2024 RILA Conference Recap - Thursday, May 23rd

Saturday, June 08, 2024 11:29 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

Submitted by Rosemary Driscoll, Library Media Specialist, East Providence High School

It had been several years since I last attended the RILA Conference, and it didn't disappoint. Being back inside the Providence Public Library where I worked as a reference librarian in the 1980s was an added treat. As a high school librarian, I chose to attend the Thursday sessions, which focused on school libraries. Shout out to all the presenters. I would have loved to attend all of them, but sadly, I had to choose!

Book Talk Blitz

Alyssa Taft and Sarah Hunicke managed to summarize 75 YA books in this session in an entertaining, engaging, and informative way. To say their knowledge and enthusiasm were impressive is an understatement. I left that session not only eager to order many of the books for my high school but also excited to share that presentation with the English faculty.

Legislative Action Update

This session was presented by Ed Garcia, Bill Lancellotta, Marianne Mirando, and Cheryl Space and facilitated by Beatrice Pulliam. The panelists provided an update on pending statewide legislative efforts concerning Rhode Island libraries, including fair pricing for eBooks, freedom to read, and the first attempt to mandate a school librarian in every public school in the state. This last effort is especially important to me, and I look forward to contributing to the cause. Marianne Mirando discussed her fight against a book challenge at her high school. Her courage and activism were truly inspiring.

Keynote Speaker: Courtney Pentland

Courtney is a high school librarian in Nebraska as well as the 2023-2024 AASL President. Courtney’s theme for her presentation was “Finding Joy in the Journey.” Essentially, her message was that while the work and the challenges school librarians face--and there are plenty--can be daunting, we should not allow those challenges to weigh so heavily on us that we forget how gratifying, rewarding, and awesome being a school librarian can be. She shared strategies and techniques that she finds successful in engaging her school community. One stood out to me: she has upwards of 125 students in the library during all of the school lunches--and she allows them to eat!!! A courageous endeavor.


This session was presented by Nomi Hague, Cranston Public Library; Rebecca Lelli, Narragansett Public Library; Michaela Reed, Blackrock Elementary; and Marissa Salvas, William D'Abate Elementary, for RICBA; Elena Rios, Cranston Public Library, and Britt Donahue, West Warwick Public Library, for RIMSBA; and Maria Cotto, Pawtucket Library, and Betsy Montes, Providence Country Day, for RILBA. The speakers highlighted the 2025 RI Children's Book, Middle School Book, and the Latino Book Award nominees. So many books, so little time! A truly inspiring presentation of the titles being nominated for these awards.

Library Tour

A big thank you to the staff members who provided tours of PPL. It certainly is a beautiful building and a welcoming educational and community space. What a walk down memory lane for me. The library I knew and worked in during the 1980s has transformed into a space equipped to meet today’s patrons where they are while respecting the past. Thank you to PPL for hosting this year’s conference.

"Rhode Island Library Association" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Rhode Island Library Association, P.O. Box 6765, Providence, RI 02940

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