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SPEAKER: Nora Blake, President, Massachusetts Library Association
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30 Black Moments and The Challenge of Oblivia

Anika Nailah, former professor at Wheaton, Cambridge, and Smith colleges, discusses what life is like for African Americans in a USA where self-described white allies don’t know what they don’t know. Cultural liberationist, author, and anti-racism consultant, Nailah uses her book, Every Day in the USA: 30 Black Moments–written in the style of Langston Hughes’ Black Misery–to portray white characters in illustrated cross-racial scenarios of microaggressions they don’t even know they are perpetuating. Where are you in these scenarios and what power do you have to build genuine alliance against racial injustice?
Anika Nailah, Author and social justice educator


Inclusive Library Services: New Tools and Techniques to Reach People with Disabilities
Libraries need to review efforts to serve people with disabilities, who reflect a range of needs for which there is no one-size-fits-all program. A good first step is to take a closer look at the new Planning for Library Accessibility Guide, a collaboration between the Braille and Talking Book Library at Perkins Library and Brooks Free Library. Learn about groundbreaking technologies that affect library service to the visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing communities.
: Shelley Quezada, Consultant, Library Services to Underserved Populations, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
SPEAKERS: Carla Burke, Assistive Technology Coordinator, Brooks Free Library, Harwich; Erin Fragola, Library Outreach Coordinator, Perkins Library; Jonathan O’Dell, Assistive Technology and Training Specialist, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

This session is pre-recorded.

Redefining Essential: Public Libraries as Command Centers
During the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries across the nation have adapted services to meet the needs of their communities. At the Turner Free Library, these changes extended beyond offering curbside pickups and remote technology assistance to include a broader public health mission. Since March of 2020, the Library has taken a lead role in public health initiatives by helping to disseminate public health information, acted as a mask distribution center, and assisted more than 400 applicants (and counting!) in need of groceries, rent, and mortgage expenses, and requests of financial aid through the United Way Resilient Randolph Fund. The panel will discuss their experiences and the role public libraries can play during a crisis.
: Gerard F. Cody, REHS/RS, Commissioner of Public Health, Town of Randolph; Elizabeth LaRosee, Director of Library, Recreation, and Community Programs, Town of Randolph; Sharon Parrington Wright, Library Director, Turner Free Library, Randolph

We are READY: MA Youth Services Staff Making Change with Project READY
In the summer of 2020, the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) introduced youth services library staff to a self-paced, online curriculum aiming to address racism in libraries and to develop culturally sustaining programs and services for youth of color and Indigenous youth across the country. This program, Project READY (Reimagining Equity & Access for Diverse Youth), was developed at the UNC School of Information and Library Science in 2019, and Massachusetts was one of the first states to roll it out on a large scale.

Over the course of the last year, more than 100 public and school library staff in MA have participated, meeting virtually in small cohorts to discuss what they learn in each carefully crafted module. MLS Consultant, Christi Showman Farrar, along with Project READY participants, will share how this program came to MA, how it is impacting library service in MA, and how you too can become READY.
SPEAKERS: Christi Showman Farrar, Consultant, Massachusetts Library System; Jessica Phillips, Youth Services Librarian, Norwell Public Library; Erin Daly, Youth Services Coordinator, Chicopee Public Library

HarperCollins Book Buzz
Join the HarperCollins Library Marketing Team (aka Library Love Fest) for a must-see book buzz! We’ll be chatting Summer and Fall 2021 Adult highlights from HarperCollins Publishers that are sure to be a hit with your patrons!
SPEAKERS: Virginia Stanley, Director of Library Marketing, HarperCollins; Lainey Mays, Marketing Assistant, HarperCollins


Public Library as Refuge: Social Service Efforts at the Boston Public Library
Similar to many public libraries across Massachusetts and the rest of the United States, the Boston Public Library is constantly responding to and evolving its resources and services to meet the needs of unsheltered individuals and those affected by mental health conditions. The panel will share ongoing efforts to connect people with social services and harm reduction resources while maintaining patron privacy; review opt-in training opportunities to empower staff with de-escalation training and overdose prevention awareness; and discuss types of outreach partnerships with local shelters to eliminate potential barriers individuals may face in attempts to become valued and engaged library patrons.
SPEAKERS: Michael Colford, Director of Library Services, Boston Public Library; Jessica Elias, Community Learning Team Leader, Boston Public Library; Ally Dowds, Public Services Division Head, Reading Public Library

Escape Your Pigeon Hole
Just because you’ve worked in public libraries–or special, school, or academic–forever, you don’t have to feel permanently classified. These panelists refocused their careers to spread their wings and get out of their pigeon holes. It might look scary outside, but it could also give a new perspective on your career.
SPEAKERS: Marie Letarte, Bigelow Free Library; Jennifer Woodward, Assistant Director, Falmouth Public Library; Austin Clark, Library Media Specialist, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School; Barrie Mooney, Head of Research & User Experience, Assumption College

Troublesome Tech Trends
In libraries, we see how the social impact of tech trends affects our patrons every day. Are policies, law, and social norms keeping up with the digital tools we offer? And what about new technologies that inadvertently affect libraries and their spaces, or impact them in ways that are less visible? This multi-topic panel will address some of the hottest topics in tech and their impact on libraries and the communities we serve, and connect the dots of how they boil down to questions of privacy and security.
SPEAKERS: Callan Bignoli, Library Director, Olin College of Engineering; TJ Lamanna, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Cherry Hill Public Library

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AUTHOR SESSION: Ben Philippe, Author, Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend
In the biting, hilarious vein of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life—comes Ben Philippe’s candid memoir-in-essays, chronicling a lifetime of being the Black friend (see also: foreign kid, boyfriend, coworker, student, teacher, roommate, enemy) in predominantly white spaces.
MODERATOR: Alene Moroni,Head of Reference/Information Services Co-Coordinator, Forbes Library, Northampton
SPEAKER: Ben Philippe, Author

We’re All in Crisis Now
Before COVID-19 upended most our work, we talked a lot about compassion fatigue in our field as we attempt to help our patrons through their personal challenges. Some libraries have social workers, some go through Mental Health First Aid Training, and all are committed to serving everyone – to the point of sometimes not taking care of ourselves or recognizing our own problems. The pandemic has accentuated how much library staff must handle professionally and exacerbated our personal concerns. How do we take care of ourselves and our teams? How do we recognize and support staff who are going through their own health, economic, or family crises? “Self-care” is a phrase that is tossed around, but what does that mean and is it something we can incorporate into our workplaces? What resources are available for both patrons and library staff?
MODERATOR: Jennifer Inglis, Lynnfield Public Library
SPEAKERS: Eileen Davis, MASS 2-1-1 Vice President and Director of Call2Talk, United Way of Tri-County; Erica McNamara, Director, Reading Coalition for Prevention & Support; Peg Sallade, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator, Town of Lynnfield

Resumes, Cover Letters, Interviews, Oh My!
Attend an open discussion with seasoned hiring agents for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) about how to maximize your potential to get that job you want. We will give attendees some specific examples of things not to do, and encourage everyone toward best practices and strategies.
SPEAKERS: Sara Slymon, Library Director, Brookline; Kelly Linehan, Library Director, Waltham; Patty DiTullio, Library Director, Ipswich

Actively Anti-Racist Library Service to Leisure Readers
Increasing the collection and circulation of titles written by underrepresented authors is not a trend. Providing a robust readers’ advisory service that values equity, diversity, and inclusion principles is essential to all library service. But moving from being a neutral, well-meaning library where systemic racism is acknowledged to an actively anti-racist organization involves work, some of which will be uncomfortable at first. In this program, participants will begin that work, learning tangible skills to help build enthusiasm for reading and discovering diverse books to deepen RA service through thoughtful inclusion of EDI principles in all interactions with leisure readers and become a steward of the anti-racist mindset for your organization. Readers’ Advisory specialist Becky Spratford will help move your team from merely discussing why putting EDI concerns at the forefront of all your work with leisure readers is important to the how, including an honest look at action steps for all staff. While it may seem hard at first, Becky will help you shift your focus allowing your entire organization to craft an actionable plan to incorporate EDI values into your normal RA practices. All you need is a little nudge in the right direction and a commitment to begin the march forward.
SPEAKER: Becky Siegel Spratford, MLIS Readers’ Advisor, Berwyn IL Public Library, Blog Master (, author (The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd ed.), EBSCO Novelist and Booklist contributor

Trivia Challenge
Think you’ve got what it takes to win the annual trivia challenge? Trivia Master, Nora Blake will present questions to teams ready to compete for the coveted trivia trophy —and bragging rights. Come with a team or join one when you arrive.



Expanding Your Library’s Advocacy Potential to the Max
John Chrastka, Executive Director at EveryLibrary, a political action committee with a mission to support libraries, will describe how all stakeholders in a library’s success have an important role to play in library advocacy. As we face austerity budgets at all levels of government, your community’s advocacy is key in building support among elected and other officials who control the finances. Advocacy is not difficult; it is perfectly legal and essential for your library’s future. Public libraries in the Commonwealth all rely on funding to MBLC for key components of service, including delivery, electronic content, and many other forms of support. Discover which advocacy roles are most appropriate for you, your staff members, library trustees and friends, and patrons in supporting your library at both the local and statewide level.
SPEAKER: John Chrastka, Executive Director, EveryLibrary


Controlling the Beast: Making Social Media Work for Your #Librarylife
Are you nervous about developing a social media plan at your library? Do you feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do Twitter on top of all your other work? Find content for your library’s social media and develop consistent messaging across platforms without feeling like it’s running your whole day. Members of MLA’s Public Relations Committee’s social media team will share tips for finding and creating engaging content and discuss how they organized MLA’s messaging and workflow to better align with the Association’s goals. Learn how you, too can take on social media marketing at your library without feeling out of control.
MODERATOR: Manny Leite, Director, Boyden Library, Foxborough
SPEAKERS: Andrea Puglisi, Public Relations Chair, Massachusetts Library Association; Erin Fragola, Media & Outreach Coordinator, Perkins Library

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Find King Arthur at the Library
The Needham Free Public Library baked up some fun with the King Arthur Baking Company through their program Bake for Good. Via the library, baking kits from King Arthur were distributed to families who learned how to bake bread and were then encouraged to share their loaves beyond their household. Learn about this free program and how it can incorporate STEM concepts like math and food chemistry all while giving back to your community.
SPEAKERS: Paula Dugan, Children’s Supervisor, Needham Free Public Library; Amy Driscoll, Manager, Bake for Good Kids Program, King Arthur Flour; Erin Basset, Young Adult Librarian, Needham Free Public Library

YSS Annual Meeting/How has Youth Services Reader’s Advisory Changed in a Post Pandemic World?
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the way librarians connect with young patrons and their families. We have come up with innovative ways to reach kids and families and to get books in their hands both physically and virtually. But what can we expect when the pandemic starts to wane and we start stumbling our way back to normalcy? How will we continue and/or transition these popular personalized services (cough*Curbside*cough) that patrons have grown to expect? The Westwood Youth Services department has been hard at work hand-picking books for a variety of ages and stages throughout this pandemic through our popular Book Bundle Service. While this has been a fun challenge, it has also raised a lot of philosophical questions about how we pick books for kids who aren’t standing right in front of us. We have found ourselves saying, “Would you give [insert random book here] to a 6th grader?” and repeat, ad nauseam. It’s one thing to have books on the shelves that patrons discover on their own or book talk directly to the kid to let them make their choices. But in this brave new world, we are increasingly picking books for kids through their parents. What are the implications for patron privacy and kids’ right to pick their own books? In this panel discussion, we will go over some of the things we love and don’t love about this new kind of library service and how these changes will affect the way patrons of all ages view and interact with the library. There will be a brief section meeting during this session.
SPEAKERS: Kristy Pasquariello, Children’s Librarian, Westwood Public Library; Felicia O’Keefe, Teen Librarian, Westwood Public Library; Elizabeth McGovern, Assistant Director and Head of Youth Services, Westwood Public Library

Paraganza! Paralibrarian Annual Meeting and Awards
Join us for the Paralibrarian Section Annual Meeting and awards ceremony. Awards for Outstanding Library Support Staff of the Year, Support Staff Advocate of the Year, Paralibrarian Recognition of Achievement certificates, and Book Cart Drill Team will be announced.
SPEAKERS: Anna McGrath, Chair, Paralibrarian Section; Patty Bailey, Awards, Paralibrarian Section; Karen Horn, Chair, Career Development, Paralibrarian Section

Twitch, Discord, and Zoom: Navigating Platforms for Digital Teen Programming
After suddenly closing their physical spaces, the teen librarians of the Boston Public Library and Fall River Public Library turned to streaming and instant messaging services Twitch and Discord to provide free digital programming and stay in touch with their teen patrons. Along the way, both libraries had to navigate several new challenges, such as figuring out technical guidelines for streaming set-ups, what kind of programs work best for the library, how to bring programs to teens and tweens while quarantined at home, and most importantly: how to have fun navigating the digital landscape spiraling out of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will discuss about what worked, what didn’t, and provide a few tips on how to host virtual teen programs on a regular basis.
SPEAKERS: Taylor Silva, Young Adult Librarian, Fall River Public Library; Stephen Toropov, Young Adults Librarian, Boston Public Library

Introducing the ABCs!: Early Literacy in Storytimes
What is Early Literacy, and how do you put it into action at your library? This program presents two tried and true early literacy programs: Baby Storytime and Alphabits! Baby Storytime allows you to tailor your activities specifically to engaging babies and their caregivers, building a lifelong love for books and libraries. Alphabits sets preschoolers up for success by helping them identify letters with stories, songs, and other activities. Discover how librarians have implemented these popular programs at their libraries, and learn how you can too!
SPEAKERS: Jessica Block, Head of Youth Services, Ames Free Library; Steven Fowler, Senior Youth Services Librarian, Bellingham Public Library; Nicole Guerra-Coon, Assistant Children’s Librarian, Morrill Memorial Library, Norwood

Community Connections: Crossing the Generational Divide
Two sessions in one! In part one, representatives from Belmont Public Library will discuss their first intergen, cross-departmental pen pal program, to create community connection in a time of isolation. Now nearing the end of their second round, they will share what they learned, surprises, and what not to do when starting your own pen pal program, in Covid-times and beyond!

In part two, learn how to connect with older adults who are worried about going to public places or may not able to visit due to physical and cognitive issues. Many living in senior facilities are not visited by their local library. Information will also be shared from interviews with librarians from around the country who are currently working and creating programs for older adults. Learn to better understand the older adult population, improve interactions with older adults and how to provide programs that enhance quality of life.

SPEAKERS: Phyllis Goodman, retired librarian and author; Amy Loustau, Children’s Librarian, Belmont Public Library; Corinne Coveney, Community Outreach Librarian, Belmont Public Library; Hannah Lee, Young Adult Services Librarian, Belmont Public Library

Crash!: Where Graphic Novels and Social Emotional Learning Converge
In the past decade, the graphic novel format has fought its way to the top of youth book award registers and best seller lists. Today, graphic novels have the unique and powerful distinction of being able to influence youth as to the value of social and emotional knowledge. This program will outline the salient kid and teen graphic novels that can be leveraged as a springboard for enhanced emotional understanding. In addition, the presentation will highlight some programming notes as well as spotlighting noteworthy background information on trends in both graphic novels and social emotional learning. Participants will receive a book list with programming prompts and booktalking highlights.
SPEAKERS: Monica Brennan, Head of Youth Services, Westerly Library and Wilcox Park; Lee-Ann Galli, Young Adult Librarian, North Kingstown Free Library; McKenna Parnes, Clinical Psychology Doctoral Candidate, Suffolk University

Swiveling Services During COVID-19 and Beyond: Creating a Digital Branch
When the Morse Institute Library closed due to COVID-19, the service desk was no longer accessible, but a knowledgeable staff was still ready to meet community needs for information services, readers’ services, library programming, and outreach services. In this panel discussion, staff from the Morse Institute Library in Natick will discuss the process of pivoting to virtual programming and creating a “digital branch” to support it. The panel will discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how the team was able to effectively redesign the library’s web-presence/website by utilizing on-site staff talent in a new way. They will also speak to how programming for adults, teens, and children initially pivoted to virtual services/programming with staff having limited experience with online programming. The panel will also discuss how each department contributed and overcame boundaries in technology comfortability, and how the forming of the Digital Branch hub influenced the longer term push to virtual programming during COVID and beyond.
SPEAKERS: Kate Sawisch, Head of Knowledge and Community Services, Morse Institute Library, Natick; Shannon Astolfi, Research/Digital Branch Librarian, Morse Institute Library; Ellen Sullivan, Children’s Assistant, Morse Institute Library, Natick

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Come test your ’80s music, television and movie knowledge and participate in Music Bingo! Just like regular bingo, but totally tubular!

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Join us for the annual business meeting featuring special guest, Julius C. Jefferson Jr., President, American Library Association with additional remarks by MLA President, Nora Blake and incoming MLA President, Joanne Lamothe. At the session, the annual budget, a new Programming Section will be introduced for a vote and Hall of Fame winners will be announced.
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Building Communities through Conversation and Connection
How can the library be a leader and center for positive change in your community? Start a conversation! In an age where politics has become highly polarized, libraries must take this vital first step in connecting people around what matters to them, creating sustainable solutions that address the complex challenges facing all levels of society. Cooperative convening methodologies center around respectful and inclusive dialogue that is both a hard-wired way for humans to learn from one another, and a healthy antidote to feelings of isolation, overwhelm, and distrust. And they can be hosted virtually! Learn how connecting people through meaningful conversation and collective “problem defining” is the first step towards building productive networks and coalitions based on shared values, challenges, and goals. This session will be both informational and experiential as presenters explain the “What” and “Why,” and also facilitate a brief virtual conversation process with attendees. By combining rationale and experience, the presenters hope to stimulate interest and ideas about how libraries can become “conveners” of those important conversations we so desperately need to have.
SPEAKERS: Amy Fang Lannon, Director, Reading Public Library; Deborah Gilburg, Principal, Gilburg Leadership Incorporated


Libraries and Disabilities
Is your library a welcoming place for those with physical and developmental disabilities? What are the ADA guidelines for the physical space? Do you have adaptive equipment in your library, either to use in house or to borrow? What about service animals in the library? What qualifies as a service animal?
MODERATOR: Gerry Deyermond, Assistant Head of Circulation, Memorial Hall Library, Paralibrarian section
SPEAKERS: Virginia Johnson, Director, John Curtis Free Library, Hanover;Moss Lynch, Assistant Director, Training and Communications, Massachusetts Office on Disability; Mary Mahon McCauley, Executive Director, Massachusetts Office on Disability

The Happiness Project: A Fun and Easy Year-Long Book Club
Who doesn’t want to be happier?!? The Happiness Project Book Club, offered by the Dracut Library in January of 2018, was an easy sell to patrons. Members read one chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s book each month and discussed it in meetings that were educational, supportive and fun. The presenter will share her program design and what she supplemented the text with (like the time she borrowed double dutch jump ropes from the local grammar school to reinforce “Play”). Participants will be encouraged to think of book clubs in a different light, because–although it wasn’t the plan–her readers reflected that for all the changes they made, it was the book club itself that added the most happiness to their lives.
SPEAKER: Amy Spence, School Librarian, Innovation Academy

AUTHOR SESSION: Juliette Fay, Author, Catch Us When We Fall
If you love the emotionally complex novels of JoJo Moyes and the dramatic books of Jodi Picoult, you won’t want to miss this newest book about second chances, redemption, and the power of hope from USA Today bestselling author of Shelter Me, Juliette Fay.

MODERATOR: Alene Moroni, Head of Reference/Information Services Co-Coordinator, Forbes Library, Northampton
SPEAKER: Juliette Fay, Author

No More Silos: Keys to Implementing Self-Management to Fully Empower Staff
When challenged to create an organizational chart for a library that is patron–and not staff–focused, it is unlikely we would come up with the cumbersome, siloed org charts we are used to in libraries. What can we gain from doing away with traditional library departments, and how can we incorporate what we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic about new ways of working? In this session, attendees will learn from the self-management, or holacracy, movement, consider how to implement a new structure that prioritizes supporting staff skills and expertise and significant cross-training, empowering staff to manage their own time and participate in and lead organizational projects. The presenter will share information about self-management, share resources and examples, and lead participants through hands-on activities, including visual mapping, matrix-based allocation, and a “World Cafe” style brainstorming session to get participants thinking about how their organizational structure could be more patron-focused. The program will also discuss challenges, address how this might work in a unionized environment, and share tips on the importance of recruitment and hiring in sustaining this type of change.
SPEAKER: Stephanie Chase, Principal, Constructive Disruption
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(Not) Another Anti-Racism Reading Group: Walking the Talk
Author and professor Ibram X. Kendi wrote, “The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it.” In the months since the Black Lives Matter uprisings in the summer of 2020, much has been written about the use of reading lists and book clubs to educate and facilitate difficult conversations about racism, and much more has been said in the years leading up to these events. Reading groups are often proposed as a means of introducing people to new or challenging topics, and just as often criticized as an inadequate, feel-good band-aid that can be applied with little effort and little impact beyond individuals’ possible personal growth. This panel shares the methods and outcomes of an anti-racist reading group established by the UNC Greensboro Libraries Diversity Committee. By focusing on connecting concepts to the readers’ work in librarianship and addressing the issues within our workplace, our reading group sought to not just identify and describe racism but also identify the means by which we may work towards dismantling it within our own institution. Over the course of six months, this group produced a number of actionable/measurable goals based on conversations in each session, which resulted in the creation of a mentoring circles group, hiring practices committee, and antiracist resource library. This panel will describe our goal setting, facilitation methods, organization and activation strategies, as well as considerations for the future.
SPEAKERS: Melody Rood, Student Success Librarian, UNCG; Juanita Thacker, Information Literacy Lecturer, UNCG; Deborah Caldwell, Diversity Resident Librarian, UNCG; Suzanne Sawyer, Preservation Specialist, UNCG

Does the Mayor Have a Library Card: Understanding Local Government and Making Libraries Important To It
There are 351 communities in Massachusetts, and no two govern the same way. In this session, you’ll learn about different government structures, from town meeting to mayor, what a charter may mean for your library and board of trustees, tips for working with the select board and finance committee, and more. This panel will feature representatives from different aspects of town government from across the state who will share their perspective of working with the library from the municipal side. By understanding the perspective of local government, librarians and advocates will be able to improve their advocacy efforts and working relationships.
MODERATOR: Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist, MBLC
SPEAKERS: Mehreen N. Butt, Wakefield Town Councilor; Nicole LaChapelle, Mayor, City of Easthampton; John Mangiaratti, Acton Town Manager


It’s an Equity Issue: Why Public Libraries Should Have a Dedicated Teen Services Librarian
Public libraries aim to provide equitable services to all members of their community. However, there are often notable disparities in how resources, staffing, and services are allocated by age, which are further compounded by race and ethnicity. This inequity is particularly significant with the teen demographic. Utilizing research data as well as educational and psychological theory, this session will cover: why a dedicated teen services librarian is crucial to the developmental needs of this age group; how a teen services department helps bridge the equity gap; and the benefits of having a robust teen service department in the library. Attendees will leave with takeaways for how to advocate for teen services with stakeholders and other staff. This session is part of the YALSA/COSLA IMLS-funded “Transforming Teen Services” project. Administrators are encouraged to attend!
SPEAKERS: Lyndsay Forbes, Project Manager and Grants Specialist, MBLC; Christi Showman Farrar, Consultant, MLS

Library Director Open Discussion: Governor Baker’s Announcement