New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Reflections from the 2016 Dewey Fellows

Submitted by Barbara Madonna, Gloversville Public Library

Representing PLS

I really appreciated the recognition by PLS, though I’m not sure I deserved it.

The Scholarship was really helpful in freeing up continuing education money in our library’s budget that allowed me to send two additional staff people to conference that have never been there.  It also allowed me to stay at conference, whereas I normally commute when we are in Saratoga.  This made the conference less stressful and less exhausting, which was much appreciated. It also allowed me to spend more time with colleagues outside of the workshop hours; more networking, re-energizing.

I was touched by the recognition at the Awards banquet, but disappointed that so many folks I know skipped out on it.  Not because I wanted more applause, just that the thin attendance was noticeable because of the spotlight.

So in summary, “I am thankful to PLS and NYLA for the recognition and opportunity to attend the annual Conference as a Dewey Fellow.  By assisting with the expense of conference my library was able to provide funding to two additional staff member to attend.  That can only benefit my library as a whole and my community.”


Submitted by Elizabeth Hobson, Nyack Library

Representing LAMS

First of all, I would like to thank NYLA for the honor of being selected as a Dewey Fellow for 2016.  I believe attendance at conferences like this, where one is able to connect with other library professionals and get insight and updates on any number of topics, is vital for moving our organizations forward into a sustainable future.

The most impactful parts of any conference for me are the conference workshop sessions and the special talks given by library and other thought leaders. The most interesting lectures I attended were Garry Golden’s lecture Tapping Your Inner Futurist - Libraries and the Future of Sustainable Communities and Greg Lukianoff’s lecture Intellectual Freedom for Breakfast.  Both were thought-provoking and inspiring speeches that will inform my thinking about the services and materials we provide our patrons at my public library.

By a wide margin, the workshop content that was most directly applicable to my job was provided in Winning Support Using Logic Models presented by Paul Mastrodonato of Nonprofit Works.  It enabled me to turn around my thinking on writing grants from a “here’s what my library needs” perspective to a “here’s the change that your grant money will effect in our community” perspective.  This was a game-changer for a library worker with little experience or training in grant-writing.  It was so clearly presented and will be immediately applicable in helping my library to achieve our goal of creating a public Maker Space in our building, for our community.  I suggested bringing Mr. Mastrodonato to our local Library Association of Rockland County conference next spring because I felt so many library staff who were unable to attend NYLA could benefit from his presentation.

Finally, I was delighted to attend my first NYLA Leadership and Management Academy program, Facility & Building Management, Space Usage & Design. Although my own library was renovated and expanded six years ago, it was still very useful to hear current thinking on design of library spaces and what are the most up-to-date practices in Facilities and Building Management, based on the example of the Saratoga Springs Public Library.  Thank you again for a wonderful opportunity.


Submitted by Kitty Bressington, Friends of the Avon Free Library

Representing FLS

I was honored to be the first FLS Dewey Fellow, making it possible for me to attend the full NYLA Conference and was both surprised and delighted to experience the whole conference rather than the day or so dedicated to Friends’ events.  While many of the sessions were clearly geared towards attendees who work actively in the library environment, there were plenty of topics to keep me interested, particularly the session on financial literacy, a topic near and dear to my heart.  The keynote speaker and the Empire State Center for the Book luncheon were two of my special highlights. 

Something you don’t appreciate when driving in just for the Friends’ sessions is the opportunity to socialize with people from all over the state and from libraries big and small, public and academic.  Seeing people over several days allowed me to have extended conversations rather than quick two-liners in the hallway on the way to the next event.  I was fascinated by how different academic libraries are from our little free one.  They have some of the same issues (on a bigger scale) and some that we, thankfully, will never have to deal with (although I now have contacts who could help if needed). 

Of course, one of the dangers when attending more than three days of events is arriving home with a notebook chock full of ideas.  Since we already have our three-year long-range plan done, this will give us time to digest these ideas, pick through and sort out the ones that are logical for our community.  I was also comforted by the knowledge that other Friends’ groups face the same challenges we do and amazed that some libraries don’t have Friends’ groups yet – they don’t know what they are missing!

I’d like to thank everyone who made my attendance at the conference possible and I look forward to seeing them next year.