Children and Teen Services (CATS) Conference a Growing Success


For the past few years, the Children and Teen Services (CATS) Conference has been held in the Kootenays, and attended by libraries belonging to the Kootenay Library Federation. This year, we decided to extend our reach and make it a provincial conference. We found a willing partner in the Okanagan Regional Library system, which offered to host and co-organize the 2019 event.

The conference was held in early October, and was attended by 70 library staff from across the province. In all, 26 different libraries were represented—big and small, rural and urban. We were fortunate to be able to offer a wide slate of workshops: 

  • Physical Literacy (Mitzi Fortin, Okanagan Regional Library)
  • Flannelboard Storytelling (Michelle Whibley, Okanagan Regional Library)
  • Libraries Are For Everyone:  Opening Your Doors to People with Diversabilities Through Great Resource Lists and Programming (Linda Youmans, Okanagan Regional Library )
  • Generating Program Design from Your Community’s Social Development Goals (Lucie Bergeron , Okanagan Regional Library)
  • Designing an Escape Room That Will Fit on a Book Cart (Meg Ross, Coordinator, Thompson-Nicola Regional Library)
  • Sex in Young Adult Literature (Davin Helkenberg, Okanagan Regional Library)
  • STEAM in the Library (Heather Marnier, Okanagan Regional Library)
  • Sensory Storytime:  How We Can Help You Adapt Storytime to Meet Community Needs (Jenny Cofell and Laurie Darveau-Willms, Lethbridge Public Library)
  • Connecting the Dots with Children and Families: The Principles and Realities of Community-Based Work in (and out of) Libraries (Panel: Els Kushner, Vancouver Public Library; Ruth Cooper, Hazelton District Public Library; Ellie Reynolds, Creston Public Library; Beth Dimond, Prince Rupert Public Library; Stephanie Thoreson, Okanagan Regional Library)

CATS Conference 2019CATS Conference 2019

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We received great feedback on the event, including this comment: “I appreciated that it was an alternative to a lower mainland conference. It was so nice to hear from speakers from various libraries, many of them rural. A cool, niche conference.” Attendees were also grateful for the affordability (attendance was free), and for the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate across library systems.

The conference was organized by Linda Youmans (ORL), Ardie Burnham (ORL), and Avi Silberstein (NPL). It was presented by the Okanagan Regional Library, the Nelson Public Library, and the British Columbia Library Association.

Next year’s conference is tentatively scheduled for October 5, 2020—to be held once again in Kelowna, BC.

Avi Silberstein is the Children’s Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library.

Photography credit:  Michal Utko (Okanagan Regional Library)