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CSL scholarships make Ohio conference possible for 22 California rural library representatives

California State Library's Carla Lehn with rural library representatives, Ken Davenport (L), consultant for the Northeast Iowa Library Service area, and immediate past president of ARSL, and Jim Malzewski (R), Rural Sustainability Project manager for WebJunction/OCLC.
[Photo courtesy ARSL]

The California State Library (CSL) provided scholarships to 22 California rural library representatives to attend the annual Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) convention in Columbus, Ohio September 27-29, 2007. The CSL’s Rural Library Initiative, funded by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds, supported the scholarships. In Ohio, a total of 177 participants from 28 states, Canada, and the Philippines joined to discuss challenges, strategies, and opportunities for the future of libraries in rural communities. Jon Torkelson and Carla Lehn of the California State Library also attended and participated in convention programming.

The ARSL conference, which covered issues affecting rural and small libraries and their staff and trustees, featured 2007 Librarian of the Year Mary Baykan describing Maryland’s process of using data and statistics to win support for library initiatives and funding, and Sirsi/Dynix Vice President of Innovation Stephen Abram speaking on rural libraries responding to changing technology and new generations of library users. Conference session topics included What it takes to be the “Best Small Library in America” hosted by Rebecca Miller, executive editor of Library Journal, and Herb Landau, director of Mt. Joy Pennsylvania’s Milanof-Schock Public Library, winner of the 2006 Best Small Library award; and, You can do it! Practical techniques for supporting public computing, featuring Barbara Gersh, Project Manager for MaintainIT, in San Francisco, and Margaret Miles, County Librarian of Plumas County.

California “talk tables” and “poster session” at ARSL

The ARSL conference offered discussion groups, talk tables, and poster sessions designed to encourage best practices sharing.

At their “talk tables,” California’s library representatives introduced attendees to innovative library programming in rural California. Ronda Wittenburg of the Humboldt County Library hosted the “Children’s Author Festivals” table and told visitors how national authors participate in Humboldt’s librarian-produced biennial festival. Constance Corcoran of the Tuolumne County Library, at her “Tech-Know Rodeo” table, explained how Tuolumne’s all-day exposition, planned by library staff and local educators, presents newer information technologies to people over 40. Adrienne Haylor of the Colusa County Free Library, at Colusa’s “Get Your Feet Wet with Stonyford” table, shared how community volunteers spontaneously rallied to save their library after a freeze and flood.

California’s “poster session” featured Brenda Crotts of Butte County Library explaining “Books by Mail” and “Book Club in a Box.” Crotts showed how Butte’s programs not only enable citizens to receive materials through the mail, but also allow libraries or community groups to host book discussion groups through materials they receive in user-friendly packages.

Scholarship recipients will be serving on the host committee for the ARSL 2008 Conference in Sacramento, the first time this national conference will be held in California. For more information about the California State Library’s Rural Initiative, please contact Jon Torkelson at (916) 651-3037, or email at, or Carla Lehn at (916) 653-7743, or email at






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