ARSL 2017 Scholarship

ARSL 2017 Scholarship by Steve Devine-Jelinski


ARSL Conference 2017

St. George, UT

September 7-9, 2017

“From ARSL to Zion”


I want to extend the greatest of thank you’s to Arrowhead Library System for the scholarship to attend the Association of Rural and Small Libraries Conference in St. George, UT this year.  Not only did I have the privilege of being able to attend, but I was also selected to present a session (twice) on “Technology Classes for Senior Citizens” based on the classes that I present at the Moose Lake Public Library.  This is my second ARSL Conference and yet again, has not disappointed.

Follow Your Passion.  That seemed to be the overall theme of the conference this year and the keynotes.  Jill Nystul, author of One Good Life and blogger on One Good Thing, spoke about her career as a news anchor/journalist, and her path to becoming an alcoholic despite her fantastic outward-appearing life.  During her time in treatment and recovery she learned to follow her passion for DIY and writing about it as well as her addictions, to help herself.  Now she is a successful blogger and business owner because she followed her passion.  (I did not know about her, but my wife who does, was super jealous I got to see her in person!)

Richard Paul Evans, bestselling author of The Christmas Box didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.  He spoke about his lifelong battle with Tourette’s Syndrome and the impact that his writing has had on others who battle the same illness, as well as the things that his charity has been able to accomplish with the proceeds from his books.  His passion is for those he can reach through his words and how they have been able to help him cope with his conditions.  It was very powerful.

Quite the opposite of Evans, Brandon Mull, young adult fantasy author of the Fablehaven Series, Five Kingdom Series, and Spirit Animals creator, left tears in everyone’s eyes from the laughter.  He said it takes the mind of a 14 year old boy to write from the perspective of one, and considers himself a 13 year old boy in a 40 something year old body.  He talked about his journey to writing and his process to developing his characters, which he feels are the most important relationship there is for a reader; because once you feel emotion for a character, “he’s got you!”

The sessions were great as well.  I presented my session on both Thursday and Friday of the conference.  I was pleased with the turnout as I had between 70-90 people per session.  I was excited about all the participation and questions that I received and got validation that my programs were worth continuing for our patrons.  The only downside I found to presenting at the conference-and twice actually- was that I missed out on attending two other sessions during those times; and some of them sounded pretty good.

Not to make this blog too long, I’ll just speak about the two sessions that I found most rewarding.  The first was called Bursting at the Seams.  It spoke to tips and hints to help small spaces seem bigger and be able to function better.  The speaker talked about equipment and furniture that was multifunctional and moveable.  The second was Developing Dynamic Leadership for Your Library.  The speaker spoke on how to be a better leader in your library, rather than “the boss”.  Gave examples of things that he has done to promote a respectful workplace, as well as a high functioning workplace.  It was encouraging as well as little disheartening some of the stories that the audience told on some of the concerns with personnel that were having and made me feel good that we don’t have any of that in my library!

Overall it was a fantastic conference again, and I look forward to many more. (I hope).  Again, a gigantic thank you to ALS for the scholarship to go to ARSL, as I wouldn’t have been allowed to go without it!

I am available to answer any other questions about the conference you have.  If you have any questions about my session, ask Mollie, she attended one of the sessions. It’s probably better to hear about it from the audience perspective anyways.  Thanks ALS!

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