2006 VLA Annual Conference
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8
The Accidental Library Manager
Presenters: library middle managers with Rachel Singer Gordon
Rachel Singer Gordon, consulting editor for Information Today, Inc., facilitated an informative session for VLA’s Preconference. Topics covered during the gathering of approximately fifty professionals included how your existing skills can translate into management skills and what to watch out for after becoming a manager. Gordon asked the group to share how they became man-agers and what sort of surprises they encountered after assuming this role. She also asked them to share the good (and bad) as-pects of working in management. Some of the positive experiences listed were effecting change, having an impact on others, and seeing the big picture.
Gordon pointed out that it is important to look for people whom others respect and listen to in order to effect change in your organization. If you hear a great idea, be sure to remember who originated it so that you can recognize that person later. Gordon also asked library staff what they thought were the qualities of an ideal library manager. Encouraging growth, leading by exam-ple, communicating and listening, and providing leadership and vision were on the list.
Gordon emphasized the importance of continuous learning in a management position. Looking at what other libraries are do-ing and scanning weblogs may be sources of free learning opportunities.
In conclusion, Gordon mentioned that even if becoming a manager is not on your list of things to do, you can still be proac-tive in your current role.
— Cindy S. Church, Library of Virginia
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9
Opening General Session
Speaker: Thomas Frey, senior futurist, executive director of the DaVinci Institute
The session began with a welcome from VLA President Ruth Arnold, who encouraged the audience to take the conference theme, “Read, Think, Speak,” to heart. She then introduced Bruce Goodson, chair of the James City County Board of Supervisors, who reminded everyone to sample the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown during their visit.
John Halliday, cochair of the Conference Committee, introduced his fellow cochair Mary McMahon and the committee mem-bers and announced that there were over 650 attendees and over 60 exhibitors at the conference.
Laura Speer, chair of the Awards Committee, said that the awards application would be on the VLA website soon and asked for volunteers to serve on next year’s committee. She then announced this year’s winners. The Friends of the Lynchburg Public Library received the Friends of the Library Award for the second time; Barbara Severin, who has been a trustee at Fauquier County Public Library since 1989, received the Trustee Library Award; and Mr. and Mrs. J. Harwood Cochrane received the George Mason Award for their work with the Rockville Public Library.
Deborah Wright, chair of the Jefferson Cup Committee, announced that Marlene Carvell received the Jefferson Cup Award for Sweetgrass Basket.
President Ruth Arnold then introduced the keynote speaker, Thomas Frey, senior futurist and executive director of the DaV-inci Institute. Frey began his talk by throwing out some questions such as: How will vending machines work in 2056? In 2106, how will we listen to music? What will be the most important thing to happen in the next ten years? He said that our im-age of the future determines our actions today; the future creates the present, and we need to create visions of the library of the future. Here are some of the trends he sees that have implications for libraries: people don’t want to receive information, they want to create it; this is the age of hyper-individuality, in which people care less about “keeping up with Joneses” and instead want products that solve their problems; people are tending to buy experiences rather than products, such as going to Starbucks instead of buying coffee at the grocery; one’s reputation depends more on having experiences than on having things. He also said that more people are starting their own businesses and that libraries could capitalize on this by making spaces in their li-braries for such things as office and mailing centers, coffee shops, childcare, and 24/7 business hours. Frey said one of the most important things a librarian can ask is, “What is the ultimate form of a library?” He then suggested we think about future tech-nology, such as search attributes tied to the other senses or to reflectivity, specific gravity, vibration, etc. We also should think about the library as a place for experiences along the Starbucks line by providing things like blogging stations, studios, and more creative spaces. He concluded his talk by reminding the audience that the future creates the present.
— Janis Augustine, Salem Public Library
Building Connections Across a Curriculum
Presenter: Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech
Caryl Gray, college librarian at Virginia Tech, led this well-attended and informative session, which focused on describing the ongoing collaboration between Virginia Tech’s Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (HNFE) program and the University Libraries. In the face of budget cuts and the consequent restructuring of Tech’s academic departments, HNFE and the libraries responded positively by working together to integrate library research skills into HNFE core courses. The benefits of this col-laboration have been felt by both faculty and students alike, and the continuous constructive conversation between instruc-tional faculty and the libraries promises to have a positive influence on student learning for years to come.
After the restructuring, HFNE was left with no introductory level course and a clear impression from faculty that students were lacking in basic information literacy and research skills. As the program considered its future, several needs became appar-ent. Faculty hoped to provide a valuable “first-year experience” for their students; map out a clear connection and progression through HNFE’s core curriculum; increase communication between faculty who teach sequenced courses; improve students’ academic research and information literacy skills; and incorporate state-defined core competencies in both written and oral com-munication and critical thinking into the curriculum. The solution was a joint initiative involving both HNFE and the Univer-sity Libraries called “Improving the Infrastructure of Sequenced Courses in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise.”
As part of this initiative, HNFE’s subject liaison librarian (Gray) is present at every class session for the new introductory level course, and also teaches some of the sessions. The face time that Gray gets with these new students is invaluable, establish-ing her as “their librarian.” She also has established a significant and recurring presence in two of the other three HNFE se-quenced courses (participation in the fourth is under development), combining in-class lectures with assignments that are dis-cussed later online. Among a variety of topics, she examines search and article retrieval techniques for subject specific databases, explores document delivery methods, introduces EndNote bibliographic management software, and provides one-on-one re-search assistance. As this collaboration between the University Libraries and the HNFE program continues to grow, through the support of key faculty members and open lines of communication between the library and the classroom, the opportunity for librarians to make an ongoing and meaningful contribution to student learning is considerable.
— Bill Fleming, George Mason University
How to Establish a Structured Mentoring Program for Library Staff
Presenter: Alan Napier, University of Virginia
Alan Napier presented the details and lessons learned from the process of establishing and assessing the pilot mentoring pro-gram at the University of Virginia. Napier described mentoring as a process or program (either formal or informal) used by orga-nizations for career and leadership development, the basis of which is the relationship between a mentor and a protégé. Mentoring programs can help organizations address retention and recruitment, promote diversity, provide training and career development, or ensure succession planning.
While the pilot program at UVA was a formal program, it blended different characteristics from both formal and informal mentoring relationships. The goals of the program were established based on the culture and the needs of the UVA library — an institution that, like many libraries, faces the approaching retirements of senior librarians. Recruitment of new, more diverse librarians is essential, as is the retention and development of experienced librarians and staff. The challenges, then, were to ad-dress the following: training and advancement of librarians, development of future library leaders, and career progression of non-librarian staff.
The program began with a six-hour training session designed to instruct the mentor and protégé in their roles and clearly de-fine the boundaries and goals of the mentoring relationship. Monthly group sessions were also held; some of these offered struc-tured presentations on topics that included the faculty promotion process, career planning, trends in academic libraries, and scholarly writing. Based on participant feedback, almost all respondents felt that the experience was worthwhile and the rela-tionship extremely valuable. Napier stressed the following lessons: do your homework before you begin to design a mentoring program; mold the program’s details, structure, and outcomes to fit your library’s needs; secure buy-in from the administration; and market the program extensively to build excitement.
— Serena Haroian, Virginia Commonwealth University
Is There a Librarian 2.0 in the House?
Presenters: Lydia Patrick and Bob Bowie, Fairfax County Public Library
A good crowd turned out to see Lydia Patrick and Bob Bowie of the Fairfax County Public Library team up once again to show-case FCPL’s efforts in meeting the challenge of integrating library services into what is uncharted territory for many libraries — Web 2.0. More than a collection of such services and tools, Web 2.0, and by extension Library 2.0, is also an attitude, one that librarians and library workers may know very well. Libraries have been urged for years to make their spaces (both physical and virtual) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs. In other words, to “get out from behind the desk.” For the folks at FCPL, this means creating and maintaining a presence in online communities like Flickr and MySpace and using tools like wikis and weblogs (or blogs).
Bowie provided an overview of Fairfax’s wiki (http://librarybob.pbwiki.com/), which was created using PBWiki (http://pbwiki.com/), one of many free, easily set up wiki tools. This particular wiki has pages for many of the Web 2.0 and Li-brary 2.0 concepts covered during the VLA presentation, which Bowie and other library staff can develop and refine when a physical meeting isn’t possible.
The Fairfax County Public Library has several weblogs on the free blogging tool, Blogspot (http://www.blogger.com/start). They include blogs both internal and external, like a book discussion blog (http://allfairfaxreads.blogspot.com/), a blog spot-lighting different kinds of library materials and reference tidbits (http://fairfaxcountypubliclibrary.blogspot.com), and a blog for teens (http://fairfaxlibraryteens.blogspot.com). These blogs are updated regularly, which encourages readers to check back and keep reading. Library staff preview reader comments before posting to keep comments relevant and on topic.
Lydia Patrick then introduced us to Fairfax County Public Library’s Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fcpl). It promotes the library’s activities to a much wider online audience than just Fairfax County. FCPL’s Flickr content is made up of photos provided by staff (chosen for uniqueness and image quality) and tagged by librarians, an informal way of categorizing content. Using Flickr is a great way to see tags in action. For example, a recent photo set of author Ray Suarez includes the tags, “Fairfax County Public Library,” “Center for the Book,” “Ray Suarez,” and “Speaker.” Click on the link for “Speaker” and you can see all of FCPL’s photos that have the same tag. You can even see all other public photos (all 4,792 of them) with the “speaker” tag, humans and -stereo equipment alike.
Fairfax County Public Library’s MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/fairfaxpubliclibrary) is prepared, edited, and posted by library staff and is one of millions of profiles of people and organizations on the popular social networking site. The act of “friending,” or adding other users to your page, is what drives MySpace and keeps your profile visible to your audience. FCPL’s friend requests are reviewed by staff and include authors, publishers, other libraries, and librarians.
Even if you weren’t able to attend this year’s conference presentation, you can follow the developing story of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 at Fairfax County Public Library on its new blog at http://itcamefromvla.blogspot.com/. Read the posts and leave a comment or two about how your library engages your patrons online.
— Carolyn Garner, Pamunkey Regional Library
Serials Update: ISSN Revision, Access Level Record, LC Series Decision
Presenter: Regina Romano Reynolds, Library of Congress
Regina Romano Reynolds, head of the National Serials Data Program at the Library of Congress, is participating in an interna-tional access level initiative to distinguish multiple media versions for serial records. A new, cost--effective, evidence-based record format was negotiated with broad user input. The new format is projected to reduce record creation time by twenty to twenty-five percent; catalogers have described the new format as “liberating.” Approval of the new CONSER standard is ex-pected in early 2007. Reynolds provided an update on the revision of the ISSN standard that will describe serial resources in databases and websites. Input from librarians, publishers, and subscription agencies was sought. Work is progressing on creat-ing a linking ISSN (ISSNL) for the 1.25 million existing ISSNs. Discussions are underway as to how changes will be communi-cated, how data will be distributed, and pricing. Approval is pending and publication of changes is expected in April 2007.
— Karen Dillon, Carilion Health System
Virginia Department of Taxation
Presenter: Holly Anna Jones, Virginia Department of Taxation
Holly Anna Jones of the Virginia Department of Taxation discussed the upcoming tax season. Her agency is concerned with the inefficiency of paper tax filing, and is making a strong effort this year to discourage paper and encourage electronic filing. About half of Virginia’s 3.2 million tax filers now use electronic means to file, benefiting all taxpayers by reducing processing costs, decreasing errors, and speeding returns. The Taxation Department is therefore taking the step of eliminating shipments of paper tax forms to public libraries, with the exception of the package X. Paper forms will still arrive by mail in households that filed by paper form last year. In addition, all local offices of the Commissioner of the Revenue will be stocked with paper forms.
Jones also expressed the willingness of her office to assist tax filers in making the transition to e-filing. In this regard, she asked the audience members to register their libraries for free e-filing workshops that would be scheduled for the upcoming Vir-ginia tax season, January through April 2007. The audience members indicated that many of them planned to do so.
Several audience members commented on the change from paper to e-filing as something that could cause them problems. They were concerned that patrons might blame the libraries for something over which the libraries have no control. Doubts were also voiced about the abilities of some patrons to e-file taxes, and the added workload of printing paper forms from the Tax Department website. Jones replied that Commissioners of the Revenue will continue to assist filers, and that the Virginia Department of Taxa-tion is willing to accept any complaints from citizens. She distributed large signs advertising the upcoming change, and pledged that bookmarks providing additional information will follow.
— Chris Wiegard, Appomattox Re-gional Library
More Than Just Noise: Library Podcasts That Teach
Presenters: Bettina J. Phifer, Jill S. Stover, and Peter Kirlew, Virginia Commonwealth University
A trio of engaging speakers — Jill Stover, Bettina Phifer, and Peter Kirlew, all from Virginia Commonwealth University — led this session, which included an overview of podcasting and demonstrated how academic librarians can use podcasts and screen-casts to enhance teaching and learning. Following in the footsteps of such disparate organizations as McDonald’s, National Pub-lic Radio, and the Carmelite Nuns of Indianapolis, libraries are relative newcomers to the podcasting field. The challenges — and opportunities — inherent in these new ways of communicating and interacting with our users are many and varied. Libraries that are already using podcasts and screencasts in effective and creative ways, such as the VCU’s Cabell Library, provide substan-tive examples for others to follow and to build upon.
“Podcasts @ Cabell Library” is the blog portal through which the library makes its podcasts and screen-casts available to students, faculty, and staff. Starting with a core collection of twelve scripts on topics such as reading call numbers, placing loan requests, and exploring article databases, library staff add topics as they go, with any staff member eligible to submit content. These podcasts address many of the frequently asked questions that librarians repeatedly have to answer, while also capitalizing on the ubiquity of MP3 players and laptop computers owned by today’s college students. Podcasts are also intended to appeal to different learning styles possessed by the Millennial generation, playing off a predilection for multitasking and self-service.
Cabell Library podcasts are publicized in a variety of venues: the library webpage, the university webpage, interactive class-room tools such as Blackboard, and print newsletters and brochures. Screen-casts, which add a video component to the mix, demonstrate complex content more quickly and completely than audio alone. They can be used in course-integrated library in-struction, stand-alone workshops, and as demonstrations for liaison visits and special events, among other applications. As podcasting and screencasting in libraries increase, the twin challenges of finding both a distinctive voice and a target audience will drive innovation in librarians’ teaching methods.
— Bill Fleming, George Mason University
Reinventing Resource Sharing: A Discussion of Emerging Possibilities
Presenters: Cyril Oberlander and Dan Wilson, University of Virginia
Cyril Oberlander, director of Interlibrary Services at the University of Virginia Library, gave the first of two presentations in this session. His big-picture reconsideration of resource sharing abounded with ideas. Within libraries, functional convergence can be achieved by combining interlibrary loan with electronic reserve scanning operations. On a larger scale, Google Books and similar projects may begin to affect ILL as a greater number of requests are found there. Additional convergence can be found in the trend of ILL contributions to digital libraries, and the latter’s increase in digitizing on demand. Oberlander strongly ad-vocated contributing digitized items to online archives, and provided institutional and cooperative examples. Other ideas cov-ered purchase on demand, diversifying the ILL resource base to include commercial and free domains, personalizing ILL serv-ices, digitizing gray literature, increasing automation, and direct lending (such as OCLC’s Direct Delivery project).
In the second presentation, Dan Wilson of the University of Virginia’s Health Sciences Library discussed the Personas Pro-ject. The project constructed generalized profiles of information users (personas) to help focus service delivery and product de-velopment. After primary user groups were identified, profiles were created from survey data (using Survey Monkey) and inter-views. The characteristics and goals of each persona stand in for those of a larger group. Wilson offered “Judy” as an example. Judy wants to be a nurse manager, but can’t find the time for professional reading. The data also reveal that Judy has an iPod, which she uses during her treadmill workout. This information allows the library to connect its resources (medical podcasts that can be loaded onto the iPod) to its user’s needs and goals.
— Philip Young, Virginia Tech
Information Users: What Do They Want?
Presenter: Kate Nevins, SOLINET
Kate Nevins of SOLINET presented findings from the 2005 OCLC “Library Perceptions” survey of information users’ views on libraries and the web (http://www.oclc.org/reports/2005perceptions.htm). Nevins provided a lively, interesting tour of informa-tion-seeking preferences, libraries versus search engines, and the meaning of libraries to users. A major take-away was user fa-miliarity with and favoring of search engines as compared with their neutral feelings about online library resources. Not surpris-ingly, search engines trump other resources for their speed, convenience, and ease of use. Users prefer Google over library web-sites, use search engines 84% of the time for searching, and find new sites through friends 61% of the time. On a positive note, users perceive the library as trustworthy and accurate and report using the library for books 54% of the time, reference books 51%, and reference assistance 41%. Notable among users’ negative perceptions were library customer service, environment, and staff. Nevins suggested that libraries build on the past in new ways; seek relevance in a changing world; listen to users; update computers; extend hours; rethink physical space (better food concessions, seating, study space); increase staff; encourage flexi-ble, user-friendly policies (conduct an audit); reconsider allocation of resources (financial and human); make the library more discoverable on the web; differentiate resources for users (information literacy); and drop the idea that the library is the only valued information resource. Blessed are the flexible, “for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
— Karen Dillon, Carilion Health System
Librarian at Sea
Presenter: Barbie Selby, University of Virginia
The University of Virginia, current partner in the Semester at Sea program with the Institute for Shipboard Education, sent librar-ian Barbie Selby on a voyage to Hawaii, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Korea, and Japan. Selby’s summer semester voyage included about 260 students and 15 faculty members (librarians, dorm counselors, and deans). The wide range of courses offered included geography, geology, English, history, art history, and drama, among others.
When Selby came on board, library books were still arranged in huge piles on the floor, and the online catalog needed trou-bleshooting, as every bibliographic record appeared twice. The library was housed in what had once been the ship’s casino, complete with a gold ceiling, a checkout desk located behind the bar, and a reserve collection stashed behind the liquor cabi-nets. Four student assistants helped run the library, with open hours from 8 a.m.–11 p.m. The library contains 8,000 books, as well as CDs, maps, a computer lab, and other resources.
Located in the central gathering area, the library was a very popular place. Also popular were onboard activities such as the Sea Olympics, which provided a welcome break from studying. There was time to explore the local culture at each stop, includ-ing Selby’s tour of the National Library of Singapore.
With colorful slides and equally colorful stories, Selby inspired several members of the audience with thoughts of applying for the post in future. She recommends the experience to all, and advises that key qualities to possess are a desire to travel and experience not only in reference and public service, but also in cataloging as well. Visit the Semester at Sea website (http://www.semesteratsea.com/) for more information.
— C. A. Gardner, Hampton Public Library
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10
Copy Cataloging Done Smarter: Not Reinventing the Wheel in the Age of Google
Presenter: Robert O. Ellett, Joint Forces Staff College
Robert Ellett, catalog librarian at the Joint Forces Staff College, began by reviewing the components of the Program for Coopera-tive Cataloging (PCC) and touching on their benefits to libraries and users. Ellett then shared his research on the use of PCC records by seventy-two non-PCC libraries of various sizes and types. Among his findings were that a majority of the partici-pants could not identify a PCC record in OCLC (marked by “pcc” in the 042 field), and that the vast majority were concerned with authority verification (which is unnecessary for PCC records). Using a program called RobertCompare, which is part of Marc-Edit, Ellett analyzed the record editing of participants and found that most editing is relatively minor “tweaking.” Ellett then described PCC core level records (marked by “Elvl 4” in the fixed field). Participants did not make edits based on the en-coding level, and there were more core level records for nonprint and foreign language resources. Ellett’s recommendations for catalogers include greater education about PCC records, monitoring copy cataloging to avoid “tweaking,” and using OCLC’s Database Enrichment Program to add classification numbers and subject headings to records.
— Philip Young, Virginia Tech
Evaluating Technical Services
Presenter: Scott Piepenburg, Hampton University
Scott Piepenburg (firstname.lastname@example.org) described the reasons for, methods of, and cautions about evaluating the work of technical services departments. Before conducting an evaluation, the evaluators should clearly understand the purpose of such an action. Some common reasons include providing an objective means to document work, determining a method to ascertain throughput, planning for staffing and supply levels, justifying the existence of the department itself, and locating both shortcom-ings and “opportunities for growth.” However, there are pitfalls to beware: the collection of data as its own reward; the pressure to focus on cataloging less complicated items to increase throughput; the temptation to work longer, uncompensated hours to increase the department’s productivity; misinterpretation of the results by those who cannot get “inside the numbers”; and the creation of a piecework mentality.
A thorough evaluation will include the number of items or units handled by the department (including those sent back for changes); the total time involved (does one count only time spent on technical services activities, or all the paid hours of sala-ried employees?); the cost of items and supplies (including everything needed to perform the job, such as classification tools, barcodes, etc.); the quality points for the work involved (certain items require greater time and might thus be assigned a “multi-plication factor” to reflect greater difficulty); and the wages of those in the department. Piepenburg cautioned that while we sel-dom evaluate how much it costs to answer a reference question or staff the circulation desk, technical services seems to be a fre-quent target, perhaps because its behind-the-scenes benefits are not clearly understood. Thus, the tools for evaluation should include a means for clearly comprehending the benefits attached to the statistics — value as well as costs.
Piepenburg cautions that a large picture attitude often works best, and that the process can be fraught with conflict. Piepen-burg perceives some of the potential misuses of the data to occur when the statistics are used to evaluate individual employees rather than the department as a whole; to adjust salary and compensation levels; or to set the department’s workflow by an ex-ternal agent. Instead, the report would best be used as a means of evaluating which processes are most and least effective, and making changes accordingly to increase productivity and quality. For instance, the statistics would allow project timelines to be better anticipated within the department, since the general costs and time involved to process types of materials would be known. Other benefits would be the knowledge of how more staff hours could decrease throughput for better efficiency, and the demonstration of what “nonproductive” time costs the institution. Workflow evaluations can be very sensitive and territorial, and statistics may help to highlight the logic of potential changes within a department and to decrease the tension in discussing which processes are critical and which are superfluous.
— C. A. Gardner
Grow Your Own Circulation Staff
Presenters: Fran Millhouser and Robert Harvey, Fairfax County Public Library
Fran Millhouser, training coordinator, and Robert Harvey, circulation services assistant manager, teamed up to talk about how circulation staff is mentored within the Fairfax County Public Library system (FCPL) and to share some of their success stories as well as some of the resources they use. A capacity crowd of interested librarians listened as the presenters reviewed how the FCPL program gave engaged, motivated staff “an opportunity to test drive a job in the circulation department.” In particular, Millhouser called attention to how the program is organized. Global administration and support provide the backbone for the specific train-ing activities conducted locally. Program results come in the form of morale boosts, greater team-building, and several promotions and advancements over the years. Since 1999, 190 employees have participated in the program, and 77 have been promoted to the role of circulation aide.
Peppered throughout the presentation, Millhouser and Harvey shared several engaging personal stories and useful insights. Keeping good people and providing a career ladder are two core reasons FCPL supports a mentor program. The desire for ad-vancement, greater skill knowledge, and closer work with the public are all reasons why staff and volunteers apply for the pro-gram. Though mentees invest fifteen hours of on-the-job training in seven basic circulation skill units over a defined period of time, the program has always enjoyed an overabundance of applications.
Among the resources shared with attendees were FCPL’s Circulation Mentoring Program booklet, the Mentee Application & Mentor Registration Packet, and the Circulation Mentoring Program Workbook. In addition, attendees could pick up the Checklist for Determining Organizational Readiness (www.mentoringgroup.com), the Lipstick Personality Test (http://www.themommies.com/Pages/LipstickTest.html), and Your Chocolate Personality Test (http://www.eastonpakiwanis.org/Downloads/Misc_EASTON/Your%20Chocolate%20Personality%20Test.doc).
For those who missed this presentation, the slides are available online: http://www.vla.org/06
— Heather Groves Hannan, Mercer Library, George Mason University
When Passive Is Active: Booklists, Bookmarks, & Displays in Readers’ Advisory
Presenters: Neil Hollands and Melissa Simpson, Williamsburg Regional Library
Neil Hollands and Melissa Simpson of the Williamsburg Regional Library delivered a great presentation to a packed room. Their theme: how to make “passive readers advisory” — the art of engaging patrons who won’t engage you — into an active pursuit by creating book displays and lists.
Their tips for putting a display together include using high--traffic areas, underutilized furniture, and fun props (find a dollar store), and advertising with banners and signs. Bookmarks can be used to alert patrons that books can be checked out; they can also let circulation personnel know the book should be returned there. Anything and everything can be a display: underutil-ized collections, donated items, tie-ins to films, or read-alikes for those books that have a long waiting list. Coordinate your choices with local festivals or with unusual events from an “on this day” website. Tag onto author readings at local bookstores. Be creative in your choices: make up your own genre; include media formats; mix fiction with nonfiction; or choose books that are all one color.
Effective displays also include effective planning. Mobilize your staff for their expertise and create a display calendar to coor-dinate their efforts. Enlist their help to check and restock the display when books are checked out (be prepared with a list of replacement titles) and to keep statistics of impact on circulation.
Book lists provide advice to patrons and assistance to frontline staff; they can range from a bookmark with a few titles to a longer, annotated handout. They should be made available on displays and in other high-traffic areas. Tips for creating lists in-clude adding graphics to catch the eye and annotating them with a few sentences to provide access points: setting, subject, author, and relation to other works. The presenters provided handouts with sources and tips, as well as examples of booklists. For copies, contact Neil Hollands, adult services librarian, email@example.com, or Melissa Simpson, community services librar-ian, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Maryke Barber, Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University
Why We Still Need Libraries in the Digital Age (VLACRL Section)
Presenter: Bernard Frischer, University of Virginia
Bernard Frischer, director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia, pre-sented an incisive and entertaining session on the future of academic libraries in the digital age. An overflow crowd was capti-vated by his informative foray into the dynamic world of evolving research technologies and their place in the library world. Characterizing the research library of the future as “the Ultimate Internet Café,” Frischer painted a positive and optimistic pic-ture of the integration of new digital technologies into the library setting, preserving bricks-and--mortar libraries while at the same time embracing the opportunities of the digital age.
Comparing his earlier experiences at UCLA with his current environment at UVA, Frischer showed us an example of both the beginnings of the digital library and a glimpse of its future. In the library of the future, scholars will not only be retrieving in-formation, they will be creating it. The resources and technologies offered by IATH and other innovative organizations do more than just offer new and effective methods of doing research; they create an environment where people can produce true scholar-ship.
IATH, located in UVA’s Alderman Library, employs “sophisticated technical support and advanced computer technology” to assist scholars and research fellows in their ongoing projects. In cooperation with UVA’s Architecture School, IATH has also created a “visualization studio” where users can employ digital surround and 3-D modeling techniques to create incredi-bly dynamic presentations. Frischer argues that libraries are the logical place for such studios in the future. Library development should focus on intelligent strategies for retrofitting current spaces to accommodate emerging technologies. More important, new visionary library spaces should be — and are being — built that combine many aspects of traditional research facilities with the dynamic, evolving technologies of the digital age. As long as libraries remain open to change and are willing and able to adapt to the demands of these new technologies, their future looks bright.
— Bill Fleming, George Mason University
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Second General Session
Speaker: Judith Viorst, Author
The VLA 2006 Conference Planning Committee tested a new scheduling format for concurrent sessions, general sessions, and other events associated with the conference. The new schedule not only provided opportunities for attendees to visit the exhib-its when no other activities were scheduled, but also provided an opportunity for most attendees to participate in the annual business meeting as well as enjoy listening to the guest speaker, Judith Viorst.
VLA President Ruth Arnold called the business meeting to order. Minutes of the 2005 VLA business meeting were presented by Lydia Williams, secretary. The minutes were approved as submitted. Arnold gave a brief overview of the state of the organiza-tion, including accomplishments from the designated agenda and the legislative agenda. Arnold also announced the launching of the new VLA website and acknowledged Steve Helm, webmaster, for his work on the redesign. Sue Burton, treasurer, gave a brief report indicating that VLA continues to be in good financial standing due to careful expenditure of funds and two success-ful conferences per year as well as the successful Jobline service. Sam Clay reported for the nominating committee that Donna Cote was elected as vice president/president-elect and Laurie Roberts was elected as secretary. Sandra Shell announced the scholarship winners: Julie Short received the 2006 Clara Stanley Paraprofessional Forum Scholarship, while Maryke Barber and Rebecca -Cooper received VLA Scholarships.
Ruth Arnold then introduced guest speaker Judith Viorst, poet and author. Viorst began with a brief overview of her writing style. She writes in the first person with a voice ranging from that of a middle-aged woman to a six-year-old, although she prefers the latter. She enjoys writing about feelings (wishes, dreams, fears, fantasies, ambitions, and frustrations). Through her poetry and stories, she tries to reassure children as well as adults that these feelings are okay. On the topic of sibling rivalry, she stated that this is a “normal and universal” feeling and that “no matter where we fall in the birth order, we feel robbed.” She also re-flected that “no one possesses undivided love.” As she discussed her writings, Viorst read from several of her works. To illus-trate that both children and adults “don’t always have good thoughts and sometimes have very evil thoughts,” Viorst read “I’ll Fix Anthony” and “I Love, Love My Brand New Baby Sister.” She hopes to convey through her poems for young and old that it is okay to have wicked thoughts and to seek relief from these feelings through fantasy.
Viorst has also written about friendship for adults and children (“Old Friends” and “Rosie and Michael”). Other readings from her works illustrated the feelings involved with moving away, romantic love, life changes (“We’re Not Going to Have Any More Babies”), growing old, death (“The Tenth Good Thing about Barney”), and mourning (“Teddy Bear”). There was no doubt that each of us saw something of ourselves in the poems and stories. In conclusion, Viorst said that she always learns from children and that she listens to them “where they are.” She stated that she was an optimist and a realist and reiterated that we all have feelings in common no matter if we are “a little boy, a little girl, a grown man, or a grown woman — we are all human be-ings.”
After Viorst’s entertaining presentation, Ruth Arnold concluded the business meeting. The report of the Bylaws Committee was presented (changes to the bylaws were posted on the VLA website for comment). The changes to the bylaws were approved. Prior to passing the gavel to Pat Howe, Arnold introduced the members of the VLA Executive Board and acknowledged all the members of the VLA Council. Arnold introduced Pat Howe and presented her with the president’s gavel. Howe announced the preliminary plans for the 2007 conference at the Homestead (November 1–2) and introduced Libby Blanton and Lisa Lee Broughman, conference cochairs. The conference theme is “Reflect, Retool, Recharge.” It will be cohosted with the Virginia As-sociation of Law Libraries.
Howe recognized Past--President Sam Clay and Secretary Lydia Williams for their service on the executive board. The meet-ing was adjourned.
— Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech
Jefferson Cup Luncheon
Speaker: Candace Fleming, Author
Committee Chair Deborah Wright welcomed one of the largest audiences ever to the Jefferson Cup Award Luncheon. Wright introduced the 2006 Jefferson Cup Award Committee, which reviewed over 200 books for young people in United States his-tory, biography, and historical fiction. Marlene Carvell, author of the 2006 Jefferson Cup Award-winning Sweetgrass Basket, could not be present, and Wright read her gracious letter of acceptance and thanks.
Wright then introduced Candace Fleming, author of Our Eleanor: A Scrapbook Look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s Remarkable Life, one of the Jefferson Cup Honor Books for 2006.
Fleming regaled us with anecdotes of her family’s love of reading, her early experiences of storytelling, and how her passion for history grew out of her love of stories. She described her methods of historical research and her devotion to primary source material.
Fleming told numerous anecdotes about her research for Ben Franklin’s Almanac, her 2004 Jefferson Cup Honor Book. She described how Benjamin Franklin became a part of her family during the years she worked on this book. Her determination to fully understand Franklin led her to read Franklin’s diaries, visit his homes, eat the foods he ate, and even touch his printing press, setting off alarms at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.
Fleming displayed the same devotion to primary source research techniques while writing about Eleanor Roosevelt. Her te-nacity for the personal connection paid off during her research at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, where she met an elderly woman who had been a babysitter for the Roosevelt children. This fortuitous meeting led to interviews with the Roo-sevelt grandchildren and provided many firsthand accounts included in her deeply personal book.
Candace Fleming’s love for history and her gift for storytelling provided a personal, entertaining, and inspirational tribute to the goals of the Jefferson Cup Award.
— Lynda Wright, McGraw-Page Library, Randolph-Macon College
Animate Your Library
Presenters: Wendy B. Smietana and Marino Rancier, Roanoke County Public Library
There are a wide variety of formats of interest to fans of Asian animation. Anime (Japanese animation — both TV shows and movies), OVA (original straight-to-video animation, sometimes based on a TV show), manga (Japanese comic books), magazines, motion pictures, and video games are often connected and have an influence on one another. A storyline or set of characters might begin in any of these formats and migrate to another; some fans pursue all the formats, while others argue the superiority of one incarnation over another (often based on the different interpretations of the characters and storyline).
Though the presenters touched on the presence of these different formats in libraries, the primary concern was how to start an anime club for the library’s teen population. To this end, the presenters recommended “The Anime-ted Library” by Kristin Fletcher-Spear and Kat Kan in the April 2005 issue of VOYA; The Librarian’s Guide to Anime and Manga by Gilles Poitras (http://www.koyagi.com/Libguide.html); and the Graphic Novels in Libraries (GNLIB) listserv (http://www.angelfire.com/comics/gnlib). Handouts, as well as the discussion and slideshow, introduced the audience to sev-eral popular anime series (such as Full Metal Alchemist and Fruits Basket) and recommended anime companies from which to obtain screening copies and permissions. Many companies are eager to participate. Some good sources for reviews include School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, http://www.animeondvd.com, http://www.animenewsnetwork.com, and http://www.animejump.com.
The best resource for starting an anime club is teens — they know more than we do. Roanoke County Public Library based their meeting time, frequency, and anime choices on the input of their teens. The group contains thirty-five to forty members, with an average of about twenty attending each meeting; the age limit is thirteen to nineteen, which is strictly adhered to so that teens have a space of their own. The monthly event has become so popular that teens will spend extra hours at the library on anime day. The participants have been well behaved (indeed, the few problems have been settled by the teens themselves) and some shy members have formed friendships through their participation in the club. Club members have also helped with the se-lection of manga for the library’s graphic novel collection, and put together a cosplay event in which participants dressed up like favorite anime characters.
— C. A. Gardner
Increasing Philanthropic Support for Libraries
Presenter: Mary Ellen Stumpf, Stumpf & Associates, Inc., and the Grants Connection, Inc.
At the beginning of the presentation, Mary Ellen Stumpf polled the audience concerning their library’s situation and the type of funding being received. Stumpf emphasized the value of charitable support and the dynamic change in competition for donor funding at all levels — individual, business and industry, private foundation, etc.
Stumpf highlighted that current trends are impacting “giving” streams at the same time that communities are finding them-selves under siege and in need of increased support. Real or perceived economic uncertainty, accountability issues, and the per-centage of wealth changing hands have changed how donors give. In Stumpf’s opinion, to move forward, libraries must build on their current “friends” to sustain what they have, but must also adjust to today’s challenges and work with them.
Strategies shared by Stumpf included: 1) Don’t retreat — go forward; 2) Make yourself selective — make sources choose you; 3) Know your strategic or targeted audiences for support; and 4) Diversify your contribution income streams. Stumpf stressed that libraries must retool and create a stronger position by refocusing their efforts and taking on a “marketing attitude.” In today’s charitable giving market, it is critical for library administrators and management to know their service statistics and other key data. In Stumpf’s opinion, a library must clearly define its needs with a credible, well-articulated pitch.
Stumpf shared that a good starting point for seed money is private foundations, but individuals provide seventy-five to eighty percent of all giving; there is no better investment of time than working to establish a personal relationship with your library’s friends. Whether one’s needs would be best met by a gift, grant, sponsorship, or endowment, Stumpf pointed out that libraries need to communicate with their constituency by disseminating their message widely and keeping it vital.
Stumpf closed by highlighting resources available from the Grants Connection (www.grantsconnec tion.com) and emphasiz-ing the benefit of developing a “profile sheet” to help keep needs clearly defined (plus share data/costs). A profile sheet can help keep a library’s message honed to three, at most, specific items or categories of need. Stumpf encouraged attendees to try several strategies rather than focus on one income stream.
— Heather Groves Hannan, Mercer Library, George Mason University
Life after Assessment: A Panel Discussion
Presenters: Eric Ackermann, Radford University; Amanda Myers, Mary Baldwin College; and Luke Vilelle, Virginia Tech
Eric Ackerman (email@example.com) and Luke Vilelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) offered tips on surveys and usability studies. They emphasized seeking local Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval if findings are to be published or presented at a conference; IRB review is unnecessary for in-house use. Eric emphasized coordination with other institutional survey activities to avoid survey fatigue. Quantitative (score) data is easy to analyze, but is not always helpful. Qualitative (comment) data answers “why,” but is labor intensive and the subjective results may not be representative. Survey planning includes determining trends, audience, and desired knowledge, and validating observations. Recent findings at Radford indicated how important the library is as place, the desire for quite study spaces, and the desire for 24/7 access. Eric stressed how important it is to act on findings, particularly the “just do it” suggestions. Changes at RU include a coffee shop; longer hours; formal quiet areas; more computers and study spaces; and a new instruction classroom.
Two excellent usability testing resources are Connaway’s 2005 ALA presentation (www.oclc.org/research/presentations/-connaway/lama200506.ppt) and UVA library survey data (http://www.lib.virginia.edu/mis/reports/index.html). Usability test-ing identifies obstacles for users and tests the degree to which users can successfully learn to use products to reach their goals. Five to six subjects are usually adequate. Consider students, pages, and nonlibrary users. Offer a simple, free giveaway to en-courage participation. When testing OPAC development, Virginia Tech found users did not understand terms such as barcode, keyword, or subject, and experienced problems with eJournal links. A list of sample usability questions and quantitative meas-ures was provided to participants.
— Karen Dillon, Carilion Health System
Beyond the Misty Mountains: Readers’ Advisory for Fantasy Fiction
Presenters: Barry Trott, Andrew Smith, Williamsburg Regional Library, and Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield County Public Library
This session, the fourth in a series of genre studies these presenters have given at the VLA Annual Conference, lived up to the high standards set by the earlier Romance, Mystery, and Science Fiction segments. Barry Trott, Andrew Smith, and Neal Wyatt provided a quick overview of the fantasy genre and then focused on several popular subgenres, complete with detailed handouts that described genre characteristics and recommended popular authors and outstanding books in each category.
Heroic or high fantasy (including sword and sorcery) usually revolves around a quest — for an object, a person, a position, or even a newfound sense of self. The quest is almost always external, and usually involves a conflict between good and evil, though in some stories, this conflict can include many shades of gray. Many of these novels are quite complex, with detailed world-building, strongly delineated characters (often a large cast), and action on every page. The books often focus on a small group of characters within a larger setting; the viewpoint may switch from one character to another, while the cinematic pacing keeps readers interested. One notable characteristic of the genre is its stylistic formality — an emphasis on high prose and ele-gant language, with a frequently medieval setting. While magic is usually present, it can be secondary to swordfights and po-litical intrigue. The best stories contain a lot of moral complexity, showing the effect of characters’ choices on others and their world.
Dark fantasy has some overlap with both heroic fantasy and horror. As with heroic fantasy, world-building is detailed and must be consistent. Since the stories often involve good and evil intertwined, the moral underpinnings of society must be de-scribed so the reader can tell when transgressions occur. Often the story’s protagonists will stand on a fulcrum between good and evil; likeable, good characters do evil things and then come out the other side, maintaining a core of goodness. The atmos-phere of the book is usually brooding and evil, and there’s a sense of real struggle and sacrifice; themes of vengeance and mis-used power often recur. Modern vampire stories, with their morally ambiguous or tortured main characters and gothic settings, are often found here. As with heroic fantasy, the language can be arcane; but here its main use is to convey a creeping sense of dread. Dark fantasy demands commitment to a long-term relationship with the writer and setting, as the overarching story can move at a contemplative pace. While these books can contain anything from goddesses and kings to vampires and unspeakable horrors, their primary characteristic is an exploration of the dark side of -psychology.
In addition to containing many subgenres, fantasy can interact with many exterior genres. Because numerous writers blend fantasy with genres such as literary or historical fiction, mystery, horror, romance, and others, these books can provide a cross-ing-point for readers, interesting them in fiction outside their normal experience. The “genre slides conduit” of fantasy mixed into other stories, or mixed with other genres, broadens the range of what readers’ advisory can suggest to readers seeking new experiences while still retaining the comfort of what they know.
— C. A. Gardner
Challenges to Library Resources: How to Prepare and Respond (Intellectual Freedom Committee)
Presenter: Paul Rittelmeyer, University of Virginia
Paul Rittelmeyer, director of acquisitions at the University of Virginia, introduced the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s two guest panelists. Madelyn F. Wessel is an attorney at the University of Virginia who serves as Special Advisor to the University Librarian concerning intellectual property and copyright issues. Susan C. Thorniley is the coordinator for library information services with the Fairfax County Public School System. She represents Fairfax County Public Schools on the Fairfax County Public Library Board of Trustees.
Madelyn Wessel began by discussing First Amendment rights in the library context. The First Amendment guarantees the in-dividual’s right to access materials and freedom from censorship. The primary means librarians have to protect this right lies in the task of materials selection. Librarians need to have written collection development policies with clearly stated criteria to protect the integrity of their choices. Wessel stressed the importance of having written complaint procedures and written confi-dentiality procedures as well.
Wessel then pointed out some limitations to First Amendment freedoms, specifically that the individual does not have the right to demand materials. There are also restrictions on the rights of minors in the area of free speech. She cited cases that have given schools boards the right to determine the suitability of materials, but which have also upheld a student’s basic right of access. Here again, the right of access is absorbed in the larger context of materials -selection.
Another basic First Amendment right is the patron’s right to privacy and confidentiality in library records. The Patriot Act has challenged these rights, and the ALA, ACLU, and local library boards have in turn challenged the Patriot Act. Wessel noted that the courts have tended to favor the government’s right to “pierce the veil” of privacy on these issues.
Susan Thorniley spoke about her experiences on the Fairfax County School Board when Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (PABBIS) challenged several titles owned by twenty Fairfax County Public Schools in 2002. She described the proc-esses for challenging and defending school library holdings and reiterated Wessel’s point about the importance of having clearly written policies and procedures. Once a challenge has been filed, the library must work within the guidelines estab-lished at the time of the challenge.
None of the titles in the PABBIS challenge were removed from the school libraries, though one title was restricted to stu-dents in grades ten to twelve. After this episode, the Fairfax County School Board worked with legal counsel and rewrote its intellectual freedom challenge guidelines. In the future, individuals or organizations challenging library holdings in the Fairfax County schools may challenge only one title at a time and must read the disputed book and answer a detailed set of questions. There are now different procedures for parents to challenge materials than for the general public.
Thorniley defended the right of citizens to challenge library materials. She stressed reviewing policies and procedures so that all intellectual freedoms are covered: the right to challenge as well as the right to access. Both panelists emphasized that librari-ans have great authority and flexibility to define their policies and thereby define the challenge process. The key to exercising control over the process is having all policies and procedures written down before the challenge occurs.
Further information is available at the VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee website (http://www.vla.org/demo/Intellect--Freedom/Manual.html) and the ALA Freedom to Read website (http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/-othergroups/ftrf/freedomreadfoundation.htm).
— Lynda Wright, McGraw-Page Library, Randolph-Macon College