ILA Recap: Peoria is cooler than I thought!

Peoria Civic Center plaza

Back in the swing of things after a busy week of librarian-ing in Peoria and all I can say is, I can’t wait for next year. Despite the wild weather (82 degrees when I got there and 48 degrees when I left) and a packed schedule (the typical conference curse of one interested in sometimes vastly unrelated topics), I had a blast. From connecting with former co-workers to getting a glimpse of some amazing work DU alumni are doing all around the state, it was a wonderful three days of library fun.

Here are some of the highlights:

Book-nerd moment

Gene Yang

Opening General Session with Gene Luen Yang—Graphic novels weren’t really my thing, but American Born Chinese is one of the books that helped me develop an appreciation for GN’s and all they have to offer. Besides, as a self-confessed nerd, I always like to see someone own their nerdiness like Gene Yang does.


Inspiration moment

ILA President’s Program with Miguel Figueroa—As the Director of ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries, Miguel Figueroa appears to have a keen eye for changes in the library profession and in society at large. His thoughts on the future being a “revolution” that brings people together and builds inclusivity were thought-provoking. Such an exciting opportunity for librarians and teachers who are so often already fostering those ideals.


Out of my comfort zone moment

Dungeons and Dragons dice“Looking for Group”: Engaging Teens with Dice, Monsters, and Stories—I purposefully picked a session about something which I know NOTHING, Dungeons and Dragons and similar role-playing games are that thing. The enthusiasm of the presenters and the way they use these games as a tool for social and emotional learning was fantastic and eye-opening. Thanks to Courtney Moore, Addison Public Library; Luke Rathburn, Grayslake Public Library; Emily Fardoux, Lincolnwood Public Library; Rachel Kaplan, Northbrook Public Library for the intro to the world of RPG’s and all their many sneaky teaching tools.


So excited to share moment(s)

Ok, let’s be honest, there were more of these than I can reasonably add to this post. So my top 2 sessions that I can’t wait to tell people about are:

Balance & Beyond: Work/Life Integration for Libraries—Working with the public can present emotional challenges to the strongest of us. How can libraries and library managers provide support for staff that allow them to be at their best in both their professional and personal lives? Kelly Durov and Laurie Prioletti, Northbrook Public Library; Brian Shepard, Indian Trails Public Library District; Regina Townsend, Forest Park Public Library provided a host of programming and policy ideas for creating a positive environment and supporting self-care for their teams.

Sort of Bilingual: Serving Youth and Young Adults from Spanish-Speaking Homes—With the help of an ALA Diversity Research Grant, Elizabeth Lynch and Kelly MacGregor of Addison Public Library set out to discover the strengths and opportunities of the kids in their community that come from bilingual homes. They discussed their research, the supportive program development that came from their learnings, and how they encourage a celebration of bilingualism at the library and beyond.


I am often in awe of the brilliant, generous, and dedicated librarians I meet in this small world of library-land—thanks to all for the inspiration!

Jen Clemons
Curator, BCLC