"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Apr 4, 2012

PLA 2012: Saturday, March 17

Waking up on Saturday morning, it was hard to believe that later that day I'd be on a plane back home – it seemed like I'd barely been at the conference for any time at all! I slipped over to the Reading Terminal Market for some croissants (okay, but not great) and a latte (good, but a bit expensive!) before the morning session.

I only attended one session on Saturday: Get Involved: Powered by Your Library -- Successful Engagement of High Impact Volunteers. "Get Involved: Powered by Your Library" is a state-wide initiative in California with the goals of helping libraries to recruit and make use of "high-impact volunteers" (volunteers who have high-level professional skills and are looking for chances to use them for a good cause) and helping talented volunteers to find placements that are a good match for them. The session was very interesting, and left me with some new ideas and ways of thinking about our volunteer program, which I coordinate. I also thought that elements of the "Get Involved" program would translate very well to many of the smaller libraries in my state, which often only have a few staff and need volunteers to do many "extra" things. For instance, one of the smaller libraries represented on the panel, serving a community approximately my library's size, had something like eight volunteers basically doing all of their marketing. That gives me pause in some ways (no one wants to bolster the argument that libraries could just be run by volunteers), but for a small library with few resources it's also an amazing way to get community members heavily involved and able to advocate for the library, while also enabling it to accomplish things it never could otherwise. What a thought provoking session! – and a great way to end the conference.

Afterward, I went back to the hotel to grab my things and check out, then shipped all of my freebies and other goodies back home (shoutout to the Philadelphia Convention Center FedEx for making that experience quick, easy, and pleasant!*). I stopped at the Reading Terminal Market one last time to get a souvenir for my partner (chocolates from the Amish-run candy store, as he's a chocolate freak) and to sample the fantastic ice cream again (I settled for a shake, for portability). Then it was goodbye to Philadelphia – a train to the airport, and after a nap and some delays, a flight back home. Even then my conference wasn't quite over until after I landed – I ended up being on the same flight as a library director who also happens to be the head of our state organization, and we talked for a good portion of the wait in the airport and the flight home!


* As a complete aside, the manager working that day told me that we had basically cleaned out not only every box in the city, but for some miles around – he'd had to order extras from pretty far out of Philadelphia to meet demand. The power of librarians when given access to cheap/free books...

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