Save the Date – ULA Fall Workshop

ULA Fall Workshop

Friday, September 30, 2016

Grand County Library

Moab, Utah

Theme:  Libraries: “Archway to the Future”


Session topics will include advocacy, State Library offerings, health & wellness resources, and others TBD.  The luncheon speaker will be Roy Webb from the University of Utah, a river running specialist and author.  More details to come.  Please save the date and plan to join us for a great time in scenic Southeast Utah.

2016 Conference: Keep on Learning


By: Dustin Fife

ULA Past-President

Annual conference has come and gone. I had an incredible experience because of all of you. I want to express gratitude to everyone who helped plan and execute the conference, and to everyone who presented. The annual conference is one of the best ways to share information and make all our libraries better. Conferences also always help me rejuvenate and prepare for the future. Once again, thank you to all who participated.

We now have several ways to help the learning continue, for those who attended and those who could not. First of all, using the conference hashtag (#ula2016) we have pulled all of the conference tweets and Instagram posts together into one feed using Storify. See what everyone was saying throughout the conference here:

ULA Conference Storify

We are also posting presentations through the online scheduling tool You can find the program here:

Conference Program

If you click on individual presentations such as this one, you can then find links to the individual presentations, just like this.

One of the most important things that you can do to continue the learning though, is to help us collect feedback so that we can make future conferences better. Please fill out the conference survey here:

Conference Survey

Once more, thank you to all who participated. I am excited to see the incredible things that will come from our new ULA President Jami Carter and President-Elect Dan Compton.


Failure is definitely an option (not to mention inevitable)

StrikethroughHeader-1By: Pamela Martin, Utah Library Association Past-President and Idaho Resident

Are you allowed to fail at work?

While it’s probably not great to continually fail at work, failure is an unavoidable part of work, and it should be welcome. Failure teaches us what we are doing wrong and challenges us to be better. As a reference and instruction librarian, I expect my students to be aware of this. I try to teach my students that failure is just part of research – that you actually learn to search better as you fail at searches. In the databases, seemingly perfect keywords will fail you, and titles that seem pertinent will disguise useless, irrelevant information.  Researching is a process of trial and error that can all too often be a little heavy on the errors. However, even if students believe me, they don’t like coming to terms with this truth.

And why should they? None of us enjoy failing. While this is particularly true in the workplace, fear of failure is also heightened online, where we post our successes and hide our flaws. Social media can be a powerful sharing tool; however, all we can really share is a small part of our true experience. And if the partial reality reflected in social media is often deceptively rosy, so, too, is the reality portrayed at most professional conferences. At library conferences, our best and brightest discuss their shiniest successes. While this kind of event can be inspiring, it can also be demoralizing. Often we listen to stories of success that seem too far out of reach or aren’t replicable at our institutions. Presenters often don’t mention the many failures along the way, or if they do these failures are seen as trivial obstacles, barely worth mentioning.

That’s why I’m excited to attend Strikethrough, ULA’s failure workshop. If we expect our students to embrace failure, we must do the same. We need to allow (encourage?) failure in the workplace. Failure can teach us as much as – if not more than – tales of success. I believe by demystifying failure within librarianship we can encourage innovation and enjoy more success.


 I love words. Merriam and Webster were some of my earliest friends. Once I could create a sentence on paper, my mother gave me my own dictionary and thesaurus. I began writing stories and journaling. I looked up word after word to describe experiences and people. I discovered new words and loved using them in a way that truly captured a moment.

I’m sure you can imagine my dismay when I discovered my word expert friends were wrong about a word like failure! Their definition is:

  • A lack of success
  • A falling short
  • One who has failed

This hardly seems correct, does it? I spent much of my life using the word “failure” as they defined it. A hard line of performance or non-performance – and even worse – used to describe people. Through even a little bit of life experience, I believe many people would agree, a new definition is in order.

I’m attending Strikethrough to redefine failure for myself. Language is powerful. So, it will take a conscious effort to realign my instincts with a positive connotation. I look forward to designing failure into the culture in my library and my home. I look forward to redefining failure in a way that doesn’t describe defeat – but as an intentional and necessary piece of success.

Strikethrough: Utah Library Association Failure Workshop

By: Jami Carter, Director of the Tooele City Library and President-Elect of the Utah Library Association


With All Due Respect, I Fail And So Do You

StrikethroughHeader-1By: Dustin Fife, Outreach and Patron Services Librarian for Utah Valley University Library and Utah Library Association President

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

February 19, 2016 will be all about failure, and that is a good thing. We are going to talk about failure, we are going to look inwards and outwards, and we are going to work on individually and institutionally accepting risk as part of the process. Over the next few weeks, several of the organizers of Strikethrough will be sharing their thoughts about failure and why you should attend this upcoming ULA workshop. Strikethrough will feature Maureen Sullivan as the keynote speaker, along with many other compelling voices to help everyone evaluate the way they incorporate failure and risk into their lives and institutions. You can learn more about the workshop and register here.

There are many reasons that this topic is important to me and many reasons I want you to attend the workshop. But let’s start at the beginning, something I think everyone can understand, personal insecurity!

I’m helping organize the event. We’ve all set a date before, planned every last detail, prepared all that we can, and still woken in the middle of the night afraid that no one will attend an upcoming event. Usually this is not life or death, but regardless, you still want people to attend because by trying something you have exposed yourself. You have made yourself vulnerable. I have personally invested in this project. ULA and The City Library are spending money, bringing in speakers, and using many volunteer hours to make this happen. It is always scary to plan an event. I am always scared that no one is going to show up, whether it is for storytime or a lecture.

Earlier this year, with my amazing friends and colleagues Jessica Breiman and Rebekah Cummings, I helped organize a Wikipedia-edit-a-thon. We put a significant amount of energy into this event, and sadly, very few people came. You know why no one came? Because I forgot to check an events calendar. The edit-a-thon coincided with a nationally-televised football game. There was no parking, the campus was basically shutdown, and no one wanted to stick around to learn about Wikipedia. Huge oversight on my part. But that is how it goes when you are planning events, you cannot catch everything, but you should definitely check relevant events calendars.

More importantly though, this is truly an important topic. I love the quote at the beginning of this article. If you do nothing, it is unlikely that something good will happen. Some people believe that if you do nothing, nothing bad can happen either, but that just is not true. No matter what you do personally or institutionally, life moves on. Talking about failure is not an exercise in commiseration, but an opportunity to shape movement. As individuals and libraries, we have to move forward. Sometimes we move two steps forward and ten steps backwards, but that effort of will, of risk, of making ourselves vulnerable is important. That is when we learn the most. That is when we grow the most. C.S. Lewis says it well, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

I care about libraries and library employees. If you know me, you know I love libraries. I love the principles of librarianship, I love the traditional goals of librarianship, and I love the many different ways we have attempted to engender those principles and accomplish those goals. Libraries are important. Library employees serve an essential societal role. This is  important to me because there is so much more that libraries can do. It will take leadership from the top and bottom to keep libraries moving forward, and this is one of the most important conversations for making sure we are always on the move. The joy is in the journey.

Come to Strikethrough, join this important conversation, which I’m sure many of you are already having, and take it back to your libraries and lives.

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres

For many other great quotes about failure look here.