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Project SET 2018: Annual Meeting Presentations

Project SET: Skills, Empowerment, Talent -- Class of 2018!

Massachusetts Library System is once again proud to present Ignite Session presentations crafted by our Project SET participants as part of our annual meeting program. Explore the links below to meet the 2018 SET participants, and discover the inspirational results of this six-month project, designed to cultivate presentation and leadership skills among your Massachusetts library colleagues.

Speaking Order:

  1. Liz Teoli: "So You’ve Got a New Librarian"
  2. Weronika Zawora: "Out of the Shadows: When Harassment Hits Home"
  3. Liz Cashman: "Empathy Driven Enforcement"
  4. Quincy Knapp: "Library Policy: Neutral Not Needed"
  5. Rhonda Cunha: "The “A” in STEAM Stands for the Arts"
  6. Eva Thaler-Sroussi: "Library as Media Mentor"
  7. Supriya Bhat: "Teenagers in the Library"
  8. Benjamin Phinney: "Libraries, the Natural Cure for Fake News"
  9. Alyson Cox: "The Case of the Disappearing Librarians"
  10. Julie O'Brien: "Flipping Library Instruction in High School and Beyond"
  11. Heather O'Leary: "Short Reading, Fun Reading!"
  12. Drew Meger: "So Your Library is Haunted"

Liz Teoli, Assistant Librarian, Northern Essex Community College (Haverhill)

“So You’ve Got a New Librarian: Helping First-year Librarians Thrive”​

Do you have new librarians on your staff? What type(s) of onboarding do you have in place to support them and help integrate them into your library or community?

In this presentation, we will examine the results of a survey administered to a wide variety of library personnel. Topics touched upon include onboarding efforts currently in place, best practices, and areas for improvement.

Contact LIZ:

Liz Teoli received her MLISc from the University of Hawaii, at Manoa. She is thrilled to be developing her skills as an assistant librarian at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA.

Slides from Liz's presentation:

Liz Cashman, Head of Reference, Westfield Athenaeum

“Empathy-Driven Enforcement: Improve Relationships with your Patrons Experiencing Homelessness”​

Liz Cashman

Libraries serve those experiencing homelessness everyday which can present some challenges. This presentation will focus on these challenges and how using empathy-driven enforcement, the central concept from Ryan Dowd’s book The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness, can improve relationships between staff and this population. Attendees will leave with three practical tools they can bring to their library tomorrow to improve relationships with those experiencing homelessness.



Contact Liz:

Liz CashmanLiz Cashman is currently the Head of Reference at the Westfield Athenaeum. She received her MLIS from McGill University in 2009 and started her career at Loyola University New Orleans as an academic librarian. Liz is passionate about public service and is happy her career has led her to public librarianship.

Resources from Liz's presentation:

Rhonda Cunha Early Literacy Children’s Librarian, Stevens Memorial Library (North Andover)

“The “A” in STEAM Stands for the Arts: The Urgency of Prioritizing Creative Arts Programming in Libraries”​

Rhonda Cunha

With our rapidly changing culture and unknown future job skill demands, the way we educate children today must prepare them to be creative and resilient learners of the future. The constraints of academic curriculum and standardized testing has caused public schools to limit creative arts exposure and free play time resulting in a “creativity gap.” This presentation focuses on how libraries can step up to nurture and value children’s creative impulse with open-ended opportunities for imaginative play and experimentation with arts materials.

Contact Rhonda:

Rhonda Cunha is the Early Literacy Children’s Librarian at Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover, MA. She holds a MS in Literacy Education from Dowling College, and an MFA in Textiles and Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She has taught grades 3/4 in an arts-integrated classroom, worked as a literacy specialist, and makes ceramic tile art in her home studio. She advocates for creativity, play, and the arts as integral components of children’s librarianship.  



Slides from Rhonda's presentation:

Supriya Bhat, Head of Circulation, Chelmsford Public Library

“Teenagers in the Library”​

My presentation focus on how we can get boys through the library doors. We have to be aware of the differences between boys and girls and the way they think and behave. The programs designed should be able to cater to all.

Contact Supriya

Supriya Bhat is Head of Circulation at Chelmsford Public Library in Chelmsford MA. She has a law degree from India. She has received her MLIS degree from Simmons College Graduate school of Library and Information Science. She is trained in Indian classical dance ‘Bharatnatyam’.


Slides from Supriya's presentation:

Alyson Cox, Library Media Specialist, Marlborough High School

“The Case of the Disappearing Librarians”

In this era of the Fake News crisis, many of our nation’s public schools are parting with their most reliable weapon to combat the calamity: elementary school librarians.  Sadly, Massachusetts schools are right on trend.  This presentation will share some talking points that you can use to help turn the tide.

Contact Alyson:

Alyson Cox is the Library Media Specialist at Marlborough High School, where she is also Virtual High School site coordinator and advisor to the Book Club.  She served as youth services librarian in various public libraries before obtaining School Library Teacher Certification from Simmons University in 2014


Slides from Alyson's presentation:

Heather O’Leary, Head of Reference and Adult Services, Ames Free Library (Easton)

“Short Reading, Fun Reading!”​

Adults are incredibly busy and it’s all too easy for us to fall out of the habit of reading for fun.  Short Reading is a way to appeal to busy adults and encourage the reading habit. Learn about different short reading formats and how you can promote short reading at your own library. 

Contact Heather:

Heather O’Leary is currently the Head of Reference at Ames Free Library in Easton.  She received her MLIS from Simmons College and worked at the Boston Children’s Hospital medical library following graduation.  She will be starting a new adventure this month as the Collections Development Librarian at Stonehill College in Easton.


Slides from Heather's presentation:

Weronika Zawora, Information Services Associate, Regis College Library (Weston)

“Out of the Shadows: When Harassment Hits Home”​

Weronika ZaworaWith conversations surrounding harassment gaining more political and cultural traction in recent months, the time has come to acknowledge and discuss patron harassment against library staff. By sharing personal experiences and expert advice, Weronika hopes to encourage directors and department heads to formulate prevention plans and facilitate effective communication surrounding the issue. By working together, we can make libraries a safer space for both patrons and staff. 

Contact Weronika

Weronika Zawora is the Information Services Associate at the Regis College Library in Weston. Before stepping into her current position, she worked across various departments at the Worcester Public Library, the Robert H. Goddard Library at Clark University and the Mondor-Eagen Library at Anna Maria College.


Resources from Weronika's presentation:

Quincy Knapp, Children’s Librarian, Wellesley Free Library

“Library Policies: Neutrality Not Needed”

QuincyWe often fall back upon the framework of neutrality when making policy decisions at the library. I would like to provide an alternative framework, that of equitability, and provide examples of how that framework might be put into practice.

Contact Quincy:

Quincy KnappQuincy Knapp's preferred pronouns are she/her/hers. Quincy is a Children’s Librarian at Wellesley Free Library. She is a recent graduate from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She has previously presented at the 2018 NEA/A.R.T. Conference, and at the 2018 and 2017 DERAIL Forum. She is excited to collaborate with her colleagues during Project Set.

Slides from Quincy's presentation:

Eva Thaler-Sroussi, Children’s Programming Librarian, Needham Free Public Library

“Library as Media Mentor - Screen Time: Digital Literacy Through Interactive Programming & Services” ​

Have you ever witnessed an adult on a cell phone or other device in the library? What about a child? Did you immediately think they just weren’t engaged? These are the tools utilized today to gather information about the world, and yet we hand over these devices without any instruction. Libraries are perfectly positioned to turn these screen time experiences into collaborative learning opportunities that reach all sectors of the community. This session will include practical advice, examples, and resources to immediately implement digital literacy elements into your library environment.

Contact Eva:

EvaEva Thaler-Sroussi is the Children's Programming Librarian at Needham Free Public Library where she provides engaging and educational services and programming for children and their caregivers. Eva holds an MLIS and a law degree.  Recently relocated to MA from the Chicago-area, Eva worked as a Community Engagement Librarian at Skokie Public Library and a Children’s Librarian in Glencoe, Illinois. She is the past co-chair of the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers Committee under the auspices of the Association for Library Service to Children(ALSC).


Slides from Eva's presentation:

Ben Phinney, Adult Services Librarian, Seekonk Public Library

“Libraries, the Natural Cure for Fake News Information Literacy”

With Fake News constantly plaguing media outlets, it has become a growing concern of late. Due to its political nature though, librarians may hesitate to take action to address this growing problem. As Ben will explain, we actually have little to worry about. Libraries are the perfect fit to solve our Fake News crisis.

Contact Ben:

Ben PhinneyBen Phinney is one of the Adult Services Librarians at the Seekonk Public Library. He received his MLS from Drexel University in 2011 and began his library career working at the SAILS Library Network. Ben has a passion for music and is always on the lookout for ways to combine his two passions.

Slides from Ben's presentation:

Julie O’Brien, Library Media Specialist, Apponequet Regional High School (Lakeville)

“Flipping Library Instruction in High School and Beyond”

Julie O'Brien

Flipped lessons are a great way to engage learners and personalize learning to meet the needs of each and every learner.  This presentation will explore what flipped library instruction is, why it’s important, and how it’s being adapted in high school, academic and public libraries.

Contact Julie:

Julie O'Brien received her MLIS from University of Rhode Island in 2012.  Prior to her career in school libraries, Julie worked as a paralegal for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office and law firms in the Greater Boston area. 

Drew Meger, Head of Access Services, Peabody Institute Library (Danvers)

“So Your Library is Haunted”​

Drew MegerSitting at the crossroads of history and discovery, libraries are inherently weird places. So what do you do when that weirdness starts to bubble up and haunt the stacks? Lean in to it! Learn how you can put your ghosts to work for you and your library, no proton packs required.

Contact Drew

Drew Meger (MLIS Simmons, 2004) is the Head of Access Services at the Peabody Institute Library, Danvers. He saw his first flying saucer when he was ten - but because he was at his local library, it was just the cover of Mysteries of the Unknown: The UFO Phenomenon. So rather than embarking on a life of extraterrestrial adventure, Drew has spent the past 25 years working in a variety of academic and public libraries.

Slides from Drew's presentation:

Project SET Crew (MLS Staff)

Project SET Crew (MLS Staff)
Project SET Previous Years