I go to the MLA 2015 Conference every year because it’s a good little conference that attracts from all over the world, though mostly the North & South Carolina and Virginia area. Yours truly did a poster last year and this year did a presentation/discussion. I have presented at conferences before, but this was my first solo gig.
In my quest for eccentricity, I titled the presentation, Devil’s Advocate: Release Your Inner Critic. The idea was to suggest concerns about the library world (I started off with 6) and discuss them in groups to explore and hopefully find improvements, alternatives, or just a better awareness of what we are doing in our jobs. Ultimately, I was hoping for some catharsis, but I don’t think we got quite that far. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to discuss. The room was full and as I went through, I saw a lot of nodding heads, so at least I know I’m not alone in my thinking. There were several suggestions from the audience, none of which I saw coming, and the ones I thought might, didn’t (no ACRL’s Frameworks or lack of pedagogy instruction in library school).
Below is a copy of my presentation. I handed out slips of paper with prompts hoping to get notes back from the groups to compile into my PowerPoint. I also included my notes/explanations since I use pictures more than words and PPts with pictures and no person talking rarely makes sense. To read my notes, click the little comment bubble in the pdf.
The keynote speaker, Jim Carmichael from UNC: Greensboro, did a historical review of librarians who stuck their neck out and made a fuss for a good cause. It was clever, but since I was presenting right after, I’m afraid I was more focused on me.
Mak(ing) Space: Perspectives from a Small Rural Academic Library explored simple and cheap ways to get students into the library for some stress relief and community building without requiring a lot of money, staff, or space. Apparently they don’t have a Student Life center, so they took on the role and sponsored events for students. One key point is that they only did one event a semester. Plus, they scheduled the event in the middle of the semester, where we tend to wait till the end (finals stress relief) which is too late to attract students to the library.
Color with Creativity: Designing Staff Development With Limited Resources was a workshop in the afternoon, spanning the last two sessions. Given my lack of supervisory skills, I figured it couldn’t hurt to go. I left with two pointers. Like the IDE class, they had a process and even a worksheet for figuring out what is needed, how to design an event to fill that need, and also a way to assess if it was successful. I appreciate deliberate processes and fill in the blank prompts, so yay. Secondly, I learned that you really need to figure out what is the end goal. Otherwise, you are wasting your time, your employee’s time, and run the risk of annoying your employees. For instance, if the goal is to get people to work better together, design the event to explore and practice the needed skills. Don’t assume a team building exercise as metaphor (or several) will work (I see through these and find them trite). If the goal is to get people to like each other, you’re up a creek without a clue.