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Session Notes: Outside the Box and More at the Association Conference

Pam Marquette,
Adult Program Coordinator
Chester County Library and District Center

This year the PaLA Conference was held October 16 through 19, 2016 at the Kalahari Resort and Conference Center in Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania. Attending the conference was a great opportunity for excellent continuing educational sessions and opportunities to network with colleagues from across the state. As the Adult Program Coordinator for the Chester County Library and District Center, I hoped to find opportunities to enhance my program schedule and bring new demographic into the library.

My first session was “Outside the Box,” referring to areas of the library outside the building itself and how to incorporate those areas in new and interesting program ideas. From simple chalk sidewalk art to total renovation of an otherwise unused parcel of land, there was a wide range of possibilities presented. One of my favorites was a “vegetable garden” in which library patrons participated in the planning, building, maintaining and harvesting of the garden. Committees were formed, donations were arranged and a garden grew. Not only was the local food bank enriched, but also the library’s programming, with new programs for adults and children alike.

Engage for Health: A Health Program in a Box is a great idea for libraries looking for programs that are planned and easy to launch in the community with an emphasis on health and fitness. HAP developed the Engage for Health, health literacy program in 2014 ( Panel members gave examples of how they were able to use the program to connect to their communities and then plan, organize and present health programs in their own libraries.

One of my main goals in attending the 2016 PAaLA Conference was to attend the PA Forward sessions. Both Recipes for Success and Shooting for the Stars: How to become a PA Forward Star Library made the process of becoming a Star Library clear and simple. A flash drive given out to all attendees contained all of the documents, forms and graphics to become a PA Forward Star Library.  I was able to come away from these sessions with a firm understanding of the goals and the process of becoming a PA Forward Star Library. Access the PA Forward Toolkit at

At the “A Special Look at the “Longwood Gardens Library and Archive” session, I not only got an inside “tour” of the library and archives at Longwood Gardens, but I also received preview of the “Community Read” annual program. Each year Longwood Gardens chooses a theme and then two books, one adult and one children’s, to center their theme on.  Area organizations are then encouraged to work with Longwood Gardens to offer programs based on that theme to the public. This year’s theme will be “The Way Things Work.” As an example, David Sleasman, Library & Information Services Coordinator, offered a slide presentation of the soon to be reopened renovated main fountain display. I am looking forward to working with Longwood again this year to offer programs about how the things around us function.

Being a part of the PaLA Conference 2016 in Mt. Pocono was enjoyable and informative. The sessions were educational as well as inspirational. Attendance provided a new focus and enthusiasm for programming in 2017. All of the information and inspiration gleaned from the educational sessions were supported and enhanced by the ability to network with colleagues and vendors from around the state. Attending the conference was a totally positive experience that I hope I will be able to do again next year.

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