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Let Them Lead: My First Presentation at PaLA

Molly Kane, Head of Teen Services and Emerging Technologies

Exactly two weeks ago, I wasn’t sitting at my desk writing a website blog. Instead I was in a conference room at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center giving a presentation to close to 100 librarians, library directors, teachers, and other educators as a part of the Pennsylvania Libraries annual conference. It was my first time speaking at this kind of event and it was nerve wracking. Right before it began, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “How did I get here?!” and two weeks later, I think I can finally answer that question.

This year’s conference is the third that I’ve attended. In 2013, the conference was held at Seven Springs Resort outside of Pittsburgh. The very first session I attended at my very first conference was one where UDPL library director, Cheri Fiory, discussed UDPL’s renovation to a packed auditorium. I was very impressed by her presentation. She was poised and confident. She commanded the room and everyone listened attentively. I found myself thinking, “Wow. I’d like to do that some day!”

I went directly from Cheri’s session to one led by Tegan Conner-Cole, the children’s librarian at Wissahickon Valley Public Library, present on collaborative partnerships between librarians and townships.  Tegan’s room was so packed that there were people sitting on the floor! Her energy and excitement were contagious.  I found myself thinking, “Wow. I’d like to do that some day!”

I left that conference excited about being a librarian. That excitement carried me through the next two years while I developed new programs and wrote multiple grants. It motivated me to expand my relationships with the School District and other Upper Dublin educational institutions. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m proud of in the last two and a half years, but I wasn’t sure how to turn any of it into a presentation that other librarians would want to attend.  But then Mary Jane Lyons became UDHS’s librarian/media specialist and after just a few weeks working with her, I knew that together we could make a presentation worth watching.

And we did.

So, exactly two weeks ago in that conference room at the Penn Stater, I stood in front of a packed room with nearly 100 people. I spoke about the amazing programs the teens of UD have helped me develop and how those programs have benefited both teens and elementary aged students. UDPL and UDSD have a unique relationship that has helped us to implement innovative programs like our Chess Club, Reading Buddies, and our Kids STEAM Club. Mary Jane and two other special Upper Dublin School District guests, senior student Daniel Warszawski and head of district technology, Philip Vinogradov, joined me via a Google Hangout which allowed them to video chat with me and answer questions. Daniel charmed the audience who were excited to see a “real, live teen” at the conference, even if he was just on a screen.  Cheri sat in the front row and her presence reminded me to stay poised and confident even when the technology temporarily failed. (Doesn’t it always?!) Tegan introduced me and her presence reminded me to that energy and excitement would make my presentation so much better.

And with the help of all of those people, we totally rocked it!

pala two pics

I may have been the big mouth who presented the at the conference, but I couldn’t have done it without all of the aforementioned people, but also all of the colleagues, coworkers, students, families, and educators who call Upper Dublin home. I was only able to give the presentation because so many people in our community work together towards the common goal of meeting the needs of our students.

If you’d like to see my presentation, including video interviews with two UDHS alumni, click here.

If you have questions about any of the programs MJ, Dan, and I spoke about, just stop in and ask us!