Join Us for the 30th Annual Joint Youth Services Retreat!

Wednesday (August 28). Option of evening arrival.

Thursday (August 29)

8:30 Sign-in

9:00-10:50  Collaborate2Create with Dr. Lisa Smith

Gathering from her experiences in education and mental health & wellness, Lisa Smith has designed a series of explorations into the habits that foster creative community and cultivate growth mindset. A seasoned group motivator, Lisa anticipates that engaging with these ideas while in community will feed your collaborative spirit and add depth to your retreat experience. 

11:00- 11:50 Fantastic New Reads for Children with Aura Sewell

Discover a treasure trove of enchanting new books that could be the perfect addition to your library’s collection. These gems are also ideal for eye-catching displays and captivating story times.

12:00 Lunch

1:15-2:05 Programs & How I Plan ‘Em with Liz Hittle

Despite its very small size, the Snyder Public Library is a busy and bustlin’ place! How is that, may you ask? Why, because Liz the Librarian is constantly running all kinds of programs for patrons to do! Attend her session to hear about all of her different kinds of programs, how she plans them, and tips and tricks she has for different age groups!

2:15-3:05 “Booktalk” Your Favorites (But Not Books). 

This session allows you to inspire others by sharing successful programs, fun crafts, helpful websites, or any other exciting finds or experiences from the past year. Each person gets around 5 minutes to “booktalk” their favorite, though the time may vary depending on the number of presenters. The goal is to provide each other with fresh ideas.

3:15-4:05 Board Games IRL with Elaine Bleisch

Board games have seen a resurgence in popularity in the last few years and libraries are jumping on the trend by starting board game clubs, having board games available to play in the library, and even circulating board games. We have taken the trend a step further by offering live-action board game events, played on life-sized boards, with the players themselves as the tokens. These games are surprisingly simple to set up and run and are easily adaptable to most library spaces. They are also adaptable for different age groups or for families. Walk through the creation and execution of three board games: Monopoly, Candyland, and Jumanji and learn how they can be adapted for various audiences and spaces.

4:10 Lending Non-Traditional Material – Is it worth the aggravation? with Denise Harders

Experience Kits are one way to loan non-traditional material. Each kit contains everything a patron needs to try something new and complete a project. These versatile kits can be circulated or used as passive programming in the library.

4:20-5:50 Activities and/or Downtime

6:00-7:00 Supper

7:00-10:00 Activities and/or Downtime

Friday (August 30)

8:30 Sign-in (for Friday-only participants)

9:00-9:50 Title: “Great New Books for Teens” with Kris Cram

This presentation will include brief book talks about a variety of recently published young adult titles including graphic novels and crossover reads that could interest both teens and adults.  Several ways to promote your teen collection will also be discussed.

10:00-10:30 Dream Chasing with Brody Kelley. 

A Nebraska author describes how he took a leap of faith and accomplished a dream he’s had since he was in the second grade. 

10:40-11:50  Tapping into Collective Wisdom. 

In this session, we’ll exchange perspectives on tackling challenging situations. As part of your registration, you’ll submit a problem you’re facing at your library. Systems staff will categorize these into broad topics. At the retreat, we’ll form small groups where you’ll briefly present your issue and receive feedback from your peers. Finally, each group will share some  fresh ideas and new approaches with the large group.

If you desire to continue the discussion with your group at lunch, feel free to do so!

12:00 Lunch

1:15-1:40  Grant Applications…Are Too Much!  Some Tips for Success with Sally Snyder

How to help ensure your grant application gets the hearing it deserves.

1:50-2:40 Family and Community Programming- Major Successes & Epic Fails with Jennifer Norton & Rossy Casanova

Family programs are a staple at the Lexington Public Library. Join us as we describe program themes, community partnerships, and program staffing. We are excited to share some of our great successes along with some epic fails.

2:45-3:15 Time to finish evaluations & say farewell!

Please let us know if you need accommodations of any kind or have any concerns.

2024 SELS Training Extravaganza on May 10

Join us for the SELS Training Extravaganza at Seward Memorial Library! The 10:00 keynote is by the incredibly dynamic speaker Dr. Ferial Pearson. She will be adressing the topic of Building a Multicultural Library. Both library staff and board members are welcome. The cost is only $25, which includes refreshments and a catered lunch! Register here!

The agenda for day is as follows:

Registration and Refreshments

Housekeeping and Introductions

Keynote: Building a Multicultural Library
Learn how to identify and select authentic and powerful multicultural literature for children
and youth in order to build a balanced and diverse collection of picture books and novels.

Talking Book and Braille Service: Continuously Evolving
An informational session about Nebraska’s library for the blind and visually impaired. This
presentation will cover who qualifies, how to sign up for the service and how you can help,
and improvements and changes to the program.


AI Tools for Librarians with Todd Schlechte
Here are a few tools you might consider playing around with to see whether they could be
useful in your personal and work life.

Lunch will include Roast Beef, Twice-baked potatoes, Salad, Green Beans, and a roll.
You can choose a vegetarian or gluten-free option on the registration form

Choosing Multicultural Books with Dr. Ferial Pearson
Participants will engage in activities to help them choose appropriate, authentic, and current
multicultural literature for children and youth that will fill in gaps that exist in their libraries.


Get Your Library Tech Ready for 2025 with Andrew Sherman
Come to this session for information about money for tech equipment and fast internet, the
new WIFI standard and how the NLC can assist you with adapting, getting ready for the
end of support to Windows 10, and more.

The Thing About Teens… with Mari Vasquez Trying to connect and understand teenagers can be difficult and overwhelming at times. So how do you attract teens to the library and keep them engaged? This presentation will offer tips on how to connect with teens, build relationships, along with programming ideas to keep them coming back. Maybe they’ll even bring their friends!


Think Outside the Box: Transformative Training with Breakout Challenges with Tammi Thiem You have all likely heard of breakout boxes. Join me to learn and discuss creative ways this tool can help make learning fun. These can be used for children and for adults, and the possibilities are endless. I will share what ideas I have explored, and it will be exciting to hear of any suggestions others have to offer!

3:00 Closing Announcements

This activity is supported with funding from the State of Nebraska and from the Institute
of Museum and Library Services under the provision of the Library Services and Technology
Act as administered by the Nebraska Library Commission.

Up Your Reader’s Advisory Game with NoveList Plus!

On Wednesday, March 27, at 11 am we invite you to join us virtually as we explore the capabilities of the database NoveList Plus with Susan Knisely.

This readers’ advisory database is available through NebraskAccess. Find out how it can help you identify book, author, and series read-alikes; familiarize yourself with diverse genres; and mix and match story elements (appeal terms, themes, and genres) to find just the right book for your patron. At the end of this session attendees should feel more confident in their ability to answer the patron question What should I read next?

REGISTER HERE and we will send you a Zoom link the day before the workshop. Worth 1 CE.

Occupational Wellness in a Service Profession

SELS is offering this special Zoom workshop on Tuesday, February 13, at 11 am. The description is below, and you can register here!

The pandemic is over and yet, mental health issues continue to plague our lives, increasing numbers of people deal with crippling anxiety, and many employees report feeling “angry, stressed, and disengaged” (Wall Street Journal, 2023). While thought leaders in corporate America are engaging in prolific discussions about “healthier work cultures”, it is much harder to find commentary geared towards those of us in service professions.  How do we, in libraries, work towards happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment as we constantly pour out and over others?  How do we foster work cultures that enable such things for our teams?

This presentation will offer a working definition of “occupational wellness” without dismissing accountability and excellence. It will also include strategies that can help nurture a work culture in which everyone is empowered to thrive.  How do we dedicate our lives in service to others AND protect our personal wellbeing?  Let’s start the discussion

Fuhrmans, V. and Ellis, L. (November 27, 2023). Why is everyone so unhappy at work right now? The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 4, 2024, from

Get Ready for Adventure

Our Summer Reading Workshop is scheduled for December 8th at the Walt Branch of Lincoln City Libraries. We hope to get you in the right frame of mind, and help you with your planning, for this year’s theme of “Adventure Begins at Your Library.”

The agenda for the day will be as follows:

9:40 Registration Begins

10:00 Adventures in Reading with Sally Snyder

Get a list of, and hear about, a large number of titles you can use next summer!

11-11:40 The 2024 SRP STEM Program and other Valuable Programming Resources and Opportunities from UNL Extension

11:45-1:00  Lunch on your own (list of restaurants provided)

1:00-2:00 Train Songs and Tales with David Seay

What is it about trains that so easily engages one’s imagination? Climb aboard with David as he shares a variety of railroad inspired songs and stories that offer peeks into the past from a wide variety of points of view. This upbeat excursion is accompanied by guitar, banjo, harmonica, whistles, and a sing-along or two. This is an example of a Humanities Nebraska program that could be used in next summer’s programming.

2:10-3:00 Summer Reading Crafts with Tami Logsdon

This will be a hands-on demonstration of children’s craft ideas to inspire your summer reading program.

You can register here!

This activity is supported with funding from the State of Nebraska and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provision of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Nebraska Library Commission.

2 for 1 Workshop in October

On Friday, October 13th Southeast Library System will host a special “two for one” workshop at Ashland Public Library from 10 am to 3 pm. Attendees will receive 4 CE for attending sessions entitled “Pitch Decks for Librarians: How to Get Your Ideas Across Better,” and “Bystander Intervention Training.” You can examine a description of the day’s schedule below before you decide whether to use this registration link.

9:45 Registration and Refreshments

10:00 Introductions

10:05 “Pitch Decks for Librarians: How to Get Your Ideas Across Better” with Amanda Sweet, Nebraska Library Commission

Libraries think of new and innovative ideas all day, every day. New events, partnerships, outreach efforts, marketing changes, technology, and projects of all shapes and sizes. Long story short, when you want to try something different, you will have to convince people it’s the right thing to do. That’s where pitch decks come in handy. Pitch decks are most famously used by startups trying to get investors or get people to use their product. That’s pretty much what libraries want: funding and more “customers”.

In this workshop you will learn the process of building a convincing argument by combining data with storytelling, and how to format your pitch in a slide deck. After you learn the tricks of the trade, you will practice building your own pitch deck from a template, and present it to other librarians. You can use an idea you already have, or choose from an idea bucket just for this workshop. Trust me, it’s better to practice in front of your fellow librarians than with the powers that be in your community!

It’s time to make your ideas a reality!!

12:00 Catered Lunch

1:00 “Bystander Intervention Training” with Alexandra Pecoraro and Megan Heidenreich

Bystander Intervention Training teaches how to effectively identify a problem situation in or outside a library setting, recognize barriers of intervention, and effectively intervene utilizing the 5Ds of bystander intervention. Participants will practice taking an active role in building healthy communities and will receive information regarding supportive community and national resources.

3:00 Evaluations

You can register here until October 10!

29th Annual Joint Youth Services Retreat!

August 31 & September 1

Swanson Center

Camp Carol Joy Holling (near Ashland)

Register Here!

The complete schedule for the retreat is as follows:

Thursday (August 31)

8:30 Sign-in

9:00-9:50  Fund Your Program with a Youth Grant for Excellence with Christa Porter

 Do you have an idea for a youth or teen program, but you lack the funds to make it happen? The Nebraska Library Commission’s Youth Grants for Excellence could be the answer! Christa Porter will provide an overview of the grant, including eligibility requirements and grant guidelines, the application process and grant review, timelines and deadlines. She will also share other youth and teen services grant opportunities that can make your programs and projects a success.

10:00-10:50  “Booktalk” Your Favorites (But Not Books).

We invite you to come to the retreat ready to share a favorite website, craft, resource, program, etc.  Usually we are able to allot about 5 minutes to each person who “booktalks,” depending on how many have something they would like to share.

11:00- 11:50 The Nebraska Golden Sower Award with Kelly Warehime and Aura Sewell.

This presentation will address the nature of the award, describe the award process, and provide updates.

12:00 Lunch

1:15-2:-05  Bring Your Creativity to Life…for Free. 

Central Plains Library System will show you how to find a plethora of free images, fonts and sublimation ideas to use in your makerspace for tween, teen and adult programming. Then Geneva Public Library will give us the downlow on how to use the Extension/UNL offices to your advantage when programming tween/teen food program activities as well as different games and activities they do for teen nights that won’t break the bank.  And finally, Ashland Public Library will help you harness the power of Canva to promote your library and your programs. Unlock Canva Pro for free as a non-profit.

2:15-3:05  Fun, Easy, and Inexpensive ways to Organize a Successful Teen Night with MaryJo Froid.

Fun, Easy, and Inexpensive ways to keep teens returning to your library again and again. Hopefully keeping your sanity all at the same time!

3:15-4:05 No Zombies Were Harmed in the Making of this Teen Event with Amanda Winkler and Chelsea Foust.

After Covid restrictions further beleaguered engagement with tweens and teens, we wanted to put on an event that would reach this demographic and strengthen the library’s relationship with the neighboring middle school. Enter zombie prom! We expected an attendance of around 50, but 120 teens showed up. Amanda and Chelsea will describe their highly successful experience and one of the retreat participants will get a Zombie makeup wound before our eyes.

4:10-5:50 Activity Possibilities:

Participate in a digital scavenger hunt at Ashland Public Library.

Get made up as a Zombie (limited to about 5 people)

Bring your favorite board game and rope some other librarians into playing it with you

Take a walk


6:00 Supper (For those staying overnight)

Friday’s Schedule (September 1)

For those staying overnight, please check out of your room before 9 am

8:00 Breakfast (for those who stayed overnight)

8:30 Sign-in (for Friday-only participants)

9:00-10:50 Taking STEM off the Shelf: Incorporating Informal STEM Learning Experiences into Library Programming with Dr. Ren Renke

Librarians will learn best practice for the seamless integration of STEM initiatives into their existing services. We’ll explore the value of STEM education, examine successful STEM library programs, discuss potential resources, and delve into the importance of inclusivity and accessibility

11:00-11:50   Creative Problem Solving with Group Brainstorming:

As part of your registration, you can submit one problem you struggle with at your library. At the retreat we will break into small groups and use submitted problems for small group brainstorming. Then the small groups would report back to the large group on possible solutions.

12:00: Lunch

1:15-2:45 Author Presentation and Discussion with Bidong Tot. 

Bidong recounts a portion of his childhood in the book A Boy in Akobo, South Sudan. He is working on an additional book about the 5 years he spent in a refugee camp in Ethiopia before immigrating to the United States. During his presentation, Bidong will read his book(s) and speak about his work, talk about his experiences, and answer questions. He will also be available for conversation and to sell and sign books (depending on his current supply) throughout the day on Friday.

2:45-3:15 Time to finish evaluations, last chance to buy books from, and talk to, Bidong.

School Librarians in the Digital Age

June 7, 9 am to 12 pm, via Zoom

Join us for the following topics!

9:00 am: ChatGPT: Exploring Potential & Pitfalls of AI in Education with Tammy Lind and Adam Kurth

10:00 am: Promote Your Library by Maintaining a Meaningful Library Website and Engaging  through Social Media with Joy Harvey and Emily Jacobs

11:00 am: A Digital Studio in Your School Library: Creating Studio Space where Students can Practice Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity with Sara Friest

Register by June 5. Registrants will receive a Zoom link on June 6.

Sponsored by Southeast Library System, Lincoln Public Schools, and the Nebraska Library Association.

SELS Training Extravaganza on May 12!

This year the SELS Training Extravaganza is once again at Seward Memorial Library. This training event for library staff and library board members will take place on May 12 from 9:30-3:00. Following registration, refreshments, and introductions, the event will feature keynote speaker Lacey Rogers from UNO’s library. After that, we will have two separate tracks, where you choose the sessions that most appeal to you. Note that lunch will be catered, and is included in the $25 fee for the day.

You can register here.

The Agenda for the day is as follows:

9:30-9:55 Registration and Refreshments

9:55-10:00 Welcome, Announcements, and Introductions

10:00-11:00 Keynote: Deploying Soft Skills in the Library Setting with Lacey Rogers, UNO’s Criss Library. In the library world, we find ourselves performing many essential tasks that involve call number systems, shelving, creating policies, and even giving directions to the restrooms. Dealing with concrete concepts and rules is relatively easy. But how do we handle an angry patron? What do we do when tragedy hits our community? What about the not-so-concrete things that need tailoring to each individual? This presentation will discuss what soft skills are important to library staff, library boards, and volunteers, as well as how soft skills can be taught.

11:10-12:00 Sessions

Learning to Be Resilient: Lessons from Young Adult
Literature and Teen Programming with Dr. Melissa Cast-Brede, UNO Library
Science Program

The challenges of the last few years have shown that the youth in our communities have had to develop strengths and
skills adults could not have imagined. As library professionals, we are
in a position to help teens realize they are stronger they than they know through


 How the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing can Help Libraries with Kim Davis, Advocacy Specialist

NCDHH provides a wealth of resources and programs that libraries and their patrons can utilize. This workshop will provide information for libraries about items they can consider adding to their resource list, and how to serve and provide effective communication with patrons who are either Deaf or
Hard of Hearing.            

programming related to young adult literature. This program focuses on how young adult literature demonstrates what it means to be resilient. Using the Deveraux Center for Resilient Children’s assessments of resiliency in children and adults, we will examine current YA titles for depictions of resilience. Additionally, we will discuss engaging and easy to do programs for use with teens to highlight the actions of resiliency depicted in YA literature.


  • Participants will recognize the protective factors needed for resilience.
  • Participants will learn to identify books for their depictions of resilience.
  • Participants will be able to develop engaging activities and programs that highlight what it means to be resilient.

Noon: Catered Lunch

1:00-1:50 Sessions

Localizing Your Catalog with Shoshana Potocka, Cataloging Librarian for the Nebraska Library Commission

Wish you could do something about that book or author that is locally known one way but is in the catalog another so it never seems to show up when you do a search? You can! This session will cover tips and tricks you can use to “customize” your local catalog to make it work better for you and your patrons. Minimal knowledge of MARC is required.


Grants for Libraries from the Nebraska Arts Council with Joshua Brown, Education Programs Coordinator at the Nebraska Arts Council

Learn which grants from NAC are available for you and your community. In this session, you will learn how you can hire a professional artist to lead workshops using NAC funds, how to apply for our transportation grants, and which of our larger grants might be the perfect fit for your big arts idea.

2:00-2:50 Sessions

Canvaholic with Kelly Kenny, president of the Nebraska School Librarians Association

Kelly absolutely loves using Canva because the options are endless when it comes to creating digital content on Canva. From worksheets, flyers, research organizers, library signage, posters, or heck, even birthday party invitations, Canva has your back. In this session, Kelly will share some tips and tricks learned on her six-year journey using Canva. 


Requirements for Charitable Gaming: Bingo and Lotteries/Raffles with Gail Ross and Carri L. Fitzgerald, Nebraska’s Charitable Gaming Division

This presentation will cover the requirements for an organization that is considering bingo as a part of a special function of the organization. You will also hear about the licensing and game conduct requirements for lottery/raffle activity in Nebraska.

2:50-3:00 Evaluations. Thanks for filling them out, because they help us to better meet your needs in the future!