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Current editors:
Beth DeFrancis defrancb@georgetown.edu, Editor
John Connolly jpconnolly@crimson.ua.edu, Assistant Editor

July/August/September 2013
Volume 59, Number 3

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VLA Paraprofessional Forum 2013 Conference Report

Libraries: Gateway to the Future
May 19–21, 2013
Richmond, Virginia

Libraries: Gateway to the Future was the theme for the 21st annual Virginia Library Association (VLA) Paraprofessional Forum Conference held May 19–21 at the Holiday Inn Select/Koger South Conference Center in suburban Richmond. Deloris Thomas of the College of William and Mary and Lydia Williams of Longwood University co-chaired this year’s event, which hosted 182 attendees (including 65 first-time participants). With three special speakers, thirty concurrent sessions, four roundtables, and the Monday evening social, the conference offered many opportunities for networking and professional development.

Sunday’s Dessert Social Featuring Virginia Author Marc Leepson

The Sunday evening event allowed everyone a chance to hear a great writer talk about his newest publication, as well as the opportunity to network with Virginia library colleagues over coffee and dessert. The guest author Marc Leepson is a journalist, historian, and the author of seven books, including Flag: An American Biography, the history of the Stars and Stripes from the beginnings to today; Saving Monticello: The Levy Family’s Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built; and Desperate Engagement, the story of the Civil War Battle of Monocacy and Confederate General Jubal Early’s subsequent march on Washington. However, his most recent publication, Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General, was the focus of this talk.

Leepson’s Lafayette is a concise biography that explores the life of Marquis de Lafayette, a unique Frenchman who fell in love with America, became friends with our country’s founding fathers (including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), and who was so dedicated to the American cause that he won the hearts of the American people. The Frenchman’s life was full of adventure, which helps make this biography so exciting to read. The book is also educational, since Lafayette’s life was so intertwined with American history.

Leepson is an engaging speaker who knows how to take an audience back in time. As he shared highlights from his book, he brought the life and times of Marquis de Lafayette to life. Following the presentation, many attendees stood in line while the author graciously signed books. Overall, the evening was an enjoyable one, and the perfect way to kick off the conference.

Virginia author Marc Leepson was the featured speaker for the Sunday evening event. VLAPF Co-chair Deloris Thompson welcomed everyone to the conference.
Left, Virginia author Marc Leepson was the featured speaker for the Sunday evening event.
Right, VLAPF Co-chair Deloris Thompson welcomed everyone to the conference.

Monday’s Opening Session

VLAPF Co-Chair Deloris Thomas welcomed conference attendees and provided opening remarks during the Monday general session. Thomas encouraged everyone to participate in the discussion on the VLAPF Facebook page regarding a name change for the Forum (which would address concerns about the use of the word “paraprofessional”) and to share any new name suggestions with the group. Vice President/VLA President-Elect Kevin Smith further welcomed the group on behalf of VLA, sharing his view that all who work in libraries and serve customers are professionals and that he would be supportive of a name change for the Forum.

He thanked everyone for attending the conference and offered best wishes to all for a productive conference experience.

Thomas then introduced the keynote speaker, Gardner Campbell, Director of Professional Development and Innovative Initiatives at Virginia Tech. He is also an Associate Professor of English in the Department of English. Currently he is serving on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) and on the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Information Fluency and Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.

Campbell’s message was “Transdisciplinary Research and the Adjacent Possible,” and as the title suggests, the presentation was thought provoking (and actually less complicated than it sounds). Campbell began by explaining that his message contained a story shared by many, although it came about as a result of his own history and life experiences. Before going into more detail, however, he noted that creative and agile minds are needed as we move into the future.

Drawing on personal encounters and past experiences, Campbell shared many of the twists and turns related to his own educational development. He began by explaining that he was born in the “Internet Geophysical Year of 1957–58” which was a time when the world was beginning to experience big changes. It was a time when the world was coming together, nuclear issues were ticking on, and college enrollments were booming, he explained.

Campbell shared that as a very young boy he wanted to be a scientist, so his mother provided him with the 1969 yearbook published by World Book Encyclopedia titled Science Year, which further spiked his interest in science. He was then given an electronic project kit, which allowed him to experiment and learn about lasers and holograms. Later he received a transistor radio, which was the newest thing back when he was a boy. With all these gifts, he became immersed in the world of science. He then received a Cyclo-teacher, which was the precursor to the Internet and Google and was a great hands-on learning tool (in fact, he even learned to play chess using the Cyclo-teacher). He then developed an interest in how brains work and did some research on this topic in libraries. At the age of 12, he wrote to the American Psychological Association, and they responded, but with an answer he did not understand.

By the time Campbell entered college, he had developed an interest in psychology; however, it was the English professor he had during his first year in college that really changed his life. This professor helped Campbell understand that the path he was pursuing was not the right one for him. With encouragement, the young Campbell then began to explore the world of literature. He read poetry and fell in love with Dickens and Whitman; then he began to read Flanney O’Connor and, later, William Faulkner. However, he continued to explore other interests and took a film course. Then, after being a disc jockey for a while, he moved on to pursue computer animation. Since he had been told to specialize, he was trying to find himself. However, finally he realized that the many things he had been pursuing were not in opposition to one another. In fact, the popular advice that “it is best to follow a straight path” was actually counterproductive.

Co-chairs Deloris Thomas and Lydia Williams discussed the morning’s events.
Co-chairs Deloris Thomas and Lydia Williams discussed the morning’s events.

Campbell now advises students to pursue a variety of interests. When he counseled students at Mary Washington, many of them didn’t know what they wanted to study. He assured each of them they were okay and that their brain was working correctly. Following a straight path is not normal; we need to experiment to find our path. The brain works best when stimulated by a variety of interests.

Campbell then shared what he has learned during his research on this topic. He referred to Paul Silva’s book, Exploring the Psychology of Interest, in which Silva states that “one’s interests are fed by novelty, uncertainty, complexity, and conflict.” Campbell then shared Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman’s lecture titled Magnets, in which he asks “how can you answer why something happens?” Campbell said that the more complex a problem becomes, the more interesting it becomes (although it often does become messy). Campbell went on to quote science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon who said, “Nothing is always absolutely so.” Sturgeon is also known for his strong support of critical thinking and challenging all normative assumptions. His credo, represented by the symbol of a Q with an arrow through it, is “Ask the next question.”

Campbell provided attendees with titles of several books that address the complexity of the mind and its development. They include From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet by John Naughton, which states that “complexity is the new reality; it is non-linear, unpredictable, and has a butterfly effect.” Another title, Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Berlin Johnson, addresses the adjacent possible and defines it as a kind of shadow future. He writes that it is a concept which enables the thinker to develop uncharted insights into unexplored areas. A quote from Johnson’s book states that “Chance favors the connected mind.”

Campbell’s address emphasized the importance of being a life-long learner. He closed by saying that “If we are in between interests and interesting, we may be ready for the future.”

VLA Vice President/President Elect Kevin Smith welcomed conference attendees. Gardner Campbell delivered Monday’s keynote address.
Left, VLA Vice President/President Elect Kevin Smith welcomed conference attendees.
Right, Gardner Campbell delivered Monday’s keynote address.

Tuesday’s Closing Events

Tuesday’s closing session included a speaker, a buffet luncheon, the presentation of awards, and the drawing for the scholarship raffle prizes. The buffet luncheon was followed by a delightful presentation given by storyteller Dylan Pritchett. Using an interactive approach, he had everyone involved in active listening, participating, and helping out with his stories. The audience was totally engaged as they chanted refrains and made music with simple instruments. They became emotionally involved as the stories made them laugh and shed some tears. The story of Pritchett as a young boy spending time with his grandma in Danville, Virginia, was one that held the audience spellbound. Although impossible to sum up in a simple sentence or two, it was a story that illustrated how a storyteller can bring a family’s history along with the culture of an era back to life and keep it alive for future generations to share.

In addition to entertaining the audience with stories, Pritchett shared some tips to help those who wish to use the art of storytelling to keep their family history alive. He said that engaging your audience in listening is as important as telling the story, so you must involve your audience in a fun way that holds their attention. He said to use the same words or phrases during the telling of a story, so the listeners can repeat them during the story. He said that storytelling is a gift that we can give a child to help them as they grow and develop. Stories are a great way to preserve the culture of an era and a family’s history. Dylan Pritchett worked his storytelling magic, placing everyone in the room under his spell. It was the perfect way to close out the conference.

Dylan Pritchett entertained attendees with his stories and playing a drum. Below, he brought together a group of volunteers to close out his presentation with a musical selection.
Top, Dylan Pritchett entertained attendees with his stories during the Tuesday closing event.
Above, he brought together a group of volunteers to close out his presentation with a musical selection.

Co-chair Deloris Thomas thanked Mr. Pritchett for sharing his stories with the group and then presented him with a gift from the VLAPF Board. The session continued with the introduction of incoming Co-chairs Therese Walters and Marion Eaton of Virginia Tech. Therese Walters then took the podium and, as her first duty, she presented outgoing Co-chairs Deloris Thomas and Lydia Williams with gifts from the Board. The session proceeded with the presentation of awards. The Paraprofessional of the Year Award was awarded to Marion Eaton, who has faithfully served on the VLAPF Board since 2000, taking on an active role in fund-raising for the VLAPF Clara Scholarship Award and becoming involved in every aspect of the conference-planning process. Susan Keller, Director of the Culpeper Public Library, received this year’s VLAPF Supporter of Paraprofessionals Award. The staff members who nominated Ms. Keller wrote that she is always willing to offer staff her support and praise and encourages staff to take advantage of opportunities for professional development.

Therese Walters presented the VLAPF Outstanding Paraprofessional of the Year award to Marion Eaton.
Therese Walters presented the VLAPF Outstanding Paraprofessional of the Year award to Marion Eaton.

The last event of the conference was the much anticipated scholarship raffle, which earned $1,978 for the Scholarship Fund sponsored by the Forum. The raffle itself provided entertainment as Dylan Pritchett joined Therese Walters at the podium to pull the winning tickets. Members of the VLAPF Executive Board generously donated 21 themed baskets, an organizer purse, tickets for the lottery tree, and a framed painting. A special handmade quilt was donated by a friend and supporter of the scholarship. The Moss Society donated a beautiful print for the raffle, which was framed by Chris Mason, owner of Christopher’s Fine Arts and Framing in Farmville. This was another successful raffle made possible by the generosity of both those who donated raffle prizes and all those who purchased raffle tickets.

The theme for the 2014 Conference is Social Impact of Libraries: Ever Changing Roles, Spaces, Electronic Access and Reference. Although the upcoming conference will be held in the same location, the hotel name recently changed from the Holiday Inn Select to the Doubletree by Hilton, Richmond-Midlothian. Mark your calendars for May 18–20, 2014, and make plans to attend the 22nd annual conference.

— Reports for the opening and closing sessions, special speakers, and Sunday social were provided by Lydia Williams, Greenwood Library, Longwood University.

Session Reports

MONDAY, MAY 20

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Transformational Leadership — You Can Make a Difference

Presenter: Myles Miller, LeadUP

Myles Miller kept the crowd energized during this insightful session. Even though people have different types of leadership responsibilities, “everyone is a leader in their own life,” he explained. Leadership involves creating and inspiring a vision for the future, motivating and inspiring people, managing delivery of that vision, and coaching and building a team to achieve the vision. A great manager gets the day-to-day tasks accomplished. A great leader is a good visionary who motivates people to do things they normally wouldn’t do. A coach inspires and motivates other people to develop themselves by leveraging their strengths and improving upon their weaknesses. Today, with multi-generations working together, Miller went on to explain that you must be a manager, a leader, and a coach to make a difference in your workplace. The best leader often has a blend of the different leadership styles. By creating a vision, the leader provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker so that you can tell you achieved what you set out to do. As Dwight Eisenhower stated, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

— Kathy Clevenger, Culpeper Public Library

Scholarship raffle prize winners gathered for a photograph.
Scholarship raffle prize winners gathered for a photograph.

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

The Paraprofessional as Professional: Professional Development Matters

Presenter: Craig Amos, Thomas Nelson Community College

While Craig Amos admits to being a professional librarian, he feels that all library staff are professionals and that without support staff, libraries would be unable to exist. What are the challenges that library professionals continue to face? After polling participants, Amos divided the ongoing challenges into categories such as new technology (like Microsoft’s Office 365, which will be launched this year), new responsibilities, changing budgets, and changing service models. To help meet these challenges, Amos encourages all library staff to participate in their own professional development. Not only is this essential for the survival of libraries, but also for our own personal growth. Personal returns include meeting colleagues with common interests, discovering opportunities to collaborate, and accessing timely information. Professional returns include formal training to meet changing service needs, increased productivity, improved time management, improved resumes, and improved service provided to end users.

In addition to discussing the many benefits of professional development, Amos provided suggestions on how to take advantage of professional development opportunities ranging from joining a professional listserv to attending or presenting at a conference. The session ended with an engaging question and answer session.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia


10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

A Balanced Perspective: Identifying Hot Buttons and Interpreting Opinions

Presenters: Heather Groves Hannan, Janna Mattson, and Ian Reynolds, George Mason University

Heather Groves Hannan and Janna Mattson, of the George Mason University Mercer Library, and Ian Reynolds, of the George Mason University Human Resources Department, provided professional insight on how to effectively handle difficult situations in a library setting. They reminded participants that interpersonal communication is not solely verbal. Although it’s important to monitor your voice volume and tone, it’s also important to remain conscious of your nonverbal behaviors when engaged in critical conversations. Common conflict-handling styles and strategies, such as avoiding and/or withdrawing, fighting and/or competing, accommodating and/or smoothing, and problem- solving and/or collaborating, were all discussed, compared, and applied to hypothetical situations. The presenters asked their audience to help evaluate each conflict style and to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

— Everett Seamans, George Mason University

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Training Student Workers with Class

Presenters: Bethany Young and Johnnie Gray, Christopher Newport College

Bethany Young and Johnnie Gray presented on the use of modern, digital technologies to train student workers for their roles in the academic library. Technologies mentioned included course management systems, LibGuides, listservs, and various Google applications. Suggested ways to use these technologies included (1) linking to policies, library hours, frequently asked questions, and circulation manuals; (2) testing library information and student responsibilities with brief quizzes; and (3) embedding applications (like Google Calendars, Google Forms or YouTube videos) into Lib- Guides and course management systems for scheduling, training, and reporting situations to fulltime staff. The use of these tools helped to standardize training for the student workers at the Trible Library at Christopher Newport College, and also helped ensure that students would continue to learn and reinforce their knowledge throughout the semester.

— Sara Reynolds, Longwood University


1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Public Library Services to the LGBT Community

Presenter: Otis D. Alexander, Saint Paul’s College

This presentation of services to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community started with participation exercises focusing on difficulties with communication and understanding where different people are coming from. The presentation covered the history of public libraries as well as the history of the LGBT movement in this country. The presenter pointed out that members of this group tend to be community-minded high achievers and thus likely library users. He urged library workers to set aside any personal prejudices and preconceptions. He also provided a list of groups libraries could partner with to serve this community. There was a lot of group participation in discussing our own libraries’ outreach (or lack of same) and participants filled out questionnaires about programs they have or would like to see offered in their libraries.

— Ray Mullins, Washington County Public Library

Left and opposite page, the social brought together friends and new acquaintances for an evening filled with fun.Those attending the social gathered for a group picture.
Top, the social brought together friends and new acquaintances for an evening filled with fun.
Above, Those attending the social gathered for a group picture.

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Put Teens in Charge!

Presenter: Laini Bostian

With all of her current job accomplishments at the Culpeper County Library, Laini Bostian had much to share with her session participants. She explained that working with teens is unique, and to provide programs of interest to this group, it really helps to understand their critical needs and current stage of development. Bostian recommends reviewing the Search Institute Assets for Healthy Growth of Adolescents, as it is a great resource for information. Also, many grants are available for funding of teen programs, and many of these grants are through foundations for prevention of teen issues, such as suicide prevention. One of the primary tasks as a leader for teens is to make sure the teens are there for the right reason. Brainstorming with teens will help program facilitators to see what their needs are and where training or skill building might be helpful. Also, an easy survey will allow for anonymous input from your teens. Networking with other teen leaders and youth services coordinators also promotes teen programs and saves valuable time in planning and executing programs.

— Kathy Clevenger, Culpeper Public Library


2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

Educational Opportunities in Library Science

Presenters: Dr. Marilyn Harhai and Dr. Janice Krueger, Clarion University

The session presenters, Marilyn Harhai and Janice Krueger, were very well versed in all aspects of continuing educational opportunities in the field of Library Science. They covered a variety of options, beginning with the Library Support Staff Certification Program offered by the American Library Association. This program is for individuals who have worked in a library setting but do not have their degree or who have a degree but do not wish to pursue their MLS. Although there is an initial registration fee, future costs are dependent upon each individual. If you wish to submit portfolios to show your competencies, there is no cost. If taking courses to prove competencies, the cost of the course is dependent on the course provider.

The presenters also spoke about Clarion University’s Bachelors Program in Liberal Studies, with twelve credits in a Library Science concentration and twelve credits in Library Science electives. Clarion also offers an online program leading to a Masters in Library Science, which is an option through other colleges and universities as well. As both presenters stated, “We are not here to promote any one course of action over another. When ready, pick the program that fits your goals and vision for your future.”

— Kathy Clevenger, Culpeper Public Library

This group of panelists discussed common miscommunications between front-line staff and tech support staff and ways to overcome them.
This group of panelists discussed common miscommunications between front-line staff and tech support staff and ways to overcome them.

2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

The Reality of the Virtual: Adding E-materials to Your Catalog without Losing Your Mind

Presenters: Laura Morales and Jeanette Navia, Williamsburg Regional Library

The presenters, Laura Morales and Jeanette Navia, shared helpful information on how to deal with getting e-materials into library catalogs as correctly as possible with the least amount of stress and confusion. With all the exasperating vendor, format, and platform aspects of e-content to contend with, it’s very easy to get to a point of just wanting to throw your hands in the air and give up! But the presenters shared their experiences to help others avoid the many pitfalls associated with editing records for e-materials. Session attendees left with a clearer picture of how they should approach their own “e-problems.”

— Kim Blaylock, Washington County Public Library


2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

Cyber Security: Protecting Your Personal Data

Presenters: Amy Brener and Sarah Morehouse, George Mason University

In light of the security leaks that occurred just weeks after the VLAPF’s conference, those who attended Amy Brener and Sarah Morehouse’s session on protecting your personal online data probably felt prescient as this session provided participants with myriad options for protecting their data. Amy Brener presented tips and techniques for securing your own personal computer. Many of her tips are standard procedures for business computers but are often ignored when people use their home computers. For example, you should consider having your home computer password protected and setting a specific time for a screensaver to automatically require a password to reopen the screen. That could go a long way towards preventing unsupervised use of the family computer by children. Brenner also discussed ways to create strong and unique passwords. She suggested that license plates could be considered a good source for inspiration and demonstrated how they could be used as a password template. Other areas she discussed included critical updates, anti-virus software, backing up files, email, computer disposal, social media, and the use of SSL or https to help protect online transactions.

Brenner’s discussion of social media was a perfect segue to Sarah Morehouse’s illuminating and in depth discussion of cyber security and social networking. After providing the group with a definition of social networking, Morehouse listed several of the major social networking sites before focusing on the privacy issues surrounding Facebook. There are 950 million Facebook users and 13 million of those users did not know about or did not set any of the Facebook’s privacy settings. Morehouse indicated that this should concern every Facebook user because even if you have restricted your information to be seen by friends only, a friend who is using a Facebook app could allow your data to be transferred to a third-party without your knowledge. Morehouse then showed how to access Facebook’s and Twitter’s privacy settings and discussed what settings you should be using and not using. For example, you should not allow everyone to see your information, i.e., friends of friends. She closed her portion of the session with a list of tips for safely using social networking along with several URLs that can provide information and assistance in maintaining a secure computing environment. Before taking questions, and there were many, Morehouse and Brenner reminded everyone to THINK BEFORE YOU POST.

Morehouse and Brener also provided three Smart Card handouts which outlined security information for Google+ ( http://www.vla.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Google+-SmartCard.pdf, Linked-In ( http://www.vla.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/LinkedIn-SmartCard.pdf), and Twitter ( http://www.vla.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Twitter-SmartCard.pdf.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia

Fred Dingledy presented on the basics of copyright.Below, Craig Amos spoke on professional development and why it matters.
Top, Fred Dingledy presented on the basics of copyright.
Above, Craig Amos spoke on professional development and why it matters.

2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

“What Can You Do with a Book?” Picture Books as Interactive Technology

Presenter: Alice Campbell, Virginia Tech

Presenter Alice Campbell used an analogy to compare past technology with today’s technology, illustrating how the two are not so different in theory. Using pictures as examples, she showed how authors have been trying to portray moving objects since the beginning of time. Children today view a print magazine or a book as an iPad or eBook that doesn’t work right. They touch the book as though they expect the objects to move.

Campbell’s history of children’s books was full of humor, but also very insightful. Next, she shared information about gesture-based technology, where children learn with their hands. Mirror neurons were described as the key to inventing new books of the future. This session provided a look at picture books as an interactive platform for narrative, play, and information, and ways to enhance that interactivity with tech-savvy children.

— Therese Walters, Virginia Tech

Connie Gilman shared basic steps to running effective and efficient meetings.
Connie Gilman shared basic steps to running effective and efficient meetings.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Preventing Chaos: Project Management for Library Staff

Presenter: Amy Brener, George Mason University

Among the many hats that Amy Brener wears, one is “certified project management professional.” During this session, Brener used her expertise to explain the basics of library project management and the pitfalls to avoid. First, she defined what a “project” is, using a library project as an illustration. She also defined “project management” and discussed what project managers and project teams do. After enumerating the common challenges faced when conducting a project, she used three scenarios to demonstrate the practical issues involved in bringing a project to completion. The major key to any successful project is communication. As Brener said, people don’t like surprises.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia

Otis Alexander presented on public library services to the LBGT community.Amy Brener provided information on project management.
Left, Amy Brener provided information on project management.
Right, Otis Alexander presented on public library services to the LBGT community.

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

CPR Compressions

Presenter: Ralph Price, Emergency Medical Tech

Ralph Price, an emergency medical technician (EMT) with 20+ years of experience, gave an informative presentation on the procedures required to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) compressions. During the session, Price had each attendee practice performing the compressions on a dummy. The hands-on exercise allowed participants an opportunity to experience what it actually feels like to perform CPR. Price also gave an extensive overview of the use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED). This session was filled with excellent information that you hope you will never need, but could result in helping to save a life!

— Ona Turner Dowdy, Lynchburg Public Library


TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2013

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

eProgramming for Teens

Presenter: Michelle Chrzanowski, Newport News Public Library System

Presenter Michelle Chrzanowski discussed many of the websites currently used by teens. These include Facebook, Tumblr, You Tube, Pinterest, Flickr, and podcasts, although there are others such as Edmodo (a space that can be used to create your own social network) and Figment (Write Yourself In), which is a great site for teen writers. Whatever site you choose, you will need staff buy-in as well as staff and time to work the site. It’s important to update the site frequently and to create “visuals” to keep the teens interested in the site. Seventy-four percent of Internet access by teens is on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. If we don’t reach out to teens in this area, we may lose out on a large part of our patron population.

— Kathy Clevenger, Culpeper Public Library


8:30 – 9:30 a.m.

Authority Control: Why Is It Important?

Presenter: Tricia Mackenzie, George Mason University

Presenter Tricia Mackenzie gave attendees a brief overview of “authority records,” explaining what they are, what types of information they contain, and why it is so important to have these records and keep them maintained. She also shared information about how these records are updated, going by a standardized set of rules that should be used by everyone involved in the maintenance process. Mackenzie stressed how essential these records are in helping library patrons find exactly what they are looking for, and how Resource Description and Access (RDA) is expanding on the information that is available within the records, hopefully making them even more useful.

— Kim Blaylock, Washington County Public Library


9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Talking Books: Providing Books to the Disabled and Visually Impaired

Presenters: Mutahara Mobashar and Elizabeth Solka, Central Rappahannock Regional Library

Mutahara Mobashar and Elizabeth Solka of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia, presented Talking Books: Providing Books to the Disabled and Visually Impaired. Session attendees were introduced to the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, http://www.loc.gov/nls/. Not widely known to the general public, this national library program provides Braille and recorded materials free of charge to libraries to help those with visual or physical impairments. United States residents with a documentation of 20/200 vision or less in the better eye with the aid of corrective lenses, or who are unable to read standard printed material as a result of a physician certified disability, are eligible to borrow materials and audio playback equipment. Requested materials are often sent to patrons via postage-free U. S. mail. The presenters explained and demonstrated the use of talking books. The user is able to control the speed of the reading and the voice, the accent, and the language of the narration. There is an increasing variety of available materials, including serial publications, that will allow all borrowers to enjoy the pleasure of reading.

— Everett Seamans, George Mason University


9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Fast and Free: Apps and Websites You Can Use Today

Presenter: Amanda Hartman, Longwood University

Amanda Hartman proved during this packed session that “There is an app for that,” and there are also some fun new websites. Before discussing the various apps and sites she selected, Hartman indicated that these selections were personal favorites and where possible the selected apps were platform independent and free of charge. In some instances, the apps were only available for Apple or Android platforms, and some of the apps did have small fees, especially for upgraded features. Hartman discussed how to go about choosing an app. She suggested that you first read the reviews, but with a grain of salt. Second, if you are considering an app purchase, check for a free trial version. Third, check the refund policy. Hartman indicated that Apple usually does not have a refund policy although individual companies may provide them. It is usually easier to obtain a refund from Android-provided apps.

After reviewing how you should go about choosing an app, Hartman presented a large selection of apps that she has found extremely useful. She categorized the apps by how they would be useful. The categories included: Organization, Note Taking, Cloud Storage, Communication, Security, Health & Fitness, and Just for Fun. Hartman then reviewed a small, eclectic group of websites. A lively question and answer period followed. To view the list of apps and web sites, see the presentation at http://www.vla.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Apps-VLAPF.pptx.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia


9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Open Door Special Needs Storytime

Presenters: Heather Ketron and Christine Leary, Loudoun County Public Library

This was an engaging and encouraging presentation by two professionals who obviously have a positive and productive working relationship. The presenters, Heather Ketron and Christine Leary, run a family sensory storytime for the Loudoun County Public Library. This storytime is geared towards preschool children with developmental disabilities, particularly those on the autism spectrum. Families love it because they have created a nonjudgmental environment geared towards meeting their children’s special needs. The presenters demonstrated various sensory toys and activities, and explained how to adapt regular books to help keep the children’s attention and encourage them to engage. The presenters shared sample storytime lesson plans, and participants seemed impressed with the amount of work and care that goes into their development. They also suggested that more sensory elements might be beneficial for storytimes in general.

— Ray Mullins, Washington County Public Library

Rebecca Miller and Tracy Hall presented a session on how to develop networking skills to help build professional connections.
Top, Rebecca Miller and Tracy Hall presented a session on how to develop networking skills to help build professional connections.
Above, Amanda Hartman presented on fast and free apps and websites.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Roundtable Discussion: The Changing Face of Reference

Moderator: Carole Lohman, University of Virginia

Roundtable discussion participants consisted of a diverse group of individuals, including some who were not involved in library reference functions. While the participants agreed that most libraries continue to perform reference functions,many changes have taken place in both public and academic libraries. Changes observed and discussed during the roundtable include the following: Circulation and reference desks are combined; extra time is required to keep up with tools used for reference; front line staff often take on increased reference responsibilities; staff direct patrons to information, instead of being the source of information; increased troubleshooting is required; staff reductions require others to increase responsibilities; and librarians increasingly perform more administrative functions and fewer reference functions. At the same time, however, technology has expanded the reach of library reference services through the use of email, text messaging, and chat. Technology, according to the roundtable participants, may also be the reason for the shift in activities from librarians to staff and the increase in troubleshooting activities. The discussion then turned to marketing of reference services. While print materials like flyers and brochures continue to be used, increasingly, virtual communication methods are being used. These include websites, email, newsletters, and digital flyers. Academic participants in the group indicated that the library is collaborating with college and university writing centers or providing tutoring within the library.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia  VL


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