My first NCLA was a couple of very fun days! I was glad to not have the stress of presenting, so I could focus on the wide array of available sessions and making friends across discipline. Having mostly attended archives conferences, I enjoyed the opportunity to cross paths with a group of library workers from a variety of library types, doing a variety of jobs. I did attend an archives presentation – only one! – mostly taking advantage of opportunities to learn about topics such as the 2020 Census and librarians’ roles (fascinating), supervision and time management (always useful), and team strategic planning (eternally relevant).

The first event for me was a Tuesday afternoon workshop, Web Accessibility Basics and Beyond. As a person on the internet, I have picked up a little about accessibility and have seen Kevin working on site keyboard navigation; I enjoyed learning more formally about the tenets of accessibility and opportunities to make materials more accessible. Some key takeaways for me include:

  • The free WAVE Web Accessibility Tool is a great first step in determining how accessible materials are
  • PDFs are not as accessible as I would have thought, even if they have been OCRed – bad OCR and format tags are a screen reader’s enemy.
  • Accessibility related to e-resources is important for similar reasons, since both the site and the resource itself can have accessibility issues.

I was also really inspired by the first day’s keynote speaker, Melanie Huggins of the Richland County Library System in Columbia, S.C. Melanie discussed how she and her whole system of public librarians and staff used design thinking to consider the library’s values and mission. Those in turn helped drive the library’s planning for spaces needed in each one of their existing and new branch libraries, and how the spaces could be used to provide for the community members’ needs and wants. Where the stacks were was less important than the acts of welcoming neighborhood kids, providing programming that helps people communicate across difference, or helping the city envision possibilities for development of waterfront parks for community use. I appreciated how it seems like Huggins has used her vision to support the creativity and vision of her employees, in order to then support and improve the communities that the branch and central libraries serve. Design thinking came up several times across this NCLA in sessions, and I’m learning more about its background and execution thanks to online resources recommended by an IT/archives Twitter friend.

Other highlights included the array of vendors and a gift basket raffle (I can never resist a charitable venture!), seeing so many ZSR colleagues around – many of whom presented multiple times across the conference – and a few fellow archivists, and being able to go home for lunch and a little quiet time both days that I was able to attend. Thanks especially to all the ZSR folks who were involved in the planning and presentations of a great NCLA annual!