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January/February/March, 2009
Volume 55, Number 1

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2008 VLA Annual Conference
Libraries: Champions of Democracy

OCTOBER 23 & 24, 2008
Williamsburg, Virginia

Opening Session

After a pair of lively preconference sessions on parent communication through storytime sessions and strategic persuasion for leadership, presented by Saroj Ghoting and Elaina Norlin, respectively, the 638 attendees of our 2009 Annual Conference settled into an opening session that featured scholarships, awards, and Dahlia Lithwick, our keynote speaker.

President Donna Cote, who chaired the session, was joined by Sandra G. Treadway, Librarian of Virginia, in welcoming members to the formal opening of the conference. Members then received the good news that the VLA Foundation Scholarship for 2008, the first ever, went to Shari Henry of the Chesterfield County Public Library. Iza Cieszynski, Foundation President, was on hand to join in the presentation and inform VLA members of the Foundation’s plans for future fund raising.

VLA Past President Caroline Parr then introduced Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for, who drew on her years of experience in both reporting on and commenting on legal issues to bring us up to date on the state of public discourse in our society. Lithwick, using many engaging examples, reminded us that, along with freedom of speech, Americans should also expect and extend the right to be heard. The excuse that “I already knew what he was going to say” does not justify failure to listen to those with views different from our own. One of the best qualities of our system of courts, according to Lithwick, is the attention with which our outstanding jurists listen and understand those who argue before them.

George Mason Award winner Fran Freimark, Director of the Pamunkey Regional Library, was recognized during the Opening Session for her tireless efforts in advocating for libraries in Virginia, and Carol Boston Weatherford was declared this year’s winner of the Jefferson Cup for Birmingham, 1963, a book-length prose poem responding to the church bombing in that city that killed four young girls.

Saroj Ghoting talking

The two preconference sessions were led by Saroj Ghoting (top) and Elaina Norlin (left).
Elaina Norlin's painting demonstration in the preconference sessions.
A photo showing women sitting in tables and reading through documents in the preconference sessions.

Virginia Libraries 2.0

Presenters: Lyn C. A. Gardner and Cy Dillon

Co-editors Lyn C. A. Gardner and Cy Dillon led a free-wheeling discussion among potential authors, interested readers, and members of the Virginia Libraries Editorial Board. The group first addressed the types of articles and areas of interest that were favored by those present, and a long, informative list emerged from the discussion. Anyone interested in writing for us in the near future is encouraged to look at the next few paragraphs carefully to take advantage of a wealth of suggestions for successful submissions.

According to comments from the participants, readers of Virginia Libraries enjoy articles on new technology, developments in information delivery, and new social networking developments that might be used by libraries. Coverage of innovative conference presentations is also a favorite subject for our readers, as is developing new strategies to cope with the ever-changing landscape of community and user needs. Successful responses to challenges in a variety of library types continue to interest the Commonwealth’s library community, and will doubtless continue to appear in our pages.

Other topics that our readers mentioned included succession planning for libraries, creating multi-media spaces in libraries, military libraries in Virginia, CIA and other federal government libraries, using government information such as census data, articles on George Mason Award recipients, articles detailing the history of libraries, and, conversely, articles on the future of libraries. A number of suggestions centered around digitalization of materials, creating digital repositories, preserving digital materials, managing databases, and providing open access to important historical materials.

The discussion then turned to topics that might be used to create special issues, such as the double issue published in 2008. The suggestions were: a new technology issue, an issue devoted to library history in Virginia, an issue on special collections around the state, an issue featuring special libraries, an issue focused on government information, and an issue addressing local history and genealogy.

These suggestions led to another round of suggestions for articles and questions about the editors’ interest in receiving submissions on a variety of subjects. Ideas included technology in children’s services, using audio and podcasts, identifying potential sources for fund raising, tracking foundations’ giving patterns, approaches to continuing education for library staff, and new ways to present the results of research.

The question of whether the magazine should abandon hard copy and be “born digital” was considered briefly, and it is clear that this is a topic that will continue to concern VLA members. For the time being, we will continue to publish in print, and be archived at Virginia Tech’s Digital Library and Archives.

The session ended with all present assured that Virginia Libraries was in no danger of running out of material, and that VLA members have a keen interest in learning all they can about libraries.

A photo showing a few girls singing
This year our exhibits opened with a musical presentation.

The Changing Face of the College Campus

Presenters: Mario Ascencio, George Mason University, and Cristina D. Ramirez, Virginia Commonwealth University Library

The exponential growth of Latinos or Hispanics within the population is changing the face of the college campus. Mario Ascencio and Cristina D. Ramirez began their joint presentation by sharing statistics on the Latino population in the United States, such as the fact that its growth is expected to reach 4.1 million by 2019. For Virginia, the increase in the Latino population has tripled from 1990–2006.

The Latino population in Virginia emigrates mostly from El Salvador, Mexico, and Honduras. While Latino immigrants are often less educated, poorer, and lack health insurance, Latinos receive little assistance other than the federal program called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and school lunch subsidies. Virginia’s Latino citizens have overall household incomes above the state average.

The speakers emphasized that access to college education is the key to economic competitiveness and long-term success for Latinos. They then spoke about the impact that the Latino population is having on the academic environment. Latinos attending college may come from families with limited English proficiency, different parental roles than peers, and a lack of knowledge of the U.S. school system. With strong family values, Latinos also tend to stay close by their families. They need help navigating the academic system starting as early as middle school.

To assist Latinos in higher education, Virginia colleges and universities are changing recruitment models at all levels and addressing retention and programming issues for Latinos. Many hire a Latino professional on campus. Ascencio and Ramirez outlined different programs undertaken for Latinos at Virginia colleges and universities. University of Virginia offers Connexiones; Virginia Commonwealth University offers Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN) and sponsors daylong planning workshops like Encuentro Latino: Latino Issues in Virginia Higher Education; and the University of Richmond offers Early Intervention Program at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies.

Academic libraries can participate by recruiting and retaining diverse librarians. They can include multicultural competencies that provide awareness and sensitivity to cultural differences for staff. Ascencio and Ramirez closed their presentation by speaking about undocumented students, who have additional barriers, since they do not qualify for any federal or state-based financial aid, including grants, work-study jobs, and government loans. Ascencio and Ramirez punctuated this by showing a clip from a documentary on undocumented students, “Don’t Stop Me Now” (http://www.e4fc. org). They recommended several resources for more information, including REFORMA (http:www. and SALALM ( salalm/alzar).

Andrew L. Pearson, Alexander Mack Memorial Library, Bridgewater College

A Photo of Chair Morell Frye (below) and Sandra Treadway (left).
Conference Committee Chair Morel Frye (below) and Sandra Treadway,
Librarian of Virginia (left), were among the speakers for
the Opening General Session.

VLACRL Annual Business Meeting

Presenter: Luke Vilelle, Hollins University

VLACRL Chair Luke Vilelle opened the annual Business Meeting with the election of the incoming Vice-Chair, won by Craig Amos of Norfolk State University.

Vilelle followed with programming requests for the upcoming Spring VLACRL program and the regional meetings. Topics suggested by meeting attendees included copyright compliance—especially in regards to interlibrary loans and electronic reserves—and marketing for library services such as virtual reference and online tutorials.

Members of VLACRL also discussed format options for future programming events, such as having a two-day conference, sponsoring more concurrent sessions at the VLA Annual Conference, and providing more opportunities for post-meeting get-togethers, similar to the happy hour and dinner opportunities that VLACRL offered at this year’s conference.

Meeting attendees also had an opportunity to discuss the effect of recent VIVA database changes on their library services, and David Brizendine of EBSCO was on hand to answer questions or address concerns.

Lisa Lee Broughman, Randolph College

Capturing the Voices of Randolph-Macon College: Oral Histories

Presenters: Jennifer Shotwell, Lynda Wright, Laurie Preston, and Kim Dutton, Randolph-Macon College

This session, sponsored by the VLA Local History Forum, provided a look at four concurrent oral history projects underway at the McGraw-Page Library on the campus of Randolph Macon College. The presenters described the development of the oral history projects they are directing and shared insights acquired while working on these projects. Jennifer Shotwell, director of the Butler Multimedia Learning Center, is managing the project “Voices from Abroad,” which will allow students who have studied abroad to share their memories and experiences. The students will also provide photos related to their travels, which will be included as part of their oral memories. “Macon Memories” is a project being directed by Lynda Wright, assistant professor and head of technical services. This project is modeled after the National Public Radio StoryCorps format, which brings together faculty, staff, and alumni who share memories of their days at Randolph-Macon College in conversational interviews. “Living Legacies” is a program being directed by Laurie Preston, associate professor and head of reference at McGraw-Page Library. This oral history project honors donors and contributors to Randolph-Macon, focusing on alumni who have created scholarships. It captures stories that tell what was happening at the college during the different stages of its history and development. Directed by Kim Dutton, an RM student and recipient of the 2008 Shapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship, “One Ashland, Many Voices” focuses on the history of Ashland. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the town, longtime residents of Ashland were interviewed by students and local citizens in order to record their memories of the town.

The presenters shared helpful information regarding issues related to planning and implementing an oral history project, which include administrative and legal issues, equipment and space needs, and cataloging and preservation concerns. They provided tips on how to prepare for and conduct an oral history interview and provided a list of print and online resources that would be helpful in researching and planning an oral history project. Sound clips of interviews are available online and may be accessed through the McGraw-Page Library’s database at

—Lydia Williams, Greenwood Library, Longwood University

A photo showing women looking at the books in the VLA exhibit.
A photo showing people looking at the kissing pig.
Everyone expected to see books in the VLA exhibits,
but the kissing pig was something of a surprise.

The Sustainable Library

Presenter: Marlene Walli Shade

Marlene Walli Shade, a senior architect and project manager for PSA-Dewberry, began by asking the audience to think about whether their library was “green” with questions such as: Do you recycle? Are energy saving measures being taken in your library? Does your library get lots of natural light? Do your library’s reading areas have views of nature? Does your library have bike racks? Does your library use Green cleaning solutions? Does the vegetation outside of your library have to be watered? Does your library smell fresh? She then introduced terms used in Green building: Green Design, Integrated Design, Whole Building Design, Intelligent Design, Biomimicry, Regenerative Design, and Sustainable Design. She defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs. Shade spoke about environmental issues that impact us, such as the atmosphere, water, and resources. Carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for over a hundred years, and the cleansing of carbon by the ocean is creating carbonic acid. With global warming, there is decreased water supply, an increase in the water level in oceans, and an increase in acidity. By 2050, the Himalayan Glaciers, which provide 500 million people with water, will be gone. By 2050, much of our supply of fossil fuels will be exhausted. Buildings impact the environment because they are responsible for almost half of the GHG emissions annually. The building sector accounts for 76 percent of all electricity generated by U.S. power plants; they use 40 percent of raw material globally, and produce 136 million tons of construction and demolition waste in the U.S.

Shade described the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for sustainable building design. Strategies for sustainable libraries include: provide light reduction by choosing only the necessary light level; be water efficient by harvesting rainfall, selecting native plants, and installing efficient plumbing fixtures; optimize energy performance by using highly reflective paint, high efficiency lights with sensors, and Energy Star equipment; install recycled content carpet; use Green wall coverings and recycled/Green fabrics; select regional materials; and use low VOC/Green building materials. For indoor quality, install CO2 sensors, incorporate natural daylight and views of nature, and air out buildings before occupancy. Set goals and parameters at the beginning of a building project. Define Green Design principles at the onset of the project, develop flexible designs for maximum longevity, reduce/reuse/recycle, increase awareness of Green Design in the community, and use your building as a learning tool. Examples of recently built sustainable libraries include the Oakton Library in Virginia and Thurmont Regional Library in Maryland. In conclusion, sustainable buildings strive to balance environmental responsibility, resource efficiency, occupant comfort and well-being, and community education.

—Pat Howe, Longwood University

Changing Models of Access to Scholarship: A Journey without Maps

Presenter: Kevin L. Smith, scholarly communications officer, Duke University, and faculty member of the Association of Research Libraries Scholarly Communications Institute

Kevin Smith began, “We live in an era of abundance. Copyright law for today imposes an artificial scarcity with so many alternatives to take advantage of with alternative destinations.” Outlining alternatives to traditional publishing, Smith highlighted open access initiatives, self-archiving, institutional repositories, and hybrid journals. He noted that faculty resistance to these new areas is not unusual. Faculty’s loyalty to their own disciplines over and above their institutions provided an opportunity to speak with faculty about discipline-specific repositories and other publishing alternatives.

Smith then focused his presentation on funder mandates, i.e., funding sources requiring accessibility to research generated from their funding. He pointed to the examples of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Duke University, and Harvard University, which all require open access to research by faculty. Smith shared real-life scenarios in which open access to research allowed researchers of one discipline to observe previously undetected connections between their own work and that done in other disciplines, resulting in lifesaving solutions.

Smith then contrasted the Creative Commons license with copyright, highlighting the absence of attribution rights under copyright law. He touched on SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics) as a flipped-funding model for publishing. He noted that up-front costs that are associated with some models may be managed by building dollars into the indirect costs of a grant application or paid by university funding. He then shifted to discussing recent legislative activity on copyright, specifically on orphan works. He closed out his presentation by speaking about the advantages of transformative use under copyright law. He encouraged his listeners to speak with faculty about fair use and explore creative uses and assignments that would allow avoiding copyright issues.

—Andrew L. Pearson, Alexander Mack Memorial Library, Bridgewater College

A National Certification Program for Library Support Staff: Is the Profession Ready?

Presenter: Nancy Bolt, American Library Association

In June 2007, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the American Library Association a $407,000 grant to pursue development of a Library Support Staff Certification Program (LSSCP). Nancy Bolt of the American Library Association was on hand to present a wealth of information related to the study and development of this program, to get feedback regarding certification requirements for the program, and to answer questions. She stated that both library support staff and library managers have expressed interest in this certification program, especially since 69 percent of those working in libraries do not hold a master’s degree in library science. This certification will help library support staff develop the skills and knowledge they need to excel in the workplace, and provide library directors with staff who are better trained and more knowledgeable. Bolt said the program is being thoughtfully developed with assistance and advice from library support staff across the United States and with an advisory committee made up of representatives from the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Public Library Association, the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table, and the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, just to name a few. A great deal of work has gone into developing a set of competencies to be used to certify library support staff, a set of assessment methodologies to determine if these competencies have been met, and procedures to implement the program. The projected date for the program to begin is January 2010. Additional information about this project is available at

—Lydia Williams, Greenwood Library, Longwood University

A Photo showing three women holding a Virginia Library Association Foundation check for scholarship.
VLA Foundation President Iza Cieszynski joined Donna Cote to
present the 2008 VLAF Scholarship to Sheri Henry.

Web Sites Should Be Seen AND Heard

Presenters: Bob Bowie, Fairfax County Public Library

Bob Bowie, a member of Fairfax County Public Library’s Internet Services Department, began his presentation by talking about the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended in 1993 and 1998. Focusing on section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, the speaker outlined the federal government’s established requirements for electronic and information technology accessibility. Attendees learned what is now required by the government in the way of offering alternative access to one’s information technology systems so that a user can operate the system in a variety of ways without having to rely on any one single sense or ability. An example shared with the audience highlighted the availability of an audio file’s content, which also would be made available in a text format.

Why should anyone care about electronic and information technology accessibility? Well, to use Bob Bowie’s own words, “In the near future, a generation of computer savvy people will be retired, possibly outliving their eyesight but still with the desire and need to use a computer”( Repeatedly the presenter voiced his belief that just because a person gets old they should not have to give up using a computer and enjoying surfing the World Wide Web.

Peppered throughout the presentation, Bowie shared several engaging personal stories and useful insights. He encouraged those developing web resources to remember to include in the header tag a brief, descriptive blurb that would be informative to the listener when read by a screen reader. Also, include a full paragraph of content in the PTag, so the user would be provided a clear understanding of the resource.

Among the resources shared with attendees were a CSS, XHTML and accessibility resources handout, the URL for an overview of the session, as well as a list of specific web sites: CSS (Beginning CSS @, Accessibility (JAWS:, and (X) HTML (HTML Goodies: http://

For readers who missed a presentation at the Conference, many of the session slides are viewable online at

—Heather Groves Hannan, Mercer Library, George Mason University’s Prince William Campus

Enhancing Team Dynamics for Excellent Frontline Service: A Practical Approach

Presented by Cheryl L. Foreman and Ann Pettingill, Old Dominion University

Staff turnover, including the retirement of a key staff member, as well as a climate of miscommunication within the Circulation Unit, created a working environment that not only affected staff morale but also customer service. Recognizing that the situation presented an excellent opportunity for a series of staff development/training workshops on team-building and customer service, the library’s management team contacted Old Dominion University’s Human Resources (HR) department for assistance. This session, presented by Cheryl Foreman (HR) and Ann Pettingill (library management team), provided an overview of the planning, implementation, and outcomes of the workshop series.

As the HR representative, Cheryl Foreman worked closely with the library’s management team to develop a series of workshops focused on team-building and customer service. Acknowledging that an effective staff development/training program requires a significant investment in planning as well as implementation, the team met frequently to develop objectives and goals for the workshops. Scheduling the workshops for maximum participation was also part of the planning phase. Eight workshops were selected for the year-long program, including Whale Done (based on Ken Blanchard’s book Whale Done: The Power of Positive Relationships); FISH philosophy; Myers-Briggs to help staff understand themselves and others; effective communication skills; and problem-solving.

Assessment was a key component to measuring the success of the workshop series. An assessment tool was administered at the beginning of the series to measure “where we are.” A follow-up assessment at the conclusion of the series measured “where we ended up.” The program has been a success as the Circulation Unit has learned to build on individual and team strengths, redefine failures as opportunities for improvement, and trust one another. The presenters indicated that the workshop series was a success, and the customer service in the unit has improved. Comment cards stating “You have been caught providing excellent service” are available in the unit. Staff members are encouraged to fill them out and give them to colleagues as way to provide immediate recognition of good service.

—Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech

A Photo of the audience at the VLA presentation.
As always VLA presenters enjoyed attentive audiences.

VIVA Annual User’s Group Meeting (Thursday 4:00 PM)

Presenters: Tansy Matthews, Virtual Library of Virginia; and John Ulmschneider, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

Tansy Matthews, VIVA Associate Director, reviewed the current status of VIVA, with a particular focus on funding and collections. Over 90 percent of funds are spent on providing access to materials for institutions across the state. Administrative costs run only about 3 percent because the decentralized structure of VIVA relies heavily on a network of volunteers to get much of the work done. VIVA seeks to limit the impact of budget shortfalls and sustain current collections where possible. Costs rise each year though to due to enrollment growth at member institutions as well contractual obligations for multi-year licenses.

Matthews stressed the value that VIVA provides for every dollar spent thanks to the power of cooperative purchasing and procurement practices. VIVA has also been important in leveling the playing field for institutions that otherwise might not have access to certain resources. Over 112 million searches have been done since 1996. During the same time period over 42 million articles have been downloaded and this figure is growing rapidly, thanks to the addition of more full-text collections over the past few years. The VIVA web site ( was also recently overhauled to better meet the needs of member libraries.

The session was opened up for presentations from participating VIVA vendors including AAAS, Bowker, EBSCO, Gale, IEEE, Nature, Ovid, and ProQuest. Representatives of each company spoke briefly regarding recent changes and product developments at their company. The vendors also provided a variety of small prizes for drawings. Kate Vincent of SOLINET (Southeastern Library Network) then reported on merger talks between SOLINET and PALINET, which represents the Mid-Atlantic region. The boards of directors of both groups have come out in favor of the proposed merger, and it will soon be put before the membership for a vote. If this merger is approved, a new name will need to be chosen for the combined library cooperative.

John Ulmschneider, University Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University, led an engaging presentation entitled “Hand-held tsunami—what does it mean for library services, content, … and VIVA?” This is available for download on the VIVA web site at Ulmschneider noted the rapid growth in the number of smartphone subscribers as well as the emerging demand for both netbook and ultraportable computers. Much of the current paradigm of content delivery still centers around traditional desktop computers, but this approach is often ill-suited for users of mobile devices with small screens. Content for mobile platforms should also take advantage of advances in gesture, touch and voice interfaces to provide a natural and flexible experience for the user. Access and display, rather than content creation, will be the primary focus for most mobile users. Wireless devices will increasingly resemble the desktop experience in terms of video, audio, and text including the capability to display content in its native format. Ulmschneider also noted that the advantages of electrophoretic ink (e-ink) technology, most notably its high resolution and low power consumption, will likely mean that at least for the near-term future e-ink will continue to be used for specialized devices for books. Following the presentation, a vigorous discussion of how VIVA libraries are supporting mobile technology at their respective institutions ensued.

—Edward Lener, Virginia Tech

Pictures showing two women presenting at the conference.
Left: President Donna Cote kept the general session organized and energetic.
Above: Dalia Lithwick inspired listeners with her keynote

Great Customer Service? Using the Bookstore Model to Create Service Model Environments

Presenter: Denelle Wrightson

Denelle Wrightson of PSA-Dewberry noted that people come to libraries to get books, think, interact, reflect, and to experience the space. In the era of Starbucks and plush bookstores, users expect a diverse space with reading areas that range from bright to subdued, and a floor plan that includes space for collaboration and coming together. Wrightson’s tips included varying seating styles to accommodate the needs of all ages, and planning space to control spillage and lead to discovery. Likewise, libraries might reconsider their reputation for allowing no food or drink, talking, or music.

Observing customer habits helps with space planning. A recent study at San Jose public library found that users checked out 5.1 items per visit and that 93% spent less than 30 minutes in the library. Not surprisingly, 38 percent of their patrons could not find what they needed and 50 percent did not ask for help. Traffic flow and hot spots (books, media, computers) were easily identified, and it became clear which areas needed better signage.

Other libraries are being refurbished as retail inspired Idea Stores, a place for lifelong learning that empowers, enriches, and engages those who are looking for the library’s services and materials. Other models of note are Thurmont County, Maryland and Maricopa County, Arizona. Maricopa has a Deweyless bookstore format, power isle, table displays, and uses RFID to locate specific books. This allows for faster shelving, and investigation revealed that 93 percent of customers found what they were looking for.

Other points included using technology such as docking stations and self-checkout to enhance customer service, and allow staff to interact more often with customers. Lower desks are less intimidating, and lower shelving allows for better merchandising. For instance, bookstores often cover all metal and wood with merchandise that is arranged by genre. Barnes and Noble targets the local market by having half of its content aimed at local interest. Windows are used to display merchandise; staff rove; branding is used for shirts, name tags, and interior colors. Takeaways included creating variety in the space, making eye contact, and ensuring a high quality first encounter.

Karen Dillon, Carilion Health System

A photograph of Legislative liaison Phil Abraham.
Legislative liaison Phil Abraham keeps VLA
members in touch with the Commonwealth’s
law makers

Name That Tune: Music Reference for the Nonspecialist

Presenters: Nobue Matsuoka-Motley, American University, and Catherine Dixon, Library of Congress

Nobue Matsuoka-Motley of the American University and Catherine Dixon of the Library of Congress provided a wealth of information to help in answering the most difficult music questions. Dealing with titles in a foreign language, finding one song within a larger work, and dealing with alternate titles were three obstacles they addressed. Matsuoka-Motley began by sharing tips for locating classical music and addressed issues related to its various formats, including full scores, study scores, and vocal scores. Dixon provided information on how to locate popular and international songs as well as printed musical scores and sound recordings. In addition to sharing search strategies they use in locating a specific piece of music, the presenters provided a list of free Internet sites, paid databases, and print resources that can help in answering the basic music question. The presenters provided ideas and information that will make life much easier when library patrons ask the difficult music-related questions.

—Lydia Williams, Greenwood Library, Longwood University

A photograph of the audience.
Fairfax County’s Sam Clay joins George Mason Award honoree Fran Freimark in one of the larger sessions.

Library Renovation 101: 90 Days to Move EVERYTHING and Maintain Library Operations

Presenters: Patty Clark and Meagan Storey, Virginia Wesleyan College

The session began with a slide-show of pictures of the demolition and in-progress renovation of the library at Virginia Wesleyan College. The forty-year-old building that houses the library, which is the heart of the undergraduate campus that serves 1,400 students, was in dire need of a makeover. Patty Clark described a severe mold problem, loose plaster, stained and ripped carpeting, and inadequate study space for students. In 2002, a faculty task force decided the library needed to strengthen its collection and also needed a new face to become the “key to the future” for the college.

In February 2008, change was announced sooner than expected. With demolition of the old library space scheduled to begin in May 2008, library staff had only ninety days to plan and execute packing the library and setting up in temporary space where business would be conducted through the fall 2008 semester. The first decision that needed to be made was where the temporary library would be. Given the option between the campus chapel and social sciences lab, library staff chose the latter.

The second step was communicating library renovation and temporary relocation to faculty, staff, and students. Library staff sent emails and created signs that were frequently updated as demolition and renovation progressed. They also visited faculty and department offices and advertised in the student newspaper.

Packing proved to be a challenging process for both library staff and students. It had to be done while students were studying for final exams, and dismantling the shelving proved to be very noisy. Also, since the budget was very limited, the library had to hire a regular moving company that did not have an understanding of library processes. While library staff created labels and inventory lists for the collection, they are anxious to see how well the books were organized when they are able to unpack boxes in December 2008 or January 2009. Most of the library collection and furnishings are currently in storage.

Meagan Storey discussed some of the challenges library staff faced, in particular with the library collection. They had to determine what to do about books that were returned after the collection had been packed. They also had to make decisions about periodical retention, including whether to discard, retain, or bind each periodical. They had to decide how to process new books and also made the decision to keep taking donations. Finally, planning and purchasing for the spring semester had to be done with particular care and attention.

Storey discussed the layout for the temporary library, which was nicknamed “Library Lite.” The space, which was only sixty by thirty square feet, includes three small study rooms, six small tables, a conference table, and one copier. There was only space for about one-third of the popular video collection and about 700 books.

While quarters were cramped and access to the collection limited, some unexpected advantages came of this temporary relocation. Since most of the collection is in storage, library staff heavily promoted its electronic resource collection, which had not beenwidely used previous to the move. Also, because of closer quarters, library staff has been able to forge closer relationships to students and attract student patrons who had not used the library before, due to the new proximity to the student dorms. Finally, since students complained to the dean about the lack of study space, it has become glaringly obvious how important the library is to the student population.

Storey brought the presentation to a close by discussing lessons learned. Responsibilities were delegated and dispersed among library staff, and necessary information was kept in a shared electronic folder labeled “Renovation.” Storey also touched on things they would have done differently, including involving the students more in the process and looking for additional ways to inform the campus, since the emails and signage were clearly not read by everyone. However, they kept their focus on the students’ needs, remained flexible, and engaged faculty in the process. They look forward to opening the doors to a new library in early 2009.

—Janna Mattson, George Mason University

Photograph of the puppet show. Photograph of the past VLA president Pat Howe.
VLA Past President Pat Howe spends some time with one of the many attractions for children that found their way to the conference.

Providing Freedom for Information Access: Ranganathan’s Five Laws in the 21st Century

Presenter: Jamie Price, Jefferson College of Health Sciences

Jamie Price introduced the audience to S. R. Ranganathan, one of the fathers of modern library science. Ranganathan, who taught mathematics, only became a librarian when the University of Madras created the position of university librarian in 1923. Ranganathan’s published papers made him the only qualified candidate. The “accidental librarian,” as Price dubbed him, went on to study library science in London; he returned to India to become a highly respected and influential voice in the library community. His most enduring contributions are his work in colon classification and his five laws of library science. Price’s presentation examined these, both their original meaning and their importance today.

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

Deceptively simple, these statements have wide-ranging application when it comes to issues such as collection management, the usability of systems, or equal access to libraries. For example, in Ranganathan’s time, it was common for libraries to restrict the use of books to persons of a certain profession or class. Ranganathan’s first and second laws were his way of advocating for public libraries, accessible to everyone and supported by state funds. His passion for classification shaped law four, his argument that the reader’s time would be saved by the systems that made it easier to access library collections. Finally, law five reminded statelibrarians to be flexible and responsive to change.

Today these laws are taught to library school students, and updated versions have been put forth by theorists such as Michael Gorman (1995). The reason for this is simple: Ranganathan addressed issues that remain vitally important. When new technology enables us to restrict information to certain users, we should still be talking about free and equal access. When more books are published and more websites created than ever before, we should still discuss selecting materials in all formats, for use by all the various people that we serve — and we should talk about how new technologies such as metasearch can save them time. And when our collections, our systems, and our users’ expectations are changing ever more rapidly, what better time to talk about being flexible and responsive? Jamie Price’s history lesson reminds us of this: while not everyone remembers the five laws of library science, the principles they teach are very relevant today.

—Maryke Barber, Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University

Photographs of a women sitting in between two men in Nationals bobble head costume.
Morel Frye seems right at home with two of our presidential guests.

Library Instruction Assessment: Balancing the Forest and the Trees

Presenters: Gail Flatness, Mary-mount University and Ellen Smith, Marymount University

The presenters jointly related their experiences with library instruction and assessment at Marymount University. Located in Arlington, Marymount University is a comprehensive, co-educational liberal arts university founded in 1950. Total enrollment is just over 3,500 students, with about two-thirds of this total at the undergraduate level.

Library instruction for undergraduates is targeted in three distinct stages, the English composition course, the first writing class within the major, and senior seminar or capstone classes. Librarians use a common set of materials for teaching the EN101 and EN102 English composition courses, while the other writing classes are subject specific.

Librarians at Marymount University have been doing some form of instructional assessment for at least the past fifteen years. Since the year 2000 though there has been an increased emphasis on assessment including both librarian evaluation and program evaluation. Tools for evaluating instruction have evolved from a few simple questions with a Likert scale to a more user-friendly instrument that also includes several open questions. The format and timing of assessment has changed, going from print to online-only and back to print while also changing from an end-of-semester timing to an end-of-session approach. The presenters noted that the changes from year to year make long-term comparison difficult. They also stressed the importance of good labeling and record keeping practices to allow the data collected to be used most effectively.

Over the past few years assessment at Marymount University has received much greater emphasis, including the hiring of a university assessment officer. Librarians there have faculty status, and they have played an integral role at the university level in the process of setting goals and learning outcomes that reflect ACRL guidelines. The Liberal Arts Committee has also developed and refined rubrics to assess information literacy performance based in part on a review of student papers.

—Edward Lener, Virginia Tech

A photo three friends at the conference table with small american flags.
This year’s Conference Social was both patriotic and lighthearted.

Second General Session

VLA President Donna Cote opened the session by introducing James Kennedy, who welcomed us back to Williamsburg on behalf of the James City County Board of Supervisors. Alluding to our conference theme, Kennedy recognized the contributions of libraries to the American model of democracy.

Cote then opened the annual business meeting. After the minutes from last year were approved, she reviewed some highlights of a very eventful 2008 for VLA. A survey measured members’ service needs, a new server for the VLA website went into operation, online voting for VLA officers was initiated, the VLA Newsletter became an online-only publication, a new archive was begun, and the association linked its leadership academy to the ALA Emerging Leaders program. This was also a year of emphasis on advocacy, and the organization as a whole finished 2008 in very good shape.

Past President Pat Howe reported for the Nominations Committee, thanking both the other committee members and the candidates. She noted with pleasure that this year’s move to online voting increased participation over previous elections, and announced the new officers chosen for 2009: John Moorman, president-elect; Connie Gilman, secretary; and Jessica Schwab, ALA councilor.

Bette Dillehay then reported for the Legislative Committee that the seventeen-member group would strive to coordinate VLA’s legislative initiatives, relying on Voter-Voice software to facilitate direct communication with legislators. The committee is relying on Fran Freimarck to lead the “grasstops” identification of champions in the legislature and Janis Augustine to lead the grassroots appeal by librarians and citizens. Donna Cote has designed and published a card summarizing the legislative agenda, which emphasizes sustained support for existing programs. After announcing that the committee will start planning the 2010 campaign in April, Dillehay closed with a call for members to participate in Legislative Day in January.

Scholarship Committee Chair Sandra Shell presented the Clara Stanley Scholarship to Susan Paddock of Virginia Beach Public Library and VLA scholarships to Carol Jones of Rockbridge Regional Library and Shari Henry of Chesterfield County Public Library. Henry’s scholarship was funded by the VLA Foundation, which plans to award an additional scholarship again in 2009. Shell thanked the donors of the twenty-nine baskets contributed for this conference, which generated $1,925 towards the scholarships.

Lisa Lee Broughman then took to present the VLA of the Library Award to the of the Virginia Beach Public Library and the George Mason Award to Fran Freimarck, director of the Pamunkey Regional Library. As she accepted the award, Freimarck thanked her library staff and recognized the role of VLA in her professional development.

Matt Todd then introduced historian Woody Holton as the keynote speaker, praising Holton’s books for their wealth of facts on the early history of the United States. In line with our conference theme, Holton discussed the concern our founding fathers felt to create a balance between outright democracy, which they feared as a form of tyranny of the masses, and rule by the wealthy, educated class. He also discussed the economic situation that led to the creation of a republic that was ideal for the success of capitalists, but held opportunities for individuals to move up in class. Holton carefully discussed taxation, the power of farm owners, and the role of speculators in the early years of our republic, weaving in stories of individual success and failure to add a human dimension to the flow of history.

ary and the George Mason to Fran Freimarck, director Pamunkey Regional Library. accepted the award, Freithanked her library staff

After Holton’s talk, Cote again thanked Morel Frye and the Conference Committee and passed the gavel to 2009 President Robin Benke. Benke presented Cote with a plaque honoring her service to the association and announced the dates for the 2009 VLA Annual Conference, October 29 and 30.

—Cy Dillon, Ferrum College

A photo of the speakers at the conference.
Our 2008 speakers were engaging, whether the session was large or small.

HarperCollins Publishers Presents “Book Buzz”

Presenter: Bobby Brinson, HarperCollins Publishers

Even before the session began, HarperCollins representative Bobby Brinson had captured the hearts of all those who filled the room. As book-lovers entered, Brinson was busy opening boxes filled with new books and inviting everyone to help themselves. Although this was a very hard act to follow, Brinson was successful in holding everyone’s attention as he presented a session filled with information about what Harper-Collins will offer its customers in the upcoming season. Some new offerings include assistance in setting up author-related events, an improved website that allows for better browsing capabilities, and blogs for those who wish to chat with others about books they have read. The site will offer many opportunities to learn more about the authors and interact with them. Brinson went on to mention forthcoming titles that will be released in the upcoming months, and the list included something for everyone. Whether your library patrons prefer reading fiction or nonfiction, romance or thrillers, biographies or self-help books, there will soon be something new available to satisfy the interests and needs of each and every one of them. Brinson encouraged the group to visit the HarperCollins website to learn more about what the publisher has to offer its customers.

—Lydia C. Williams, Greenwood Library at Longwood University

Learn and Grow with Web 2.0

Presenters: Sherida D. Bradby, Steven D. Hartung, and Carolyn G. Garner, Pamunkey Regional Library

In 2007, Pamunkey Regional Library used an adaptation of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public libraries’ popular “23 Things” program. Carolyn Bradby, Steven Hartung, and Carolyn Garner discussed the ins and outs of this staff development effort, which helped library staff become more familiar with—and excited about—Web 2.0 technologies.

PRL made some changes to suit their organization. Twenty-three things were reduced to twenty to fit an October–March schedule; MySpace and Second Life were added. Instead of using all self-paced learning, some activities were team-based to help along those staff members who had low technology skills. Extra planning was necessary to involve the large number of PRL staff who are part-time; additional training and mentoring time had to be scheduled to ensure their ability to participate.

Anchored by a blog, PRL’s program was personalized with locally created video tutorials and activities geared toward staff interests. Participants created their own blogs, posted photographs on Flickr, used image generators, created podcasts, and explored YouTube. The program worked best when managers held monthly meetings to discuss the program and staff collaborated on completing exercises. It was not without challenges: difficult topics required the scheduling of additional training time, and Second Life posed problems for smaller libraries on limited bandwidth.

But overall, the program was a bona fide success: 111 employees began and 92 completed the program, well over the expected 50 percent participation rate. All who finished received an MP3 player, and one lucky name was drawn for a laptop prize. More important, staff are more aware of emerging technologies and are better able to assist patrons who use them.

It doesn’t end there: for 2008– 09, a new program titled “Beyond 20 Things” had each branch and department of PRL developing a project using one or more Web 2.0 technologies. Once proposals were accepted by the administration, teams worked independently to create applications that in time might benefit their branch, department, or even the whole library system. A full staff meeting was held to showcase the results, which include YouTube videos to highlight unique collections, a county-specific search engine created using Rollyo, and subject-specific mini-catalogs on LibraryThing.

PRL’s “20 Things” earned them the 2008 Virginia Library Directors’ Award for Outstanding Staff Development. You can see some of the results on MySpace, Flickr, You-Tube, Blogspot, and

—Maryke Barber, Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University

The Library of Virginia and the League of Women Voters of Virginia: The Evolution of a New Program to Empower the Commonwealth’s Citizens on General Assembly Information

Presenters: Suzy Szasz Palmer, Library of Virginia, and Olga Hernandez, president, League of Women Voters of Virginia

Recognizing that most of the commonwealth’s citizens are not aware of the wealth of information available on the General Assembly’s website and within the Legislative Information System (LIS), the Library of Virginia and the League of Women Voters of Virginia are partnering to develop a training program for librarians.

The program, an outcome of an op-ed piece by Olga Hernandez, fits within the missions of both the Library of Virginia and the league. In “Why Does the GA Partially Shield the Sunlight?” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 16, 2008, E1), Hernandez points out the importance of these resources not only to an informed citizenry but also as a teaching tool for high school government classes.

As originally envisioned, the program would provide training for staff members from each public library in the commonwealth, with librarians from the Library of Virginia traveling throughout the state. Given constraints in the budget, the Library of Virginia will now offer an initial training session in Richmond in partnership with the assistant clerk of the senate and the librarian for the senate. A private tour of the capitol as well as guest speakers and a simulation in the Senate Chamber of a bill moving through the legislative process will be part of the program. A hands-on session, “Uncovering the General Assembly Website to Better Engage Your Library Patrons,” will be part of the day-long program. This session will be held in late March or early April (date to be posted in the VLA Newsletter).

The Library of Virginia is currently investigating alternative ways to offer the training, including regional workshops and revising the website to include educational materials and lesson plans. The library is also attempting to “get the word out” about the program with informational sessions at the VLA Annual Conference, Virginia Special Libraries Association meetings, and other venues. When the state budget improves, the Library of Virginia will reinvestigate taking the training program “on the road.”

—Caryl Gray, Virginia Tech, and Suzy Palmer, Library of Virginia

A photo of Donna Cote and Robin Benke.
Donna Cote passes the VLA gavel to 2009 President Robin Benke.

The Many Faces of Fantasy Fiction

Presenter: Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Library

Williamsburg Regional Library has developed a well-deserved reputation for excellent readers’ advisory, especially in genre fiction, and no self-respecting library conference is complete without an entertaining and informative presentation by one of their experts. This year’s entry was no exception. Presenter Neil Hollands, author of Read On … Fantasy Fiction (Greenwood Press, 2007), identified sixteen of the most common strains of fantasy fiction and classified the appeal factors that librarians can use in directing patrons to books they will like, or, as Neil puts it in his comprehensive handout (available through the VLA website,, “You might NOT like this IF.” While most of us may have trouble making a distinction between fantastic romance and romantic fantasy, or paranormal adventure and dark fantasy, Hollands gave clear descriptions and completed each entry with an extensive list of authors and works. His crash course in this diverse genre was an enjoyable presentation giving valuable information that could be put to use immediately as soon as the audience returned to their libraries.

—Ruth Arnold, Staunton Public Library

A photo of the VLA members with the Jefferson Cup winner Carole Boston Weatherford.
Carole Boston Weatherford (fourth from left) is joined by VLA members who selected her the 2008 Jefferson Cup winner.

Developing a Preservation Program for UVA Library

Presenter: Leigh Rockey, University of Virginia

Leigh Rockey presented this informative program on the development of a world-class preservation program taking place at UVA. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of Virginia will build a conservation lab and develop a program for the treatment of general and special collections materials. Rockey stated that this program will support the teaching and research programs of the University of Virginia by facilitating and preserving access to the collections of the University of Virginia Library. Units within Preservation Services will include Library Binding and Shelf Preparation, Audio and Moving Image Preservation, and Conservation. Preservation Services will partner with units throughout the library to give advice on preservation issues, participate in special projects, and educate via preservation programming. Rockey talked about conservation/preservation issues in regard to both print and nonprint materials, sharing information on in-house projects and discussing steps being taken to care for and preserve items in the UVA collections. She offered some helpful advice that all librarians should consider as they make plans to care for and preserve enduring collections. Becoming more knowledgeable about preservation of materials, developing a disaster plan, and being prepared to handle any type of emergency that could threaten materials and collections were at the top of the list.

This session not only reported on the development of the preservation program at UVA, but it also provided ideas and information that would be helpful in caring for materials in any library collection.

—Lydia C. Williams, Greenwood Library at Longwood University VL

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