Monday, December 13, 2010

Last work-related road trip of the year (I think!)

I was asked to attend a meeting on December 10 to discuss virtual reference services across the University Libraries. Sixteen librarians and staff from nine of the twenty-four Penn State campuses attended. In the morning we had breakout sessions where we discussed how we offer reference services at Penn State and to identify the top five priorities/features for virtual reference. During the afternoon breakout session, we considered all the results from the morning sessions along with three questions: how do we assess user needs, how do we get questions to the right people, and what are the next steps particularly for administration to consider? It was a productive first step.

This meeting was also the perfect opportunity for me to show our library intern another Penn State campus and library. Sarah is currently in the LIS program at the University of Pittsburgh and participating in a Pitt coordinated internship program at our library. Since she does not have classes this semester on Thursdays and Fridays, she was able to easily fit the road trip into her schedule. We drove east to Harrisburg the afternoon of December 9 and stayed overnight in one of the scholars apartments. It was a two bedroom apartment with a living room, dining table, and full kitchen.

While I was in the virtual reference services meeting all day, Sarah met with two librarians on campus and did other work. We were fortunate that Glenn McGuigan was available to give Sarah a building tour and talk about his role as the coordinator of reference services and business reference librarian. Glenn is also a Pitt graduate, so he enjoyed an opportunity to meet with a student from his program. Sarah also met with Heidi Abbey and learned about the special collections in the library.

Sarah and I had a successful road trip. We had great weather for driving, great music, and great conversation. There was a fair amount of laughter which is a must when I'm involved. I think it was useful for Sarah to see the similarities and differences between Penn State locations. Hopefully by the end of her experience with us she'll have a better perspective on the "one university geographically dispersed" concept. It was also beneficial for Sarah to interact with other Penn State librarians. Of course, Rachel and I think she's not doing too shabby with the two of us on a weekly basis.

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