Monday marked the end of my ALA 2012 experience and I leave with a multitude of feelings. As a library support staff member I leave feeling that I have found a number of interesting ideas and things I am dying to share and perhaps try at my library. However, as a support staff at a large library I wonder if some of my suggestions from this conference will get lost in the shuffle of higher ranked staff’s suggestions. Implemented or not, some of the ideas will be stored away until I find a use for them, perhaps when I’m ready to leave my current position and work as a librarian. As a student, I walked away with some invaluable new contacts, was able to talk with some classmates I would not otherwise have run into and some wonderful ideas of what path(s) I want to take as I make my way in the profession. I also walk away feeling as though, no matter how much work I’ve done there’s still more to complete. It’s not enough to be at a conference I need to present at the conference. I need to not just present a poster I need to aspire to be on a panel. It’s not enough to blog I need to publish an article. It’s not enough to try new technologies and try to implement them but I need to prove that I am up to date with “emerging” (though undefined) technologies or I will never be viable. I realize that much of the advice I’m being given is meant as a long-term, “don’t rest on your laurels” advice but when it’s coming from many well meaning sources in the course of a few days it can be a lot to handle.
On to the recap! I went to Nuts and Bolts of staff training : discussion and resources for new trainers. This session was more of a discussion than a talk and while I appreciated chatting with people at my table I felt a little out of my element since I work with student workers and not staff. I asked for tips about how to help students with retention of their skills since that problem has been on my mind of late. I remember seeing a poster session at CARL about putting training documents on the department wiki and at the Law Library we had procedures for staff and students in a notebook at the desk as well as on the Google Site I created for the circulation department. I presented this option to the group at a previous staff meeting and the response ranged from hostile to just lukewarm so I let it go but I still think that having a place where students can reference the appropriate procedure seems like the best way to help them reinforce what they’ve been trained on. I was happy to hear that many schools are using a similar procedure and I’ll bring up that I heard it again at this conference, though for some reason (perhaps I’m the wrong person to be suggesting changes of this sort?) it was not very well received last time. Also in this session learned some more about how to approach offering training and it inspired me to volunteer what expertise I have to someone who may be interested in learning the skill. I hope that this confidence helps me eventually develop some teaching experience, since that will be needed in the next stage of my career.
After lunch I went to Riding the publication roller coaster, which was absolutely packed. The speakers included some editors as well as authors and the personas of everyone presenting were engaging and kept my interest. I feel less intimidated by the prospect of trying to put together something for publication (I think I’m going to try starting with a literature review first) than I was before going to ALA. I found the discussion about publishing a book interesting but it won’t be something I pursue for a while. In particular I liked Wendi Kaspar’s advice about the solid points of sending in articles, such as not to submit to more than one journal at once and be aware of the tone of the journal. Some of the advice was very specific, such as RefWorks will cause problems with the works cited when the editor moves it into design software and that it’s okay to ask for timelines on when you should hear back. I appreciated the frank discussion of the editing process and the reminder to cite everything including yourself if you’re drawing on an existing body of research. There was a brief discussion of blogging and it’s place in academic publishing at the end that I hope is explored in a webinar later.
Last but not least, after the publication panel, I went to Disneyland. Going to Disneyland should count a part of my professional development because I interacted with cast members and will be able to hone my customer service skills. I found a series of special collection documents (the manuscript pages in Sleeping Beauty Castle). I found a librarian Minnie Mouse doll and performed ethnographic observation of how Disney visitors incorporate books into their theme park experience. Okay, fine it’s an excuse to share some pictures I took at the park, but I was able to find a surprising number of books and literary elements in an amusement park. Most of the pictures are from Fantasyland, and I only went for a few hours, perhaps I will expand this gallery later. Enjoy!