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Spring Institute For Youth Services 2024 Featured Speakers

Opening Keynote with Princess Castleberry - Unlock Your I.M.P.A.C.T.

Thursday 9:15 - 10:15 AM

Princess CastleberryToday, public libraries aren't just quiet spaces to study. They are the places where our communities convene for equitable access to information, where people of all ages come to learn and grow, and where possibilities for inclusion are reimagined.

Librarians are the servant leaders upholding these institutions - and it's time for you to be supercharged - not just with mere words, but by the power of your own actions. Get ready for Unlock Your I.M.P.A.C.T. - a transformative talk by Global Speaker and Wellness and Risk Management Consultant Princess Castleberry that allows you to scale your social, business, and community reach by prioritizing your mental health and well-being.

Princess Castleberry is a Global Speaker and Wellness and Risk Management Consultant who creates learning experiences for organizations that want to protect their people, purpose, and profits by making wellness actionable.

She has consulted enterprises across dozens of industries, solving complex people and operations challenges with over two decades of global risk management, HR, wellness, and facilitation expertise.

She commands audiences with a bold presence that lives up to her name, a thoughtful balance of humor, and actionable frameworks that position leaders from the C-Suite to the front line to take action. Princess has been featured at TEDxDetroit and in Fast Company, BenefitsPro, and Supply and Demand Chain Executive Magazines.

Afternoon Keynote with Kate Reynolds - From Lavender Librarian to Storytime Solidarity: An Alliterative Autistic Adventure

Thursday 4:00 - 5:00 PM

Kate Reynolds was diagnosed with autism in 2020 after years of physical and mental health struggles. Diagnosis was rebirth. In the years since, Kate - like many other neuroflavourful people - has begun a momentous shift from surviving to thriving. Join Kate as she shares her story and describes how folks of all neurotypes can better calibrate their lives and careers.

Kate ReynoldsKate Reynolds, best known to her over 40k followers as the Lavender Librarian, is a soprano, writer, speaker, patient advocate, content creator, and public librarian.

In 2020, Kate began blogging as “Lavender Librarian,” to help share her silly mask songs with other library workers as the world worked to stay safe from COVID-19. In 2021, she expanded her influence and created the Storytime Solidarity Facebook group to support librarians, teachers and families in the mission to bring inclusive, affirming, and anti-racist books and music to children.

Today Kate leads a global team of volunteers helping to make storytime more inclusive with their 6k+ member Facebook group, active presence on social media, and website welcoming up to a thousand users each week. Kate’s leadership has also earned the Solidarity team the honor of presenting the 2023 AB kids series through the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science, as part of their children, libraries and literacy initiative. The chair and series honors the legacy of Augusta Braxton Baker, the first African American, coordinator of the children’s services with NYPL and a role model for librarians. Kate is grateful for the opportunity to share her wisdom with so many helpers through her Storytime Solidarity and Lavender Librarian platforms. And on this beautiful day in the library, she’s thrilled to speak directly to the helpers at the MLA Spring Institute for Youth Services.

Morning Keynote with Tirzah Price - Safe in the Stacks

Friday 9:00 - 10:00 AM

Libraries are often billed as safe spaces for everyone, but the library can be a particular lifeline for teens. As schools and other public spaces become less safe for LGBTQ+ teens, our libraries are becoming more essential as both a place to access information, but also a physical place where young people can find refuge. We’ll explore how making the library a destination for teens takes more than just designating a “teen zone”—it means creating space for teens to learn, explore, process, and just exist, and advocating for structural changes when the need arises.

Tirzah PriceTirzah Price grew up on a farm in Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on and never outgrew her love for YA fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a former bookseller and librarian. Now, she’s a senior contributing editor at Book Riot, and co-host of the Hey YA podcast. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about YA books, she splits her time between experimenting in the kitchen and knitting enough socks to last through winter. She lives in Michigan.

Tirzah is pronounced TEER-zuh. Pronouns are she/her.

Closing Keynote with Eric Hemenway - All of the Voices are Equal: Telling Native Story in Public Places

Friday 3:15 - 4:15 PM

In many cases, native story is left out of the American story. But native story is essential in how the United States arrived to where it is today. This is a difficult story to tell and is often left out of public spaces, including schools, museums and parks. This keynote will discuss the necessity of including native story, through the lens of an Anishnaabe historian’s personal and professional experiences.

Eric HemenwayEric Hemenway is an Anishnaabe/Odawa from Cross Village, Michigan, and is the Director of Repatriation, Archives and Records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Eric oversees the management, collecting and preservation of historic documents and materials for the tribe. These materials are used to support LTBB government functions, its citizens and educational initiatives, such as; museum exhibits, media, curriculum, publications, historical interpretation, signage, web content and presentations. Collaborations on exhibits have included the National Park Service, state of Michigan, Mackinac State Historic Parks, Emmet County, Welt Museum Wien Vienna, Austria and the Harbor Springs History Museum. Educational partnerships include: Harbor Springs Public Schools, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Harvard, Yale and Aquinas College. Eric has also extensive work experience under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

He currently sits on boards for the Michigan Historical Commission and Central Michigan University Clarke Library and Little Traverse Conservancy. Eric is a former board member of the Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Historical Society, Emmet County Historical Commission, National NAGRPA Review Committee, Harbor Springs Historical Museum and the Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. He is the recipient of the Grand Rapids Public Museum Casey award 2010, Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award 2015 and Michigan Humanities Council Humanities Champion of the Year 2019.


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