Scholarship Recipients – 2021 Steltzner Scholarship

Cami Andersen

It was an incredible experience to be in-person at the Public Library Association conference in Portland, OR where there were about 4,000 estimated attendees, with an additional 1,000+ attending virtually. I could feel the creative energy, especially in the events where programming ideas were discussed and shared. Many of the workshops that I attended were centered around pivoting during the pandemic and figuring out how best to serve patrons given current conditions, and lowering or removing barriers to accessing the library and its resources. The first event I attended was about bringing joy into the library and library programs. This resonated with me because I had just recently done a cross stitch take and make kit at my library in Stillwater to great success. I was so excited about sharing my hobby with others, and I think that joy came through when I was talking to patrons and coworkers about it. After we broke into small discussion groups, I shared this experience with the woman sitting next to me who was from rural Wyoming. She said that she did a similar take and make, also to great success. We both agreed that library programming, especially related to creating something, seemed to bring patrons the most joy.

I was most looking forward to gaining ideas and networking opportunity from this conference, and I certainly achieved both of those learning objectives. The sessions I attended focused on big ideas, but also many practical ones.  I came away with some really great ideas for programming including: setting up a mock citizenship interview program, focusing on intergenerational arts programs, and serving older adults in a more intentional way through setting up a patron advisory board. I came away from this conference even more excited about what lies ahead for me in my career in libraries, and I look forward to more opportunities to network with colleagues locally and nationally in the future.