MLA 2012 annual conference

Minnesota Libraries: a Capitol Idea

Thank you for the opportunity to attend the conference the first week of October. As always for me, it was a wonderful experience:

  • Great food
  • Volunteering at registration and the silent auction
  • Tremendous networking venue
  • Visiting with vendors isn’t so bad
  • Many learning opportunities
  • Three meetings:

  • MLA membership meeting
  • Public Libraries Division
  • Technical Services Section – where I’m completing my commitment in serving as Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair over the last three years
  • The most fun – Killer Cocktails (Twin Cities Sisters in Crime and the Reader’s Advisory Round Table joined forces):

    • Ideal location – James J. Hill Library
    • Body outlines on the floor – humans and a dog (poor thing)
    • A rope, a lead pipe, a candlestick add up to the game of Clue
    • Crime scene tape
    • Connecting with mystery authors (17 of them) – talking about their books and collecting their autographs (it may be worth something someday)
    • Photo booth – check out the photo gallery — http://www.flickr.com/photos/mnlibraries/sets/72157631407503918/
    • Door prizes

    Three absolutely fantastic keynote speakers:

  • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – Joan Frye Williams, Library Consultant and Futurist – engage people, it’s everybody’s responsibility
  • 10 Quick and Painless Steps to Effective Advocacy for Libraries – Stephanie Vance, Partner Advocacy Associates – written communications, phone calls, connecting through social media to name a few
  • Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask – Dr. Anton Treuer, Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University – everyone has an opportunity to make things better by helping ourselves and others to change the way we talk and think about race ; Dr. Treuer is an educational bridge builder and cultural preservationist
  • Sessions I attended:

    • Everyone’s an eBook Expert: Staff Support Strategies
    • 50 in 60 Book Blast – covering Nordic crime, re-told fairy tales, travelogues, dystopian fiction and historical fiction
    • Singing, Talking, Reading, Writing, Playing: Ways the 5 Practices Support Early Literacy
    • Jump In! Our Experience with Floating Our Library’s Collection
    • Libraries and Librarianship in Zambia: a Global Perspective
    • E-books and the Future of Libraries: a panel discussion

    I wanted folks to get a glimpse of things I was able to participate in at the conference even though we were asked to share from one session we attended. It was all so good, it is hard to decide. But, because I have heard the term “floating collection” in conversation here at Duluth Public Library, that’s the topic I’ll report on:


    Jump In! Our Experience with Floating Our Library’s Collection


    The panelists of the Scott County Library System were very entertaining and informative with their presentation.

    After listening to a 2010 PLA presentation on floating library collections, the staff were intrigued by the idea.

    They were looking for a solution to help with increasing deliveries, decreasing budgets, and overworked staff. They were handling items 4-8 times to get them back to their “rightful” owners, there wasn’t any room in the van for any more materials to go back to the home branch, with the flat budget they couldn’t keep up with the demand to purchase multiple copies of so many of the titles.

    After much discussion in anticipation of the problems that could come up during the process, they set up rules. They found that these turned into guidelines.

    They did a massive weeding project before starting, empowering the entire staff to become involved. There were safety nets in place for those not entirely comfortable doing this.

    They began by floating smaller collections. They don’t float everything.

    Some of the pros to floating – refreshed collection every day, decreased delivery by 38%, positive budget impact, reduced wear and tear on items because they’re handled less, no longer needed to rotate parts of the collections. Some of the cons to floating – deciding how much time and effort should go into rebalancing the collections, space issues in the smaller libraries if too much is returned there (doesn’t seem to be an issue), browsing collections are impacted, getting staff past not liking change.

    This process has taken them two years. They have had great staff input and involvement from the beginning. It seems to have been a fairly positive process for these library folks.

    Again, thank you.

    Marcia Semerau

    Senior Library Technician

    Duluth Public Library