By Liv Mostad-Jensen, Coleraine Public Library

When planning which sessions to attend at the 2016 ARSL conference, I was drawn to sessions that had a programming focus, looking to find some inspiration for my own library. I was not disappointed! The following are a selection of my favorite sessions.

How to Break Up Boredom

This session was led by Angela Smith and Aimee Newberry of the McLean County Public Library located in Livermore, Kentucky. This pair could have a great career in comedy so it is no surprise that they have made the newest library in Kentucky a success, particularly among their younger patrons. They encouraged attendees to just get creative and go for it with your programming. Some of the activities that were successful in their library included life sized Hungry Hungry Hippos, make your own indoor mini golf and trashketball (basketball using trash cans instead of basketball hoops). They found inexpensive solutions, improvised and really made good use of community partners and resources to make things happen. One thing they did note was to make sure that a program or idea is something that you actually want to do, that you are also excited about and will enjoy. Overall, this was a very inspiring session!

Hack It, Sew It, Fold It, Squish It: Everything You Need for Maker Programs in Your Library

This session was presented by Susan O’Connell and Mara Siegel of the Craftsbury Public Library and the Vermont Department of Libraries respectively. They presented a program they collaborated on to bring maker programming to libraries throughout Vermont. The highlight of this session was having the opportunity to play with some of the different projects that they had developed for libraries. My favorite activity was an origami candle that actually lit up, made with just a piece of paper, a coin cell battery, a bit of copper tape and an LED.

Teenagers Assemble!: How we revitalized our teen program with a little help from the Avengers

The team from the North Logan Library have created a teen library program that has really taken off over the last two years. They increased teen program attendance by 2500% and were able to provide some really great creative after-hours programming. One thing that really stood out to me was how they were able to harness the volunteer power of the teens to strengthen not only the teen program, but also to support the library in general. It was also interesting how the director really allowed his staff members to work in their strength areas and to try new things without a lot of interference.

The breakout sessions were not the only highlight of the conference. The keynote speakers were also very good and quite entertaining, particularly Minnesota trio of Will Weaver, William Kent Krueger and Lorna Landvik. I also really enjoyed the chance to meet and chat with librarians from all over the country.

Thank you to Arrowhead Library System for the support in attending this wonderful conference!