By Danielle Danke, Duluth Public Library

Thank you to the Arrowhead Library System for providing a scholarship to support my attendance at the 2017 Library Technology Conference in St. Paul. LibTech is a forward thinking conference that focuses on ways libraries are using and can use technologies in their work to better serve their patrons.

Two sessions that I attended directly related to the goals of the Duluth Public Library to enhance library services for school children and to better serve seniors.

Win-Win: Hennepin County Library and Hopkins Public Schools Join Forces presented their initiative to get library cards in the hands of all students and to encourage students to become active library users. This session included speakers from both the public library and school, and it was very helpful to have the perspectives of school administrators & librarians alongside the perspectives of public library administrators & librarians.

Senior Tech: The Next Generation shared how the Rochester Public Library is bringing technology education to senior living communities. The presenter shared tips for success and gave advice on handling problems that he encountered in these programs. Other attendees also shared technology programs for a senior audience that they have offered. Great promotional themes included “Staying connected with friends and family”, “Cord-cutting 101” about replacing landline phones, and “Senior Device Advice”.

Keynote speaker Patrick Meier, a digital humanitarian, served to inspire our group on thinking about creative ways we can use our skills in gathering and presenting information to make a positive impact. As an example, Patrick worked with community members to map the 2015 Nepal earthquake to aid disaster relief workers. A truly inspiring person – his work and story can be found at irevolutions.org.

Another thing that ALS funding makes possible is for library staff to attend conferences together, rather than limiting attendance to one person. In our case, a small group from different departments of the Duluth Public Library was able to attend LibTech, and it was extremely valuable to debrief about sessions attended and to talk about ways our departments can work together.