LIBchats (Library Interesting Briefs) are fast-paced, high-energy talks from speakers who are truly passionate about their topics. These sessions are bound to stir up some controversy and guaranteed to get you thinking. LIBchats will be held in Theater 312.

Wednesday, October 4
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

  1. I Love Summer Reading Club vs. I Hate Summer Reading Club
  2. With This One Weird Trick, Screen Time Becomes Beneficial
  3. Official or Reliable: What’s the Difference?
  4. Is Neutrality Still a Thing?
  5. Chasing Relevance

Thursday, October 5
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

  1. Volunteers: Love Them or Leave Them?
  2. Public vs. Private Money
  3. In Defense of Mollycoddling
  4. The Trouble with Empathy


I Love Summer Reading Club vs. I Hate Summer Reading Club
Presenters: Allison Knight and Melissa Sokol, Dayton Metro Library
Summer Reading Club is a wonderful and positive library program that has a long and rich history of creating generations of library and reading lovers.  Summer Reading Club is also a yearly grind where children’s librarians encourage children to read for cheap prizes and measure their merit based solely on how many books or how much time they have spent reading. It is a logistical and data keeping nightmare. Two children’s librarians will discuss and debate all the highlights and pitfalls of running Summer Reading Club.

With This One Weird Trick, Screen Time Becomes Beneficial
Presenter: Jennifer Buckner, Dayton Metro Library
The American Academy of Pediatricians lifted its “no screens under 2” rule last fall. What does this fast-changing world of kids and media mean for libraries? As digital media grows and becomes a larger part of our daily lives, it ceases to be just entertainment. Let’s grab the future by the horns and turn the constant availability of electronic devices into learning tools, both formally and informally. Discover three simple steps to make screen time beneficial.

Official or Reliable: What’s the Difference
Presenter: Kirstin Krumsee, State Library of Ohio
When it comes to teaching information literacy, we want to say this source is reliable and that one’s not. Unfortunately, it’s never been that simple. Government information (whether from .gov sites or tangible documents) has always been an official record of what our government is saying and doing, but like with all resources, context matters when it comes to reliability. Gain a better understanding of official government information and reliable government information, and how to spot the difference.

Is Neutrality Still a Thing?
Presenter: Megan Sheeran, Upper Arlington Public Library
Many librarians are trained to practice neutrality when we help patrons find information – this means we avoid taking sides or allowing our personal biases to influence our answers. But we’re also trained to evaluate information. How and when do these values conflict? Are we really neutral? And if we aren’t, should we be?

Chasing Relevance
Presenter: Don Boozer, Cleveland Public Library
A common phrase heard in libraries is that we have to “stay relevant,” but what do we mean when we say that? Are we simply “changing with the times”? To “stay relevant” must we lose some part of what it means to be a library? Are we trying to convince our communities? Or are we trying to convince ourselves? This LIBchat will assert that libraries were, are, and will remain relevant by offering high-quality services, standing by our principles, and — for heaven’s sake! — tooting our own horns! It may be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

Volunteers: Love Them or Leave Them?
Presenter: Linette Porter-Metler, Public Library of Mount Vernon & Knox County
With budget and staffing concerns, more libraries are looking to add volunteers. However, volunteers can be a help or a hindrance depending on how you communicate and coordinate their activities with library staff. An argument can be made that without proper guidelines, supervision and communication, achieving balance between library volunteers and library staff will be difficult.

Public vs. Private Money
Presenter: Ed Rossman, Shaker Heights Public Library
History repeats! When public broadcasting lost large amounts of their public funding in the 80s, they had to seek funding in the private sector. Their mission, to educate and entertain, is very similar to public libraries. Gain a better understanding of the areas in private fundraising that allowed public broadcasters to survive without sacrificing their integrity or mission. Are we being good stewards of our public facilities by not pursuing private money? Can we draw the line between advertising and acknowledgments for accepting money? Are we destined to only accept funding granted through elections and legislative action, or can we develop local partnerships in win-win arrangements?

In Defense of Mollycoddling
Presenter: Jeff Regensburger, Worthington Libraries
Supervision is often thought of in terms of setting expectations, holding staff accountable to those expectations, and employing corrective action when expectations aren’t met. Those things are fine as far as they go, but the fact is the support we offer staff has a much greater impact on work and work culture than any rules, guidelines or personnel policy manual will. Unfortunately, these supportive behaviors (listening without judgment, showing empathy, seeking understanding, and offering flexibility) are often characterized as “being soft,” “going easy” or “mollycoddling.” Well, if listening to people, taking their concerns seriously, and responding in ways that show compassion and respect are mollycoddling, then mollycoddling should be our highest aim.

The Trouble With Empathy
Presenter: Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Library of Ohio
Libraries address imbalance. We responded to social isolation and declining civic participation by leveraging our role as a community center and offering programs that help people connect. We responded to the digital divide by providing computers, technology training, and broadband for everyone. When folks feel marginalized and vulnerable, when they can’t even have simple cordial conversations with each other, we can respond by offering the empathy lacking in their experience. Much more than a topic for children’s booklists, empathy is a discipline that transforms our practice. It is the key to authentically responsive, inclusive library service. But empathy is messy. It takes work. And it’s arguably in conflict with some things we hold important. But the real trouble with empathy is that we undervalue its power to change lives — including our own.