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ALA, Connections, and Jeopardy! - February 12, 2019
Well, January was an eventful month—and I’m not talking just about the weather! In the middle of the month, I flew to Los Angeles for tapings of “Jeopardy!” and will appear on the February 13 episode. I recently returned from ALA Midwinter in Seattle. In thinking back about the past few weeks, a theme of sorts arose: the power of connections.

While in Seattle, I was able to attend the chapter leaders’ forum and AASL assemblies. I reconnected with some people, but was also able to meet and learn from many others from across the continent. At the forum, we received updates on such things as advocacy (including virtual legislative days), intellectual freedom, conference and membership successes, and partnerships with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine; they have program grants available, often awarded to public libraries. Our ALA Councilor, Beth Munk, also attended the forum, as well as meetings on the State Ecosystem Initiative, and there were town halls on the future of Midwinter (which will be modified a bit when it is held in Indianapolis in 2021). Another highlight was the Youth Media Awards, because I have more connections than ever with other readers via a variety of social networks, including Goodreads, Voxer, Twitter and Facebook. The atmosphere with everyone rooting for favorite books is incomparable!

As I prepared (?) for Jeopardy! I read a few books written about it, including Prisoner of Trebekistan, by Bob Harris. One of his main points: the power of connections and learning. Why do you suppose so many librarians have appeared on Jeopardy!? We do often search for questions as well as answers. We try to connect patrons with the information, programs, or resources that best meet their needs. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Just how did I know the answer to that? Where did that come from?” Have you ever thought back, sometimes years back, to (mentally) thanking the person who helped you learn something? There are probably patrons thanking your staff every day, whether they are physically in your library or not. Yes, library staff are some of the best connectors, and we are willing to do this for anyone!

And if you’d like to know more about being on Jeopardy!, I can tell you—later in the month. I encourage you to apply!



January 8, 2019

Welcome to 2019! As a matter of fact, our theme for the Indiana Library Federation this year is “Libraries: Where Everyone is Welcome!”

During last year’s annual and regional conferences, we had speakers on hospitality, inclusion, outreach and other actions that lead to favorable connections with our communities. Your ILF professional development committee and board have decided to expand upon this for 2019.

In 2006, I started geocaching, which involves finding hidden “containers” or places of interest using a GPS device. By 2007, a friend and I were spending enjoyable days caching throughout the state. (Yes, we’ve now found caches in every county and each page of the DeLorme map for Indiana.) Back then, we would have to plan our routes in advance, often printing out maps and individual cache pages, but there would be times that we needed more current information or got stuck. Where would we stop? The public library! We knew that we would be welcomed and receive assistance, even if we were far away from home. While geocaching can now be done with smart phone apps, those experiences really stuck with us. And, as a plus, there are now many libraries that host geocaches themselves.

At the Fortville-Vernon Township Library in Hancock County, where I am a trustee, we used to be the only place in the vicinity where visitors could enjoy free computer access, inexpensive copying, faxing, laminating, and more; your library was probably much the same. But as times have changed, so have the services we offer, but still with the special ingredient not necessarily found elsewhere: nonjudgmental staff willing to help, expecting little in return, whether you are a resident or not.

Libraries have been getting some love in the mainstream media recently, which many of us proudly share, over and over, with friends and family; hopefully, this is resonating with members of the general public as well. In addition to Susan Orlean’s book, The Library, and a recent This American Life Podcast, “The Room of Requirement;” the New York Times and other newspapers and magazines have taken note of the many resources available and the unique atmosphere a library offers. Throughout this year, we want to spotlight and share the wonderful things going on at your libraries, especially the ways that you make patrons feel welcome, included and valued.


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