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2019 MLA Conference: Keynote and Featured Speakers
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Keynote & Featured Speakers


Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran, CulturalCo, LLC

Connection between Conflict in the Workplace & our Work with Diverse Communities

Keynote Presentation: Thursday, September 19- 12:00pm

Workplace conflicts happen everywhere, and ignoring them can be very costly. A good place to start in understanding conflict is by realizing that conflict is actually normal and healthy. Experts have found that the most effective teams are those in which members feel safe enough to disagree with one another. Difference is at the heart of conflict, so it’s important to explore areas where we as information professionals often don’t align. Our cultural values influence our own biases and interactions, and our biases can then influence our interaction with others. Cultural awareness and understanding our biases are critical first steps towards improving our performance; however, we cannot stop there. Awareness alone does not guarantee success; the ultimate question is how to take that awareness and put it into action.



The Library as a Nonpartisan Community Hub for Voter Outreach and Education

Michael Wall, Voter Outreach Specialist for the Office of Minnesota Secretary of State
Zachariah Miller, Head of Communications at Minitex

Featured Session: Thursday, Sept. 19th - 8:10am

In 2018 Minnesota had- once again- the highest voter turnout in the country, including the highest youth turnout. That said, more than a third of eligible Minnesotans and over half of eligible young people here did not vote. Studies and anecdotal evidence have both shown that registration and voting increases as voters are educated in the processes and exposed to the voting experience, making them comfortable and familiar. Is the library the place to go to get registered, educated, and informed about candidates and issues? Should it be? This session will explore what libraries are doing around voter outreach, registration, and education (and how these tactics have been working) and what more they might do with resources and support from community and governmental partnerships. In addition to a brief presentation on the Minitex/OSS partnership, our discussion will be used to plan additional resources and to develop and facilitate community partnerships for interested libraries.



Our Window: Being Culturally Intelligent in Diverse Situations

Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran, CulturalCo, LLC

Featured Session: Thursday, Sept. 19th - 2:15pm

Our libraries are very diverse. Whether you work across international borders or interact with diversity closer to home, we deal with uniqueness and differences. Culture matters in how we market ourselves, how we market to our patrons, and ultimately can make the difference between whether you thrive or flounder when faced with an intercultural situation. Cultural intelligence is a form of intelligence that draws upon the ability to reformulate one's concept of self and others. It can be integrated with other forms of intelligence and applies to any cultural context (i.e., diversity initiatives, organizational culture, generational culture, gender culture, etc.). In this session learn how we can use cultural intelligence in order to ensure our biases and interactions do not influence judgments about others, as this directly affects a library’s inclusive work environment and the strength of the organizational culture.



Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon

Librarian Evolution: Libraries Thrive When We Change

Keynote Presentation: Friday, Sept. 20th - 12:00pm 

As Minnesota’s chief elections administrator, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon pledged in his inaugural address to “work with anyone, of any political affiliation, from any part of our state” to protect, defend, and strengthen the right to vote in Minnesota.  Join our Friday Keynote speaker to learn more about the importance of civic engagement and voting in the state, and how Minnesota libraries can support this important work.



Resources that Engage

Eden Bart, Program Officer at the Minnesota Humanities Center

Featured Session: Friday, Sept. 20th -10:30am

Searching for resources? Are you looking for new stories and compelling narratives that increase community engagement? The Minnesota Humanities Center’s (MHC) Absent Narratives Resource Collection contains award-winning videos, books, and resource guides that reflect the experiences, cultures, and perspectives of Minnesota’s increasingly diverse communities. Absent narratives bring into public life the stories and experiences of people and communities that are often left out or marginalized. Learn more about MHC’s Absent Narratives Approach™ and how to access resources for use in your libraries and communities.


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