Last Thursday, I attended NCLA as a presenter for the first time. Dr. Anthony Chow, who was one of my professors when I was in library school, asked me if I could present two sessions with him that day. I agreed, suited up (literally) and made the journey to Hickory early that morning.
Our first presentation was called “To Fine or Not to Fine? This is the Question” and took place at 9 a.m. While I was I school, I served as a research assistant with Dr. Chow on this project, which investigated the use of positive reinforcement methods (rewards) as an alternative to negative reinforcement methods (fines) in order to encourage library patrons to return their materials in a timely manner. We had used one academic library in our study, and the results supported our initial hypotheses in somewhat surprising ways. This presentation was attended by thirty people who represented a mixture of libraries; each person was interested in learning more about how to implement a rewards program at their respective location. Further, there were several people who wanted to find out of the study would continue and if their library could participate. Dr. Chow was encouraged by this possibility, as we had hoped to use different libraries in our study initially but were forced to scale back because of a lack of interest. This project has the potential to grow, so there may be a revised presentation at a future conference.
“What Does a Typical Library Website Look Like?” was not only our second presentation for the day but it was also one of the last set of presentations for the day itself. Dr. Chow and his research assistants analyzed over 1,400 websites for this study, using a combination of checklists and surveys to determine a standard design layout, common features and content, responsibilities for design and maintenance, and the extent that these websites follow recommended guidelines for overall design. A set of nine usability testing criteria was applied, with the resulting data being notable for what was found (contact information for the library) as well as what was not (a space for feedback from patrons). My role was to facilitate this session; Dr. Chow had returned to Greensboro for personal business and planned to use Skype to present his PowerPoint slides, while I was to drive the presentation in person from Hickory. This was the first time that I had participated in a “long distance” presentation, and Murphy ‘s Law came to bear when Skype failed to connect at the start of the session, leaving me to open the session without Dr. Chow. Fortunately, Dr. Chow was able to connect after the fifth slide and we were able to co-present until he had to leave for personal business leaving me to close the session. Even though I didn’t have an intricate understanding of the material in this presentation, I was able to use some of my experience on the ZSR Web Committee to answer questions and stimulate discussion at the end of the presentation.
NCLA has been a different experience every time for me every time I have been involved, and this year was no exception. Now that I have been a presenter at the conference, I would like to have the opportunity to do it again in the future. Two presentations in one day was one way to increase my personal understanding!