Saturday, May 12, 2012

MLA Academic Libraries Conference 2012

I had never attended the Michigan Library Association Academic Libraries Conference before and found it useful forum to connect with colleagues across Michigan academic libraries. The regular MLA conference in the fall tends to be too diverse, as is ALA with the wide variety of libraries and vendors represented. Michigan Academy draws a very small group of academic librarians, so this must be the place to be. This was the last of four conferences I attended in five weeks, so my enthusiasm level was a bit low, and it pulled me back into my regular library work, away from my sabbatical themes, but was worth it. Since I have a million and one things to finish before I leave on my sabbatical trip, I will keep this brief.

The keynote speakers were great. I never get tired of hearing Megan Oakleaf, and I figure if I hear her talk about the value of academic libraries enough times, I will actually do something about how I communicate our library impact to the rest of the university. I have to use her type of language in communicating about ScholarWorks. The three hour workshop really helped us think about what our stakeholders want and what we could be doing. As a simple "to do" I wrote down that we should at least redo our Fact sheet to reflect what those numbers may mean to people on campus.

On Thursday I also attended our own librarians' presentation on information literacy for the millennials, and their comparison of Searchpath, the tutorial I worked on years ago, and their updated version ResearchPath. I also went to hear U of M people speak of Digital Humanities. I have heard the term at WMU, but was not clear what this referred to. These two men have been giving introductory sessions to humanities folks on how technology can help them in their research - to crunch data in ways they never could. I will try to look at their Digital Humanities LibGuide - . The best idea I got from their session is having special interest groups in the library - they call them SIGs. This is an ad hoc group that meets around a special interest, so the one for digital humanities is called digSIG, and they have another on 2.0 issues that have now evolved to using iPads and social networking in library work.

Friday, besides presenting with Sarah Beaubien of Grand Valley and Kelly Jacobsma of Hope on our scholarly repositories, I went to the session on demand driven e-book purchasing and two on weeding projects. I just wanted to be sure I understood the state-wide weeding project in which we are participating, so I could explain it oversees, if anyone asks. I also had a nice talk with the dean of Northern Michigan libraries, as they too will start using Digital Commons. Sarah is planning a user group for the Great Lakes area, though the first meeting will be while I am gone, but I hope Lisa can attend.

The conference ended with Ari Weinzweig of Zingermann's, my favorite place in Ann Arbor. I had visited the deli the evening before and stopped at their Roadhouse on my way to stay with friends. I have heard a Zing Train presentation on how to make your workplace a better, more engaging, more successful endeavor, but how easily one forgets. As one colleague said - let's make our library work like this. I liked his examples of what a vision statement should look like (very different from ours, I believe), so you know where you are going. There was a lot about having fun, about being involved and learning about all aspects of your business, so all employees feel committed, and about helping them be successful in their lives as well as work. (We are sorta doing this with the wellness program.)

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