Professional Development

During August 2010...

COOP After A Disaster- ALCTS Disaster Webinar

Thursday, August 19, 2010 2:56 pm

On Wednesday, August 18th, the Disaster Committee attended a webinar hosted by the ALCTS group as one of their series on disaster preparedness. Steve Kelley, Ellen Daugman, Scott Adair, Anna Dulin and Craig Fansler attended the webinar which was presented by Nancy Kraft from the University of Iowa Libraries. Ms. Kraft has been tried by fire (or water in this case). During 2008, the University of Iowa, which occupies both banks of the Iowa River was severely flooded. Kraft’s presentation was based on the evacuation, recovery and maintenance of library services developed during this flooding.

The abbreviation COOP stands for Continuity of Operations Plan. According to Nancy Kraft, a COOP Plan is a set of “guidelines that ensure an institution can carry on all essential functions in case of a natural or man-made disaster.” You’ll be happy to know that ZSR is one of the few libraries nationally which has such a plan, developed by each of our teams last year. The idea of such a COOP Plan is to be able to offer essential library services during a disruption. The ZSR COOP Plan establishes ways that we think library services can be continued during an emergency. In the case of the University of Iowa, the university had the COOP Plan in place.

Nancy Kraft stated that you need a COOP Plan to ensure you can carry on essential functions following a disaster. The goal is to reduce the adverse effects of a disruption and recover and restore critical functions. The plan should include essential functions, personnel and resources needed to continue operations. Kraft recommends focusing on the big questions first: mission essential functions, records management, and risk reduction. The COOP Plan should be part of the Disaster Plan and posted online. Libraries need a list of prioritized functions that must be continued under any and all circumstances. Kraft also recommended having redundancy by backing everything up off site, and having an off site location for continuing operations.

This off-site alternative site should have:

-computers, software and other communications equipment
-sufficient space so you are capable of performing essential functions
-be able to operate for 30 days
Kraft also added these suggestions:
-decide what records are essential and duplicate off site
-determine the responsibilities of all staff
-decide the delegation of authority ahead of time
-have a PR person
-think outside the box
-communicate regularly with staff and the public

I should add at this point that the ZSR COOP Plan does cover most of these suggestions.

Kraft described the conditions and circumstances of the 2008 flood in Iowa. There were three libraries located on either side of the Iowa River. Both were evacuated and flooded. Much of the collections were relocated to higher ground in the buildings or moved to remote storage. It has taken until this year for them to restore everything to pre-flood conditions. The University of Iowa Libraries divided their response into four categories for response priority:
1. Critical for the university
2. Critical for the libraries
3. Essential
4. Other
Several other institutions in the area received damage including the African-American Museum of Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Public Library and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.

As we’ve learned at ZSR, each disaster has it’s own problems and complexities. These unique events have caused our staff to scratch their heads and then come up with unique solutions. In Iowa, these flooded institutions also innovated to help continue their essential operations: book brigades transported 50,000 volumes to upper levels of the University of Iowa Library; after the library closed, staff retrieved and re-shelved books twice daily for patrons; the African American Museum of Iowa garnered alternative space with the Masons gratis; and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library moved their collections several times and even set up shop in the mall with the public library.

This was a useful workshop because it helped the Disaster committee see how a COOP Plan might be implemented in a disaster.

Links:

The University of Iowa COOP Plan

Heritage Preservation Disaster Info

New Faculty Orientation and SAA Reports from Katherine

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 2:48 pm

Last week I attended both the new faculty orientation and the annual conference of the Society of American Archivists in Washington D.C. I won’t go over the same ground covered admirably by Molly, but I will add a few things. Since I am much newer to the scene, I found most of the orientation valuable and informative, not the least of which was the overview of library services. I must say that we (ZSR) made a fine showing and offered the liveliest presentation. I was proud to be part of the group. The police chief’s uniform and gear on benefits day was pretty impressive too (great belt).

I also went to the pool party for new recruits and their families. I am happy to say that my two sons were not an embarrassment amid the largely 10-and-under set at Grayland pool. (Unless the spectacle of two newly hairy teens queuing up repeatedly at the bar to gruffly request Shirley Temples is embarrassing.) As they lounged amicably, I was able to meet a number of faculty in departments I might not have encountered in the normal course of work (business school, law school, math department) and talk to some deans as well. All in all, it was a good opportunity, as with nearly every event, to mix with new faculty and discover their openness and professional interests.

Then there was SAA. After three plane cancelations due to bad weather in the Northeast, I finally arrived. The only thing going when I arrived was a slate of committee meetings. But after all the trouble getting there, I wasn’t about to miss anything. So I zeroed in on the “Description” (as in archival description standards, tools, and trends) committee meeting. This turned out to be a good choice because it was very organized and conveyed lots of information effectively. The meeting provided a great overview of current practices, initiatives, useful websites for reports and access to the development environment. I was glad to learn that Archivist Toolkit is the single most used software tool for processing archival collections, since, thanks to Audra, this is what we have adopted. I also learned that the Mellon is currently funding an initiative to meld the best features of Archivists Toolkit and a similar tool, Archon, into a new tool called ArchiveSpace. Need to keep our eye on this development.

The ho-hum second plenary was followed by a spectacular evening at the Smithsonian, where it seemed that everyone I met had relevant experience to our archives, special collections and digital projects; and was eager to exchange cards and be in touch. I also encountered, unexpectedly, Fran Blouin from the University of Michigan who directed the Vatican Archive Project, for which I was the Project Historian. It was great to catch up.

Day two was good too. First I went to “Grant Agencies Tell All;” which at this point in my life didn’t tell me much, but served up some cautionary tales of what not to do. Despite the call to innovate, grant agencies, as represented by this group (IMLS, Mellon, NEH, NEDCC), are fairly conservative. Cutting edge, not bleeding edge. The info was a bit generic and canned. However, I did feel empowered, having gone to the session to, at some point in the future and if Lynn agrees, inquire of the NEH preservation group why our climate control proposal was not accepted. HVACs seemed their bread and butter, though they did say that if there was not significant demonstration of processing activities a climate control proposal slipped down in their ratings. In other words, you have to make a compelling case for what you are trying to preserve. (“We get sick of stories about how bad your conditions are” one agency representative said.) The importance of obtaining some matching funds from one’s institution or a donor was also stressed. I now have the names and faces of representatives whom major grant agencies offered the SAA audience.

Next, Juan Williams (NPR, Fox, Eyes on the Prize, numerous publications) gave the third plenary, which was inspiring and made one feel good to be a custodian of cultural memory. The service role of librarians and archivist was eloquently valorized. “If heaven is a library or archive then guess who the angels are?” (Williams’ riff on Borges)

Lunch was provided for me, Vicki and Audra through the largess of Christian Dupront, the consultant who provided an analysis and report of ZSR Special Collection and Archives last November. He was a grand host, introducing us to his 20 odd other quests at the Taverna Lebanese. More cards exchanged. More war stories exchanged. More confirmations attained.

My afternoon was devoted to sessions focusing on the theme “More product, less process” as it pertains to archival description and getting our collections out there to be discovered. (For the research that stimulated recent strategies to process faster so as to get digital finding aids and surrogates on the web faster, see Greene and Meissner, “More product, less process: revamping traditional archival processing,” American Archivist 68, 2 (2005): 208-256.) These sessions, which offered the experiences of groups who had applied the “mplp”principles to concrete situations, were really useful and I have pages of notes. I will give here a bulleted list of points that struck me as particularly relevant to Special Collections and University Archives’ trajectory forward. [Sorry: my bullets got all messed up when I pasted into WordPress].

  • Lean processing practices are salutary for a number of reasons
    • Quicker online access to materials
    • Verbose inventories and finding aids may please the seasoned researcher but repel the novice and undergraduate user
  • · Each archive and special collection needs to take a hard look at its own processing and pre-processing practices in order to eliminate wasteful activity (e.g. limiting relabeling and refoldering). Ask: do I still need to be doing this? Why?
  • Jumpstart momentum. Many organizations have benefited from implementing quotas in processing – establishing expectations for a certain volume each person will process per month or year. Frequent, attentive communication between those who process and those who primarily work with researchers (shorthand = technical and reference services) is very important in honing and prioritizing leaner, quicker, more effective processing.
  • We should use donor and reference interactions to prioritize processing activities.
  • “Public service” staff (or all who interact with users and potential users) need to be more proactive in indicating gems within a collections in order to accelerate their discoverability
  • · If public service, user experience and user needs are to more deeply inform processing practices then reference/public service processes in archives and special collections probably need to become leaner too.
  • Limit time invested in fielding reference requests.
  • Our role is to work with our colleagues to provide a rich environment of discovery by efficiently exposing our collections.
  • Likewise, we are co-creators of access together with researchers (not search and find bots or hand holders).
  • At a certain point one must say: here is a list of proxies.
  • Develop mechanisms to capture researchers’ (and teachers’) passion for the materials you hold.
  • One highly recommended mechanisms, which also serves other purposes, is LibStats, an open source reference tracking, capture and knowledgebase-building tool. (Erik is already working on implementing this for us here).
  • Look for an upcoming RLG report on harvesting social metadata in special collections
  • Check out recent ARL SPEC Kits.

Suffice it to say that I am newly energized to work with my department to implement the strategies and principles articulated as appropriate to our environment and talents. It was great to be in the same room, hearing the same messages and examples, with Vicki and Audra.

Getting home was a lot easier than getting to D.C. Storms over.

Recap: Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 10:12 am

Last week, I traveled to Washington, DC for the Society of American Archivists annual conference and was later joined by Vicki Johnson and Katherine Gill. The whirlwind of activity and inspiration is summarized below!

Tuesday, August 10 was the Research Forum, of which I was a part as a poster presenter. My poster featured the LSTA outreach grant given to ZSR and FCPL (“Preserving Forsyth’s Past”) and explored outreach and instruction to these “citizen archivists.” I got a lot of encouraging feedback and questions about our project, including an introduction to the California Digital Library’s hosted instances of Archivist’s Toolkit and Archon, which they use for smaller repositories in the state to post their finding aids.

Wednesday, August 11 consisted primarily of round table meetings, including the highly-anticipated meeting of the Archivists Toolkit/Archon Round Table. The development of ArchivesSpace, the next generation archives management tool to replace AT and Archon, was discussed. Development of the tool is planned to begin in early 2011. Jackie Dooley from OCLC announced that results from a survey of academic and research libraries’ special collections departments will be released. A few interesting findings:

  • Of the 275 institutions surveyed, about 1/3 use Archivist’s Toolkit; 11% use Archon
  • 70% have used EAD for their finding aids
  • About 75% use word processing software for their finding aids
  • Less than 50% of institutions’ finding aids are online

A handful of brief presentations from AT users followed, including Nancy Enneking from the Getty. Nancy demonstrated the use of reports in AT for creating useful statistics to demonstrate processing, accessioning, and other features of staff work with special collections. She mentioned that AT can be linked to Access with MySQL for another way to work with statistics in AT. Corey Nimer from BYU discussed the use of plug-ins to supplement AT, which I have not yet used and hope to implement.

Perhaps more interestingly, Marissa Hudspeth from the Rockefeller and Sibyl Shaefer from the University of Vermont introduced their development of a reference module in AT, which would allow patron registration, use tracking, duplication requests, personal user accounts, et cetera. Although there is much debate in the archives community about whether this is a good use of AT (since it was originally designed for description/content management of archives), parts of the module should be released in Fall 2010.

On Thursday, August 12, sessions began bright and early. I started the day with Session 102: “Structured Data Is Essential for Effective Archival Description and Discovery: True or False?” Overall summary: usability studies, tabbed finding aids, and photos in finding aids are great! While the panel concluded that structured data is not essential for archival description and discovery due to search tools, Noah Huffman from Duke demonstrated how incorporating more EAD into MARC as part of their library’s discovery layer resulted in increased discovery of archival materials.

Session 201 included a panel of law professors and copyright experts, who gave an update on intellectual property legislation. Peter Jaszi introduced the best practice and fair use project at the Center for Social Media, a 5-year effort to analyze best practice for fair use. Their guidelines for documentary filmmakers could be used as an example for research libraries. In addition, the organization also created a statement of best practices for fair use of dance materials, hosted at the Dance Heritage Center. Mr. Jaszi argued that Section 1201 does not equal copyright, but what he called “para-copyright law” that can be maneuvered around by cultural heritage institutions for fair use. I was also introduced to Peter Hirtle’s book about copyright (and a free download) entitled Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, which I have started to read.

I wandered out of Session 201 into Session 209, “Archivist or Educator? Meet Your Institution’s Goals by Being Both,” which featured archivists who teach. The speakers emphasized the study of how students learn as the core of becoming a good teacher. One recommendation included attending a history or social sciences course in order to see how faculty/teachers teach and how students respond. I was inspired to consider faculty themes, focuses, and specialties when thinking about how to reach out to WFU students.

Around 5:30 pm, the Exhibit Hall opened along with the presentation of the graduate student poster session. I always enjoy seeing the work of emerging scholars in the archival field, and this year was no different. One poster featured the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries in a CLIR-funded project to process hidden collections in the Philadelphia region — not those within larger repositories, but within smaller repositories without the resources or means to process and make available their materials. The graduate student who created the poster served as a processor, traveling to local repositories and communicating her progress and plan to a project manager. This is an exciting concept, since outreach grants tend to focus on digitization or instruction, not the act of physically processing of the archival materials or creating finding aids.

On Friday, August 13, I started the morning with Session 308, “Making Digital Archives a Pleasure to Use,” which ended up focusing on user-centered design. User studies at the National Archives and WGBH Boston found that users preferred annotation tools, faceted searching, and filtered searching. Emphasis was placed on an iterative approach to design: prototype, feedback, refinement.

I headed afterward to Session 410, “Beyond the Ivory Tower: Archival Collaboration, Community Partnerships, and Access Issues in Building Women’s Collections.” The panel, while focused on women’s collections, explored collaborative projects in a universally applicable way. L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin from the University of Delaware described the library’s oral history project to record Afra-Latina experiences in Delaware. They found the Library of Congress’ Veterans’ History Project documentation useful for the creation of their project in order to reach out to the Hispanic community of Delaware. T-Kay Sangwand from the University of Texas, Austin, described how the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives were processed and digitized, then stored at UCLA. Ms. Sangwand suggested that successful collaborations build trust and transparency, articulate expectations from both sides, include stakeholders from diverse groups, and integrate the community into the preservation process. One speaker noted that collaborative projects are “a lot like donor relations” in the sense that you have to incorporate trust, communications, and contracts in order to create a mutually-beneficial result.

On Saturday, August 14, I sat in on Session 502, “Not on Google? It Doesn’t Exist,” which focused on search engine optimization and findability of archival materials. One thing to remember: Java is evil for cultural heritage because it cannot be searched. The session was a bit introductory in nature, but I did learn about a new resource called Linkypedia, which shows how Wikipedia and social media interact with cultural heritage websites. My search for zsr.wfu.edu is in process at the moment — it should show up soon here.

I caught up with Katherine and Vicki afterward and we headed to Session 601, “Balancing Public Services with Technical Services in the Age of Basic Processing,” which featured the use of More Product, Less Process, aka “basic processing,” in order to best serve patrons. After a few minutes I decided to head over to Session 604, “Bibliographic Control of Archival Materials.” The release of RDA and the RDA Toolkit (available free until August 30) has opened up the bibliographic control world to the archival world in new ways. While much of the discussion was outside of my area of knowledge (much was discussed about MARC fields), I learned that even places like Harvard have issues with cross-referencing different types of resources that use different descriptive schemas.

My last session at SAA was 705, “The Real Reference Revolution,” which was an engaging exploration of reference approaches for archivists. Multiple institutions use Google Calendar for student hours, research appointments, and special hours. One panelist suggested having a blog where students could describe their work experience. Rachel Donahue described what she called “proactive reference tools” such as Zotero groups to add new materials from your collection and share those with interested researchers, and Google Feedburner.

I also had a chance to catch up with colleagues across the nation and talk to other implementers of Archivsts’ Toolkit, who gave me lots of useful advice. Whew! What a week!

New Faculty Orientation

Monday, August 16, 2010 12:02 pm

Disclaimer: I felt a little odd going through new faculty orientation (NFO) last week, seeing as I’ve been at ZSR for over 10 months , and with the University for almost 4 years , but I’m not complaining! I had a lot of fun, really enjoyed the opportunity to meet our new colleagues, and have been pleasantly surprised at how much I learned.

One of the highlights from NFO Day 1 was hearing the Provost’s “Top 10 List for Success” for new faculty:

  1. Find mentors
  2. Form bonds with peers
  3. Get out there – network in your profession, be bold!
  4. Protect research time and explain it to students
  5. Give yourself deadlines
  6. Don’t be a summer scholar
  7. Find your own style in the classroom
  8. Be conscious of the responsibility that goes with your position
  9. Respect your students and treat them fairly
  10. Have high expectations

As a member of the Mentoring Committee, I was especially pleased to hear that Provost Tiefenthaler’s number one piece of advice for success was to find a mentor. She and several of the Associate Provosts affirmed the benefits gained from mentoring, and although the University does not have a structured mentoring program for new faculty, it is obvious that such relationships are highly valued. I also appreciated her encouragement to attend conferences and accept all speaking invitations to network in our professions.

Following the ZSR orientation session (kudos to my fellow presenters!), I enjoyed meeting with the new faculty in one of my liaison depts. (Math), and even gave a brief tour into the bowels of Reynolds Wing before lunch!

NFO Day 2 was all about benefits, and while I didn’t learn anything new (or need to sign up for benefits), I was able to put names and faces together of folks in HR and other campus depts.

NFO Day 3 was an all day orientation for Wake Forest College faculty. Although ZSR faculty aren’t part of the College, we were invited to attend and I sincerely hope that the invitation continues to be extended in the future, as I found this to be the most beneficial part of NFO. After an introduction to the depts. and staff within the Dean’s Office, there were a series of panels where existing College faculty shared their insights on the teacher-scholar ideal; managing self, life & work; and “the first year” faculty experience at WFU. While ZSR faculty aren’t evaluated as teacher-scholars and have different demands on our time, the panelists had good insights that apply across the board, and hearing their advice and experiences provided wonderful insight into what it means to be a teacher-scholar at Wake Forest.

Teacher-Scholar Ideal: Cindy Gendrich (Theatre & Dance), Ellen Miller (Anthropology), Jason Parsley (Math)

  • you’re going to fall down on one or the other, teaching or research, some semesters; it’s OK, you’ll rebound
  • perception of others not working as hard as you are isn’t true; just working through a different process
  • everyone wants you to do well – you aren’t pushing against a brick wall!
  • push students’ boundaries to have those “aha!” moments
  • not good if you’re feeling too comfortable because it likely means you aren’t pushing yourself

Managing Self, Life & Work: Christa Colyer (Chemistry), Susan Fahrbach (Biology), Jarrod Whitaker (Religion)

  • consistently attain success in work, self & relationships
  • it’s NOT a mathematical balance
  • they are ideals, you cannot reach them but you can come close
  • our jobs are inherently spontaneous; we have so many opportunities for engagement, so don’t think of them as “wasted time;” we are part of the University community and we are richer for engaging
  • problems of work-life balance, while experienced personally, almost always originate structurally or institutionally; the goal is to build structures within which we can honestly excel
  • life is dynamic and balance is overrated – life would be boring if balance was actually achieved!
  • don’t strive for balance over a period of days, weeks or months, but over a year; HOWEVER, don’t let the unbalance go unexplained to either side (work or life)
  • you don’t have to sacrifice everything to be a good WFU professor; learn to protect your family time because that is the most important thing

“The First Year”: Susan Harlan (English), Oana Jureschu (Physics), Will Walldorf (Political Science)

  • tell students you don’t check email after x-time (even though we know you do!), as you need to set boundaries
  • be reasonable in expectations of self
  • you cannot fool students if you don’t have passion for teaching or for the subject
  • stick to deadlines in syllabus and don’t make compromises; if you find a problem, change it in future classes
  • give grant proposals, manuscripts to colleagues to read prior to submission
  • academia is not a 9-5 job and it can get overwhelming; it takes time to develop structure, personal practices
  • our job is to explore everyday – that’s really cool!

I am very glad that I was able to participate in NFO, and will strongly encourage future new ZSR faculty to do so, regardless of how long they’ve been here when August rolls around!

Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians — Class of 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:25 pm

“Qualities of great leadership are: focus, passion, wisdom, courage, and integrity.” Lee Bolman

The above quote might make you think this institute was just a series of sage tidbits, but it really was a highly personal and potentially transformational experience. The class was over 100 academic librarians in leadership positions mostly from the U.S., with some Canadians and a few other internationals, including several from South Africa.

For several months prior to the institute, I worked away at reading the 443 pages of the fourth edition of Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership (ISBN 9780787987992), which was packed with real life examples, and was enlightening even before I arrived in Cambridge, MA. (I will add the book to our collection.) We were fortunate to have Lee Bolman, one of the authors of this primary text, as an instructor during the week. The book teaches about viewing problems or challenges with 4 different perspectives, or frames, in mind when trying to make sound decisions: structural (e.g. the organizational chart, or organization as a whole), human resources (meeting the needs of individual people), political (inside and outside of your institution), and symbolic (overview of past, present, and future in story-like terms).

Copious additional readings each night with the brain-straining intensity of discussion each day made for a tiring week, but it was highly educational and satisfying. I learned what a case study really is and I did find it to be a useful tool for learning. I won’t describe the rest of the content and structure because it was 98% the same as Susan’s experience in 2008. Susan’s description of the frames is also the same as what I heard; I just gave one of the variations above. To read Susan’s posts (recommended!) scroll down on this page until you see the category “2008 Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians” (on the right) and click it.

I cannot even begin to come close to sharing all of the benefits of the institute in writing this post, so come chat if you want! Here are some thought-provoking nuggets (and I’m quoting and paraphrasing from various instructors):

  • People have different concepts of what leadership is, so any given leader is going to get mixed reviews in the effort to meet expectations.
  • Where are we likely to succeed or fail in our responsibilities, especially in the context of a changing environment?
  • When our world changes, we need to notice and adapt. Because we don’t want to go the route of the buggy whip or Lisa (from Apple). This is why these blog posts are so important — they help us to take note of what is changing outside of WFU so that we can think about what we need to do differently.
  • Often we have more power than we think we do. There was a whole segment on “leading from the middle” which I believe every single full-time employee in ZSR does. Bolman was the instructor and he also said, “Leading from the middle takes:
    • doing your homework;
    • working up and down [the org chart];
    • openness to learning and new possibilities;
    • courage.”
  • Why is change so difficult, even when we are genuinely committed to it? We went through an exercise designed to force one to dig down to the hidden reasons that are preventing behavioral changes. This short article explains it in plain language: Kegan, Robert and Lahey, Lisa. “The Real Reason People Won’t Change,” Harvard Business Review (November 2001): 84-92. Lahey was the instructor for this segment.
  • Change always looks like failure from the middle of the process.
  • How leaders go astray:

    • They see the wrong picture (through misreading or missing important clues or not knowing how to decode the clues, or through disrespecting other groups’ perspectives and cultures);
    • they lose key constituents;
    • they don’t recognize when the world has changed around them.

Again, there was ever so much more and I’d rather tell you in person instead of trying to include more here, so ask me!

Wanda’s conferencing continues …

Saturday, August 7, 2010 8:13 am

Well into our conference, good news continued with regards to on-site registrations. Registration numbers continued to climb upwards totaling late this afternoon to 375. YEAH! I had stressed early in the planning stages when I heard about plans to have a local high school choir perform as a part of the opening ceremony. When their melodic voices reached the audience and attendee faces beamed with acceptance, I knew it was okay. They were spectacular! Nestled in the heart of the civil right’s capital, Birmingham, our opening session speaker, Dr. Terrence Roberts of the famed “Little Rock Nine,” was all we could have hoped for in a keynoter. Both engaging and entertaining, he filled the atmosphere with serenity as he revisited the 1957 integration saga, comparing the challenges of yesterday with those of today. His message while focusing on acceptance, spoke directly to rejection in its’ many forms. He asked the audience to listen carefully for the voice of urgency, to hear it, and then to answer. According to Dr. Roberts, each of us has a calling. What is it? Will we answer? Whether it be to serve, to speak or to simply take action, ultimately we all must care enough to confront. Several attendees took the time to offer hugs and congratulations, affirming that the conference was off to a great start. Though I was unable to attend any of the regular workshops, I did hear lots of favorable comments. In particular, the MBA for librarians series was very well received.

Issues with registration, with technology, with speaker request and with juggling food and beverage numbers, each have called me to another form of action. I have apologized more times in the last two days for my worried, somewhat panicky tone of voice. I have confessed to being a perfectionist. But, for the more than 200 folks who stood up yesterday as a first time attendee, it is my hope that this conference will leave a lasting impression on them. It is to that end that I will work steadfastly.

Tonight we were welcomed by the Birmingham Public Library, who hosted the all conference reception. Staff of the library combined their talents in a “Cotton Club” themed band. Watch out, they just might give the ZSR staff a run for the money. The concluding song, “We Are Family” sung by both the current and previous library directors, showcased a magnificent display of courage. Fun was had by all.

Wanda

7th National Conference of African American Librarians

Thursday, August 5, 2010 12:23 am

Tuesday found me and other planning committee members settling in to the Sheraton Hotel in a hot sweltering Birmingham, Alabama. The afternoon was spent putting a face with the service provided. We met everyone from the chief bottle washer to the general manager, who co-incidentally managed the Adams Mart in Winston Salem prior to joining the Sheraton team. We began today expecting a slow conference start, after all, our conference actually begins at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday and typically most members come in then. Half day pre-conferences were scheduled for this afternoon as well as tomorrow morning; along with an early evening walking tour and an early morning bus tour. Well, what we got was a whole lot more. We had 29 walk in registrations, bringing our registrant total to 340. We sold most of our extra meal event tickets by 10:30 a.m. We were as you can imagine tickled pink. Other good news came when ALA immediate Past-President, Camila Alire and ALA Executive Director, Keith Michael Fiels emailed to say they would be joining us for the conference. We are now somewhat anxious to see what tomorrow holds. I’ll keep you informed. – Wanda


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