April 14, 2014

Urban Librarians Unite hosts second annual conference



The second annual urban librarian conference was held at the main Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Friday in the S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture with attendance of over 200 librarians from the Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn library systems. Urban Librarians Unite is a “professional group created to promote and support libraries, library staff, and librarianship in urban settings.” Their advocacy work and trainings for library staff facilitates dialogue between libraries and library workers.

With an introductory note the program, the organizers rallied the librarians in attendance:

Libraries have been at this “changing lives” gig for a long time. From providing information and literacy access to new immigrants in the late 1800’s, to riding donkeys over the Appalachians in the Depression, to teaching patrons how to use rotary phones, to building Maker spaces, libraries have always been changing and developing.

Sessions were organized around the question “How do we keep innovating to affect change in our communities?” Matt DeLaney gave the keynote address, drawing on his experience organizing libraries into community centers at the Tully Free Library and in his current role at the Manlius Library in central New York. Syntychia Kendrick-Samuel offered reflections about how to involve and engage teens at the library through her work as the Head of Teen Services at the Uniondale Public Library.


Vanessa Christman and Sarah Houghton present a session on library management to the attendees of the conference hosted by Urban Librarians Unite.

Sarah Houghton and Vanessa Christman from the San Rafael Public Library talked about Baby Boomer and Generation X  library management styles. Natasha Dass-Ford, Kimberly Lord, and Angelique Simmons spoke about “Highly Interactive Programs for Multicultural Communities.” Breakout sessions addressed Library Reads, library website management, teen LGBTQ homelessness support, and featured an appearance by NYC City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer who gave advice to the librarians present about how to work with politicians.

The conference wrapped up with drinks at the Waystation in Prospect Heights.


Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.