I attended the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) conference October 17 - 20. My primary motivation for attending was to facilitate an ALA Planning Forum the afternoon of the 20th. It is not a conference I attend on a regular basis, so it was a good opportunity for me to find out what my colleagues across the state are doing, learn something new, and visit vendors.
I attended a number of sessions. The first was a session called "Communications Among Library Staff: When NOT to Be Quiet in the Library" presented by Tricia Richards of ineedprhelp.com. This session emphasized that for communication in the work place to be effective it must be viewed as a shared responsibility.
The next session was "Avoiding Certain Doom: Integrating Information Literacy Through Collaboration" presented by Alison S. Gregory. I really enjoyed this session. It was shaped by three key questions including why collaboration is important, examples of collaboratively-creted research assignments emphasizing information literacy, and how a librarian can begin collaborating with other faculty at their home institution. She provided a really nice literature review, examples of assignment design and assessment from her campus, and employed some active learning techniques to get us talking with each other on ways to improve "doomed" assignments on our campus. I took a lot of good ideas away from the session, but also left feeling like I've been doing the right things in my library instruction. I have been fortunate to collaborate with other faculty on campus to improve and refine assignments as well as see more of those assignments once completed.
An interesting session was "iPrimer: Using the iPod Touch and iPhone in Library Reference and Education" by Corrine Syster and Misti Smith. It was described as an "overview of the devices and their features, while discussing their relevance to libraries. Significant applications (“apps”), such as “Kindle for iPhone” and catalog app from the Washington DC Public Library will be introduced along with current projects and research into library and classroom uses." The session was rounded out with discussion of the "practicality, challenges, and future of these technologies." Their presentation is available from Syster's site.
The iPrimer session got me thinking more about the future of mobile reference from a collection development standpoint. App recommendations, both free and fee, will be key to providing effective mobile reference. The same skills used to evaluate and assess "traditional" reference tools can be applied and expanded on for reference and productivity apps.
I was very interested in attending a session on the ALA Emerging Leaders program presented by Pennsylvania librarians who were selected as part of the 2009 class. Erin Dorney, Jennifer Jarson, and Rebecca Metzger discussed their experiences in the program, working in teams, their continued service to ALA and PaLA, and how the associations can continue to grow new leaders.