• Saturday, August 07, 2021 2:05 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.

    Questions or suggestions for this column? Please send an email to communications@rilibraries.org.

    August 2021 Spotlight: School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI)

    This month, with the new school year right around the corner, we talked to Joan Eldredge-Mouradjian, President of School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI). Joan is the School Library Media Specialist at Narragansett Pier School in Narragansett, RI.

    What is the mission or purpose of SLRI?

    Our mission is three-fold: to promote the improvement of instruction through opportunities that broaden the professional knowledge, understanding, and experience of our members; to provide leadership in defining, interpreting, and promoting effective library media programs to the community; and to serve as facilitator between the State Department of Education, Office of Library and Information Services, professional organizations, and the general public. 

    What made you personally interested in being involved with this organization?

    I was really inspired to become an active member of SLRI by my friend Sarah Hunicke, who is a past president of the organization. Sarah is passionate about libraries. I was always a member of SLRI, but I think I took for granted all the work and advocacy the organization accomplishes on behalf of school librarians. Over the past years, some districts have cut librarian positions at all levels, reduced funding, and really minimized the importance of a school library staffed by a Library Media Specialist. I thought it was time to give back to my beloved profession and the organization that has supported libraries.  

    What is SLRI’s proudest achievement?

    After nearly two years of work with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the RILA Legislative Action Committee, SLRI made a presentation to the RI Council on Elementary and Secondary Education requesting that RIDE endorse the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National School Library Standards. At the end of the meeting, the Council voted unanimously to accept the Standards. This endorsement reinforces the importance of librarians and school libraries in Rhode Island and recognizes the value of a standards-based library curriculum, which is a critical component of student academic success.

    RIDE has since officially endorsed the AASL National School Library Standards, which are used to guide school library curriculum in RI. The endorsement solidified RIDE’s belief that strong school libraries and certified school librarians play a key role in student learning and achievement. These Standards emphasize important aspects of student learning and development that allow students to develop the abilities to think, to create, to share, and to grow. 

    What ongoing challenges does SLRI face?

    The biggest challenge for SLRI is to ensure that school librarians are recognized for their role in the success of all students. The roles and responsibilities of school librarians have evolved in recent decades to meet the needs of today’s learning initiatives. It is more important than ever, in this age of information and disinformation, that students are given the research skills necessary for college and career readiness and the skills to be informed and active citizens. Now, with the plethora of information available to students, librarians are needed more than ever.

    If money and time were not an issue, what is SLRI’s number one wish list item to support its mission or purpose?

    If money were no object, SLRI would ensure that every school in Rhode Island was staffed with a certified Library Media Specialist, and that the LMS would have a budget that allowed for the purchase of proper resources for every student. 

    What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for SLRI to meet its goals or objectives?

    Being part of RILA has made SLRI a stronger organization. For example, SLRI and the RILA Legislative Action Committee worked together to promote the adoption of the AASL Standards by RIDE. The Rhode Island Library and Information Network for Kids (RILINK) supports libraries, students, and teachers with training and shared resources. RILINK has been invaluable to the SLRI community. [Editor’s note: RILINK is the membership-based statewide consortium of school libraries.]

    Is SLRI looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?

    One of the goals for SLRI is to encourage all school librarians in Rhode Island to join the organization. Involved members will help SLRI to continue advocating for librarians in RI. Please join SLRI or renew membership by clicking here to access the RILA membership web page. Librarians wishing to become involved in SLRI can click here to visit the SLRI web page and contact any board member for information.

    What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?

    The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. I loved this book because it focuses on a little-known story of female British code breakers in World War II. This is a page-turner, with characters I cared about.

  • Saturday, August 07, 2021 10:25 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    As a RILA member you may have read recently about the dissolution of the COLA section. Some of you may never have heard of the group, so here’s the scoop:


    Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was on the radio, “E.T.” was on the big screen, EPCOT opened in Orlando, FL, a severe recession began in the U.S., and the Coalition of Library Advocates formed.

    Within weeks of the original group’s formation, President Reagan had proposed zero funding for libraries in the federal budget. COLA collected over 7,000 signatures to protest the cut. That spring, COLA members presented the petitions to their Congressional delegation in Washington, DC on Legislative Day. Library funding was preserved.

    COLA began as an outgrowth of the 1979 Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Services, which was held to prepare for the first White House Conference on Library and Information Services. Until 1985, when it was incorporated, COLA was a loose “organization of organizations.”


    By 1984, it became clear that COLA needed to incorporate and to achieve federal nonprofit status. It also became clear that COLA’s membership base should be primarily laypeople with input on the Board from a representative of each of the state’s professional library associations. Funds were needed to carry out its mission, making membership dues a necessity.

    A 1984 conference, “Libraries in the Future of Education: A RI Perspective,” was chaired by Richard Olsen, then Director of the James P. Adams Library at Rhode Island College. This was the library community’s response—the first in the nation—to A Nation at Risk, published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which deplored the poor quality of education in the United States and proposed a fix that said not one word about libraries. COLA’s conference brought keynote speakers, panels of educators, and representatives of public, school, special, and academic libraries together to discuss mutual concerns. It may have been the first time that educators and librarians met together in such a forum. The participants recommended ways of bringing together teachers, school and public librarians, students, and parents. They offered ideas on political action, advocacy, public relations, and—most importantly—the need for groups to communicate with each other.


    COLA is instrumental in helping to pass—by 68% of the vote—the 1986 Rhode Island Constitutional amendment mandating state support of public libraries. Rose Ellen Reynolds, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later a COLA Chair, shepherded the amendment through.


    This set the scene for the 1989 legislation—advocated strongly by COLA—that requires Rhode Island to fund its public libraries by at least 25% of operating expenses. That mandate, combined with a generous state library construction program, makes the State of Rhode Island a national leader in library funding.

    A statewide library fair, held in Warwick Mall. Then-Director of DSLS, Fay Zipkowitz, pranced around the Warwick Mall in a stiflingly hot gorilla suit, exhorting shoppers to learn about library services at the exhibits prepared by all types of Rhode Island libraries and library organizations during a statewide library fair. There were television and computer demonstrations, film showings, and a “Stump the RI Historical Society” exhibit.

     1991 COLA helped to organize the 1991 Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Services in preparation for the second White House Conference. Later, the group agreed on eight top-priority recommendations that became a blueprint for action for the Rhode Island library community. COLA published these priorities in a widely circulated Agenda for the Nineties.

    1994 brought the renowned and hilarious Arch Lustberg to Rhode Island to teach laypeople and professionals techniques for giving testimony and persuading others.


    A conference that brought together library Friends groups and library Trustees to share their experiences in supporting libraries was greeted with enthusiasm.

    COLA Sweethearts: Each year the group honored a local library supporter as their “Sweetheart of the Year,” because the annual meeting had been held in February. These library advocates included the late Senator Claiborne Pell and our current Senator Jack Reed, along with our local grassroots supporters, including Joan Ress Reeves. COLA also awarded scholarships to URI GSLIS students.

  • Saturday, August 07, 2021 10:00 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Greenville Library staff took programming outside -- way out! Hitting the trail, the park, and the library lawn, Greenville staff collaborated with community groups and volunteers to connect with Smithfield patrons.

    Here are a few highlights from the Greenville Library staff from the 2021 Summer Reading program:

    The morning of Thursday, July 15th, shaped up to be a warm summer day and just right for an outdoor program. Children and their parents/caregivers joined volunteer Renee Finlay and Children’s Librarian Babs Wells for the Woodland Whispers Story and Craft program at the Smithfield Conservation Center. The families enjoyed a read aloud story while sharing lively connections about the summer activities they have been doing together. 

    Renee then led a guided hike, which featured the native plants that can be found on the trails. Children and their grown-ups also foraged for leaves, twigs, and other natural materials for the printmaking craft. While using either paintbrushes, sponges, or finger painting, beautiful nature prints were created by children and adults! Many of the patrons who attended this program asked when we can all get together again. Renee and Babs already have plans for another outdoor library program  at the conservation center in October.

    Also on July 15, Children’s Librarian Babs Wells and Assistant Director Cassie Patterson took the newly minted “Greenville Library Book Buggy” on the road to spread the word on summer programs. The buggy was purchased with funds from the OLIS Summer Mini Grant. We packed the cart full of donated books, info on summer at the Greenville Library, and a few surprises for the kids. The cart was a hit among young and old at a food truck and fireworks event held at Deerfield Park in Smithfield. Visiting with patrons we’ve missed seeing at the library and making new friends was the highlight of this outreach effort. We look forward to more adventures in the community with our book buggy.

    Later in July, the library collaborated with Cadence Academy Preschool in Smithfield to present Storytime Safari. Developed by Patty DeFrancesco, this program brought children outside under the library’s sequoia tree.  Children listened to a story read by Patty and then explored stations set up with safari-themed crafts. As they completed each craft, children presented their safari passport to be stamped by one of our volunteers. Participants were able to remain socially distanced as they navigated the stations in small groups.

  • Tuesday, July 27, 2021 3:37 PM | Anonymous

    The Office of Library and Information Services and RILA are partnering to support professional development for individuals interested in advancing their understanding of systemic racism and developing practical skills to foster antiracist library environments. OLIS and RILA will provide a limited number of scholarships for individuals to attend Library Journal’s

    Fostering an Antiracist Library Culture, a 3-week online course that will run virtually on Tuesdays from September 28 - October 12. This opportunity is open to all library staff from any type of RI library and RI public library trustees. Visit the Fostering an Antiracist Library Culture course page (www.libraryjournal.com/?event=equity-in-action-sept-2021) to learn more about the course, see an outline of the schedule and read about the presenters.

    Please complete the online application to be considered for this scholarship, which will cover the full cost of enrolling in the course. OLIS and RILA will announce scholarship winners no later than August 27. Applications are due by August 20 at 4:00 PM
  • Friday, July 02, 2021 3:57 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to the School Librarians of Rhode Island section! Their documentary "Overdue: The Value of School Librarians" was named as an official selection of the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Green Mountain International Film Festival.

    SLRI produced this short documentary-style advocacy film to show the value of school librarians. Anyone is free to view and share the video to use for advocacy purposes. The full 15-minute film is licensed under Creative Commons public license 4.0 and is available to view and share on Vimeo at this URL:


    In addition to the film, SLRI has prepared resources to help viewers start advocating for their school librarians. These include a film viewing welcome letter, a film discussion guide, and an advocacy letter template to send to your school board, principal, newspaper, parent groups, administration, or any group that has a stake in education.

  • Monday, June 07, 2021 4:47 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) presented its annual awards at the RILA Annual Conference, which was held virtually June 3-4, 2021. The theme for the conference was “Well + Connected: Libraries and Healthy Communities,” and the recipients of this year’s awards exemplify the library community’s commitment to creating and supporting strong and healthy communities.

    "This is an exceptional slate of award recipients,” said outgoing RILA President Julie Holden, “and we are honored to highlight and promote their work, especially our library supporters, former Representative Robert Jacquard and Mary Ann and Walter Slocomb."

    Congratulations to the winners of this year's RILA Awards:

    Library Champion Award: Robert Jacquard, Former State Representative, District 17, Cranston

    “During his long tenure at the State House, Jacquard was a champion for Rhode Island libraries and a tireless advocate for full funding of state grant-in-aid for public libraries,” said Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library. “For his unwavering support of libraries and his hard work and advocacy for increased library funding, Jacquard exemplifies the qualities and dedication of a library champion and is deserving of recognition with this award.”

    “I really appreciate this award from the library association,” said Robert Jacquard. “Libraries have been as important as local schools to me during my time in the general assembly. I think we’re going to see, after the pandemic, that libraries are more important to people than ever.”

    Outstanding Librarian Award: Michelle Steever, Librarian at East Greenwich High School

    “With Mrs. Michelle Steever’s arrival at East Greenwich High School, we gained more than a media specialist,” said David Amiradri, a student at the high school. “We gained a technology-savvy executive, with a clear vision of the library of the future. We gained a compassionate educator, understanding of the challenges faced by students in the twenty-first century.”

    “She has brought her leadership skills and broad perspective to the School Improvement Team as we develop best practices and student supports,” said Frank Lenox, a teacher in the science department at East Greenwich High School. “Through all of our interactions, I am reminded how central a library is to the daily practices of a school community. And even more, how essential a librarian can be to the staff and students of every school community.”

    “Her reach and impact extends well beyond the faculty, staff, and students at East Greenwich High School,” said Patricia Page, Business and Digital Technology Educator at East Greenwich High School. “Michelle has redefined what a student-centered, professional learning community looks, feels, and sounds like.”

    Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award: Lynda LaCava, Library Assistant at North Providence Union Free Library

    “Lynda has been inside, outside, and all around North Providence performing outdoor story times, virtual visits to nearby parks, and never once let weather or the pandemic deter her from providing these essential services to the community,” said Stefanie Blankenship, director of the North Providence Union Free Library.

    Trustee of the Year Award: Dorothy Swain, Chair of the Board of Trustees at North Providence Union Free Library

    Ms. Swain “embodies the true sense of libraries, beyond physical buildings, and is always at the ready to help and serve,” said Stefanie Blankenship, director of the North Providence Union Free Library. “She has led us through one of the most difficult years without once faltering. Though she has seen this library go through many transitions, this past year was without a doubt the most jolting. Yet, her steadfast manner held us all together.”

    Meritorious Friend of the Library Award: Mary Ann and Walter Slocomb, Cranston Public Library

    “The Slocombs have been strong supporters of the Cranston Public Library for several years,” said Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library. “Mary Ann and Walter created the Mary Ann and Walter Slocomb Fund at the Cranston Public Library Association in 2016 with a $10,000 donation. To date, they have donated over $50,000.  Mary Ann and Walter have been incredible friends of the Cranston Public Library, not only donating their money but in giving of their time. They have volunteered at our Friends book sale and also attend library programs and special events. They have been a major part in the Cranston Public Library becoming a nationally recognized award-winning library.”

  • Monday, June 07, 2021 1:13 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.

    Questions or suggestions for this column? Please send an email to communications@rilibraries.org.

    June 2021 Spotlight: RILA Legislative Action Committee

    This month, we talked to Ed Garcia, Chair of the RILA Legislative Action Committee. Ed is the Director of Cranston Public Library.

    What is the mission or purpose of the RILA Legislative Action Committee?

    The Legislative Action Committee is responsible for recommending a legislative plan for the Association. The Committee assists and advises the Executive Board and the membership in appropriate action to affect proposed legislation.

    What made you personally interested in being involved with this organization?

    I've always been very interested in the power of advocacy, [in] being able to talk to a legislator or an official and influence their decision making. Advocating for an issue—in this case, the importance of libraries—and telling the stories of how we impact the lives of our users has always been an important part of what I do as a Library Director and advocate.

    What is the proudest achievement of the Legislative Action Committee?

    The Committee has been very successful in recent years. We successfully advocated for $1.1 million in additional state aid to RI public libraries. Working with our School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI) colleagues, we were able to leverage some legislative advocacy into working with the RI Department of Education to have the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) National School Library Standards officially adopted. 

    What ongoing challenges does the Legislative Action Committee face?

    We are constantly working to achieve full funding of state aid to libraries as prescribed by law. 

    If money and time were not an issue, what is the number one wish list item of this Committee to support its mission or purpose?

    It would be nice to have enough time, money, and people to produce more advocacy communications to go to not only RILA members but to the general public in support of libraries.

    What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for this Committee to meet its goals or objectives?

    Within RILA, being able to work with sections like SLRI on important issues is key. Also being able to learn from advocates at the Coalition of Library Advocates (COLA) has been personally impactful to me. Being able to work with and learn from amazing library advocates like Joan Ress Reeves and Rose Ellen Reynolds, both of whom helped found COLA, has been a privilege. We also work closely with both the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy office and Chapter Relations office to advocate to our federal delegation in Congress. Rhode Island is the envy of other states because of our strong presence in Congress, with incredible library supporters in Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressmen Cicilline and Langevin.

    Is the Legislative Action Committee looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?

    Please visit https://www.rilibraries.org/advocacy and sign up for advocacy updates and to stay informed on advocacy-related issues.

    What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?

    Dark Work: the Business of Slavery in Rhode Island by Christy Clark-Pujara. This book was eye opening about the history of slavery in Rhode Island. Even after slavery was abolished in the North, Rhode Island was still in the business of producing goods that supported slavery in the South.
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2021 12:32 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    The Coalition of Library Advocates (COLA) Annual Meeting, held on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, was its final meeting. After much study and thought, COLA’s Board of Directors, in close and careful consultation with RILA’s Board, asked for COLA to be fully absorbed into RILA rather than exist as a separate board with a chairperson. In this way, the efforts of library supporters will be part of RILA’s general actions. It was specifically noted that, with the efforts of the Legislative Action Committee, the work of COLA is continuing. All members of RILA continue to receive those updates, and now we can encourage anyone in the state who supports libraries to join RILA for a nominal fee.

    The groundwork laid by people including Rosellen Reynolds, Tom Viall, Joan Ress Reeves, and many others will not be forgotten. The vote at the annual meeting was unanimous to dissolve the organization.

    At this year’s final annual meeting, the following awards were presented: The William Bergeron Public Library Scholarship was presented to Christina Swiszcz. Christina has worked at the Newport County Campus Library of the Community College of Rhode Island for several years. Her primary role is managing the circulation desk, including hiring and managing the student employees. For Christina, making connections with students, helping them find materials and other campus resources, is incredibly rewarding. Besides being an outstanding student, Christina plans on continuing to serve the public as an academic librarian after graduating with her masters in library and information studies (MLIS).

    The Linda Aldrich School Library Scholarship was presented to Elena Hughes. Elena has been dedicated to school libraries since she began at the University or Rhode Island's Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS). She has been to Tanzania to build a rural school library, and next year she will be participating in the RILA mentoring program. One of Elena's goals is to collaborate with other school media specialists to develop and share best practices in school librarianship and how they are inherently primed for advocacy. Elena is interested in developing library curriculum that embeds social emotional learning, cultivating collections and resources that reflect the diverse needs and experiences of the community.  

    The Sweetheart of the Year Award was presented to Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services, Office of RI Library and Information Services. As Rhode Island’s Chief of Library Services since 2013, Karen has long been a trusted advisor, ally, and collaborator of COLA as well as the library community. Since the pandemic, she has worked heroically to coordinate CARES Act grants for library expenses and support librarians in adapting to the year’s challenges with everything from policy development to the creation of virtual services.

    The William E. Reeves Award for outstanding programming by a Library Friends Group was presented to the East Smithfield Public Library Friends Group for sponsoring the presentation about the Esmond Bunny blankets. Their event brought together library users and community members to hear from local historian Sandra Achille. Ms. Achille discussed the local history of the Esmond Mills, located in East Smithfield, RI, from 1906 to 1948. This event received news coverage in the Valley Breeze and was well attended for a cold January 2020 evening.

    Those who attended also listened to a wonderful talk given by Frederick Reamer, a Pawtucket resident. Dr. Reamer (shown in photo) is a professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College. His research and teaching have addressed a wide range of issues, including mental health, health care, criminal justice, public welfare, and professional ethics. Dr. Reamer received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1978) and has served as a social worker in correctional and mental health settings. Dr. Reamer is also the host of This I Believe New England on The Public’s Radio, where he shares stories of New Englanders. The story he shared with us about the impact of a single book on his life was powerful. We thank him sincerely for the beautiful ending to a bittersweet meeting.

    We thank everyone who came together and supported the decision to dissolve COLA in its current iteration. Thanks go to the remaining active board members who helped plan this meeting: Gale Eaton, John Bucci, Lisa Ashe, Karen Markin, and Emilie Benoit.

    -- Submitted by 2020-2021 COLA Chair Robin Nyzio, MLIS; branch librarian at the William Hall Library

  • Wednesday, April 14, 2021 12:50 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    The Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) and the Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) sponsored a "town hall" virtual discussion with Senator Jack Reed on Monday, April 5th, to celebrate National Library Week. Discussion centered on how libraries have adapted during the coronavirus pandemic, how we safely reopened our libraries, and some of the impactful programming we provided to the public during the last year.

    Senator Reed spoke to attendees about the introduction of the Library Stabilization Fund Act, which was incorporated into the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and will provide $200 million to the nation’s libraries through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Senator Reed has also introduced the Build America’s Libraries Act; if passed, this legislation will provide federal funding for library construction for the first time in over two decades. Panelists at the event included Cheryl Space (director, Providence Community Library); Ryan Brennan (director, Rogers Free Library); Brigitte Hopkins and Bill Lancellotta (executive director and assistant director, Westerly Library); Amber Bliss (head of information services, West Warwick Public Library) and Ed Garcia (director, Cranston Public Library). OLIS Chief Library Officer Karen Mellor and RILA President Julie Holden moderated the event.  

    The theme for National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021), “Welcome to Your Library,” promoted the idea that libraries extend far beyond the four walls of a building – and that everyone is welcome to use their services. During the pandemic, libraries have been going above and beyond to adapt to our changing world by expanding their resources and continuing to meet the needs of their users. We are grateful to Senator Reed and his staff for taking the time to celebrate libraries during this special week and for continuously supporting funding for library services.

  • Tuesday, April 13, 2021 3:51 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.

    Questions or suggestions for this column? Please send an email to communications@rilibraries.org.

    April 2021 Spotlight: RILA Conference Committee

    This month, we talked to Nicolette Baffoni and Joseph Morra, Co-Chairs of the RILA Conference Committee. Nicolette is the Library Development Manager at the Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services (OLIS). Joseph is the Branch Manager of Olneyville Library, Providence Community Library.

    What is the mission or purpose of the RILA Conference Committee?

    The RILA Conference Committee is responsible for planning and implementing all conferences sponsored by the Association. The Annual Conference is to include programs on current library concerns. Any conference is to provide an opportunity for exchange of ideas on a formal and informal basis.

    What made you personally interested in being involved with this organization?

    Joseph: The annual conference was my first entry point in becoming involved. However, the seed was planted by my URI GSLIS professors, who highly encouraged students to join a professional organization.  

    Nicolette: I really value the connection and collaboration that come from getting involved with an organization like RILA.  At my job at OLIS, I was planning learning opportunities and events for library staff as part of my job and so when I was looking for a way to get more involved in RILA, the Conference Committee was a great entry point for me! 

    What this Committee's proudest achievement?

    Our proudest achievement has been the pivot in 2020 from an in-person conference to a virtual one. In the early days of the pandemic, there was so much uncertainty and no one thought we’d be social distancing and working from home until the end of May, let alone for over a year. We put off the decision until the very last minute and ended up figuring out all the logistics of our very first virtual conference in about 4 weeks because we were adamant that we did not want to cancel. In the end, we were able to offer a mostly smooth-running virtual conference that was free to RILA members and brought together more than 200 people from the RI library community.

    What ongoing challenges does the Conference Committee face?

    There is always a challenge of balancing the budget. Ultimately, the annual conference acts as a fundraiser for RILA, and we want to end the event in the black. It takes hard work and creativity to attract vendors, keep costs down, and set reasonable registration fees while still trying to put on an excellent, professional conference. The 2020 and 2021 conferences presented an entirely new challenge in this regard: costs are lower for a virtual conference, but how do we attract vendors and attendees, and curate an experience that is worth taking a day to attend? 

    If money and time were not an issue, what is the number one wish list item of this Committee to support its mission or purpose?

    If money were not an issue, we would love to invite some bigger name speakers to present keynotes. Each year, we continue to find absolutely excellent keynote speakers on a shoestring budget, but it would be great to open up our search to include some presenters who are national presenters, but come with a higher price tag. It would also be fun to be able to splurge on whatever the finest meal options are for lunch! Carving station, anyone? 

    What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for this Committee to meet its goals or objectives?

    The Conference Committee benefits so much from working with the RILA Communications Committee, who help us promote our events. That includes promoting the request for proposals, registration, and just generally hyping the annual conference. The Conference Committee also benefits from having an engaged RILA President and Vice President (both current and past) who are willing to offer their input and expertise throughout the planning process. Finally, we’d be remiss if we did not mention Bryant University; when the conference is in person, the use of Bryant’s facilities for the past several years has allowed us to put on a comfortable, professional conference while also keeping costs down. 

    Is the Committee looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?

    Yes! When you become a RILA member, you have the opportunity to be a part of a number of different committees (e.g., Conference, Intellectual Freedom) or become part of the mentorship program, either as a mentor or mentee. The Conference Committee, in particular, is always excited to welcome new members and requires a commitment of about 1 day per month, plus additional assignments and day-of-conference support. As a Conference Committee member, you help to plan the conference theme, speakers, and sessions and brainstorm creative ways to make the conference a great experience for attendees, presenters, and exhibitors. If you want to get involved in planning for the 2022 conference, please email Nicolette Baffoni (nicolette.baffoni@olis.ri.gov). 

    Interested in attending the 2021 RILA Conference? Registration opens on April 19th. Please visit rilibraries.org/rila2021 for more information.