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Reflections on the Inaugural Little Branches Rural Roots Library Conference

Reflections on the Inaugural Little Branches Rural Roots Library Conference

November 4, 2019

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Little Branches Rural Roots Library Conference in Arnprior, Ontario. The Little Branches Rural Roots (LBRR) Conference offered workshops, sessions, and author visits tailored to address the needs of small rural libraries in Ontario. While the majority of the attendees were from small libraries in Eastern Ontario, some delegates traveled from as far as 400 kilometers away to attend the conference as it was the first of its kind.

As a new professional in the Library and Information Technician field I found this conference to be incredibly informative and engaging. When I was initially signing up for my sessions for LBRR I was uncertain of which sessions and workshops to enroll in. Should I sign up for the ones that were applicable to my current classes, such as cataloging? Or should I choose sessions that would benefit me post-graduation? I ended up picking a mix of both, resulting in a fun and educational weekend. I had a session on successful fundraising strategies in public libraries, a session on free (or low cost) online resources, a workshop in book mending, and a session about the benefits of graphic novels–to name a few.

The session I most enjoyed was the Children’s Programming Roundtable. In this session about twenty five public library staff responsible for children and youth programming shared with their colleagues what they were doing for programming. Staff shared stories about some really great programming such as creating make and take composters with live worms, STEAM boxes, reading buddies and story time with the library hamster. Although I did not have much to contribute to this session it gave me the opportunity to visualise the struggles and the rewards of working in children’s programming in a public library.

In addition to relevant sessions and workshops the conference also boasted fun networking events. After sessions were concluded on the first night, the participants of the conference were invited to join a historic work of Arnprior including information about the town’s history and architecture. The walk ended at a restaurant where many of the conference participants shared dinner together and had the opportunity to network. After dinner we were invited to go back to the library to enjoy wine tasting or engage in a book trivia night. The second day of the conference also included some fun networking opportunities including a sundae bar followed by an intimate concert by Sean McCann, the founder of the Canadian folk band Great Big Sea.

I was very eager to attend this conference. I had never attended an event like this before and was uncertain of what to expect. By the end of the weekend I had an amazing time, met many enthusiastic bibliophiles, and kindled my own excitement to soon join the ranks of rural librarians. LBRR was an amazing experience attended by professionals in the field who were more than welcoming to a student with absolutely no experience in a public library. I was able to use this as an experience to soak in as much as I could about what it would be like to work in a public library and returned to my studies feeling inspired and excited about my professional possibilities post graduation. I would highly recommend anyone working in a rural public library or anyone who is aspiring to work in one to keep an ear open for the next Little Branches Rural Roots Conference. I can’t wait until the next conference is announced!


Rachael Bennett is a second year student in the Library and Information Technician program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

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