Monday, April 10, 2006

Chronicle of the Conference

Some of the handouts are linked from the master schedule on the website.

The Mountain Top Experience of the MPLA Ghost Ranch Leadership Institute
Kansas is one of twelve states in the regional Mountain Plains Library Association. Jean is a past president and has always encouraged me to apply to their annual leadership institute at a ranch/camp in New Mexico. I’m definitely there for a week in the mountains and what I’m sure will be an excellent personal growth experience. I’m just not sure I’m interested in being a manager-type. Lots of responsibility, not as much fun, get all the crap, not much more pay--when compared to what I do now. Still, I suppose leader and manager are not exactly the same thing, and the personal testimonials at this session were enthusiastic. I might motivate to do the paperwork this year.

Research-Based Strategies for Teaching Early Literacy Skills to Children Birth to Five Years Old
Similar enough to the Every Child Ready to Read initiative that I would guess she was working from the same source material. We’ll be giving our own presentations on this soon enough, so it was good to hear it from another perspective. The main value of storytime is not that it teaches kids to read, but that it teaches the parents what they can do on a daily basis to help their kids learn to read. This was about not only shifting our emphasis in storytime to include the adults more but how to give presentations to just adults. Reinforces what we’ve been getting and was good.

Connecting Kansas Kids with Great Books: 2006-2007 William Allen White Awards Master Lists
Good booktalks, which is the main reason I went. I now have a bit of an idea about each book on the list and will be better able to help kids who are looking for them. But I sure wouldn’t want to read most of them. My first year I made it a goal to read everything on the list, but gave up after I got tired of being depressed by the seriousness of them all. This year looks no better. At least two-thirds are historical fiction, with the majority of the rest being about minority characters. They all sound like excellent books, but reading one after another gets awfully boring. How about some variety on the list? Something with contemporary characters that kids in Kansas can relate to? Not everyone reads historical fiction, you know, even if they do want to broaden their perspective or learn something from the book. Blech.

YA Best of the Year Book Talks
Good booktalks. I feel pretty up on things after hearing this, having either read or at least been aware of most of what they mentioned. My reading tastes do run toward YA (Young Adult, or teen, for our non-librarian readers), after all.

General Session: Guest Speaker Alan November
This is the national bigwig they brought in special, and he was very good. He was coming from an educational background/perspective, but broadened his topic to include everyone. His main focus was on the Internet and how to teach kids to be critical users. How to make them aware of things like (pops up third on the list in a google search) is owned by a white supremacist group and how you find that information with easyWHO?s. All about google bombing and how to find how much is being paid to land at the top of searches. Commands to find who is linking to sites. Good stuff to refresh and expand my knowledge. His goal is that students become more active in their learning by building a social network of human resources around the world to interact with and become producers of knowledge themselves instead of passive receptors. Use things like Skype to connect with international classrooms and compare perspectives or practice languages or the like. Take more pride in work since it will be publicly posted on a blog. He was overflowing with ideas and directed us to his website for more. Good stuff.

Alan November Breakout Session
(Instead of Wonderful and New Picture Books for Story Times and Programs or Prizes: What Keeps Kids Reading?)
Much of what I wrote about Alan November actually came from the two hours that followed during his breakout session. I enjoyed his general session enough that I cancelled my plans and went to this instead. I grabbed the handouts of the others to read, though.

Runescape Games in Libraries
Runescape is the most popular free MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). (Check out Hadrian’s recent enjoyment of World of Warcraft for a not so free one.) As such, we see many players at the library, many teens and preteens who don’t have money, computer access, or such on their own and use our resources. Some of them really get into it. This was a good session because one of the presenters logged on and showed us some game play, along with a detailed handout with a game explanation, glossary, and such. And he’s trying to get information from libraries and other groups who are interested in forming teams and challenging each other. Check out his website about it.

Amazing Space
I don’t think I’d ever describe myself as feng shui, but I do believe atmosphere and environment are very important. I’ve moved furniture and decorated each place I’ve worked. This two hour session sounded intriguing. I stayed for the first hour to hear the architect that has worked on many libraries in Kansas for the past 30 years. He had/has a lot of good ideas and it looks like he does good work. Not the most exciting presenter, though. He had lots of slides of floor plans and photos of the work he’s done. I couldn’t figure out an organizational scheme to the presentation, though, or a list of general ideas to take back to my location; it was just a random presentation of his past work. The second hour was going to be two libraries sharing their particular experiences in detail, but I skipped out.

William Allen White Children’s Book Awards
I was going to see the fashion show or the butt kicking librarians, but ran into T and joined her (as well as MacDaddy and EDH) to raise some ruckus at the WAW feedback session. My beef was none of the books have boy appeal and the others attacked the issue from other angles. They were courteous and receptive, but didn’t give any indication anything might change. Their recommendation to me was to send in my suggestions for the committee to read, but after talking to them I’m quite sure their idea of “quality literature” differs enough from mine that my suggestions would never get selected for the final list.

Those are the sessions I attended. I was planning on getting into the Angela Johnson author luncheon if I could, but she had to cancel after her mother’s surgery didn’t go so well. Instead I went with Scott and Kelly to see Jean’s new branch and ended up having lunch with her.

Aside from the formal sessions, the other benefit of going to a conference like this is making new connections and social networking. I branched out a little bit, but have to admit to sticking to people I already knew much more so. We had a rather large contingent, after all. There was much revelry each night and I became acquainted with my colleagues in new ways, so in a sense I did get something out of the networking, I’m just not sure how much of it can ever be discussed in a work setting. Very fun, though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favorite times at Triconference were also the evenings when I hung out with other wild librarians. While my boss kept insisting I only attend the programs related to my job duties, I still got in some fun ones. As for programs, this was one of the best Triconferences ever. The energy level was amazing. You should have seen Meet Youth Services: The Musical with their cute guitar player. Right after that program, I started heading towards the fashion show but stopped dead in my tracks when two ninja librarians appeared out of nowhere and started dueling it out with sticks and knives. It was a battle between the sexes but I think the gal was kicking butt all over the guy. You go girl!! Anyway, I followed the butt kicking librarians into their program. I think that the Alan November, the Youth Musical, and the Tough Government Documents for Butt Kicking Librarians were the best programs. But then again, every program I attended was impressive. Did anyone catch the program with the Haunted Kansas program?