The Triad Academic Library Association (TALA) held its second conference at High Point University earlier this month. One of the conference’s goals is to provide library workers with multiple opportunities to network around topics of interest. This topics selected for discussion were taken directly from suggestions offered in the 2014 post conference survey. Our planning committee was delighted to host the 105 attendees, though numbers could have been a little higher as a few late bloomers were turned away due to limited spacing. It was by their own accounts quite beneficial for the 12 ZSR staff members in attendance. Below are a few of their highlights from the day.

I attended the second annual TALA Conference at High Point University on May 13th. I found the session on Managing Time lead by Iyanna Sims of NC A&T and Monica Young of GTCC very useful. The presenters explained the challenges of managing time in the modern workplace, especially with the distractions of technology. They recommended some good tools to manage your time and increase productivity such as the Pomodoro App that gives you a certain amount of time to complete a task. This way you can help eliminate procrastination and be aware of how you spend your time. I also enjoyed the networking hour table talks, which were a new addition this year. I attended the table talks on Technical Services staff that our own Monesha Staton lead. Monesha helped facilitate an engaging discussion on some current issues that technical service departments are currently facing such as dealing with the implementation of RDA and navigating new ILS systems. ~Bradley

I appreciate the opportunity given to attend the TALA conference at High Point University. Great conference – great day spent with ZSR Library colleagues! My favorite session was called “Communication and Conducting Effective Meetings”. Cindy Conn of Elon University was the facilitator. I learned about planning a meeting, meeting best practices, communication practices, personal communication and overall how to conduct an effective meeting. I’ve had the pleasure of being the chair of the ZSR Library Employee Recognition Committee this year (my first time as a chair) and this session gave me great ideas for conducting the meetings. ~Kristen

I learned the following similarities, ideas, and strategies at the TALA Conference. The top challenges supervising students are poor attendance and lack of work experience. The best career strategy is to have a plan, be ready for opportunities, know your strengths, be a responsive team player, be helpful, and support your department and library. Effective meetings are practical not historical, purpose driven, categorized topics, and time efficient. ~Travis

The TALA Paraprofessional Conference was a very interesting and useful event. I attended sessions on the Changing Roles and Responsibilities of Paraprofessionals, Networking Hour Table Talks, Career Strategies, and Managing Time. While all sessions contained useful information, I found the Networking and Time Management sessions most relevant to me and my duties and responsibilities. In the Networking session I got to hear how fellow TALA member institutions handle their accounts payables. I found that none of the other institutions fully use their integrated library system’s acquisitions module for fund accounting as we do here at ZSR. And I also found that the other institutions represented in the meeting were also treated differently from other departments on their campus by their purchasing departments. Just as we are here at ZSR, the other libraries were treated as separate entities making their own purchasing decisions and not requiring University purchase orders because of the uniqueness of library purchases. And needless to say, time management strategies such as reducing clutter are universally relevant. ~Prentice

Of all the sessions I attended at the TALA Conference I particularly enjoyed the session Managing Time. The session presenter gave us lots of resources and website on how to managed and keep great record of time so that you can be able to work on multiple things and not just one. ~Tara

My experience at the TALA Paraprofessional Conference held at High Point University was insightful and helpful. I attended sessions on career strategies, managing time, and makerspace and other emerging technologies. The session that I enjoyed the most and that I thought was the most informative was the career strategies session. The career strategies session made the participants think about what their personal goals are and think about where they want to go in their career. We were given great advice by Kathy Bradshaw and our very own Wanda Brown. I also surprisingly ended up facilitating a networking session on technical services due to the absence of the person scheduled to run the session. The session was with approximately 15 people from UNCG, Elon, NCA&T, and Wake. In the session we discusses RDA, WMS migration, knowledge base, vendor records, authority control and a few other topics. The session was very informative and we were able to discuss our own processes and offer recommendations to the other schools. ~Monesha

Our opening speaker at the TALA Paraprofessional Conference was Tamara Kraus from Hickory County Public Library. She was picked as Library Journal’s Paralibrarian of the Year for 2015. She gave an enthusiastic talk about finding our inner “Book Avenger” and urged us to find our own superpowers.

Probably the most productive session of the day was when the attendees divided into Table Talks for networking discussion. I moderated the ILL/Course Reserves session. We were able to compare how other academic libraries configure their department and workflow. There were several good “Why do you do it that way?” questions raised.

Elon’s shared service desk panel discussion was interesting. I was glad that they were willing to share what did not work as well as the benefits. It should help provoke productive questions if ZSR considers this service model.

The other sessions I attended were about Effective Meetings and Managing Time. These sessions had a lot of practical information. For effective meeting planning, we were given Best Practices for setting an agenda, timing and taking minutes. Recommendations for managing our time included computer applications such as Toggl, MyLifeOrganized and Pomodoro. ~Ellen M.

The conference was really good. I enjoyed the session on time management. The video they showed pointed out things we do without even realizing that causes us to lose track. They gave us great tips on what we can do to try to manage our time better like prioritizing and setting schedules and reminders. Other people who attended gave advice on ways they do things without necessarily using technology. ~Doris

There were two sessions I found to be very informative. The technical services networking table talk was a great way to find out what was happening in other libraries. We had a very active discussion about RDA, cataloging issues, bulk importing of e-books and Acquisitions of new and different formats. It was interesting to share our knowledge on problems and solutions from the different institutions. The second session was Managing Time facilitated by Iyanna Sims and Monica Young. It provided different techniques to managing your time effectively to maximize your productivity at work. ~Linda

I am so glad that I was able to attend the 2015 TALA Paraprofessional Conference this year and engage with library staff from across the Triad. All of the sessions I attended provided useful information and offered insights towards implementing greater efficiencies and improving the work that we do. One of the sessions that stuck with me was “Communication and Conducting Effective Meetings”, presented by Cynthia Conn from Elon. Cynthia reviewed best practices for organizing meetings– including tips for setting an agenda, developing an awareness of time, and recording of meeting minutes– and discussed appropriate communication practices for meetings and personal communication practices. I found her recommendations for best practices with agenda-setting particularly useful– she suggests providing clear and specific items on the agenda, dividing meeting topics into categories (discussion items, decision items, and information items), and she advises sending the agenda out two days in advance. She also encouraged us to be good meeting attendees and make sure to review agendas in advance of the actual meeting. Cynthia was an excellent presenter AND a practitioner of her own advice– her “meeting” with us was appropriately organized, she had an agenda, she stuck to the time constraints, and was a clear and effective communicator. I will definitely be using her tips and strategies for future meetings that I lead. ~Meghan