Posted in PLA Conference, Staff Training

HOW TO Supercharge your Staff Training in Four Easy Steps

Jeromy Wilson, CEO and Founder, Niche Academy HOW TO Supercharge your Staff Training in Four Easy Steps
Quickly learn how to increase staff productivity and morale in 4 immediately actionable steps. We’ll talk about motivators, simplifying the process, learning styles and more. You will walk away ready to implement or reinvigorate your library staff training.

I attended a 20-minute session on staff training at PLA. I missed the first couple of minutes but I think I caught most of the talk.

  1. Make it measurable. Add training to yearly goals.
  2. Disseminate: find a way to get info out there. Break info into chunks, like 5-minute segments. Offer a flexible learning environment or offer an online option. Offer a flexible timetable as people learn differently (visual, auditory, tactile). Do they learn better in a group or on their own?
  3. Calculate what is going on. Who has taken what and who understands the information? Offer quizzes. Talk to people-get feedback. Was the training helpful? Too much or too little? Really listen to what they need and then act on what you’ve learned.
  4. Ameliorate: make something bad, better. Take feedback and put it into action. Simplify and shorten sessions. Keep your PowerPoints fresh and update images/content.
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 Accessibility, Inclusivity, Program, Staff Training

Moving from Compliance to Inclusion

Presented by: Cristen Williams, Library Service Manager for Customer Experience
Arlington Public Library, Arlington, Texas

Program Description: What started as a simple task of making our buildings more accessible became a movement within our library to change the way we see patrons with disabilities. From accessibility projects to programming, we will discuss how our library system identified areas in our service model that needed to change and worked together as a team to make our libraries more inclusive for all patrons with disabilities.

  • Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities-is an organization of citizen volunteers dedicated to helping Arlington become fully accessible for all people with disabilities. Their charge began with secret shopping the libraries.
  • handicap-2059210_640Secret shopped the libraries-The libraries were provided with suggestions for easy fixes that included things like moving the step stools from under roll under stations and placing a sign nearby that says “Place stool here.”  It took the staff and patron some time to get the hang of it, but now the stools get put in their proper place. It was also noted that the lines for handicap accessible parking needed to be re-painted. All changes made to the libraries were paid for by the city (Arlington, TX).
  • Confirmed that library staff are knowledgeable about programs and services

Following the secret shopper experience, a customer service committee was created to evaluate current services, with a focus on technology for the buildings and to create specialized programming for people with disabilities. As they were plugging away on this committee work, they realized that they were developing programs based on what they thought their community needed rather than asking patrons what they wanted.

The committee decided to take a step back and start with some community conversations. They met with 55 groups and over 200 individuals and asked what they wanted from their library. What they learned during these community conversations led them to a change in focus. Listening to what the community had to say, they realized that they could integrate elements into existing programs:

  • For children’s programs, like the Touch-A-Truck program where emergency vehicles are available for kids to climb in and touch. To make this event more accessible, it was suggested that they add one hour without sirens and lights; they offered a summer reading program for those with visual impairments; held Robotics and STEM club for kids on the autism spectrum; and offered a special needs storytime, which is geared toward kids with special needs but is open to all.
  • For adults, they started offering job coaching at independent living centers, held a vision fair, and offered seminars to parents and caregivers
  • Staff training. Staff would ask, “Why are you making us do this?” Explained compliance – what we have to do vs. what do we want to do. Explain to staff why you are making changes. Current training includes ableist language awareness. Ableist language is any word or phrase that intentionally or inadvertently targets an individual with a disability. Examples of ableist language include “crazy,” “insane,” “blind,” and “deaf.”
  • Volunteers included persons with disabilities. Volunteers logged 652 hours in 2017.

What can you do?

  • Discover. Ways to see your library through different eyes
  • Question. Talk to your community to find out what is needed
  • Adapt. facilities, equipment, programs, and services (and attitude!)

For more information, visit the PLA Conference page for this session: Program handout available here.

Posted in Early Literacy, Partnerships, Program, Staff Training

Talking is Teaching

Program title: Talking is Teaching: Opportunities for Increasing Early Brain and Language Development

Program description: Everyday interactions such as talking, reading, and singing strengthen early brain development. Libraries are uniquely positioned to support and equip parents and caregivers with tools to be their child’s first teachers. Too Small to Fail and the San Francisco Public Library will present opportunities and share materials on how to best engage families in language-rich activities so that more of America’s children are prepared for success – both in school and in life.

Presenters: Jane Park Woo, Deputy Director, Too Small to Fail, New York, NY
Maricela Leon Barrera, Early Learning Coordinator, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA

Visit the conference website for more information or program handouts.

My notes:

This was the first concurrent program that I attended at PLA. Meaning, I had the choice of several other programs during that same time slot.

The speakers provided some research first focusing on the word gap and the importance of talking, reading, and singing. The most dramatic time for brain growth is ages 0-5.

Goals of Too Small to Fail (TSTF): Increase awareness and spark positive change in parents and communities to boost early brain and language development in children ages 0-5.

  • For parents and young children, make small moments big.
  • For communities, empower people and places to make these moments happen more often.

Too Small to Fail has free handouts in English/Spanish. All are open source.

Talking is Teaching is a campaign of Too Small to Fail that focuses on talk, read, and sing and has three main components to motivate behavior change:

1.Trusted messengers in community touch points
2.Environmental prompts & paid media
3.Tools to facilitate change

The program is powered by local and national sponsors

Meet families where they are – laundromats (Wash Time is Talk Time) — coordinated through the Coin Laundry Association (Who knew there was such a thing?), playgrounds (using conversation prompts), grocery stores, hospitals, and bus stops (ads).

Talking is Teaching is all open source and is available for co-branding. Letter for librarians, talking points to share with parents, resources for librarians.

Why did Too Small to Fail work with libraries?

  • A trusted partner in the community
  • Wide reach in every neighborhood
  • Amplify other early literacy initiatives

Why did San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) want to work with TSTF?

  • It was successful in the neighboring system, Oakland PL
  • Alignment with Every Child Ready to Read
  • Enhance early learning efforts
  • Partner in education
  • Graphics are inviting

Early Learning at San Francisco Public Library

  • Every Child Ready to Read Workshop (ECRR) – modeling storytime, key things to do while you read, and hand out talk, read, sing bags
  • Play to Learn areas in all branches
  • Storytimes in braille and ASL
  • Big SF Playdates – different centers to play in
  • Early Literacy Buffet for educators – each child care teacher was provided a bag as a trusted messenger to expand reach.

Wanted to bring in families on the margin. As an opener, they ask parents/caregivers, “How many of you talk to your kids?” Share with families about the building blocks of ECRR.


  1. Staff training from Talking is Teaching, including the why of the program
  2. Making it SFPL (local). Set up an Early Literacy Advisory Committee (note to self: ask for documentation)
  3. Reaching families

Provided Bags to Families

  • Available in Spanish and English, including a 2T shirt or baby blanket, 1 board book, 1 bilingual CD, informational notecards of milestones 0-2 and how to promote early literacy at home
  • Each librarian gets a sample bag to show people what they are talking about
  • Warm handoff of bag; make it as easy as possible to distribute to families: Opening prompt, a research tidbit, info about the campaign, invite to visit the library. Embedded message is that it is more than a bag
  • Backpack giveaways at food pantries
  • Swing Into Stories (at playgrounds)

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 11.37.07 AM

An example was given of Baltimore Co. Public Library’s Let’s Talk About campaign. Signage was everywhere, Let’s Talk About the Playground (in the playground), Let’s Talk about the Farm (by the play farm animals). Everything was branded.

What can you do?

1.DOWNLOAD free campaign materials:


2.DISPLAY “Talking is Teaching” posters

3.SHARE tip sheets, mini posters, and/or stickers with families

4.SPREAD the word with other librarians!


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.