By Ginny Richmond, Library Director
Hibbing Public Library

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.]