Professional Development

Steve at NCLA 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013 5:27 pm

So, as you all know, the NCLA Conference was held here in Winston-Salem last week. Here’s what I did at it.

I served as a consultant to the Exhibits Committee this year, rather than chairing it, which was a big relief. I shared all the information with them that I could beforehand and visited Amy Harris and the rest of the Exhibits Committee often during the conference to see how things were going, be available for questions, and generally commiserate about what is a fairly tough job. They did fantastic work, in my opinion.

Since I could actually attend sessions at an NCLA Conference for the first time since 2003, not being tied down to managing the Exhibits or the Conference Store, I decided to focus my attention on seeing presentations by my fellow ZSR librarians.

I saw Roz’s presentation “‘New Research Shows’ – Or Does It? Using Junk Science in Information Literacy Instruction,” where Roz spoke about having students compare popular news reports of scientific studies to the studies themselves. Most popular reports of scientific studies get much if not most of the information wrong, from basic stuff like the number of study participants to the actual conclusions drawn by the study. In fact, many popular reports will say that a study concludes the exact opposite of what it actually says. Roz uses this exercise as a jumping off point for discussing the peer review process with students and well as the politics of publishing. The crowd was very enthusiastic about the presentation, with one audience member saying flat out that she’s copying the idea herself.

I also saw Hu’s presentation “‘Big Games’ in Academic Libraries.” I finally understood what happened to the video game nights we used to have a few years back. Turns out they were rather expensive and the attendance wasn’t so great, so they’ve been supplanted by Capture the Flag and Humans vs. Zombies. Hu talked about the good features of these two games, including that they are cheap to stage, popular, and get students into the library in a fun setting. His repeated statement that he has “the best library dean in the world” caused my friend from an institution that shall not be named to whisper to me jealously, “I hate you.” The crowd loved Hu’s presentation.

I saw Mary Beth’s presentation with the wonderful Marvin Tillman called “Two Roads to Offsite Storage: Duke and Wake Forest.” The audience, while somewhat small, was riveted and paid very close attention. These folks meant business and really wanted to hear about offsite storage options, in detail. Mary Beth and Marvin provided them with great detail. It was very interesting to get the perspective from two very different ends of the size scale, with Duke’s massive operation for their own enormous collections as well as storage from UNC-Chapel Hill, to our own more modestly-sized storage operation.

I also saw Megan’s presentation with Matt Reynolds of ECU, called “Stuff In Dusty Boxes: Connecting Undergraduates With Special Collections Holdings.” Megan spoke about her undergraduate history of the book class and its development, including how she was the one who initiated it. She spoke about the challenges involved in developing a new class, including getting approval from the curriculum committee, making logistical arrangements, recruiting students, and especially, course planning (she couldn’t find any other undergraduate history of the book classes to model hers on). Megan was enthusiastic about the class and drew lessons from the experience that included: be prepared, design the class around your collection strengths, keep your expectations realistic for undergrads, and have fun. The crowd really appreciated her presentation.

Unfortunately, my NCLA was cut a bit short by a cold that I was fighting all week, which led me to stay home of Friday, so I can’t speak about the last day’s activities.


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