Big Talk From Small Libraries 2024

The conference was broadcast online on Friday, February 23, 2024 from 8:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Central Time, via the GoTo Webinar online meeting service.

Unless otherwise noted, the recordings are available on the Previous Conferences page.


Welcome to the Conference & Introductions

Christa Porter, Library Development Director, Nebraska Library Commission; and Patrick Bodily, President, Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL).


Teaching Outside the Box: Going Beyond Traditional Library Instruction

Meghan Kowalski, Outreach and Reference Librarian, The University of the District of Columbia, Washington D.C (FTE: 2,800)

Academic librarians are often called to provide library orientation or “teach the databases.” While these sessions are important, they are far from the only thing we can provide. In this session, Kowalski showcases how academic libraries can broaden their instruction. Information literacy instruction can be all shapes and sizes. This can include providing webinars and workshops on transferable skills covering subjects like navigating information, career development, and personal archiving. She will highlight how getting out of our traditional lanes can enhance student skills, promote lifelong learning, and strengthen the role of the library within the community.


Schedule Change: Page Public Library, Community Heartbeat: Best Small Library in America 2023 moved to 3:00pm Central time.

Memory Cafés: A Community Program

Erin Crockett, Library Director, Carroll County Library, Huntingdon, TN (Population served: 4,433)

Come learn about Memory Cafés as we navigate the do’s and don’ts our library has encountered in our 1st year of operation. Materials from our Memory Café will be shown as you hear about the benefits for our seniors as well as some of our developmentally disabled community. A list of materials purchased will be provided, and we will discuss the thought process and research that went behind proposing this exciting new program that we are able to offer the community we serve.


Leveraging Student Projects and Organizations

Jennifer Chess, Communications & Marketing Librarian; Lori Mullooly, Events and Programming Librarian; Lisa Gomez, Exhibition Librarian; U.S. Military Academy Library, West Point, NY (FTE: 4,400)

The marketing, programming, and exhibits librarians will talk about their different collaborations with students and the amazing results. From working with students on projects as “clients” to getting clubs to participate in programs to working with a history project to tap into students with specialized knowledge, we’ll show diverse examples of the benefits of working with students. 

12:00-12:50pm – Lightning Round!

Accepting Credit Cards with PayPort

Karen Mier, Library Director, Plattsmouth Public Library, Plattsmouth, NE (Population served: 6,620)

The Plattsmouth Public Library began accepting credit cards in August 2023 through a service called PayPort by Tyler Technologies. PayPort provides free processing of electronic payments for state and local governments and is available across the U.S. It’s quick to set up, customizable, and accepts all credit and debit cards in person, by phone, or online. It’s also capable of accepting cash and check transactions. A demonstration of the program and its setup will be featured.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this session has been canceled: No More Summertime Blues: Shaking Up SRP to Make It Work for YOU!

Chelsea Price, Director, Meservey Public Library, Meservey, IA (Population served: 216)

Summer reading is such a stressful time for all of us… but it doesn’t have to be! In addition to discussing some out-of-the-box, low-cost ideas for programs, we will also be talking about how to make your summer programming work for your library—it’s not one size fits all! Summer reading programs have so many benefits, but maybe your library is ready for a change. If you aren’t wild about the way you track reading minutes or give out prizes, shake it up and change things! Fun alternatives from myself and other libraries will be offered regarding theme, tracking minutes, prizes, and even the title and “brand” of your summer reading program. In addition, you will walk away with some money-saving tips so that you aren’t blowing your entire program budget on one season of the year.

Towering Bookstacks and Heavy Doors: Lessons on Performing Accessibility Audits in Libraries

Abbie Steuhm, Research & Scholarship Librarian, Karl E. Mundt Library, Dakota State University, Madison, SD (FTE: 2,000)

A quick tips guide to performing accessibility audits and implementing accessible designs at your own library. At the end of this session, you will be able to: (1) understand basic accessibility standards and designs; (2) identify inaccessible areas in your library; (3) design and implement simple solutions to inaccessibility in your library; and (4) plan for accessibility measures in future events and/or construction in your library.

Farmer’s Day Fundraising

Amber Sweetland, Director, Kimball Public Library, Kimball, NE (Population served: 2,500)

Kimball celebrates Farmer’s Day every year as a part of its Founders Day celebrations. Due to the decrease in revenue, libraries have to raise funds as much as possible. Kimball Public Library utilized this occasion to raise funds through various projects to supplement its budget. The events that were organized included a bake sale, a salsa-making contest, Pie a City Guy, a book sale, and a local craft sale.


Case Study: Implementing an Afterschool Meals Program in a Small Library

Katarina Spears, Library Director; Baylee Hughes, Community Engagement Librarian, James L. Hamner Public Library, Amelia Court House, VA (Population served: 13,400)

The Hamner Public Library, serving a population of ~13,000 in rural Virginia, partners with the public school system to offer an afterschool meals program for all residents aged 18 and younger. This session will explore how the project was implemented and how to fund and manage your own afterschool meals program.


Genrefying your Public Library

Alec Staley, Branch Manager, Worcester County Library – Ocean City Branch, Ocean City, MD (Population served: 6,900)

Increase patron browsing satisfaction and make use of difficult layouts by genrefying your library! This presentation is designed for Librarians who want to start organizing and classifying books by genre but are unsure how to start. Using real experiences from the Ocean City Library, we will go over the complexities of genrefying a collection that is actively being circulated. We will also go over how to include staff at all levels in this process.


Schedule Change: Memory Cafés: A Community Program moved to 10:00am Central time.

Page Public Library, Community Heartbeat: Best Small Library in America 2023

Debbie Winlock, Library Manager, and Seairah Combest, Children’s Coordinator, Page Public Library, Page, AZ (Population served: 7,549)

Page Public Library is the recipient of Library Journal’s 2023 Best Small Library in America Award. The annual award, relaunched with the support of sustaining sponsor Ingram Library Services, was created in 2005 to showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and a Belonging For All: Creating a DEIB Strategy to Engage and Support Your Growing Organization 

Raymond Pun, Academic and Research Librarian, Alder Graduate School of Education, Redwood City, CA (FTE: 450)

NOTE: This presentation will not be recorded or accessible after the live conference.

Have you wondered how to include the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in the workplace? How about the work we do in libraries and in support of our communities? In this presentation, the speaker will address how they work closely in different parts of the organization to infuse DEIB values and practices for engagement with communities of students, teachers, and teacher educators. This talk centers on DEIB and the ways to engage with these groups. The presentation will highlight the importance of collaboration and relationship building in fostering DEIB in the workplace and how the library plays a pivotal role in shaping these values into realities.

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