The Indiana State Library held its annual The Difference is You Conference on Friday, Sept. 18. The conference is designed for library front line workers and library support staff. This year’s conference was affected by the pandemic, and was held virtually instead of in-person. The silver lining of virtual conferences is the ability to get presenters from around the country. They also offer a chance for more people to attend, especially if traveling to the conference is difficult for them.
The first session was given by Bobbi Newman, community engagement and outreach specialist for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Greater Midwest Region. From the comfort of her home in Iowa, Bobbi presented “Health Information Online.” With the pandemic still going strong, this was timely information. A recent Pew study found that health is the number two most-searched topic for information online. Public libraries are well-positioned and have the potential to provide health information for their communities. The session offered free reliable evidence-based resources for health information as well as review tools for accessing health information found online.
The second session was brought to us by three Indiana librarians: Amy Dalton of the Johnson County Public Library; Heidi Lovett of the North Manchester Public Library and Kate Blakely of Bremen Public Library. They each shared the lessons they learned when they were forced to take their programming online after Covid-19 forced libraries to close. They each shared program ideas that had worked for them at their libraries as well as difficulties that arose doing virtual programs.
The keynote address was given by Trina Evans, the 2017 The Difference is You Award winner and a 2018 Library Journal Mover and Shaker in the innovative category. Trina shared how her journey to working in libraries required persistence. She has a heart for libraries and has now made the switch to a school library. She talked about the programs that she was able to bring to her public library and how that brought recognition on a state and national level. She was quick to give credit to the other people in her library that helped bring the programs to fruition. She reminded everyone, in closing, that they can make a difference in the libraries where they work.
After the keynote, the 2020 The Difference is You Award winners were announced. Yes, winners is plural, because there was a tie this year. There were 17 nominations this year that were all deserving of the award, but two stood out: Agnes Dombrowski and Teri Schmidt. Agnes has worked at her public library for 40 years and has done pretty much every job during her tenure. Teri is well-known in her community because she works at the middle school library as well as the public library and touches many lives that way. Congratulations to these women for their contributions to their libraries and, in turn, their communities!
The afternoon sessions were presented by EBSCO trainer Lisa Jones, and she focused her content on what is new to INSPIRE this year, along with highlighting resources to be used as homework help for grades K-12.
We sure missed meeting together in person this year, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference with the hope that we can meet in person. Mark your calendars now for the 2021 The Difference is You conference, tentatively scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.
This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.