Imagine the Possibilities

Spark Talks II

Friday, March 23, 5:15 PM–6:15 PM

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 201 ABC

Ready, Set, Go! Our presenters have only five minutes each to ignite some new ideas. Using a combination of innovative slides and lightning-fast talk, they’ll share a personal passion inspired by their work to fire-up you and your public library colleagues. If they go over five minutes, we’re using the big hook. The clock starts… NOW!

Presenter Topic
Rebecca Czarnecki, Denver (CO) Public Library Breaking Binary
Let’s break down the gender binary in five minutes. Assigning labels, like male or female, is how we understand the world around us. However, if we’re presented with a limited number of options, it can also be highly restrictive. The options we’re presented with become blinders that we don’t know how to see or think beyond. This talk aims to remove those blinders, challenge assumptions, and think beyond just the M or F box.
Karen Keys, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library Later Literacy
Early literacy, early literacy, early literacy! Do you work with teens? Are you sick of hearing about talking, writing, reading, playing, and singing for the under 5 set? Award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds has shared that he was 17 before he read a book cover to cover. It’s time to focus on later literacy and practices that will engage youth in books and stories.
Daniel Verbit, Philadelphia University Medical Websites That Don’t Make Your Patrons Hypochondriacs
Too often patrons ask Doctor Bing and Doctor Google about their health concerns, and the top results can be scary to the average consumer. A medical librarian with a specialization in consumer health will provide a quick “how to” for dealing with patron concerns and providing helpful web resources that don’t sell patron data or items. You will leave with the ability to help your patrons find solid vetted answers to many medical inquiries, and ways for you to learn more!
Amanda Feist, Saint Paul (MN) Public Library Serving Patrons Experiencing Homelessness in Your MakerSpace
Many people experiencing homelessness spend their days in the library. Are they accessing your library’s maker programming? Learn how Saint Paul Public Library staff has gone from cautiously accepting to fully promoting the library’s adult makerspace to all. The talk will cover frequently asked questions (such as setting boundaries, theft, and mental illness) and incredible outcomes, such as members using our space to create items they need to survive and repairing relationships of many kinds.
Patrick Hoecherl, Salt Lake City (UT) Public Library Staff Database Training in 5 Minutes or Less
Convincing staff to put in the time to learn about library databases can feel like pulling teeth. Learn how I used principles of microlearning to design a series of training exercises to help staff gain familiarity with library databases in five minutes or less, while also creating a fun gameful learning experience that staff actually enjoyed!
Julie Jurgens, Arlington Heights (IL) Memorial Library Youth Services: The Cockroach Dept. of the Library World
When the world ends, all we’ll be left with is Cher, Ringo Starr, Keith Richards, cockroaches, and youth services staff. Learn why YS is the alpha and omega of all library departments, and what you can learn from YS to make your department, library, and world a better place.
John Pappas, Cheltenham Township (PA) Library System Keeping Board Games and Board Game Events Inclusive
With the popularity of board games in popular media and in libraries, it is important to locate and promote board games with appropriate representation of marginalized voices. This brief talk will provide titles that do so. From Fog of Love to This War of Mine, these titles will move outside of the standard narrative that predominates in board gaming.

Order of presentation might change on the day of the session.

For questions about…

Cancellation Policy

The PLA 2018 Conference is offered on a cost-recovery basis. PLA reserves the right to cancel all or any part of this event if there is insufficient registration or for other reasons. Neither ALA nor PLA is responsible for cancellation charges assessed by the airlines or travel agencies, or other losses incurred due to the cancellation of the workshops. All information listed on this website is subject to change.

Attendee Cancellation Policy

Written cancellations, requests for refunds, and/or changes will be accepted until February 23, 2018, and are subject to a $30 handling fee. Refunds will be processed after April 23, 2018. According to PLA policy, all meal events require preregistration. The above cancellation/change information also applies to all preconferences, meal events, and tours. No meal tickets will be sold onsite.

Exhibitor Cancellation Policy

All booth space cancellation requests must be received in writing by Show Management (Corcoran Expositions). If space is reduced, the net reduction of space will be treated as a cancellation of that space. If Show Management receives a written request for cancellation of space on or before October 31, 2017, the exhibitor will be eligible for a refund less the nonrefundable deposit of $950 per 100 square feet of exhibit space. For cancellations received after October 31, 2017, exhibitors are liable for 100% of the cost of space.


Print and electronic advertising opportunities are available to reach PLA members and attendees both before and during the conference.


Interested in exhibiting at PLA 2018? Contact Carly DiVito, Corcoran Expositions, at 312-541-0567 or


Contact Macey Morales, Deputy Director, ALA Public Awareness Office, 312-280-4393 or Please review our conference media policy.


ALA and PLA membership is managed by the ALA Membership & Customer Service (MACS) unit. You can join or renew/rejoin/add to your membership using ALA’s secure online form; or you can print and fill out a membership form and fax or mail it in; or call 800-545-2433 and press 5. Direct your membership questions to MACS at or 800-545-2433 and press 5. MACS representatives are available Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Central.

Registration & Housing

Problems or questions regarding registration or housing? Contact Experient at or 800-424-5249 (U.S. and Canada)/847-996-5829 (all other countries). Experient representatives are available Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–6:00 PM Eastern.


To discuss PLA 2018 sponsorship opportunities, contact Corcoran Expositions, Mary Michalik at 312-265-9650,; or Matt McLaughlin at 312-265-9655,

Thank You PLA 2018 Conference Sponsors!

Other Questions

Many commonly asked questions are answered in our FAQ. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for, please contact PLA at 800-545-2433 x5PLA (x5752) or Or the PLA Staff directory may help you find just the right person to ask.

PLA 2016 Archive

Looking for handouts and other information from the PLA 2016 Conference, which took place April 5–9, 2016 in Denver, CO? The PLA 2016 Conference website has been archived at

View the list of past PLA Conferences from 1983 to present.