We hit the road for Knoxville, TN to attend the 5th Annual Gathering of The Library Collective on March 6th-8th. The Library Collective is 501(c)(3) organization committed to professional development and innovation for library and information professionals, and their Annual Gatherings (conferences) are known for hands-on, skill-building sessions that promote collaboration and active learning. This year’s theme was “Stand & Deliver” (you know, the 1988 film based on the true story of Jaime Escalante) and 80s references were in full force! What follows are our take-aways from this conference, and if you’re interested, session notes and many session materials are linked from the conference schedule.

Unsolved Mysteries: Does Information Literacy Need Libraries?

Dianne Brown and Ashley Petersen, two Instruction Librarians from Tufts University, presented a very interesting session on their experience with de-centering the library in a credit-bearing information literacy course. Their course, The Internet We Deserve? Questioning Our Lives Online, provided students with the opportunity to think critically about the contemporary online experience and to interrogate the real world consequences of our virtual experiences. The focus on Internet literacy and real world application was inspiring and situating the course within the present contexts of our lived experiences online (issues related to privacy, net neutrality, corporate and government mediation of online experiences, etc.) offered a greater degree of relevancy for students. Needless to say, a lot of ideas were presented that could be applied to our own instruction practices.  Dianne and Ashley have made their slides and some of their course materials available: http://bit.ly/CollectiveUnsolved19

Developing Soft Skills and Gaining Hands-On Experience

Similar to past Library Collective gatherings, there were plenty of opportunities to reflect on professional soft skills and gain hands-on experience.

  • In Navigating the Labyrinth of Feedback, Emily Frigo and Ashley Rosener (Grand Valley State University) offered an in-depth workshop on developing strategies for giving/receiving feedback. The session offered valuable recommendations for active/empathetic listening, developing assertive communication and how to approach questioning without eliciting defensiveness.
  • A session on using escape room programming to promote / build / assess information literacy and advanced search skills provided advice and practical recommendations for designing and assessing escape room games. Kathy also attended a session on creating an escape room in Special Collections and Archives at Mars Hill University that focused on advanced research skills and sources. We even had the chance to develop one of our own on the Iran-Contra Affair!
  • In addition to a button-making boot camp, there were plenty of opportunities to design, create buttons in an opening session activity and in the Tinker Lab.
  • A team from the Salt Lake City, Utah area led a workshop called Book Works Petting Zoo where participants could make our own junk journals and meander accordion books, and received instructions for how to make other kinds of books, too. (Craig would be so proud.) They discussed how they have used “junk journal” in community writing classes, because it encourages people to just put anything down without worrying how “pretty” or “perfect” it is. It’s truly for just getting your ideas down on paper.
We tried out the green screen photo booth (one of the technology demos available in the Tinker Lab space). This could offer a fun and easy way to engage students in technology, and may be something we could use to enhance a future outreach event (maybe for the next ZSR Open?!) . . .