Conference Updates

Let's Talk About LUNCH!

Apr 6 2017 - 5:30pm

Yes, there will be fantastic programs, networking opportunities, after-hours fun, but let’s be real here – you have to eat!  And you’d like to eat well, right?

Well, let me just say, if you are registered for a luncheon, you will certainly eat well.

The President’s Inaugural Luncheon on Tuesday features a death by chocolate jumbo cupcake. Do you really need to know more? Our incoming President, Michael Maziekien, will share with us his slogan and vision for the coming year and the luncheon is a great opportunity for networking, catching up with colleagues, etc. (And deathbychocolatejumbocupcake!!!)

Don’t worry, the Wednesday luncheons will contain an equally delicious dessert (and chicken and veggies and salad, of course). The CUS luncheon will feature speaker Emily Drabinski (I’m sure you read all about her in our previous post) and the keynote at the Garden State Book Awards luncheon is author Justina Ireland.

If you decided to attend the Feast on This luncheon, you’ll have a yummy three course buffet lunch – at a discounted rate – plus time to chat with friends, make connections, relax. There will be coloring, Legos, puzzles and other activities including a short film called Miss Bula Banerjee.

Wait! You registered for conference, but forgot to buy a ticket to one (or more) of the luncheons? No need to worry! You can add a luncheon ticket by contacting the NJLA office ( or you can buy tickets on-site at the registration desk when you pick up your badge! Really!

If luncheons aren’t your thing, there are several brown-bag lunches available to you this year – on Tuesday, Reader’s Advisory is bringing back their popular Under the Radar Reads which will feature book trivia and lightning book talks; CSS and YA are adding a new brown bag lunch to our line-up that will feature an informal discussion about what the section members are doing this year.

On Wednesday, Emerging Technologies and Member Services are hosting a Cryptoparty Brown Bag Lunch - they’ll be talking Tor, Signal, and PGP-signing. Administration and Management and Member Services are sponsoring NJ’s Funniest Library Patron Interactions Brown Bag Lunch at AC Burger Company. I think the name says it all!

If you’re wondering where to pick up a sandwich or find an alternative place for lunch, we’ve got a blog post for that (coming very soon – we’re just verifying operating hours first!). But there are numerous options on-site at Harrah’s. You will not go hungry, you can be certain!

See you soon in AC!

Kimberly Paone and the 2016-2017 Conference Committee

Getting to Know: Emily Drabinski

Apr 4 2017 - 7:05pm

Conference is a great opportunity to hear about all of the work your fellow librarians are doing throughout the state, but it's also an opportunity to step out of our borders and see what librarians are doing around the country. We are excited to have librarians from all over this year, and we thought you would introduce you to one from not-so-far-off Brooklyn.

Emily Drabinski, named a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker is joining us at the NJLA Conference! Not only is Emily the featured speaker at the College & University Section Luncheon, she is also presenting Narratives of Library Power: The Stories Library Shelves Tell   An engaging speaker, Emily recently responded to these thought provoking questions.

Q: Regardless of type, tell us what you think are some of the challenges libraries are facing today. Any suggestions or solutions to overcome the challenges?

I think libraries are facing very serious challenges as the new presidential administration intensifies attacks on the things all of us value, from the freedom to read to equity of access to information. We have always been able to argue that core library values were not supported with enough resources, or implemented completely in our institutions. But what we're facing now is an overt and explicit attack on libraries, from the funding we receive through IMLS and NEH to the deportation and criminalization of so many library patrons and workers. I think we need to be honest with ourselves that the problems we face are outside the library, and that requires all of us to engage and organize to save everything from broadband access in rural areas to tribal college libraries. We have a lot of work to do.

Q: What do you enjoy more, being a presenter or spectator at professional conferences? Why?

I love both presenting and spectating! For me, conferences are all about the conversations. I love talking about my work, and I love talking about your work. Dialogue is the best part of being a librarian, and conferences are a chance to have lots and lots of that in sessions, at meals, in hallways. Some of my best professional and personal connections have come from being seated in the audience and up at the mic. I always try to work a little bit of both into my conference schedule. 

Q: Tell us about your research interests (or passions in life) and how you are able to incorporate them into your library related work.​

Someone just asked me this question after looking at my CV and noting that I can appear to be a bit all over the place: I'm passionate about systems and structures. I am always thinking about how things came to be the way they are, including myself and my experience, and the things I find myself doing every day. How do I understand myself to be an advocate, an organizer, a librarian, a sister, a stepmom, a cat owner? What produces those identities for me, and how do I struggle against them and take pleasure in them? How can I change them to bring more of the things I care about into the world, like freedom, equity, and justice? In the library this means things like teaching students how to function in our infrastructures of power, from rules about food and drink to the library catalog. I'm always thinking about ways to do my work that maximize opportunities for all of us.

You know Emily is going to be an amazing presenter at #njla17 when you receive this response from a NJ librarian after the announcement was made:

"Emily is wonderful! What a great speaker choice! I’ve never gone to the CUS luncheon before but I’m def going for her!"

Online registration is open until April 10, and after that, you can still register on site.

Need we say more?

Nancy Weiner and the 2016-2017 Conference Committee

#njla17: A Book Lover's Dream, Part 1

Apr 3 2017 - 5:58pm

Libraries have definitely moved beyond books, but we would be lying if we said we weren't still book lovers at heart. Well, book lovers attending Conference this year are in for a treat!  A rich offering of programs includes author appearances and discussions, presentations on improving Readers’ Advisory and collection diversity, as well as behind-the-scenes access to awards selection processes.  Attendees will also get the chance to share book recommendations with fellow book lovers or learn how to get more involved in a book award selection process at 2 Brown Bag Lunches on Tuesday!  A sample schedule for Book Lovers can be found below.  Be sure to keep an eye out for Pt. 2 of this feature which will highlight book signings and offerings at the Conference Book Store.


  • 9-9:50am, ALSC’S Notable (Outstanding! Distinguished! Just Plain Great!) Children’s Books – Elizabeth Burns & Ellen Pozzi
    • Learn ALSC’s process for developing this list of books of ‘especially commendable quality’ which ‘exhibit venturesome creativity.’
  • 10:10-11am, Keynote: Janet Mock
    • Hear from author and "one of the 30 most influential people on the internet"
  • 11:30-12:20pm, George Anastasia
    • NJ Crime Writer & Mob reporter discusses his career, in-depth knowledge of Philly & AC mobsters, and the decline of language arts. 
  • 11:30-12:20pm, David Macaulay
    • Talk by Caldecott award-winning author of Black and White and The Way Things Work Now and artist for children’s portion of 2017 CSLP Summer Reading Program.

  • Brown Bag Lunches, 12:30-2pm
    • CSS & YASS Lunch – learn how to get involved in the Children’s and Young Adult Services Sections & about the Garden State Book Awards Selection Process. 
    • ‘Under the Radar’ Lunch – participate in book trivia, 1-2 min lightning book talks preferably on ‘lesser-known gems,’ and share book lists. 
  • 3:10-4pm, Choosing Diversity: Evaluating & Selecting Titles for Your Library’s Collection
    • What should you look for in materials reviews to help you select titles that represent diversity?  What are some of the best titles to offer as alternatives to more mainstream portrayals and viewpoints? What are some of the most controversial titles?  Sharon Rawlins, Elizabeth Burns, and Ellen Pozzi offer answers. 
  • 3:10-4pm, Marc Aronson
    • Non-fiction/YA author joins other Rutgers authors to introduce new publications, including his book (due out March 28th) on the invention of modern photo journalism. 
  • 4:10-5pm, Authors and Libraries: A Partnership for Literacy
    •  Find out what happens when authors collaborate with libraries.  Panel discussion features NJ authors Melanie Conklin, Laura Shovan, and Marina Budhos.


  • Garden State Book Awards Luncheon, 12:30-2:20pm
    • Featuring Justina Ireland, author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows
  • 2:30-3:20pm, NJ Authors Speak
    • 3 Authors speak about their books: Dr. Richard Veit’s Envisioning New Jersey: An Illustrated History of the Garden State, David Veasey’s New Jersey’s Architecture Told in 100 Buildings, and Dr. Paul G.E. Clemens’ Rutgers Since 1945
  • 2:30-3:20pm, Readers’ Advisory for Paraprofessionals
    • Learn how you can help train your paraprofessional staff in this essential service from presenters Ilene Lefkowitz, C.L. Quillen, and Cynthia Lambert. 
  • 3:40-4:30pm – Chris GrabensteinVia Skype, Author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library joins others for a presentation that promotes the ‘Escape the Library Challenge’ as a program or activity for all ages.     

Now ain't that the truth? Looking forward to our fellow book lovers uniting at #njla17! Stay tuned for more information on the bookstore and author signings to come!

Michael Stirm and the 2016-2017 Conference Committee

And the Award Goes to...

Apr 1 2017 - 10:32am

The NJLA Annual Conference is an event we always look forward to: a chance to meet our colleagues, do some networking, and learn valuable tricks of the trade. But we also love to celebrate the great work that’s been done over the past year by librarians and library supporters all across New Jersey. That’s why the Honors & Awards Subcommittee is busy preparing for the annual NJLA Awards Reception!

Come for the hors d'oeuvres and refreshments, stay for the suspense: Who are our Rising Stars? Who were our Library Champions in 2016? And whose name will appear on the Librarian of the Year plaque? We’re also proud to be announcing the College & University Awards at the event this year, for the first time. There is so much to celebrate throughout our state!

All questions will be answered on Tuesday, April 25, from 6-8 p.m. in Wildwood 1! Attendance is free and open to everyone, but don’t forget that early bird conference registration ends April 1 and the chance to register online ends on April 10. (Yes, you can still register for Conference on-site.)

The Awards Reception will also observe NJLA’s 125th anniversary. NJLA President Chris Carbone and Executive Director Pat Tumulty will offer a toast and some remarks to commemorate this grand occasion. Thanks to NJLA’s 125th Anniversary Committee for their help in putting this year’s event together – you might even find some special treats at your seat!

See you all in Atlantic City!

NJLA Honors & Awards Reception
Tuesday, April 25
6 -8 p.m.
Wildwood Room 1

Michael Pucci
Chair, Honors & Awards Subcommittee

Kate Jaggers and the 2016-2017 Conference Committee

#NJLA17 Programming Spotlight: Young Adult Services Section

Mar 29 2017 - 3:56pm
First, for the unfamiliar, a message from our sponsors (aka, our current YASS President):
The YA Services Section is all about teens and services for teens.  While many who attend our meetings are those who work primarily in Teen and Youth Services, we really need to hear the voices of many kinds of librarians, from all kinds of libraries.  Why?  Because teens, like young children, are not limited to a particular ethnicity, environment, religion or gender orientation but unlike young children; they are searching for things outside of their immediate family unit.  Some teens are looking for a safe space, some for a place to hang with friends, some for volunteer opportunites, and some are looking for a place to belong.  Teens inevitably become adults, and while many will have fond memories of the libraries from their childhood, it is their memories of their teenaged years that will help them decide whether the library is an essential part of their community, or a relic filled with things they don't need.  Young Adult services are always challenging but can be equally rewarding.  If you work with, plan events for, or interact with teens; consider becoming a member of the YA Services Section and getting involved. 
Our meetings are informative, collaborative and supportive. As members of the YA Section we work on the Garden State Teen Book Award Ballots, plan NJLA conference programs, as well as Toolbox sessions, unconferences and more.  We need to hear your voices at our meetings so that all types of libraries and all kinds of teens are represented.  Many School and YA Librarians are working on a wide array of job duties, and may not have anyone else to ask for advice. At our meetings we make time to share our knowledge, our triumphs and our failures and learn from each other in an effort to make ALL of our libraries better and build a true community throughout the state. 
Saleena Davidson 
YA Services Section, President
YA & New Adult Librarian
South Brunswick Public Library
Now, back to our regular programming.

CSS did such a great job that it’s a hard act to follow but YASS has some truly exceptional programming prepared for #NJLA17! Teen librarians obviously know how all the cool kids talk now, and came prepared with memes.

teen librarians.jpg

Oh yeah, we are hip. So let’s roll right into it, shall we?

YASS is cosponsoring so many great programs with CSS that some of them were already covered by Cassie last week! However YASS isn’t only partnering with our fellow youth service librarians, but also with many other sections for programs such as:

Library Workers Today: Strong Staff Equals Strong Service

Monday, April 24, 2017 1:00-4:30 PM

YASS has two preconferences this year, and how will you choose which one to go to? In this program, the presenters are talking about doing more with less, and what teen librarian doesn’t know how stretched the budget can be when it finally reaches the YA department? Cosponsored by CUS, Diversity and Outreach, PR, and Urban Libraries, come and learn how to give your best at work while also making sure that you’re taking care of yourself and healthy enough to do your best while you’re there.

Once preconference is over, YASS has programming on both main days of conference, so make sure you stick around!

Not sure what to do about lunch on Tuesday? Only going to the Garden State Teen Book Awards Luncheon on Wednesday and fending for yourself on Tuesday? Grab your brown bag lunch and join CSS and YASS at the CSS & YASS Brown Bag Lunch from 12:30-2:00 PM on Tuesday, April 25th. Network with other YS librarians, and come talk about how to get involved with the section of your choice.

Authors and Libraries: A Partnership for Literacy April 25th, 2017 from 4:10 PM-5:00 PM.

Our lovely flyer showcases the three authors speaking on this panel including Melanie Conklin, Laura Shovan, and Marina Budhos. How do libraries pair with authors, especially local authors, to promote literacy? Well, these ladies are here to tell you. And for us, meeting an author is like meeting a rock star.

Authors and libraries (1).png

On Wednesday is the big event! Do not miss out on your chance to see Justina Ireland speak at the Garden State Teen Book Award Luncheon. Even if you’re not a youth services librarian, it’s a great place to sit, chat with other librarians, and get a catered lunch where we always book an amazing speaker.

Justina Ireland is the author of two YA books, and we are beyond excited to have her as our guest for this year’s GSTBA! So go buy your luncheon ticket! You didn’t forget, did you?


After a nice lunch, why not try the Escape Room Challenge on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 from 3:40-4:30 PM  as a last note to end conference?

Escape rooms are still highly popular, so how exactly does one build an escape room? Inspired by Chris Grabenstein’s books, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (with a Skype appearance from the author!), librarians will explain how to build a fun escape room for all ages!

There are so many fantastic programs at conference that it’s hard to narrow down to just a few. Check out the full schedule for everything that’s on offer because YASS has such an amazing selection.


See you at Conference!

Stacey Shapiro and the 2016-2017 NJLA Conference Committee

#NJLA17 Programming Spotlight: Professional Development Committee and Leadership & Education Subcommittee

Mar 27 2017 - 12:14pm

Why do you attend Conference? To network? To scope out new vendors? To buffet binge?


Even if you answered “yes” to all three of those reasons, undoubtedly you are also attending for professional development! The Professional Development Committee and Leadership and Education Subcommittee (got all that?) have prepared amazing programs to make sure you leave Conference feeling energized, inspired, and ready to be the best librarian you can be.

The Professional Development Committee is #blessed to have two committed and effective co-chairs this year, Theresa Agostinelli and Alyssa Valenti. They both look forward to NJLA and all the sessions PD is sponsoring and co-sponsoring. For Alyssa, “Focusing on professional development is such an important aspect of librarianship. Having the opportunity to attend so many diverse programs is why I continue to attend the NJLA conference every year. I am especially looking forward to attending the session, There’s an Imposter in the Library… and it’s Me! (Wednesday at 9 AM). I think many people at various stages of their careers suffer from feeling like imposters even if this certainly isn’t the case! I think the session will help me step out of my own box and give me a new perspective on being a librarian”.

Theresa feels similarly: “Programs at the NJLA Conference and continuing education events offered throughout the year are invaluable to our growth as library employees and to libraries as a whole. It is always worthwhile to hear different perspectives and learn new ways of doing things. Connecting with colleagues that are working towards the same goals, regardless of job titles and library types, is invigorating. One program that I am looking forward to at this year’s NJLA Conference is, Agree to Disagree without Being Disagreeable (Tuesday at 11:30 AM). Communication plays such an important role in libraries and in our lives. I am anxious to learn from the talented speakers”.

Further reinforcing the theme of self-awareness and personal improvement, the Leadership and Education Subcommittee is sponsoring Introverted Leadership: How Introversion Leads to Success (Tuesday at 9 AM). Publications on leadership have been praising the qualities of the introverted leader. What are those qualities? How do they work? How do those traits lead an organization to success? Join the subcommittee for a panel discussion on Introverted Leadership. James Keehbler, Karen Pifher, Susan Quinn, and Joan Serpico will all describe how their inner introvert has led to success.

These three sessions are just the tip of the professional development iceberg. Read on for a list of additional programs designed to help you live up to your full potential. See you in AC!


  • There Is No Box: Innovation and Your Whys, What Ifs, and Why Nots?
    • 9 AM – 9:50 AM
  • Introverted Leadership: How Introversion Leads to Success
    • 9 AM – 9:50 AM
  • Agree to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
    • 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
  • WiFi Hotspot Lending: Building Digitally Inclusive Communities
    • 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
  • Rutgers Book Showcase
    • 3:10 PM – 4 PM
  • Instructional Assessment Strategies at Your Library!
    • 4:10 PM – 5 PM


  • There’s an Imposter in the Library...and it’s Me!
    • 9 AM – 9:50 AM
  • Develop Your Development Skills: Effective Fundraising for Your Library
    • 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM

Adriana Mamay and the 2016-2017 NJLA Conference Committee

Let's Get Virtual

Mar 24 2017 - 11:39am

Technology is amazing. So amazing, that you don't have to be in New Jersey to get the benefits of #njla17!

Can't make it to conference this year? Out of state librarian? Home snuggled up in your PJs with your pet? Check out our Virtual Preconference options! Those who register for one or both days of conference will automatically get access to these offerings, but if you are unable to join us in person, you are welcome to register for JUST these additional virtual sessions! What an amazing opportunity to expand your professional development in an affordable and convenient way!

You can also keep up with us virtually at conference at the resources below:

Follow us on Twitter at @njla_conf

Follow us on Facebook at New Jersey Library Association and 2017 NJLA Conference

Follow us on Storify April 24-26 at NJLA Conference

Hope to see you all there April 24-26 (whether that be the virtual or the in-person you!) **Online regular attendee registration will be accepted through April 10 (please expect to receive email confirmation within 24 hours of submitting your registration) or you can register on-site.

Emily Witkowski and the 2016-2017 NJLA Conference Committee

What are you waiting for? Early Bird Registration Ends April 1!

Mar 23 2017 - 4:04pm

So, I understand you haven’t registered for the NJLA conference yet. What are you waiting for??

We all know that there will be amazing Pre-conferences, Programs, Luncheons, Keynotes and Special Events. There are also…

Comfy hotel rooms!


And awesome nightlife!


Places to curl up and read…

And places to try your luck…

Plus, the gelato is AMAZING!

You'll be like a kid in a candy store! (Or a librarian in a luxury conference center and casino... is there truly a difference?)

Don’t miss NJLA 2017 – early bird registration ends April 1!!!

Kimberly Paone and the 2016-2017 NJLA Conference Committee

#NJLA17 Programming Spotlight: Urban Libraries Section

Mar 21 2017 - 12:19pm

We Are All Urban Now

In 21st century America, we know that the poor and the homeless are always with us.  Whether through a housing crisis, mental illness, addiction or job loss, the homeless are always with us.  They use our bathrooms.  They attend our programs and consume our food offerings.  They use our computers and our wi-fi.

Once upon a time, these individuals may have been defined as an ‘urban’ issue, but we know that that is no longer true.  New Jersey, which is one of the most urbanized states in the country, has homeless populations in every niche and corner of the state.  Urban libraries may have been the first to be affected by this issue, but it is an issue that is certainly no longer unique to urban settings.

When it comes to many of the social issues of our time, urban libraries are in the forefront.  Budget woes?   Aging infrastructures?  Internet connectivity?  Transportation concerns?  We were there first, and we know the terrain well.

Our issues are your issues.  Join the Urban Libraries Section of NJLA to address these issues and many more.  Because, wherever you are, whatever library you currently work in, these issues are coming to you, if they’re not with you already.

MaryFaith Chmiel, President, Urban Libraries Section

The Urban Libraries Section, in partnership with the Diversity & Outreach Section, will be sponsoring a Dress for Success Donation Drive during the NJLA conference. They will be accepting donations of gently used professional clothing: suits, dresses, ties, shoes to help the young people mentored by Covenant House Atlantic City. Do you have some work-appropriate outfits that no longer fit? Dry clean and donate! There will be a table in the pre-function area collecting your donations from 9am on Tuesday to 5pm on Wednesday. Let’s give back to the community and help these young people find success in the business world!


Urban Libraries is co-sponsoring two fantastic pre-conferences this year:

Libraries without Limits: Serving Developmentally Challenged Patrons of All Ages and Library Workers Today: Strong Staff Equals Strong Service. Both will take place on Monday, 4/24, from 1-4:30pm.

And, they are co-sponsoring six not-to-be-missed programs!

On Tuesday, April 25:

WiFi Hotspot Lending: Building Digitally Inclusive Communities (11:30am-12:20pm; Wildwood 20&21)

Since the 1990s, libraries have provided free in-house internet connections and computer access to their communities. After closing time, many of their patrons that lack internet access at home remain in the vicinity of the library trying to access their public WiFi connections. Come hear how organizations such as Jersey On and Mobile Beacon are making it increasingly easier for libraries to build digitally inclusive communities through WiFi hotspot lending.


Know Your Community: Using Demographic Data to Better Serve Your Communities (11:30am-12:20pm; Wildwood 12&13)

Correlating with national trends, NJ communities are continuing to see increased diversification linguistically, ethnically and culturally. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to find local demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, including new immigrant populations, learn about tools that allow users to map the Census demographic information in order to visualize and target hyper-local communities and understand how to apply the local demographic data to library services and practices.



Home Delivery in the Digital Age (4:10-5:00pm; Wildwood 12&13)

How do you make materials accessible to those community members who are unable to get to the library? Sure, there are digital resources, but come and find out the methods different libraries use to delivery materials, including how to get started, issues to consider and best practices.


On Wednesday, April 26:

Helping the Dream: Supporting Undocumented Students and Patrons (9:00-9:50am; Wildwood 14&15)

This session will go in depth to give us an understanding of undocumented students and young adults, along with the barriers, pathways and support available for them to obtain a college degree and beyond. We'll cover the DREAM Act, DACA, scholarships, demographics and best practices for librarians to help patrons who may be facing these issues.


Fade to Books: Barbershop Literacy Initiative (11:30am-12:20pm; Wildwood 14&15)

Discussing the cultural importance of barbershops within the Black and Latino communities, along with the creation and implementation of the Barbershop Literacy Initiative, which the NJ State Library has expressed interest in taking statewide.


Librarians as Property Managers: A Crash Course {Because Stuff Happens} (3:40-4:30pm; Wildwood 25&26)

This program will focus on how to get to know your building and keep it maintained, as well as understanding the infrastructure that makes your building work so you can communicate with outside maintenance and repair contractors as well as your public works department.


Don’t miss out - register for NJLA today! Early bird registration ends on March 25th!


Kimberly Paone and the 2016-2017 NJLA Conference Committee

Need More Reasons to Register for #njla17?

Mar 20 2017 - 7:19pm

We are starting to see some stellar promotion for #njla17 conference programs, just in time for the final week of early bird registration rates! See some of what we have seen come across our (virtual) desks and keep sending them our way!

Hope our sections and committees are getting some ideas for promotions, and everyone else is getting some ideas about registering!

Emily Witkowski and the 2016-2017 NJLA Conference Committee


Subscribe to Conference Updates