There was an excellent keynote speaker, Debra Wilcox Johnson, who spoke about "defining success - you have the power" about taking personal responsibility for one's own success -- that one contributes to the success of the library and has an impact on the people you serve, and that recognising and celebrating success are the key to staying motivated on the job . She later spoke at a session called "Working well together" in which she talked about how relationships among the staff have a direct effect on the quality of customer service, on elements of good internal customer service and factors that contribute to a good work environment. I was thinking that this sort of motivational speaking coming from an experienced librarian not only to library support staff, but to librarians in general, is the kind of thing that I could do, and perhaps when I get back, I should try do something similar for the branch. It was certainly something that all librarians not just support staff should hear!
I attended two other sessions, one on grant writing which was presented by Patricia Norris of the Illinois State Library (the giver of many grants!) on how to get the most out of one's written proposal. She started off the session by distributing advertisements for grocery stores and asking people to look at the ads -- because that is essentially what grant proposals are...
The other session was entitled "Oh, the circ desk and customer service" -- presented by Bev Obert (who will be doing a session on strategic planning with the Mortensen Associates). I think I expected a little more from this session as it promised tips and techniques to share with co-workers ... it was very much focussed on public libraries. Mostly, people shared stories about customers -- which is what we librarians love to do! But I think I expected a little more.
There were other programmes during the day including an odd one to my mind, - "Dressing for success on a budget" which looked at ways of creating a professional wardrobe by using key pieces, mixing and matching, layering and accessorizing presented by staff from a large department store. I did think it a little out of place, but it could be regarded as "Personal development" -- but there again, it did seem to be popular and perhaps is a need - maybe library staff do need a hand in sprucing up their wardrobes... The department store had a couple of rails of clothing for sale in the exhibit area and seemed to be attracting a lot of attention. (Have no idea if the clothing was on sale -- but there were vouchers for 15% in our goodie bags!)
Other "personal development" sessions that were offered was retirement planning for librarians - what they should be doing about pre-retirement planning issues, as well as one on Financial Planning.
There were other sessions that I was not able to attend, that looked very promising and that we could possibly plan branch or interest group activities around:-
- The Many Looks at Reference which was a joint presentation from representatives from different types of library (academic, public and special) on some new and some old "how-to's" of reference, particularly with almost everyone having access to the internet and the changes this brings to reference services.
- Stress Relief at your desk which, judging from the sounds coming through the partitions, was a lot of fun... There were chair aerobics, chanting and other stress relief techniques tried out by the group.
- Programs on a Shoe-string Budget during which successful program ideas which have been implemented at one library for very little money were shared.
- a session on Universal Access presented by Audrey Gorman, which looked at ways of improving service to the whole community and which promised to "pull together your knowledge of diversity, people with disabilities, and customer service while helping you avoid the trap of treating them as separate issues" (There is a possible workshop/presentation or article here as later in our programme we are looking at Services to Disabled Users)
- Open-Source Software in the library in which trends in open source as well as specific software packages that have implications for libraries were discussed
- A session that looked at the cultural and sociological aspects of working in a field that is predominantly opposite your gender with some serious "stuff" as well as humour. Title of the session -- "Wanted: LTA, Skirt Optional" (assume LTA means Library Technical Assistant or something like it)
On display was ALEC, a customised truck which has been turned into a mobile classroom and computer lab.
Two library support staff were awarded 2004 Reaching Forward South Award Winners and were presented with a certificate, flowers and $100 cash, which was sponsored by the department store.