The West Virginia Library Association (WVLA) holds a Fall Conference every year in October. The three-day gathering for librarians from public, academic and school libraries is full of workshops, lecture sessions, vendors and time for networking with colleagues.
The conference is held in a different location each year, and this year it was held here at Snowshoe. This was great for me, as it cut way down on travel time. I was also pleased that three of my five library trustees were able to attend at least one day of sessions.
So what do librarians talk about when they get together?
Yes, books do come up in the conversation, but we also talk about funding our libraries and how to offer good service without secure operating funds. We had sessions on dealing with difficult patrons (I know – can’t imagine it), updates in copyright laws, expanding our reach into our communities, different types of programming, and a presentation on the West Virginia Humanities Council and the types of things they will fund for libraries.
One of the most interesting sessions was a presentation by the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library Commission. They were updating us on various services, on computer software that enlarges computer screens or reads aloud to people with reduced vision.
They also demonstrated a currency reader – a small box about the size of a small matchbox that has a slit in the side. You simply slide the end of a bill into the slit, and the reader will tell you the bill’s denomination. The reader can speak aloud, or vibrate a code if you don’t want the whole world to know you have a $100 bill. Here’s the best part: they’re free. If you know of someone with low or no vision who could use a currency reader, please contact me at the McClintic Library, 304-799-6000, and I will get them registered to receive one.
There are also online services that allow people to subscribe to a daily news application, which will read aloud the day’s newspapers. I can give out more information on that as well if anyone is interested. These services are exciting because they can help foster independence while cutting down on isolation for those suffering from vision impairments.
I also have to thank the Elk River Ramblers and Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters for entertaining my colleagues on Wednesday and Thursday evenings respectively. I heard lots of praise and compliments for your musical performances. Thanks for helping out and making both evenings much more lively and fun.