Professional Development

In the 'TALA Conference' Category...

TALA Paraprofessionals Conference – May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 11:14 am

The Triad Academic Library Association (TALA) held its second conference at High Point University earlier this month. One of the conference’s goals is to provide library workers with multiple opportunities to network around topics of interest. This topics selected for discussion were taken directly from suggestions offered in the 2014 post conference survey. Our planning committee was delighted to host the 105 attendees, though numbers could have been a little higher as a few late bloomers were turned away due to limited spacing. It was by their own accounts quite beneficial for the 12 ZSR staff members in attendance. Below are a few of their highlights from the day.

I attended the second annual TALA Conference at High Point University on May 13th. I found the session on Managing Time lead by Iyanna Sims of NC A&T and Monica Young of GTCC very useful. The presenters explained the challenges of managing time in the modern workplace, especially with the distractions of technology. They recommended some good tools to manage your time and increase productivity such as the Pomodoro App that gives you a certain amount of time to complete a task. This way you can help eliminate procrastination and be aware of how you spend your time. I also enjoyed the networking hour table talks, which were a new addition this year. I attended the table talks on Technical Services staff that our own Monesha Staton lead. Monesha helped facilitate an engaging discussion on some current issues that technical service departments are currently facing such as dealing with the implementation of RDA and navigating new ILS systems. ~Bradley

I appreciate the opportunity given to attend the TALA conference at High Point University. Great conference – great day spent with ZSR Library colleagues! My favorite session was called “Communication and Conducting Effective Meetings”. Cindy Conn of Elon University was the facilitator. I learned about planning a meeting, meeting best practices, communication practices, personal communication and overall how to conduct an effective meeting. I’ve had the pleasure of being the chair of the ZSR Library Employee Recognition Committee this year (my first time as a chair) and this session gave me great ideas for conducting the meetings. ~Kristen

I learned the following similarities, ideas, and strategies at the TALA Conference. The top challenges supervising students are poor attendance and lack of work experience. The best career strategy is to have a plan, be ready for opportunities, know your strengths, be a responsive team player, be helpful, and support your department and library. Effective meetings are practical not historical, purpose driven, categorized topics, and time efficient. ~Travis

The TALA Paraprofessional Conference was a very interesting and useful event. I attended sessions on the Changing Roles and Responsibilities of Paraprofessionals, Networking Hour Table Talks, Career Strategies, and Managing Time. While all sessions contained useful information, I found the Networking and Time Management sessions most relevant to me and my duties and responsibilities. In the Networking session I got to hear how fellow TALA member institutions handle their accounts payables. I found that none of the other institutions fully use their integrated library system’s acquisitions module for fund accounting as we do here at ZSR. And I also found that the other institutions represented in the meeting were also treated differently from other departments on their campus by their purchasing departments. Just as we are here at ZSR, the other libraries were treated as separate entities making their own purchasing decisions and not requiring University purchase orders because of the uniqueness of library purchases. And needless to say, time management strategies such as reducing clutter are universally relevant. ~Prentice

Of all the sessions I attended at the TALA Conference I particularly enjoyed the session Managing Time. The session presenter gave us lots of resources and website on how to managed and keep great record of time so that you can be able to work on multiple things and not just one. ~Tara

My experience at the TALA Paraprofessional Conference held at High Point University was insightful and helpful. I attended sessions on career strategies, managing time, and makerspace and other emerging technologies. The session that I enjoyed the most and that I thought was the most informative was the career strategies session. The career strategies session made the participants think about what their personal goals are and think about where they want to go in their career. We were given great advice by Kathy Bradshaw and our very own Wanda Brown. I also surprisingly ended up facilitating a networking session on technical services due to the absence of the person scheduled to run the session. The session was with approximately 15 people from UNCG, Elon, NCA&T, and Wake. In the session we discusses RDA, WMS migration, knowledge base, vendor records, authority control and a few other topics. The session was very informative and we were able to discuss our own processes and offer recommendations to the other schools. ~Monesha

Our opening speaker at the TALA Paraprofessional Conference was Tamara Kraus from Hickory County Public Library. She was picked as Library Journal’s Paralibrarian of the Year for 2015. She gave an enthusiastic talk about finding our inner “Book Avenger” and urged us to find our own superpowers.

Probably the most productive session of the day was when the attendees divided into Table Talks for networking discussion. I moderated the ILL/Course Reserves session. We were able to compare how other academic libraries configure their department and workflow. There were several good “Why do you do it that way?” questions raised.

Elon’s shared service desk panel discussion was interesting. I was glad that they were willing to share what did not work as well as the benefits. It should help provoke productive questions if ZSR considers this service model.

The other sessions I attended were about Effective Meetings and Managing Time. These sessions had a lot of practical information. For effective meeting planning, we were given Best Practices for setting an agenda, timing and taking minutes. Recommendations for managing our time included computer applications such as Toggl, MyLifeOrganized and Pomodoro. ~Ellen M.

The conference was really good. I enjoyed the session on time management. The video they showed pointed out things we do without even realizing that causes us to lose track. They gave us great tips on what we can do to try to manage our time better like prioritizing and setting schedules and reminders. Other people who attended gave advice on ways they do things without necessarily using technology. ~Doris

There were two sessions I found to be very informative. The technical services networking table talk was a great way to find out what was happening in other libraries. We had a very active discussion about RDA, cataloging issues, bulk importing of e-books and Acquisitions of new and different formats. It was interesting to share our knowledge on problems and solutions from the different institutions. The second session was Managing Time facilitated by Iyanna Sims and Monica Young. It provided different techniques to managing your time effectively to maximize your productivity at work. ~Linda

I am so glad that I was able to attend the 2015 TALA Paraprofessional Conference this year and engage with library staff from across the Triad. All of the sessions I attended provided useful information and offered insights towards implementing greater efficiencies and improving the work that we do. One of the sessions that stuck with me was “Communication and Conducting Effective Meetings”, presented by Cynthia Conn from Elon. Cynthia reviewed best practices for organizing meetings– including tips for setting an agenda, developing an awareness of time, and recording of meeting minutes– and discussed appropriate communication practices for meetings and personal communication practices. I found her recommendations for best practices with agenda-setting particularly useful– she suggests providing clear and specific items on the agenda, dividing meeting topics into categories (discussion items, decision items, and information items), and she advises sending the agenda out two days in advance. She also encouraged us to be good meeting attendees and make sure to review agendas in advance of the actual meeting. Cynthia was an excellent presenter AND a practitioner of her own advice– her “meeting” with us was appropriately organized, she had an agenda, she stuck to the time constraints, and was a clear and effective communicator. I will definitely be using her tips and strategies for future meetings that I lead. ~Meghan


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

TALA Paraprofessional Conference

Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:31 pm

On Tuesday, May 13, the first (and possibly annual) TALA Paraprofessional Conference was held on the campus of UNC-G. The conference, co-sponsored by the libraries at Wake Forest, UNC-G, and Elon was created specifically to give an opportunity for professional development to the paraprofessionals who work in the Triad Academic Library Association. Those in attendance at the conference from ZSR included: Ellen Makaravage, Tim Mitchell, David Link, Prentice Armstrong, Doris Jones, Mark Boger, Travis Manning, Craig Fansler, Linda Ziglar, Tara Hauser, Kristen Morgan, Bradley Podair, Beth Tedford, and Monesha Staton. If it seemed inordinately quiet around ZSR on Tuesday, now you know why.

The opening keynote was given by the three deans, Lynn Sutton, Joan Ruelle (Elon) and Rosann Bazirjian (UNC-G) who gave an inspirational talk on the future of academic libraries, the changing roles of paraprofessionals, and the skills needed to be ready for those changes. Throughout the day, the remainder of the conference provided two concurrent sessions for those in attendance to choose from. The first session I attended was a workshop given by WFU’s John Champlin of the PDC, entitled “Serving Different Types of People” (which was originally called “Dealing with Different Types of People” until he realized how judgmental that sounded.) He discussed the importance of understanding the unique place that the patron is coming from, and utilized M&Ms to spur discussion in a most unique way. He also managed those that took issue with using the word “customer” in relation to users of library services. This has never been a real sore point with me personally, but John managed to handle it pretty well, even changing slides in the middle of the presentation when he could.

In the afternoon, Craig and I co-presented a session on Disaster Planning to a packed room. The session was part “how we did it”, part “how and why you should do it too”, part “resources” and part “hands on training”. We provided visuals of what to include in a “to go” kit, and where you might buy the resources you need. We included tips on getting buy in from administrators and the importance of having the authority to implement a plan. And, being good librarians, we included a bibliography of resources. We had some good conversation and input from others in the session that had done a similar exercise in disaster preparedness but arrived at a different result. The session was well received overall. We also gave away door prizes which kept them interested all the way to the end.

The day was successful and there seemed to be universal interest in repeating it. In the next iteration, there may be more opportunity for the “birds of a feather” to compare notes, as that was one thing that the day lacked. Prentice, however, found another accountant, and David identified the “overnight guy” at a neighboring institution, so there was plenty of opportunity for networking going on. Congratulations to the visionary TALA leaders who identified this as a worthwhile conference to pursue. Initial assessment would indicate that it was.

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