On Wednesday, May 24 eleven staff members from ZSR Library headed to the beautiful campus of Elon University to attend the 4th Annual TALA Paraprofessional Conference. This Conference is a collaborative effort between Wake Forest University, Elon University, Guilford Tech. Community College, High Point University, NC A&T State University, Salem University, UNC-Greensboro, and Winston-Salem State University. There was a total of 111 people signed up representing 10 academic institutions as well as 10 people from public libraries who were included for the first time this year.

Human Library talk at TALA 2017

Because we all headed in different directions, we’d like to individually share some thoughts on the Conference.

This year I was given the opportunity to serve on the planning committee for this conference. I also volunteered to moderate one of the Table Talks on the subject of Resource Sharing/ILL. There were 10 tables, each addressing a different subject, and conference attendees could go to the table of their choice or even move from table to table.

At the Resource Sharing table we had six people in our group with the participants’ ILL experience ranging from 2 months to 15 years. It was a good conversation about the victories and frustrations that interlibrary loan departments experience.  (To be honest, we mostly talked about our frustrations) I don’t think we scared off our newbie and I was able to encourage them all to attend the annual NC ILL Users Conference this summer.  In light of ILL’s dependence on collaboration it was good to add faces to names and let them know we’re available for help. – Ellen Makaravage

TALA 2017 Table TalkHuman Library – Patrick Rudd, Cristina Vega, and Linda Lashendock (Elon) 

I learned a great deal on the meaning of “Human Libraries” and how beneficial they are for just about anyone. Human libraries were created to foster diversity and allow individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, etc. have a better understanding of certain stereotypes and biases. Residence Life, the Gender and LGBTQIA Center (GLC), and Office of Inclusive Community Well-Being at Elon did an excellent job with collaborating to make this project a success.

“Engaging the Millennials and Gen Zs: Training student workers (Wanda Brown – WSSU)

I found this session to be the most beneficial simply because I’ve mentored and trained student workers. During the session participants shared stories, asked questions and provided feedback on engaging and related to millennials.   – Renee Berry

Human Library book descriptions
Human Library catalog records

After listening to the other TALA members complain about student issues, I realized there needs to be greater understanding and growth on the part of the Student Supervisors. Times have changed. A new generation of student is attending college.  That requires those working with the students to get out of their routines and adjust accordingly.  Life goes on much smoother when there is flexibility and understanding.  Student supervisors need to work to get along with their students to maximize performance, and not just continue to be a “stick in the mud.” – David Link

I enjoyed attending the TALA Conference at Elon University on May 24th. I found the networking hour table talks to be particularly useful to me. I attended the networking hour table talk on Acquisitions workflows led by Michelle Courtney of UNCG. UNCG uses the OCLC WorldShare next generation library system and the staff spoke about some of their issues with using this system.

I had an opportunity to speak with one of their staff members who works with serials in WorldShare and it is very interesting to learn about her workflows with the new system. Serials are treated like firm orders and there are global patterns for serials check-in. Currently, we use a lot of patterns for our serials work flow, so it will be interesting when we move to a new system to see how we will be able to keep our patterns or if global patterns could be a good option. – Bradley Podair

At the TALA Conference, I enjoyed hearing about how Elon University implemented the Human Library. Their bookshelf was full of bestsellers ready to answer questions from readers. Also, this service is free to all their patrons. – Tara Hauser

TALA Table Talk

I found the TALA Conference to be very informative. I took the tour of the Belk Library.  It was a beautiful space.  The Archives and Special Collections have institutional materials, faculty and personal papers, and church history collections.  They also have information on the Town of Elon and surrounding communities. In the archives, you can also find types of items including printed and photographic materials, video/audio, artifacts, and other memorabilia. They also have off-site storage.  They have around 26 full time staff and one part-time staff member. – Kristen Morgan

I thought the TALA conference was pretty good. My favorite sessions were about student assistants and Monesha’s talk on manipulating records. It helped me understand what she does and how it ties in with my work. I was doing things the long route, now this will help me shorten my work flow. – Doris Jones

Doris, Monesha, Renee and Tara at TALA 2017The thing I enjoyed the most at this year’s TALA Conference was the round table. I joined the Miscellaneous table which was open to any topic. We had an engaging discussion that moved freely from topic to topic. A couple of the more interesting discussions were migrating to a new ILS and RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification), which only a couple of libraries used. I also found the opening session “Human Library” interesting. The idea of an individual being a book and available for checkout I found intriguing.  – Tim Mitchell

Tara and Travis

The TALA conference was interesting this year.  The opening speakers talked about human library books.  A person would write a brief description of their life.  A patron would read the description.  If a patron was interested in reading the book, then they would check out (talk to the person) for 20 minutes.  I thought it was a nice way to learn “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” – Travis Manning

While I’m sure a few people like me found themselves listening to “Systems. HUH. What are they good for?” because the talk that was scheduled opposite to it was cancelled, I bet they didn’t realize how useful it would be. The presenters were not just engaging and entertaining speakers, they introduced automation to a crowd half-comprised of front-line service workers in a way that was non-threatening and, even more importantly, actually relevant to their jobs. They spoke about programming in Python, sure, but also helped ease in the concept through very handy web services including IFTTT (IF This Then That), which I’ve started to use myself in the time since. It was a lively presentation and found ways to be relevant to all kinds of jobs represented in the room. I didn’t plan to see this one, but I’m glad I did! – Jon Moore

Monesha at TALA 2017

This year I was able to participate in the TALA conference by giving a brief presentation on maintaining consistent MARC records for e-resources. I was the very last presenter of the day, so that was challenging within itself. I had attended another session earlier in the day on a very similar topic and I realized that ZSR is very unique in the aspect of how we handle our bib record loads and how maintenance is done.  This reassured me that we are on top of our game and we are very efficient. (Go ZSR!!)  I appreciate the effort of the TALA planning committee to add more tech topics to the itinerary.  The makes the conference much more attractive to me and I hope this continues.  I will say that the short drive to Elon from my house was amazing. Nevertheless, the drive to WFU from Greensboro every day is well worth it : ) – Monesha Staton