OLA Super Conference 2016: The Idea Incubator

20160129_162138I’d been looking forward to the day all year- an energy-filled meeting of the library minds! This year was another wonderful day full of so many things that I love: old friends, train rides, good coffee, free books, sparkling wine, and most of all, inspirational conversations about library services. As I sat in each packed session, I felt so honored to be part of such a passionate, creative, and intelligent profession.

Sessions Attended

CEO Panel: What’s Keeping CEO’s up at Night?

What a great idea for a morning panel: 4 CEOs of urban libraries discuss how they spent their first few days on the job, and what they are most concerned about moving forward. All four of the CEOs on the panel mentioned “building relationships” as one of the key roles of their position, and I think that speaks beautifully to the purpose of the library. Other repeated topics: difficulty getting librarians interested in management positions, and maintaining the library as “the last democratic space.”

Demonstrating Value and Impact: Program Outcomes and Evaluation, Toronto Public Library’s Journey

While I was hoping for more practical guides to various program evaluation methods, it was a good reminder of the big picture approach. Set specific, measurable outcomes for every program and design an evaluation strategy.

Implementing a Maker Faire: Milton Public Library’’s Experience

Milton Public Library presented on their experience running a festival featuring local makers. Some key tips:

  • Don’t use the phrase “Maker Faire” as it is trademarked by Make Magazine (try DIY Festival, or Maker Expo)
  • Be open to any type of making (several exhibitors were children and they did a wonderful job)
  • Accept a mix of high and low tech (crocheters and robot builders)
  • Don’t be afraid to accept two makers of one kind (they had two crocheters, which were very different from each other and made for an interesting comparison)
  • Creating a floor map kept things organized for everyone
  • The more demonstrations and interactive elements, the better

Libraries and the Sharing Economy

The “library of things” is becoming a more popular option for public libraries, and it’s a topic that comes up a lot when I’m speaking to community members about what their ideal library would be like. Libraries around North America are already lending interesting items: seeds, tools, kitchen appliances, bikes, snowshoes, musical instruments, and even the internet. Tara Mendez, the Chief Librarian of Leeds and the Thousand Islands Public Library, spoke about the recreation lending library that allows patrons to borrow sporting materials like basketballs and snowshoes. Ryan Dyment, Executive Director and co-founder of the Toronto Tool Library, spoke about his experience.

Wab Kinew!


Wab Kinew (who just announced he hopes to run for a Manitoba MP one day) was an amazing choice for a keynote speaker. Librarians know him for many reasons: his outstanding hosting of Canada Reads, his new and very popular book The Reason You Walk, and his work promoting Aboriginal education. He spoke passionately about indigenous knowledge and offered some helpful tips for libraries. Children’s programmers will want to take note of his #CraftReconciliation initiative. See slides below:

Superconference Expo Favourites

I love the Superconference Expo!

  • I was excited to see my book-loving friend Katie manning the Second Story Press booth. Librarians should check them out (they’re a small feminist-inspired Canadian press, and they did Hana’s Suitcase!)
  • DID YOU KNOW that the Toronto International Film Festival has a free library that anyone can use?! Downtown Toronto there is a TIFF Film Reference Library with books, magazines, scripts, art exhibits and viewing stations with a selection of 11,000 film and television productions! You cannot borrow materials outside of the library, but anyone can use the resources, whether you live in Toronto or not.
  • Loanstars is a brand new reader’s advisory tool that I am very excited to be a part of. Librarians can nominate and vote on the top emerging books.
  • Beguiling is a great service for libraries looking to build their graphic novel collection. They will work with you to fill the gaps in your collection and build a collection personalized for your community. They also put on a totally free conference in May called TCAF Librarian & Educators Day. I attended last year and it was a fantastic learning experience.

Next Year?

Ever since I first attended the conference last year, I knew I wanted to be  presenter one day. I hope to make my conference speaker debut at next years event with a session on how to run effective 20/30s programming.

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