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First-ever TLA Summit brings librarians together for one-day virtual conference

TLA News

The Texas Library Association’s first TLA Summit, on June 2, brought together librarians and library staff members from around the state for a one-day virtual conference that had sessions for every type of librarian – school, public, academic and special.

All sessions were recorded and are available for 30 days. Participants can earn up to 40 hours of CE credit. Registration is open until June 27 (you can still register, view the recordings and receive CE credit for the 40+ sessions presented at Summit.) The videos will be available for viewing until July 3.

Bestselling novelist Sarah Bird was the opening keynote speaker. The author of 11 books, including Daughter of a Daughter of a QueenThe Yokota Officer’s ClubA Love Letter to Texas WomenAbove the East China Sea, and many more, spoke about her newest novel, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, which brings to life the world of dance marathons in the bustling, Mafia-run world of Galveston in the 1930s.

In the 1930s, Galveston was run by the Maceo brothers from Sicily, who were friends with Frank Sinatra and controlled the gambling and entertainment venues in this island city. In many ways, Galveston was insulated from the financial strains of Prohibition and the Depression because of its (largely illegal) economic engine and “an abundance of dark glamour,” Bird said.

In the dance marathons of the time, couples would sometimes participate for more than 1,000 hours. They took 10-15 minute breaks to shower, use the restroom or eat. “You had to learn to sleep standing up,” Bird said. Towns across the U.S. hosted these dance marathons and they drew thousands of onlookers.

The author researched her new book at her local library, at the University of Texas libraries and especially at the Rosenberg Library, History Center and Museum in Galveston – “It was a tremendous resource.”

Many topics were covered during TLA Summit, including youth services programs, opening new public library locations, STEM courses, change management, and local, state and national OER (open educational resources) efforts. Serving neurodiverse clients was the subject of “Beyond Sensory Storytime” and several other sessions. Longtime TALL Texans instructor Maureen Sullivan led a session on “Using Your Personal Power.” You can view all the TLA Summit speakers here and see the full schedule here.

Susan Smith, librarian at Tarrant County College, Trinity River Campus, presented “How to Read Way More: Tips and Tricks to Increase Your Reading Starting NOW.” She encouraged attendees to cultivate a reading habit and set reading goals – these goals don’t necessarily have to be a certain number of books. Your reading goal could be more of an intention, for example reading more books by BIPOC authors, or reading more nonfiction, she explained. Having a lot of books available – audiobooks, ebooks, physical books – also helps so if you are not feeling like reading a certain book, you have other options at the ready.

In “On the Write Track: Nurturing Local Writers and Building an Author Community,” Amy Campbell of Harris County Public Library shared the many ways their library encourages aspiring authors, from hosting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) each fall, to putting on “HCPL Writes,” a monthly virtual program designed to foster new writers and provide them with not only the motivation to continue their craft, but the opportunity to learn from established authors.

The closing keynote speaker was Dr. Seema Yasmin, who discussed trends in social media and combating misinformation in her talk, “What the Fact?! How social media is rewiring our brains and changing the world.” Dr. Yasmin is an Emmy-award-winning journalist, author, physician and professor.

“Misinformation and disinformation is engineered to be believable and that’s why it spreads so fast,” Dr. Yasmin said. “Bad actors are exploiting on our fears, and false information travels faster and farther than the truth.”

She’s written a book called What the Fact: Finding Truth in All the Noise, which comes out in September 2022. “In a world when you are going to be bombarded by text alerts and information 24 hours a day,” her book teaches readers age 12 and up to have “good skills in spotting the red flags,” Dr. Yasmin said.

Dr. Yasmin praised librarians for their hard work in sharing accurate information to an often mistrustful public.

“I am absolutely hopeful. I think we empower people through knowledge and that is what gives me hope. A big thank you to librarians for doing this work.”