VLA roundup

They organized the conference around a Dr. Who theme.

They organized the conference around a Dr. Who theme.

Last week I went to the Virginia Library Association Conference. Let me just say that not only was it packed with information and concrete ways I could make my library better, it was super energizing. Being around so many passionate librarians and hearing how that are bettering the field makes you just want to jump in get started, too. Well, after a nap, because it was also exhausting thanks to a certain social event held the night before the conference launched. I plan to share a more in-depth discussion of the session that got me the most excited about my job, but first here’s the quick and dirty:

Identified (First Time Attendee!)

Identified (First Time Attendee!)

  • Trend Tracking – keynote by Elisabeth Doucett: Doucett is Director of Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, ME. She explored the idea of following trends in your community to improve library services. Understanding trends can allow you to pick up relevant books, plan intriguing programs and give patrons what they want. Trends can range from art to design to politics to economics. For example, Doucett recognized the “trend” of the Great Recession and began offering job help programs in her community.

    Buttons are fun!

    Buttons are fun!

  • NMRT Forum Lunch – I’m a member of the VLA New Member Round Table, which seeks to encourage new members to get involved with the organization. The lunch explained these options and really got me excited to join some of the committees run by VLA NMRT. Hopefully I’ll have more to say about that once I get word on which committees need members and which I have time to join.
  • Citizen Science in Action: Unique Programming for Libraries – Allison Scripa, formerly of Va. Tech, offers and overview of how citizen science programming can be implemented in libraries. This was my absolute favorite workshop and I’ll be exploring it in a post tomorrow.
  • A Universe of Information, One Citation at a Time: How Students Engage with Scholarly Sources – Carol Wittig and Carrie Ludivico, both of the University of Richmond, introduce their longitudinal study of student citations at UR. While it was an interesting talk, I’m more excited about three years from now when the study will be complete and more concrete results will be reported. The most interesting developments from the first year of results: There is very little in-depth analysis of sources. Instead student papers are 50% quotations, with little explanations. Also, students don’t know the differences between citing primary and secondary quotations.
  • Millions of Stories Waiting to be Found: Genealogy for the Non-Genealogist – Nathan Fichum, the special collections librarian at Roanoke Public Libraries, discusses the types of patrons seeking genealogy resources and how to serve them. From nOObs to beginners to advanced researchers, Fichum offers a variety of approaches for dealing with the challenges each type of research presents. I facilitated this session, but while I didn’t choose to attend it, it was an excellent session. Genealogy is growing in popularity and something in which I had previously little experience. Some sources offered included Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest, Fold3, Find It VA, Va. newspaper project from the Library of Virginia and “War of the Rebellion” (an online repository of Civil War Records).
  • Flipping the Library Classroom: “No-Leture” Library Instruction to Keep Students Engaged: Claire Ruswick and Sundeep Mahendra of Mary Baldwin College explore the idea of the flipped classroom, where the lecture is provided at home and homework is done in class. The intent behind this model is to give teachers/librarians a chance to work one-on-one with students instead of wasting time offering a lecture. In library instruction, this design only works when professors and students commit to learning at home. Without sessions being graded, it can be difficult to encourage this responsibility. But with semester long information literacy classes, students are more likely to learn concepts better.
  • Does What We Count Count? Jim Rettig of the US Naval Academy explores how differing definitions involved with countrywide data collection (like LibQUAL and IMLS) makes trusting results difficult to rely on. Those filling out the surveys do not always know how to fill them out and results can be negated. Rettig said that it was important to collect these data, so he recommends improving the instruments by better defining terms, using fewer questions and training librarians who are filling out surveys to fill them out correctly.
  • Developing Problem-Based Instruction with Millenials in Mind – Brandi Porter and Misti Smith explore using student-centered problems solved in small collaborative groups to teach students skills. The two combined aspects of millenials (visual, active learners who prefer collaboration) to argue for PBI in the library classroom. They then describe how it has worked in their classrooms. It was an intriguing approach that would require – as most new approaches to library instruction – in-depth collaboration with professors to come up with problems that both teach these skills and apply to what is being learning in their class.
  • Minecraft in the Library: Matthew Williams of Roanoke County Public Library overviewed how he set up a server to introduce Minecraft to kids and teens in his library. From how to set up a server to how to include plugins that protect privacy and provide a safe place for participants, the sessions was filled with great information and ideas. Williams also talked about what skills participation in Minecraft builds, including STEM, creativity, engineering and collaboration.

As with all conferences, there was a lot of networking and debate. It was both tiring and energizing to interact with so many in the field. Plus I got this fun swag:

Came back with a shirt, a cat tote bag, a purple kids literacy bag that actually packs into a small pouch, mints and buttons.

Came back with a “Keep Calm and Read On” shirt, a cat tote bag, a purple kids literacy bag that actually packs into a small pouch, mints and buttons.


And I can’t wait until next year, when I will hopefully be a full-fledged librarian.

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