by Jessica Douglas, Duluth Public Library

There were so many interesting sessions at this year’s Branch Out Conference, it is difficult to narrow the experience down in order to summarize it onto paper! Dynamic speakers, interesting ideas, and new experiences were all a part of this wonderful conference.

There were several large group presentations, including, “Forward Planning for the Professional,” “Connecting with Laughter,” “Adrian Branch Library’s – ‘Library Crime Spree Program’,” “Hennepin County Library Award Winning Outreach Department,” and “Cataloging & Curating for the Minnesota Twins.”

The “Forward Planning for the Professional” Presentations were very good. Fred Carpenter talked about the importance of working on yourself and building your own skill sets. She discussed thinking about where you want your career to go and planning for that outcome. One way to do this is by identifying possible roadblocks, and working to eliminate obstacles.

The “Hennepin County Library Award Winning Outreach Department” presentation was excellent. Daniel Marcou is a Corrections Librarian and he discussed the importance of providing library services to under-served communities and people in the corrections system. The idea of removing barriers for these individuals in regards to their patronage of the library really resonated with me. He talked about understanding that we need to stick to our policies, but we also have to have understanding, flexibility, and empathy. Our goal is to get people to use the library. We want to be careful not to create barriers to library resources.

Some of the smaller sessions included, “3D Printing: Overview and Demonstration,” “Engaging Meetings: Facilitating Tips & Techniques,” “Scheduling Staff,” “Minnesota Multitype Library Cooperation – Providing Free Services to Minnesota Libraries,” and “Connecting Your Career to the Future.”

All of the small group sessions were wonderful. It was exciting to see a 3D printer for the first time. Felicia Boone, who talked about facilitating meetings, was phenomenal! She had a great deal of helpful advice and ideas. I enjoyed the discussion about scheduling staff. I learned more about what multitype library cooperation can achieve. Patty Bales, who talked about connecting your career, was also wonderful! She discussed the importance of focusing on strength building, instead of on fixing weaknesses, in order to be successful.

I am glad I had the opportunity to participate in this conference. It was so nice to speak with colleagues from across the state. the ability to share ideas and experiences with this group of professionals was wonderful. Thank you!