PLA, TNLA, and Other Adventures

Whew! The last few months have been a whirlwind of conferences, advocacy, and continuing education that have kept me on the road. The experiences have been phenomenal and I hope they are only the beginning of my mission to bring experience and opportunity to the library. I will be getting caught up on World Travelers, as the program is starting to move beyond borders and become popular in programming circles. We are still going strong, and recently enjoyed a trip to Scotland (11% of the population is redheads! I’d fit right in).

Last time I posted I was heading to NASA. I was selected for two locations: Stennis Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center, but I chose Marshall as it’s much closer to me and is the main facility for space shuttle propulsion and International Space Station assembly and design, whereas Stennis is a rocket engine test facility (you can watch RS-25 startups live on NASATV...it’s pretty cool). Oh.  My. Glob. That was over a month ago and I’m STILL on a high from it! You can read the press release of my trip HERE.

Shortly after that, I took a group of teens to the SE-YA Book Festival in Murfreesboro. This was my first time taking students, and I’m so glad I did! For most of them, this was their first time meeting authors they read every day, and the level of excitement surrounding the day was stellar. Excitement found me as well when I met Erin Teagan, author of this year’s outer space-inspired American Girl of the Year (Luciana). Her books are displayed inside the doors of the gift shop at the Marshall Space & Flight Center, so we connected on her time spent there writing her books and how awesome the facility is (she signed the core of the SLS and I saw it!). After the festival was over, I was contacted by the Vice President and asked to serve on the Board. Yes! I can’t wait to pick our authors for next year and get teens excited about YA literature!

Next was Library Legislative Day (shout out to my awesome librarian-in-crime, Sharon Edwards, who put an awesome event together!). Also a notable experience. If you haven’t been keeping up, you need to start following me on social media. Just kidding. But really. It’s been a rough time for libraries as the current administration proposed cutting funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services...a large source of funding for museums and libraries. There have also been compromises in net neutrality, which is a large issue for more than just libraries. Enter LLD. Librarians gather in their states (I was in Nashville) and eventually in Washington D.C. and get brave - we meet with our legislators and tell them what the library can do for them, and how they can help in return. We invite them to visit our libraries and show them what we are doing for our communities.

This year for Summer Reading I decided to try an experiment: I printed the entire ballot and sent letters of support to every candidate. And I’ve actually had responses! If you’re a librarian and aren’t doing this, you NEED to. I included refrigerator magnets I designed and printed so they’ll have a visual of who we are, what we do, and where to find us. You don’t expect to be political when you enter this field...but especially with the rising climate it is VITAL to the existence of libraries.

And it worked. The FY2018 omnibus spending bill was signed...and it no longer cut IMLS, but increased the budget by $9 million! Now we are working on FY2019, sending our Dear Appropriator letters and preparing for our next LLD. In the meantime, we are still working on net neutrality, the Implementation Act, and plenty more. It never ends! But the small victories push us toward the next ones so we can continue to have safe, innovative, bi-partisan spaces for our communities.

Speaking of Summer Reading...somewhere in the middle of all this I went to the Summer Reading Conference in Nashville. We worked real hard:

One week later, I attended my first big library conference on a grant from the American Library Association. I went up to Philly for the PLA (Public Library Association) conference and was fortunate to make it just hours before the snow storm (for the time being...more on that later). Holy frijoles, I may be addicted!

I’ll be honest, the first night was overwhelming. Everything felt so unnatural. No trees, no clear air, and all I could see out my window was the convention center attached to my hotel. I was alone in a manmade jungle playing the role of “newbie” in a sea of librarians who I already convinced myself were light years ahead of me in the field.

Pre-conference was a good ice breaker. We have a thread going between the 20 of us who received the grant so we can communicate with each other. However, it’s difficult trying to connect with people when you have no idea what they look like! We were able to manage, and I made some connections in the process who helped me navigate the week. It was amazing. The sessions were amazing. Jaqueline Woodson and Kate DiCamillo were there, Elizabeth Gilbert and Sally Yates spoke, and I got so. Many. Books. They told me to pace myself. I just laughed.

I had about four days at home before I traveled over to Memphis, where I’m currently writing half of this post, for the Tennessee Library Association conference. It looks like a little baby conference after being at PLA, but I actually knew people! Here I was awarded the Frances Cheney award for the state of Tennessee, which has been such a huge accomplishment for me. I’m so honored this Yankee who came from nowhere was actually nominated for a state award. Who am I?!

It’s been a busy season! If you’re a librarian and have further questions about any of these events, feel free to contact me. I’ll be more than happy to speak with you!

I almost forgot! On the way back, I was not so fortunate as to miss the return of Snowmageddon and became stranded on the top of a mountain in Virginia. Luckily, I was able to slide over to a quaint hotel that lost power right after I checked in. But the view the next morning was card-worthy:

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