PLA Public Library Conference 2016

This is a guest post from Peg Elliott, a member of Cohort 2 of the Design for Learning program, reporting back from the conference she attended as one of our scholarship recipients.

A view from the audience at the Bellco Theater at the 2016 Public Library Conference in Devnver CO

A view from the audience at the Bellco Theater at the 2016 Public Library Conference in Denver CO

In early April, I attended the 2016 Public Library Conference in Denver CO. This conference is held every two years.  More than 8,500 librarians from the US and Canada attended the event.   Workshops, lunchtime presentations and the Dine-Around-Denver event provided lots of opportunities for great networking.

Anderson Cooper was the opening session speaker in the spectacular Bellco Theater.

In fact, of the many conferences I have attended, the Denver Convention Center is by far one of the most attractive and best laid out. The huge Exhibit Hall is on the top floor.

A view of the entry to the exhibit hall for the 2016 Public Library Conference in Denver CO

A view of the entry to the exhibit hall for the 2016 Public Library Conference in Denver CO

I attended a small focus group session hosted by WebJunction and InfoPeople. In the context of library staff training and development we talked about ways to build an effective learning culture. Three priority training topics were identified: Overcoming Barriers to Workplace Learning, Supporting Learning through Resources and Activities to Foster Staff Development and Staff Learning to Drive Transformative Strategic Change. A key takeaway was the importance of including an accountability piece in the training program.  This allows staff to share what they learned with peers and creates the learning culture throughout.  Pasadena Public Library has scheduled lunchtime tabletalks for staff to share what they have learned at workshops and webinars. Denver Public Library implements an Employee Learning & Growth (ELG) program that all library staff are required to participate in. The Greenwich Public Library has a drop-in lab that any staff can volunteer to cover.  This fosters a culture where staff at all levels can get involved in learning and instructing both staff and patrons.

A view inside the exhibit hall at the 2016 Public Library Conference in Denver CO

A view inside the exhibit hall at the 2016 Public Library Conference in Denver CO

One workshop I attended was titled ‘Play Your Way to An Engaged Staff’ presented by librarians from ImagineIF libraries. Clear articulation of a shared vision and establishing clear expectations for library staff helps to foster staff engagement. The speakers noted that “play makes learning irresistible” helping to set the stage for engagement. As adults it is easy to forget how children learn by playing and interacting with others.

I visited several exhibits of vendors with online learning products. DigitalLearn.org, provides short video tutorials useful for some library staff and their patrons. Niche Academy makes it easier for libraries to provide online tutorials for their purchased subscriptions as well as providing a platform to add custom designed learning pieces to the library website.  BrainHQ has more than two exercises in six categories: attention, memory, brain speed, people skills, intelligence and navigation.

About Arden Kirkland

Arden Kirkland is an independent digital librarian, providing consulting services for digital collections and online learning. Her years of work in higher education have included a focus on students’ active participation in the construction of multimedia digital collections. Other recent projects include ArtOneida.org, HistoricDress.org, and work on the Capability Maturity Model for Research Data Management. Find out more about her work at ardenkirkland.com.
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