The theme of the 2014 conference was “Transforming our Libraries, Ourselves” and there seemed to be an upbeat feel to this year’s event. The venue likely had something to do with the energy and, of course, one of the advantages to attending a conference in Las Vegas is the opportunity to see some great shows. We saw Cirque du Soleil’s “O”, which was unbelievable, and then I convinced my husband to see the still-amazing Bobby Vinton perform. I adore Bobby Vinton so it was a special treat, even though we were the youngest people in the audience by at least 30 years.
The opening speaker was game designer Jane McGonigal and she truly changed my opinion of gaming and how it improves learning. She showed the trailer for a game she developed for the New York Public Library’s centennial that drew 500 gamers into the Library to explore artifacts and books. Her goal in designing games is “to turn players into superempowered, hopeful individuals with real skills and ideas to help them change the world”. She was very inspiring, despite my complete lack of knowledge in gaming.
The exhibits are always spectacular and this year Gale even had an aerialist performing at their booth. I think sometimes that I’m a public librarian at heart since one of my favourite parts of ALA is having the opportunity to browse through the publisher booths and see all the new books that are coming out in fall 2014. I even discovered Ragtales, a beautiful company from the UK that specializes in cloth books for children.
1. ACRL-LES meetings
The Literatures in English section has been an invaluable support in my liaison work, with an active and helpful network of librarians with whom to share ideas and questions. Each year at the conference, meetings of the Collections and Reference committees of LES are the best place to find out what other librarians are doing in the Humanities and how we are dealing with issues of weeding, collections, and instruction. Notes:
- New from Gale is access to Artemis, a platform that draws together GVRL ebooks, Literature Resources Centre, and other resources.
- One exciting development from EBSCO is the inclusion of two new source types in the advanced MLAIB option: translations and editions. We also learned that EDS will soon allow you to link into a standalone database and launch a new search.
- A new article from Journal of Library Administration analyses performance of the MLAIB across vendor platforms and discovery services, but with no clear conclusions about which platform performs best. It continues to be a complicated but highly useful database to search.
- A common theme was frustration with statistics (esp. from discovery services) for collection assessment.
- should we be marketing print collections? ideas included creating a display of “100 Books that have never been checked out” and sending a weekly list of new titles to faculty.
- sharing circulation statistics with faculty? many are unaware how low the usage of monographs is in their areas. LES is still working on weeding guidelines for academic literature collections.
This was a popular program and the room was filled to capacity. Several of the speakers maintain this website where you can see a bit more of their presentations and publications. Everything the speakers presented seemed to make sense but, as I think we all feel, there were really no clear explanations (at least that I could take away) for how to actually teach and assess threshold concepts.
- Threshold concepts work best in a program, but they can have an impact in a one-shot session
- Learners move through the “liminal space” and “threshold” at different paces
- There are benefits to learners and instructors: engaging (e.g. you can bring in timely topics), transferable (the concepts carry over into life and other disciplines), gaining disciplinary expertise.
- How do we assess? Design assignments where they can show their expertise. *this was vague –here is one example assignment from their site: http://www.ilthresholdconcepts.com/uploads/3/0/9/7/30975467/tc_sample_activity_1.pdf
- One interesting idea from the session was when one of the speakers discussed how to pitch information literacy to learners by making it explicit that this is how librarians see information – “try it on for size”.
I came away from this session (which focused mainly on American librarians) feeling incredibly grateful for the generous leaves we have in Canada. Brock has a much more welcoming atmosphere for parents than many of the schools where the other participants were from.
The presenters each have twins and have been researching the conditions for academic librarians involved in telework. For this session, they also pulled together the research on career and parenting for academic librarians.
- There are a few recent books that cover this very topic: Do Babies Matter?, Lean In, and Maxed Out among others. Ultimate takeaway? Work/life balance is difficult to achieve and gender inequality exists in the tenure process.
- There is little research on academic librarians, who face unique challenges such as a more 9-5 schedule than professors.
- Among the research that is out there, academic librarians felt anxiety that having children would affect tenure.
- Implications: Yes, it is a gamble; we compare ourselves too much to our childless colleagues and we need to switch this to look at what we can bring to librarianship as parents.
- Speakers noted that the federal government was taking steps in this direction, mentioning a quote from Council of Economic Advisors member, Betsey Stevenson: “What I would really like to convey to businesses and to the world, and what I think the White House has internalized, is that if you only choose to have the people who can be there 24-7, you’re going to miss a perspective…You can’t staff the White House with only people have no kids, or who have grown kids, because you will miss a perspective, the range of voices you need to formulate policy that works for all people.”
- Ideas for change include building support networks in the Library, allowing staff members to bring children to events, recognizing diversity of talent.