Professional Development

Transforming Libraries- Wanda at ALA

Monday, July 1, 2013 7:08 pm

Let me first say that this has been one of my best ALA conference experiences, however, I am not a huge fan of Chicago as a conference site. It is so spread out and personally, I find it somewhat challenging crossing the street with 50 other folks at the same time. That aside, I have had a wonderful conference. During our BCALA Executive Board meeting our first order of business was to sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. This is intended to serve as a strong public statement of the value of libraries for individuals, communities and our nation. This is an initiative of incoming ALA President Barbara Stripling. With this libraries will have the opportunity to hold signing ceremonies where community members, organization officials and others can visibly sign and stand up for their right to have a vibrant school, public academic or special library in their community. I hope we can have a signing at ZSR.

My work with BCALA felt particularly rewarding. I really care about the organization and want it to be successful. In September 2012 BCALA President, Jerome Offord, asked me to chair a task force to review member recruitment and retention, the membership process, and the value of BCALA membership. The task force was asked to review BCALA current processes, create a survey to measure member engagement and satisfaction, and provide the association with a detailed report on the pros, cons, along with any recommended changes to enhance the association’s service to members. The whole process went well and our report which included recommendations was well received by the board. We were even asked to research further one of the recommendations and report back at Midwinter.

I attended both Saturday and Sunday’s ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group meetings where our agenda items included: new hire orientations, managing student workforce, and metrics in HR, Ipads in training, social media in recruitment and competencies for HR success. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to revise our new employee orientation for our library employees. It was good to hear what others include in there orientations. Metrics that show where we get the bulk of our applicants from, how long we take to fill a vacancy, how much we spend on an average vacancy were each of interest to me.

I attended Enhancing Services through Integration of Interlibrary Loan and Acquisitions and heard from three different libraries how they have made this approach. Libraries represented were Kansas State University, Indiana University and Fort Vancouver Regional Library. One of them left the lending portion of ILL in Access while moving the borrowing to acquisitions. Two of the sites actually didn’t actually relocate staff, just integrated practices. Knowledge of copyright issues and e-resources licenses, knowledge of acquisitions purchasing and receiving, and knowledge of purchase on demand requirements were amongst the motivations for the mergers.

Librarians explored diversity sensitivity against a desire to have retrospective collections in the session entitled, The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Same…or do they? Presenters spoke on behalf of Native Americans, the LGBTQ community, folks with disabilities and African Americans. Each presenter gave examples of films and/or tv shows which in earlier years seem to take great pride in highlighting the more negative images of each. From the creepy lesbian, the unfaithful Indian, the ghetto black man to even the bookish librarian all were the central focus of some producer’s eye. While we don’t condone these images, we must strive to be as inclusive as possible in our collections. That means not only collecting these popular titles, but also going beyond to acquire documentaries that help to present a more balanced approach to that ethnicity or profession. I have several titles that were featured as examples that I am happy to share if you’d like to hear more.

The ACRL Assessment Group program was entitled, Wonder what the balanced score card really is? The balanced score card was defined as a way to use evidenced based practice to make decisions concerning processes. It really is a continuous improvement document. There are four main categories, user perspective, internal process, learning and growth and finance. Objectives are defined within each category, and then measures for success are identified and then the specific resulting action is scored and the strategic initiative is stated. One example used included as the objective – improve discovery of and access to scholarly resources, measures – use of licensed e-resources, strategic initiative – web site re-engineering. I think the process we have here at ZSR is very similar within our strategic planning processes. We identify and track the progress of our strategic initiatives. The one difference in this process, is that objectives are visited twice each year under the four categories. After administration reviews each area, the staff is included in the next round of conversations to obtain their observations, ideas or input concerning the initiative. So in the fall each topic is addressed and measured, staff are consulted in December with training where appropriate. Then in the spring those four areas are visited again, one at a time and then in May conversations with staff are held, and if necessary, training is offered again.

I was recently appointed to the LLAMA Leadership Skills Committee. Our program was entitled Project Management: a skill set every Librarian needs. Panelists representing academic, public and special libraries demonstrated their use of project management flowing. Crucial elements to this process require having a clear vision and understanding of the desired goal. Next obtain the full commitment from administration and leadership, establish a clearly defined process and lastly pull together a core group of desired people. Often times it is best to NOT have the person with the most knowledge about the situation serving as project manager because that person would have the tendecy to just do what they want without the consensus of the group. Communication is a must. Identify who the key stakeholders are, determine who will be responsible for communicating and how. Set a timeline and determine who will accomplish what. Have a formal hand-off between task and when complete, have a formal closeout and celebration.

Communicate with Confidence: One year to success, was a fun filled session with energetic speakers. Though the focus was on communicating, my take away was that you could use their recommendations to improve anything you desired. Start by agreeing to spend an hour each week towards this improvement plan. First identify what you do really well. This may take more than one week. Then later identify what you don’t do so well. Then spend at least an hour each week reading about that issue. This may be challenging, but you’ll need to find a way. This is just one specific issue that you’ve identified as necessary for you to have progress in this area. You may have other issues that are necessary for you to explore to get to your desired level. Talk to colleagues and get a mentor. Now identify how you can use what you have learned. Remember you are responsible for your own growth.

I hope if I have sparked your interest in any of these sessions, that you will drop me a note or join me for a cup of coffee/tea to talk further. I do enjoy sharing my notes.

3 Responses to “Transforming Libraries- Wanda at ALA”

  1. Sounds like you had a really good conference!

  2. Wanda, “The More Things Change, the More they Stay the Sameā€¦or do they?” sounds fascinating. I had not thought about the challenges of creating an inclusive collections.
    The “Communicate with Confidence” model might work for other projects as well. I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for posting!

  3. I’d like to see the examples of the TV shows and movies presented in “The More Things Change…” session. I’d like to see how our collection measures up! Thanks, Wanda!


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