2023 Speakers

Big Talk From Small Libraries 2023

Kelly Ansley, Library Director, Frank and Laura Lewis Library, La Grange College, LaGrange, GA (FTE: 650)

Ch Ch Changes: Redesigning Spaces with Students in Mind

Kelly Ansley has worked in Georgia libraries for 14 years. Kelly began her career in public libraries before moving to academic libraries. She currently serves as Director of the Library for the Frank & Laura Lewis Library at LaGrange College and is the Vice-Chair for the Georgia Private Academic Libraries (GPALS) consortium.  

Kelly believes that academic libraries are more than just a place to do research. The library should be a place for students to hang out, have fun, and feel comfortable enough to ask for help. Kelly enjoys programming, helping students with research, instruction, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the library. 

Heather Biedermann, Head Librarian, South Central College, North Mankato, MN (FTE: 2,746)

Book Challenges and Intellectual Freedom in a Small Library

Meet Heather Biedermann, a dynamic and energetic librarian who has dedicated her career to helping students achieve their dreams and is a steadfast protector of intellectual freedom rights. With over twenty years of experience in the field, Heather loves all things related to libraries.

As the Head Librarian at South Central College in North Mankato, Minnesota, Heather loves working with students and discovering technology tools that can make academic research more fun. Heather has an MLIS from Dominican University and is currently pursuing her doctorate in education at Winona State University. She serves as the Intellectual Freedom Chair for the Minnesota Library Association. A firm believer that libraries play a vital role in building strong communities, Heather is always looking for new ways to connect people with the resources they need.

When she’s not at the library, Heather spends her time writing short stories for fun, herding her two tuxedo cats (a tough job indeed), and attending book and sci-fi conventions. She is excited to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with her colleagues at the conference and looks forward to learning from others in the field.

Sarina M. Bower, Library Assistant, Jersey Shore Public Library, Jersey Shore, PA (Population served: 5,694)

Programming Opportunities for Adults with Disabilities

Sarina has been a library assistant at Jersey Shore Public Library for the past 5 years. In addition to normal circulation desk duties, she is the library’s “official” non-fiction book nerd and has an almost unnatural love of listening to audiobooks on Libby. Creating monthly themed book displays and making reading recommendations are some of her favorite parts of the job. When not in the library, Sarina is a 4-H leader, Girl Scout volunteer and an Interscholastic Equestrian Coach. Her horses share her love of listening to audiobooks and are likely the most well-read horses in the country.

Amy Jo Ellefson, Adult Programs Coordinator, Baright Public Library, Ralston, NE (Population served: 6,494)

Expanding Access to the Arts with a Library Artist-in-Residence

Amy Jo Ellefson is new to the world of libraries. In April 2022, she started what was to be a 10-hour-a-week side gig that turned into a real interest in adult library programming and a connection to the community surrounding the library. Amy is a faculty member at a local university and a doctoral candidate in communication studies at The University of Southern Mississippi. When not teaching or working at the library, Amy is writing her dissertation, quilting, crafting, or doing something to maintain her family including a husband, five children, three dogs, and three cats.

Chelsea Foust, Assistant Director, Morton-James Public Library, Nebraska City, NE (Population served: 7,900)

No Zombies Were Harmed in the Making of This Teen Event

Chelsea Foust holds a Bachelors of Creative Writing and loves reading and writing. She has been in Library Land for 12 years, working as a Clerk up to a Youth Services Supervisor. Chelsea is currently the Assistant Director at Morton James Public Library.

Jackie Mills, Library Director, Mt. Angel Public Library, Mt. Angel, OR (Population served: 3,400)

Effective Staff Evaluations Made Easy

Jackie Mills has been a librarian for 29 years, working in four different states. While half of her career has been spent in elementary and middle school libraries, she has also been a children’s librarian in a public library, an assistant librarian in an academic library, a branch manager of a public library and is currently the Library Director of a small, rural library in Oregon. An MLIS graduate of University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Jackie is passionate about every area of librarianship and is zealous about providing quality programming for all her patrons.

Kim Priest, Director, Mary Cotton Public Library, Sabetha, KS (Population served: 2,500)


Kim Priest became a library assistant quite by accident when the local high school needed a person to fill in for the School librarian 2 days per week in 1991. This encounter led to a 10 year stint as a library assistant, learning the basics of librarianship from 3 very talented school librarians. In 2001 the position of Library Director opened at the Mary Cotton Public Library with an emphasis on computerizing the checkout system. Due to her experience with this process at the high school, she was hired. She has been director since June of 2001 with a very open, non-quiet library approach, welcoming all to the library and providing big city service in a small town package.
She has always had an interest in helping kids ENJOY reading, looking for alternative ways to help those who have difficulties or need an extra bit of encouragement and this is where the idea for starting the Dyslexic collection began.
In her second life, she is mother to 4 grown children, grandma to 5 grandchildren including a set of 4 year-old triplets, and best of all, wife to her farmer/rancher husband, Bill.

Raymond Pun, Academic & Research Librarian, Alder Graduate School of Education, Redwood City, CA (FTE: 300)

Integrating Academic Writing, Research, and Reading Support for Teacher Education Students

Ray Pun (he/him) has been in the LIS field for over 15 years. Currently Ray is the librarian at the Alder Graduate School of Education, a teacher’s education program in California, US, where he supports all library functions and services and teaches research methods. Ray is the Immediate Past President of the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and the current President of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA). He holds a doctorate in education, a master of arts in east asian studies, and master of library science.

Dena Ratliff Warren, Director, Trimble County Public Library, Bedford, KY (Population served: 8,800)

Library Playgrounds

Dena Ratliff Warren has been the Director of Trimble County Public Library (TCPL) since June 2016. She is committed to building dynamic teams and partnerships, creating healthy, safe work environments and offering creative, meaningful library services. Creating two digital library branches to increase internet access across the county and building a playground to improve outdoor programming are just two of the projects that Dena has completed during her time at TCPL. Dena believes that providing welcoming, inviting  indoor and outdoor spaces, is one of the factors that will contribute to the longevity of her small rural library.  
In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, traveling and experiencing new places.  She fills her cup by spending time outdoors hiking, kayaking, biking and gardening.

Faizhal Arif Santosa, Academic Librarian, Polytechnic Institute of Nuclear Technology, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (FTE: 493)

Using Technology to Cope with the Workload

Faizhal is a librarian for the National Research and Innovation Agency at the Polytechnic Institute of Nuclear Technology. He attended Indonesia Open University while employed as an IT staff member in a local company. He began using machine learning in libraries as a result of his love of libraries and his enthusiasm for technology. His mission is to use technology to assist other librarians in expanding their horizons together.

Jessica Swaringen, Undergraduate Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Lane Library / Georgia Southern University Libraries, Savannah, GA (FTE: 4,621)

We Want Snacks, Too!: Adapting a Big Outreach Program for a Small Library

Jessica Swaringen is the Undergraduate Instruction & Outreach Librarian at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah, GA. She began her career as a college writing instructor, teaching mostly first-year students for 3 years, until she transitioned to the library where she teaches information literacy. Her research interests include effective outreach and promotion of the library, using rhetorical strategies to improve information literacy instruction, and library social media. In her personal life, she likes to watch movies, dabble in gardening, and take care of her 3 cats.

Amanda Winkler, Youth Services Manager, Morton-James Public Library, Nebraska City, NE (Population served: 7,900)

No Zombies Were Harmed in the Making of This Teen Event

Throughout the years, Amanda Winkler has worked in museums, libraries, and as a disability services advocate. She has served as the Youth Services Manager at the Morton-James Public Library for the past four years. She has spoken at regional and national conferences about issues in disability and intellectual freedom. She holds a Bachelors in Language Arts and will graduate in May of 2023 with her Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking with a concentration in Leadership.

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