Conference Catch Up

I was fortunate to be able to attend the 2012 Metrolina Library Association Information Literacy Conference at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte last week. I started with an awesome session by Patricia Gamble at Winston Salem State University titled “Triple Threat Searching Strategies”. She had great ideas for interactive learning and you can read information on the majority of what she covered on this Libguide. I actually used a riff on her Boolean operators activity for a SMART board training I did today.

After her presentation I went with a small group on a tour of the JWU library. It was neat to see a library that was designed in 2006 and you can tell that their Director really kept the students and their needs in mind with his design and the collection development. They had great handouts on databases that inspired me for our library. Many of our students prefer holding something in hand. We only have handouts now on MLA and APA, but I think making handouts on other resources would encourage students to use them more often. The second session I attended was called “LAF: Librarians and Faculty as Teaching Partners” by Michael Frye at Winston Salem State University. The sessions for the day were broken into 4 categories: Collaborate, Sharpen, Remodel & Engage. All of the Collaborate sessions seemed to have a similar theme of how to engage faculty so I only attended one from that type.

The presentation was okay, but not as engaging as the first one I attended. He showed a video with the faculty member he partnered with, and it was nice to hear a faculty perspective on working with librarians. I wish I had the time to be as embedded as Michael was in his example, but it’s not feasible based on our staffing and campus size. I did pick up a few good ideas. One is the “Think, Pair, Share” activity that I think would be helpful for our English students when they are trying to select and refine topics. Another good idea was to offer 5-15 minute review sessions to instructors whose students have already attended a one shot during class. I think this will be super helpful to students, especially those who get their library instruction early in the semester before they are focusing on their final projects.

The third session I attended was a panel on working with discovery services. When I went to the conference I thought we’d be getting a discovery service soon, but it turns out we won’t. I try to pick up something useful from every session, and one of the panelists had a good idea to poll students at the beginning of class and ask them what they think is the most challenging thing about their research assignment. I think this helps students feel less anxiety, more camaraderie, and would help me focus my instruction. After lunch I went to a session on Project Information Literacy, which I already know quite a bit about. The session was good and had lively discussion from all types of librarians. Several librarians discussed models/assignments/tutorials that break the research process into steps that students can use to track progress and I think this is a neat idea.

The keynote session was by Jessamyn West. She was probably the best live speaker I’ve seen to this point in my life and career. She was funny, intelligent, well researched and made a topic I wasn’t too excited about very relevant for me. Her talk was titled “Myths & Facts About the Digital Divide” and it really resonated with a lot of challenges I’ve faced on campus. We have tons of students who take online classes and have no computer or Internet access at home. Jessamyn talked about how the digital divide is a cultural phenomenon and how people who don’t have access to computers likely don’t know anyone in their intimate circle (friends, family, etc) who does. I think community colleges are in a unique place to reach these groups and I see students of all ages who prove this to be true. She helped me to connect the counseling background I have with the work I currently do, and remind me to have compassion with people who are trying to navigate the digital world I’m so comfortable with for the first time. She also taught me about Wikipedia articles in Simple English which totally rocked my world!

All in all it was another fantastic experience and it gave me the presentation bug. I haven’t presented professionally yet, and I have my first presentation scheduled for October. I’d like to find other opportunities to present and I’ve been pondering what I could talk about. I have ideas but nothing I want to shout out to the world just yet! 😉

This week has been a blur. I was out for the conference, and then a vacation day to spend time with my parents who were in town, then a sick day on Monday. Tuesday I had two webinars and a committee meeting, yesterday I had SMART training all day, and today my morning was all SMART training. I cherish the time to review my conference experiences, and I wish I could have done this one sooner! It’s been a busy week for a summer semester, and I’m looking forward to next week when I’m planning to immerse myself in re-designing online instruction for several classes.

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