This was my third NCLA conference and I really enjoyed the sessions I attended. I started the conference with a session lead by Chris, Monesha, and Molly. Called Diversity Delineated, Inclusion Integrated, it got off to an energetic start with the music video by Aerosmith and Run DMC of Walk this Way. A nice introduction to talking about ways to create culture of diversity and inclusion at your Library. The talk was very well received and the trio got a lot of questions. I particularly appreciated the candor of the panelists — this was not just a “this is how we did it well” sessions. They talked about programs that worked as well as some that were not so successful. Thanks to Chris, Monesha, Molly are putting together a great session and promoting the value of EDI work in our libraries.

The keynote talk was also one of my favorite sessions. Melanie Huggins, Executive Director of Richland County Library in SC, talked about Library as Studio, a concept she developed in shaping the programs her libraries offer. Instead of talking about libraries in terms of departments and services, a studio model (like an art studio) is used to create co-working spaces and even a test kitchen! She also uses storyboarding for planning — an idea I totally want to steal! Her Library as Studio website has several examples in the concepts and toolkit. Melanie’s talk is another example of how public libraries are among the leaders of creative thinking and innovation in libraries these days.

I went to a number of other good sessions, but I will conclude with When Space Projects Go Sideways: Pivoting for Success.  Moderated by Kevin Huse of Ratio Architects, this panel looked at two public library renovations that did not go as planned and one university library renovation struggling to get launched (no, it was not ZSR!). Kevin summed up the three challenges presented with the following advice:

  • Most problems happen at construction — you need a good project manager to stay on top of things
  • Keep staff informed with a timeline and map of projected moves; it will reduce stress
  • Much more cost effective to catch problems early — review design and construction documents carefully
  • Review multiple designs before implementing and do site visits; knowing what you want will greatly help you get what you when the project is done

I was delighted to see so many folks from ZSR attending, presenting, and volunteering for NCLA. And special thanks to Kathy Shields, who was on the conference planning committee!