Saturday, October 13, 2012

BRLA Fall 2012 Convention

Today I attended the Border Regional Library Association (BRLA) Convention at the Rio Grand EPCC campus. BRLA is an organization founded in 1966 for the promotion of library services in the El Paso, Las Cruces, NM and Cd. Juarez area. It was also co-sponsored by REFORMA and TxLA. The conference was short, lasting only until after lunch, but was enjoyable. I saw many people that I have worked with in the past that I hadn't seen for a while and a few newer faces, too.

I attended two workshops, a District 6 meeting of the Texas Library Association (TxLA) and had a great lunch with an inspiring keynote speaker.

My first workshop was about bullying, especially how it related specifically to young people who are LGBT and Latino. This was interesting and presented some information about different resources that I wasn't aware of already. A few things that I learned that I thought were interesting were that bullies and the bullied are both more likely to have problems later in life. It seems obvious that those who are bullied would have problems, but those who are the bullies have problems, too. They're different problems, but no less serious. I was also surprised to find out how many Hispanic families are accepting of LGBT-identified people. There is also a resource for Christians who identify as LGBT that is accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This is a good resource for anyone who lives in a traditional or religious community.

Here is a list of the resources I learned about today from the first workshop:

  • Trevor Project: Suicide prevention and help for LGBT youth. Includes chat feature for young people who aren't comfortable calling someone on the phone for help. Also has a youth-friendly social media space.
  • It Gets Better: Videos and testimonials from adults reminding young people that things do get better, especially when you are out of high school!
  • Believe Out Loud: Christian web site embracing LGBT people.
For a full list, open this PDF from the presentation.

The next part of the conference for me was the District 6 meeting. El Paso, TX is part of District 6 in TxLA. The President-Elect, Dr. Yvonne Chandler was at the meeting and it was Cheryl Feldman's last meeting as District 6 president. Dr. Chandler talked about upcoming TxLA plans and Cheryl encouraged us all to keep promoting libraries. We voted on various positions, and I'm now an alternate representative! 

My next workshop was about UTEP's special collection's department archive project. UTEP has been restoring and making their many archival images available online. The process that each photo and negative goes through is painstaking and sensitive work. The staff estimate that if each photo from the collection was lined up end to end they would reach the moon and back! The image collections can be found online here.

We were served a great lunch and then listened to the keynote speaker, Luis Herrera, who recently won Librarian of the Year from Library Journal and was appointed to the National Museum and Library
Services Board by President Obama. In his speech, he discussed how libraries should have a digital vision of the future and that librarians need to become experts in using new technologies. He said that libraries provide a needed access to eLearning that some people would not have access to otherwise. Herrera also discussed how libraries and librarians are digital "culture keepers" in our society in the sense that we archive and save information for future generations. He said librarians are "problem solvers" and at the end, he challenged each  of us to share our library "story." Luis Herrera shared his: one of his worst summers was when he and his brothers lost their library books. During this time, there used to be library "police" who would come to your house and try to get the lost books back. He says he lived in terror every time he heard a knock on the door!

Great conference!

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