Together We ARE Stronger

We are just wrapping up our state library conference today. Again, what an extraordinary conference and what an extraordinary year. I counted 24 separate programs over the three days with content perfect for children's and teen librarians: school partnerships; book cycles to deliver books to kids in the summer; leadership paths; apps; refreshing field trips; bad girls in YA lit; learning to tame the sensory overload to help kids using the library; what boys like; keynotes by Kevin Henkes, Karen Jensen and Avi; Guerilla Storytime; ideas for school agers and more, more, MORE. We had an outstanding Teen Services preconference that connected our heretofore (hella word!!) unidentified teen advocates in the state.

During the Awards and Honors no less than three of our star youth librarians in the state were honored: Tessa Michaelson Schmidt received the Librarian of the Year award; Megan Schliesman won the Intellectual Freedom Award and Terry Ehle of the Lester Public Library won the Paralibrarian of the Year Award. Terry is an extraordinarily creative and active children's librarian who is generous with her time and talents and a leader in our state. This award is co-sponsored by our SOIS grad school in Milwaukee and includes a year of free tuition in their MLIS program. Terry has already begun her first semester.

Youth librarian leaders were everywhere in evidence over the past few days - introducing programs; serving on the WLA board of directors and the Youth Services Section board; sharing ideas, stories; challenges and laughs in hallways and restaurants and mingling and working with librarians from every type of library and library discipline. We brought in our colleague Cate Levinson from Niles IL to be part of a panel to share her amazing Armchair Astronomy program ideas and she stayed the whole conference.

We need healthy associations supported by librarians from all types of libraries and at all position levels for the learning and networking at conferences like this. We also need healthy associations to support our legislative agendas to protect and enhance library services and the public's access to them, intellectual freedom, everyday diversity, and to lead the way in sharing excellent library practice.

Please join your state association. Put in not just your money but your time and become a strong leader to support all our libraries. It's not what you get (although it's safe to say you get incredible networks, learn leadership skills and become smarter and wiser - and laugh more) but what you give in sweat equity that makes associations so strong and so profound. You share your passion with your colleagues. Your leadership in helping the association shine and be mighty through your volunteer work makes all the difference.

As I always say: together we ARE stronger!

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