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As I was driving to HugeUtown today, I passed a sign for Pat’s Pig. It’s a barbeque restaurant. With a fairly unimaginative name. I was amused for some reason.

For the next two days I’ll be in HugeUtown for a conference. Since it’s fairly equal distance to LittleUtown and BigUtown, I plan to head home between days. Partly because I have almost two weeks of laundry and DH kindly takes care of washing my clothes for me.

A co-worker and I are presenting tomorrow morning about Google stuff. I think it will be a good session. I’m doing less presenting this year and it’s a bit of a relief.

The Dean of our library school will be providing the keynote this afternoon. I’m looking forward to hearing her speak. In general, I’m not that excited about the overall program, but I’m sure I’ll walk away with a couple of good ideas. Honestly, I’m more excited about having a couple of days of relative relaxation after the couple of weeks.

Reference Renaissance turned out to be a great conference. I have to applaud the planning committee for doing such a great job. The keynote speaker was spectacular and very insightful. He gave all of us there some things to really ponder in terms of the future of reference librarianship…or the possible lack of a future. One of the worst things that we librarians often do is react to changes around us and we can’t continue to have that mindset because we’re often far behind. If we want to survive, it’s time to stop breathing the dust in last place and start being innovative and proactive. There are people out there who are forward thinking and rather than letting fear, laziness, or whatever get in our way, we need to really start listening and being willing to change faster than our usual snail’s pace. This is one of my observations.

One of the presenters talked about the fact that we really don’t need a print reference section anymore in academia. While I see her point and generally agree, I also know that in most libraries, this isn’t going to happen. However, part of her point was that we really need to be carefully evaluating resources in terms of who will use them…and if they will actually get used. If we’ve got stuff sitting on shelves collecting dust and no one has used them in 10 years, why are we keeping it? Or why do we keep investing in newer editions of stuff nobody uses. This is timely for me because we are working on weeding our entire reference collection at my library. I’ll be going back over some things and canceling some standing orders for items that are not being used and weeding other things for the same reason. We are already trying to head for more digital resources, and this was something she recommended because statistics are showing that students are more willing to use these. I don’t know that we are necessarily seeing that, but I think with the right kind of marketing, we can definitely make that happen. Another thing that really got me thinking.

Another thing that I plan to propose for our library is a more formal training program for our paraprofessionals and student assistants. One speaker advocated for only having librarians answer “reference questions”, but I think that if you train people correctly (and this can include librarians as well), you can improve overall service and customer satisfaction. Our student assistants are really not trained on how to do a reference interview and on our resources. They also need more instruction on when to pass questions along to the librarians. There are a few ways that we can create something more formal. One more component of this is assessment. We need to have some mechanisms in place to determine if what we are doing is really effective. This isn’t my area of expertise (at least not at the moment, but I’ll be doing some research), but there is someone in our library who is working on assessment who would probably be willing to work on this. (In fact, there might already be something in the works.)

I also got to meet lots of people and share ideas. The informal conversations in hallways and over meals can be some of the best times to learn about new things that are just coming out. I usually try to sit with different people so that I can meet new people. Even if other librarians from my library had attended the conference, chances are I wouldn’t have hung out with them much because I can always talk with them when we return and I just might miss out on some tidbit that a new contact has to share.

And I had a great roommate who really gave me some insight on the supervisory side of libraries. While she seems like a great supervisor and someone that would be wonderful to work for, her comments and observations were helpful as I continue to navigate my way as an underling and relatively new librarian. I hope that I’ll get to see her at ACRL in the spring.

Like many librarians, when I’m in a new town/city, I like to visit the local library and Denver Public Library was recommended as a must see. Here are some pictures I took on Sunday.

The conference is now over. My roommate and I are heading downtown this evening to visit one of the best used bookstores in the USA. (Or so I’m told.)

And I’m tired. It was a great conference and I’ve got tons of ideas banging around in my head. Looking forward to getting back and sorting out all the info.

Discovered today that Coors is now shipping Alaskan beer (from Juneau) as far south as Colorado. This was good news to DH who will be getting a six-pack when I return tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the airline doesn’t handle my luggage too badly and everything makes it back in one piece. If not, I’ll have very fragrant clothing.

Okay, I lied

Posted on: August 3, 2008

I wasn’t sure what kind of computer access I’d have this week while in Denver. But I was able to snag a few minutes at the hotel provided computer.

Just wanted to let everyone know I made it in okay. Had a panic attack because the place was a 17(?) seater and I’ve never flown anything quite that small. Got off in Salina for a few minutes and considered calling DH to come pick me up so I could just drive out. But I managed to get myself back on and got here without incident. (Panic attacks and anxiety are no fun!)

Today I did a bit of sightseeing. Hit the Denver Art Museum and checked out their extensive collection of Native American art. Impressive! Then I walked over to the public library and checked that out. Very nice. The best part is the awesome storytime room.

There was an opening reception this evening that I hit for a short while. I’m not much into the small talk, so after that appearance I headed off to find some dinner. And now I’m heading back to my hotel room (which is quite sumptuous, btw) to knit, watch tv, and generally relax. The next two days are going to be full of learning and processing and thinking and planning and networking and whatever else it is we do at these things.

Almost over

Posted on: July 27, 2008

I’ve got that vacation-is-almost-over depression setting in. A bit worse than the usual Sunday depression since I’ve had a wonderful week at home with DH and the dogs (and other house guests as well.)

The next several days are going to be very busy. I still have to finish preparing for my presentation at the end of the week. And then I’ll be home with enough time to do some laundry and pack for the trip to Denver.

I’m looking forward to the workshop at the end of the week, although I’d gladly do without making a presentation. Fortunately it’s just a 1/2 hour workshop format, so not as painful. Reference Renaissance promises to be interesting and informative. I hope to bring back some good information to share with work colleagues.

Also on the to-do list for the week is planning the training session for the university’s ambassadors (the students who provide tours to prospective tours.) I hope to finish the planning for SWARM International and start rounding up volunteers.

What else? I’ve got a program proposal to write for an upcoming conference. There is a program that I’d like to see us try with incoming freshman and I need to get the proposal/plan written for that.

I’ve also got a few follow-up things to do for the Summer Institute before I can officially declare my job done with that.

Then there is the usual job stuff, like gift books, reference collection weeding, desk hours, etc. And I’m the person in charge of the department for the next few days since our head is still on vacation. Whee.

It’s likely I won’t get much sleep tonight (which is typical for Sundays) as my mind spins through all the things I need to do this week.

I do think I was pretty successful about shutting that stuff off in general this past week. For me, that’s a huge accomplishment. It bodes well for the upcoming meditation retreat.

Yes, this is my life.

DH and I celebrated our anniversary early (since I’ll be workshopping on the actual day.) We went to see the X-Files this afternoon and then had dinner at Famous Dave’s. DH gave me a pretty pair of earrings that I’d seen in a shop window a few weeks back. So far, I’ve not got his present. Although I did have an inspiration today. Fortunately I’ll be in the neighborhood later this week where I plan to get his gift.

And KS is hot. HOT! And humid. I’m all done with summer now. kthxbai


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