10 Years of TLD – A Retrospective: Strolling Through Our History

Wow, a lot has happened in the ten years we have been hosting Teacher Librarian Day! We have proudly watched this cornerstone event evolve, growing in scope, number of presenters and audience size.

A Look Back:

Peggy O’Neill-Jones, our TPS at MSU director since the program’ s 2004 beginning, recalls planning the first TLD in 2005, originally called “Librarian Days.” “We definitely wanted collaborations,” she said “We asked the librarians to bring a teacher so that it was a collaboration, not just one person. We originally collaborated with the Auraria Library and they were so helpful in getting TLD off the ground.”

Approximately 80 educators attended the first TLD. Prominent guest speakers included then Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver Public Schools Superintendent Jerry Wartgow (Click here for photos!). Originally it was a two-day event consisting primarily of workshops. Later, the event evolved into one day with fewer workshops and more guest speakers.

Beginning with TLD 2011, we adopted the format made popular by the TED Talks lectures – brief 10-15 minute presentations covering a broad scope of topics united by a theme. TLD attendees have embraced the new format, although some presenters struggled to whittle down their longer presentations.

“One of the most difficult things about switching to the TED format in 2011,” said Todd Wolfe, one of our TLD organizers, “was working with presenters who struggled with distilling their presentation down to the required length. Many of the presenters were simply used to speaking for an hour or more. To get them down to 10-15 minutes and arrive at the crux of their message was ultimately worth it. The format has proved to be a successful one.”

We’ve added new technological features as well. We began using Twitter during TLD in 2010 to foster conversations among a broader audience. Incorporating hashtags during the conference allows users to share thoughts and  information throughout the day with others who could not attend. This year we will up the ante a bit, as we will stream the event live to educators who can’t make it to TLD.

We Shall Overcome:


Technical glitches, weather, space constraints, sleepy cameramen and jittery presenters are just a few of the obstacles we have juggled over the years. The night before TLD was scheduled to take place in 2012, a blizzard dumped over a foot of snow on the city.

“We had our highest registration ever and the King Center all set,” said Keith Patterson, another of our TLD organizers. “I remember waking up at 5 that morning and checking the Auraria website and seeing the campus closed.”

We had to reschedule for a few weeks later and feared we would lose attendees and presenters. We were thrilled to see that the majority of the attendees and speakers still made it, which speaks volumes about the professional value and reputation of TLD.

Most Memorable Moments:


The energy and creativity our presenters bring to TLD never ceases to amaze us. While each presenter and attendee has made a contribution to the success of TLD over the years, a few moments stand out for us. In an effort to offer something a little different in TLD 2012, we were excited when four Chautauqua speakers accepted our invitation. They performed as historical figures Eleanor Roosevelt, Molly Brown, Amelia Earhart and Nikola Tesla.

Keith recalls an amusing moment backstage with Nikola Tesla (played by Richard Marold) as they were preparing for his performance. He and Marold were chatting amicably when Peggy came back to greet them.

“Peggy goes up to shake Nikola Tesla’s hand. He kind of does a knowing nod and doesn’t say a word to her, and won’t shake her hand,” Keith said. “We’re all a little confused and looking at each other. He had been very warm and congenial to me and everyone else backstage. A long awkward pause rolls by. Then he eventually says, ‘I don’t mean to be rude, ma’am, but men of this age don’t converse or shake hands with women we do not know or who are not our wife.” The tension broke and everyone laughed, realizing Marold was just playing his character! Apparently Tesla was a stickler for tradition.

Chris Jennings, MSU Denver professor who has amc2R been involved with TLD since the beginning, recalls being moved almost to tears during TLD 2010. Elizabeth Ridgeway, the Library of Congress Director of Educational Outreach, had very recently and unexpectedly passed away. Chris and Taylor had created a Woody  Guthrie presentation related to primary sources. Chris describes how he felt as he was presenting:  “Taylor’s dad [a musician who performed at TLD]  went into that song, “Airline to Heaven”, and I was having a hard time holding myself together. It was a really touching moment for me.”

Why Being Part of TLD Rocks:

We launched TLD to collaborate and connect with teachers. We have enthusiastically watched TLD build relationships and deepen connections far beyond our expectations. Our outstanding core group of presenters and attendees make planning and hosting this event a true pleasure.

“I think of all of the amazing collaborations and relationships that we’ve had because of TLD. We’ve co-sponsored with Denver Post, History Colorado, Denver Public Library, and Colorado Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. We had the reception at the Governor’s mansion. We’ve had some really nice collaborations,” Peggy said.

Todd echoes that sentiment. “It’s so great working with people like Michelle Pearson, 2011 Teacher of the Year, and these other amazing educators,” he said. “We’re incredibly lucky to work with them.”

SL740844Another of our favorite aspects of TLD  is providing the professional development opportunity for teachers. “It’s difficult for teachers to get time away from the classroom for  professional development,” Peggy said. “They really appreciate having time to think, be creative and collaborate around using primary sources.  Teachers are so excited about the millions of resources on the Library of Congress website that are openly available. It has been really nice to be able to provide meaningful and relevant professional development that ultimately touches the lives of students.”

Teachers come away from the event energized about the Library of Congress and ready to try new things. Todd sees a common thread in feedback on our evaluations every year. “One of the biggest things we hear during and after TLD is, ‘I cannot wait to go use this in my class or tell my colleagues about it,”’ he said.

Seeing TLD evolve is another great part of being involved in the event. “The venues have changed, the technology obviously has changed,” Taylor said.  “All of these aspects of TLD are evolving, yet, at the same time, we have this core presenter group who comes up with something cool and fresh every year.”

A Look Ahead:

“Holograms!” How cool would that be? When we look ahead to future TLDs, we are excited about potential new technologies, maybe even something as futuristic as holographic technology. The Library of Congress website continually adds more primary sources and teaching materials.  A new universal search process is making finding the resources faster and easier for educators.

We would also like to expand our connections with our Western Region and continue growing the TLD audience. “Why not have a teacher here in Denver and a professor at a university in Portland collaborate,” Taylor said when discussing our desire to foster new connections across our region.

We anticipate continued growth for TLD, especially as technological advances will make it easier to share TLD across a wider audience, perhaps even audiences located in other cities and states  Just as we are proud to see TLD grow and evolve, we are just as proud of our TPS Connect program. We are excited to launch additional social media features, which will allow educators to make connections and share resources.

We can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring!

Feel free to explore the past 10 years of TLD (presenter materials, slideshows and session video) from the TPS MSU Denver website.