CHICAGO — On March 30, the Public Library Association (PLA) offered more than 675 online attendees a full day of professional development during the first-ever PLA Virtual Spring Symposium. Participants gathered in groups at their libraries or watched on their own throughout the United States and Canada, with one attendee logging on from the United Kingdom.
Moderated by Stephanie Gerding and Brendan Dowling, the day began with an introduction from PLA President Audra Caplan and then quickly moved into the morning education tracks of technology and youth services. Two technology programs featured tips and resources for library staff to make the most of mobile technology and electronic content. Youth services presentations highlighted innovative ideas for summer education and reading programming, as well as creative and effective ways to reach teens at the library.
With the midday break came an intimate lunchtime interview with Diane Ackerman, acclaimed author of such books as “A Natural History of the Senses” and “The Zookeepers Wife.” Donna Seaman, associate editor of Booklist and host of “Open Books Radio” on Chicago Public Radio (PRI), led the conversation, while Ackerman shared personal stories of creative inspiration and the experience that led to her upcoming book, “One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing.”
Following the lunch break, the afternoon education tracks, administration/leadership and adult services, got underway. Anticipating and adapting to future trends in public library service were the themes in the administration/leadership programs, while the adult service education focused on developing unique library services, such as toy and pet lending, and specialized programming for patrons 50 and over.
A thought-provoking program, “The Sustainable Library” concluded the day. George Needham and Joan Frye Williams brought humor, insight and ideas to address how libraries sustain service in the face of declining budgets, increased demand and a proliferation of alternatives.
The Virtual Spring Symposium also allowed for interactivity. Participants sent videos and photos before the event that were shown during breaks, and they contributed throughout the day by writing messages in the onscreen chat window, tweeting at #plavss11, and asking questions of presenters.
PLA’s next virtual conference event will be in conjunction with the 2012 PLA Conference, March 13-17.
For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or visit PLA’s website at www.pla.org. PLA is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services.