ALA: The Membership Cost is Too Damn High?

Note: This is the second part of a two-part post about the American Library Association.

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TL;DR: ALA membership is not expensive when compared with professional organizations of similar earning occupations, but that doesn’t mean it’s not personally expensive for you and me.

Remember that guy running for governor of New York? His whole shtick was the “rent is too damn high!” Not gonna disagree with that. Sometimes I think the same thing about membership in ALA and its various divisions and round tables.

So are the membership costs in ALA too high?

Well…I think it depends on your own personal situation, finances, and cost of living in your area.1 Personally, I have a limit in what I will pay for a professional membership. And nope…you can’t guilt me in to paying more. I’ve also never worked at a library that has covered the cost of an ALA membership–it’s always been money out of my own pocket.

1. Do not tell people that membership is not expensive: You do not know their financial situation or personal interests.

What I’m willing to pay
My limit is $150. Personally, I think that’s a nice chunk of change of my hard earned money. You may think me a cheapskate (go ahead…I’m OK with it), but I would rather put my money elsewhere. Currently, I’m just able to stay at my limit with these bare-bones choices:

alaSlide1Side note: Like a lot of librarians, I also belong to my state library association: the Wisconsin Library Association. Membership is salary-based and I pay almost as much as I do for my ALA membership. The state association is important to me because they offer great conferences that are just the right size, plus the ability to network with colleagues in my geographic area.

How much I could be paying
I’m an academic reference & instruction librarian. If I actually look at the ALA divisions and round tables I would want to belong too, then I would see my membership skyrocket from $150 to $270 per year.

alaSlide2So as a result, I’ve stuck to ALA membership and LIRT because it was cheaper and I liked the work that LIRT does.

Now I know this is where people argue that they wish they could only be members of the divisions of ALA (e.g., Association of College & Research Libraries, Public Library Association, etc.), but I recognize the fact that “bigALA” helps support these divisions and keeps costs down for the divisions.

Cost comparison with other professional organizations
So although ALA may feel “expensive” for me, I wanted to know if its membership fees were high compared to the professional organizations of other similar earning occupations that require a master’s degree.

I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook and used the entry for “librarians.” The median salary is $55,370 (2012 data). Now I know there are problems with median salary: You may be early career v. late career or in a region with a low-cost of living v. high-cost of living…but it’s a starting point, so that’s what I’m using.

Then I went to the OOH Occupation Finder and limited my search to careers that: 1) require a master’s degree and 2) have a median salary ranging from approximately $40,000 to $65,000 (2012 data).

These are the careers I looked at:

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1. It is likely that “historians” and “anthropologists & archaeologists” may be in positions that require or prefer a doctoral degree.
2. An initial search using the OOH Occupation Finder included the jobs of “archivist” and “curator” in my target list. I have omitted these from my study due to similarities with librarianship. In addition, the jobs of “postsecondary teachers–arts, drama, music” and “postsecondary teachers-nursing” were also included. I have removed these as many full-time positions will require or prefer a doctoral degree, although some may hold a master’s as a terminal degree.

The cost of professional organizations for other careers

So what do people in these careers pay for membership in their professional organizations? Let’s take a look:

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1. Membership type is for a full membership (commonly referred to as an individual, personal, or regular membership)–not student rate, early career rate, or retiree rate. Some organizations calculate the membership rate based on salary. These are noted below. For each of these instances, I used the median salary of librarians ($55,370) to calculate the rate.
2. Must also pay to belong to state division. Source: American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy.
3. Listed rate is for professionals with a master’s degree and higher. Source: National Association of Social Workers.
4. Survey researchers likely belong to the discipline-specific organization related to the research they conduct. For this analysis, I have chosen to use the American Association for Public Opinion Research as a representative organization.
5. Membership rate based on salary. $90 is for a salary range of $30,000-$59,999. Source: American Association for Public Opinion Research.
6. I chose the National Council for Public History to represent historians that do not necessarily work as professors. There are many organizations for historians, depending on specialty. The American Association of State and Local History offers a membership rate similar to NCPH. A specialty field, like the American Historical Association has a membership rate based on salary. For an income between $45,000-$70,000, the rate is $118.
7. Source: National Council on Public History.
8. Source: American School Counselor Association.
9. Source: American Library Association. Rate is for 3rd and later years of membership.
10. Source: National Society of Genetic Counselors.
11. Membership rate based on salary. $204 is for a salary range of $50,000-$74,999. Must also pay to belong to at least one section. Source: American Anthropological Association.
12. There are many educational/teaching organizations. For this analysis, I have chosen to use the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development as a representative organization.
13. Various membership levels. Joining as a “premium” member gives you a $100 voucher for conferences & professional development. I have chosen to use the basic membership rate of $39 for my analysis below. Source: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
14. Source: American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists.
15. Membership rate based on salary. In addition, chapter (state) dues are mandatory for membership. Source: American Planning Association.
16. A $20 discount is given to members who chose to receive online-only access to the association journal. Also, a salary of less than $45,000 pays $95 for membership. Source: American Public Health Association.

Analysis
The ALA base membership rate is $135. That puts it more expensive than 4 of the comparable organizations, but cheaper than 7 of these organizations. The average rate for membership across these organizations comes to around $173, while the median is $195.

How about if you add a divisional membership to your ALA total? Let’s pick from two: adding ACRL membership costs an additional $60, while PLA membership adds $70 (Source: ALA: Join, Renew or Rejoin). So you’re looking at either $195 (ALA + ACRL) or $205 (ALA + PLA) which doesn’t really change ALA’s position in terms of affordability when compared with the other organizations–although it may definitely change your affordability.

In looking at the other organizations, I liked some of their models. For example, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development offers varying levels of membership that range from $39 to $239. Their “premium” level of membership includes a $100 voucher for their professional development opportunities and conferences–a great bonus for joining at the premium rate.

Several of the organizations (American Association for Public Opinion Research, American Anthropological Association, and the American Planning Association) have membership rates based on salary–which I tend to support, depending on how fees are calculated. Most set a fee based on a salary range. My state library association, although not comparable to the organizations analyzed, does it differently: It calculates the membership fee at $3 per $1000 of wages, with minimum of $50 and a maximum of $250–at this rate, the median U.S. librarian salary of $55,370 would pay $166–pricy, in my opinion, for a state organization.

Many organizations, ALA included, have reduced rates for early-career members. At ALA, the reduced rate for a personal membership is $68 for the 1st year and $102 for the 2nd year. Starting with the 3rd year, you move to the full rate.

I know the economy has been tough and that ALA’s finances have taken a hit. But it’s also been tough on us librarians. Take a look at ALA’s membership statistics:

  • 2014: 55,316 members
  • 2013: 56,756
  • 2012: 57,540
  • 2011: 58,996
  • 2010: 61,198
  • 2009: 61,379
  • 2008: 64,884

Notice the consistent drop from 2008 through 2014? That’s a loss of over 9,500 members. How much is related to the cost of membership–or was it just the general economic slump; people cutting back? That’s what I’d like to know.

While the membership costs may not be high when compared with other professional organizations, it’s personally expensive for a lot of us. You may be willing to set aside money for ALA membership–then good for you! (…and I’m not being snippy here…I’m *glad* that you are doing it!).

For the rest of us? It’s a tough decision. I think most us want to be active in the profession, but affordability is often a stumbling block. We also want to see what services we get in return for the membership. Some of us will muddle along: join one year, skip the next–or maybe concentrate efforts at the state level instead. So where does that leave the big tent that is ALA?

 

 

 

 

Meh on ALA?

This is the first of two posts about the American Library Association. The next post – scheduled for next week – will discuss the costs of membership in the organization.

I took this photo at ALA Midwinter in Dallas - 2012.

I took this photo at ALA Midwinter in Dallas – 2012.

The first thing I need to admit: I’m not the best of ALA members. Well, it’s not that I’m bad…it’s just that I’m sometimes not a member.

My ALA Track Record
I started out my career 12 years ago with so much idealism that I’m pretty sure I made the other veteran librarians sick. I felt like you *had* to belong to ALA to be a good librarian. I don’t anymore. There are many ways to contribute in your own community, in your state and region, or even with your own initiatives that can all fall outside of ALA.

I then moved to being a member of ALA for one year and then not renewing the next. One year on…one year off. Repeat cycle. On the “on” years, I might attend a conference.

Then the institution I was working at re-did its evaluation process for librarians, placing a greater emphasis on “service to the profession” (something I was not opposed to by the way–it’s a good thing). So then it was back into ALA for several years where I did some committee work and tried to find places where I belonged inside the myriad divisions, roundtables, etc…–which I wasn’t always successful at doing.

Now at my current job, professional service is encouraged, but not required. We have 6 full-time librarians. This year, besides me, only one other librarian belongs to ALA–but we all do the encouraged “service to the profession” stuff. The last few years I’ve done more with my state association, so I’ve gone back to being the “occasional” ALA member.

The Hard Part
I’m not exactly sure what would get me to be a continuous member. Cheaper membership? Well, that’s a given…but I know that’s not happening. I’ll talk more about that in my next post. Side note: Where are these seemingly “mythical” libraries that pay for their employees’ memberships? Never worked at one.

It’s not that I don’t like ALA. They work on big and important initiatives and they have a dedicated and hardworking staff. However, sometimes I feel like there is this disconnect: it is the American LIBRARY Association after all, and not the American LIBRARIAN Association. Disagree if you’d like.

And yep…You get what you put into your membership: I’m not serving on committees now. And I know I don’t have the patience for deliberative bodies like ALA Council (vitally important, just not my cup o’ noodles).

My only connection is through the twice weekly email newsletters and notifications about expensive workshops my library cannot afford. Heck, I don’t even need to be a member to follow association news–I can track it on Twitter. I can also get helpful open-access articles (like C&RL News, etc) for free. During conferences, you can follow posts on Twitter (check out the #alamw15 hashtag) – as one of the #alaleftbehind.

So with 50,000 members, most of whom don’t serve on committees or even attend conferences, I guess my question is: What’s keeping them as members? Is it general goodwill?

My ALA membership will be coming up for renewal. It will probably be an “off” year for me. Maybe even several years. I’ll re-up at some point. I hate to think I have a deficit of goodwill–but that alone won’t make me renew my membership. And I’m not jaded about the profession either: I enjoy my current job. It’s both creative and technical, collaborative and independent, with a lot of variety. I guess I just feel like I don’t have a need to belong to ALA. Is that bad? I dunno. But I still feel like a heel.

 

“I Didn’t Know I Could Use the Library!” Meeting the Needs of Students Online

I’m at WILU 2013 – Workshop for Instruction in Library Use – a Canadian information literacy conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick: a great opportunity to network with librarians north of the border – or “south of the border” to them! I presented a session about implementing library services to online students:

“I Didn’t Know I Could Use the Library!” Meeting the Needs of Students Online

Session Description:
What do you do with students you rarely see in the library? University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has a growing online student population. Reaching these students can be challenging. Many still view the library as just a brick-and-mortar building, and not an online 24/7 resource. Librarians conducted an assessment of online students to investigate their needs. This session will focus on the assessment results and the information literacy outreach plan put into place. It will highlight several initiatives, including the embedded librarian program, faculty-librarian collaboration, marketing efforts, and learning tools geared towards online students. Based on feedback from students and faculty, an increase in reference questions, as well as high usage statistics from librarian-created tutorials and discussion boards, the outreach plan is working. Come and learn about these best practices for online learners and share your ideas, as well.

Here are some of the assessment tools, resources, guides, and tips mentioned in my presentation:

Get ‘Embed’ with Your Librarian: Meeting the Needs of Students Online

The online market is a growing field for higher education. How does the academic library fit into all of this? My colleague–Anne Kasuboski–and I gave a presentation at the 2013 Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians conference, held at Elkhart Lake.

We discuss how our library at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay surveyed our online students and faculty and developed an outreach plan to meet their needs.

It covers our Embedded Librarian program, which started out as a pilot program and expanded successfully across online courses, in addition to some face-to-face courses. It also includes information on the learning tools that we gear towards online learners, such as LibGuides, tutorials, and resources like NoodleTools.

If you have questions about being an “embedded librarian”–let me know! I would like to hear what other librarians are doing with programs such as these.

Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up

My colleague Renee Ettinger & I presented at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference in La Crosse last week. What a fun experience interacting with other librarians from around the state!

Our presentation – Creating an Engaging Library: Marketing from the Ground Up – covered our library’s events for our university community, examined our marketing efforts and how they have evolved, spotlighted our social media activities, and how we collaborate with students and other campus groups for marketing and event planning.

Here’s the description of our session presentation:

Libraries can’t afford for marketing to be an afterthought. It’s a way to connect with your community, campus and school. Join UW-Green Bay librarians as they discuss how their library built a comprehensive marketing plan, utilized the talent of students, experts, partnered with stakeholders and designed popular events for its patrons. The end goal? Creating a vibrant and engaging environment. The session will wrap up with a lightning round, where you will be invited to share your ideas and experiences with marketing. We hope to see you there!

Below is a link to our presentation from Slideshare:

We also referenced several videos in our presentation:

If you have some great marketing ideas or cool library events you’d like to share, let me know!

ALA Poster Session – Assessment into Action: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners

Here is the online version of my poster session for the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. My topic is academic libraries and adult learners:

Assessment into Action: Meeting the Needs of Adult Learners
What do you do with students you rarely see in the library? University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has a growing adult learner population, most of which take classes solely online. Reaching these students can be challenging. Librarians conducted an assessment of adult students to investigate their needs. This poster session will focus on the assessment results and the outreach plan put into place. It will highlight several initiatives, including librarian-faculty collaboration with introductory courses, the embedded librarian program, and the targeting of library services to adult students. It will also address using data to argue for increased budgetary support and collaboration with offices outside the library. Based on preliminary feedback from students and faculty, an increase in reference questions, as well as high usage statistics from librarian-created tutorials and discussion boards, the outreach plan is working. The poster session will include charts of the assessment data, handouts of the assessment tool, teaching and marketing materials (LibGuide, tutorials, newsletters), and photographs of embedded librarian best practices.

Materials:
Embedded Librarian Tips (PDF)
Library Survey for Adult Degree Students (PDF)
Library Survey for Adult Degree Faculty (PDF)
Adult Degree Library Guide for Students (Libguide)
Adult Degree Library Guide for Faculty & Staff (Libguide)
Adult Degree Library Welcome Video (YouTube)

Poster:

Introduction

Introduction

Assessment, Outreach Plan

Assessment, Outreach Plan

Embedded Librarian Program

Embedded Librarian Program

Promoting Services, Advocating for Support

Promoting Services, Advocating for Support

Library Field Trips

Who says adults can’t take field trips?!

Yesterday, my librarian colleagues here at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay visited St. Norbert College, the private institution in our area, to meet with their librarians. The library directors at UW-Green Bay and St. Norbert thought it would be a great way to collaborate, network, and exchange ideas. Plus, it beats the price of attending conferences!

So, if you’re looking for an easy and cheap alternative to networking: consider your colleagues at a library across town, or somewhere nearby! They need not be similar institutions. Ours is a public regional university with 6,000 students that was founded in the 1960s; theirs is a private Catholic college of 2,100 students founded in the late 1800s.

Meeting with the staff of another library is a great venue for sharing ideas, brainstorming, developing best practices, and getting a “view” that comes from outside your own library. We had a great discussion on library outreach, marketing, and social media activities. We’ll plan on getting together at least a couple of times of year.

One of the highlights during our visit was a tour the new St. Norbert library (opened in 2009). As a librarian, I don’t think I ever turned down a tour of a library! Here are some photos:

Conferencing: Renew | Energize | Sustain

Just got back from the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 2011 Conference, held in Stevens Point. What a great experience! I love small conferences like this. The theme this year, Renew, Energize, Sustain, couldn’t have been better. Towards the end of the semester, most academic librarians are in need of a change in pace. Learning from my colleagues and getting the chance to network was just the change I needed. Here, I’ll highlight some the sessions I attended.

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Improving Information Literacy for Nontraditional Students
Part of my job focuses on adult learners, so I was particularly interested in this session. Presented by Anna Zook at UW-Eau Claire, she discussed her research of adult learners at the Eau Claire campus. Adult students are often overlooked and have different needs and anxieties of traditional-age college students. It was interesting to see how the library had carved out “special” study spaces for non-traditional students, including a study lounge (also used by graduate students) and a family-friendly study room where adult students could take their children. It’s located near the juvenile collection of books and includes a TV/video system. I took away several great suggestions from the presenter and attendees:

  • Acknowledge and use students’ life experiences in reference interactions & information literacy sessions.
  • Make the library more accessible for adult learners (longer reference desk hours, orientation sessions, online tutorials, easy remote access).
  • Information literacy sessions: Have students share questions that they have about the library at the beginning of class. Incorporate peer-mentoring activities.
  • Offer “Start Strong” library/research appointments with a librarian to all non-traditional students at the beginning of each semester, or new co-hort of students.
  • Create short (1 to 3 minute) videos that can be uploaded to YouTube, library website, learning management system, that explain basic services or concepts (e.g., How to Search for an Article, How to Find a Book). Accompany short video with a PDF handout to reach multiple learning styles.
Uncommon Solutions to Creating an Information Commons
Louise Diodato and David Weinberg-Kinsey from Cardinal Stritch University detailed how their library underwent a renovation. Maybe in a previous life I was an architect, because I always find building plans fascinating! The big takeaway from here was to think about how your library could maintain services in the midst of a renovation. In addition, constantly communicating to the architects is an absolute necessity. Architects do not understand the finer points of libraries and their collections. You need to educate them! Also learned about a cool device that can move bookstacks without taking them apart and without having to move the books off of the shelf. If your library is thinking about renovation, also pay attention to:

  • New furniture–with an emphasis on movable furniture
  • “Wayfinding”–the placement of tile/carpeting that allows users to find their way through the library, to its various study spaces, service points, and collections.
Accessibility of Online Library Resources for People with Disabilities
I think too often we design library websites and other online tools, such as tutorials, without considering how people with disabilities will be impacted. Axel Schmetzke from UW-Stevens Point presented his research on studies that examined university and library websites. I learned about the main barriers that people with disabilities face when viewing websites [from Schmetzke’s PowerPoint]:
  • Images without meaningful alt text, Images maps without alt text
  • Scrolling text, Blinking elements
  • No meaningful link text (e.g., “click here”)
  • Poor contrast between text & background
  • Tables used for spatial layout
  • No “skip navigation” link

Circulating iPads in an Academic Library
Jessica Hutchings from the UW-Milwaukee SOIS and Jodi Bennett from Cardinal Stritch University detailed the decisions and processes for circulating iPads at the Cardinal Stritch library. Three iPads were purchased. Initially, they had a 2 hour in-library use only loan period. They began with downloading 20 educational and news apps, and branded the iPads with university imagery. Although the library promoted the use of iPads as e-readers, students did not tend to use this function. Simple curiosity was cited as the #1 reasons students choose to check out an iPad. After using the iPad, students were directed to a survey on use. The apps/software that students wanted, but were not installed included: MS Office (not available), Flash (not available), social networking, games, and GarageBand.

After examining iPad usage, the library changed the loan period to overnight. They have now loaded approximately 60 apps/programs, including Facebook, Skype, Pandora, Dropbox, Angry Birds, RefWorks, and GarageBand. Power adapters also made available. The overdue fine is $10/day. After each iPad is returned, library staff “restore” the iPad to wipe out any user data. Users cannot download any apps on their own. This a great program and definitely academic libraries should be allowed to have new technologies for users to experiment with and “play in the sandbox” so to speak.

IT Interested? Encouraging IT Experimentation in the Library
Librarians Thomas Durkin, Ian Benton, and Jim Jonas from UW-Madison shared how they put together an informal group of “show and tell” technology sessions open to all library staff. The presenters gave out a few tech tips and invited the audience to share some tech tools that they like to use. Here are a few of the tech tools presented:

  • ARIS – tool to create free educational games, interactive tours, etc. Runs on Google Maps.
  • Compfight – Image search tool. Can easily search Creative Commons Flickr images.
  • Evernote – nice notetaking tool. Can be downloaded to desktop, laptop, smartphones, and other mobile devices.
  • NetGalley – 1000s of galley proofs on non-yet published books. You can even write reviews, too.
  • Shelfari.com – use to build a virtual bookshelf. Great as a promotional tool to highlight a particular collection (e.g., new books, children’s books, etc.)
  • Topicmarks – upload PDFs or other files of scholarly articles. This tool will generate a “plain English” summary, overview of the article, keyword cloud, etc.
  • Yammer – microblogging tool that libraries can use to keep track where staff are.
Librarian and Faculty Partnerships: Embedding Librarians in English Courses to Improve Information Literacy Skills and Writing Skills
A librarian–Rita Mitchell, and a writing instructor–Beth Bretl, from Cardinal Stritch University teamed up to embed Rita into the learning management system for Beth’s English 102 class at Cardinal Stritch University. The idea stemmed from an article on the Inside Higher Ed website on Using Library Experts Wisely. The idea expanded and all sections of English 102 were paired with a librarian. During the course’s research sequence, students got to know the librarian and completed a tutorial and worksheet. In the learning management system (LMS), students posted their research question and worked with the librarian to narrow it. Using the online chat in the LMS, the librarian guided students to appropriate keywords and resources. Each student also kept a blog that discussed his/her research process.
What was particularly interesting was finding out what the librarian and instructor would do differently. The LMS online chat “desktop sharing” function was not easy to use, so finding an alternative approach would have been better. The instructor also commented that she would have liked to have introduced the librarian earlier in the semester, to build a strong relationship from the beginning. Great advice for those librarians jumping on the “embedding” bandwagon! Link to their presentation.

Why Librarians (but not only Librarians) Should Staff Our Reference Desk
Steve Frye from UW-Madison discussed research involving different staffing models for reference desks. He encouraged participants to “know how patrons see your library.” It may be radically different than what you think. A review of scholarly literature leads to no solid conclusions on who should be staffing the reference desk. Here are a few other points:

  • A traditional reference desk staffed by one librarian remains the model for most libraries.
  • A combined reference/circulation desk model is ascending.
  • A tiered model is another alternative. Staffed by students or paraprofessionals, with librarians “on call”
  • Libraries should choose the reference desk model that reflects the institution’s culture.
  • Roaming/roving reference: Students DO NOT like aggressive roaming/roving reference.
  • For tiered models, patrons dislike being referred when someone is not available to help immediately.
  • The model used at the presenter’s large, busy library involves multiple staffing at the reference desk (librarian, paraprofessional, grad student).
  • Adjust your services to meet your students’ needs. Presenter’s library started night-time librarian positions that work until midnight.
  • Your reference desk MUST be visible and near the entrance. DO NOT hide it.
  • Library administrators should staff the reference desk during a busy shift so that they do not develop over-generalized observations about the library.
  • If you think that doing something at the Reference Desk (e.g., clearing a printer jam) is beneath you, then you will not be a successful librarian.

Friday Keynote – Instructional Literacy and the Library Educator: Design, Technology, and Academic Culture
This session fit the bill when it came to the “energize” portion of the conference’s theme. Presented by Char Booth of Claremont Colleges, here are a few of my takeaways:

  • What assumptions do students have about librarians? They don’t need to pay attention. “I’m not being graded.” “I already know how to do this!”
  • Librarians are not perceived as teachers. We need to change this.
  • Instruction librarians often have oversized expectations of what we think students want from us, when in reality, it’s ok to be “good enough.”
  • Teaching effectiveness will be different for every librarian.
  • What makes a good teacher?: enthusiasm, openness, makes you think, meets you at your level, caring
  • Idea: Librarians need to create a brilliant subject-specific pitch for their information literacy sessions. You can do a lot in one minute. You need to connect your students to information literacy. Example: YouTube video of Berkeley Biology professor pulls out a brain!
  • A library educator’s job is to challenge the assumptions of your students.
  • Instructional Literacy involves: reflective practice, educational theory, teaching technologies, instructional design
  • Reflective practice idea: after you teach, ask yourself: “What went well?” “What didn’t go well?” “What is one thing you observed that you need to change?”
  • Technology: create a toolkit of technologies that work for you–ones that you have tried and vetted. Ask: does the tool accomplish your objectives?
  • Cricket Effect: classes that do not respond to your questions. Make sure and ask instructors beforehand about class dynamics: is it a quiet class, active class. You may need to adapt your techniques.
  • The “Librarian as Indicator Species” concept: If people think librarians are just about books, then they will forget us. Instead, librarians help with an informed democracy, create a sense of community, provide excellent customer service, provide knowledge.

I can’t do justice to Char’s presentation, but it is online on Slideshare.

UW-Stevens Point Library
Lastly, although it wasn’t part of the official conference, I took a stroll over to the University Library [photo] at UW-Stevens Point, a campus of approximately 9,000 students. When I’m away at conferences, popping in at the local college or public library is one of my favorite things to do. Usually, I’ll see an idea or two that could be adapted at my own library. At UW-Stevens Point, one of the first things I noticed was a plasma display listing which computers were open. Great idea! I also liked their poster explaining quiet areas to study. In addition, the endcaps of each of the bookstack ranges list not only the call number range, but subject areas and how to get help [photo]. Very helpful!

Conference presentations should eventually be uploaded on the WAAL 2011 site. Next year’s conference is to be held at Lake Geneva.