In September, I had the opportunity to attend the Rural Libraries Conference in Grande Prairie. The conference featured a variety of sessions on public librarianship with a focus on small libraries and rural settings. I wanted to share some of things I learned and ideas I picked up during my time there.
Richard Van Camp’s Keynote
Always an engaging speaker Richard Van Camp did not disappoint with a charming, wide ranging, and thoughtful keynote. One of my favourite ideas he shared was the community calendar. He gave the example of Fort Smith where the community has created a calendar based on local knowledge with information about the land, the changing seasons, birthdays, and even when the NHL starts. It was interesting to think about how to incorporate local knowledge into a library setting. He also shared some self-care models and talked about the cost of overstimulation in the modern world. The model he shared was HALT. To use HALT you simply work through the letters while checking in with yourself. They are: Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?
Another thing Richard recommended was to create digital archiving programs in libraries. These would be archival stations were people could record stories or have previously recorded stories put on USB sticks. Similar to the community calendar this project is about preserving and celebrating community knowledge.
Creating Safe & Inclusive Spaces for LGBTQ Individuals
This presentation was by an employee from the non-profit organization HIV North. She gave some background information on the LGBTQ experience and then provided ideas of how to make public spaces more inclusive and welcoming.
- Make safe spaces easily identifiable – with posters, stickers, and LGBTQ resources
- Use inclusive language – don’t assume gender
- Consider gender neutral washrooms
- Make homophobic language and sentiments unacceptable
Quiet, Please: Conflict Resolution and De-Escalation
This session was mostly on conflict resolution in personal relationships (i.e., among family, between spouses, or with a co-worker). There were some interesting models to determine your conflict resolution style and ways to de-escalate conflict situations.
The presenter laid out five conflict resolution styles and made the point that while everyone can make the choice to practice any of them we all have a default mode.
Competing: “I win, you lose.”
Collaborating: “I win, you win.”
Compromising: “We can both live with this position.”
Avoiding: “I lose, you lose.”
Accommodating: “I lose, you win.”
In dealing with conflict she recommended using the STABEN model.
S: Source of Conflict. Identify the main issue at hand.
T: Time and Place. Chosen an appropriate and neutral time and place to discuss the problem.
A: Amiable Approach. Start positive with a genuine compliment about what you appreciate about the other person.
B: Behaviour. Identify the one specific behaviour that is causing the problem. Do not lump this one issue in with a whole host of other issues or resentments.
E: Emotion. Express your feelings with “I” statements as opposed to blaming “you” statements. “Because of this I felt…”
N: Need. “What I need to end this conflict is…”
E: Evaluation. Evaluate how this worked. If you need to make changes or address a different issue go through it again.
10 Things to Make Your Library More Accessible
This presentation was on ways to make libraries and library materials more accessible to people with print disabilities with a focus on how to use the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). The ten ways are:
- Understand the copyright act
- For example, libraries can record books (i.e., make an audiobook) for a patron as long as the book is not already commercially available
- Understand a bit of disability theory
- Using simply the medical definition of disability means “people can’t define their own disabilities and so are defined by them.”
- Whereas, the social model of disability says that disability is caused by the way society is organized, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people.
- Be careful with words
- Be considerate in how you address people and the words that are used to describe a print impairment.
- Make sure the library publications are accessible
- Use headings and styles in Word Documents because they are recognizable by screen readers
- Include accessibility features on library websites
- Grow your tool kit
- Dyslexic fonts (open dyslexic & dyslexie)
- Learn the accessibility features of different devices and operating systems
- Guide dog etiquette
- Do not excite, touch or try to play with a guide dog while it is working
- Build community, follow conversations
- Curiosity is 1000x more important than knowledge
- All staff should know the basics of services for people with print disabilities or where to ask the questions
- Create a library accessibility contact
- This is the go-to person for other staff to ask questions and the person who keeps up with changes or additions to services.
- Make sure everyone on staff knows how to set up a NNELS account
- The patron type will always be “print disabled” then they will be able to login into NNELS directly with their barcode & PIN
There were more sessions (and lots more library talk) but those are some of the highlights from my time at the Rural Libraries Conference.
Anne Walsh (left) and Megan Clark (right) having fun at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum