Executive Director's Blog: The Restorative Power of Reunions

The NC LIVE team of six adults standing in front of the NC LIVE booth at the NCLA Conference.

Looking Back

Like so many of you, the NC LIVE team attended and participated in the 65th Biennial NCLA conference in October, the first fully in-person NCLA conference since 2019.  Over four days of conferencing, I was reminded time and again of the value of community, relationships and comradery.  The cancellation of so many in-person events over the past few years affected all of us differently but, speaking for myself, the greatest effect was in being forced to work at a physical remove from our communities of interest.  Zoom enabled us to continue carrying out our duties, but could not replicate the emotional reward that comes from seeing the impact our work has on those we serve.  Additionally, working remotely took a toll on professional relationships, as we endured a long stretch without any serendipitous encounters or hotel lobby brainstorms.  Finally, the pandemic eroded our professional resilience—at least temporarily—by depriving us of the comradery we experience when we gather, empathize and support one another.

So you can imagine how exciting it was to see so many familiar faces after such a long absence.  In fact, the conference took on the feel of a class reunion, a long overdue opportunity to see friends and colleagues again in three dimensions.  The conference also made manifest how many new librarians have joined our community since 2020, bringing with them new energy and ideas.

In addition to all the reconnecting, it was rejuvenating to hear so many stories from librarians about how patrons are using NC LIVE resources and what impacts that usage is having in the communities we serve.  I heard stories about ESL learners, nursing students, entrepreneurs, and STEM students using NC LIVE resources to accomplish their goals.  NC LIVE is proud to continue to fulfill its mission to support education, enhance economic development, and improve the quality of life of North Carolinians.  That said, none of this would be possible without the dedicated librarians and library professionals across the state who promote these resources, train on them, and integrate them into local systems and curricula.  Hearing these success stories reminded me of the collective impact we have on individuals and made tangible the fruits of the work we do.  For your expertise, commitment and resilience, everyone at NC LIVE thanks you.

We were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the 700+ folks who stopped by the NC LIVE booth to say hello, catch up on our latest offerings, and take a turn at the Plinko board for one of our coveted NC LIVE swag items.  In addition to running the booth, NC LIVE staff presented on Improving Accessibility and Training of statewide resources, Helping Entrepreneurial Communities Thrive using NC LIVE resources, and Improving Access to Digital Primary Source Teaching Materials for K-12 Teachers.  We hope you were able to see us in action.

Kudos to Libby Stone and the NCLA 2023 Biennial Conference Planning Committee for their hard work and boundless energy in orchestrating such a large and complex event.

Looking Ahead

Continuing the momentum of the NCLA Conference, I am thrilled to announce another statewide opportunity to build community, rejuvenate relationships and be uplifted by the comradery of peers. The 2024 NC LIVE Annual Conference will be held over two days: in person on Friday, May 17th at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington and virtually on Monday, May 20th.  The conference theme will be Prioritizing Wellness: How libraries can support morale, mental health, & wellbeing of patrons and staff.  Each day’s programming will be unique, so please consider attending both days if you can.  I encourage you to save the date and keep an eye out for a call for proposals in the new year.

Finally, I’d like to share that we are still collecting patron success stories in support of Goal #3 of our 2023-2026 Strategic Plan.  If you have a compelling patron success story to share, please reach out to us at help [at] nclive.org (help[at]nclive[dot]org) with the words “Success Story” in the subject line.

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