the future building, hiring an architect, and thinking about possible spaces within the building. This program is designed to dip your toes into the building and space planning process with a focus on small and rural libraries. Participants will leave feeling a little less intimidated and armed with resources to help them from start to finish. A PDF copy of the guidebook is available via email at no cost to participants and members of ARSL when they complete this form (

John Thompson, IFLS Library System (WI), Director/Building Consultant

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Building the Library Culture You Want

Workplace culture isn’t just a fancy phrase used to describe Fortune 500 companies. It is an organization’s shared goals, values, and practices. The presenters, who have assisted dozens of libraries in identifying workplace obstacles, will guide you through the process to craft a workplace where staff are appreciated and real work gets done. They will discuss how poorly written policies, apathetic leadership, and toxic employees or board members can keep a library from moving forward. Attendees will identify what is and isn’t working in their own organizations and walk away with the tools to create a vibrant workplace.

Patty Collins, Central Kansas Library System (KS), Library Consultant
Gail Santy, Central Kansas Library System (KS), Library Consultant

Strategic Plan-It: Crafting Your Evergreen Strategic Plan That Saves You Time & Money

Are you tired of doing strategic planning every three to ten years? Yes! Welcome to the evergreen design strategic planning session, where you will learn the skills to create and execute sustainable, adaptable strategies that stand the test of time. Our program emphasizes the importance of participant outcomes and takeaways, ensuring that attendees leave with practical knowledge and tools to implement in their organizations immediately. Our session includes planned interactivity, group discussions, and real-life examples to enhance your learning experience. Additionally, participants will receive comprehensive materials to take home and utilize in their organizations. Join us to gain the expertise needed to create evergreen strategic plans that deliver long-term success.

Arnessa Dowell, Kent County Public Library (MD), Executive Director

Your Library as a Safe Zone for LGBTQIA+ Patrons

Learn how to use free Safe Zone resources to create an affirming, inclusive environment for your LGBTQIA+ patrons. Participants will gain a foundational understanding of the difference between gender and sexuality; each of the letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym; and the difference between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and attraction. Discover the power of language that your staff holds to make your library a Safe Zone.

Nicole Sargent, Gill Memorial Library (NJ), Library Director