Report from Ginny Richmond,
Hibbing Public Library Director, to ALS Libraries from the ITEM Conference in
St. Cloud, October 2-4, 2014
Usually
I attend the Minnesota Library Association’s annual conference but this year,
due to scheduling and distance, I have chosen to go to ITEM/MEMO instead.  This group has recently changed its name from
Minnesota Educational Media Organization (MEMO) to Information and Technology
Educators of MN (ITEM).  
A
similar change was also made in the last year to my library school at Indiana
University.  My degree is called a
Master’s of Library Science (MLS).  I got
my degree from the School of Library and Information Science (IU-SLIS).  Most public librarians in the 21st
century get an MLIS.  Now Indiana’s
“Library” program is the Department of Information and Library Science
(ILS) within the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC). Oh how we
love our jargon and acronyms!
Fortunately,
the Made in MN: ITEM conference still has room for a “Creativity and Learning”
day and a Minnesota book author: Jonathan Friesen.  Don’t worry, there were still plenty of high
tech, brain bending sessions such as the keynote address by educational
technology literacy specialist Naomi Harm.
This
messy mix of technology and reading is the new way libraries of all kinds
(public, school, academic and special) provide content for the education,
enrichment, and entertainment of all people. 
We each have preferred ways of accessing information (paper or electronic;
audio, visual, and kinetic) but what we want to keep looking for is the best information.  That is the great challenge now.  We have many choices but must continue to be
careful and critical in choosing which sources are accurate, accessible, and
appropriate for our personal, family and community needs.  That is why libraries are still so
important.  Those who use libraries
already know that we have more than “just” books.  But many of us are very thankful there are
still print books to be shared!
I had the opportunity to
listen to author Jonathan Friesen speak about bullying, ostracism, isolation
and living with disabilities at two different sessions during the ITEM
conference.  He writes books for upper
elementary through high school age readers (and adults who love YA
novels!)  All of his main characters have
a disability of one kind or another.  I
had already met Jonathan at the spring Spotlight on Books conference when his
YA book MayDay had just been
released: “hot off the press”, still in the shipping cartons.  I read “The
Last Martian”
for upper elementary readers and “May Day” for older teens this summer and have now read “Aldo’s Fantastical Movie Palace” (upper
elementary/middle school) and my own, freshly autographed copy of Friesen’s
first book, “Jerk, California” as
well.  Friesen is a great author,
speaker, and human being.  He brings his
children to these conferences (they are home schooled) and they are also very
well spoken.
Jonathan Friesen lives
in Mora, Minnesota and is available to speak to adults at conferences or meetings
and to middle and high school students! 
He lives with Tourette Syndrome himself and is a compelling,
heart-rending speaker on a variety of subjects. 
He has a heart for children and teens who are suffering and knows that
they cannot learn when struggling with deep emotional pain.   
Thank you to Arrowhead
Library Association for providing scholarship funds for me to attend this
conference.  I did see a few school
librarians (some still call themselves that!) from our region there but would
like to have seen more. It was interesting to see how many different titles
these school librarians/media specialists/technology integrationists currently
use (and struggle with)!
I also recommend this conference and
membership in ITEM to public librarians. 
We all work with our local schools or at least with their students and
can benefit from being more aware of what is going on in our districts. 
[Parts also used in
Library Notes column in the Tailings section of the Hibbing Daily Tribune,
Sundays, September 28 and October 26, 2014 editions.]