Professional Development

Author Archive

Southeastern Library Association

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 5:18 pm

A trip to Alabama was the next stop on my journey as the NCLA Southeastern Library Association representative. The Alabama Library Association played host to SELA in the beautiful water front city of Point Clear April 7-10. During my report to the SELA Executive Board, I shared details around our upcoming conference. I unofficially invited the group to consider NCLA’s 2017 conference, which by the way will be held right here in Winston Salem, as a possible site for their next joint venture. A document detailing financial workings is forthcoming. I did take the opportunity to discuss the idea of NCLA hosting a regional Leadership Institute. The idea was well received by the other state reps in attendance. I suggested having the current SELA President attend the 2016 Leadership Institute might confirm or alter our thinking around this topic.

Whenever I attend the SELA conference I always look for ideas that I can bring back to NCLA. Here are a couple of things I noted. First, the conference planning committee members wore identical brightly colored t-shirts. This made them easily identifiable as those in the know. Secondly, the members of the committee monitored the session rooms and opened the doors when it was about three to five minutes remaining in time for the allotted program. This kept the flow of the day on schedule. The conference theme was around Super Heroes. Each exhibitor had a sticker which matched an entry on the Superheroes bingo card, for which the winner of got a prize. Each meal function was a $$ ticketed event.

Michael Dowling, the Director of ALA’s Chapter Relations Office was the featured facilitator for a session entitled, “Alabama Libraries into the Future.” Dowling facilitated a discussion around the future of the library profession. I thought this type session facilitated by our NCLA President, Executive Board members or even the New Members Round Table, might provide a means for open deliberate conversations around librarianship, member association growth, engagement and development. The opening session featured author Craig Johnson of the Walt Longmire mystery series. This was a lighthearted conversation that set the tone for a relaxed enjoyable conference. Though I never saw any official numbers, their attendance seemed much lower than ours. Attendees were able to choose amongst only five to six concurrent sessions at any time.

Some of the most notable sessions for me were those dealing with issues of management and leadership development. It seemed that there was at least one offering within each grouping of concurrent sessions. Sessions featured mostly collaborators from varying library types sharing experiences and lessons learned around similar topics. I elected to attend those focusing around the management of library student assistants, writing employee orientation manuals and designing content for personnel handbooks. I also found the sessions on engaging 1st year students and building community partnerships most informative.

If you want to hear more, just let me know.

Keeping Our Cool!

Thursday, April 16, 2015 1:56 pm

Let me start with having you listen to this TED talk entitled The Danger of a Single Story. It sets the tone for much of what was shared during the Winter Institute for Intercultural Communication (WIIC). During Spring Break, thanks to a scholarship from the WFU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I was able to attend the WIIC which was held here in Winston Salem at the Embassy Suites Hotel. I enrolled in the 3-day course entitled, “Keeping Our Cool! Managing Cross Cultural Conflicts,” and taught by Donna Stringer. The primary objective of the workshop was to lead attendees through a process of understanding how our own culturally learned behaviors and perceptions can create cross-cultural misunderstandings and conflict.

During the session we took the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory (ICSI) assessment to identify our preferred approach or style for resolving conflict. Knowing more about ourselves, our own preferred conflict style, aids in resolving disagreements, managing stress levels, more accurately interpreting the statements and actions of others, and more effectively communicating our interest to others. The institute was chunked full of high energy and thoroughly engaging conversations coupled with numerous opportunities for role playing, scenario writing and reviewing of case studies.

Of particular interest was the discussion around the two primary ways of handling conflict which was categorized as “direct” vs “indirect”. It was no real surprise to me that the assessment results indicated that I was direct. I want to get right at it. However my other indicator was right down the middle with “engagement” but like one hatch mark away from being “discussion.” I would love to have our leadership team and any interested others take this assessment. It was really eye opening to me. I have the ICSI pamphlet which describes the results, but not the actual assessment questionnaire used. Below is the chart that explains in greater detail.

A couple of statements that really resonated with me were; intent does not minimize impact. Because you didn’t mean anything by your words or actions, doesn’t mean that what the receiver felt was any less real. The second was; conflict is an opportunity for greater intimacy. I truly welcome the opportunity for more discussion. A brown bag lunch time would be super. Would you be up for this?

Wanda’s ALA Mid-Winterland

Thursday, February 12, 2015 2:28 pm

I absolutely love calling North Carolina home. This captured my sentiments perfectly as my plane landed to the NC bright blue sky and awesome sunshine. I guess that is to be expected after experiencing winter in Chicago. None-the-less, the conference as a whole was filled with lots of great engaging conversation. During the BCALA retreat on Thursday we began the work of strategic planning. Tracie Hall, Deputy Commissioner: City of Chicago-Dept of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, led the group through an exercise using the Kaizen model. Kaizen combines Kai which means change with Zen which mean good or for the better. As an action plan, Kaizen focuses on improving specific areas within the organization. These strategies bring together and involve teams across the organization with a strong emphasis on linking managerial practice with and to direct services. As a philosophy, Kaizen is about building a culture where all stakeholders are actively engaged in suggesting and implementing improvements to the organization. The strategic planning process documents feedback from peer collaborating organizations, non-members, members, current and past leadership. I volunteered to work with the group of current and past leaders.

My LLAMA (Library Leadership & Management Association) obligation as chair elect of the Human Resources section was still way fuzzy. It wasn’t until my all sections committees gathering that I learned of an executive committee meeting was scheduled for later that very morning. As it turned out, the chair forgot to include me on the email invitation. At the executive committee meeting I heard program planning details for the 2016 Orlando conference. The Human Resources section has the following committees of which I get to appoint a chair by May 1st.

As a past participant in the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Development Program, I was asked to partake in a focus group. We discussed our perceptions of value or lack of around leadership development programs for people from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. Our feedback will be used to inform the design of future programs.

Also of particular interest was the ACRL Personnel Administrators and Staff Development Officers Discussion Group conversations around employee engagement surveys. The question was asked, given everything that has happened specifically with regards to budget cuts in North Carolina over the last several years, is this a good time to conduct a climate survey? The answer was really isn’t a good time. ClimateQUAL was the most widely used tool, serving as a measurer for both diversity and employee engagement. Conducting a survey like this implies leadership’s commitment to doing something. It is most important to recognize the responsibility of department chairs and their role in improving the climate. It was stressed that leaders need to be deliberate about looking for the balanced picture both within strengths and weaknesses revealed in the survey data.

There were a few in attendance who had participated in the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s “Great Colleges to Work For” survey. Attendees believed that this survey conveys a good picture of where the library stands in relation to the campus. We continued conversations around the “checking references” aspect of recruiting. Many chimed in that they had abandoned the written reference for the more personal phone conversation. The University of Delaware has started using the “Predictive Index” tool as part of the search process for non-exempt and IT positions. The focus of which is on work style preferences and behaviors. Not sure that I agree to using this as a deciding factor in the search process. I think anyone could manage to fake the attributes of a decent manager. Do you think applicants would answer honestly or would they base answers on what they think the employer wants to hear?

Some very interesting data surfaced from one of the ALA’s Diversity and Research grant projects that was showcased at midwinter. If my memory serves me correctly, it was one of the UC Berkley campuses that conducted the study. They surveyed Asian college students concerning their orientation to college life in America. How long was it before they felt comfortable on campus? What search engine did you turn to first? What did you find most difficult to navigate within college life? Just so I won’t misquote any of the numbers, I promise to post more on the survey results once I get my hands on the actual data.

 

 

SELA/COMO

Monday, October 13, 2014 11:35 am

I currently serve as the North Carolina Library Association’s state representative to the Southeastern Library Association (SELA). SELA currently has about 250 members and generally partners with southeastern Library State Association Conferences to hold their annual meetings. The last time it met jointly with North Carolina was back in 2004 in Charlotte. I was approached at this conference and asked concerning the possibility of North Carolina hosting SELA during our 2017 conference which is to be held here in Winston Salem.

SELA’s 2014 conference met jointly with the Georgia Library Association (GLA) and the Georgia Association for Instructional Technology, Inc. (GAIT) collectively referred to as the Council of Media Organizations (COMO) in Augusta, Georgia during October 1 – 3. The conference theme was “Transforming our Libraries: Master the Possibilities in Augusta.”

NCLA was well represented at the SELA conference. Kathy Bradshaw (UNCG) and I teamed up to present “Leading from the Middle: Are You Ready?” Middle managers are often in a difficult position; not always the ones to have a hand in developing the strategies and subsequent decisions, but generally the one tasked with seeing that they are implemented. We shared with the audience details surrounding the values middle managers bring to an organization, discussed some of the common challenges they face, outlined the most desirable managerial traits and also offered suggestions on how they might be best prepared for the job. As a leader, when your staff think of the following traits, will they think of you? Are you competent, honest, trustworthy, fair, consistent, passionate, empathetic and approachable? In conclusion we offered practical solutions to a few of the audience participants’ real life quandaries.

Michael Crumpton, also of UNCG, shared insight on “Meeting the Challenge of Community College Librarianship: Trends Ahead and Competencies needed.” Community Colleges serve about 50% of all undergraduates in the United States. Most have the least amount of staff, many lack the range of critical resources all of this while serving the most diverse student populations. Changes within the high school curricula such as the creation of early and middle college programs are among the many trends which continue to have huge implications to the work of Community College librarians. I found this statistical data, as it relates to community colleges, most interesting.

  • Over 1200 Nationwide
  • Over 12.4 million enrolled
  • Average age = 28
  • 15% age 40 plus
  • 42% first generation
  • 58% women
  • 45% minorities
  • Large % employed

Crumpton’s second presentation ran concurrently with the session I presented in, so I was unable to attend. He spoke, upon my request, to our statewide planning efforts in the creation of the NCLA Leadership Institute. His presentation may well serve as a resource for my upcoming conversation with SELA board members around the possibility of conducting a regional leadership institute.

The “Virtue of Value-Based Leadership” session leader reminded attendees that librarians have a long history of upholding intellectual freedom, equal access to information for all, privacy and other social values. However, when library leaders design programs, services and other offerings do those values remain at the heart of the libraries and librarians? Do we empower our staff to make values based decisions? Are the values of the University interwoven within the library mission statement? Does your library clearly state and share its values with the public? I was eager to say that our library does!

Trevor Dawes, ACRL President, was the closing keynoter. He shared more on his campaign for libraries to partner with campus financial aid and student services offices in the fight for financial literacy. Of student debt, roughly 26% of it comes from cost associated with the purchasing of textbooks. Are libraries willing to take the fight for open educational resources? Washington University partnered with a local bank conducting an informational session around financial literacy. Attendees indicated that they found the program worthwhile. Topics suggested for future conversations centered on loans, budgets and investment strategies. Also RUSA was recently awarded an IMLS grant to create a best practices document on this topic.

Wanda @ ALA 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014 8:33 am

ALA in Las Vegas was indeed a hot and draining adventure for me, but surprisingly not for my hair. I have decided that climate (one that lacks humidity) works perfectly and that I should move west some day. Recently re-elected to a two year term on the Executive Board, I was happy to join my colleagues at the BCALA leadership retreat on Thursday evening. Friday BCALA Executive Board members continued discussing issues around membership recruitment and retention, web page design and upkeep, as well as the 2016 ALA meeting in Orlando. BCALA has written a formal letter of concern over the American Library Association’s decision to convene in Florida because of its’ take on the “Stand-your-ground law.” We did decide not to boycott, but to go specifically in support of the businesses of color. BCALA would love to have Trayvon Martins’ parents, Sybrina Fulton and/or Tracy Martin join the membership meeting as keynoters. I will work with a task-force charged to further investigate this idea.

Saturday I began familiarizing myself to the LLAMA Vice Chair Human Resources section responsibilities. From what I observed, this year I just attend meetings and acquaint myself with others in preparation for my task in 2015 of appointing members and chairs to the six sub-committees within the HR section. My Leadership Skills committee continued to finalize program proposal ideas for our program at annual. We are also planning for a pre-conference for annual of 2016 tentatively entitled “Out With the Old, In with the New: Recruitment and Retention Strategies that Work.”

The ACRL Personnel Administrators Group meets twice at mid-winter and at annual. Both meetings centered around issues on hiring practices, organizational development and work life balance. One presenter who spoke about using the Strength Finders assessment tool as the foundation for reorganization, quoted someone from here at ZSR referring to Strengths Finders as a life changing good thing. Not sure who you were, but you did make an impression! I really enjoyed the discussions around diversity recruitment. One library representative shared their practice of having applicants answer a question around how they as individuals would contribute to diversity on that campus. I really liked the concept behind this and think I would like to form a similar styled question for use during my interview with potential new hires. I’m not so sure I buy the written statement approach, but I do plan to follow up with the presenter to get more insight into this practice.

In a session that puts together Diversity Counselors and others, the topic of cultural competence and retention arose. It was this session that re-energized my desire to have a Diverse Librarian in residence here at ZSR. You may remember that Lynn submitted a funding proposal for this concept via the appropriate campus channels a few years back. Though unsuccessful, Lynn has continued in her fight to diversify library staffing with implementation of programs such as the “Sutton Rule.” Perhaps now would be a good time to consider resubmitting since we will have “Friend” in the Provost office who just might be in a position to advocate for us.

I was introduced to what appears to be a spectacular 2014 class of ARL Leadership and Career Development Program participants. Graduates showcased details of their individual projects during the poster sharing session. A few of the topics I noted were, the role of the digital humanities librarian, use of multimedia in reference and instruction, social sciences librarian attitudes on data research, community engagement and scholarship, reference and instruction for international students and how to support Latino librarians. You can meet the entire class here. ARL LCDP 2013-14.

This conference was full of meaningful conversations around personnel related issues. It was a most worthwhile trip. Let me know if you’d like to hear more.

TALA Paraprofessional Conference – 2

Friday, May 23, 2014 11:22 am

As you know the Triad Academic Library Association (TALA) held its first conference of library paraprofessionals last week. Let me share just a little more history behind the conference. The idea for the conference came from Rosann Bazirjian, Dean of Libraries over at UNC-G back in 2012. Rosann enlisted support from our Dean and Joan Ruelle Library Dean over at Elon. They both agreed that the idea was one most worthy or pursuing and these three subsequently ended up financing the entire conference. They then took their idea to the other TALA deans and directors where it received support as well. So in late 2012 representatives from most of the TALA libraries started work planning for the event. Anna Milholland and I were the initial representatives from Wake Forest. Of course this was prior to Anna’s leaving for Salem College. Committee members met for about once a month to begin and increased with frequency as the conference date grew closer. We owe a special thanks to Craig Fansler for designing the conference logo. In the early stages of planning our targeted number for attendance was around fifty, but we were pleasantly surprised to see that number escalate to more than a hundred. The day was a spectacular one in that it met our expectations. We wanted our library paraprofessionals to have a day of their own; one with workshops, presentations, discussion groups and networking opportunities. Captured below are a few takeaways from the day.

On Tuesday May 13th I attended, along with many from ZSR, the first TALA Paraprofessional Conference held at UNC-G. After a great keynote given by three separate deans, Lynn, Rosann Bazirjian from UNC-G, and Joan Ruelle from Elon I attended a session called Staying Relevant: The New Technical Services. I chose this to gain a better understanding of the different tools available to our Resource Services department in doing their day to day job. After lunch which included a high energy Career Branding presentation by Patrick Madsen from UNC-G, I attended Mary Beth’s and Craig’s presentation on Emergency Procedures. They both did a great job and many questions and conversation followed. It was a good day and even though I did not connect with my counterpart from any other libraries I enjoyed the fellowship of all the other paraprofessionals of the TALA committee. – Tim

Of all the sessions I attended at the TALA Conference I particularly enjoyed the session led by Patrick Madsen of UNCG, on Career Branding. Madsen is the director of Career Services at UNCG and I found his approach and energy level very unique especially for a library conference. His main thrust was that we as individuals control our brand and success and failure in the workplace can be determined not just by our level of skill in our work, but in our social connections with co-workers and our attitude. Since ZSR is such a service focused workplace I thought this was very relevant session. – Bradley

I attended the session, Staying Relevant: The New Technical Services, because it was mostly out of my area of work and I wanted to peek behind the curtain. The speakers didn’t get “technical” but rather addressed common concerns we have in all areas of academic libraries. They pointed out that their staff (both librarians and paraprofessionals) is shrinking so it’s important to demonstrate the value of the work they’re doing. I appreciated their support for training and professional development and they gave good examples of where those opportunities are available. (see speaker slides) Shannon Tennant from Elon University pointed out the importance of visibility in making the needs and value of your department known within your institution. I think ZSR does a good job of letting people know who we are and what we do but it was an encouraging reminder. Both the lunch speaker, Patrick Madsen, the Director of the Career Services Center from UNCG, and Shannon Tennant encouraged the attendees to identify our strengths and apply them to our work. I hope to do some personal reflection on this point to better target the intersection of my interests and the needs of my ZSR team. I thought the conference was a great opportunity to see how other libraries confront common challenges. If this conference continues, I look forward to opportunities for more interaction between the attendees to discuss specific concerns. – Ellen M.

I really enjoyed the conference. The information was useful in the sessions I attended. I wish there was more time to talk to others who catalog. – Beth

The highlight of the conference for me was being able to spend the day with my ZSR Library colleagues who I don’t get to spend time with outside of the library. My favorite presentation was “Dealing with Different Types of Patrons” by John Champlin (WFU). It was good to be reminded that each patron is unique and helping each one based on their uniqueness and need gives the best service (students, staff, faculty, parents). – Kristen

The session of most interest to me was Technology, presented by Michael Vaughn from Elon. It was exciting to hear about new technology. The group was especially captivated about 3D printing. We actually got to hold an octopus he had printed! – Mary Reeves
Technical Services operations are changing from print based to digital. It is very important to have cross training within the department. We need to engage in more metadata clean-up services. - Doris

Students face many challenges during their college experience. Some are stressed, some relaxed. Some are prepared, some unprepared. Some are on the road to success, some sidetracked. Whatever the circumstance may be, we have many opportunities to make a difference in the students’ experiences at WFU. Helping them obtain the knowledge needed and serving them with kindness and smiling faces will set the stage for a successful study. Hopefully the ZSR library will not only impact their lives academically but be a place where they made many friends with students and staff. Technology continues to change the future of the library. Embracing this change and incorporating past successes will create new opportunities and new challenges. Our vision and attitudes could be the difference between success and failure. Being prepared for disasters before the event happens could be the difference between life and death. Preparedness reduces the amount of time for the actions that need to be taken. – Mark

I thought the conference gave us a great opportunity to meet and establish new relationships. There was a lot of emphasis on accepting change. The lunch speaker pointed out a lot of things that we do, but don’t realize they affect others. I think making people aware and just the realization that we sometimes do things without knowing will definitely make me more conscious of the energy that I give off. – Monesha

Providing quality service for internal and external patrons requires a balanced approach of discipline and empathy to minimize the price of non-conformance to library policies and procedures. To meet the needs of our patrons, libraries need to adapt and be flexible with ongoing trends in e-resources and non-traditional events and activities. – Travis

I found the TALA Paraprofessional Conference quite informative. The session on email and technology were of most interest to me. In the email session, one of the more vocal participants was my counterpart from the UNCG library. She brought up several of the same email issues I deal with concerning communicating with vendors. The session presenter gave excellent points on how to email vendors without assigning blame yet helping to initiate actions by the vendor to resolve the issue. – Prentice

Who knew this would be such a great experience meeting other third shift Paraprofessionals from across the Triad! Can’t wait until next year’s conference! Thanks so much to everyone that worked so hard in planning this year’s conference. – David

National Library Legislative Day

Friday, May 16, 2014 4:29 pm

On Monday May 5th I met up with some really cool people from across North Carolina and headed to Washington, DC for National Library Legislative Day. This year NCLA selected 12 students from an essay contest on the importance of libraries to also attend. Each winner was accompanied by one of their parents. State Librarian Cal Shepard, NCLA President Dale Cousins, and both chairs for the Advocacy Committee were also on board. The students were wonderful and their stories will make you “Happy” about the work of Librarians across our great state. You may meet the students and read their essays here.

This was indeed a tightly packed trip as we arrived just in time to join Librarians from all of the 50 States for the opening reception at the Hart Senate Building. The NC delegation was recognized for the second year in a row for having the most supporters attending. During the reception Rebecca Morris, choreographer for the “Happy Dance” and UNC-G LIS faculty member, taught the dance steps to all of the audiences willing participants. It was a lot of fun! Afterwards it was back to the bus for a late 9:00 pm dinner.

The next morning we were off to meet with NC Representatives and Senators. My group met with aides for Walter Jones, Jr. (3rd District), George Butterfield (1st District), David Price (4th District) and Senator Richard Burr. Our advocacy conversations focused on the Library Services and Technical Act (LSTA), the Innovative Approach to Literacy (IAL), and Workforce Development. New in format this year, we allowed the student winners to have a voice in our advocacy efforts. It was good to hear them plea for books so they wouldn’t have to stare at computer screens for extended periods of time and for more reliable broadband reducing the frequencies of which their work is lost. We were on the steps of the Capital preparing for our photo op with Senator Burr when we were suddenly TOLD to leave the area because a dignitary was arriving. It turned out that Vice-President Biden was the star of the moment coinciding with a scheduled press conference concerning the extension of unemployment benefits.

Our final event was the rally for libraries which we organized. It was held on the lawn across from the Capital. ALA President Barbara Stripling, ALA Legislative Day staff, as well as a few of the Librarians who learned the “Happy Dance” the night before, all joined in with our group giving speeches and holding signs. Each of the students shared their views on the importance and value of libraries. And of course the finale was the “Happy Dance.”

 

 

The Winter Institute for Intercultural Communication

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:10 am

Thanks to a scholarship from the University I was able to spend March 12- 15 in Charlotte attending the Inaugural Winter Institute for Cultural Communication sponsored by the Institute and the Wake Forest Office of Diversity & Inclusion. It was a great gathering of about 80 attendees; thirty of which were from WFU. The Institute offered a choice of four different three day classes. During breaks and meals together, it was obvious that folks were all engaging in some pretty lively discussions. My class choice entitled Emotional Intelligence and Diversity: Building the Personal Infrastructure for Interpersonal and Organizational Effectiveness was taught by Lee Gardenswartz and was one of the best I’ve had on this particular topic.

Like me, you may be wondering how these two concepts Emotional Intelligence and Diversity work together within the workplace. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us. Emotions are at the heart of our energy and motivations. Emotions drive behavior. They are fundamental in how we react to the differences we see in others. Gaining understanding and mastery over our emotions leads to greater success as an employee, manager or leader. Emotions are the source of energy for doing the right and the smart thing. Each day’s class featured role playing, self-exploration and tons of spirited conversation. Class discussions focused around these four key elements:

Affirmative Introspection addresses why we behave and react the way we do. The more we know about ourselves and how life experiences have shaped who we are and how we respond to any given situation, the more we can manage our emotions. The more we understand and manage our emotional responses, the more comfortable we are in working relationships, the more effective we are in our daily interactions and the more we are at peace within our own skin.

Self-governance enables one to gain mastery over the feelings that arise when facing uncertainty, change and difficult people. This aspect of Emotional Intelligence involves dealing with the ambiguity that diverse environments bring. Management of our own mental self-talk is seen as crucial. Bringing logic, accuracy and reason to the forefront aids in mastering self-talk aids and in governing our emotions.

Intercultural Literacy involves understanding others cultural rules, norms and values, while being able to empathize with them and walk in their shoes. Resist the temptation to judge as inferior, styles, customs and values that are different from your own. Each culture has its’ own set of norms. Rules for “polite behavior” differ from culture to culture, family to family and even from person to person. Empathizing demonstrates caring and understanding. What do we as an organization do to learn about the cultures of those we serve and interact with daily?

Social Architecting is an intentional and conscious decision to build productive relationships by serving as a cultural interpreter. The Interpreter helps others understand the different cultural perspectives involved in situations. Serving as a cultural interpreter involves these “mindful” steps: being aware of our first reaction to and interpretation of an event, suspending our judgment of it, identifying alternative ways of understanding it and finally having a repertoire of choices in responding to the situation in order to increase our effectiveness with others.

I have a workbook on each of the elements. This is really good stuff. I would love to continue conversations around this topic and/or share the material with anyone who’s interested.

ALA Midwinter with Wanda

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:59 am

Continuing in my quest to get more involved with the Library Leadership and Management Section (LLAMA), I attended my first meeting as Member at Large for the Human Resources Section. I had a dual role during the meeting as I also reported for the Leadership Skills Committee, of which I am also a member. In late fall I was asked to run for Chair-Elect of the Human Resources Section. To be honest I wasn’t sure how all this aligned with my current service as Member at Large. I kept trying to get the LLAMA organization visually in my head. I found this LLAMA organization chart from 2012 and it does help some to make all this clearer. I thought you might also like to see the other areas of emphasis.

I enjoy the work of Human Resources, so I can’t believe that I will not for a second be fully engaged in this work. As we outlined a program proposal on leading virtual teams, I knew this area was a good fit for me. What are some of the best practices around leading teams of which the lead has no real authoritative power? What are some of the tools available for hosting virtual meetings? How do you keep members motivated and on task? One committee member suggested we partner with LITA on this program. Of course one hurdle is getting board approval to host at this annual and not annual 2015. Discovering at this meeting that our timeline was off, we immediately began discussing ideas for our program at annual of 2015. Our next program will look at ways to identify unconscious biases and understand how they impact your everyday beliefs and interactions. The program will also offer strategies for overcoming unconscious biases.

During the ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group meeting, I heard Karen Calhoun share details on the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System Leadership Development Program. This is an internal to Pittsburgh program open to any library worker. Both Librarian and library worker may elect to self nominate or may be nominated by the Dean or supervisor. With an annual budget of $25,000, Karen manages a 9 month program that seeks to make strong people even stronger. Attendees learn to identify and acknowledge their own individual strengths and then how to make best use of them to benefit the library. Other session topics include time management, organizational change, effective meetings, project management, managing your professional image, team-building, crucial conversations and communication planning. Change within our libraries has to occur quickly, so a lot of emphasis is placed on leading from right where you are. From the audience came concerns on the benefits of having open and free flowing conversations and how this might be dampened with attendees all coming from the same organization.

We also heard from UNC-Charlotte’s University Librarian, Stanley Wilder who gave a review of Library demographics within ARL Libraries. Though he spoke primarily on ARL trends, I found much of what he said to be right on the mark for ZSR Library as well. We have been hearing for years now about the graying of the profession and the big retirement trending. Around 2009/10 we were right in the middle of it. With the economic downturn during this same time some elected to push retiring back a few more years. Those retirements however made way for libraries to evolve and meet the current needs of their users. Look back a few years and you’ll see we were able also to do the same. Positions such as Scholarly Communications, Access Archivist, and Instructional Design were made possible from staff retirements. Wilder stated that libraries are paying more for in many cases fewer positions. Student assistant hiring is down 25% and down in expenditures 3%; support staff though down 20%, expenditures are up 25%; professionals up 10.5% and up 57.5% in expenditures. Also the focus on IT skills has impacted the gender swing in libraries.

Of course I spent considerable amounts of time with my BCALA family and did my usual tour of the exhibits. It was here that I took my one conference photo. It’s not a great photo, but I am always amazed at bravery in any form. And you must admit that one has to be pretty brave to wear this outfit when there’s snow outside all around. STimaging paid tribute to breast cancer awareness with a bright pink scanner and of course a salesperson willing to be on the spot!

Culture Keepers VIII

Friday, August 30, 2013 11:57 am

Culture Keepers VIII: Challenges of the 21st Century – Empowering People, Changing Lives was the theme of this year’s conference of African American Librarians. The conference, sponsored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, was held August 7 – 11, in Covington, Kentucky. This conference, though probably not intentional on the planners, does more than inform and educate. It brings librarians of color together and magically fosters a spirit of acceptance, appreciation, collaboration and unity to those who attend. Many of the librarians in attendance come from institutions that have few folks who look like them within their staffing. At their state and local functions perhaps they’ll encounter a few others if they themselves attend. Of the speakers, we (librarians of color) are often thrilled if perhaps one of the keynoters is a minority, specifically an African American. So perhaps that helps you get just a glimmer of the pride I feel, and the motivation I get coming to this particular conference where at least 99% of the speakers and presenters are folks of color. Budgetary constraints, coupled with the host sight not being one of the popular let’s all go visit cities; attendance was lower than usual, around 215. Those low numbers however did not hamper at all the excitement you could see and hear throughout the convention center.

I volunteered for a community service project that involved supporting the local Kenton County Public Library which recently completed a 65,000 square foot, 12.5 million dollar renovation. The library has the largest genealogy collection in the country including a national Lieutenant Governor’s collection. Coincidentally this library was the first in the south to provide racially integrated service to all in their community. The volunteer project involved moving the children’s holiday collection from one sight to another. The books were already classed together by holiday, or so we thought. Our one dilemma occurred when we found books in the Christmas collection about Hanukkah shelved together with books on the Jewish Passover.

Dr. Melissa Harris Perry host of MSNBC’s weekend talk show was the opening keynoter. In a conversational styled interview, Melissa a Wake Forest University alumni, told the audience about her first library job here in the ZSR stacks, her steep learning curve as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, her life as a black college student, woman and mother, and her work with Michele Obama in Chicago prior to the Obama election as President. Melissa shared the story behind how she became the Obama political expert. There was one statement she made that took me by surprise. When asked about her work as a student of theology she replied, I am searching for an answer. How is it that a people who have never known anything but generational bondage and inequality, would think that God loves them? The answer Perry says is not addressed in moral academic channels. Thanks to my colleague Julius Jefferson, I was able to have this photo taken with Dr. Harris Perry.

Conference programming planners gave attendees about two choices of workshops per schedule segment. Sometimes my choices were somewhat limited and focused heavily on the value of preserving African American heritage, culture and people. Empowering the Past: Telling Your Stories, gave examples on how one could take on the role of historian by collecting photographs and archives from their families to document the family history. An historical genealogy might include the political, the social, the sports great, the arts and entertainment and any other oddities that may have had an impact on the family and the life choices they’ve made. The example the presenter used detailed the life of her step father, a black plumber who worked on the “Hill District” a one-time thriving black area in Pittsburgh. Her photos and archival documentation depicted him as an ordinary man, a slave descendent, living through the Jim Crow era, raised as a sharecropper son, a World War II veteran, a worker in the steel mills and a black plumber who made weekly trips to the local Union requesting permission to join.

Giving Voice to Our Stories: Oral History as Integral to the Documentation and Preservation of African American History, was the title of the presentation given by Kelly Navies, Special Collections Librarian, District of Columbia Public Library. Her work focuses on collecting stories from the North Carolina Asheville area. Oral history is of particular importance to the African American community. It gives voices to members of the community who most would consider not worthy of historical documentation. We as Librarians are in a unique position with an opportunity to document gentrification and the closing of those schools valued by the African American community, racial profiling, return migration and incarceration. Generations of students will return again and again to hear these stories. They need to be captured. I regret not having my father tell me more about his service in World War II. I know he was stationed in Germany and that he was responsible for bringing ammunition to the troops, but little else. I seem to know more about the mistreatment he received upon his return to the United States. Perhaps that’s what stood out the most to him.

And yes there were numerous sessions on health and wellness efforts in the black community. One session encouraged attendees to pursue a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being. Pursuing wellness is not only a personal benefit but also one that will advance and preserve a community of people. The author also addressed the implications of mental health and how it is responded to within the black church. Added stress levels which studies have shown have a direct correlation to cultural identity and all the “stuff” that comes with that. Documented incidents of invasive and horrendous treatment of African Americans and test subjects compel many African American to question the safety of clinical trials. A panelist of doctors shared insight coming from both angles. To see the worst of what can happen in clinical trials, check out this sight. http://www.holeinthehead.com/

To end on a much happier note, let me share how pleased I am about Lynn’s plan to implement the “Sutton Rule” (after the NFL’s Rooney Rule). As we search to fill future position vacancies, at least one of the candidates brought to campus must be a minority. I am very optimistic. It is so cool and worthy of duplication across the state within our North Carolina libraries. There we go again, leading by example!

 


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