Professional Development

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CUPA Conference day 2

Thursday, May 16, 2013 12:39 pm

The second day of the CUPA HR conference was just as enlightening as the first. I began the day by attending Employee Recognition: A Look at the University of Oklahoma HR “STAHR” Program. The presenter Eric Sourie was filled with energy and enthusiasm as he delivered the program details. In the Oklahoma program STAHRs are recognized daily, quarterly with a luncheon and annually with a major celebration. The program is based entirely within Human Resources, a department of 72 employees. A STAHR is a Super Talented Associate of Human Resources. Sourie offered advice on building an effective recognition program. In a recognition program everyone should know exactly what the organization hopes to recognize? What behaviors do you want to reinforce? Is it the peers who recognize or is it the supervisor? Effective employee recognition programs reinforce the mission, vision and values of the organization and should be easy to administer. Above all they should be valued by the employees. For the most value, you really need to find out what the employees actually value. Sometimes there are challenges in maintaining enthusiasm and value around the program. It’s never a done deal, but more of a continuous cycle to evaluate, recognize, celebrate and then evaluate again. Programs should consider recognizing those: whose opinions are heard and valued, those who give extra effort, those who are examples to their peers, those who volunteer above and beyond, those vested in the success of the organization, proactive and those committed to excellence.

Creating a Culture of Respect on Campus: Developing Standards of Professionalism, explored how inappropriate interactions reduce optimum performance on our campuses and was led by Sibson Consulting representatives Barbara Butterfield and Robert Conlon. Values of the organization should be interwoven in the daily interactions of both faculty and staff. Professionalism actually starts within the search/interview process. The search committee and its interactions should display the highest levels of professionalism. This conveys the message of expectancy. Language that speaks to collegiality should be included in the job description. Professionalism is defined by respect, integrity, positive communication, fair, doing your best, knowledgeable, and controlling your emotions. Does professionalism matter? Yes it does! It should be communicated and modeled. Rochelle Arnold Simmons, Organizational Development Specialist at Johns Hopkins University, shared details of an active John’s Hopkins case study with the audience. Why would Johns Hopkins undertake a study centered on professionalism? As a leader in both teaching and research they need to be able to continue to attract and retain the best faculty, staff and students. The committee’s charge was to cultivate an environment/culture characterized by trust, mutual respect, open communications, accountability and collaborative interactions among all members of the Hopkins community and those they serve. A healthy campus has a climate of trust and respect, with work/life balance and ethics. It has behaviors conducive to physical intellectual, emotional, financial, social and spiritual well being. A healthy campus displays behaviors which are consistent with organizational values to promote a productive and supportive, collaborative, fun, dependable and safe workplace. Johns Hopkins launched a phased approach to developing the desired culture. First gathering information from the university and select peers on standards of professionalism. Next they analyzed the data to determine internal patterns and reviewed best practices. Currently they are creating an executive summary which will include a recommended implementation plan and a supporting structure. Ideas from that days’ brainstorming session is to be included in the documentation.

Putting Social Media to Work in HR, led by David Zajchowski of Rollins College, took a different spin from what I had hoped. His focus was on HR’s value and advantage in using social media in advertising position vacancies, updating and sharing university news and communicating with faculty and staff. I had hoped they would talk some about effective ways to use social media in the actual search process, however, none the less, the information given was beneficial. Of particular interest were the statistics on social network usage across racial lines. Whites lead with 79%, Hispanics with 12%, Blacks 10% and Asians 3%. The presenter asked the audience if we knew why the numbers were so low for minorities. I asked him what the source of his data was to which he replied, from Nielsen ratings. I said that says a lot since, I have never known any African American who was asked to participate in any of the Nielsen rating events. No one else had any possible reasons to offer either. Social media, if used correctly, can promote deeper engagement with communities of interest. Attendees were advised to safeguard the fine line between personal voice and institutional voice.

The last session of the day sought to provide “Answers to your Toughest Legal Questions?” and was led by attorney Beth Tyner Jones of the Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice firm of Raleigh. Some topics touched on were, retaliation lawsuits, departmental mis-classification within exempt and non-exempt categories and ADA compliance. I was also glad to hear her recommendations for universities conducting criminal background checks on previously hired faculty members and complying to Affordable Care Act (ACA) guidelines specific to adjunct faculty and the provision of health care benefits. Concerning background checks, Jones asked that we consider these factors: time passed since the offense, conduct while working with your university and the length and terms of sentence served; nature of the job held in relation to the offense and the nature and gravity of the offense. Institutions should allow faculty members the opportunity to explain. With regard to adjuncts and ACA compliance, Jones stated that most often, institutions do not track hours worked but instead pay adjuncts per course, taking into consideration the specific course’s demands, preparation time, in-class instruction time, and out-of-class responsibilities. Teaching twelve credit hours equates to 36 hours of work time. Counting of these hours is to begin in July. The discussion on having interns and volunteers advised employers to state the terms up front within the internship/volunteer agreement. Specifically one should address expected hours, mutual benefits and desired outcomes, include statements that reinforce that no wages are attached to this project and there is no commitment to hire.

Overall this was a super conference and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend. Please see me if you want to hear more on any of the topics covered.

HR 2013 Speedway to Excellence – Day 1

Thursday, May 2, 2013 8:41 pm


On April 28-30, Charlotte was home to the 2013 College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) Southern Region Conference. I didn’t see any official numbers, but I’d say there were about 250 folks in attendance. This was my first time attending this type conference and I was especially grateful for the opportunity to attend. It was a really great conference, packed with lots of relevant information. You may recall that the salary market analysis conducted back in the fall used data from CUPA for the review and that I also serve on an ACRL committee to review CUPA library position descriptions. I drove in to Charlotte both days and can honestly say that this is one commute I am thrilled not to have to make with any regularity.

The opening keynoter, Dr. Christopher Bouer, author of Better Ethics NOW: How to Avoid the Ethics Disaster You Never Saw Coming, suggested a preventative maintenance approach to ethics and values training. Research shows that institutions lose about 5% of their bottom line to unethical practices. Good ethics programs that are easily defined, clear and concise will reduce fraud losses of up to 15%. Ethics are the total of our guiding values; the rules we follow even when no one is looking and all we know about doing the next best thing. My take away from this session was to make sure that supervisors include a conversation concerning the library values statement as a part of our new employee orientation.
The next breakout session provided the opportunity for affinity groups to connect. I along with other WFU troopers, Angela Culler and Christy Lennon, attended the private institutions gathering. Here we discussed endowment distributions, admissions, diversity recruitment efforts, title IX and faculty background checks. When polled concerning the number of institutions conducting faculty drug and background checks, almost all attendees responded affirmatively. Only one institution indicated that they had gone back and conducted checks on those hired prior to implementation of the policy.
Leadership Conversations: Developing Managerial Capacity for Inclusive Excellence through Dialogue, featured Pearl Alexander and Cheryl Cofield, both of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who discussed ways to foster inclusiveness in team/group meetings. Attendees participated in role playing activities to generate self-insight and improve listening techniques. During the paired up listening exercise, I wanted to say, yes I understand, or I remember when, but our instructions were to listen only for the full two minutes. It was hard. We practiced giving delighted attention, equal time and uninterrupted conversation. Interruptions can derail the communicator, causing him or her to lose their intended message. During the session we also watched the Susan Boyle video of her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent. The underlying theme is here was no one expected her to triumph. They all made assumptions based upon her demeanor. So this is the same in life. Our perspectives are often timed colored by our individual opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Many times these assumptions are laced with unconscious biases, sometimes racially based. The presenter’s example focused on stereotypes of laziness which often lead interviewers to probe deeper than usual for evidence that applicants will actually work if given the job. Diversity mature leaders strive to be aware of these conversations. Value added does not always reside with the usual suspects. Leaders need to work at creating a culture of dialogue. The experience of being understood versus being interpreted is so compelling you could charge admission. (presenter’s quote) This session was really good and they covered lots more of which I am happy to share, but I’ll stop here and move on to the next session.
Enhancing Employee Engagement in Difficult Fiscal Times, topic for Ann Lennon of the UNC System and John Toller, ECU’s presentation, stressed the importance of tracking employee engagement. Research indicates that about 30% of employees are engaged, with 50% not really fully engaged and 20% actively not engaged. People are the source of power for our learning communities representing the engine and fuel for sustainable success. What attracts new hires and what retains is closely aligned and should have respect at the center along with future career advancement opportunities, maintaining job interest and adequate compensation. These three things were cited as factors which lead to dis-engaged employees. 1) Being under-utilized. Leaders need to tap into the full potential, redesign jobs and listen well. 2) Being invisible. Leaders need to recognize people personally and appreciate them. 3) Feeling like they are not making a difference. Managers need to celebrate successes no matter how small. Engaged employees are willing to give extra effort, they feel energized because their needs are met; they feel enabled because they have what they need to get the job done. Empathy was cited as the glue that holds it all together. Here are some other best practices:
• Show respect
• Build career paths
• Capitalize on engageable moments
• Write thank you notes
• Demonstrate strong leadership
• Actively managing change
• Focus on the customer
• Have equitable rewards in whatever forms are possible
• Promote collaboration not competition
• Use power sparingly
• Invest in the core
• Identify strengths and utilize them – right fit
• Hire or develop great managers

There’s more to come from day 2 when I attended sessions on employee recognition, standards of professionalism, social media in HR and the tough legal questions. Including both days in one post makes for a much longer post and I really want to hold your attention, so I’ll report more a little later.

Diversity & Inclusion Symposium

Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:38 pm

Wake Forest University held a Diversity & Inclusion Symposium at the Bridger Field House on Tuesday March 19. It was a beautiful sight to see the almost one hundred participants in attendance. Assistant Provost, Barbee Myers Oakes and Executive Director, Employer Relations, Mercy Eyadiel were the symposium planning co-chairs. The Symposium was co-sponsored by several University offices in conjunction with the North Carolina Diversity & Inclusion Partners. The partners are a consortium of public and private institutions of higher education in the State of North Carolina established to coordinate a statewide network among chief diversity officers. The schools are Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina Central, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington and Wake Forest. The symposium sought answers on how Wake Forest might ensure that there graduates were ready to compete in a multicultural environment.

Andy Chan, Vice President for Personal and Career Development moderated the first session where panelists were asked to address, “Defining Core Competencies for Graduates Entering a Global Marketplace.” Jeff Webster, Global Learning & Professional Development Manager, Exxon Mobile, Debra Langford, CEO & Principal The Langford Company, Rod Sides, Principal, Deloitte Consulting, LLP and Wake alumni along with Rachel Cheeks-Givan, Director of Global Diversity an Inclusion, PepsiCo each offered insights to the group. Among the comments that I captured were:
• Diversity used to be a code word for Black, but not any longer – it’s a much broader term.
• Are you as a leader saying what’s going on?
• Do you seek to understand the cultures you serve?
• Inclusion is when everything about you is valued and you’re free to be your authentic self.
• Relationships can prove vital. Let folks have fun together, let them connect.
• Inclusiveness is sometimes a lengthy journey.
• Don’t mistake a common language for a common understanding.
• Ask – what are you doing to mentor, what are doing to be inclusive?
• Graduates need to understand the value of others and what their differences bring to the table.
• Before you join a team, see if their leadership reflects an inclusive culture.

The continuing discussions focused on identifying how students might make the most of their time at Wake and within their internships. Students today want to know exactly what they need to do to get that A. They want it scripted. This leads to a worker who wants to be told exactly what to do to be productive. This could be somewhat of a downer. They haven’t had to figure it out. Their creative juices have not been tapped. Panelist recommended that professors be vaguer. They could use such statements as, once we finish X we can talk about how we’ll approach the next part. Assign more projects that require collaboration, connectivity and exploration.

An internship is more than just doing a job well and learning from that experience, but it is doing a job well while learning the culture, learning from the interactions and learning about the varying communication methods and styles. It is being in the game. An example used by one panelist compared a team player for the Lakers, the colors worn, the coach, the practice times, the strengths brought to the game by each player. Suddenly she moved over to the Los Angeles Clippers where there was a new coach, new players, new practice times and different folks bringing different strengths to the game. If she was going to be successful she had to pay attention, absorb the culture, all the while maintaining who she was. She used this same analogy to teach lessons to the students who seem to take their “entitled to attitudes” with them to work. There are out of bounds in any sport you play!

Melenie Lankau, Senior Associate Dean of Diversity and Graduate Programs served as moderator for the luncheon panelists. Tasked with speaking on “Diversity and Inclusion 50 years after Integration: Where Do We Go from Here? Panelist included Frank L. Matthews, publisher/Editor in Chief of Divers: Issues in Higher Education; Benjamin Reese, Vice-President of the Office for Institutional Equity, Duke University and our own Barbee Myers Oakes. Conversations around how minority candidates are invited to college campuses under a “culture of trust” to a campus climate which turns out to be far from welcoming and inclusive and many times the journey results in a failed attempt at tenure. So yes it is no wonder many college campuses lack the diversity amongst college faculty that would aid in preparing our graduates to work in an ever increasing diverse global community. This in reality is a catch 22, fewer minorities go in to Ph.D. programs and then even fewer of them get tenure. Barbee presented statistics showing that in 1998, some 6% of doctoral recipients were people of color. Unfortunately in 2008, ten years later, that 6% was an unchanged number.
Other highlights from this session revealed that Duke Chairs, Deans etc. have to prepare a summary outlining the progress made towards creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive school or department. They also indicate within the report any obstacles they faced in meeting their desired goals. Targeted search efforts were among the most successful strategies implemented.

The final speaker was Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Chief of Staff for Nickelodeon Networks Group. She left the audience with nine suggestions for how you could produce better qualified graduates.
• It’s not what students learn today that prepares them, but what they are willing to learn tomorrow.
• Use teaching techniques that engage the student. Ask them what went well, what didn’t, and how would you change it?
• If it ain’t broke fix it anyway. Constant reinvention is essential for success.
• Unleash the geekness.
• Good writers are not a dime a dozen.
• If a tree falls in an empty forest, it doesn’t make a sound. Learn to communicate.
• Have the capacity to be in the moment.
• Generalists are better than specialist. Flexibility is a must.
• Diversity is destiny! The wider we cast our net, the better the results.

Wanda at Midwinter 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:34 pm

Battling a viral infection for most of 2013, there were many times near the time for my flight to Seattle that I thought most seriously about not making the trip. I had a couple of commitments, one to a new LLAMA Leadership Committee for which I just got appointed a few months ago and the other was an appointment as BCALA Membership Task Force Chair. Both of these I had promised to attend and had assignments in each. So wanting more to uphold my word, I plunged away warning my roommate that spending 5 nights together might be more than anyone would willingly signup for.

Friday morning was spent attending the BCALA Executive Board meeting. One of the ups or downs depending upon how you view it is revisiting strategic priorities. Results were shared with the larger group of a SWOT analysis that was conducted by the board during its new member retreat on Thursday night. Listed among our strengths were; networking, promoting African American literature, and sustaining our legacy and organization. Weaknesses seem to mirror some of the same ones identified in almost every strategic review done during my 20+ years as a member. And yes believe it or not we had the discussion of image and what we call ourselves. Black librarians or African American or perhaps something entirely new, doesn’t really matter to me. Ultimately whatever the term we choose to identify with, we need to avails ourselves of the opportunity to be an advocate for librarians of color, promoter for authors of color and their works, to be mentors for and providers of networking opportunities for librarians new to the profession and to be providers of a venue, our listserv, instrumental to libraries looking to increase the diversity within its staffing. These all confirm our need to exist. And if we can manage effectively those things that may be threats to our success; communication, technology, image and structure, then we can remain a necessary and welcomed organization within our profession. The Membership Task Force, of which I serve as Chair, has been charged to conduct a survey of our membership this spring. Our committee met and did a rough draft of the survey we plan to conduct.
Saturday’s ACRL Personnel Administrators groups gathering centered on several topics of personal interest to me. A discussion of social media policies concerning recruitment proved as varied as one would imagine. Some believe that it minimizes the likelihood that the person could be judged fairly. Others believe it sheds an open door to more about an individual than they would willingly share in an onsite interview. If all people were fair and impartial, it could potentially play an integral role. The fact that my blue haired facebook photo would likely cause a few of the librarians I know in our profession to remove my application from the pool, however is a reality and does concern me. The group also explored electronic system options for sharing dossiers in the peer review process. This topic really got me thinking and I am eager to pursue options for our use here at ZSR.
I am a member of the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) Leadership Skills Committee. We met to continue conversations regarding the program proposal we submitted for annual on “Project Management for Libraries.” We also brainstormed ideas for future program topics planning. Some of the topics to make the short list were, work life balance and new hire orientation. Only one topic was proposed as a please don’t talk about anymore and that was succession planning for libraries. So, I wasn’t sure what led to that plea, but it came across loud and clear.
ARL unveiled a searchable database of position description designed to house a libraries position descriptions, but those of their neighboring ARL academic institutions as well. With limit functions, you can do a variety of internal only searches as well as searching for similar titles across the spectrum. I thought it would be an excellent tool, especially when we look to write advertisements for our own vacancies. The database is free to all ARL libraries, however currently it is not open to non-ARL, leaving us out of the loop. For more info look here:
Mindful Leadership through Tough Times, a panel discussion also sponsored by LLAMA, was also a hit for the standing room only crowd. Mindful leadership was described as a connection between the brain and leadership. Mindful leaders are thoughtful and attentive, nurturing those in their care towards their goals. A Mindful leader manages emotions while building a sense of community. The Mindful leader is self-aware and therefore your followers are likely to see you as empathic and most authentic. Your authenticity generates trust and your team wants to follow you. As the discussion came to a close, the following recommendations were offered:
• Talk to your peers, share ideas and share stories.
• Talk to your staff about what really matters.
• Share tools with your staff that help them reflect and think.
• Remind yourself that in times of change, lie great opportunities.
• Keep the mission and vision alive.
• Walk the walk.
• Take time to nurture creativity.
• Create a positive environment, where experimentation is welcomed.
• Allow yourself time to pause and reflect.
• If you don’t look around and ahead, who will?
• LISTEN and consciously practice being in the moment, being mentally present.
• Mind full or Mindful, your choice.

Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 12:06 pm

The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color was held in Kansas City September 19 -23. This conference brings together Native American, Hispanic, African American, Chinese American and Asia Pacific Librarians. This is the second such gathering for the group. The first one was held in Dallas back in 2006. I didn’t hear any official numbers, but I’d guess around 600 or so librarians were there. I am sure our friends over at UNC-G won the prize for most in attendance, with twenty-two students and six librarians on the roster. We had a splendid welcoming at the Kansas City Public Library which featured cultural cuisine and entertainment representative of each of the ethnic groups celebrated at the conference. The library was very attractive and most welcoming with lots of really cool stuff. This vault turned into a film viewing studio and an outdoor chess set available for patron use were just a few of the more noteworthy happenings.

The opening speaker was Sonia Manzano of Sesame Street, where she continues to portray Maria since the 1970’s. She spoke of family and community and how it has influenced every book as well as many of the Sesame Street episodes she wrote. And yes she still has such great looks. I was really disappointed when my pre-conference on writing diversity action plans turned out to be nothing more than a review of the leadership principles found in appreciative inquiry and organizational development. Not to worry though, diversity in some form was the primary topic of the conference. By then end of the week, I felt like I had heard the same message over and over again. I also believed that most of the recommendations given to those in attendance, were the same ones to benefit the most from others hearing and applying the message. However, one of my strongest beliefs is that each time you hear a varying form of the somewhat similar message, the more it reinforces the underlying principle of the message. Here’s a summary of the sessions I attended or shall I say a few takeaways.

Diversity is a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement. All are empowered when we have an inclusive organization that recognizes, yet values those differences. If libraries are to continue being indispensable organizations on their campuses and within their communities, their staff must reflect the communities they serve. Libraries must provide quality services and collections to their increasingly diverse constituencies.

Deep diversity is not all about the numbers. It’s all about value and respect. Diversity thinking has gone from tolerating to celebrating. Traditional recruitment efforts alone are not enough. Librarian residency programs can aid, but also can do much to damage if everyone on board has not fully brought in to the value of why this is a necessary tool. Setting and communicating clear expectations for all parties is essential to a successful program. It’s about retaining. How well has your new hire adjusted to the community? Is the library the only place in your community that is welcoming? How honest and upfront were you concerning the organization you recruited for?

Who we are, how we think, interact and learn is shaped by our own experiences. What our lives have held inform how we react to any given situation. The more we, as a person or as a collective organization, know about each others experiences, the more we can relate to and understand each other. The more effective our communication with each other becomes and the more our sensitivity is enhanced within any situation or conversation.

An emotionally healthy workplace is positive, nurturing, caring and respectful. A healthy workplace has vitality, integrity, tolerance, appreciation, latitude and empowerment. Over one million absences within the workplace each year are stress related. Other signs of workplace stress are poor concentration, repeated respiratory infections, fatigue and the general I just don’t feel well.

Jamaal Joseph the closing speaker, author of Panther Baby, was most inspiring. His story of how a Black Panthers organizational leader armed him with his first set of books, with lessons he learned in prison, to his triumph ascension to the faculty at Columbia University, left the audience in tears. He charged us as Librarians to arm our communities with the knowledge and support our youth need to be successful at life. He asked that we make a personal commitment to ending institutional slavery (prisons) to our nations “black and hispanic boys.” This was the best conference closing message Librarians of color could have ever hoped for. JCLC was a wonderful celebration of cultures, a celebration of librarians of color, a sharing of our stories and yes a gathering at the waters. I sincerely welcome the opportunity for further discussion on any of my conference takeaways.- Wanda

NCICU Assessment Conference

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 10:18 am

The 8th Annual NCICU Assessment conference was held at Methodist University back in May and was themed “Improving Institutions One Assessment at a Time.” Participants in attendance represented twenty-four of the thirty six North Carolina private colleges and universities with eleven of those there on behalf of their university library. The majority in attendance were from the Office of Institutional research. I always find this gathering enjoyable. It gives me not only the opportunity to hear assessment efforts from the larger university context, but also almost always there are some interesting library specific sessions.
Building a Better Graduate: the Development and Use of Assessment Tools for General Education,” was given by Carol Rowe, Barton College faculty member and their QEP Director, Kevin Pennington. The focus of this session was designing general education courses with embedded learning outcomes. The learning outcomes were based on soft skills surrounding written communication, oral communication and critical thinking. Faculty members took a deliberate intentional approach to creating a syllabus around these outcomes. The course discussed was a current affairs course, so students had a written assignment, oral projects as well as group discussions. Rubrics were used to provide targets for assignments and to provide consistency in assessment.
Brent Atwater and Nancy Elveen of Greensboro College discussed, “Using Assessment Results to Improve Internship Experiences.” This was a collaborative venture between their Career Services and their Office of Institutional Research. The expectations of the internship are clearly defined. What will the student gain by way of experiences? Here are some of the assessment questions asked at the end of the internship. We could possibly incorporate some of these in an effort to assess effectiveness of the internship opportunities we provide here at ZSR.
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in writing?
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in speaking clearly?
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in working effectively with others?
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in acquiring work related skills?
New Tools for Examining Library Impact on Student Learning,” was the most interesting and most relevant sessions of the day. Please view the slides from this joint project between Elon University Library and UNC- Chapel Hill Ph.D. student Derek Rodriquez. In particular note the slides that outline student use of library resources during a work task within their academic major. Check out slide 18 which list the top 15 uses within the library by the Elon University students.
My final session for the day was given by David Eubanks of Johnson C. Smith University on “Building and Using a General Education Assessment Dashboard.” The dashboard is a warehouse of liberal arts assessment data within the core learning outcomes of the university, critical thinking, effective writing and effective speaking. Students are assessed by faculty at the beginning of the course and then again at the end. Students are evaluated as being ready to graduate or not. Stats are also maintained regarding the amount of effort put towards obtaining any one particular skill. You can find out more about this model by searching for Eubanks work entitled “Assessing the Elephant.”
I have a notebook from the conference which has all the slides from each presenter. If you’d like to see them, just let me know.

Wanda’s ALA in Anaheim

Monday, July 9, 2012 3:14 pm

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.

Wanda in the Big D.

Monday, January 23, 2012 9:40 am

My midwinter adventure began with a 5:30 departure from Greensboro. This required a 3:20 alarm and resulted in a long, really tiring first day in Dallas. With BCALA meetings for most of Friday, I soon decided this had not been a wise decision. Saturday was off to a much better start. The ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group had a very rich and full agenda. An update on the ongoing ARL Annual Statistics Survey indicated that discussions were underway considering the removal of some of these collecting categories; microforms, computer files, cartographic materials, audio materials, film and video. One of the recommendations under reference was to add ‘technical assistance” as a category under the types of reference transactions. The Salary survey is considering merging together the various reference specialist positions and also creating a series of titles with a “digital” component. At least it looks like revisions may be on the horizon.

A proposed ARL job bank of position descriptions would be a welcomed resource. It is most common for personnel folk to share position descriptions. It was not clear during the discussion if non-ARL libraries would have access. The University of Florida gave an update on its’ Academic Libraries Recruitment study. The study included recruitment data from 13 submitting libraries with 77 open searches. Hiring results showed women as the clear majority with 37 white, 4 Black, 3 Asian, and 2 Latinos. Males hired were 20 white and 3 Asian. The study also has data on advertising venues. I have a copy of the report if you are interested in reading more.
“Empowering Diverse Voices” is an initiative of ALA President Molly Raphael. This program invited “Champions” within the field to spend an afternoon on a speed dating style interviewing session. I received an invitation to serve as a champion. I met with five “champion seekers” in an effort to build connections, find out about their interest and what their immediate needs are. The group was totally energized, yet a little on the uncertain side. I tried to work through this and offered advise where appropriate. I remained in the room for the SPARC/ACRL Forum that Molly talked about in her ALA recap. It was refreshing to hear the passionate speakers address an area of librarianship of which I was somewhat less informed.

Like Giz, I also enjoyed the Alexander Street breakfast and speaker. Afterwards, I had planned to attend the second day meeting of the Personnel group; however I had promised our NCLA ALA chapter representative that I would come to Council where state presidents were to be introduced. While waiting, I attended a session entitled; “OCLC the Evolution of a Classic: A Sneak Peak of First Search and the Future of Discovery.” It’s been quite a while since I’ve done this type session. It looks like 2012 will bring changes to World Cat Local as they continue to look for ways to present as much relevant information upfront as possible.
I’ll share more of ALA Big D. in part 2. Stay tuned.

Wanda’s ALA

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 10:07 am

This may be about the 4th ALA I have attended here in New Orleans. However, something was so very different about this one. It took me a while to figure it out, then it hit me, it was the loud noise and over abundance of people stumbling all around. My hotel was too much in the French Quarter district. One lesson learned. I have observed however on the other hand noticed that the face of the conference attendee has changed. Perhaps it is the location, but for sure the librarians here this week seem to mirror the evolving communities with which we live. My BCALA sessions were filled with younger new faces. It was a delight to see.

Saturday morning I heard a representative from the University of Miami discuss the road to their Summons installation during a Serial Solutions hosted breakfast. Their each subject librarian had to visit several Summon sites, conduct relevant research and then write an assessment. They convened and voted yes or no, it was an unanimous decision. Initial assessment numbers still indicate a preference to their catalog, even though these numbers have decreased significantly. However they also report a 40% increase in searches in their top 50 databases. Support during installation was great.

Serial Solutions also announced a new forthcoming WebScale management solution, not yet named, to be unveiled in phases beginning in 2012. They promise it will, manage all content in a single unified service, automate print management in a central highly accurate knowledgebase, simplify and automate selection, improve acquisitions have platform assessment and reporting.

During the ACRL Presidents program Jason Young, ex-manager of customer services at Southwest Airlines, shared his vision for culturetopia. Culturetopia he defines as the ultimate high-performance workplace. The power of relationships drives performance. The key to employee fulfillment and to employee productivity is the company’s culture. The humor present on any Southwest flight was also interwoven in Jason’s presentation. I brought the book, Culturetopia.” So if you like to borrow it, just let me know.

During the Springer lunch and learn I heard about a service I was not familiar with available at It is here that you may search and limit by institution and retrieve a list of articles published by your faculty. Springer also has an ebook service coming that will allow library patrons and faculty members to purchase any desired ebook after viewing it the Library subscription service for a mere $24.95. This would be a tremendous savings to the patron. Since these are personal requested and paid for items, the library saves.

ZSR Library was the recipient of Honorable Mention in the PR Exchange Best of Show awards in the programs promotional category for Craig’s promotional material he produced for the Ammons symposium we hosted in the fall. Yeah! There much have been 10 categories and at least 5 winners in each category. The winners and honorable mentioned all received the same certificate and button. They were a few libraries that won awards in several different categories. I believe our annual report would be an excellent candidate, as well as the book Susan pulled together reflecting our award ceremony. Also our faculty and student brochures could be other possibilities.

Each of the assessment sessions I attended had overflowing standing room only audiences. One featured NC States, Annette Day discussing the assessment they conducted comparing money spent on monographs, serials and databases relative to each individual academic department. Analysis of the departments took a look at the total number of faculty within the department, number of degrees awarded within that discipline and number of students in the program and grant money awarded to the department. This data was used to justify fund allocations.

During another session, virtual reference was the focus of the assessment. They appointed a project team, conducted surveys, held focus groups and analyzed the data. Using the data collected, they changed the hours they were offering IM, added more librarians to staff the hours and changed how they advertised the services. These IM stats show success. 2007 – 468, 2008 – 383, 2009 – 549, 2010 – 2293, 2011 through May – 1722.

Monday was spent at two very interesting LibQual sessions. The morning was a sharing session where members revealed what works, what doesn’t. The greatest take-away from the morning was from Virginia Commonwealth, who offered as an incentive one dollar to be donated to the local food bank for every completed survey. They donated $2,800. The University of South Florida offered an ipad to the winner with a not necessary to complete the survey disclaimer.

The afternoon was a five hour grueling look at statistic analysis using SPSS. Yes, it was to say the least way over my head. To me, a visual learning, it was a disaster to hear 4 hours of lecture and only one hour of actual hands on. I look forward to working with others J on this.

Winners announced during BCALA’s Literary Award presentation included, Bernice McFadden for Glorious, in the fiction category; Wes Moore for The Other Wes More: One Name, Two Fates, in the nonfiction category; Dolen Perkins-Valdez for Wench, in the first novelist category; Keith Gilyard for John Oliver Killens: a Life of Black Literary Activism, in the Nonfiction honor books category; Wilbert Rideau for In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance, also in the nonfiction honor books category; and Harold Battiste Jr. and Karen Celestan for Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man, in the outstanding publishing citation. Four of the authors were present last night for the awards. Most inspiring was Harold Battiste Jr. who must have been 90 plus years old. Battiste wrote songs that Sam Cooke and Sony Bruno later made famous.

I attended other sessions that I want include in this summary, but as always I am eager to share my handouts, notes and hold informal conversations.

Wanda’a ALA days 1-3

Monday, January 10, 2011 3:11 am

On Friday afternoon after my BCALA filled morning, I attended the OCLC symposium entitled “Transformational Literacy: preparing user’s for life’s transitions.” Keynoter Dr. Mimi Ito, discussed principles for libraries to consider that help create environments that encourage lifelong learning as well as the critical role librarians play in this. The future is already here, it is just not so evenly distributed. It is up to us to make sure the positive benefits are available to as broad an audience as possible. To succeed now, we have to continually refresh our stock of knowledge. We must welcome contributions from all regardless of age and institutional status. We need to make sure that our resources are open, remixable and transparent. Panelist defined the four stages of life as student, householder, retired and forest dweller. The student is receiving, the householder is embedding, retired is sharing with others and forest dweller is transcending.

On Saturday I attended the ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers discussion group. One agenda item addressed library assessment assignments. Some libraries had staff devoted exclusively to assessment while others share the responsibility amongst several. Some libraries have added assessment language within position descriptions of all vacancies. Language such as familiarity with assessment efforts, commitment to assessment efforts or ability to assess resources and services were offered as vocabulary examples. The University of Florida discussed the results of an academic recruitment study. The study collected data from about 24 libraries on where they advertised, how many applications received, actual interviews and then finally how many jobs were offered. Of the positions filled, one went to a Black, one to an Asian and then 18 were filled by Whites. I can get the same data, I think, from our WFU Openhire system. It would be good to see university wide results. We could also feed our library results to the Florida study.

The LLAMA Human Resources Emerging Trends discussion group focused on the topic of recruitment. Of the institutions still able to fill vacant positions the song was the same. Lots of applications for entry level positions and then very small pools for the middle management and senior level positions. Fear of not being able to sell there homes, to fear of their spouses not being able to find work were some of the reasons offered. Changes in work ethic, ability to integrate work life balance and a feeling by many that young and energetic don’t necessarily have to be tied together all the time.

The ACRL Metrics discussion was quite promising. The ability to see ASERL and NCES data submitted by our library in a form that is easily retrievable and available for comparison to peer institutions was most impressive. According to the demo, for example, I could retrieve ILL stats from all NC libraries in an user friendly easy to navigate system and export to an excel spreadsheet. That same list could be narrowed to only my peer institutions if I wanted. This is a joint Counting Opinions and ACRL project.

This morning I was asked to participate in an OCLC focus group. I was relieved when the other 5 guest arrived and they also didn’t know the proposed topic. As it turned out OCLC wanted to know how we felt about them and their ability to communicate effectively with their users. They also wanted us to identify the sources we turn to for emerging trends as well as experts. When asked concerning the decoupling from our regional experts, I attempted to explain how difficult it is to think of OCLC without thinking of SOLINET now Lyrasis.

The Evidence Based Management for Libraries session was an overview of LibPAS a library performance assessment system managed by Counting Opinions. Cornell University Library worked with them in this academic case study. Prior to this they used excel spreadsheets to complie 60 -80 page statistical reports annually. Running reports from the data was complicated. LibPAS provided them with a centralized database. With this they could open statisical reporting to staff across the library. Cornell staff believe that data compilation is easier and more readily available for decision makers to extract the data they need.

Rutgers University is using LibSat (Customer satisfaction management module) & LibPAS to improve customer satisfaction and library performance. Counting Opinions representatives acknowledged that they had learned a lot by trial and error but above all had been willing to listen to their customers. They admitted that the patience of their customers coupled with advice and guidance have paved the way for product improvement.

The LLAMA afternoon session featured panelists who spoke on tragedies at Southern University and Colorado State Universities. “Providing Leadership Under Adverse Conditions was the selected topic. What makes people step-up in the time of crises? Comparing the two disasters showed that pre-disaster training may have helped in the Colorado case. The Southern University case that training had not occurred. Both panelist referenced value, trust and morale as key components in the recovery process.

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