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2024 Pre-Conference Workshop: Let’s Talk About It! Empowering Librarians for Controversial Public Sessions and One-to-One Conversations

  • 19 May 2024
  • 11:30 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Sunday River Grand Summit Hotel


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:
  • Discounted registration for people staying on for the conference
  • Registration for people not staying on for the conference

Registration is closed

Maine Library Association Pre-Conference Workshop

Let’s Talk About It!: Empowering Librarians for Controversial Public Sessions and One-to-One Conversations

Sunday, May 19, 2024, 11:30-4:00 at Sunday River in Newry Maine 


Tickets: $60 MLA Annual Conference attendee, $75 non-conference attendee. Registration includes a half-day workshop and lunch. 

Book add-on: $18  *at $10 off cover price, this is an opportunity to make a high-value purchase for your library

Hotel room rates are available: To book a room at the Grand Summit Hoteluse this link for the group rate. The discounted rate is good from Saturday night through Tuesday night, in case you want to extend your stay to enjoy the scenery, trails, and the heated pool! 


In today’s polarized society, fostering respectful and civil discussions among individuals with diverse lived experiences and political opinions is essential for building strong communities. Unfortunately, many communities lack platforms for constructive dialogue, leading to increased division and polarization. Further, many of us are afraid to engage in one-to-one conversations with people we know hold different views. This session aims to address this issue by empowering librarians to initiate and facilitate meaningful conversations that give people the tools and space to understand each other, and also to equip librarians with tools and confidence to engage in challenging one-to-one conversations.

Learning Outcomes

1. Take away a toolkit of knowledge and skills for creating an inclusive and dynamic library programs that align with community needs and aspirations, and for engaging in difficult conversations.

2. Gain confidence and inspiration for initiating and facilitating civil discussions in diverse communities.

3. Gain confidence and inspiration for participating in and facilitating difficult conversations among adversarial parties.

Craig Freshley Bio

A person in a white shirt Description automatically generatedCraig Freshley is a professional meeting facilitator, speaker, and writer with an inspiring attitude and a well-earned reputation for helping groups be efficient and productive. He has professionally facilitated over 3,000 meetings and has helped countless groups make good decisions. Craig recently published his third book: Together We Decide, An Essential Guide for Making Good Group Decisions. For bringing together Democrats and Republicans in a series of Make Shift Coffee Houses throughout Maine, Craig won the American Civic Collaboration Award. Craig has a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the Muskie School of Public Service and two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maine. He has worked for the Maine State Planning Office, the Maine Development Foundation, and currently owns a Maine-based company called Good Group Decisions.


11:30 Arrival, Lunch, and Networking 

12:00 Welcome

12:10 Theory and Principles

12:40 A Model Forum - To what extent should libraries be neutral?

1:40 Break

2:00 More Model Conversation and Debrief

2:30 Hard Conversations

3:10 – 4 pm Wrap Up: Lessons Learned, Last Questions, Closing Comments

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your registration, you can cancel for a full refund through April 25th. No refunds will be given after that time. If you need to cancel, please email Michelle Scheier, our Association Administrator at

Maine Library Association

55 N. Main Street, Unit 49

Belchertown, MA 01007


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