Category: Conferences

ALA 2011: Networking

In my information literacy class (LIBR 287), one of my classmates posted this on a discussion board: “I was able to attend the ALA annual conference over the weekend and met a classmate from last semester. That was pretty exciting, but a rare experience.” After I read this, I looked through the pile of business cards that I collected at the conference, and hers was in my pile! It turns out that she has my business card too. My picture on our class D2L site did not jog her memory, but when she looked at my card and saw that I am in New Mexico, she remembered me and our conversation. I have zero recollection of meeting her, but if I had to guess, I would say it was either at the SLIS booth in the exhibit hall or at the SLIS reception.

She and I met, exchanged cards, and didn’t even realize at the time that we are current classmates. As far as specifically practicing professional socialization and networking, I think I still need to work on the final E: engage. It is not enough to just exchange business cards; I need to engage in more conversation to make connections with the people I am meeting. How frustrating that I failed in the area of making enough conversation with this classmate to even realize that we are classmates.

ALA 2011: Government Information and Civic Engagement

In my information literacy class, our discussion topic for this week is ineffective use of technology in a learning environment. I have never been a big fan of PowerPoint, and now I realize that the reason is poor slide design. This presentation (Government Information and Civic Engagement) was a perfect example of poor slide design, and as a result, I walked out. This was the only presentation that I left early. The first presenter had very text-heavy slides, and her presentation consisted of reading them out loud. I plan to check ALA Connect to see if she posted her slides. I have no idea if the second presenter would be better because I didn’t stay long enough to find out which is too bad because she’s a SLIS professor. In my experience as a student, I have found that sometimes professors inappropriately ask for an assignment to be completed as a PowerPoint. If the assignment is not a presentation and never going to be, then it’s odd to ask students to create a PowerPoint. I imagine a PowerPoint might be faster for the professor to grade than a Word document would be, but I don’t think that’s a good enough reason. Here is a link to an amusing presentation about this problem of dreadful slides: Don’t Be a PowerPoint Felon. It seems long because there are 87 slides, but they go fast and are enjoyable.

There is a political party in Switzerland trying to ban PowerPoint: “Swiss party makes dislike of PowerPoint a political issue.”

ALA 2011: Census 2010: What It Can Tell Our Funders

The presenter was Greg Prewett (I am unsure of the spelling), US Census Bureau employee. The presenter suggested that Census data can be used to support funding requests. The presentation was basically a demonstration of a new and an old version of American Fact Finder (AFF), the main vehicle for accessing Census data. The new version contains 2010 numbers, and the old version contains older Census numbers. By the end of 2011, all statistics will be on the new version, and the old version will be closed.

It was quite clear during the demonstration that AFF had some problems. During the presentation, Prewett would think of a topic or location to look up in order to show how to do something, and when he looked it up, he wouldn’t find it. Every time this happened, he would “adjust” what he was supposedly looking for to match what he actually found. For example, he looked up the address of the White House and received a list of locations in North Carolina. Instead of continuing to search until he found the White House, he settled for the same address in NC. A reference librarian could never do that! The presenter could, however, because if was a hypothetical question. Every time this happened though, it left the impression that AFF is hard to use. In fact, he said that rather than go through the search options offered on AFF, he always Googled what he was looking for and selected the information that appeared on the Google results list. An audience member pointed out that his habit of Googling instead of using the AFF search options was indicative of the poor quality of AFF as a means to locate Census data.

There was no actual discussion of using Census data to support funding requests. Instead, the focus was on how to use AFF. This might have made a great two-part presentation with co-presenters, one person who knew about how to get library funding to explain how to do so, and the Census Bureau employee showing how to find the data that would be included in a funding request.

FYI: As of April 1, 2010, the United States officially had 308,745,538 people.

ALA 2011: Making Information Literacy Instruction Meaningful through Creativity

The presenters (Randy B. Hensley, Beth S. Woodard, and Dane Ward) were definitely creative in their approaches to this topic; at various points during the presentation, all of the following were involved: crayons, a feather boa, a squeaky toy, and Wordles. Hensley even serenaded attendees. Despite the attention-getting and sometimes kooky gimmicks, the presentation was full of solid learning theory and many citations. I was disappointed that very few practical tips were included. I always prefer practicality, and I would like a how-to presentation backed up with theory as opposed to a theoretical presentation with very few practical ideas.

One aspect of the presentation I enjoyed was the information about empathy. An information literacy instructor can use Google as a frame of reference because that’s what students use, that’s “who they are,” that’s where they are. After demonstrating that you understand and appreciate students without judging them, you can let them know and appreciate who you are: someone who knows about useful research methods, someone who is willing to share these additional methods with them. Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach was recommended for further reading on this topic.

I was disappointed to find that there was such a slim selection of presentations about information literacy.

ALA 2011: Trickster: Engaging Readers, Honoring Traditions

This presentation was awesome because it was totally relevant for the patron base at my library. I work at UNM-Gallup’s library, and 80% of the student body is Native American. The presentation was about a project in which Matt Dembicki organized Native American storytellers and graphic artists to work together to tell and illustrate traditional trickster tales in comic book style. At the end of the presentation, they gave away free copies of the book! I think the UNM-G students will love it. It’s a beautiful full-color book, and the three presenters who were part of the project all autographed the book for me.

I obtained the bibliography of Native American authors that Michael Thompson (presenter on the Trickster panel) and his wife are putting together. I wanted to see if we had the books in Zollinger Library. I spent some time looking up the books in our catalog, and we already have many of them. For the ones we don’t have, I looked up their ISBN numbers, and we are going to get them. Also, it turns out that Zollinger Library already has Trickster which means I am keeping the autographed version I got at the conference for myself!

ALA 2011: Midnight-2:00 am: What Goes on at the Library?

Peg Lawrence and Lynne Weber from the Memorial Library at Minnesota State University-Mankato spoke about the decision to extend the library’s hours four nights a week. The library closed at 2:00 am instead of midnight Monday through Thursday in order to meet student demand. After extending the hours, the librarians created a research project, complete with a research plan, IRB approval, and a research grant, to learn about the students who used the library between midnight and 2:00 am. Data collection methods included observation, paper surveys from over 260 late night users, interviews, and statistics collected at thirty-minute intervals.

The top two reasons for late-night library use were to find a quiet place to study (#1) and to use the computers (#2). Seniors were most likely to use the library after midnight, and use was heaviest at the end of the semester. Students expressed an interest in more late night hours and more sections of the library being open late. The research revealed that late night library use was more common among males than females, and the presenters realized that a further area of study would be to investigate security concerns among female users.

I have been asked at my own library if we could be open late during finals week, and I answered that we did not have the personnel to add more hours. I was surprised that at Memorial Library, student employees staffed the late-night hours. At UNM-G, we always have a permanent staff member present during open hours; work study students are never left alone.

The users of UNM-G would definitely benefit from later hours. Many of them probably have trouble finding a quiet place to study since living with extended family is common. Also, many UNM-G students do not have computers, online access at home, and/or a printer.

I almost didn’t attend this session because my library closes at 9:00 pm. However, I am glad I did because I have a notion of what might happen if we were to stay open later and whether or not I should advocate on behalf of the Zollinger Library patrons for longer hours. At this point, we really don’t have the staff. We currently have three permanent employees, but we should have 7.5.

ALA 2011: Job search and networking

I attended a presentation called How to Be Successful When Searching for Academic Library Positions: An Insider’s Perspective, by Brian Keith, Assistant Dean, University of Florida. I like to attend job hunting workshops to find out if I am on the right track or not, and for the most part, it seems that I am. Some useful advice included the following:

  • Communicate why the job makes sense for you.
  • Look for opportunities in your current job or in ALA that will demonstrate your engagement, enthusiasm, and leadership skills.
  • Presentations made as a part of an interview are heavily weighted and heavily attended.
  • How you interact with the staff will be considered.
  • Explain why you chose each reference with a statement such as: “Ms. Smith can speak to my experience with project management.”
  • If you are applying to a land grant institution, know what a land grant institution is.

An interesting bit of information was that UF will hire someone whose MLIS degree is in progress with the provision that it be finished within a year. I felt this was good to know because I am close enough to start thinking seriously about applying for positions. However, one of my professors thinks it’s still too soon for me to be seriously hunting for an academic position. I will be finished May 2012. Sometimes it feels like a long way’s away; sometimes it feels like it is coming soon.

The presenter highly recommended the SJSU SLIS and career center sites which was really good to hear. I have looked at other library school’s websites, and I agree that SLIS’s site is excellent. I have wondered if I like it because I am familiar with it, but I don’t really think so. I like it because it’s outstanding.

I was able to get a resume review appointment but not a career counseling appointment. It seems like my resume is pretty good. We discussed whether I should have a CV instead of a resume (perhaps not yet because at this point my CV would look just like a resume). We also discussed whether I should put my education before or after my experience (keep education at the top of the resume until I get a librarian position).

I was hoping for a career counseling appointment to discuss a specific question about a position I recently applied for. I am currently a library services associate at a community college library with 52,000 books, and I supervise six people. I interviewed for a head librarian position at a public library with 14,000 books and one part-time employee to supervise. So my question is: Is that a move up or not? My current job is at a bigger library, supervising more people, but with a narrower area of responsibility. The position I interviewed for has a better job title, with a broader scope of responsibilities, and pays more money, but is a smaller library with a smaller staff. A more general question I wanted to ask the career counselor was about switching types of library. If I really want to work at an academic library, is it a bad idea career-wise to take a position at a public library?

I enjoyed the SLIS reception, and I met many different people, most of whom did not have business cards. Why did so few people have business cards? There could be several possible reasons. Companies aren’t providing them for their employees due to budget cuts. People forget to have their cards with them. People don’t enjoy networking or don’t believe it’s effective. I think that the more you network, the more likely it is that you will benefit from it. A person who doesn’t like to network might try it a few times with no obvious results, and then conclude, “I knew it! Networking is a waste of time. I’d rather curl up on the couch and read a book.” If that same person were lucky enough to get a really positive result in the first couple times trying it, she might become a real believer in networking. This is basic human nature. Try something unpleasant (assuming you don’t like networking), get a negative or neutral result, don’t try it again.

ALA 2011 Annual Conference: Day 1

It immediately became clear that I didn’t have enough business cards with me today, and I was distracted by my thoughts about what I should do about it. I decided business cards were important enough to go back to my hotel room during lunch to get them.

I prefer a less formal tribal speech. Being overly formal makes a person less approachable. This seems to apply to clothing too. I am often the best-dressed person at my library, and I think it makes me stick out as the city girl who doesn’t fit in (my clothing combined with the fact that I grew up in a very different world than Gallup, NM).

I volunteered at the SLIS booth as a “real-live current student” to answer questions about the program. I found, however, that most people who came to the booth were current or past SLIS students. Only one prospective student came to the booth, and he wanted to know about the PhD program. I would have to say that a booth at the exhibit hall is not an effective recruiting tool. But does SLIS really need to recruit more students?

LAUC Conference

The breakout session by Ellie Goldstein Erickson and Alexandra Provence, “The Pipeline: Teens and Young Adult Librarians on Current Behaviors and Wants,” was very interesting and well attended. These two librarians work at the Berkeley High School Library, and they polled ninth-graders and twelfth-graders about their library usage and confidence in their abilities to use university libraries. They found that ninth-graders know what they don’t know and are interested in learning. They want to develop research skills, vocabulary, and knowledge of libraries. The twelfth-graders use the library for research and expect to continue to do so in college. These two librarians emphasize the affective side of their job. They greet students, ask how they can help, spend time one-on-one with students, and they are very approachable and friendly. They create a comfortable atmosphere in their library, including the Library Lunchtime Café, a time when they actually spread tablecloths on certain tables and allow students to eat in the library. Erickson and Provence have difficulty with the effective side of their jobs. They would like to teach more library skills to the high school students, but they find that teachers do not often bring classes to the library.