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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.

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.

I’ve mentioned before that I hate presenting. Not because I’m lazy or unmotivated, but because I suffer from performance anxiety in the worst way. Yep. I get vultures (not little butterflies) in my stomach. I think they’re waiting for me to die of fright, which is a possibility.

I present at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I’m talking about using free screen capture software (specifically Jing and Camstudio. I know, some people hate these, but they’re pretty easy to use.) And in the spirit of looking at the positive side, let’s talk about the benefits of presenting.

1. It’s good to practice. As a librarian, I do presentations in various ways throughout the week, whether I call it that or not. When I teach, I’m presenting. When I pitch an idea or program to colleagues, I’m presenting. When I share conference info at a staff meeting, I’m presenting.

2. It’s a great way to share ideas and get feedback. I work in a relatively small library at a mid-size university. So there is a limited amount of opportunity to get feedback and share in person. Getting out where there are people from other places with other types of experience allows me to expand my horizons. At this stage of my career, I learn as much from what people ask or have to say about info I’ve provided as I do from actually doing the presentation.

3. It makes me research and try new things. Not that this would likely be a problem for me because I like learning about stuff, but presenting does help me gather my thoughts into coherent form. It also keeps me a bit more focused since I tend to be all over the map with my interests. (I think I’m slightly ADD, seriously!)

4. Maybe someone will learn something from me. I think it’s important for librarians to share. It isn’t possible for most of us to explore everything we want to and conferences are a great way to find out what’s going on and what would be useful for us to try. And by presenting, I get to add to the platter.

5. I get to meet people. This is one of the best parts. When I put myself up in front of crowd, I make myself accessible to others. I’ve had great conversations with people after I’ve finished a presentation and have met some wonderful people. As an introvert, if I don’t force myself to be visible, I’ll contentedly skulk in the last row with a few seats between me and the next person. (If you know me and see me skulking, please invite me over to sit with you. I’m just shy, not unfriendly!)

With a large coffee in hand, I’m ready to demonstrate screen captures tomorrow. The hope is that the audience will participate with some questions so it’s more of a workshop and not just me standing up there talking at people.

Things went well today, I think. The worst thing that happened was they didn’t deliver the potato chips with the lunch sandwiches. Not a big deal. And here are pictures:

CULS Summer Institute

Now I’m going to watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks…if I can stay awake.

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There is a Reference and Instruction position open with the University of Alaska, Anchorage. It’s not Fairbanks. But it’s AK and DH would rather live closer to the MatSu valley anyway because it’s not as cold there in the winter.

I’m so happy I can barely type. Of course, there is tons of competition up there. Still…

For some time, I’ve been advocating for more flexible scheduling at work. Personally I’d love to be able to work at home at least one day a week. Librarians are doing it and doing it well. I don’t know if I’ll be doing any full days soon, but it looks like we might have at least achieved a consensus on scheduling our days in ways that work for us.

It’s part of the overall shift in attitudes around here that has led to a willingness to try something new. The faculty are basically deciding to stand up for what we are supposed to have because we are faculty. While there are days I’d gladly give up the whole tenure track hamster wheel, it’s not what most people around here want. But if we’re going to be tenure-track faculty, then we need the time to do everything and the ability to structure our work so that we can meet goals.

What does this all mean? While we all generally work 40 hour weeks (and usually more than that), we are going to try setting our own schedules that work for us. Of course the expectation is that we are here for meetings, desk shifts, and whatever else requires our physical presence, which in my department might mean office hours and a day when I am librarian on call. Other than that, if we want to work at home for a few hours or do a split shift, it’s going to be up to us. I don’t think that we’ll see many people doing that very often, but the fact that we have the option makes a HUGE difference.

This is just one of the shifts that are starting to happen around here. My thought is that this is OUR library. If we want it to be a good place to work and learn in, it’s OUR responsibility to make it so.

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March 2020


Mar. 10 - Photography Class

Mar. 11 - Quad Cities SnB

Mar. 12 - Lincoln Reenactor performance at BHE

Mar. 13 - Annual budget due

Mar. 14 - SnB trip to Galena

Mar. 16-21 - Spring Break

Mar. 16-18 - On the Front Lines library conference in Springfield

Mar. 19-22 - In Kansas

Mar. 23 - Orientation in Quad Cities

Mar. 24 - Photography Class

Mar. 26 - Spring Break for Academic Librarians workshop in Peoria

Mar. 27 - Supervisor Development in Quad Cities

Apr. 2 - Using Social Technologies in Library Instruction workshop

Apr. 6 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 6 - My birthday

Apr. 7 - Photography Class

Apr. 9-12 - In Kansas

Apr. 10 - College Closed

Apr. 12 - Easter

Apr. 13-19 - National Library Week

Apr. 13 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 14 - Photography Class

Apr. 16 - Evening Instruction Session

Apr. 17 - Information Literacy Summit

Apr. 18 - A Day of Books and Quilts at Toulon Public Library

Apr. 20 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 21 - Photography Class

Apr. 22 - Renegade Reference meeting in Bloomington

Apr. 23 - Illinois Library Day

Apr. 24 - Quarterly Supervisors Meeting

Apr. 27 - Weight Watchers

Apr. 28 - Photography Class

Apr. 29 - Supervisor Training in Quad Cities

May 5 - Photography Class

May 12 - National Library Legislative Day

May 25 - Memorial Day - College Closed

June 4 - RSA Users' Group meeting in Peoria

June 6 - SIL's birthday June 6 - Brother and SIL Anniversary

June 8 - Nancy Pearl at Bradley University

June 13 - WWKIP train trip to St. Louis

July 3 - Holiday - College Closed

July 4 - Independence Day

July 10 - Mom's Birthday

July 10-15 - ALA Annual Conference in Chicago

July 17-19 - Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair in Crystal Lake, IL

July 31 - 10th Anniversary

Sept. 7 - Labor Day, College closed

Oct. 6-9 - Illinois Library Association Annual Conference in Peoria

Nov. 23 - Brother's birthday

Nov. 26 - Thanksgiving Day, College closed

Nov. 27 - College Closed

Dec. 7 - MIL's birthday

Dec. 18 - DH's birthday

Dec. 25 - Christmas Day

Dec. 26 - Dad's birthday

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