Alzheimer’s & Dementia

I remember how afraid this amazing woman was about this disease that eventually took her from us. We miss you, Lupe.

Dementia doesn’t know age, race, or any other of our differences. It doesn’t care if it’s your Mom, your best friend, or your spouse. And though most cases happen to those those 65 and older, there are about 5% of cases that can occur earlier.


Do you know someone with dementia? There are many types of this disease. What I didn’t realize is that dementia is an umbrella term for those suffering from a loss of mental ability. “Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is just one example. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases.  Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.” (Alzheimer’s Assocation

If dementia hasn’t personally touched your life, you are fortunate. The Alzheimer’s Association projects that by 2050, there will be an estimated 13.8 million people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve known people who have dealt with memory loss and watched the years of their lives slowly fade. My heart goes out to them and their families.

What can we do to help them?

  • Make sure they are safe.
  • Don’t argue their reality.
  • Offer any comfort you can to them.
  • Play music and do things with them they enjoy.
  • You may not be able to provide around-the-clock care for them that they will need. It’s okay.
  • For those who can no longer read, offer them magazines, coffee table picture books, books on CD, movies, music, or anything they can touch, see, feel, or hear.
  • Any gesture will make a difference, even if you don’t see it. Talk to them. Give them something from their past that might stir a memory. One big take away I have learned from working with memory care patrons is that you might not see the impact, but – from their nurses, caretakers, and families – I’ve heard about how memories were stirred or someone reacted.

I have spent the past year with a colleague (David Kelsey) giving presentations, hosting meetings, and gathering resources for librarians who wish to help patrons with dementia and their caretakers. We focus on the networking with organizations, sharing programming ideas, developing collections, and forming partnerships. We share inspiring stories and try to keep on the forefront of proving people with information and a place to feel like part of a supportive community.

I typically list resources at the end of my articles. Today, I invite you to look at a new blog I have begun that has a plethora of resources laid out on this topic. It is geared towards librarians networking about this important topic. But you will find the resources helpful for yourself or a loved one. You might stumble upon a program idea you can incorporate in your own home or when visiting someone in a care facility. I especially encourage you to check out the Alzheimer’s Association website. Not only do they have outstanding research and information, they have people who and workshops that can help in a practical and easily-understood manner.


I present you with:

Serving Patrons with Dementia.

~I’m here to help


Time to Reflect

Today marks 150 days since I returned from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Congress in Columbus, Ohio. I keep replaying my drive home and the evening of my arrival in my mind. My life has not been the same since, as my personal life has changed drastically. I spend time with my amazing son, helping other people, and working on projects. I find keeping busy helps get through hard times. My experiences during the Congress gave me hope and strength, both professionally and personally, beyond anything I have previously experienced.

Here are a few insights I have embraced:

  • Take time every day to appreciate who you are.
  • Have a daily mantra.
  • Give of yourself to family and friends.
  • Breathe life in.
  • Let go of things that cause you stress or harm.
  • Embrace new opportunities.
  • Meet new people.
  • Have compassion for those different than yourself.
  • When you are having a bad day, remember tomorrow is a new day.
  • As long as you are stepping forward, you are going in the right direction.

When I think of IFLA, the people come to mind first. Then I ponder how we are all connected. The most amazing relationship I learned about is the one between IFLA and the United Nations. If you look at the 17 goals (in the photo), I think you will agree that we need to work together to attain these. Libraries are not alone in their quest to be an integral part of our world; rather libraries are an important part of society.

If you are interested in more information on IFLA, please read on and check out the library toolkit. If not, I’ll assume you are not a librarian. So I thank you for reading this post and I ask you “when was the last time you thought about visiting your library?” Take a look at your local library and what we do!

~I’m here to help

“In September 2015, the United Nations endorsed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. IFLA has been actively involved in the process of creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the last years and has advocated for the importance of access to information, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), culture and universal literacy, all of which have been included in the UN 2030 Agenda”(

Access and Opportunity for All: How Libraries contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda


The 2016 theme of the IFLA Congress was “Together we make breakthroughs possible”.

Here are some of the highlights from the IFLA Congress of the sessions I attended. There were sessions for every age, race, sexual identity, and special demographic we serve in libraries. Librarians from public, academic, and special libraries were represented in topic and theory from around the world.

  • The opening session and presentations by prominent people reminded me that we are an important part of learning, education, and fun in people’s lives.
  • “A sanctuary in times of need – the Public Library response.” A great discussion and share about serving different demographics and special needs populations, refugees and migrants, and various languages.
  • Carol Luper,  retired news host, shared different ways we should think about communicating with the public and others around the world. Other discussions on rebranding the public library, social media, and discussion of a Dewey-less  model.
  • Creating spaces, in particular makerspaces, was presented along with tools for visibility and social betterment in local communities. Bringing technology, programming, and resources to the different demographics. Evaluating our worth and quantifying the value of libraries and information centers.
  • Preservation and disaster preparedness was discussed in several sessions. Discussions about rare books and special collections. Also green libraries and environmental sustainability
  • Many sessions on digital content, formats, data management, archiving, and copyright. Discussions about the current state and where we are going in the future of the digital age and libraries.

If you work in a library, I encourage you to utilize the vast resources IFLA offers, become a member, and attend their annual Congress.


ALA. 1996. Library Bill of Rights.

IFLA. 2016. Access and Opportunity for All: How Libraries contribute to the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

United Nations. 2017. What We Do.

Williams. 2016. Lifelong Learning.

Williams. 2016. We are all People.


One of my projects that I invite you to get involved in is the Serving Patrons with Dementia group. Our group meets quarterly with other librarians in Illinois. We also have presentations showcasing what libraries can do for this growing demographic.  If you aren’t a librarian, check out what your library is offering for caretakers or those afflicted with this disease. Serving Patrons with Dementia group.


Transform in 2017

It’s the new year and I’ve been thinking about how we transform, how we evolve. My son has enjoyed playing Pokémon since he was 5. I especially  like it since this game is the reason he enjoys reading. Evolution, as explained by the Pokémon database, “is a key part of the Pokémon games. Evolving Pokémon makes them stronger and often gives them a wider movepool.” Interesting how evolution is the same for us in the human world – it makes us stronger, offers new learning opportunities, and gives us a larger view of life.

Some people believe in resolutions. I like to think you can resolve to make changes and create new beginnings anytime you are ready for them. One of the posts I keep seeing this past week speaks to getting off the couch and not waiting for life to begin. If you want something, you need to make the change, you have to be the one to smile through the hard times, you have to be the positive light in a negative situation. Challenge yourself to listen, observe, learn, and grow. Challenge yourself to go out more, pick up a new book, or find a new hobby. Create opportunities for yourself. Discover what you love. Reconnect with nature. Look up an old friend. Meet people who touch your soul. Evolve!

More than anything, I enjoy reading self-help books and blogs. I use this overload of information to evolve. Here are some of the things I have put in place, as I evolve in 2017, and hope you can find some tidbits for yourself within:

  • I’ve been told I am similar to the movie/book character, Walter Mitty. We share an extraordinary imagination and have a hard time stepping outside our comfort zone until we need to help someone. Like Walter Mitty, I love to look at the world through photographs. I love to take pictures, not be in them. In 2016, I set on a quest to take more photos of myself and to do more of the things I wanted to do. I take photos of myself in nature, at library conferences, out with friends, at work, etc. live-with-intention
  • I call friends. Did you know Panera Bread has a great soup and salad/sandwich special? I’ve become a fan because it’s healthier eating and a great place to catch up with friends. It’s quiet enough to hear each other and noisy enough to speak your mind. A word of caution, the hours fly by there.
  • I unplug and reconnect through mindfulness and meditation. I enjoy nature. And I go to the indoor pool for water walking and swimming whenever I can.
  • I write. I joined a writing club. It’s my goal to write every day. I use my Walter Mitty imagination when writing for myself. What an inspirational thought that one day one of my daydreams will be published.a-story
  • We all want to live the best life we can, as long as we can. I’m almost halfway to my weight loss goal. Richard Simmons taught me to keep moving. Dr. Travis Stork taught me what you put in your mouth matters. Dr. Phil McGraw taught me that you make your choices because there is a payoff.
  • I lead with my heart and stood in line too many times when feelings were being handed out. I have been working on being more logical – thinking more instead of letting feelings overwhelm me. This has helped me understand that everyone doesn’t feel and think the same way I do.
  • I’ve been allowing my imagination to explore the real world. Dare to dream. As one of the blog posts I enjoy reading stated “If you never roll the dice, you’ll never know how far you can go.”
  • I worry less by reaching out to others to talk about what has me worried. This is a concept called Outsource Your Worry from a book by M.J. Ryan. “…each of us tends to worry in the places we need the most support…we worry because we don’t have easy answers in the types of thinking where we are not strong” (page 233).
  • Spend time loving what you are doing. I love spending time with my son, with friends, meeting new people, writing, and taking on new opportunities. I also enjoy cleaning because it clears the cobwebs from my mind and does a world of good for my soul too.

We don’t have Nurse Joy to give us the power we may need. But we each have more inner strength than we realize. Find your inner strength and courage to make changes in your life. Some days putting one step in front of the other is the best we can do. I believe as long as we are moving forward, it doesn’t matter how big of a step it is. We do what we can. Find support and move forward.

Listen to yourself, nature, and those around you. Communicate better. Find your creative side. Worry less. Spend time with loved ones. Dream. Live with passion. Be kind. Find courage. Learn and grow. Evolve!

~I’m here to help


Further reading and resources:

Bowen, Jan. 2016. 7 Ways Knowing Yourself Leads to More Happiness. Retrieved from:

Christensen, Tanner. 2016. How to Build a Life of Inspiration in Four Easy Steps. Retrieved from:

Ginsburg, B.W. November 3, 2016.  If You Never Roll the Dice, You’ll Never Know How Far You Can Go. Retrieved from:

Lee, Elliot. 2016. Psychology Says the Fear of Rejection Can Be a Source of Strength. Retrieved from:

Radmacher, Mary Anne. 2007. Lean Forward Into Your Life. San Francisco, CA: Conari Press. Page 19.

Rosenberg,  Shannon. 2016. 26 Ridiculously Easy Life Changes You Can Make Today. Retrieved from:

Ryan, M.J. 2016. Habit Changers. New York: Crown Business. Page. 233.

Thrify Lady. 2016. 150+ Hobby Ideas Broken Down by Interest and Personality. Retrieved from:


Notes from the article:

McGraw, Dr. Phil.

Panera Bread.

Pokémon Database.

Pokémon’s Nurse Joy.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Simmons, Richard.

Stork, Dr. Travis.


Sharing Gifts

I recently met Jaz, a young man who will be starting college in January. I offered to help him with his student loan paperwork and a resume. When we met, I realized he didn’t need my help. But he was gracious enough to listen to me and we wound up talking about his future. This amazing young man is about to begin the next phase of his life. I looked at him with wonder and a little envy. He can do whatever he wants with his life and he knows himself well enough to have chosen a path. He is smart and kind, thoughtful and funny, has advanced computer skills and critical thinking skills, and he wants to help people. I wondered if he realizes his natural abilities and gifts. I encouraged him to keep in touch and to dream big.

Ever notice we spend more time reflecting on our lives around this time of year?

  • It’s Autumn and the leaves are in brilliant color and falling.
  • If you are in school (or your kids are), this semester is wrapping up and the paperwork is due for the next semester.
  • No matter where you stand on the election, conversations about our next American President are part of daily reflection.
  • The holiday season is just around the corner – Thanksgiving, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve.


What do you do after you reflect? I think about the past, give thanks for today, and hope for a better tomorrow. To move forward, you need to contemplate what you want to do next and set goals. If you haven’t already done so, start by recognizing your natural talents. What are your gifts?

There are different types of skills – hard and soft. Recent news articles suggest that the workforce is lacking necessary soft skills. Check out Ryan Robinson’s article How to Discover and Unleash Your Strengths as an Entrepreneur for a thorough explanation about the difference between hard (teachable abilities) and soft (people) skills.

It’s time to make your skills list. I’ll wait. gp2035-3

Here’s a list of common skills:

  • Communication, Public Speaking, Presentation
  • Organization, Time Management, Conflict Resolution
  • Teamwork, Collaboration, Form Partnerships
  • Planning, Research, Writing
  • Networking, Motivation, Teamwork
  • Creative Thinking, Decision Making, Problem-Solving
  • Customer Service, Instruction, Training
  • Resilient, Patient, Good Listener
  • Operate power tools and a hammer
  • Create Snapchats and make people laugh
  • Commentator and strategy master for Pokémon
  • Break into song whenever inspiration strikes

If you are still looking for what skills you may possess, check out The Balance for a comprehensive list of skills to get you thinking further.

Now that you have a list started, what are your next steps?

  • Reflect on the list. Remember a time you used each gift. Was it a good experience?
  • Ask other people what talents they see in you. Learn from others.
  • Embrace your inner child. What did you want to be when you grew up? How did it change over the years?
  • What tasks have you tried and liked/disliked? Recognize your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Put your gifts into words. Become comfortable with them.

No matter where you are on your journey, you can reflect on your life. You are never too young or too old. Are you where you want to be? Is there something you have always wanted to do? Are you happy? It might not always feel like it, but you have a lot to offer. Dare to dream. What gifts will you share with the world?

~I’m here to help



Further reading and resources:

Bradberry, Travis. 2016. Forbes. 7 Skills That Are Hard To Learn But Payoff Forever. Retrieved from:

Doyle, Alison, 2016. The Balance. List of Soft Skills. Retrieved from.

Manson, Mark. 2016. Observer. Three Important Life Skills Nobody Ever Taught You. Retrieved from:

Morin, Amy. 2016. Forbes. Hard Work or Natural Talent? Retrieved from:

Morris, Jim. 2016. The Muse. 6 Life Skills You Better Pick Up if You Want to Succeed at Work. Retrieved from:

O’Donnell, J.T. 2016. AOL. Why These 10 Soft Skills Could Catapult Your Career. Retrieved from:

Picchi, Aimee. 2016. CBSNews: Moneywatch. Do you have the “soft skills” employers badly need? Retrieved from:

Rath, Tom. 2009. Gallup Press. Strengths Finder. Resources found at:

Robinson, Ryan. 2016. Ryan Robinson. How to Discover and Unleash Your Strengths as an Entrepreneur. Retrieved from:

Williams, Tina. 2016. Tina Here To Help. Lifelong Learning. Retrieved from:

Speed Networking: Making Professional Contacts

Your steps to success!

Speed networking is a fairly new concept that developed after the trending ‘speed dating’ of the late 1990’s. The idea behind speed dating is to spend a few minutes with someone to see if you click. If you do, you share information for a future date.

What is speed networking? It’s an opportunity to connect with people in your field. Speed networking is typically a formal event. But, you could create your own speed networking opportunity in an unsuspecting group setting making as many contacts as you can. You can also take advantage of online networking too.

You will need a few things to successfully speed network:

  • An elevator speech
  • Business cards (or contact information)
  • A smile
  • Ability to small talk


The elevator speech is important because it’s a purposeful statement designed to make an impact. Think about what you want to say ahead of time and create a few clear statements that sum up what you want people to remember about you. Be ready with a few statements so you can adjust what you want to say based on who you meet.

Business cards are easy to come by. You can print or design cards with a few clicks on your computer. If you don’t have business cards, have something you can hand to people with at least your name and email. It’s always good to include your phone number, where you work, and a phrase to remember you by. I’ve seen individually wrapped cookies and lollipops with tags that have contact information on it. I like this idea because it can make more of an impact than a traditional card as it is unique and more personal, though more expensive.

If you read my blog, you know I think smiling is important. If you don’t smile for personal reasons, you should for professional reasons. There is nothing more attractive and appealing than a great smile. Plus, smiling is a mood booster.

If small talk doesn’t come easily to you, simply Google “how to small talk.” You’ll find a vast amount of information that will help you become comfortable with this necessary skill. The purpose of small talk is to chat about simple topics that aren’t personal. When I train new staff at a service desk, I teach the importance of having talking points. At the least, have a short list of safe topics to bring up. I recommend talking about the weather. In a networking situation, a good opening to further the conversation is to simply note what you are enjoying about the event or the venue.

If you reference my previous posts, the importance of networking and having a prepared elevator speech, you will get a good overview of the concepts above. As I prepare for this year’s Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services Conference in Covington, Kentucky, I decided to incorporate a few rounds of speed networking into my presentation. After all, a professional conference is the perfect networking opportunity.

Further networking tips:

  • Good listening is an important factor in networking.
  • Network with another person or with a group, especially if you aren’t comfortable networking alone.
  • Follow-up after a speed networking opportunity in order to continue the conversation. Never send out a blanket email to those you met – personalize the email.
  • Some conferences will give you attendee contact information. It’s okay to connect with these people after the event, even if you didn’t get a chance to meet in person.
  • Look for new chances to network. At your next meeting, try sitting next to someone you don’t know.

For more details on speed networking, check out the resources below.

~I’m here to help



a2z, Inc. 2016. 5 Trade Show Secrets for Networking Success. Retrieved from:

AmeriCorp Alums. 2016. Top 5 Tips for Online Speednetworking Events. Retrieved from:

Brunelinnovationhub. 2016. 10 Tips for networking for Success. Retrieved from:

Frost, Aja.  2016. 48 Questions That’ll Make Awkward Small Talk So Much Easier.

NeuroNation. Why You Need To Smile More. Retrieved from:

Tung, Jennifer. 10 Big Rules of Small Talk. Retrieved from:

wikiHow. 2016. How to Small Talk. Retrieved from:

Williams, Tina. 2016. Networking & Careers. Retrieved from:

Williams, Tina. 2016. The Elevator Speech. Retrieved from:

Williams, Tina. 2016. Smile – Even When You Don’t Want To. Retrieved from:


Networking & Careers

Networking is important – no matter what career choice you have made. I cannot stress this enough to those I mentor. What is networking? Engaging in conversation for the purpose of developing professional contacts and exchanging information. Most information I have read encourages newbies to network (new to a field, fresh out of school, new to a company, or new to town or country.) That’s great advice. But remember, networking is a lifetime process. You build bridges and networks of colleagues that will expand your knowledge and the number of people you know.

What are the benefits of networking?

  • Make important career contacts.
    • Expand your pool of colleagues.
    • Find potential clients or users.
    • Find potential future employers.
  • Exchange ideas and information.
  • Form partnerships and collaborations.
  • Find a mentor. Become a mentor.
  • Learn about the culture of people or business through other people.
  • Offer and obtain different points of view in your field.
  • Are you thinking about changing jobs? Are you considering a professional partnership? Find out more about related fields.
  • Find out more about specifics of a specialty in your field of work. What are the good points and the pitfalls?

When and where can you network?

  • Start collaborating with your colleagues, friends, and acquaintances.
  • Don’t skip that next meeting. Find someone you haven’t met yet and sit with them.
  • Take advantage of off-site opportunities: workshops, seminars, and conferences.
  • Join email lists (listservs), Google groups, Facebook groups, or other virtual worlds that are in your field or possible partnership areas.
  • Join online tools, such as LinkedIn.
  • If you attend an exhibitions or expos as a vendor, talk to the attendees and the other vendors.
  • If nothing presents itself to you, seek out volunteer opportunities.  Volunteering is a positive experience that can open doors for you while assisting others.

In order for a networking experience to truly work, it should be mutually beneficial. “Excluding the search through want ads, studies have shown that 60 to 90 percent of jobs have been found because of personal contacts, relatives and friends” (see source below: OSBA).

Find people you can share ideas, work on presentations together, form partnerships with, advance your career, or more. Sometimes it’s as easy as sitting around a late night campfire that you find the people you can network with or that you find can be more than colleagues, they can become your friends.

2015-10-14 22.27.00
ABOS Conference, October 2015

Networking is the most fun part of my job. I appreciate learning something new from someone else in my field or from a different field’s perspective. I improve myself, my knowledge, and my career by simply finding new colleagues, patrons, and partners.

~I’m here to help

Further reading and resources:

Balacano, Tina Marie. 2016. The importance of networking for a person’s career & personal development… Linkedin. Retrieved from:

Ohio State Bar Association. 2016. The importance of networking. OSBA. Retrieved from:

School of Information. 2016. What is Networking? San José State University. Retrieved from:

Turner, Amber Leigh. 2016. 20 Social Networking Sites for Business. Sitepoint. Retrieved from:

Library Network Resources:

Librarians are great at networking. We pull together to share resources, compare programs, price shop, and share ideas. Being part of a Facebook group, library associations, or attending workshops and conferences are easily accessible to us worldwide.

ABOS. 2016. Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. Retrieved from:

ALA. 2016. Engage with ALA. American Library Association. Retrieved from:

ALA. 2016. Divisions. American Library Association. Retrieved from:

ALA. 2016. Getting involved in IFLA: an intro webinar for U.S. librarians. American Library Association. Retrieved from:

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. Retrieved from:

Library Facebook Groups:

Beynen, Kaya van and Swenson, Camielle. 2016. Exploring Peer-to-Peer Library Content and Engagement on a Student-Run Facebook Group Kaya van Beynen and Camielle Swenson. Retrieved from:

Jess. 2015. From ALA to Zuckerberg: Librarian Facebook Group. 5 Minute Librarian. Retrieve from:

Here are a few Facebook groups I have joined and find can be helpful: 

ALA Think Tank –

Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) –

Libraries & Social Media –

Library Employee Support Network –

Library Management Group –

WordPress and Librarians –

Illinois Reaching Forward Conference 2016






We are all people

This morning I was drinking a cup of hot tea and thinking about Fran. Fran was my mentor, my role model, and my friend when I was a young adult. She was the Polish cook at the church rectory in Berwyn where I grew up. I loved her like a grandmother and miss her since she passed away. She is on my mind because she was one of the kindest people I know, and she would have loved to hear about the last few weeks of my life.

I had the privilege of attending the IFLA Congress in Columbus, Ohio August 12-19, 2016.

IFLA First Timer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee SOIS, ALA: Libraries Transform

I was a first time attendee and am still in awe of this extraordinary event. Not only was it information overload, but to experience so many passionate librarians from all over the world was the coolest experience for this library nerd. 145 countries and over 4,000 librarians came together to share information, research, and experiences about libraries (public, academic, special, and more). Picture a week of meetings, learning sessions, exhibitions, poster sessions, and networking from 8:00am until late hours in the evening. I was in heaven and hell at the same time. Heaven was being surrounded by librarians who were thrilled to exchange information. Hell was not being able to possibly attend all of the opportunities available to me or absorb all of the information presented. But, I didn’t want it to end.


Today I feel compelled to write about the people I met. In my first hours at the Congress, I met kind librarians from Indiana, Colorado Springs, and Buffalo. I was in a section at the First Timers opening session with Indiana librarians. They were so excited to be part of the Congress and were welcoming. A shout out to the nice Indiana man, Jos, who refuses to be in the social media world for representing all the librarians that have put their foot down on not joining the masses in the virtual world as they prefer the real world. I met several librarians from Colorado Springs. A huge thank you to Tim for setting the tone for my perfect first day. He was so kind to try to help me find a “First Timer” badge label, and then offered to give me his since we couldn’t locate one. I didn’t see Tim the entire week again until the elevator ride after our very last session of the week. Hopefully, I didn’t scare him when I screamed his name because I was so delighted to see him again. To Ophelia from Buffalo for choosing to sit next to me at the Opening Session, thank you for laughing with me. I’ve never laughed so much with a complete stranger. After we exchanged business cards, I realized she is an Outreach Librarian too. No wonder we connected! Throughout the Congress I met people from all over the world who shared their stories with me.

After the First Timers and Opening Sessions, I tried to find food and somewhere to charge my phone. The food in Columbus was good. But skip the food court at the convention center. Searching for a place to charge my phone, I met librarians from France, Ohio, Canada, and Nigeria. Just when I was about to give up finding a place to charge, I spotted one chair near an open outlet. There was a gentleman charging and using his phone. He happened to look my way and waved me over. Since the outlet was by his chair, I handed him my phone cord to plug in. This was the start of a comedy of errors with the cords not fitting, him losing his phone call, and my phone getting plugged in without his.

Tina Christopher Exhibit Party
People are people.

After I laughed and apologized, we introduced ourselves. Without realizing it, we spoke for a few hours about the Congress. It was good to be able to talk to someone who was having a similar experience of being a First Timer at the Congress, who was as excited as I was to be among passionate and educated people in our field, and who was genuinely a nice person. Christopher taught me more than he will ever understand. I haven’t spoken to anyone from another country in a long time. I realized I had stereotypes about the different cultures. Once I realized that, I opened my mind to learning instead of judging. His boss attended the Congress and she really opened my eyes to women from other cultures. Within 30 seconds she grabbed my attention and I liked her. Another librarian had joined our conversation. He was nervous about finding his way in town to attend other meetings. We both gave him the same advice (paraphrasing): Find a librarian to ask for help. Librarians are librarians wherever you go. And by extension, people are  just people. People might have differences, but at the core we are just human beings trying to make it in this world. So to Christopher, Evelyn, and Indika, thank you for the fun, kindness, and insights you offered me. There are many more accounts of insights and kindness. A thank you to another Outreach Librarian, Wendy from Columbus. It was good to finally meet someone who has been an integral part of the ABOS organization.

Overall, I had wonderful conversations with some of the kindest people I’ve ever known.  I met librarians who touched my soul. I have made some new friends and many new colleagues. Thank you again to all those who supported me in attending the Congress! I hope to continue my research on all I learned and implement new ideas wherever I can. I will be writing blog posts about the various topics covered at the Congress. I had no intention of attending another IFLA Congress. But after this life changing experience, I’ve already started dreaming about next year’s IFLA Congress in Poland.


~I’m here to help


Further reading and resources:

2016 IFLA Congress. Retrieved from:

ALA. 2016. Getting involved in IFLA: Getting involved in IFLA: an intro webinar for U.S. librarians. Retrieved from:

Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. 2016. ABOS. Retrieved from:

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. Retrieved from:

OCLC: Awards and fellowships. Retrieved from:

President Barack Obama. 2016. Message from US President Barack Obama. Retrieved from:



Libraries as Community Centers

Libraries are… When you hear the word library, what images come to mind?

  • Books. Movies. Music. Magazines.
  • Computers.
  • Children storytime.
  • A Learning Center.
  • Fun family programs, like Comicopolis @ the White Oak Library.
  • A cool place to read a newspaper in the summer.
  • A warm place to attend a craft class in the winter.
  • In the beginning of each year, a place for tax forms and assistance.
  • Resources.

What would you think if you saw…

  • librarians talking to people about local resources?
  • a teenager hanging out at the library all day?
  • a family come in out of the cold to warm up at the library?
  • someone sleeping in the library?
  • children eating lunch provided by a local food pantry?
  • librarians delivering to people’s homes who can not make it in to the library?


People come to the library for many reasons. Some drop in to read or use a computer. Others are coming for a program – to learn or for some fun. Some of the people are healthy, others are seeking information about their illness. Some have Alzheimer’s and others have mental health concerns. Some of the people are literate, others are getting by with limited vocabulary. xSome of the people are poor, lonely, or homeless. What if the library was a community center for everyone? A place for knowledge and resources? A place where everyone feels welcome and safe? Librarians – as leaders, educators, mentors, and valuable resources of knowledge – are looking at how we can become something for everyone. We are striving to meet the needs of our community.

I have always thought that a library as a community center meant making the building as inviting as possible to as many different people as possible. While in school, my vision of what a library could be broadened. Reading about libraries partnering with community services and hiring social workers (instead of security companies), my image of a library has expanded.

To me, this is not a new, hot trend. Expanding outreach services and including a social worker is the answer. If the library is here for everyone to provide resources and fill the needs of our community, we need to work with knowledgeable and skilled people who can help. The first time I heard about a library embracing local resources from the community and providing them in the library was at the San Francisco Public Library. I read a few stories and thought I want to work here. Leah Esguerra, LMFT, of the San Francisco Public Library, was quoted “The library’s goal is to connect its homeless and indigent patrons to available community resources, where their basic needs for food, shelter, hygiene, and medical attention can be addressed.”

The Oak Park Library in Illinois has developed a program too. I met Robert Simmons in June 2016 during a library meeting. I was beyond excited to talk to him about how the library is developing their outreach program as a model of community engagement. He has developed a plan with Library Director David Seleb, the Outreach Services team, and the library staff. Robert talked about the benefits of a high level of engagement with staff and patrons. He’s leading with results with on-going staff training and updated resources, stronger community connections, more support from local law enforcement, expanded outreach services, and more people using the library.

Having a strong outreach services team with a social worker in the library is beneficial to everyone. Patrons – especially those who are homeless, have mental health problems, or dealing with substance abuse – will have guidance to local services. The library benefits from stronger relationships with local organizations and businesses. The community benefits from having a supportive library providing services to everyone within their community.

I know librarians who are against the concept of hiring social workers in libraries. One concern I have heard is that we do not have enough funding to do ‘what we are supposed to be doing’ already. My question to them is what do you think libraries are ‘supposed to’ be doing? Librarians attend meetings and conferences to develop a knowledge base for helping patrons with special needs, mental health problems, and coping with homelessness. But even an annual training session isn’t enough to give librarians the tools we need to serve our patrons. Librarians directly benefit from having a social worker in the library. What if you could have on-going training and support, have people and a plan in place, and be able to assist your residents? How can we not afford to hire an outreach team equipped with a social worker to network and partner with community leaders, organizations, and businesses that will benefit the patrons and librarians?

The amazing thing about providing these basic resources and filling these basic needs is that the library becomes a true community center. All people feel more comfortable, safer, and want to be there. People start using the library for what most people think it is there for – recall your original images of books, computers, programs, etc.20141025_135729.jpg

I invite you to read the articles and statistics in the links below. I’m inspired by the stories and cannot wait to hear the IFLA report at the upcoming IFLA Congress in Ohio on how libraries are helping homeless people and transforming the library world .

~I’m here to help


Further reading & resources:

ALA. 2016. Extending Our Reach: Reducing Homelessness Through Library Engagement. Retrieved from:

ALA. 2016. Serving At-Risk Patrons: Lessons from Library Social Workers. Programming Librarian. Retrieved from:

Blank, Barbara Trainin. 2016. Public Libraries Add Social Workers and Social Programs. Social Worker. Retrieved from:

Bunic, Sanja. 2016. On the front line: Libraries contribute to a sustainable future supporting people experiencing homelessness. IFLA. Retrieved from:

Goldberg, Eleanor. 2016. Library Offers Homeless People Mental Health Services, And It’s Working. Huffington Post. Retrieved from:

Irvall, Birgitta and Niesen, Gyda Skat. 20015. Access to libraries for persons with disabilities – Checklist. IFLA. Retrieved from:

Inklebarger, Timothy. 2016. Library beefs up social work approach: New model emphasizes community outreach. Oak Park. Retrieved from:

Journalist’s Resources. 2014. Homelessness in the United States: Trends and demographics. Retrieved from:

Quinton, Sophie. 2016. Enlisting Public Libraries to Help Fight Homelessness. Pew Trusts. Retrieved from:

SAMHSA. 2016. Homelessness: Programs and Resources. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from:

Schering, Steve. 2016. Library hires employee to work with homeless, at-risk people. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from:

Williams, Tina. 2016. Mental Health Library Patrons. Tina Here To Help. Retrieved from:

Zettervall, Sara. 2013. Deposit Collections in Homeless Shelters. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from:

Got the customer service blues?

Do you have the customer service blues? Or, work with someone who does?


Do you dread unlocking the doors in the morning for customers? Do you breathe a sigh of relief when a customer walks away without encountering a problem? Do you find yourself hoping the next customer doesn’t ask questions? Are you judging people based on your previous customer interactions? It sounds like you have the customer service blues.

When you work with the public, it’s easy to become jaded. It might feel like an endless stream of negativity. You might have even labeled some of your customers as difficult.

How do you change difficult customers? We want to fix other people so they don’t make our lives more difficult. How do you change them? The same way you change anything, change your behavior. This is not something people want to hear. When I say this in a training session, there are typically a few eye rolls and moans from the group. But after we take time to analyze it and adjust our behaviors, we notice that many of our customers are not difficult, cranky, or hard to handle. Some people are. But most are not. We can become numb because we focus on the negative. We don’t have control over other people, only ourselves.

Change Your Perspective

  • Have a positive attitude. You can create good habits almost as easily as bad habits. Read tips on how to do this in the resources below.
  • Be genuine and treat others well. Even when you are having a bad day, be the best you can offer. Your day will turn around by helping others and putting one step in front of the other.
  • Walk the walk. Talk the talk. You might feel guarded or negative about your job or your customers. Replace a negative thought with a positive thought. Practice smiling and being pleasant with each person.
  • Pretend each person is your first customer of the day. Treat each person with a fresh outlook. Don’t let one experience bleed into the next.  After awhile, it will become second nature and you can allow each experience to stand alone and not influence the next customer service experience.
  • Practice active listening. I have solved many problems over the years by listening and simply asking “how can I help you?” Even if I can’t resolve everything for the customer, the majority of people are satisfied they were able to tell their story. People want to be heard.
  • Give people another chance. Maybe the person is having a bad day. Offer empathy, patience, and understanding. Don’t label the person and put your guard up the next time you see them. Give them a second chance.

Are you miserable in your job? It might be time to analyze further.

  • Are you utilizing your skill set?
  • Do you have fun in your job?
  • Are you trying positive attitude techniques in your life and job?
  • Is this what you want to do?
  • If it’s what you need to do, do you have a plan and goals in place to change your path in the future?
  • You might need some time away from a customer service job or need to change careers. Often, time and space can offer the perspective you need.

What if you work with someone who is singing the customer service blues?

  • Be a leader and set a good example.
  • Listen.
  • Offer alternative reactions or solutions, if they are open to it.
  • Be a team player and step in when appropriate.

You Set The Tone. Remember, if you are in the customer service business, you set the tone. How do you feel about your customers? If your business numbers are down, look at your attitude and your co-workers’ attitudes. Most people will return to a business as long as they feel they were treated well.  This article, 16 Customer Service Skills That Drive Every Business, has a lot of good information, tips, and statistics. Here are two supporting facts:

  • 76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them
  • 66% of customers switch companies due to bad customer service.

Treat others well and they will treat you well. Your business will be rewarded with happy employees that will want to work and happy customers that will want to return. I believe we treat people well if we are living a healthy, happy life. It starts with you. Take care of yourself. Work toward a positive attitude. Treat people fairly. Spend more time listening and less time speaking. After all, we can only control ourselves.

I’m here to help

disney 2

Further reading & resources:

Daus, Caroline. 2015. What I Did About My Miserable Job. Huffington Post. Retrieved from:

Dewe, Craig. 11 Tips for Maintaining Your Positive Attitude. Life Hack. Retrieved from:

EABarnes. 2016. The Best of Customer Service – A Positive Attitude Counts. HubPages. Retrieved from:

Hansen, Mark Victor. 2016. It Takes a Positive Attitude to Achieve Positive Results. Success. Retrieved from:

OFlaherty, Declan. 8 Tips To Help Create A Positive Mental Attitude. Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from:

Robbie. 2016. 16 Customer Service Skills That Drive Every Business. JitBit. Retrieved from:

Walters, Natalie. 2016. 11 Signs Your Job Is Making You Miserable. Business Insider. Retrieved from:

Wycklendt, Megan. 2014. 10 Habits To Grow A Positive Attitude. Fulfillment Daily. Retrieved from:

Don’t forget to link to my Pinterest boards for more information and inspiration.


I’m celebrating one year of writing this blog. This is my 31st post. Almost 3,000 people have viewed what I’ve written. That is a humbling number. Thank you for reading, for your support, and for your feedback. And remember, if you need anything, contact me. I’m here to help! ~Tina