Conference forges friendly new paths

Strong Libraries in a Changing Landscape was the theme for the Kootenay Library Federation Conference May 12 to 14 in Nelson. It isn’t a stretch: libraries everywhere are having to adapt to changes from technological to social at an unprecedented pace. The 19 libraries in the Federation — which encompasses East and West Kootenays and Boundary — are no exceptio

Strong Libraries in a Changing Landscape was the theme for the Kootenay Library Federation Conference May 12 to 14 in Nelson. It isn’t a stretch: libraries everywhere are having to adapt to changes from technological to social at an unprecedented pace. The 19 libraries in the Federation — which encompasses East and West Kootenays and Boundary — are no exception.

“I see libraries as shepherding us through an uncertain future,” stated keynote speaker Mike Stolte of the Centre for Innovative and Entrepreneurial Leadership.

“No matter what the technology, there will always be a role for a library,” he said, noting that the 500,000 volumes at the ancient Library of Alexandria would today fit on 2.5 iPads. “Librarians are needed pathfinders.”

Workshops at the conference included the practical (such as cataloguing futures, collection development, board development, and patron relations), sustaining (stress reduction and library ergonomics, publicity, teenspeak, and the Zen of children’s programming) and forward-thinking (creative fundraising, local government round-table, PLSB and the provincial scene, and advocacy and partnerships, among others).

“Overall, almost 150 registrants came together for three days of learning and sharing,” says federation director Joanne Richards. “People came away energized and inspired.”

Inspiring workshop leaders were many, with regional talent such as library planting and weeding maven Heather Buzzell, and Vanessa Dowell, who offered help with patrons dealing with mental health issues. Out-of-town experts included Linda Woodcock from Kwantlen Polytechnic introducing RDA cataloguing, Neil Firkins helping to hone PLOT websites, and Annette DeFaveri demystifying statistics. Governor-General’s Award Winning poet Fred Wah, in a reading hosted by the Nelson library, added a literary component.

In the community that is Kootenay Library Federation, the conversation is in full swing. New alliances were formed, great ideas spawned, and participants recharged.