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Preconference Workshops | Wednesday, September 11


Mental Health First Aid for Library Staff
Mental Health First Aid helps learners develop practical skills that can benefit themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. Like other first aid courses, this class is not about diagnosis or treatment. Instead, it teaches practical skills to provide support during crisis and non-crisis situations related to mental health challenges and substance use disorders. The seven-hour course comprises learning activities, readings, videos, group discussion and personal reflection (including self-care). Learners will become certified Mental Health First Aiders with the knowledge and confidence to assist a person in need, and return to their libraries with information to fight stigma and connect people with critical resources. Registration for this preconference is limited to 30 attendees.

Sarah Vantrease, Public Services Division Manager, Sonoma County Library

8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Storytimes: Go from Good to Amazing!
Ready to take your storytimes and storytelling to the next level? Learn (and practice!) the difference between reading a book and sharing a story. Choose books and plan how you share them to enthrall children and encourage participation. We will practice using our voice, body language, music, movement, illustrations, and text (seven easy ways!) to captivate your audience, encourage participation, manage behavior, build parent-child connections, and more. (Yes, you can do all this with how you tell stories!) We will practice with books and touch on how to apply these techniques to flannelboards, cutting and drawing stories, puppet tales, movement, music, and everything else you do during storytime. Become an amazing storyteller!

Suzanne Davis, Youth Services Librarian, East Bonner County Library, ID

Building Bridges: Constructive Dialogue in Small Library Communities

In today's landscape, navigating difficult conversations is essential, especially due to the unique realities of rural and small libraries. Learn essential skills for planning and facilitating constructive dialogues on challenging topics. Through practical exercises and comprehensive materials, you’ll learn to structure productive conversations, frame topics, and develop discussion questions. You’ll also practice basic facilitation skills for introducing conversation guidelines and addressing issues that may arise in the moment. Emphasis will be placed on accessibility considerations. Leave the session with the skills and resources necessary to effectively organize and facilitate various types of gatherings, such as board and public meetings, programs, and events. You’ll also gain strategies for managing conversations of controversial, contentious, or challenging natures.

Courtney Breese, Director Emeritus, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
Keiva Hummel
, Executive Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
Samantha Oakley
, Project Director, Public Programs Office, American Library Association
Tyler Hahn, Director, Cherokee Public Library (IA)

Rural Libraries & Incarceration
According to statistics from the Vera Institute of Justice, the jail population has grown 27% in rural counties since 2013, meaning that many rural and small libraries find themselves unknowingly on the frontlines of providing services to people impacted by incarceration. Other statistics show that 95% of people who experience incarceration will return to their communities. The stigmas associated with incarceration, compounded by trauma and other mental health issues, can mean that addressing the special needs of patrons who are impacted by incarceration are especially challenging for rural libraries. From understanding the root causes that drive mass incarceration, and reaching these patrons without compromising their privacy, to then ensuring that we are meeting their service needs and improving their odds of bouncing back and becoming engaged members of our local communities—rural libraries are in a unique but challenging position. Whether your library is interested in starting library and outreach services to people in a jail or carceral complex in your community, or ensuring that your library is able to help patrons who have been impacted by incarceration or who are at-risk of being incarcerated, or if you are just interested in learning about and understanding these issues more deeply, this Preconference Workshop will offer information, resources, and strategies to begin and continue strengthening the safety net and connecting more opportunities for these especially vulnerable, often overlooked members of our communities. Hear examples of successful outreach initiatives, tips for pursuing funding and support at the local level, and suggestions for service models that recognize the lasting impacts of trauma and approaches to supporting people who have been incarcerated or may be at risk of incarceration in your local community. Takeaways will also include further resources for professional development and learning. In redressing the devastating consequences of mass incarceration, the scholar Dr. Angela Y. Davis asks us to “imagine a constellation of alternative strategies and institutions”; surely, rural libraries could be a star in this network. Join us to learn how your rural or small library can help burn more brightly, and be a key player in a growing safety net that helps to keep our communities safer, healthier, and stronger economically.

Chelsea Jordan-Makely, Library Director and Consultant, Griswold Memorial Library and Renewed Libraries, LLC
Sarah Hertel-Fernandez, Library Director, Belding Memorial Library
Kevin King, Library Director, East Lansing Public Library

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Open Book, Open Play: Engaging Early Learners in Storytime
Discover strategies for engaging very young children in book sharing and imaginative play. Participants will experience a hands-on storytime program, reflect on strategies for inviting playful interaction, and consider criteria for selecting picture books that invite children to move, sing, talk, and create. Next, we will explore ways to enhance and extend book sharing through multisensory learning, with a special focus on designing simple open-ended art-making projects for very young children. Participants will receive supporting materials including supplemental readings, thematic booklists, and digital resources.

David Feinstein, Literacy Educator, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, MA

Library Policies: What You Need & Why
The need for library policies is well known. However, sometimes the library director and board don’t realize they need a policy until it’s past due. Join this Preconference Workshop for a look at the essential policies a small library should adopt. Using examples from our years of public service and library consulting, we will share circumstances that caused library directors and boards to spring into action to approve policies abruptly and after they were needed. In this high-energy, interactive session, attendees will share their situations and determine when and whether new policy is necessary.

Patty Collins, Library Consultant, Central Kansas Library System
Gail Santy, Library Consultant

Path to Belonging: Creating Healthy, Vibrant & Resilient Communities
Many of the profession’s existing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (EDISJ) frameworks target large urban and suburban libraries and don't scale to small, rural libraries, which tend to be under-resourced, understaffed, and have limited access to advocacy organizations. To address this challenge, we created the Path to Belonging, a framework for welcoming, equitable institutions that addresses rural libraries' unique challenges. This interactive Preconference Workshop will provide an overview of the Path to Belonging. Participants will explore the four paths (personal, professional, institutional, and community) through self-assessment, discussion, and practice of facilitation skills. Participants will leave with an action plan, including checklists, tools, and resources to support belonging.

Erica Freudenberger, Outreach, Engagement & Marketing Consultant, Southern, Adirondack Library System
Maria Estrella, Owner, Young Diverse Readers
Keturah Cappadonia, Outreach Consultant, Southern Tier Library System
Kerstin Cruger, Outreach & EDI Specialist, Mid-Hudson Library System

Campaigning in Turbulent Times
Do you have a library ballot measure in your near future? Are you in the middle of a funding problem? This Preconference Workshop focuses on ballot measure planning in the current political and social moment. Attendees will leave equipped with actionable tools and knowledge to champion library initiatives in their own communities, fostering environments where libraries continue to thrive as essential centers for learning and culture.

John Chrastka, Executive Director, EveryLibrary