Professional Development

Continuing ALA for Wanda

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 9:03 am

With two very long days of board meetings and conference planning behind me, I settled down to center my attention on two different tracks held during the conference; assessment and staff development. The assessment sessions were sponsored by the Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation Section of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA). The assessment first “Myth Busting: Using Data to Challenge Assumptions” showcased speakers from different libraries who used data to challenge their assumptions. Of particular interest was the one case-study which explored the notion that library patrons are the primary offenders for incorrectly re-shelving books? Data generated from this specific study showed a parallel between checked-in dates and inventory dates. The study actually revealed a very close proximity to the checked-in date and the inventory date. The home grown inventory system used also calculated the distance the item was away from its’ correctly shelved location. This and other findings led the librarians to rethink student training, as well as the number of back to back hours students were assigned to re-shelve books. Unlike the other studies this one was not captured on the LLAMA webpage.

“Assessment for the Rest of Us: Informal Techniques You Can Use,” turned out to be a very fast paced program that featured presenters in a speed date style of information sharing on the select techniques used. Among those shared were: listening groups, unobtrusive user observation, let them try it before you buy it, why don’t you use my chat reference, poster surveys, chatting with patrons, community users in an academic library, flip video cameras and mapping student use of the library. Each presenter gave just enough information to give the audience an idea of the technique used. In conclusion they each agreed that informal assessment in many forms can be useful in decision making and could lead to creating a culture of assessment throughout the library.

The third session entitled “And the Survey says..! Strengthening Services through Surveying,”featured Karen Neurohr of Oklahoma State University who gave a brief comparison of features in LibQUAL versus LibQUAL light. She reminded the audience that “customers define service quality.” Market your survey! Ask students what prizes would appeal to them. Think carefully about and include early in discussions all the departments on campus that should be included in the survey process; institutional research, marketing department, finance and accounting and the institutional review board.

Debbie Moss of the Orange County Library System, Orlando, Florida spoke from the public library angle using Counting Opinions (CO). We here at ZSR can attest that CO is possibly a better option for public more so than private.

Both speakers stressed the need to be inclusive, deciding what areas are important for your library’s success and seeking help if necessary to understand the data generated from any survey tool used.

The second series was sponsored by ALA’s Learning Round Table (LEARNRT). The first event was a “Training Showcase: Best Practices in Training, Staff Development and Library Continuing Education.” Our own ACE Scholar intern, Krishawna Brown helped me navigate the maze at the convention center to finally find the poster sessions. The majority of the presenters were training consultants advertising their businesses; lots of customer services training experts. A few were more were in line with what I wanted to see; examples from libraries that had planned successful staff development days.

In search of more, I chose to attend another LEARNRT discussion on staff development. This session was hosted by Sharon Morris, Director of Library Development & Innovation, Colorado State Library, Denver. Session topics included tips for planning, getting everyone to buy-in to continued learning, keeping training energized, how much to require, the need to connect training to the strategic plan of the library and also how to get new ideas accepted by administration.

Our BCALA annual meeting which is held on Sunday night featured Dr. Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Valdez is the author of “Wench” a fictional work based on a popular vacation destination in Xenia, Ohio for southern slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses. Valdez says:

I took this forgotten historical note and sketched in a fictional account of what it would have been like to be an enslaved woman traveling to this free state each summer. Why wouldn’t the women try to escape? What kinds of emotional attachments did they have with these men?

The BCALA Literary Awards are given on Monday night during annual. Of the seven award winners, five came and read from their works. I thought each award winner had a truly amazing story surrounding the book they wrote. Each one was a delight to hear. Of the ones I’ll list below, Adriane Lentz-Smith, Assistant Professor of History at Duke University is one I wish WFU could lure away to here. She recently finished her first book, published by Harvard University Press, about black soldiers in World War I and the strong tie between manhood and fitness for government and citizenship rights. At Duke, Lentz-Smith teaches African-American history, modern U.S. history and topics pertaining to U.S. encounters with the world. She also taught a seminar on the nation and Jim Crow, exploring how the rise of racial segregation as a political and social program might be connected to American expansion overseas.

Here’s a list of winner and category:

Fiction- Pamela Samuels Young’s Buying Time

NonfictionGwen Ifill Breakthrough

First Novelist - K.C. Marshall, My Sister’s Veil

Fiction Honor Books – Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor

Allen Ballard, Carried by Six

Nonfiction Honor Books – Adriane Lentz-Smith, Freedom Struggles

Outstanding Publishing Citation-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., In Search of Our Roots

Today I am heading to meet other North Carolina Library representatives traveling up for the Library Advocacy Day which will this year replace National Library Legislative Day. Library advocates from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. will meet at the Upper Senate Park. As a first time attendee to this event, i am not sure what to expect.

2 Responses to “Continuing ALA for Wanda”

  1. Sounds like you’ve been busy!

  2. Those informal assessment techniques sound like good ideas, and “Wench” sounds fascinating!!


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