What I did at CLA

At this year’s Connecticut Library Association (CLA) Conference I tried live-tweeting the sessions I attended: http://bit.ly/1GKGXfq Not sure it was worth it but it was an interesting experiment!

Monday, April 27

Creating Better Communities: Designing Library Experiences for the Pursuit of Happiness / Steven Bell. Bell, Associate University Librarian at Temple University, reviewed the latest research on happiness, and described how to create a user experience (UX) in the library that made people feel happy and helped them to lead more fulfilling lives. Notable quotes:

  • “Treat everyone as if they are the most important person in the world.”
  • “Design an experience that is unique to your library, your community.”
  • “Happiness doesn’t depend on the size of the joy, but on the number of joys you experience.”
  • “An Experiential Brand Statement is not the same as branding – it is an internal statement about the way we want our users to feel.”
  • “Start by thinking about what doesn’t work right at your library.”
  • “YOU are the experience that people have in your library.”

Reaching Veterans At Your Library: We Were There: Writing Your Military Experiences / Elisabeth Petry and Christy Billings. The Russell Library Veterans’ Writing Program began in 2012 as part of One Book, One Middletown; the 2012 selection was Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. What was supposed to be a three-session series organized by Billings has continued at the request of the veterans who are avid participants in the program. Their writings are being compiled into a book. In the sessions, veterans share their work and Petry suggests improvements and writing exercises. Billings led the CLA session attendees in a writing exercise, giving us 7 minutes to write about our first car or a photograph. In that time, Brandie Doyle wrote an astonishing poem:

Water, water, everywhere!
Spouting from the ground.
A lone boy, splashing,
wears a bucket as a crown.
He skips toward The Ultimate:
a nozzle, huge and blue.
How to pull the lever to let more water through?!?
With floodgates open,
he could swim through the air.
Where on Earth is this place?
And how do I get there?!?

Teaching Users to Trust: Technology Education in Small Libraries / Jessamyn West. West, who works in a small library in Vermont, spoke about how to teach users about technology in a way that builds their confidence and problem-solving skills. Notable quotes:

  • “Digital divide consists of several parts: 1. Economic. 2. Usability. 3. Language/literacy. 4. Empowerment.”
  • “Not using the Internet is no longer an option. How do you build trust in the Internet?”
  • “Searching is an iterative process. But many new users don’t realize this.”
  • “Compliment people for doing better than before. Very motivating!”

Finding Your Voice: Advocacy for Every Librarian / Libby Post. Post has been contracted to consult with CLA to develop a plan to advocate for Connecticut’s libraries. She discussed the variety of advocacy activities that have been successful for libraries in New York and elsewhere, to receive the necessary funding and support from municipal, state and other funding agencies. Notable quotes:

  • “Libraries tend to be taken for granted. Statistics give us the chance to tell the Library’s story.”
  • “On average, public libraries take only 2% of all tax dollars, and serve 2/3 of the community.”
  • “Let people know how much the library is saving them! Kiosks, posters, return on investment (ROI) for the community.”
  • “Routinize library advocacy campaigns in CT – it should not be reactive, but proactive.”
  • “Libraries are essential community services–like police, fire, health care–no less.”

 Tuesday, April 28

CLA Awards Breakfast:

  • Denise Russo was awarded the CLA Special Achievement Award for her outstanding leadership in organizing Russell’s 2014 Irish Heritage Month.
  • Bob Carlson was awarded the CLA Support Staff of the Year Award for his dedication to Russell’s very successful Job & Career Program, which has made such a difference in the lives of many people in Middletown and elsewhere.
  • Pat Tully was awarded the CLA Supporter of the Support Staff Award for her work at Wesleyan University Library.

    CLA Award winners 2015

    Photo by Jason Neely.

Learning Everywhere: Users, Empathy, and Reflective Practice / Dr. Michael Stephens.  What is the future of learning, technology, and the library? Stephens explored this question in his talk. Notable quotes:

  • “What is the new normal? An evolving landscape of learning and experience in the library.”
  • “Second-screen learning–watching TV while Googling using a phone or tablet.”
  • “New Yorker article by Casey Ceb: The Pointlessness of Unplugging. We can be authentic online.”
  • “What people create in the library becomes PART of the library.”
  • “Emotional intelligence and empathy. Remembering that in designing services and spaces.”
  • “Mean-spirited signs are counterproductive and inhibit creativity! E.g., “This is not a study space.”
  • “Make time for exploration and learning, for your own development. And administrators–give your staff time!”

Jerry Craft: The World of Book Illustrating. Jerry Craft is an author and book illustrator who spoke about the challenges that led him to his rewarding career. At the end of his talk, he led the audience in an exercise in cartoon drawing that he uses with children’s groups. Notable quotes:

  • Craft “had a teacher in high school progressive enough to accept a comic book as a biology term paper.”
  • “Jerry Craft marketed and was successful, but was surprised when his books were a hit with young men.”
  • He “takes serious subjects and makes them more palatable–AIDS, diabetes, childhood obesity—this turned into his thing.”
  • His series The Offenders – five middle-school kids who are bullies & transform into the people they pick on, as superheroes.

Making It Happen Where You Are / JP Porcaro.  Leadership is about attitude, character and perspective. What does it mean to be a leader in the community? Notable quotes:

  • “What makes a good boss good? Inspirational; fun (‘Fun is good,’ Dr. Seuss)”
  • “What makes a bad boss bad? Micromanager, blaming, demeaning, hostile, negative, ‘treated us like a human resource.’”
  • “What makes a good boss bad? Stress–>high blood pressure–> not thinking clearly–and this is contagious (mirroring).”
  • “Emotions are contagious. (Read ‘Emotional Contagion’ circa 1994). A boss sets an emotional tone for the workplace.”
  • “When we interact with someone, we leave behind an emotional wake. No matter how brief or intense.”
  • “Avoiding difficult conversations leads to long-term dysfunction.”
  • “Chronic, annoying stress is the devil. It undercuts hope, compassion, mindfulness and joy–and leads to bad bosses.”
  • “Good leaders: inspire hope and vision; spread compassion; are mindful; create and maintain emotional resonance.”

Librarians as Economic Gardeners / Elizabeth Joseph; Jennifer Keohane; Jenna Mayotte. How to create a business center in your library. Joseph created and maintains a center at Ferguson Library; Keohane created a business center at Simsbury PL which is now led by Mayotte. Notable quotes:

  • “Makerspaces and 3-D printing can make modeling more affordable for startups.”
  • “Important for libraries to partner with local business organizations and funding institutions.”
  • “Simsbury: Important to be nimble; provide workshops and programming on demand. Conference room to serve as a small office.”
  • “Simsbury: Room and assistance preparing for Skype job interviews.”
  • “Connecting information seekers with local businesspeople who can answer their questions about starting a business.”
  • “Having a business resource center builds relationships with sectors of the community who can be library advocates.”
  • “Businesspeople are very grateful for the help libraries give them–they can help when we need advocates.”


The 2015 CLA Conference was well-organized, informative and fun! Thanks to the organizers and everyone at CLA.

Russell's savings due to CLC

Russell Library’s savings last year due to CLC!


About Pat Tully

Librarian exploring effective leadership, local history and community service.
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