This year I decided to take a late flight into Los Angeles, arriving in the middle of a beautiful night and enjoying a pleasant less hectic shuttle ride into Anaheim. It was BCALA business as usual though on Friday morning. I naively thought that we’d be done with my portion of the morning agenda by noon and that I could possibly make one of OCLC noon day sessions. To my disappointment my committee report was moved to last on the agenda, making my noon departure impossible. During our Sunday night membership meeting Gladys Smiley Bell and I were co-winners of the Distinguished Service to BCALA Award.
While at ALA I attended three assessment related sessions. The first was the “Libraries Value Project,” a presentation sponsored by ARL. Some of the projects highlighted are briefly described below:
Select a collection – see how many times the collection is viewed – average time per visit – determine how the collection was accessed.
Engage in real time conversations with faculty – do you believe that using the Library to support your teaching saves you time or does it save you money? If so, how much?
Feature a monthly portrait of a successful faculty member – showcase number of articles and/or books written – average articles etc. read in a month – awards and honors received.
Take the actual student survey to class – what library services have you used this year? – If the library didn’t offer this as a free to you service, how much would you have paid for this service? – How much would you be willing to pay?
The second session was for “ARL survey coordinators.” Changes to the annual library survey were discussed. Though we are not an ARL library, our ASERL group’s survey is based on the same survey. Among the changes discussed were dropping the counts for individually owned titles by formats, to collective titles owned; from a volumes held monograph, volumes held serials, to volumes held. Also there are changes to the library expenditures reporting statistics. Many in attendance believe that it is much too soon to change any of our collecting practices because it is certain that another statistical gathering agency will inevitably ask for these same numbers.
My final assessment related session was entitled, “Using Data to Plan the Changing Face of an Academic Library.” The College of Staten Island New York used data from multiple LibQual surveys to increase electrical data outlets, rearrange seating configurations and improve the quality of the restrooms. These survey results all sound quite normal yes, but wait, they also reversed their food and beverage policy. Based upon continuing complaints year after year they have now banned food and beverage use within the library. I think this is most interesting.
I would group my next set of workshops as “diversity” themed. “Diversity Begins at Home: Valuing Every Kind of Difference,” featured representatives from each of the ethnic causes; REFORMA, BCALA, CALA, PALA and AILA sharing experiences on lesser known intra-community differences. From the presenters, I learned that there are 36 ethnic minority groups in China, that Samoans are classed very similar to African Americans in their educational and health challenges. American Indian librarians are still subjected to reservation related comments. Hispanics as a culture are known for being very family oriented but less inclusive to some non-traditional family compositions.
ACRL’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee hosted a panel of speakers discussing, “Cultural Competence in Practice: Improving User and Staff Experiences.” Cultural competence was defined as acceptance and respect for diversity, continuing self-assessment regarding culture, and the ongoing development of knowledge, resources and service models that work towards effectively meeting the needs of diverse populations. Of the varying programs shared, I personally think our own Gatekeepers series available through the PDC, seems to be a perfect match. Our Gatekeeper series has a very similar objective as those shared within the panel. Each should, if successful, enable us to build and maintain more effective interpersonal and professional relationships, in which in return we will improve our user experiences if of course we put what we learn into our daily practice.
“Using an LIS Undergraduate Program to Attract Minorities to the Profession,” was the last session in the series surrounding diversity initiatives. Lincoln University, an HBCU, developed an undergraduate minor in Library and Information Science. The five courses are taught by Library faculty. The panel featured six of the first class graduates. All were excited. Each student appreciated the real introduction to library resources, the reference research project and the review of current issues affecting the profession. Mostly they were somewhat shocked at how cool our profession really is. I took great pride as they shared stories of acceptance. They seemed amazed that tattoos were acceptable, knowledge of other subject matter would be valued and that dressing a little different would not necessarily be frowned upon as foreign. This they cheered, was a profession welcoming of all races, ethnicities, sexual preferences and religious beliefs and practices.