2021 Schedule

Big Talk From Small Libraries 2021

The conference was broadcast online on Friday, February 26, 2021 from 8:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time, via the GoToWebinar online meeting service.

Speaker bios can be found on the Speakers page.


Welcome to the Conference & Introductions

Christa Porter, Library Development Director, Nebraska Library Commission; Kathy Zappitello, Board President, Association for Rural and Small Libraries.


I See a Library! Making Libraries More Accessible to the Visually Impaired

Kate Kosior, Former Director, Clifton Community Library, Cranberry Lake, NY (Population served: 650)

Figuring out how to create spaces for visually impaired patrons can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be with a little creativity and know-how! Former rehabilitation teacher of the blind and librarian Kate Kosior will share information about vision loss and how to make quick, easy, and cheap accommodations in our library to be more open and welcoming to all patrons!


School Library Lessons for the Public Library World

Abby Adams, Librarian, Platt Memorial Library, Library Media Specialist, Shoreham Elementary School, Shoreham, VT (Population served: 1,242)

Public librarians are great at sharing ideas with each other, but what about our school library colleagues? They have tips and tricks that can greatly enhance our community engagement and work with young people. Hear from a librarian who has been a public library director for nine years and a school librarian for five. She will share practical advice she’s learned through that dual perspective about supporting beginning and emergent readers with collections and programming as well as tips and tricks for leading groups of students and adults. Lessons learned during remote learning with students will also be added to this presentation.


Grant Writing: Templates to Succeed

Dianne Connery, Director, Pottsboro Area Public Library, Pottsboro, TX (Population served: 2,465)

Join us to learn key components of grant proposals, time-saving tips, and best practices to ensure that you’re submitting compelling proposals. The webinar will help you write grants more efficiently. Learn tips and tools to find and write competitive grant applications.

12:00-12:50pm – Lightning Round!

Poverty Relief Through Story Time

Kate Kosior, Former Director, Clifton Community Library, Cranberry Lake, NY (Population served: 650)

Serving an extremely rural and isolated hamlet in Northern New York, a patron approached Kate Kosior about creating a poverty relief story time in partnership with a local grant organization. Get a quick run through of how the program operated and ideas for starting it in your own area!

Leaders & Burnout: Protecting Your Staff From You

Suzanne Macaulay, Deputy Director, Pioneer Library System, Canandaigua, NY (Populations served: 330-10,000)

Advocating for library staff to acknowledge, address, and prevent burnout has received more attention in recent years. However, all the best self-care tips can’t cure an administrator who is causing or contributing to their employees’ mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion. This session will give directors, managers, and supervisors a better awareness of behaviors that could be detrimental to their staff. Learning to identify actions that can negatively impact employees and implementing constructive changes can boost workplace morale and create a healthier, happier environment. Simple tips, tricks, and advice included.

Preschool STEAM-Science During COVID

Joanne Mancuso, Librarian, Bennington Public Library, Bennington, NE (Population served: 1,931)

How do you take a successful hands-on preschool STEAM program virtual? This was the challenge the Bennington Public Library faced when COVID closed us down and summer reading take home kits were over. We wanted to find a way to reconnect with our preschoolers that attended our Preschool STEAM program each week. Preschool STEAM-Science was born. We created simple science kits with items our patrons wouldn’t have at home along with a list of items they would need to have on hand and met them on Facebook LIVE. Each session consists of reading both fiction and nonfiction books and a science experiment. Sometimes the experiments work…sometimes they don’t.

A Small Library with Big Dreams: Approaches to Programming and Fundraising for Renovation and Transformation

Rachel McMullen, Reference and Young Adult Services Librarian, and Dulce Dominguez, Reference & Adult Services Librarian, Highwood Public Library, Highwood, IL (Population served: 5,224)

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Highwood Public Library has received more than $200,000 in grant funding to provide a variety of programs for all ages and to continue to operate virtually. With a limited budget and small staff, our library is still able to support the literacy needs of its community, even receiving a nomination for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Join us to learn more about our efforts to build and transform our community through innovative library service and unique approaches to programming and fundraising.


The Lone Librarian: Programming Creations & Cultivating Connections

Laura Hinman, Head Librarian, Midland University, Luther Library, Fremont, NE (FTE: 1,388)

When I started my position as the only Librarian at an academic institution, there were limited engagement opportunities between myself and the campus community. I made it my goal to establish programming, strong communication, and trustworthy relationships between myself, faculty, staff, and students. This presentation provides information on how I created new and engaging passive and event programs, created assessments to track attendance, feedback, and suggestions, and built communication and trust across campus that was otherwise non-existent, all while being a Lone Librarian.


Rethinking Community Programming

Samantha Bodine, Library Director, Fobes Memorial Library, Oakham, MA (Population served: 1,902)

From 2014 to March 2020, the staff at the Fobes Memorial Library worked to quadruple the library’s program offerings and increase overall program attendance nearly tenfold. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced public libraries everywhere to drastically alter their services, the FML staff was quick to respond with innovative solutions that would continue to meet the needs of their community. This presentation will go through the details of the Fobes’ response to the pandemic and how it is possible within a small library setting. Learn about the library’s permanent StoryWalk installation, outdoor music garden, take home storytime bags, Dial-A-Story program, book & activity pairings, family book club bags, homebound delivery service, STEM take home kits, children’s art gallery, take homes for adults, and plans for a town wide read program. Learn about plans to continue these programs in a post-pandemic world, and how they have permanently changed the way the library looks at community engagement. 


We Might Be Small, But We Are Mighty!

Beth Anderson, Director, Burnsville Public Library, Burnsville, WV (Population served: 3,700)

During my tenure as director, we have expanded our program offerings 10 fold. We have created an after school program that boasts between 150 to 200 children a week. We have implemented STEAM Family Movie Nights, developed a partnership with our local food bank and school district for our Summer Learning Program and are preparing to implement cooking videos for adults and children, as well as podcasting, video production/editing, and photography programs. The library has been able to secure at least $40,000 in grants and we continue to broaden our programming and equipment thanks to our successful grant writing. 


Affordable After Hours Pick-up Service

Julie Elmore, Library Director, Oakland City Columbia Township Public Library, Oakland City, IN (Population served: 3,830)

Working patrons sometimes struggle with getting to the library before we close. By implementing an after hours pick up service you can now offer the freedom to pick up materials on the patron’s schedule instead of the library schedule. Learn how using a set of lockers and specialty locks can allow you to provide convenient pick-up times at your library for less than $1,000. Materials, processes, and our lessons learned will be shared. 

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