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Saturday’s ACRL was chock-full of opportunities for learning and networking. I don’t think any of us have mentioned that the “gate count” for the conference was 2841 face-to-face attendees and a minimum of 332 virtual attendees for a new record. So, the Convention Center was bustling all day long. As Lynn intimated in her post, Saturday seemed to have the most concurrent sessions of contributed papers, panel sessions, wrokshops, and Cyber Zed Shed presentations going from 8 am until the close at 5 pm. With round table discussions and poster session nestled in between, so that there was always something to attend! It was hard to decide which to choose.
I was very impressed with how they handled the poster sessions for this conference. At many conferences, they seem to stick poster sessions in a back corner (I remember one ALA were people were stationed right next to the restrooms). But as you can see from the picture above, ACRL 2009 poster sessions had the most beautiful space in the conference. And the space was adjacent to the exhibit area. They held 2 rounds of poster sessions on Friday and 3 on Saturday. These were scheduled to be competition free, meaning that everyone came in to visit vendor booths, talk to poster presenters and have their conference-provided morning/afternoon snacks. It worked out very well and gave a good level of energy to the activities taking place. Some of the poster topics that caught my attention were: Library Secrets: Packaging Tips and Tricks into Bite Size Pieces for the Hard to Pin-Down Student, LEAP to New Heights,-How your Organization can Inspire your Employees to take the Next Jump in their Careers, Rewarding Scholarship through the Library Research Reward for Undergraduates, and Exploring Effective Typography: Extending our Outreach Through Successful Signage.
I attended an interesting session first thing yesterday morning on “Using READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data): Capturing Qualitative Statistics for meaningful Reference Assessment.” READ is a 6 point scale tool developed to provide more meaningful reference transaction statistical information. With this tool, every question asked is not a simple hash mark on the tally page. Instead, questions are weighted on a scale from 1 to 6 so that the emphasis is placed on recording the skills, knowledge, techniques and tools utilized by the librarian during a reference transaction. “Where is the restroom?” may be a 1, where an hour spent helping a student discover primary resources to support a research paper might be a 5. Fourteen institutions participated in a study to research the viability of the tool and 3 of the participants reported on their experiences. All were very positive about the usefulness of the tool for a variety of reasons – helping with staffing, providing statistics for advocacy reasons, and providing a much more realistic picture of what is really happening with reference transactions these days – there may be less of them from walk up patrons, but they are becoming more in-depth in the form of individual research sessions that more often come in via virtual methods. It was an interesting concept that I’d like to see us explore.
Learning objects are a hot topic (Lauren’s Toolkit project is a prime example), so I enjoyed a presentation by former colleagues of Mary Beth’s from Wayne State. They instructed the audience on what learning objects are: an online resource or set of resources that has been developed to achieve a specific learning outcome and that has been developed in such a way that it is portable and can be reused in other learning environments. It needs to be topically focused and narrow in scope, it need to stand alone out of any contextual framework (like a specific vendor interface) and should include a “check for understanding.” They did a very capable job of introducing the audience to the value of these in supporting point of need instruction.
After a quick visit to the Seattle Public Library at lunchtime, my afternoon was filled with attending ZSR presentations. I wanted to attend everyone’s, and it was really wonderful to see how well all three presentations by Lauren P., Lynn and Roz were received by their audiences. I was the self appointed photographer (see below and my Flickr site.)
We finished up the day with a nice dinner out and an all-conference reception at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The exhibits were very cool (remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers? How about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman?). But, the real attraction can be seen in the picture below, where you can see us taking advantage of the huge assortment of desserts offered to all of the guests!
Overall, I thought this particular conference was very valuable with plenty of content that will provide us with much to think about. Too bad that today is the let-down day. I’m writing this sitting at the airport waiting for my flight that hopefully will get me back to Greensboro by 11:30 tonight. This is when I wish some of the stuff in the Science Fiction Museum was real: a transportation machine that would zip me back to W-S in the snap of a finger!