On Friday, October 12, 2018, READS members and guests gathered for the annual READS fall conference at the Beane Conference Center in Laconia. The theme for the conference was “Library Spaces”, focusing on ways we can creatively use our physical, digital, and community spaces for the benefit of the library, patrons, and the broader community.
The first session was a panel discussion featuring Carol Eyman, Outreach Coordinator, Nashua Public Library, Nicole Schulze, Adult Services & Outreach Coordinator, Concord Public Library, and Joyce White, Supervisor, Children’s Services, Goodwin Library (Farmington, NH). The panel was moderated by Betsy Solon, director of Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford and READS vice president. In this open forum panel, we heard from librarians who have run successful community outreach programs and talked about ways to bring resources and programs outside of the library. Nicole detailed information about Concord Public Library’s experience in attending community events and coordinating the Concord Reads
program through the years. She noted that it’s best to have swag to give away and to change the items regularly. Concord and Baker Free Library in Bow have collaborated on two “Beat the Librarians” trivia nights at local pubs. Concord’s Books and Brew has been a successful book discussion outreach for them. Carol Eyman attended the ALA Harwood Institute Training seminar to learn more about methods of collaborating with other community groups. Nashua has been at local farmers’ markets, established Little Free Libraries, and visits apartment complexes. The library has worked with United Way and Rivier Institute for senior education as well as hosting bike repair clinics from a local biking coop. Nashua sees a large demand for outside groups using meeting space—events have ranged from birthday parties and
tech training classes to craft groups and health screenings. Joyce White has set up a donation driven system of “libraries” at local businesses. She says the secret is to choose places where people have to wait. The books are mostly donations and weeds. Each is labeled as from the library and available for the individual to keep. Some effort goes to creating themed boxes appropriate to the business or the time of year. Joyce visits her locations on a weekly basis and makes sure to express gratitude to the locations.
Lichen J. Rancourt, Library Director, Jackson Public Library , and Bobbi Slossar, Technology Resources Librarian, New Hampshire State Library, led the second session, about digital spaces. First, Bobbi discussed the need for mobile friendly sites and services, as recent surveys estimate that 77% of adults own mobile devices. Be aware of your vendor resources such as premade publicity from Overdrive or EBSCO. Some of the services have apps available. Be sure to work with the patron facing interfaces as it will help you when it comes time to troubleshoot. Discussion switched to social media as Lichen took the lead. Be authentic on social media. Be aware of what devices and services your patrons are using. It’s no use curating your library Instagram if most of your patrons are using Twitter or Facebook. Always focus
on your service area, but be playful and human. Start small, and don’t be afraid to abandon something that’s not working. Jackson offers video of adult programming and counts views toward program attendance.
After lunch, 2018 READS president Beverly Pietlicki presented the READS Award of Excellence to Ruslyn Vear. Ruslyn has spent 23 years at the Amherst Town Library, striving to enrich the lives of patrons at both the individual and community level. She has responded to community interests by developing programs and reference services that enriched and enlightened.
Ron Lamarre, Design Principal, Lavallee Brensinger Architects, was the final conference speaker. Ron has many years’ experience working with public buildings, especially education spaces. He started with a tribute to the library builders of decades ago, who built to last. Ron shared pictures of projects his firm has completed around the state. He recommended only changing what is not working now, creating the smallest change possible to work within the historic building. Priority should be given to sustainability and reducing operating costs. Other factors to take into consideration include indoor air quality and light. For those with no opportunity for a large scale overhaul, Rom recommended taking a hard look at
space use, expanding or contracting space for a particular collection or function, and prioritizing flexible solutions. The “touch down” patron is going to be a big part of libraries in the future: the local working from home, the traveler looking for a place to charge a cell phone.