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Virginia Libraries
Volume 45, Number 3

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The Paraprofessional Forum of the Virginia Library Association held its seventh annual two-day conference on May 17-18, 1999, at the University of Richmond. Four hundred and twenty-five library personnel from 10 states and the District of Columbia attended the conference that centered on the theme, Mastering the Challenges of the 21st Century. The conference offered three keynote speakers, twenty-four sessions, and seven roundtables. A picnic was an option for those arriving on Sunday evening. The picnic's Hawaiian theme was a popular one, and the door prizes with a tropical flare were crowd pleasers. The Monday evening social was another time for people to get together and enjoy themselves. Ronnie Gilder from Richmond was the D. J. for the event, and his smooth style and musical selections resulted in a fun-filled evening.


The conference opened with words of welcome from the VLAPF Co-chairs, Suzanne Leacy and Don Socia, and two special guests. James R. Rettig, Director of the Boatwright Library at the University of Richmond, and Carolyn Barkley, VLA Vice President/President Elect both offered greetings to conference attendees.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Dale Henry as the keynote speaker on Monday morning. Dr. Henry is President of Your Best Unlimited, a company based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and it is his business to train professionals and executives to be the very best they can be. He challenged conference attendees to evaluate themselves with his speech, Do You Sizzle or Fizzle? He presented sound advice on how to succeed in the workplace. His presentation was filled with words such as prioritize, individualize, energize, and phrases such as discover your gifts, take aim, hit the target, and become the prize. Dr. Henry not only presented a message that inspired attendees to excel, but a message that made everyone laugh, as well.


Harriett Edmunds, Special Events and Volunteer Programs Coordinator at The Library of Virginia, was the Tuesday morning keynote speaker. Once again, the audience was privileged enough to hear a speaker whose words were truly motivational. She took the Conference theme, Mastering the Challenges of the 21st Century, and shared some wonderful words of advice on how to do just that. She focused on how we can turn challenges into opportunities, and in so doing enhance our lives. She offered some suggestions on how to become successful in the workplace.Ms. Edumunds presented a message that encouraged us to return to the workplace excited about the new challenges that face us each day and about those that we know will come our way during the 21st Century.

Lydia C. Williams
Longwood College Library


Dave Paddock, President of DG Paddock Financial, was the presenter for Financial Planning with What? He presented an overview of the basics of financial planning for the long term. Topics included dollar cost averting, compound interest, and IRAs. Mr. Paddock also stressed the need for investments in addition to employer-sponsored retirement plans, and the importance of working with a financial professional who will address your personal financial goals, needs, and situation.

Susan Paddock
Virginia Beach Central Library

Kristi Thomas Beavin and Lynn Sawyer, both with the Arlington County Department of Libraries, presented Children's Advisory: Knowing and Promoting Children's Print and Non-Print Collections. This was a very informative session filled with excellent tips on print and non-print materials and included handouts of web sites, book lists, and titles of helpful articles. Ms. Sawyer discussed book selection for different age levels, and shared some of her favorite authors and titles with the group. Ms. Beavin shared her insight into non-print collections such as audio books, and gave advice on how to select the best products. She also offered advice on how to get children interested in listening to audio books. This was a session that appealed to the parent as well as those who work with children in the library setting.

Caressa Talley
Sweet Briar College Library

Sherrie Waddill, owner of Sherrie's Storytelling on the Go, presented Reading Brings Families Together. She shared how she makes books come to life by dressing as a book character, and by using props and cutouts. She demonstrated her secrets by reading several books in which she used props, and even got the audience involved in making cutouts for one of the stories. Ms. Waddill provided each attendee with a packet filled with great books to read including patterns for cutouts. Ms. Waddill's enthusiastic presentation was packed with useful information.

Caressa Talley

Lew Belfont of Gaithersburg Regional Library in Maryland presented Values Based Circulation System. She believes in creating a service philosophy that will allow your customers to become your partners. She believes if you let the patron know that you need their help to do well, and they, in turn know they need your help to do well, you will satisfy your customer's needs and be successful. Belfont stated that we should know our institution's goals and become familiar with its policy, and know how to execute the policy. The goal of values based service is to create and employ a fully developed service philosophy that states that each customer is unique and that the employee's relationship with each customer should be characterized by trust and respect.

Joan Taylor
Washington County Public Library

Sharon Garrett, owner of Image 101 in Richmond, presented a session entitled Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Projecting a Professional Image. Ms. Garrett shared tips on how to dress for success in the workplace. She covered fashion personality, body type, wardrobe, and how to accessorize. She demonstrated how one can turn 10 pieces of clothing into 25 outfits and gave many helpful tips on how to accentuate outfits with scarves, jewelry, and the right handbag. Ms. Garrett packed a wealth of helpful and interesting information into this session.

Lydia C. Williams

Alice Phillips of Continental Health in Richmond presented Time Management on the Homefront. Ms. Phillips offered tips for achieving a healthy balance in our lives focusing on the body, mind, and spirit. She gave a Timeout Test so that each of us could rate ourselves to see where we fall short in meeting the goal of a healthy life style. She suggested that we evaluate how we spend our time in order to make better use of the 168 hours we have in each week. Ms. Phillips offered many helpful ideas for managing our time in order to make it possible for each of us to achieve a healthy balance in our lives.

Lydia C. Williams

Dr. Frank Howe of Longwood College presented Taming the Troublesome Patron. Dr. Howe reminded us that we serve the public -- ALL the public. Some of our patrons may make us uneasy by their behavior. A patron may present special concerns because of mental illness, an altered state, or strange behavior that creates a potentially threatening situation. Dr. Howe emphasized that each agency should have a safety plan and that each employee should be familiar with the plan before danger occurs. He stated that each employee should have training in following their institution's safety guidelines. In addition, the employee should maintain a professional attitude and commitment to continued growth, develop good listening skills including reading non-verbal communication, and maintain a positive communication style. One should understand the differences in learning skills, previous knowledge, interests, and the need for recognition or anonymity of the patron. One should learn to disengage courteously but firmly when dealing with the aggressive patron. Dr. Howe gave helpful examples to maintain personal safety when dealing with the troublesome or aggressive patron.

Ruth Turner
Retiree of Fairfax County Public Library

Deborah Hocutt, Executive Director of the Virginia Center for the Book, gave a wonderful presentation on Virginia authors and the Center for the Book. The focus for the Center for the Book is on the literary heritage of Virginia. The Virginia Authors' Room at The Library of Virginia has over 7,000 titles ranging from William Bradford, a colonial writer, to Patricia Cornwell. Ms. Hocutt stated that The Center sponsors numerous events around Virginia to promote books and reading, including the Charlottesville Festival for the Book. This year's festival will focus on poetry. The Center for the Book will help any library find an appropriate author to speak to their patrons. They have numerous free handouts and materials for use in libraries. The center is working on a project entitled Virginia Reads that will result in posters of Virginia celebrities posing with their favorite books. The information provided by Ms. Hocutt was both interesting and useful.

Sue McFaden
Fairfax County Public Library

Carolyn Barkley, Central Librarian at the Virginia Beach Public Library and an active member of many genealogical associations, gave an enthusiastic talk on Serving the Genealogist in the Library. Her advice to all who deal with patrons searching their genealogy was to learn your library's collection, education yourself on local resources, focus the patron on his/her question, and always document information. It was a lively session with many questions and answers. Ms. Barkley distributed some excellent handouts about genealogy and examples of print and online services.

E. A. Mayo
Eggleston Library Hampden Sydney College

Kelly McBride, Assistant Director for Public Services at Clinch Valley College, and Matthew Peltier, a student in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, made presentations about their visits to libraries in the Republic of Ireland and in Ghana, West Africa, respectively. They both found many similarities between libraries in the United States and those they visited abroad, but also found the cultures of the countries impacted on the libraries. Their travelogues and their varied experiences made us all want to visit foreign libraries.

E. A. Mayo


The conference ended with several special events including an elegant buffet luncheon and the scholarship raffle. The highlight of the afternoon was the keynote speaker, Connie Elliott. Ms. Elliott is the Director of Tourism for Anderson County, Tennessee. As a Certified Meeting Professional, Ms. Elliott is President of Ideal Events, which provides the finest speakers and meeting management services. Her motto is "If it ain't fun, I'm not interested!" and her motto rang true as she addressed the group. She used humorous and heart-warming stories to get her message across, and that message is for each of us to get excited about self-improvement. She encouraged us to be persistent and to work diligently at making our dreams come true. Ms. Elliott made the audience laugh, and she made a few of us cry as she closed out the conference with her challenge to each of us to go out and master the challenges of the 21st Century.


The Paraprofessional Forum presented two special awards during this year's conference. Nancy P. Bell, who has worked at the Longwood College Library for 30 years, received the VLAPF Award. The award provided Ms. Bell with the opportunity of attending the conference by providing funds that paid all conference expenses. She received a special framed commemorative certificate during the Monday opening session. Patricia White, who works at the Annandale Campus Library of the Northern Virginia Community College, was awarded the Outstanding Paraprofessional of the Year Award. She was recognized during the Tuesday opening session, and was awarded a special plaque in honor of her accomplishments in the library field.


Unique prizes on display at the registration desk sparked an interest in the VLAPF scholarship raffle. Raymond Edwards of the Montgomery County Public Library was the winner of the framed P. Buckley Moss print entitled The Barter Theatre. The print was donated by the P. Buckley Moss Society of Staunton, Virginia, and was framed compliments of Christopher's Fine Arts and Framing of Farmville, Virginia. Arlene Randolph of the Richmond Public Library won the CD/tape player and six popular CDs donated by the WAL-MART Supercenter of Farmville, Virginia. Other lucky winners left with a Winnie the Pooh hat box filled with Pooh-related surprises, a cooking basket filled with baking items, a window box filled with gardening items, a basket shaped like Virginia filled with made-in-Virginia products, and one of several Beanie Baby baskets. Alex Matthews donated a collection of her signed first editions to be given as a raffle prize. This variety of outstanding prizes resulted in a very successful raffle.

The 2000 conference theme is Reaching for the Stars: Success, Recognition, Professionalism. Mark your calendar for May 22-23, and make plans to join us at the University of Richmond for the VLA Paraprofessional Forum's eighth annual two-day conference.

Lydia C. Williams

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