Awesome Shit to Do at NYLA 2017

text - awesome shit happening at NYLA 2017 surrounded by floating smiling poop emojiIt’s that time once again. The time when librarians across New York State make their annual migration to Saratoga Springs, to learn, and party, and also to party..

Where was I? Oh right, NYLA Annual Conference! It’s coming up in LESS THAN A WEEK! How did that even happen?! That means it must be time for the 3rd Annual “Awesome Shit Happening at NYLA” List, where we highlight cool events, presentations by library staff who have shown up to an ULU things once or twice, stuff library staff who have shown up to an ULU thing once or twice might be interested in, and frankly, events with an open bar (or cash bar, we aren’t picky.)

There are a bunch of really great things going on this year, so see below for a schedule of highlights!

Say Hey to ULU at the Conference!
We’ll be set up with a fun display in the hallway all conference, but pop by and check in with us during the exhibits only time. Try on a creepy advocacy bird head. Sign up to volunteer! Join a committee! All the things!


NYLA After Dark – Trivia Fundraiser
Thursday- 10:00pm – who knows!
It’s been a long day, but you can’t go to bed now!!! Not when there is trivia to be had. Join ULU for a late night of fun, and trivia you’ll admit to knowing, but not voluntarily! This event will be to raise money for the NYLA Disaster Relief Fund (let’s hope that this is not a disaster for the organizer’s careers while we are at it).

Spring Trail Fun-Run
Friday – 6:30 AM – 8:00 AM
Wake up, pop an aspirin, drink a gallon of water and stumble out to the Spring Trail Fun Run! On this out and back run, we will take a slightly hilly 5k course around the Skidmore Campus. Sidewalks, bike lanes and soft gravel paths will keep us all safe, but since this is a pre-dawn event, headlamp and reflective gear are suggested. Approximately 3.5 miles.
Registration for this event is $8 per person.  Proceeds to benefit the NYLA Sustainability Initiative Fund.

Conference Programs You Might Think are Awesome

4:15 PM-5:15 PM
Libraries are a Powerful Platform for Change
Libraries are a powerful platform for positive change in the lives of those we serve. We can change the world, one library at a time. Raise your awareness and be inspired to own your role as a sustainability leader in your community. Our goal: Ensure that New York’s communities thrive, bounce back from disruption and are infused with new and better life for everyone. Libraries can lead the way. This event will combine the conceptual with the practical. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of how to position the library as a community leader, create mutually beneficial partnerships and inspire future investment in the library.
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Mid-Hudson Library System
Matthew Bollerman, Hauppauge Public Library

9am – 10am
Stalk Your Elected Officials
You can’t always convince decision makers that libraries are awesome, but we can help you convince them that libraries make a difference in something they really care about. Rather than saying “Hey, Libraries are great, you should support us,” you can say “Hey, do you want a solution for those issues that are important to you? We already exist!” Learn to create a database of your local decision makers, what they care about most, and customized talking points, so you and your advocates can always be ready for that surprise advocacy moment.
Lauren Comito, Queens Library
Christian Zabriskie, Yonkers Public Library

TeleStory: Keeping Families Connected
The program will look at how BPL’s TeleStory program connects families with incarcerated loved ones and offers supports — from literacy to referrals for reentry services — to incarcerated individuals, their families and their communities. The program will describe: the incarcerated and reentry populations and the particular barriers they face; how the TeleStory program works in concert with in-person jail visits; why public libraries are the ideal space for projects like TeleStory; how we envision the project developing our work with this most heavily marginalized population.
Nick Higgins, Brooklyn Public Library
Michael Carey, Brooklyn Public Library

New To NYLA? Start Here!
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Welcome to NYLA! If you want to learn about library advocacy, how to become more involved, or have ever wondered what the organization does for libraries, please join us.

Connecting with Patrons in Poverty (ULU Sponsored session)
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Learn how to create an outreach plan that targets different types of patrons in poverty, including the homeless and people who are of lower socioeconomic status. Learn effective communication skills and a deeper understanding of differences in communication styles. Gain an understanding of barriers created by poverty and how policies made in the library can contribute to those barriers.
Virginia Wescott, Troy Public Library
Anita Favretto, New York Public Library
Kim Mcmann, New York State Community Action Association

Let’s Get Graphic
3:00 pm – 4:00pm
From comics to manga, learn how to incorporate graphic novels in your library! A panel of experts discuss their experience with collection development, censorship, education, and programming with graphic novels. Librarians with experience working with children, teens, adults, English language learners, and academic libraries share their advice on using graphic novels to serve their patrons. Learn how to develop a graphic novel collection, anticipate and overcome challenges, and how graphic novels can best serve your community.
Joshua Firer, Levittown Public Library
Rosemary Kiladitis, Queens Library
Michael Buono, Patchogue-Medford Public Library
Lissetty Thomas-Johnson, Brentwood Public Library

Build Your Digital Community Voice
Conference participants will engage in an interactive panel discussion aimed at exploring Brooklyn Public Library’s oral history project, Our Streets, Our Stories and BKLYN Mixtape, a podcast of local Brooklyn makers, tech folks, and artists. Take advantage of easily accessible forms of digital media to create and share fully functional visual and audio stories from your patrons and community members. We’ll talk about tools like SoundCloud, iTunes, Tumblr, and BKLYN’s website and social media platforms. Brooklyn Public Library, a system with 60 branches serving over 2.5 million residents, is well positioned to discover, record, and preserve these community stories. Our panelists will share practical tips for bringing out the best stories from patrons and will share ideas for attendees interested in launching or enhancing their own projects through podcast production.
Taina Evans, Brooklyn Public Library
Phillip Bond, Brooklyn Public Library
Stephanie Elstro, Brooklyn Public Library

10:45 AM-11:45 AM
Hooray for Social Justice!
Social justice is imperative for a functional democracy. As libraries are in the democracy business, social justice is part of our core mission. We’ve heard from library people who believe in social justice, but don’t think they should take explicit stands on issues of race, sexuality, gender, religion, nation of origin, or class discrimination. They are concerned that the community will perceive the library as a politically partisan entity. In Hooray for Social Justice! we will dive into the difference between partisanship and speaking for our core values, and try actions every library can implement to build a culture of social justice. Note! This is not a sit and listen program! This is a do and discuss program! You’ve been warned.
Margo Gustina, Southern Tier Library System
Eli Guinnee, Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System

No Free internet? No ULU. #savetheinternet

fire breathing unicorn being ridden by a masked cat weilding a laser gun in front of a rainbow. text - keep the internet weird. defend net neutrality

Please join us in support of the Internet-Wide Day of Action to Support Net Neutrality.

I remember when the World Wide Web began. No I was not part of Arpanet but I did write & edit copy for a web design company in Boston in 96 (did a ton of work on the first site for Zildjian). The web was wild and exciting and as a guy who already loved libraries I was astonished at the information and access that was there right at the beginning.

The digital tap is still a wonderful geyser. You can access everything from Bible commentary to esoteric books of ritual magic and every conceivable point of reference in between. The web is a major avenue of commerce of course but it’s also incredibly empowering for the little guy. Urban Librarians Unite could never have the reach and output that we have had without free and open access to the web. If we had to pay to put this in front of you right now then you would not be seeing it.

This is what is at stake as the FCC tries to kill net neutrality and allow the isps and big cable companies to set the policy. The web will go from a fascinating crazy open space that you can lose yourself in for days, where you can be who you want, see what you want, CREATE what you want to just another queue in our velvet rope society. If you can afford the ticket you will still be able to play. If you are big you can throw some sway and get to the front of the line every time, if you are a small org or tiny company then you are stuck hanging out in the back. If you want access to the latest popular consumer culture you’ll be set but cable companies will get to decide what you don’t see and they will do so with the direction of your community’s self-appointed moral guardians. Profit shall be the sole and only measure of worth and usage. If you can’t pay up and pay well then you are out of the game.

Opponents of net neutrality say that it is unfair to businesses (which remain very profitable BTW), and that ultimately it is not government’s place to interfere in the open market. These arguments are frankly utter and complete bullshit.

The whole “America works best in a free and open market” trope has blown up in our faces time and time again. When you take off regulations and consumer protections the big guys get bigger, the little guys go under, and the consumer loses out because there is no competition left. Look around your community and see how many independent pharmacies there are. We all know what happens to Mom and Pop shops when Walmart rolls into town.

It’s ridiculous to see the internet as non-essential in America in the 21st century. It’s how we buy goods, watch TV, listen to music, and connect with family and friends. It pervades every part of America’s private and public lives which is EXACTLY why it is essential that it be maintained as a fair and neutral space with equitable access and pricing.

If we let it get away we will never get it back again.

Please join Urban Librarians Unite, the American Library Association, and just about every online company you know and like in standing strong for Net Neutrality.

Christian Zabriskie
Executive Director

Libraries Serve Refugees

We here at Urban Librarians Unite believe that libraries can be a source of social good and a key vector to improving our society. One of the areas that libraries have been doing incredible work in is immigrant and refugee services. Libraries in America are working every day to help people become citizens, learn English, and find their place in the society.

We are trying to support that important work by making resources available to libraries serving refugees. This is a huge topic and we are not pretending to be experts in this field. Our goal is to gather information, make it as widely available as possible, and do whatever we can to secure resources for libraries serving these populations.

Please join us in the effort and share any information or contacts which you have in this area. We need researchers and practitioners to help build this into a resource that can help vulnerable members of our society.

Last Chance for Conference Proposals for UL Con 17!


We set the official deadline at midnight EST December 28th but we will give you ONE MORE DAY With the crazy number of beloved people falling to 2016 we figured you might need it.

Please submit your proposal here.

We have always taken pride in booking new speakers who may not have presented at conference before. It doesn’t matter if you are a library rock star or a first time presenter we want to hear what you have to say.

Feel free to be as radical as you want to be. This one is all about DANGEROUS Librarianship. We know you are full of crazy ideas, share them with all of us at the only library conference focusing on frontline urban librarianship.

Once again, submit HERE, we want to hear what you have to say!

Awesome Shit Happening at NYLA 2016!

AWESOME SHIT HAPPENING AT NYLA 2016 WITH POOP EMOJIIt’s that time of year again! NYLA Annual Conference! Like every year, there is a whole metric crapton (yes this is a unit of measurement, trust us), of Awesome Shit™ happening at the conference.  So listen up because this is the list of all the things you simply MUST DO this year.

Service Day

Thursday, November 3rd, 1-4pm

Traveling up to the conference on Wednesday? Need something to do before dinner? Urban Librarians Unite is sponsoring the first NYLA Conference Service Day. This year we will be helping the Franklin Community Center clean and organize their kitchen and pantry. Service Day will be held at the Franklin Community Center from 1 – 4pm on Wednesday, November 2nd.

Space is super limited, so please register on Eventbrite to hold your spot!

Fail Night

Thursday, November 3rd, 10pm

Want to spend Thursday night at NYLA watching people talk about their horrible failures and moments of utter incompetence with an cash bar? OH HELL YES YOU DO!

This year’s NYLA After Dark, hosted by Urban Librarians Unite, will be a veritable buffet of FAIL. You get 7 minutes to talk about something that tanked miserably and what you learned from it. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll commiserate, we’ll try not to laugh at you, but really, with THAT mistake what do you expect?

Location TBD

Battledecks/Lip Synch Battle

Friday November 4th, 5:30 – 7pm

Do you have the courage cleverness and elan to participate in full contact competitive public speaking? If you lack the courage to get in game do you like to laugh hilariously as people make public spectacles of themselves? If the answer to either of those was YES then you need to come to NYLA Battledecks. See people try desperately to weave together a talk from rando images (oh yeah and we expect you to be funny while you do it).

New Yorkers for Better Libraries – Karaoke Night!

Friday, November 4th – 9:30 pm

Karaoke, hilarity, and the thrill of public performance (or the fear of public embarrassment?), all for the best cause- better library funding! (Christian promises to sing some Hootie and the Blowfish!) ((“NO I FREAKING DON’T”)) (Yes he does!)

All funds raised will go directly to the New Yorkers for Better Libraries, a political action committee urging New York’s elected officials to support state funding for libraries.

ULU’s Conference Session!

15 minutes of development

Saturday November 4th, 9:30am

In 2015, the Education Committee of Urban Librarians Unite created the webinar series “Coffee Break Webinar.” The series highlights the current projects of librarians today and makes them accessible to librarians who have very little time for professional development. Within fifteen minutes, the speaker creates a presentation based on what makes them tick the most. Find out the tech side and the content side of how to make your project shine.


Marissa Richardson, Queens Library
Lauren Comito, Queens Library
Brian Hasbrouck, Brooklyn Public Library

Say Hey to ULU at the Conference!

We’ll be set up with a fun display in the hallway all conference, but pop by and check in with us during the exhibits only time. Try on a creepy advocacy bird head. Sign up to volunteer! Join a committee! All the things!