Day 1 of the Rural Libraries Conference is now complete and I must say: it was an absolute blast. Hopefully there aren’t too many typos in this post — I’m pooped.

It was great seeing a number of familiar faces — Thumb area directors — as well as making new acquaintances. I absolutely love hearing the seasoned librarian reflect upon his/her career and the amount of passion and pride in their voice for the field. While I am without a doubt that I have found my calling, it’s moments like these that just help to cement the fact and further inspire me.

Nancy Robertson, the State Librarian, presented the LSTA Five-Year Plan Needs Assessment. The 6th priority, which I found particularly intriguing stated,”Targeting library and information services to persons having difficultly using a library and to underserved urban and rural communities, including children (from birth through age 17) from families with incomes below the poverty line…” What I found interesting is the fact that she used the word “underserved” while referring to both urban and rural areas — a fact in which I feel my library school and much of the student body as the tendency to overlook. (It came as no surprise to me as I am familiar with State and Federal grant data collection from my time in the human services field.)

A memorable quote from Robertson after the microphone was passed around the room allowing librarians to share innovative programs their libraries are offering, “Even while we’re drowning, we’re doing really good stuff.”

Representatives from Gale Cengage Learning gave a presentation titled “How to Tell the Story of Your Library’s Impact.” While the whole presentation was very informative, a key point I’d like to share touches on the evolution of library marketing: there is a shift from hard information such as citing data and generating reports to utilizing more soft information such as sharing feelings about the library as well as stories. Several examples were shared and I especially liked the notion of utilizing OCLC’s Geek the Library as a launchpad or “springboard” (a term they used) as a means of getting patrons to share their experiences and stories.

After the opening luncheon, I headed to Get Anime-ted! Get Graphic! Adding Graphic Novels, Anime, and Manga to Your Collection which was facilitated by Roy Soncrant and Robert Gorney from the Genesee District Library. Not only was it very informative, but also quite entertaining! I learned a great deal more about the history of comic books and some finally tuned methods for purchasing.  Here are some facts and points that I found interesting:

  • Author Jodi Picoult actually did a Wonder Woman comic. 
  • Famous Funnies — 1st American comic book that featured original content.
  • The comic book / graphic novel business is a billion dollar industry — is any more rationale needed for inclusion in your library? 
  • The notion of telling stories via images is ancient — think: cave paintings.
  • Many comics from the WWII era are quite rare as they were commonly pulped and the ink squeezed for paint thus making surviving editions very valuable. 
  • When America went to war, comics became much more violent in nature. 
  • After the war, the superhero fad cooled and horror comics became much more popular. 
  • The Comic Code actually had a ban on vampires until 1970. 
  • Chatting with a rural librarian after the session, she mentioned the benefits of having a relationship with an area comic book store — they really make easy the confusing business of purchasing series and crossovers. What a great idea!

From this session, I headed to Problem Patrons: Addressing and Responding to Patron Behavior which was presented by Anne Seurynck from the law firm of Foster, Swift, Collins, & Smith, P.C. Like the first session, I also found it to be quite interesting — especially when directors and staff shared their horror stories some of which included patrons spreading feces on bathroom walls and even a potential internet prostitution ring ran out of the library. Trouble happens in Mayberry, too. Naturally Seurynck shared several key cases relevant to libraries: Kreimer vs. Morristown, Armstrong vs. District of Columbia Public Library, Neinast vs. Board of Trustees of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, and Brinkmeier vs. City of Freeport.