Posts tagged ‘Conferences’

Midwinter in chilly San Diego

by April Bunn

San Diego has a high today of only 59 degrees, so it’s not the warm getaway I expected, but it’s still a welcome relief from the piles of snow I left behind in New Jersey.

The 2011 ALA Midwinter Meeting is underway and today the convention center was full of dedicated librarians today, scurrying off to one meeting or another, or visiting the over 450 exhibitors.

I am always impressed at how well ALA does a conference. Every person I spoke to was helpful and friendly and the speakers here are always interesting- Neil Gaiman, Nancy Pearl, and Ten Danson are on the line up for tomorrow. I am really looking forward to attending my first Youth Media Awards on Monday morning.

As Vice President of NJASL, I’m here with our President Elect, Fran King and President, Judith Everitt to attend the Affiliate Assembly meetings for AASL.  I respect all of you that are attending this conference and participating in multiple committee meetings to better yourself and this profession.

In these tough times, it is crucial that we network and advocate every step of the way.

January 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm 1 comment

Reference Renaissance Twofer — New Book & CFP for 2010 Conference

A post by Marie L. Radford

Nothing thrills a writer/editor more than the joy of finally being able to see a finished book that you have had in the works for many months.  I am delighted to announce that Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends is now available from Neal-Schuman!  I had the privilege of working with co-editor Dave Lankes of Syracuse University on the book which captures the latest in the work of researchers and practitioners, updated from their presentations at the first (hugely successful!) Reference Renaissance Conference. Dave is the creative, intellectual, and dynamic force behind the ground-breaking Virtual Reference Desk conferences and books which have provided inspiration and models for the Reference Renaissance events and publications.

Anyone interested in the latest buzz should take a look at this book which features current research in reference, including virtual services like IM and live chat, innovative service models, and philosophical approaches. In addition, numerous “reports from the field” chronicle innovative service models, virtual reference successes, marketing, initiatives in staff development and training, and using search engines and other virtual tools.

I have authored a chapter with Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC called:  “Getting Better All the Time: Improving Communication and Accuracy in Virtual Reference” that features results and recommendations from our Seeking Synchronicity IMLS, Rutgers, and OCLC, Inc. grant project. Here’s a sneaky – peek from our chapter… The top tip for boosting accuracy when you are providing live chat VR is the following: when asked for specific information, before you push a Web site or URL, check to make sure it contains the precise information requested by the user, not just a general overview of the topic. We found this simple verification step would have increased accuracy from 78% to90% for ready reference questions.

The book also contains the provocative keynote “Reference in the Age of Wikipedia, or Not…” by David W. Lewis, Dean of the IUPUI University Library, as well as the remarks from the plenary panel on “Theory Meets Practice: Educators and Directors Talk” featuring Dave Lankes and myself (the educators) as well as Jamie LaRue, Director of the Douglas County Libraries, CO and Carla J. Stoffle Dean of the University of Arizona Libraries (the directors).

To heighten our excitement, this book’s publication comes as we are dead smack in the middle of planning for the second Ref Ren conference: Reference Renaissance 2010: Inventing the Future which will be held from August 8-10, 2010 in Denver, CO. I am again honored to be co-chair of the conference program, this time working with co-chair Rivkah Sass of Sacramento Public Library, and  Justine Schaffer of BCR, who is the overall conference chair. The Call for Participation is out and we are upping our game, inviting a greater diversity of submissions in innovative as well as traditional formats. We seek papers, panels, reports from the field, workshops, and Pecha Kucha proposals to do with forward-looking initiatives and strategies in all types of reference service and from a variety of library environments.

April 1st is the deadline, and I encourage all LG readers to think about submitting a proposal and planning to join us in Denver!

March 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm 1 comment

Preparing for the 2009 NJLA Conference

With spring time in the air, library professionals from the Garden State know that as the tulips and daffodils begin to grow, so does anticipation for the 2009 NJLA Conference (April 27th – April 29th).


If this is your first conference, you may be wondering how to prepare or what to expect. Perhaps an introduction to the conference may help put anxious minds to rest. For those of you that can navigate the Ocean Place Spa and Resort with your eyes closed, make sure to point out any survival tips I may have forgotten.


Step One:


Explore the city! I just so happen to live and work in the City of Long Branch, so consider this step done. Our city is one of the largest and most diverse cities on the Jersey Shore. With a Latino population of over 30% and a blossoming Brazilian population, you’ll find quite a selection of Mexican, Dominican and Brazilian specialty stores and restaurants down the main street of Broadway. In the late 1800’s, Long Branch was a popular and affluent summer destination with private beach clubs and casinos. Sometime after the 1920s, Long Branch witnessed a steady decline and inner city challenges began to emerge. Today, you will find a mix of cultures and economic backgrounds throughout the city. Long Branch is in the midst of an exciting rebirth with beautiful oceanfront developments, great lawns and parks, trendy shops, superb restaurants and a hip nightlife. Take time to walk down the boardwalk and visit Pier Village, just south of the Oceanplace Spa and Resort. Here, you’ll find over 30 restaurants and boutiques such as Carmella’s Café, Stuarts Root Beer Shop, McLoone’s Pier House, Sawa and more!

Step Two:

  • Start preparing! First check out the NJLA Conference Wiki – this may seem obvious but sometimes things get away from us and we forget the obvious. No matter how many times we’ve attended, something has probably changed. The website provides a wealth of information for both the exhibitors and the attendees, including a floor plan and an event grid (the grid identifies room numbers and clearly labels specific tracks you may want to follow according to your professional interest).

  • Create your agenda – it’s always a good idea to read the description of each workshop and note the guest speaker. Make sure to check the site once again, a few days before you leave, for any last minute changes. Try to establish a general itinerary for your day. I emphasize “general” because I think it’s best to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things. Besides, it’s likely you’ll meet up with a cordial and enthusiastic group of librarians that will suggest specific sessions or events. Be open to new ideas and allow for last minute changes. If you’re the spontaneous type and itineraries are not for you, at least think long and hard about the reasons you are attending the conference and decide upon one or two things that you really want to come away with.

  • Bring extra copies of your business cards (trust me, you will be asked for them), comfortable shoes, tote bags to carry all of those neat giveaways, and cough drops. After all, it is spring, and if you aren’t getting over a cold or suffering from allergies, chances are someone next to you is!
Step Three:

Make the most out of it! Once at the conference, there is no end to the amount of quality resources and information available but before you start checking off that agenda, make sure to stop at the NJLA table for your badge and any additional conference information. To ensure your time is well spent, here are a few suggestions on making the most of it.


  • If this is your first conference it’s okay to be nervous, but think of it as an adventure. This is a chance to leave your shy self at home and step out of your comfort zone. For an easy ice breaker, mention a few recent programs or services that your library had implemented. We absolutely THRIVE on sharing ideas! If you’re feeling especially nervous, arrange to attend with a co-worker or classmate.

  • Step away from the smart phone. I know, I know, I have an iPhone myself and share the need to stay connected to everyone, everywhere. But how can you focus on the presentation, if you’re also sending mixed drinks or Coach bags to your Facebook friends? Go easy on the microblogging too, unless of course, you’re actually presenting a workshop on it. After all, if you’re too busy letting others know about what’s going on in your world, you may just miss your own experience.

  • Take notes. Whether for a blog or future article, you’re going to need them. No doubt, you’ll be asked by a co-worker or supervisor how the conference went, who the presenter was and what sessions you attended. You may even be asked to write a report or train others on staff.

  • Have fun and socialize. This may be THE most important step and the one we most often forget. First off, as soon as you get to the conference, take it easy. According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, Long Branch ranks among the top 20 American beaches, so weather permitting, take a stroll down the boardwalk. Drop your shoulders every now and then, take a deep breathe and RELAX. Then make sure to have fun! Don’t pass up an invitation to go out as a group or meet new people because some of the best networking happens AFTER the presentation. If you haven’t been invited out for lunch or dinner, then join NJLA’s Lunch Buddies or Dine_Around groups. If you enjoy meeting new people, try volunteering at the conference. The NJLA website offers a list of available and rewarding volunteer opportunities. If you’re too late this year, there is always next time!

  • Remember the people you’ve met, by asking for their business card. It’s not only a tool to remember contact info but you can always jot down notes on the back. If you promise to follow up about something specific, note it on the back of the card so you don’t forget. Follow up is crucial!

  • After the conference, I suggest taking the next day off. I know this is next to impossible but at the very least, take it easy. By now, we may be running on empty. Try not to schedule appointments that day or attempt to reply to every email. Consider the day after the conference – part of the actual conference. Sort out what ideas are easy to implement and what ideas should sit in the “bright ideas” folder for a while. Distribute the information you’ve brought home to the appropriate staff (half will accept with a grimace or smile) and file the rest.

Finally, work on getting your co-workers, director and board members to approve the many ideas you’ve brought back with you. By the time you’re finished, it will be spring again…Happy Conferencing!

I’m sure many of you have wonderful tips for planning and attending the conference. Suggestions anyone?

April 22, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Free Web Based Conferences—Perfect for poor library studies students everywhere…

As a library science student, I hear about all kinds of great conferences, but I can not afford them. Some recent grads have told me that now that they can afford more conferences, they have far less time to attend them. I recently found out there are a number of online ‘conferences’ that are free of charge.

Yes free—really and truly free!

I thought I should take one for a test drive. The Library of Congress offers a free web conference orientation to their website each month. Despite this being a regular source of note in a variety of my reference classes, I have always found the site too big to search well and much better suited to browsing. Maybe this orientation would be the key to making http://www.loc.gov/ a regular go-to source for me. To be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope, it was after all FREE…

I am not sure where I heard about this conference—an email to be sure, but I don’t remember who sent it. I clicked a link, picked a date and waited. Within 24 hours, I had received an e-mail conformation from Judith Graves, Digital Project Coordinator—not an automated response, but an e-mail that actually included useful information, including contact information!

On my originally scheduled date, I had no cable, which meant I had no internet. I later sent a note to Judith who kindly and happily rescheduled me immediately—no need to re-register or do any additional work. How rare and handy is that!

Last week, I finally participated in the one-hour orientation. It was fun, information and interactive. Participants could ask questions in real-time using a chat function. I learned some interesting things: Did you know LOC was using Flickr? (find out more on the LOC Blog). Like the initial customer service, it was a positive and helpful experience. I would recommend anyone with an hour to spare look into the orientation—it is offered each month. I still feel the site is better suited to browsing, but with practice, I can see some good public library applications and uses.

But wait, there’s more!
One of the best outcomes from this event is that I found out about Online Programming for All Libraries—a listing of on-line library events taking place which are free. While I am sure many librarians already know about this, it is new to me. I asked around at Rutgers and most of the students did not know about it either, so I thought it worth noting.

Here is a sample of the LOC online series of programs:
Mar 12 – Early scrapbooks and the women who created them
April 9 – Poetry
May 14 – Jefferson’s Library
June 11 – All History Is Local in a Digital World

There is plenty more including book discussion groups, lectures and chat sessions with library professionals, and multi-part presentation series. A diverse group of libraries and librarians contribute content to OPAL. You can find it all on their schedule. Be sure to check out the archives as well—I am looking forward to finding the time to look at the ‘Six Weeks to a Social Library’ series.

Let me know what you think of these freebies….

February 19, 2008 at 9:12 am 2 comments

Conference Swag!

Hello! The ‘gardeners are just back from the NJLA Conference, and what a wonderful conference it was!!! (And some of us are off to another conference – The Mid-Atlantic Library FUTURES Conference, May 7th and 8th at The Borgata in AC!)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I sure have a lot of stuff, or swag, from it! Plenty of free pens, notepads, lanyards (even flip flops – really!) abounded in the exhibit hall from the vendors.

And, of course, t-shirts!

Well, if you have too many t-shirts, here’s a fantastic thing to do with them! My friend Beth Cackowski (go NJLA IT Section!) reminded me about a book called Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, by Megan Nicolay.

I had seen this author on one of the morning shows once – Martha Stewart I think actually!

Check out this book and, voila! there you have it – something to do with all those free conference t-shirts!

  • Make it into a skirt!
  • A bikini!
  • Turn a regular t-shirt into a tank or tube top!
  • A handbag!
  • iPod cozy!
  • Leg warmers!
  • and more…………. (yes these are all real patterns in the book)!

I’m so glad Beth reminded me of that and I am passing the tip along to you! If you actually DO turn any of your conference t-shirts (or any other t-shirts) into something else, let us know! Beth was wise enough to choose t-shirts in larger sizes so she would have ultimate playing-around room with them!

However, I myself will not be taking scissors to my beautiful purple SUPER LIBRARIAN shirt!

April 27, 2007 at 2:13 pm

I’m off to see the conference…

It’s that time of year: The NJLA Conference!

The conference is one of my very favorite things! Last year was the first year that I found myself “behind the scenes” and I had the best time! I experienced the conference in a completely different way and got just as much, though different, things out of it! I had attended a few years prior to that strictly as an “attendee,” but last year, due to my involvement on the NJLA Information Technologies Section, and the NJLA Member Services Committee, I found myself much more involved.

I spent a lot of time welcoming people at the Hospitality Table – boy, that was fun! And a lot of time at the Podcasting Station, which was also fun and very exciting!

I hope you’ll stop by either one of those places, or both, if you’re coming to conference….

I’ll also be blogging the conference here for NJLA (really, I WILL! Which I intend to use to get back into blogging and stop being so lame!) so check it out! Really!

I hope to get to at least SOME of the programs – I am especially excited about:

  • Of course, the IT and YA Programs, particularly Cool Tools and Just Push Play! with Steve Garwood; Let’s Mambo at the Library, with Robert P. Rynkiewicz; and Harness the power of Social Software @ Your Library, with Liz Burns and Sophie Brookover!
  • Our own Janie L. Hermann will be presenting 15 Fantastic Freebies in 50 Minutes, which I’m sure is going to be packed!
  • And, especially the Helen Blowers presentations, Core Competencies, Core Values in the Era of Library 2.0 and Discovering Library 2.0 (Can you tell I’m a little bit tech-oriented!?)!

Gosh, I hope I can get to everything! That is usually the only criticism I hear and feel about the conference – too many good programs competing against each other in the same time slots!

One more invite: Lynn Schott and I will be hosting “Lunch Buddies” again at the conference – if you want people to eat lunch with, we’ll be gathering people at the Hospitality Table – so come see us!

April 20, 2007 at 10:44 am


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