Professional Development

Saturday in Seattle: Susan’s Final Day

Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:40 pm

Poster Sessions

Saturday’s ACRL was chock-full of opportunities for learning and networking. I don’t think any of us have mentioned that the “gate count” for the conference was 2841 face-to-face attendees and a minimum of 332 virtual attendees for a new record. So, the Convention Center was bustling all day long. As Lynn intimated in her post, Saturday seemed to have the most concurrent sessions of contributed papers, panel sessions, wrokshops, and Cyber Zed Shed presentations going from 8 am until the close at 5 pm. With round table discussions and poster session nestled in between, so that there was always something to attend! It was hard to decide which to choose.

I was very impressed with how they handled the poster sessions for this conference. At many conferences, they seem to stick poster sessions in a back corner (I remember one ALA were people were stationed right next to the restrooms). But as you can see from the picture above, ACRL 2009 poster sessions had the most beautiful space in the conference. And the space was adjacent to the exhibit area. They held 2 rounds of poster sessions on Friday and 3 on Saturday. These were scheduled to be competition free, meaning that everyone came in to visit vendor booths, talk to poster presenters and have their conference-provided morning/afternoon snacks. It worked out very well and gave a good level of energy to the activities taking place. Some of the poster topics that caught my attention were: Library Secrets: Packaging Tips and Tricks into Bite Size Pieces for the Hard to Pin-Down Student, LEAP to New Heights,-How your Organization can Inspire your Employees to take the Next Jump in their Careers, Rewarding Scholarship through the Library Research Reward for Undergraduates, and Exploring Effective Typography: Extending our Outreach Through Successful Signage.

I attended an interesting session first thing yesterday morning on “Using READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data): Capturing Qualitative Statistics for meaningful Reference Assessment.” READ is a 6 point scale tool developed to provide more meaningful reference transaction statistical information. With this tool, every question asked is not a simple hash mark on the tally page. Instead, questions are weighted on a scale from 1 to 6 so that the emphasis is placed on recording the skills, knowledge, techniques and tools utilized by the librarian during a reference transaction. “Where is the restroom?” may be a 1, where an hour spent helping a student discover primary resources to support a research paper might be a 5. Fourteen institutions participated in a study to research the viability of the tool and 3 of the participants reported on their experiences. All were very positive about the usefulness of the tool for a variety of reasons – helping with staffing, providing statistics for advocacy reasons, and providing a much more realistic picture of what is really happening with reference transactions these days – there may be less of them from walk up patrons, but they are becoming more in-depth in the form of individual research sessions that more often come in via virtual methods. It was an interesting concept that I’d like to see us explore.

Learning objects are a hot topic (Lauren’s Toolkit project is a prime example), so I enjoyed a presentation by former colleagues of Mary Beth’s from Wayne State. They instructed the audience on what learning objects are: an online resource or set of resources that has been developed to achieve a specific learning outcome and that has been developed in such a way that it is portable and can be reused in other learning environments. It needs to be topically focused and narrow in scope, it need to stand alone out of any contextual framework (like a specific vendor interface) and should include a “check for understanding.” They did a very capable job of introducing the audience to the value of these in supporting point of need instruction.

After a quick visit to the Seattle Public Library at lunchtime, my afternoon was filled with attending ZSR presentations. I wanted to attend everyone’s, and it was really wonderful to see how well all three presentations by Lauren P., Lynn and Roz were received by their audiences. I was the self appointed photographer (see below and my Flickr site.)




We finished up the day with a nice dinner out and an all-conference reception at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The exhibits were very cool (remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers? How about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman?). But, the real attraction can be seen in the picture below, where you can see us taking advantage of the huge assortment of desserts offered to all of the guests!


Overall, I thought this particular conference was very valuable with plenty of content that will provide us with much to think about. Too bad that today is the let-down day. I’m writing this sitting at the airport waiting for my flight that hopefully will get me back to Greensboro by 11:30 tonight. This is when I wish some of the stuff in the Science Fiction Museum was real: a transportation machine that would zip me back to W-S in the snap of a finger!

Friday at ACRL for Susan

Saturday, March 14, 2009 1:26 am

Today was a busy one, full of educational sessions, vendor meetings, and poster sessions. My day started with a breakfast session about “Leveraging the Institutional Repository to support the institution’s strategic mission.” An interesting resource that was mentioned during the presentation was ROAR: Registry of Open Asccess Repositories that monitors the growth of eprint archives (current total is 1295). Some have languished, some have thrived. The presentation content was not new, but reinforced the things we have learned thus far about how to improve the chances for a successful IR. The presenter was Richard Clement, Dean of Libraries, from Utah State. He talked about the importance for the mandate for an IR to come from the top down. If the Provost deems it to be a priority, it is much more likely that the deans will agree. It is helpful to bring in an outside expert to help make your case.

I met with my ALA Editions editor to talk about the “next generation” of my web-based instruction book. So much has changed since the last edition, it is time for a major update and perhaps time for other organizational changes, including placing some of the content on an accompanying web site. One thing for sure, it will be a busy summer since I’ve committed to getting the draft done by September.

Wanda and I attended a Counting Opinions users meeting over lunch. We’ve been beta testers for the a good part of the past year (have you seen the survey that is available from our main site home page?). The company has the product ready to offer to other institutions and wanted last minute feedback from the beta testing libraries.

I attended the afternoon round of poster sessions. It was a lively area, with lots of people attending. Topics were wide ranging: from writing grants, to information literacy, library partnerships, research commons and “exploring effective typography” (Mary Beth and Craig, I was thinking of you all during this one!).

The last session I made it to was a debate: “Resolved: the Master’s Degree in library science is Not Relevant to the Future of Academic Libraries. Arnold Hirshon took the affirmative (they are NOT relevant) and made 10 minutes of good point at a rapid clip. His reasons included that library school curriculum is devoid of content unique to libraries, that they lack good predictive admittance criteria and they are teaching the wrong things . The negative side was addressed by Liz Bishoff, and to be honest, her points were less than compelling. I almost felt sorry for her because she sounded like she didn’t really believe what she was saying……It seemed to be a slam-dunk for the Affirmative side.

After that, I let Roz talk me into supporting the Deacs by watching the WFU-Maryland game for the ACC tournament. She had done her research and we found a nearby sports bar with enough big screens that they let us turn on the game. Too bad the outcome of this activity was as disappointing as the library education debate :-)

Thursday: A Venn Day for Susan in Seattle

Friday, March 13, 2009 12:45 pm

Candy Factory Head Attire
Touring Boehm’s Candy Factory

Roz, Mary Beth and Lynn have already covered the important highlights of day one at ACRL in Seattle.My pictures from yesterday show the day (in reverse): a fun, informative tour of outlying areas surrounding Seattle, including (in addition to chocolate, wine and waterfalls) floating bridges, a view of Bill Gates’ lakefront (Lake Washington) massive home, the spectacle of the Olympic and Cascades mountain ranges, the original Microsoft campus, University of Washington, and the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat.

The tour folks did get us back in plenty of time for the opening keynote address by Rushworth Kidder. Since he was a last minute replacement for the originally scheduled speaker, I had no expectation level going in. I turned out to be pleasantly surprised as his address (as detailed by the others already) was thoughtful and thought provoking. The one image that stayed with me was his description of his definition of moral courage which he described as being comprised of three components – in the framework of our favorite “and” illustrative tool – the Venn diagram. He defined moral courage as the intersection of willing endurance in spite of significant danger with principle as the overriding purpose.

By the end of the talk, I was picturing my day graphically, as two Venn Diagrams (pictured below!). Does this mean I am hopelessly an information literacy instructor through and through?

Venn Diagram of our Tour
Components of the Perfect Conference Tour

Components of Moral Courage
Components of Moral Courage

I ended my day with a lovely dinner at a local restaurant, Oceanaire, as a guest of ProQuest/Serials Solution. I enjoyed having a chance to chat with Jane Burke, Marty Kahn (ProQuest CEO), Jim Rettig and colleagues from several institutions. I met an old ZSR Library staff member, Michael LaCroix, now director at Creighton University. He was the first Acquisitions librarian in the 70’s, and says to say “hi” to Wanda, Sharon and Renate, who he says will remember him.

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