PLA 2012: The Future of Libraries

This post was suppose to go out last week…oops!

 The last session I was able to catch was on the Future of Libraries. I’ve been actively interested in this topic since I started and completed my independent study with Dr. Chow on Library Space Design. The idea being looking at how the libraries role is changing and how is that affecting the design in library spaces. In theory you would think that library design wouldn’t be exempt from other design trends. That as the architectural trends drift to one way so would library space design. But interestingly enough some people believe that libraries should be exempt. That libraries are made to be stuck in one design mold;  classical, ornate, and well…stuffy. Although I should hasten to say this is just one camp, for there is another camp that is whole heartedly thinking libraries should be forward thinking in design, ultra sleek and ultra modern. There’s also people who have a love for both types of design trends, I’m one of those people.

I think what’s important is that how people react to library designs speaks volume to how people see the library. If you are part of my community then you may or may not know that we recently passed a bond to have our main library rebuilt (or renovate) as well as two branches. In the last few months we have held three community meetings to have public give their thoughts on what it should look like and what should be included.  It’s been interesting to see what people are saying they want in a new library. Now as a staff member I have my own ideas about what the new library should be like.

This session was fun, because it allowed me to see a number of libraries that had recently been built on the west coast. What I noticed was a lean towards ultra modern and ultra sleek designs. They were straight lines, heavy on the glass and large open areas with focus on open design plans and small intimate spaces on the sides and corners. If there was a curve in the space it was usually a focus design feature usually relegated to the atrium of the library. And almost every single design had an atrium. It was interesting at the end they concluded with a slide that said libraries were moving away from the classical design, with a picture I’m more than positive was a shot of an interior in an academic library and moving towards the future, an image of an all glass and steel public library.

I think the architects would have a hard time convincing people in my community to go for an ultra modern main library. I think we could get away with a branch that was all glass and steel. but the main library not so much. I’ve worked in a newly built open space library before, and I don’t mind saying I have mixed feelings about it. Yes it was new and shiny and it felt good to come into a building that was nice and clean. It lifted your spirit, made you feel happy. The stacks were low so you could see almost everywhere in the building, and a lot of books had weeded and sent to other locations so the shelves were easy to keep up.

But on the flip side those large windows let in the sun and the heat. It was very hard to control the temperature in the building. And if it was an overcast day, it was very hard to see in the building. Noise was a problem as it carried easily. Like I said earlier a lot of weeding was done and books were sent to other places, and there was a point to only keep new or good-looking books on the shelves as this conveyed better. I felt that the customers where being cheated. Were they impressed when they walked in the door and saw how open and bright it was? Yes. Did that feeling diminished when they couldn’t read their computer screens or were told that they would have to wait a day or two before they could get their hands on that one book they came out to get? Yes.

My first major in undergrad was Interior Architecture and one of the first things we learned is that form follows function. The space should function. Did they really speak to that in this session? No. What they did speak to was thinking of terms of how do we bring the customer back over and over. Epic spaces and something for everyone. Encouraging discovery and enabling staff to cope with growth. There was a lot of talk on the form aspect of library design. Which is always fun. Pretty libraries are always a joy to look at. But the talk on function I felt was a little light. But I’m finding that’s might be easier said then done because no one can say what function the library of the future will have and these buildings have to last for some time.

PLA 2012: Program Palooza

This week my library paid for those who wanted to attend the PLA (Public Library Association) Virtual Conference that was going on simultaneous as the physical PLA. We had it set up in our boardroom so we could come and go as our schedule allowed. I wasn’t able to catch any of the first day’s broadcasts but I was able to catch two on the last day. The first and last one, which were the ones I was most excited about.

Program Palooza

I have to say the main reason why I wanted to go to this session was because it had the word “Palooza” in it…it’s just a fun word. And this session was indeed a palooza of programs. They covered 60 different kinds of programs in 60 minutes. I’m just now dipping my toes in the programming world, with Money Smart and the Ask-A-Lawyer day I help organize in February, but I’m finding that I’m actually enjoying making contacts and having people come in and share their expertise. My supervisor has expressed that she feels we do better jobs as Reference Librarians at the service desk and truthfully I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think the service desk is valuable don’t get me wrong. But I’m starting to see that programs and events are becoming the public libraries little niche, and it’s something sorely needed in a lot of communities.

Some of the key points that I took away from this session was opening the way so that everyone could be involved in program planning; not just the librarians or directors, but the paraprofessionals and the volunteers. The library that presented the program believed that anyone can have a passion for a topic and they should be allowed to suggest a program and help bring it about. They then broke down into categories;

Signature Events

Events that happen on a regular basis, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. Something that your costumer base could always depend on. For example their customers could expect a big event around the Dia de los ninos, Dia de los Libros celebration. I think this is a great idea, because every time you go to organize it, it will become easier and easier to pull it all together. However, I can see a downside to it, especially with public libraries who either have people moving on a constant rate and sometimes the positions aren’t filled OR people who stick around forever and get stuck in tradition. Both of these things can have a big impact on programming. Signature events have to be flexible because interest are always changing but you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel every year.

Family/Intergenerational

These programs surround the idea of bringing different age groups together. Some examples where Stroller Shimmy and Sweat for New Moms. Dog Day Fashion Show and Parade, who wouldn’t want to dress up their dogs and parade them around? Family Game Day and Mother or Grandparent Day Tea. The point is not always thinking of programs in age brackets, meaning only the youth librarians can give a program dealing with children. Sometimes programs would be enjoyed by more than one age group, for example video gaming events . More and more games are being targeted to families, so a video game tournament could be enjoyed by someone who is 8 and someone who is 28.

Out of School Time

Programs specifically aiming at topics to help kids bridge that gap of time after school and before they go home or weekend activities. They don’t all have to have an immediate lesson behind them, like Cursive Club to help kids learn how to write in cursive, they can be just pure entertainment, like Lego Club.

Passive Programs

I really enjoyed this section as I never thought about how some of these activities are programs that need little effort on the librarian part. The passive programs were programs that worked in getting the costumers involved on a project that didn’t require them to come to the library at a specific time or date. Holiday Mail for Military Heroes, having the community write letters and greeting cards for military families and dropping them off at the library, who then dropped them off at organizations who delivered them. You can set up signs and notices during the month of November and December and just allow people to drop off letters at their leisure. No commitment and it cost you the amount of signage. Spot the library mascot…get a library mascot, take pictures of it in different parts of the library, and post them. Makes the kids want to come in a find the mascot and get a sticker or something. Nothing big but it’s a fun way to let the kids explore the library, help them bridge the gap between the children section and their parents browsing time.

I really enjoyed this session and it gave me some ideas of things I would like to do or even help collaborate with others. I have no intention becoming the programming queen but I do think with the idea of a new main library being built we need to up our gambit on why people should come to the library over and over. I’m okay with the idea of programs getting them into the building, because the programs gives us a chance to show off all the great resources we have…for FREE.

NCLA 2011

2011 NCLA Hickory, NC

As promised a run down of how this year’s NCLA conference was. But before that I wanted to do a little comparison from all the way back in 2009. When I went to NCLA for the first time. I was just starting out in the program and it was the first professional conference I had attended. This year I’m a recent graduate, newly started librarian. In 2009 it was held at the coast and this year it was held in the mountains. I love the mountains so much, especially during the autumn. It’s just breath-taking! When I attended NCLA back in 2009 I had no idea what to expect, in truth I had never been to a conference, let alone a professional conference. I didn’t have any set plans on sessions to attend or any expectation of people I would see. When I attended it this year…I still had no set plans on sessions and I had hoped I would see people I knew.

Once again I only attended a day at NCLA, this time by choice as I didn’t want to miss more than I needed to at work. So I went down for the day I was to present. As I mentioned before I was slated to co-present a session on Public Library Design and Technology. It was a session to talk about the results of the study I did from this past spring. I wasn’t really forthcoming with details about that study because I was of mixed feelings with it. Now don’t get me wrong I loved every minute of researching, collecting data, writing up the paper and collaborating with my professor, it’s what I do. What I didn’t like was that I was left holding the bag when my partner basically flaked on me. I wasn’t going to mention it, and just leave it up to karma to deal with. But I’m a firm believer in telling it like it is and darn the consequences (well in my head I like to pretend I’m like that…). And truth be told this kind of thing happens all the time in the world, is it fair or right? No, but it’s life. There are more people who respect those who work hard than those who slack off. In the end I worked and created something that I’ve very proud of and I hope will have lasting benefits. I was very happy when our proposal was accepted for a presentation, and very shocked when it was an actual session. I was thinking poster session, honestly. But hey, yay me!  In preparation for the presentation I worked with my professor combining his work with the work I had done to create a very interesting presentation if I do say so myself.

We spoke on the use of technology in public libraries, how was it being used, who was using it, and was it being offered in the most effective way. It was an hour and 15 minute long session and we had close to 30 people show up. It makes me feel a little giddy to know  that there is interest in something I created. Afterwards we had a lot of people come up and tell us that their libraries were in the process of building a new building and were interested in seeing more from the study. Some expressed interested in getting my professor and I to come out and do some consulting work with them. We had one lady whose library had just finished building a new branch and she thought that my results were right on point about what they had experience with the new space usage (it sounded as if they had a lot of space that was going unused for lack of good planning) and was so glad she came to hear us as they were in the process of planning for a new branch. I gave out my new business cards like a pro. The director of my work was in the audience and she said she was impressed and assured me I would be on the committee now that we’ve been approved with our own bond to build a new main library.

The whole experience just renewed my drive to do more with this study. There’s so much more that I want to do and need to do, and the next step is publication to a journal. That’s after we’ve collected more data and wouldn’t it be nice to collect data from public libraries across the state? We will be putting the presentation and a source list up on the web, and as soon as that is done I’ll put up a link. And one of these days I’ll actually write a proper post about it…

Presenting at NCLA in October

Exciting news just got word that I’ll be co-presenting at the 59th Biennial Conference of the North Carolina Library Association in Hickory, NC. This year the conference is titled: Libraries the Next Generation.

I’ll be doing an hour and half long session on Public Library Design and Technology. Even more news two of my fellow Scholar’s will be doing a poster presentation at the conference as well. Alesha Lackey and Ingrid Ruffin, I’m so excited.

Surviving Your First ALA National Conference

Since ALA 2011 is coming up with in the next two weeks, I thought this would be the best time to give out some tips that might help some of the first timers out there feeling like I did when I attended my first conference last year. I looked to veteran conference goers for advice but most had the same things to say that a national conference was nothing you could describe. Which is all well and true but does nothing to lessen anxiety. So here are my top 10 tips:

1. Keep it together: I suggest you devote one folder to all things Conference related. From the time you’ve signed up to the time you leave the conference you are going to be given a lot of paper work. If you keep it all together in one folder and make sure you bring that folder with you, you will always have whatever document you need. A lot of exhibitors will send you emails for discounts and freebies as soon as you register and through out the conference. I scored a lot of great items this way. You’ll need to keep up with it all. Also choose a great bag, something that’s going to carry a lot of things but will stay comfortable to carry throughout the day, ladies skip the cute tiny purses and go for a large tote. Unisex messenger bags are great for both genders, and there are tons that look professional on the market now.

2. Print is not dead: When you check in you will be given another boat load of papers and documents. One of them will be a thick program that has all the updated conference related information. In case there’s been a change in sessions, schedules, planned meetings, etc it will be in there. Likewise each day there will be a number of people standing in the main conference area handing out newspaper like items, they are called Cognotes; day-to-day changes, news, happenings and such will be printed here. It’s free and valuable. Room changes happen hourly, this will be a life savior you never want to be without. And if you do miss the volunteers don’t worry they usually have them in stacks at the information desk and in paper vendors where ever sessions are happening. Coupons for discounts for local restaurants can be found in both of these items, a great way to partake of the local cuisine on a budget.

3. Buddy Up: This is a two-part tip. First for safety reasons, buddy up. Tis the world we live in. If you can attend your conference with someone else I would do so. I was lucky enough to go with 13 other people but I’ve had friends who went with significant others or coworkers. It helps if you both have similar interests. If you are traveling alone be aware of your surroundings and never put yourself in unnecessary danger. Once you leave the conference events take off your badge, it’s a signal that you aren’t a local and thus a possible mark. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times, be it a family member back home (when you call home for a chat let them know you are heading out to visit X place.) or a buddy you met at the conference. Which leads into the second part, make friends. The one thing I was told over and over was to network, network, network. The stranger sitting beside you at that one session obviously shares at least one interest as you. Don’t be afraid to talk up. Offer your thoughts on the subject. I always got a lot of warm wishes when I let people know I was a first timer. People offered tips on sessions to catch and events to attend.I met other first timers and had some of the best conversations and side adventures because of me just saying “Hello my name is…”

Welcome to ALA 2010

4. Flexibility is preferred: Like I said before room changes happen, sessions are interchanged, cancellations occur and flexibility is the name of the game. If you are a smart little cookie (or related to me) you’ve been on the ALA website since day one, planning out your whole conference schedule. You know where you are going to eat breakfast, where you will be at every minute of the day and over the moon excited about it all. And then you head to your first session only to find out that it’s been canceled, but then you get your hands on a Cognote paper and scramble across the street to another awesome session which gets out early and you think great you have time to pursue the exhibit floor. After which you make it to your second session which turns out to be on something other than what you thought. It’s going to happen, it happened to me. Session descriptions aren’t always clear and concise and titles can be misleading. You have to learn to be flexible about what you are going to accomplish and what you are not. I didn’t make it to all the sessions I wanted and at least two turn out to be a bust. However because I had my handy-dandy program and cognotes I was able to find new sessions that ended up being a blast. Now this might be a contentious point for some people but I didn’t feel bad when a session ended up being on something that I wasn’t actually interested in and I ended up leaving early. The reason being that these sessions will get crowed fast and often times people are forced to sit on the floor or stand. So by me giving up my seat to someone who was actually interested I didn’t feel embarrassed. Not one session I attended had a small attendance.

5. Inconvenience yourself: This tip is kind of putting the last two tips in one. Strike up a conversation with strangers. You have something in common, you love libraries. Whether they come from public, school media, academic, or special libraries you will find something to talk about. Since I was still in school when I went I asked them for advice about what I should do now and afterwards. We talked about their jobs and what they saw for the future. We talked about the last session we attended and sessions we were really looking forward to. We talked about the last book we read and the next movie we were going to see. I’m not an overly social person and people would say that’s a descriptive term of most library folks but none the less step outside of your comfort zone. If I can strike up a conversation with a virtual stranger so can you.

6. Identity is such a precious thing: When you register you are going to be given a badge. This little piece of paper on a string is a powerful thing it’s your ticket into sessions and the exhibit floor. It’s also your key to the shuttles. With your badge comes this little card with a chip. The card is used mainly on the exhibit floor, some vendors have this reader that automatically reads your card and enters your name into their database for future contact and some come with prizes and drawings. If you lose your badge or card head to the information desk and you can get a replacement. You also want to make sure you have a sufficient supply of business cards. People are going to expect you to have them and they are going to give you theirs. I got cards from people who lived all the way in California and from places I would love to work at, can we say Smithsonian. Make sure all your information is up to date and the cards look professional. You never know what will become of that five-minute shuttle ride. This advice goes for your CV and/or resume and a general cover letter, you never know (keep this all in your Conference folder).

7. Stage a sit in: Peacefully and amicable of course. If you are like me you are going to the conference to learn more about the many different committees and subgroups. Good news, many of these groups hold meetings that are open to the public. This is a great opportunity to see what some of the issues the group is dealing with and what their plans are for the upcoming year. You can also learn who some of the key players are for the group. Many will be electing new officers or doctrines. By staging a sit in you can get a chance to talk to some of the members as well as place your name on contact lists. Some groups offer up discounted memberships to students, and I’ve heard of one or two offering discounts for signing up at conference time (although I can’t personally attest to this).

8. Par down and Journal it: I took with me a spiral notebook and my iPod touch. I purposefully left my laptop at home. Why? Because I knew I would distract myself if I had my laptop. By paring down my electronics and gadgets I wasn’t tempted to skip a morning session and stare at my screen (Summer school had started the same time I was at the conference.) There is a computer lab station set up so that anyone who needs to check things online or print off things can do so. It’s free of charge. Granted it’s usually very busy, I was able to sign up for a computer and waited for less than 10 minutes before one came available. It was mid morning. My iPod touch allowed me to stay connected virtually with the conference and family and friends. I brought the notebook along so I could journal my experience. Which came in handy when I wanted to reflect on my first conference. A lot of things happened and I felt overwhelmed more often than not, having a place to write my immediate thoughts and reactions brought back a lot of memories when I was trying to recollect something days later. Now with the insurgence in tablets you could skip the notebook and iPod touch and bring a tablet along if you have a word processor app. Wireless internet is provided at the main conference center, free of charge. This also plays into the stuff you will need to carry all day and make more room for free stuff.

9. Just Breathe…Gonna be okay: Take the time to breathe. You will get caught up with the spirit of the conference and find yourself rushing to do this and that. You will probably forget to grab lunch so keep snacks handy. It’s going to be hot, so keep liquids nearby. ALA provides guided tours of the conference city (for a price) so if you can swing the cost, schedule in some time to go with them on a tour. Or do one by yourself, grab one of your new buddies and head out on a walking tour. The conferences are usually held in major cities with good public transits so take that into account. If you get overwhelmed find a place to sit and reflect on all that you’ve done so far. You don’t have to keep to anyone’s schedule but yours so take advantage. In between sessions one day I took the time to visit the local neighborhood surrounding the conference center. Best decision ever.

10. Have fun: At the end of the day yes this conference is a way to advance your career, learn about new trends in our field and network your butt off. But also this is a time to make connections with like-minded people, indulge in your interests and score tons of free swag. Most first timers are traveling to a different city so take the time to pay homage to the host city. There will be authors on the exhibit floor so take the time to say hello and thank them for giving us a reason to exist. Librarians know how to party and have a good time so if you can attend any of the social gatherings do so, you will not regret it.

So there it is, my list of tips to survive your first ALA conference. Any veterans want to chime in? I hope this help and Good Luck!

Wanna know more about my first conference check out these posts here:

2011 UnHushed: The Review!

Two weeks late but better than never. On March 26, the fruition of months of planning and stressing came to an end. Unhushed went off without a hitch. I truly enjoyed myself. And the remarks we got afterwards leads me to believe everyone else had a great time.

To be quite honest I wasn’t sure how everything was going to pan out. We Scholars had no experience in putting together a conference or an unconference for that matter. So it was many of times when I doubted we would be able to pull everything off. But we had some great captains, Alesha Lackey and Ingrid Ruffin leading us and they did a great job. Throughout the conference I was tweeting away and I truly enjoyed that. Got a chance to test out the iPad while I was at it.

Our guest speaker Stanley Wilder was very informal. I pulled a lot from his talk. I was able to attend fellow Scholar, Ashanti Jackson’s presentation and the poster presentations were great. I hope the next cohort will continue with another conference as I’m so excited to see what theme and topics they chose.

Here are some photos I took:

One Month and Counting

As of today there is but one month left before I can switch the words MLIS candidate to just plain MLIS (I’ll have to wait about a month before I can hold the actual degree in my hand). I’m a mix between being excited, nervous, and a little sadden at the same time. Another chapter in my life is quickly coming to an end. Two years honestly flew by in a flash.

To catch you all up since I didn’t post much last month besides the Practicum update here and there I’m steadily applying for employment. Granted I could be applying more but I’m just a bit tired to be honest. For instance today with a long list of things to do I got up early, but ended up taking a 2 hour nap before doing anything. There’s so much more I feel like I could and should be doing but at the same I’ve been non-stop since 2009. I’m running on empty here. But if I can make it to the finish line and accept that job offer than I can think about resting then.

Classes are going good, the final papers will be due soon and I’ve started rewriting my Professional Value Statement. It’s interesting to see how much I’ve not changed what I value professionally, but my understanding as to why I value these things has changed. I should have it all completed by next week. Technically I’ve completed the minimum hours needed for my practicum and could use the hours to do other things,  but I’m continuing to go because I’m just learning and experiencing  so much. Which you’ll learn more from the many posts I’ve been sharing…(insert some sarcasm there.) The only class giving me some pause is my Academic Library class. The final paper is due at the end of the month and I’m suffering from information overload. I’m glad I’m not stuck with a topic that lacks information but now I can’t stop finding relevant articles and books. I need to narrow my topic and just start writing. I’ll talk more about the paper at another time.

I guess it’s fine to speak about this since she’s officially made the announcement but my BFF is having her first child in August. I’ve been named the Godmother and I’m beyond excited.

I think that’s really all for now. Time to bunker in for the long haul.

2010 iDEAL Summit

I’ve been getting a lot information about the 2nd annual UNCG LIS’ iDEAL summit and I thought I had posted about it already.

The Department of Library and Information Studies (LIS) invited you to participate in the second iDEAL Summit at the Elliott University Center. This year’s theme is “LGBTQI out on the open shelves: Serving Hidden Communities”, with the main panel, also as the Fall 2010 lecture of the UNCG Libraries and LIS Lecture Series, taking place November 15th from 1:30 to 2:45 pm. The panelists are:

  • Mario Ascencio – Director, Corcoran Library in Washington, DC and recent past president of REFORMA.
  • Jim Carmichael – Professor of Library and Information Studies, UNCG, much of his research has focused on the history of LGBT issues within librarianship.
  • Trae Middlebrooks – MLIS Student and Academic and Cultural Enrichment Scholar
  • Polly Thistlewaite – Head of Public Services, City University of New York Graduate Center Library and long-time volunteer at and chronicler of the Lesbian Herstory Archives.
  • Moderator: Nathan Belyeu, Master of Education Student and Coordinator for LGBTQI Health, The Wellness Center of Student Health Services.

Learn about the past iDeal Summit here.

ALA Conference Day Five

Tuesday was all about packing and heading back home. I must say that I’m a very big homebody  but I do love to travel and see new places. However I was glad to touch down in the Greensboro Airport Tuesday afternoon. This time my layover was in Atlanta and I was fortunate to be traveling with two other ACE Scholars instead of by myself.

When I got home I set about taking out all the goodies that I was able to get while walking the exhibit floor. Because my friend drove up to Washington I was able to send most of it with her in her trunk.

Here are a few shots of the books that I received.

Wait there’s more:

Now the question is how am I going to fit these on my lonely bookshelf. I do believe that’s a good enough excuse to get another one.

I also got some great bags as well, here are my favorite ones.

Over all I had a great time and it was great to have time to hang and conversate with other Scholars and Librarians. I will be sending out emails perhaps tomorrow to all the great contacts I was able to make.

ALA Conference Day Four

Monday I found myself attending a panel on Graphic Novels, a recent personal interest of mines. It was a great panel talk and even though it was in the exhibit hall the speakers were great and able to keep me interested. I’m glad to see that graphic novels are starting to gain popularity among librarians as a great tool for those who are looking for a non-traditional read. While they are normally longer than a comic they tend to read faster than a normal novel and they hold just as much information and intrest as one.

After walking the floor for a while I decided to take advantage of my time in Washington and do a bit of exploring outside of the convention center and that of the surrounding area of the hotel.

So I headed to Chinatown. It was fun to walk the small area and just be a tourist. This compact area that took up a couple of blocks was jammed packed with history and architectural details.