ALA Midwinter

Dallas, ALA Midwinter, 2012

Recently I attended the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference for the first time.  Actually, it was the first time I’ve attended any conference outside of LOEX.  It was in Dallas, which is within driving distance for me.  I was  able to attend for one day (Sunday).

Here’s what I saw:

Exhibition Hall
Some librarians I know went the day before and apparently made out like bandits with library swag.  It was not as crazy as anticipated. I, alas, have a bad back so I didn’t spend much time there.  I made a point to go by Mango’s table to get a smoothie, but that crippling malady known as vendor shyness* overtook me soon after so I bowed out.

Author session: John Green
I hadn’t heard of John Green before Midwinter (I know, I know–I don’t  generally read YA books), but the mention of social media in the session description interested me.  First of all, wow. Not having read any of his books, I was in awe at this energy (especially since he’d gotten little sleep the night before) and level of confidence (maybe because he’s an author, and I thought he’d be more introverted?).  He was humorous and engaging. He’s very comfortable discussing his work and has lots of pretty hilarious YouTube videos.   I am definitely interested in finding out more about his work.

World Book Night 2012 logo

Session: World Book Night
Definitely a worthy cause.  If you haven’t heard about it, World Book Nightwas started in the UK and promotes giving books to “non-readers.” From the website: “We need book-loving volunteers to fan out across America on April 23, 2012! Just take 20 free copies of a book to a location in your community, and you just might change someone’s life. Please sign up by Feb. 6 EST at midnight. The goal is to give books to new readers, to encourage reading, to share your passion for a great book. The entire publishing, bookstore, library, author, printing, and paper community is behind this effort with donated services and time.”

Session: Transforming Librarianship with David Lankes (Day 2)
This was an interesting session.  Seating was in tables, and we had three questions to discuss as a group.  After each question, attendees were asked to switch tables and join an all-new group.

Round 1: Future library services
The first question was,  “Based on our findings from the Saturday session, in this envisioned community of the future what will be different about library service?”  I didn’t attend Saturday’s session, but some of it had been summed up during the introduction.  Some of the ideas kicked around were that library services would be more interactive, mobile, and community-based.  One librarian shared that the urban library she worked at was having trouble attracting patrons from the city’s sizable population of Puerto Ricans.  She later discovered that the “information center” of the community was the local bodega.  This was where people went to exchange information and get the latest news.  She didn’t have time to get into details, but I found the idea of a “bodega library” (my words, not hers) fascinating.

Round 2: Librarians in the Future
After we changed tables for round two, the second question was,  What tools will librarians need for this trip to the future? What will you put in your backpack?
Some of the tools mentioned were IT/technical skills, people skills, and the ability and desire to learn new things.

Round 3: You Know What They Say About Assumptions
The third question was What will need to change about our assumptions about libraries and librarianship? Some of the ideas that came up were: the idea that librarians can remain stagnant in terms of professional development.  As one participant put it (quoting a mentor): “Retrain or retire.”  Easier said than done, I think.  I’ve found in my previous, non-library jobs that these types of individuals are rarely confronted, unless they do something flagrantly unprofessional (which is rare).  Most just endure colleagues like this, and/or learn to “deal with it.”  Other assumptions mentioned included the idea that libraries are people’s first choice for information and/or that people have to come here for their information needs (because library resources are required to complete an assignment, for example).

It was nice to meet new people and to get different perspectives.  I’m definitely glad I attended!

*Vendor shyness: the inability to make eye contact with, or try attempt to swipe swag from, a vendor at an exhibition, out of fear that you’ll be subjected to an endless, droning spiel about a product which you’ll never buy.


Librarians and cover letters

A couple of really great posts on writing cover letters for library jobs have surfaced in the blogosphere lately. I don’t have any pearls to add–just that it’s interesting to me, as always, to hear advice from someone on the other side of the application process.  I feel lucky to have an information/library-related job at all, let alone one that I enjoy and where I work with supportive colleagues.   If you’re looking for a library or information-related job, check out for some great resources and advice.

Attempting Elegance blog: “the torment of terrible cover letters”

Lots of comments here.

And a great blog post response by at Across Divided Networks, especially, “There’s a difference between job duties and job accomplishments.”  Simple  advice that is not often heeded.


LOEX 2011

I was lucky enough to go to the LOEX conference for for instructional librarians in Fort Worth a few weeks ago–yes, this is a belated post.  It was also my first library conference. Due to financial reasons, I haven’t been able to attend a conference until now. To attend this one, I applied for a staff grant and my library also paid part of the cost.


Libraries are not different/special/better than other sources of information such as Wikipedia.
–Before instruction sessions, students sometimes fill out a form that directs them to go to a library resource AND Wikipedia and look for synonyms for their topic, to use as possible keywords.

“Popular vs. scholarly” doesn’t cut it anymore.  Have you taught your students transferable skills, or will they be flummoxed when a database changes its interface completely (ex: Lexis-Nexis).

Library instructors at UT Chattanooga refresh their curriculum every 2 years. (impressive!)

–Most students are not going to have access to expensive databases once they graduate, so they’re likely to return to Google and Wikipedia for information. Therefore, they should be taught how to use these resources in a good way.
Information literacy: ability to obtain  & use information for specific need.  Transliteracy: tools used for this purpose–Print vs. databases vs. Wikipedia, etc.

Slideshare presentation


Quick techniques for instant assessment: minute paper, classroom opinion poll (using PollEverywhere), background knowledge probe, and direct paraphrases.  We also took several polls during the session using PollEverywhere.

Macro-assessment, which demonstrates the accountability of an entire instructional program, and classroom assessment, which takes place during individual sessions.

–The speaker also collected our e-mail addresses and any other questions we had after the presentation, and sent a follow-up email after the conference addressing these questions.

Have students make library orientation videos to demonstrate their understanding of the library’s resources and services.

— This technique can  be used during a 50 minute one shot. The instructor quickly puts students into groups, explains the assignment, and hands each group a Flip camera and a list of 4-5 questions on one area of the library. Students have 20-25 minutes to find the answers to the questions and create a brief orientation video that answers the questions. The speaker had a great Prezi with links to sample videos created by students.

Another idea: Use Windows Movie Maker to create a brief video of some of the library services for students to watch at the beginning of the session.

I really hope I can try both ideas at my library.
LOEX 2012 is in Colombus, Ohio.  Definitely not within driving distance like this one was, but I hope I can go.  Now that I know what I’ve been missing, it’s going to be difficult to keep me away. *grin*

–Getting to see how other people do things. I got lots of great ideas, not only from the sessions, but just from talking to other people.
–Meeting  such a variety of other instruction librarians: veterans, newbies, Boomers,  Millenials and Gen X-ers;  faculty and non-faculty; Canadians, Texans, and other; introverts, extroverts, and  iPad-wielding hipsters.

It made me wish I’d started attending conferences earlier in my career (this was my first, ever).   I’m on a fairly tight budget and up to now I couldn’t understand why so many people would pay hundreds out of their own pockets to attend a conference but now I sort of get it.

Some LOEX tweets are below:

Loex Conference tweets

LOEX tweets

Ageism in Academic Libraries

I just read an interesting article in the newest issue of the Electronic Journal of Special and Academic Librarianship (E-JASL).

I assumed it would be about discrimination against older workers, but in fact it dealswith difficulties faced by new and younger members of the profession.

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Opalescence 2009

Opalescence 2009 was a *FREE* online conference that took place on August 13 and 14.

Sessions included the following (I attended the ones in maroon):

Opening Keynote: The Future of User Experience in Libraries

Librarians in Virtual Environments: From Classrooms to Communities

Unconference Session: Discuss the topics and trends you want!

Collaboration 2.0

Unconference Session: Building a Learning Culture

Best Practices for Web Tools in Schools

Listening to the Future of Reading: Readers’ Advisory and Audio Books

Topic: How American Libraries Are Using Web 2.0 Tools for Marketing

Beyond the Basics: Training for Technological Fluency

Closing Keynote: Networking Library Services: A Glimpse at the Future–Moving Library Management Services to Web-Scale