I attended the 6th Annual TALA Paraprofessional Conference held at Winston-Salem State University on Tuesday, May 14th.  It was a day full of laughter, learning, and networking from the beginning of the conference at the registration table till the time I walked back to my car.  I’ve highlighted key moments from the conference below:

  • Wanda K. Brown delivered as the keynote speaker and spoke about “Taking the Lead”.  Wanda shared her journey as a librarian from college to her current position as the Directory of Library Services for the C. G. O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University and incoming president of the American Libraries Association.  I will confess to taking pictures of each of the slides.  However, one major take-away was “Bring your best self every day!” Also, I placed Skip Prichard’s “Book of Mistakes” on my “Want to Read” list in Goodreads.
  • Fellow reference and instruction librarians shared their knowledge and experience at the Networking Hour Table Talk for Reference Services and Instruction led by Anne Seymonds.  Topics flowed between the perceived barriers to students asking questions at the Reference Desk, branding digital spaces, partnering with the Writing Center, integrating libguides into the LMS, and meeting the needs of first-generation college students.
  • The most hilarious session but at the same time the one that enabled each of us to self-assess was the session “Take the Junk out the Trunk:  Breaking Down Stereotypes in Getting to Know Students Organically” by Sharnette Evans and India Page.  The presentation focused on implicit bias and pointed out the fact that over 150 different types of biases exist.  After separating into groups, each group developed their definition of implicit bias and identified examples.  The key turning point occurred when the presenters asked the group “How does implicit bias effect the workplace?”  After a moment of silence, the group brainstormed on how implicit bias effects how we as individuals serve our customers, our interactions with coworkers, and how customers perceive what level of service they will receive.  Sharnette and India encouraged all of us to “Practice mindfulness!”

I definitely enjoyed my time at TALA and would attend again.  It presented moments to network with other librarians at other universities as well as opportunities to get to know fellow librarians here at ZSR.