2024 Vermont Library Conference Sessions

Writing and Implementing Safety and Security Policies for the Changing Vermont Library

Presenter: Emer P. Feeney
Oscar Wilde I&II
Safety of staff and patrons is a top priority at all libraries, along with keeping our spaces accessible and welcoming. This presentation will examine important elements to consider when writing or updating safety and security policies for your changing Vermont library, as well as suggestions for how to train staff and implement those policies.

The Worst Challenge is the One You’re Not Ready For

Presenters: Randal Smathers, Joy Worland, Polly Lynn Mikula

Most library policies are written to handle a good-faith item challenge, but library opponents are using legal and illegal ways to get their way, up to and including threats of violence. The best way to get through a hostile challenge is to be ready in advance. That means having policies in place, but also developing allies in the community, the media, and on your board, who can help you manage a challenge. Join our panel for a short presentation followed by a lively chat on topics from press releases to bomb threats.

UVM Extension Master Gardeners: Your Library’s Super-Source for Programming, Reference, and Sustainability

Presenter: Barbara Ball

UVM Extension Master Gardeners provide a wealth of resources for libraries, including gardening-related programming, opportunities for partnerships relating to food equity, community education, sustainable library gardens, and even a gardening hotline for reference queries. Home and community (including library!) gardens have an important role in building sustainable, healthy, diverse, inclusive, and equitable communities and ecosystems. Join Windsor Library Director and UVM Extension Master Gardener Barbara Ball to learn more about what UVM Extension Master Gardeners can offer to your library, including sneak peaks of hot topics/possible programs.

Red Clover: Beyond the Classroom

Presenters: Hannah Fjeld, Liv Perry, Kate Lucia, Abby Adams

This year’s crop of Red Clover books contains myriad windows and mirrors for all young people, helping them see both themselves and the wider world. In this workshop, members of the Red Clover Award committee will present this year’s nominee list and ideas for programming to make these books accessible for all of your K-4th grade patrons.

Fact or Fiction? The Evidence Behind Popular Health Beliefs

Presenters: Laura Haines, Denise Hersey

Keep yourself safe from the hype and stay out of the shame-game! Join health sciences librarians from UVM’s Dana Health Sciences Library in a rousing game of Fact or Fiction? We’ll explore common health beliefs and what the evidence really says: do you need 8 glasses of water a day? Is the BMI a good measure of health? Participants will learn how to track down medical evidence and critically appraise original research. They will also gain more discerning critical thinking skills toward health information in the news and popular media, and how to avoid hype or overgeneralization.

Empowerment Through Access: An Update on the Statewide Shared Digital Collection

Presenters: Jillian Scarson and Lauren Kelley

Join representatives from the Vermont Department of Libraries and Lyrasis for an update on The Palace Project and its role in supporting ebook access to Vermonters. We’ll provide information on what’s new with the Palace app, the status of the Vermont Department of Libraries shared collections, and exciting new initiatives like the Book Vermont Library, aimed at reaching travelers and non-permanent residents. Stop by to learn about how your library can promote this community-driven effort to empower Vermonters through access to ebooks.

Young Adult Diverse Books Book Club Takes Last Night at the Telegraph Club to Boston

Presenter: Susan Piccoli

Learn how to offer a diverse-books book club at your public or school library with engaging programming that empowers your community through the example of the Young Adult Diverse Books Book Club at Woodstock Union High School (WUHS).  As an example, WUHS librarian Susan Piccoli will discuss her book club’s recent trip to Boston’s Chinatown and the Museum of Fine Arts as part of her programming for the Vermont Reads book “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo.  The culmination of this programming was an intergenerational book club that included community members, staff ,and students. Free books and reading lists will be provided.

Libraries and Front Porch Forum:  Stories and Practical Tips for Making the Most of Your FPF (Vendor Presentation)

Presenters: Jason Van Driesche, Bree Drapa, Paula Davidson, Wendy McIntosh
Northstar Hall

Did you know that Front Porch Forum has over 230,000 Vermont members?  Chances are good that most of the adults in your town are on FPF.  It's a great way for libraries to spread the word about library programs, events, and other opportunities.  Jason Van Driesche of FPF will moderate a panel of Vermont librarians in a lively discussion about how they’ve used FPF to connect with their community and build engagement with residents.

Rising Waters, Rising Challenges: Navigating Disaster Recovery in Libraries

Presenters: Dan Groberg, Carolyn Picazio

In July 2023 Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier was inundated with 7.5 feet of flood water, resulting in more than $1 million in damage. Executive Director Dan Groberg and Director of Library Services Carolyn Picazio will lead you through their experience from the first weather alerts to the present-day reconstruction of the facility, and share lessons learned that will help you prepare for any unexpected events at your library.

Recruiting and Equipping Volunteers in Vermont Public Libraries

Presenters: Christine Walton, Hayley Martin

Whether rural or urban, public libraries thrive when they are powered by empowered volunteers. In this session, we’ll hear volunteer testimonials from two Vermont public library professionals: one currently working as a volunteer librarian and the other as a volunteer coordinator. Through presentation and open discussion, we will explore questions like: How do you recruit volunteers within your local community? What does inclusive and accessible on-boarding look like? How do you ensure your volunteers feel valued?  It is our hope that this session with create a space that is curious, enlightening, and inspiring for all.

The Golden Dome Book List: Something for Everyone

Presenters: Rebecca Rupp, Sacha Krawcyzk, Nicole Westbom, Courtney Bowen, Emily Mandeville-Houle, Hannah Peacock

Members of the Golden Dome Award reading committee will present an overview of this year’s new, diverse, and inclusive book list for readers in grades 4-8.

Active Threat Familiarization

Presenter: William McSalis – Northstar I

This presentation will familiarize the attendees with valuable information that can make the difference in safety and security-related scenarios ranging from merely contentious to critical and life-threatening. Director McSalis has instructed law enforcement officers on how torespond to active threat/active shooter events. This experience has informed his instruction for the civilian librarian response to those same events. This is a serious subject, but the class is  presented in a calm and non-threatening manner. This session is intended to be interactive with plenty of time for questions.

Rising Waters, Rising Challenges: Navigating Disaster Recovery in Libraries

Presenters: Dan Groberg, Carolyn Picazio – Northstar II

In July 2023 Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier was inundated with 7.5 feet of flood water, resulting in more than $1 million in damage. Executive Director Dan Groberg and Director of Library Services Carolyn Picazio will lead you through their experience from the first weather alerts to the present-day reconstruction of the facility, and share lessons learned that will help you prepare for any unexpected events at your library.

Intellectual Freedom: Practical Policies for Public Libraries

Presenter: Mary Danko, Amy Olsen – Escapade

This session will go over best practices for a Collection Development Policy and Request for reconsideration Policy & Process.  Mary Danko & Amy Olsen will share their experiences in
developing the policies and what they learned along the way.  They’ll also discuss key points when messaging about these policies as well as how to positively engage your trustees in the process.

Grant Writing for Beginners

Presenter: Trisha Ingalls

Learn the fundamentals of grant writing for your library, where to find opportunities, and how to create a compelling application. The presentation will include some practice on a real application.

Storytime Share

Presenter: Tricia Allen

Bring your tried-and-true storytime hits to share with your fellow youth services librarians. Whether it’s a book that is sure to get a smile, a song to which parents will always sing along, a craft that is as easy as it is beloved, or a bounce that has kids saying “again!”, we want to know about it. Participants should leave this session with a whole new toolkit of storytime ideas and inspiration.

SPARK Presentations: Group One

20 slides automatically advancing every 20 seconds for a total of about 6 1/2 minutes per presenter.

Joy Worland and April Shaw – VT LIB is here for YOU!

Melissa Hutson – We did a diversity audit, and here is what we learned!

Mary Danko – Using CANDID to maximize your grant funding.

Burnham Memorial Library – Murder Mystery Take Home Kits.

Emer Feeney – Partnering for expanding community services.

Fletcher Free Library – VT Kit Club.

Breaking Down Barriers: Empowering You to Serve Marginalized Populations

Presenters: Kelly McCagg – Oscar Wilde III

We all have them, those factions of our communities that don’t use the library because they don’t find it welcoming, they lack transportation, or our policies are written in such a way that prevents them from utilizing our resources.  During this session we will introduce a systematic approach to engaging these underserved populations, be they families experiencing housing insecurity, the developmentally challenged, or members of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Attendees will discuss major and minor remediations, share solutions that have worked for them, and hopefully leave with new ideas they can implement in their own libraries.

Creating Dyslexic-Positive Libraries

Presenters: Nicole Westbom, Susan Whitehead – Northstar I

Join Children’s Librarian Nicole Westbom and Academic Librarian (and dyslexic) Susan Whitehead for a fun and paradigm-shifting presentation about creating dyslexic-positive libraries.  In this session, we will cover the current barriers in libraries, along with nine practical steps library staff can take to improve their library, including: DEI collection development, instructional strategies, outreach, and interactions with this underserved library population. The presenters will bring actual library resources to discuss barriers to access for these patrons in a hands on way. Time will be provided at the end of the presentation for either
quiet reading or a fun group game, a friendly competition which will give you a chance to show off your new knowledge! Participants will receive a kit to make their own dyslexic-positive library display.

Climate Action: Small Steps, Big Impact

Presenters: Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Margaret Woodruff, Kate Hunter – Northstar II

Climate action can be overwhelming and sometimes debilitating when the solutions seem out of your control. Thanks to a grant through the Vermont Community Foundation, a cohort of library staff are taking steps in their libraries and communities for climate action, climate justice and community resilience.  Learn how this group from across Vermont is working toward their Sustainable Libraries Certification and transforming their workplaces and towns by following the Triple Bottom Line with replicable, manageable practices and projects.

Scam Awareness and Prevention Toolkit: Guidance for Libraries

Presenters: Crystal Baldwin, Liza Dates, Sheri Rockcastle – Escapade

Acquire scam prevention knowledge and programming options in this presentation by federal and state fraud experts! Scams are constantly changing, multifaceted and challenging to
decode. Billions of dollars have been lost to scams, with vulnerable populations experiencing
the greatest losses. As trusted community hubs, libraries can help patrons avoid scams and
improve outcomes by sharing resources and hosting scam awareness seminars. Join us as we

review scam trends, methods to spot and avoid scams, and how to assist patrons experiencing

Policy 101

Presenter: Kevin Unrath

Library trustees, directors, and library staff will learn a practical way for creating, reviewing, and updating library policies on a regular basis.  Whether your library has no written policies or more than you can possibly remember, this workshop will provide you with a yearly policy review process that is manageable, practical, and logical.  We will consider tips and tricks for creating new policies from scratch, how to update policies that need reworking, and how to ensure policies are created and enforced equitably.

Career and Professional Development Resources for Your Patrons

Presenter: April Shaw

In the last year, the Vermont Online Library has expanded its databases to include Gale Presents: Udemy, and Gale Presents: Peterson’s Test and Career Prep. Gale Presents: Udemy provides access to more than 20,000 video-based courses on a variety of topics. Gale Presents: Peterson’s Test and Career Prep provides tools for educational and professional success, including certification practice tests, and resume tools. Join us to learn more about these resources, and for tips on promotion and direct access to enable your patrons to meet their lifelong learning goals.

Small Budgets, Big Feelings – let’s talk about it

Presenters: Catherine Goldsmith, Josh Worman – Gateway II

Achieving a respectful, cooperative working relationship with town leaders can be challenging. How do the mechanics of the relationship between “the town” and “the library” work in your area? How do library bills get paid in your town? Does your small library have a separate personnel policy or is library staff under the town’s policy? Do you feel respected by town staff and by the town’s governing body? Let’s discuss the various ways these arrangements work and don’t work. Join Catherine and Josh (?) for a round table discussion and safe zone to talk about these thorny issues.

Inclusive Libraries: Making Your Library and Programming More Accessible

Presenter: Karen Gravlin

Are you interested in making your library more accessible, but don’t have the budget to fund a construction project? Join ABLE Library director Karen Gravlin to learn ways to make your building more accessible to people with disabilities without spending a lot of money. We’ll cover data about people with disabilities in Vermont, ways that society views disability, and how this information can help inform your library’s services. In addition to the accessibility of your building, we’ll also discuss best practices for offering accessible programming.

Why Patron Privacy Matters and How You Can Protect It

Presenter: Trina Magi

Protecting patron privacy is a long-standing ethical principle of librarians. It’s also the law. In this session, you will learn why privacy is important and what the law requires. You will become aware of typical threats to patron privacy and how you can be prepared. And you will receive practical advice and resources about writing policy and procedures, training staff and board members, educating patrons, and responding to law enforcement.

Census Data for Communities (Vendor Presentation)

Presenters: Michael Moser, Nicole McKenzie – Northstar Hall

Learn how to access and use Census Bureau data to inform library reporting and answer questions from the public.  Ever wondered what percentage of your town is below the federal poverty level?  Want to learn more about population change in your town, county or the state?  Join this high-level introduction to community characteristics data and learn how to answer these and many other data inquiries you and your public may have.

Working Group Roundtable: Working Group Report on the Status of Vermont Libraries

Presenter: Mary Danko  – Gateway II

VLA needs your input on the Working Group Report on the Status of Vermont Libraries to help us develop a Strategic Roadmap Response.  Many recommendations were proposed in the report and we want to know what your priorities are.  Join us for a round-table discussion as we consider the future of Vermont libraries.  This will be an interactive program so bring your energy and ideas!

Creating a Share and Repair Library of Things

Presenter: Suzanne Krohn

Learn how to build or expand your Library of Things with an eye toward economic equity and self-sufficiency.  Add items that enable your patrons to repair or maintain their possessions and homes. A Share and Repair Library of Things may contain items to mend clothing, tune up a bicycle, clean dryer vents, and more. Based on a study of libraries across the country, we’ll learn the why’s and how’s of developing and circulating this type of collection. Participants will come away with best practices, a list of items to consider, and funding and program ideas.

Small Libraries, Big Ideas: Creative Approaches to Children’s Programming in Small Settings

Presenters: Amy Olsen, Brenda Stanley, Amy McMullen, Gail Trede

What can you do in a small library? As it turns out…a lot! Prepare to be inspired by this dynamic panel of children’s librarians from the Vermont Early Literacy Initiative (VELI) as they share a wealth of insights and innovative approaches aimed at engaging young children and their families in small library settings. From budget-friendly programming ideas to maximizing limited resources, this session promises practical strategies and inspiration so that attendees will return to their libraries with concrete ideas to enhance children’s services in their own communities.

Recognizing Stress, Employing Self Care and Avoiding Burnout in Today’s Library Landscape

Presenter: Nicole Klett

Today’s librarians are tackling the everyday challenges of running a library, including balancing budgets, creating community spaces, and offering diverse collections accessible to readers and learners of all types, while also facing an existential threat to the institution itself. It is easy to get weighed down by the effort required to continue a library’s mission in 2024. In this interactive workshop, you will create a vision for your library (and yourself) to remember your WHY throughout the year (and day sometimes!), brainstorm self care strategies, participate in mindfulness exercises, and employ SMART goal principles to mitigate burnout.

SPARK Presentations: Group Two

20 slides automatically advancing every 20 seconds for a total of about 6 1/2 minutes per presenter.

Details forthcoming.

Fun & Friendly Competition: Trivia Night 101

Presenter: Meg Malone

Are you looking for a popular, topical, inter-generational program that requires very few resources? That’s trivia night at the library!  We will discuss how this kind of recurring program aligns with many library goals, and how it can be adapted to a virtual or in-person setting. We’ll also talk tips on how to pick themes and how to craft questions that keep your audience  engaged and challenged while ensuring they’re also having fun.

Embracing Diversity: Innovate and Create Together

Presenters: Liz von Nagy, Keirstan Lague

School librarian Liz von Nagy and library technical assistant Keirstan Lague will walk participants through Essex High School Career and Technical (CTE) Library’s makerspace programming designed for all patrons. Participants will learn how the presenters maintain high interest and traffic in the makerspace, as well as how they collaborate with teachers and patrons, empowering them to harness their creativity. Participants will leave the session with new ideas to implement into their makerspaces.

Making Space in Vermont: New NASA Grant to Support Vermont Public Libraries

Presenter: Ellen Brennan

Learn about a new award program designed to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming in Vermont’s public libraries. NASA’s Vermont Space Grant has partnered with the Vermont Department for Libraries to launch an annual grant program funding public libraries as they deliver space and other STEM programming to their communities. By financially supporting public libraries across Vermont, we hope to engage all communities regardless of location, resources, or demographics in NASA and STEM learning. In this brief session, you’ll learn what the funds support, how to apply, and how we are here to help you access this funding.

Brick by Brick: Building Empowered Communities through Lego Robotics

Presenters: Mary Neffinger

Amidst fluctuating educational funding across various communities, Lego First Robotics programs represent an opportunity for libraries to reach and empower a wide range of youth with an inclusive and approachable STEM program. Learn why libraries are a perfect fit for robotics teams and how they strengthen community ties. Learn how to go about starting a Lego robotics team, including community outreach and funding options.

America’s 250th in Vermont: Preparing to Commemorate

Presenters: Israel “Izzy” Provoncha, Catherine Delneo, Jonah Spivak, Meg Mallory, Phil Holland, Victoria Sample

The education committee of Vermont’s 250th Anniversary Commission will introduce librarians to opportunities for commemoration of our country’s founding in 1776, and seek feedback on what libraries would find valuable for their patrons. The commission recognizes that it is most appropriate to “commemorate” rather than “celebrate,” as there are many historical realities that, when viewed from the perspective of many members of our community, are a source of discomfort, loss, or pain.  The goal is to work with cultural organizations to inspire Vermonters to learn from the history, legacy, and context of the past to build stronger communities now.

Turning the Page: Gen Z and Millennials Rewrite Library Engagement

Presenters: Molly Nesselrodt and Michaela Lavelle

The age bracket of 18 to 30 is now dubbed “emerging adults,” distinct from both teenagers and older adults. A report by the American Library Association highlights the increased usage of public libraries among Gen Z (born between born between 1997 and 2012) and millennials (born between 1981 and 1996). Michaela and Molly, both Vermont librarians and members of Gen Z, will offer their insights on the “emerging adult” demographic, present programming ideas tailored to this group, and review findings from their programs offered at their respective libraries. Attendees can participate in interactive sessions to reassess their understanding of this age group, challenge assumptions, and brainstorm ways to engage them effectively within their libraries.

Rapid Reviews

Presenter: To Be Announced

Quickie reviews of hot titles, sleeper hits, and books for engaging discussions from a variety of genres and authors. Audiobooks, too!

Facing Homelessness: A Rural Library Perspective

Presenters: Bree Drapa, Lauren Curry

Libraries are for everyone.  What does this look like in a small library with limited staff and resources? What happens when rural libraries are confronted with larger societal issues?  Libraries must play to our strengths of being community connectors and providing information.

In 2021, library visitors experiencing homelessness prompted a group of community partners to come together to think about how Westford Public Library and the greater Westford community could—and could not—respond to homelessness.  This session will examine the roles of libraries to engage emergent situations of homelessness, the responsibilities of communities to protect and support our librarians, opportunities to align critical values with efficacy on behalf of vulnerable populations, and realistic considerations of what is possible and appropriate for small libraries to provide.  Participants will learn about concrete examples of the process, tools, and take-aways experienced in one small community, and will be invited to contribute their own concerns, hopes, and ideas to this critical public conversation.

Connecting Through Creativity: Using Art in the Library As A Self-Care Tool

Presenter: Patrick McAllister

In this session, we will use art via programming and displays to facilitate self care and community building for librarians and library patrons. The ideas shared are designed with accessibility in mind, allowing anyone and everyone to participate. Art as a self-care tool is worth implementing for yourself and your patrons. In an era where libraries are evolving into dynamic community hubs, infusing art into programming adds a unique dimension that engages patrons of all ages. Participants will leave the session with ideas to integrate tomorrow.

(This list is incomplete. We are awaiting additional information from the conference planning committee, and we will add it as we are able.)

Related Pages:
2024 Vermont Library Conference Home Page

2024 Conference Session Descriptions

2024 Conference Speaker Bios

Vermont Library Association Past Conferences Archive

Last update May 10, 2024