Posted in Cultural Compentency, Staff Training

How to Start Training Your Staff to be Culturally Competent

Presented by: Izabel Gronski and Angela Romano of Oak Lawn Public Library, Oak Lawn, IL

CulturallyCompentencyProgram description and handouts available here & here.

  • Background
    • How did we get here? (Ok, I missed part of this because I started off by attending another session and decided it wasn’t a good fit. You can review the slides here to read about the background.)
  • Research
    • Read the book, What If I Say Something Wrong, by Verna Myers
    • Attended the Chicago Public Library 2016 Annual Teen Services Conference, Cultural Competency: Effective Social Justice for Our Teens
    • Catherine Popowitz, Diversity Training & Consulting on Building a Cross-Cultural Service Environment
    • Buzzfeed: 21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear on a Daily Basis
    • Nicole Cooke book, Information services to diverse populations: developing culturally competent Library professionals
    • Transgender book He/She/They-Us by Jessica Soukup; a great introduction to Transgender issues, including language, policy, resources, etc
  • Design a Lesson Plan & Build a PowerPoint
    • They used themselves as examples – Like, “Here’s how I’ve used microaggressions and how I’m working on it.”
    • Explain why we are talking about this. Show demographics.
  • Generating buy-in from Management 
    • Approached their library director and said they wanted to do this training.
    • Needed to get buy-in from management. Got the lesson plans down to 30 minutes. The director was really impressed with how common sense the training was. And it worked because Ang and Izabel were so passionate about it.
  • Implementing the Course
    • Scheduled people to go to the training but got permission from department heads first. Made sure desk schedules were cleared.
  • Assessment
    • Imposter syndrome: It’s really hard to get up in front of a group and talk about something. Like, who am I to talk about this?
    • They did an evaluation after their training and 50% of staff said they would be willing to do more classes on cultural competency and 30% said yes, but they need more time to process what they learned, and 20% said no, thank you.
    • Level II training is either in the works or already happening. Topics include privilege, difficult conversation, implicit bias, allyship, and equity vs. equality.
  • Now What?
    • Thinking about doing a brown bag lunch series
    • New staff training. Perhaps offering it as an online training
  • Be sure to check out the presentation:
Posted in Accessibility, Cultural Compentency, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

PLA 2018 Highlights – a webinar

PLA 2018 Conference Highlights (webinar recording)
Thursday, April 12 at 10 a.m. CST

PLA 2018 Highlights initial screen for webinarWisconsin was well represented at the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia. Several of us will be sharing some of our experiences and we’d love for you to join us.

You’ll hear from Jean Anderson, Continuing Education Consultant for the South Central Library System, Cindy Fesemyer, Director of the Columbus Public Library; Leah Fritsche, Director of the Deerfield Public Library; Heidi Cox, Director of the E.D. Locke Public Library in McFarland; Erin Williams Hart, Adult Services Librarian for the Sun Prairie Public Library, and Angela Meyers, Coordinator of Youth and Inclusive Services for Bridges Library System and the PLA Liaison to WLA.

Posted in Accessibility, Cultural Compentency, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

PLA in a Nutshell

With the WAPL – PLA Chapter Liaison position, I was asked to present at the Wisconsin Library Association Board Meeting on April 6, 2018, about my PLA experience.

Here’s my re-cap:

WAPL – PLA Chapter Liaison Report, April 2018

My name is Angela Meyers and I am the Coordinator of Youth and Inclusive Services for the Bridges Library System. I applied for the PLA Liaison position because I love attending our own state conference and could only imagine what a nationwide conference would be like. I was so excited to learn that I was selected as the WAPL – PLA Chapter Liaison for the next two years.

The PLA Liaison position is fairly new; I was given some guidelines but also the freedom to make it my own. From what I gathered, the position involves a lot of information gathering and dissemination. I decided to blog about my experience at Diary of a PLA Liaison: (click on the follow me button on the right hand side of the blog to sign up for e-mail notifications).

The trip to Philadelphia was good, albeit a little stressful with the Nor’easter on its way. Fortunately I arrived on Tuesday, the day the snow was just starting to fall and missed the flight cancellations that affected travellers across the country. I shared a hotel room with Jean Anderson, from SCLS, which was not only a huge cost savings but also fun.

Approximately 6,000 people attended the PLA Conference in Philadelphia. The conference started on Tuesday with pre-conference offerings and ran through early Saturday afternoon. There was always something to do including the choice between 100 concurrent sessions.

Wednesday kicked off by attending Book Buzz to learn about the newest adult titles dropping soon, then off to a luncheon sponsored by Ebsco. I attended the Opening Session with former U.S. Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and finished up the workday with the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening. One of the requests for the PLA Liaison was to talk to vendors about exhibiting at the WLA Conference. I talked to a lot of vendors and have since sent any business cards I collected to Brigitte at the WLA office. I finished the day by attending a dine-around with a local Philadelphia librarian and then I went to the Library Journal Author Party.

Thursday started with an early breakfast sponsored by The table conversation was great and I plan to follow-up with a librarian from Texas about a few outreach ideas he shared. The first BIG IDEAS program kicked off with author Elizabeth Gilbert. This was phenomenal. I hit up the exhibit hall during the no conflict time and then I went to my first concurrent program called Talking is Teaching which was very much about the importance of partnerships and branding. Following this session, I attended a luncheon sponsored by Innovative. I went on a library tour of the South Philadelphia Health and Literacy Center branch. Upon my return to the convention center, I caught a portion of a talk at the PLA Pavilion on Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) Through Play. I attended Libraries Aren’t Neutral, which was a session about offering civic engagement programs for your community. PLA offers something called Spark Talks, which is an hour long program comprised of five-minute talks. Following the Spark Talk, I attended the Audiobook Publisher Association’s Dinner and the Overdrive Billion Books Bash.

Friday started with the second BIG IDEAS speaker and author Steve Pemberton. Steve talks about visiting the library often as a young foster child and how reading helped him escape into another world. He reminded the audience members that the work that we do matters and that we do have impact on children’s lives. Following the BIG IDEAS talk, I attended ECRR Storytime Challenge: Encouraging Adult Engagement presented by early literacy expert Saroj Ghoting. Following this was a How To session on Hosting a LGBTQ Club. Next on my schedule was to attend a session titled Take Summer Reading to the Streets: Partnering to Reach Children with Barriers to Library Access. I had my first Philly Cheesesteak at the Reading Terminal Market. Yum! Following lunch, I found floor only seating for a PLA Pavilion talk on How to Supercharge Your Library Staff. Following this I attended MakMo, a LA County program on their maker mobiles. I also attended the session Inquiry Based STEM Programming. The day was running long and my energy was running low but I managed to attend the Spark Talks II, one hour of rapid fire talks on various subjects. Afterwards, I dropped in on the PLA All Conference Reception.

Saturday was the final day in Philly. I was sad that my time at the conference was coming to an end but also was looking forward to going home. The day started off with the final BIG IDEAS speaker and author, Tim Wu, who spoke about net neutrality in terms that I actually understood. The first session I attended was titled Moving from Compliance to Inclusion Within the Library. This session detailed a library’s accessibility journey. And finally, the last concurrent session I attended was called How to Start Training Your Staff to be More Culturally Competent. The closing session was by comedian, actor, and writer Hasan Minhaj. Blog posts are in the works for all sessions I attended. Stay tuned.

Attending the PLA Conference in Philadelphia was a wonderful professional and personal experience for me. I was always hesitant to go to a national conference due to anxieties of traveling alone but this trip helped me overcome some of my worries. I hope to attend PLA in Nashville in 2020.The Virtual Conference sessions were just released to all PLA attendees and I plan on blogging about a few of those sessions as well. To read more about the above experiences, be sure to check out my blog, Diary of a PLA Liaison. And if you are attending WAPL in May, be sure to swing by the PLA Posthaste! session at 1:45pm on Thursday.

Posted in Cultural Compentency, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

Spark Talks II

Friday was the second day that Spark Talks was offered from 5:30-6:30pm. I was totally exhausted from the past few days of conferencing, but I wanted to go since this was definitely one of the better formats for learning (for me!). In a five-minute talk, it sparks just enough interest that it makes me want to dive in and learn more.

According to the PLA Conference site, here was the line up for the day. Please note, not all presenters were able to make it due to the snow storm. I tracked down the slide decks from all the Spark Talks.

Rebecca Czarnecki, Denver (CO) Public Library
Breaking Binary
Let’s break down the gender binary in five minutes. Assigning labels, like male or female, is how we understand the world around us. However, if we’re presented with a limited number of options, it can also be highly restrictive. The options we’re presented with become blinders that we don’t know how to see or think beyond. This talk aims to remove those blinders, challenge assumptions, and think beyond just the M or F box.

My notes: Gender binary says that there are only two genders. This talk was about breaking binary. LGBTQ is non-binary. Not everyone fits into a checkbox of sir/mam.

Karen Keys, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library
Later Literacy

Early literacy, early literacy, early literacy! Do you work with teens? Are you sick of hearing about talking, writing, reading, playing, and singing for the under 5 set? Award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds has shared that he was 17 before he read a book cover to cover. It’s time to focus on later literacy and practices that will engage youth in books and stories.

My notes: This was about keeping teens reading. Did a remix of blackout poetry and fan fiction. Incorporate more writing, sharing, creating, and hanging out.

Daniel Verbit, Philadelphia University
Medical Websites That Don’t Make Your Patrons Hypochondriacs
Too often patrons ask Doctor Bing and Doctor Google about their health concerns, and the top results can be scary to the average consumer. A medical librarian with a specialization in consumer health will provide a quick “how to” for dealing with patron concerns and providing helpful web resources that don’t sell patron data or items. You will leave with the ability to help your patrons find solid vetted answers to many medical inquiries, and ways for you to learn more!

My notes: Librarians have never been sued for a bad reference interaction. Resources the presenter recommended: PubMed Health, Medline Plus,, Health Reach (available in different languages), Merck Manual Consumer Version (has a pill finder), magazine.

Amanda Feist, Saint Paul (MN) Public Library
Serving Patrons Experiencing Homelessness in Your MakerSpace
Many people experiencing homelessness spend their days in the library. Are they accessing your library’s maker programming? Learn how Saint Paul Public Library staff has gone from cautiously accepting to fully promoting the library’s adult makerspace to all. The talk will cover frequently asked questions (such as setting boundaries, theft, and mental illness) and incredible outcomes, such as members using our space to create items they need to survive and repairing relationships of many kinds.

My notes: They have an innovation lab for adults 18+. To use it you have to have a library card in good standing. Requiring a library card allows staff to learn the patrons names – it’s the first step in developing relationships. There is staff assistance available in the room. Inclusivity: make rules that apply to everyone.

Patrick Hoecherl, Salt Lake City (UT)
Public Library Staff Database Training in 5 Minutes or Less
Convincing staff to put in the time to learn about library databases can feel like pulling teeth. Learn how I used principles of microlearning to design a series of training exercises to help staff gain familiarity with library databases in five minutes or less, while also creating a fun gameful learning experience that staff actually enjoyed!

My notes: The database challenge included monthly challenges using a specific database, staff entered their answers via a google form, and as an incentive, staff earned database pins. Some staff wore them on their lanyards to show their expertise in a database (see picture).

Library staff person wearing a lanyard with database pins attached
Staff earned database pins upon completion of database training

Julie Jurgens, Arlington Heights (IL) Memorial Library
Youth Services: The Cockroach Dept. of the Library World
When the world ends, all we’ll be left with is Cher, Ringo Starr, Keith Richards, cockroaches, and youth services staff. Learn why YS is the alpha and omega of all library departments, and what you can learn from YS to make your department, library, and world a better place.

My notes:
Follow Julie Gurgens at

Top Reasons YS Satff are Here to Stay:

  • They know the difference between book series
  • Glitter makes YS librarians unicorns (I remember this was funny but my notes aren’t helping me out)
  • In shape from storytime
  • Make the lives of academic librarians easier when the kids grow up
  • Youth services librarians at schools (library media specialists) are basically directors of their own libraries
  • YS librarians are team builders and connectors
  • Craft programs, create makers
  • Supply cabinet for the entire library
  • The library needs you – who else wants the kids?

**John Pappas, Cheltenham Township (PA) Library System
Keeping Board Games and Board Game Events Inclusive
With the popularity of board games in popular media and in libraries, it is important to locate and promote board games with appropriate representation of marginalized voices. This brief talk will provide titles that do so. From Fog of Love to This War of Mine, these titles will move outside of the standard narrative that predominates in board gaming. **This person did not present that I recall. Perhaps stuck in the snow storm?**