Illinois Library Association Conference Recap

Illinois Library Association Conference:  Kickstarting! Connections, Creativity and Community

The Illinois Library Conference was held this past October 14th-16th in Springfield. I really enjoyed the trip and even had some free time to do a Haunted Lincoln walking tour and visit the illustrious Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and National Museum. I was simply awed at the greatness that was our 16th President and such historic surroundings as our old State Capital building and Lincoln’s Law firm. One of my favorite discoveries was this incredible used book shop called Prairie Archives. Their website doesn’t do this place justice as it was wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor full of old books, including everything from the classics to history to contemporary fiction to old magazines. It is a treasure trove for people like me who enjoy scouring and digging through stuff for a unique and memorable find. I did take home a special set of books and it was indeed a memorable find for me.

Here I am, speaking to the ILA crowd about how to make early literacy Read to the Rhythm!

Exhibits opened on Wednesday. As part of the iREAD Committee, I also worked our exhibit booth. It was a blast! I am honored to be chosen for this Committee full of interesting and creative people. Being able to interact with so many librarians and share this great summer reading initiative was so worthwhile. If you haven’t seen pictures from the conference, visit our Facebook page and you can see all the fun your library can experience from iREAD.  A first for the iREAD committee this year was a presentation of showcase ideas, programs and crafts. I spoke about how the 2015 theme of Read to the Rhythm could be incorporated into early childhood and literacy storytimes and more. Check out our presentation online!

The Youth Services Breakfast with Don Tate was such fun. He is one impressive artist with a background no one could guess.  I am so happy to support the cause he has taken on called #weneeddiversebooks to encourage more diversity in publishing and writing.  I just loved his presentation and am so happy to have discovered his talent.


Evaluating Makerspaces on Tuesday, October 14th
This program presented by RAILS offered best practice and evaluation tips and ideas to effectively evaluate your makerspace. What I found most important was the point made to not get stuck in outcome based evaluation systems, and how to achieve those new ways of analyzation. Makersapces are intended for spurring creativity and critical thinking which can be tough to actualize with a figure. Using team base inquiry and theory based evaluation all while asking the question of, “What’s the point” gives more meaning to the data collection. Also helpful was how the type of Makerspace was categorized into Digital Creation, Analog Creation, Tinkering Studio and Participatory types of mediums. It helped me understand that not all Makerspaces have to be done using a computer or 3D printer, but that the idea is to create or ‘make’.

Babypalooza: Kickstarting Connections with Families on Tuesday, October 14th
Three libraries presented their versions of Baby and early literacy events. The basis of the Babyfest program is to create an event just for young families offering resources and services specific to their needs. They can be as elaborate as including storytimes, crafts, raffle drawings, and freebies from sponsoring partners. One library showed how to use Sign Language in storytimes which I found very helpful! It reminded me that just a few signs can add a new dimension to a traditional babytime class.

Hola! Czesc! Hello! Connecting Families through Bilingual Programs on Tuesday, October 14th
This panel of librarians working in diverse bilingual communities offered their program ideas and tips to help bring in patrons to the library. One idea I really liked was to have a guest storyteller, in addition to the librarian, at a family storytime. The guest storyteller would perform the story in their native language. It is a great way to encourage family and friends to attend a program together, and share their culture with others. While I have done Dia de los Ninos programs at my current library, making it a year round initiative was another great idea from this panel.

Volunteers Galore! on Wednesday, October 15th
One of the libraries’ presentation gave a really great example of their young friends program. What I liked about their program was that it involved children of all ages and their parents. The turnout at their meetings is impressive and they offer the program year round. It sounded like a success and one I think could be easily replicated.


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