Posted in Conference, Travel

Going Solo

I am on my way back from a conference in Denver, CO waiting to board my plane. Including this trip, this is my THIRD time traveling solo since attending PLA in 2018.

I have a bit of anxiety around travel and just prefer traveling with others in general. It’s reassuring and reduces my anxiety.When I was given the opportunity to go to PLA as the WAPL PLA Liaison in the spring of 2018, it was by myself to a city I’ve never been to (Philadelphia). I was dropped off at the airport by a family member and arrived at my destination just fine.

Later last summer, I attended another conference, the ADA Symposium, in Pittsburgh. I flew alone again. This time, it was a little less stressful because I had some recent experience going it alone. It’s hard to believe I went to Pennsylvania twice within a few months and I had never been there in my lifetime.

Today I am leaving Denver, CO to head back to Milwaukee. I’m traveling solo and what’s new this time is that I parked my car at the airport. This is a new adventure for me as I’ve always been dropped off even when traveling with others. I took a picture of where I parked so that I could rest assured that I would be able to find my car upon my return five days later. So if you see me wandering around the Milwaukee airport looking for my car, at least you know I landed OK but may need help finding my spot!

Posted in Conference, Early Literacy, School age, WAPL Conference

When in town, visit the library

We recently held our annual Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries conference in Rothschild, WI May 1-3.

One of the evening activities scheduled was to visit the Marathon County Public Library headquarters in Wausau, WI.

Julie, the Adult Services Librarian, gave 22 visiting library staff a tour, including some behind the scenes stuff.

When in town, I like visiting other public libraries to see how they do things. This library did not disappoint.

I took some photos of things I thought looked great or were cool ideas, including:

    Bath tub for sitting and reading in at the children’s library
    Early literacy area with a theme that changes regularly
    Let us request that for you language on the end cap sign
    Earbuds for sale in the vending machine. Genius.
    Vertical displayed TV with a display of materials underneath.
    Random Acts of Kindness passive programs in the Tween Scene.
Posted in Conference, Program

Appy Hour

internet-3113279_640I attended the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries conference in Pewaukee, WI May 2-4.

Appy Hour was a panel presentation with website extensions, websites, and app recommendations. Here’s the list I jotted down:

Website Extensions:

  • PrintFriendly Chrome Extension. Print without graphics (like ads).
  • Tab Resize – split-screen layout
  • FireShot – screenshot, like the Microsoft Snipping Tool


  • – shortened URL and QR code generator
  • – convert your photo into a PDF or JPG
  • – media bias and fact check
  • – for creating social media
  • Skitch – adding highlights or arrows to images quickly
  • – reading log and timer. like Instagram but for books. Share quick quotes, pictures, and reviews
  • – free ebooks
  • TotalBooxcom – pay for only how much you read
  • – ebook sales, book world news
  • – takes three ingredients and your leftovers and helps you put a meal together. (also an app)


  • Leio – keep track of your reading progress and habits (
  • BigOven – takes three ingredients and your leftovers and helps you put a meal together.
  • Paprika – paid app to organize your recipes, add to shopping list and sync across devices
  • Waze – social GPS. People can mark if there are accidents or slowdowns in real time.
  • GasBuddy – find and report the lowest prices for gas.
  • Dark Sky Weather – $3.99 one time fee. Totally worth it according to the presenter.
  • Kinsa – thermometer app
  • Lux Light Meter – measures brightness
  • Knitt – keeps track of rows
  • NY Times Crossword – free mini puzzle every day
  • CPR Tempo – provides beat for performing CPR
  • WhatsApp – texting service between phones and is a replacement for regular SMS text messages
  • Adobe Photoshop Express – simple photoshop editing
  • Propeller – inhaler monitor tracker for asthma and COPD. App is free, device is paid.
  • I Am Sober-Sobriety Counter – encourages you to stay sober
  • WattPad – writing of fanfic/original works. Teens love it. Upload content and get feedback on it
Posted in Conference, Outreach, Staff Training


I went to a session on outreach at the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) Conference on May 4, 2018. One of the panelists spoke about their BookBike. This was presented by a staff person from the Eau Claire Public Library.

They take 75-100 books out at a time. They bring out some of their newest books on the BookBike so it’s like a lucky day collection for those checking out from the BookBike. They also try customizing their BookBike collection for the event they are attending. E.g. bring strawberry recipe/canning books to the farmers market on the BookBike during strawberry season.

Advice: think about where you are going to stash your BookBike collection in your library. Keep giveaways light and small.

Ran the BookBike purchase past risk management and they had two rules:

  1. Always go with two people
  2. Be back to the library before dark

Training is provided for staff including bike safety, hooking up the bike trailer, and circulation and setting up new library cards.

Bookbike has a handle so staff can roll it into indoor events.

The goal of the BookBike is about making connections, not about circulation. Going out with the BookBike is very casual and there is a lot of conversation.

If patrons don’t have a card the library staff will look them up in the ILS.

A few events the BookBike goes to include:

  • National Night Out
  • Farmer’s market 2x weekly
  • Block parties
  • Earth Day events
  • Concert series 1x weekly

If it rains, the BookBike doesn’t go out.

They recently got a trailer for the BookBike do they can take the BookBike out further distances and also go out to indoor events even if it’s raining

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Posted in Conference

Better Libraries and Stronger Communities through Kindness, Empathy, and Love

Keynote talk by Lance Werner, Kent District Library speaking at the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) Annual Conference (May 3, 2018)

Lance Werner, Barry McKnight, Marge Loch WoutersLeft to right: Lance Werner, Barry McKnight, and Marge Loch-Wouters

I was doing my best to just listen but sometimes I was compelled to write stuff down. Here are my notes:

Lance says when you work at the library you are a public servant. He is a “humble champion of mushy stuff” because the mushy stuff matters. Lance says everybody and everything matters. “If you are a leader, you are just a head in the machine.”

Doing what’s right isn’t usually easy. When something starts getting easy, it’s time to push it to the next level. Strive to be uncomfortable.

Lance talked about losing his father when his dad was just 50. This resonated with me as I too lost a parent at the young age of 50. Lance says life is too short, do not wait. We have today. Each day is a gift.

Learn lessons from tough times. There is wisdom in loss and pain. Just make sure you are listening. Pay attention to the wisdom people pass on to you. They paid a lot for the wisdom through experience.

What can’t take away from us is the interaction we have with people in the library.

You can do anything and be anything as long as you get steppin’. Lance warned us that he was about to swear and then he said, “Don’t be a chickenshit.”

He went on to say that kindness and love are required to work in libraries. At library conferences, we should be talking about how we touch people and lift them up.

Kindness does not equal weakness. You know that moldy strawberry in the pint? Get it out of there before it touches the rest. Lance expects his staff to be kind. There is no room for unkind in public service.

You spend more time with your colleagues than with your own family. Make it a nurturing place to work. Make people feel supported and that they matter.

We (library staff) are in the people business, not the book business.

At Kent District Library, they have what they call the “KDL Way,” a customer service philosophy.

Lance talked about the OCLC Voter Perception survey (learn more.) There was a big drop in % of people who said they would vote for the millage rate for libraries. We need to get out there and tell our story. Don’t rattle off percentages/numbers. Tell the story that happened at the library that made you want to cry. We spent two minutes sharing with our neighbor a story that moved us.

Lance said we need to move away from the “shhhh” stereotype and more to a “Hey!” (I’m approachable) type stereotype.

Posted in Conference, Program

Spark Talks

PLA has been offering Spark Talks for the past six conferences. At PLA 2018, the Spark talks were offered at 5:30pm after the concurrent sessions concluded. What made the Spark Talks unique was the cash bar outside of the conference room. According to the moderator, they have been asking for a cash bar for the past couple of years and for the first time, they didn’t ask for one and they got it. There were also bar type snacks available in the back of the room with the standing pub tables. The joke was that after every sparker (Spark + talker), the audience members take a drink; however, it was mentioned that PLA does not endorse taking a drink after each spark Talk.

Why spark Talks? Because at some point you may be called on to be concise, make your point, and be effective. Not every session has to be strategic planning or succession planning.

Slides are run by the sparker. Speaker has five minutes with a one-minute warning. The audience should be loud, supportive, cheer and clap. Recognize these folks for taking the leap and stepping up.

The first Spark Talks was on Thursday at 5:30pm which was the first full day of program sessions. I had made a note in my program schedule that I wanted to attend the Spark Talks because a number of the topics sounded really interesting and the five-minute format was intriguing. On Thursday, I had about 30 minutes between my last concurrent session and the Spark Talk, so I ran to my room and changed for the night. At 6:15pm I had left the Spark Talk to get to the Audio Publisher’s Association dinner. Fortunately, that was located in the adjacent hotel!

I attended the second Spark Talk on Friday at 5:30pm but this time I didn’t have any plans until 7:00pm which meant I didn’t have to rush out to get to the next event right away.

Stay tuned to read what I learned at the two Spark Talks I attended at PLA!


Posted in Conference, Planning

Imagine the Possibilities

This session, by author Kari Chapin, came highly recommended by the folks that offered the webinar for new PLA attendees.

On every seat in the room. I haven’t filled out my card yet!

She talked about possibility and all the different definitions it had. Here’s the one she settled on:

Possibility: A thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives. (Source: google)

The following advice was geared toward conference attendees but could be used any day you wish to imagine the possibilities.

Questions to ask yourself today: 

  1. Ask yourself this first thing when you wake up, What is possible for me today? Set an intention. Say to yourself, “Today is going to be a really good day,” and your day will likely be pretty good.
  2. Ask yourself this at the end of your day, What happened today that surprised me?  Who did I help today? Who was helpful to me today?

When networking, think about these things:

  • Identify three areas you’d be really good at talking about (Do puppies count?!)
  • Think of three things you want to know more about
  • The best place to meet people is at the end of a bar or table. They may also be looking for someone to connect with.

Small Talk Tip:

Keep asking questions about the other person. People love to talk about themselves. Where do you work? What do you do there? Where do you live?

Ideal Day Exercise:

What would your ideal day look like? You’d get to make your own choices.

Step 1: Start when you wake up while you are still in bed. Picture everything about your day. What kind of sheets do you have? Who is lying next to you? How do I get to work? What will I have for lunch? (Always a good question.) This exercise will take you through all possibilities. You may even notice what is not there. The example provided was about a client who went through this exercise and she realized she never imagined her husband in any part of her day. I’m not sure how this ended up working out but it sure is interesting to think about.

Step 2: On your way home, do a similar exercise but this time imagine what an ideal personal day would look like. What is possible?

And last, I wrote down a challenge for the day. Think of one area where you could ask for support today.

And now you can read a more official write up of this session featured on

What do you imagine as possible? 

Posted in Conference

Wisconsin Colleagues

Even though there were thousands of people at the PLA Conference, we kept finding each other! Many of us were on the same flight home.

Posted in Conference, Program

Lovey Town

Lovey Town was an interactive experience by Madison (WI) Public Library’s The Bubbler and Anythink Libraries (CO) area for all attendees to drop in and make some art. The biggest piece of Lovey Town, in my opinion, was the paper dolls. There was also a collaborative art wall, Q&A using an old card catalog drawer and cards, postcard making (and mailing). Lovey Town was off the main exhibit area and away from the program rooms but still very visible and accessible. You could spend five minutes or an hour in there. I stopped by several times to see how the paper doll installation was going. I was amazed by people’s creativity.

I sent a postcard home to my kids from Lovey Town. Can’t wait for them to get it!

I also managed to bring my paper doll home in one piece. I now have it in my office as a remembrance of Lovey Town and PLA 2018.

Posted in Author event, Conference

Evening Activities


My sister tried reaching me at 5:30pm one evening figuring I would be available to talk. I later reached out to her around 10pm telling her I was just getting back to my hotel room. There is no shortage of things to do when you are at a conference, and PLA is no exception!


Dine Around: some conferences offer an option to sign up for a dine-around. This basically means that you go out to dinner with a bunch of strangers, make small talk, and pay for your own meal. I encouraged my colleague Kerry, from back home, to sign up too. Our dine-around was scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6:00pm so Kerry and I headed out and got there 15 minutes early. When we checked in at the host station, they had no idea what we were talking about and had no such reservation for a large group. We looked at our event ticket via email and it showed the name of the restaurant, Barbuzzo, but the conference center’s address. We trekked back to the conference center, through the mostly unshoveled snow, to see where we should be meeting for dinner. We stopped at the PLA registration desk and asked for help but they referred us back to local arrangements (think several blocks away, but inside).  Fortunately, the local arrangements person was aware of our dine-around plans and was able to point us back to Barbuzzo to meet our host. It turns out it was just the host, Kerry, and I. I was expecting a much bigger crowd. It’s no wonder the host couldn’t find a booking for this big dine-around I was referring to. We got there about 6:20pm and I felt awful for being so late. After all of that, we had a great meal and great conversation. Kerry and I learned about how librarians in Philadelphia have to test (maybe this?) in to get a job in the system. It sounds very different to how we apply and get offered jobs here in Wisconsin. In fact, our host had learned the night before that she had been offered a job in the Philadelphia Free Library System. This was nearly 9 months after she started the application process. Wow!

Library Journal Author Party: After Kerry and I finished dinner with our host at Barbuzzo, we wanted to catch some of the Library Journal’s Author Party which was from 7-9pm at the African American Museum.

It was sleeting pretty heavily already and because of our delay getting to dinner, we decided to take an Uber. MY.FIRST.EVER.UBER. It was a pretty good experience. The driver was a bit of a character but he was polite and got us to where we needed to go. I want to say we arrived about 7:45-8:00pm. Kerry and I both thought this was more of a mix and mingle type party but when we walked into the program room, there was a panel of authors on the stage being interviewed by a Library Journal staff. They had three groupings of authors and we had missed one grouping entirely and part of the second. After all three sets of authors were interviewed, there were book signings. Kerry and I stood in line and received free signed copies of nearly all of the books. The Uber ride had taken us a lot closer to our final destination so we just walked back to our hotels after the author party. This event was OK but I wish I had known it was more of a formal gathering. We would’ve probably skipped it had we known we were missing half of the program by coming at 8:00pm.

Here was the author line-up: Tom McAllister, Walter Mosley, Fatimah Farheen-Mirza, Malcolm Hansen, Beck Dorey-Stein, Falguni Kothari, Richard Lawson, Elizabeth Winthrop, Cutter Wood, Lisa Scottoline, and Francesca Serritella (Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella were unable to attend due to the snow storm).


Audio Association Publishers Dinner: At my roommate Jean’s recommendation, I signed up for the paid Audio Association Publishers Dinner. It cost $80 to attend and you get a three-course meal, get to hear some great talks by authors, and receive about 10 audiobooks in a swag bag. The featured authors were: Kate DiCamillo, Atz Kilcher (father to Jewel, music superstar), Marley Dias, and Joshlyn Jackson. All of the authors talked about reading and the importance of audio in one way or another. My favorites were Kate DiCamillo and Marley Dias. Marley Dias is going places. I am saying it right here, right now. Learn more about the authors.

Overdrive Billion Book Bash: I heard these parties can be epic and I was not misled. Unfortunately (?), I had already eaten before arriving at the Overdrive party (see above), but there were tons of appetizers. Each person was given two drink tickets and an Overdrive Billion Books t-shirt to celebrate this huge milestone. Read more about the billion borrowed e-books.

The party was at the Ballroom at the Ben, which is a beautiful historic building. IMG_9841 2The food looked appetizing, music was good (both a band and a DJ), the ice sculpture was pretty nifty, and the sweets ROOM was a nice discovery. But perhaps the memorable part of the evening was when I spotted that people had checked their (free) books at the coat check. Don’t believe me? Check this out (pictured to the right: books checked at the coat check). I probably could’ve skipped this party but I wanted to do ALL.THE.THINGS.


PLA All Conference Reception: This was held from 5:00-7:00pm in the hotel adjacent to the convention center. A few of us walked over to the All Conference Reception following the Spark talks that ended around 6:00pm. One of my Wisconsin colleagues, Cindy, bought me a drink. Thanks, Cindy! And then I partook in the light appetizers, which including a mini Philly cheesesteak. Think wholesale club Philly cheesesteak.

When the clock struck 7:00pm, the party was done. This was our “chill night,” so my roommate and I walked over to Target and got a few necessities (a backpack for me; water for Jean) and then headed over to BurgerFi for dinner. BurgerFi is a quick service burger place — kind of like a Panera. It’s faster than a sit down restaurant, but not as fast as Subway.

Things I would do differently next time: skip the parties and just attend the Audio Association Publishers Dinner. Take that time in the evening to decompress. I ended up over doing it and felt tired from Wednesday night through Saturday. In fact, it’s Tuesday of the following week and I still feel tired.

Pictures from the evening’s activities:



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