Erin Dorney

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Posts Tagged ‘PaLA

Student Panel at PaLA Lehigh Valley Chapter

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lvpala

Last week I got to facilitate a really fun session for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Library Association. For my breakout session I decided to copy a format I had seen Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches use back in November 2011 at the Library Journal Summit in Philadelphia.

We recruited students from four local colleges/universities and basically ran a live focus group, talking openly with them about why they use the library, how they do research, and how they use technology. I’m not going to name names to protect these innocent students who so kindly shared their honest opinions about libraries, but we had representatives from Northampton Community College, Widener University, Penn State, and Muhlenberg University. And guys, they were amazing. Everyone was professional and had great, well-articulated thoughts to share. It was really inspiring to work with them (thank you!!!).

In my introduction I shared a little bit about why I wanted to do a session like this instead of just talking to attendees about academic libraries. We talk a lot about initiating change from within (or outside of) our institutions and change-resistors. “User experience” is also a phrase that has gained traction in recent years. In my position, I’ve found that talking directly with users has provided me with the tools I need to initiate change in my library. I realized when we started our Library Student Advisory Board that when I talked with students about different projects or initiatives, they gave me actual evidence as in “yes this is a good idea” or “no, no one would use it like that” that I was able to leverage to bring about changes in the way things were done and the projects I pursued. I think it’s really important for us to talk to our users, to be open to what they have to say, and most importantly, to make changes accordingly. Sometimes it’s difficult to do this because there are so many things vying for our time but I think it’s critical in terms of designing the future for academic libraries.

I remember walking away inspired and excited from Aaron and Amanda’s session in 2011 and I hope attendees had a similar experience after participating last week. If nothing else, perhaps they learned one new thing about the life of a college student, or left feeling empowered to talk to the users at their own institution. Personally, this was one of the most fun presentations I’ve ever done.

A couple of people wanted to see my list of questions, so you can steal those here (no worries, I borrowed most of them from Aaron and Amanda and added some of my own—you have permission to steal this entire idea!). Mine are at the top—the numbers are the initial questions I started with and the indented letters are follow up questions that I asked on the spot based on student responses. If anyone has questions about how this worked, just leave a comment and I can share more details.

Sending huge thanks out to Aaron and Amanda for sharing their questions and advice for the student panel, to LVPALA for inviting me to present at the workshop, to Courtney Eger for being an excellent speaker contact and helping recruit students, to Tina Hertel and Muhlenberg College for helping recruit students, and of course to the students who volunteered their summer time to participate in what could have been a very uncomfortable experience (I hope it wasn’t too bad!). This was truly a session that couldn’t have happened with just me alone. Collaboration for the win!

I’m planning to do another post about things I thought were intriguing about the student responses but I have to transcribe the audio from the session first… stay tuned!

Written by Erin Dorney

May 28, 2013 at 10:53 AM

These are things that are happening

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globe

March

On March 12th (2 PM EST) I’ll be co-presenting “Stealth Librarianship: Creating Meaningful Connections Through User Experience, Outreach, and Liaising” with Kiyomi Deards and Bohyun Kim. We’ll be talking about relationship-building and how user experience research, outreach, and stealth librarianship can be used to create meaningful connections within the campus community. The class size is limited to 60 participants, so register now! And let us know if there is anything specific you’d like to see us cover.

April

I’ll be in Indianapolis from April 10-13 for the ACRL 2013 Conference. It’s my first ACRL and my first trip to Indiana. On the 11th I’ll be presenting on a panel with some my fellow Lead Pipe editors:

From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy – In October 2008, In the Library with the Lead Pipe published its first article. Additionally, numerous groups have been hosting unconferences, infiltrating SXSW, and more. The culmination of do-it-yourself (DIY) activities points to a growing DIY culture that is permeating academic libraries. Find out from some of these DIYers what DIY library culture has inspired in academe, and how these innovative enterprises tie into our scholarship, instruction, and advocacy.

May

I was invited to present a session for academic librarians at the Pennsylvania Library Association Lehigh Valley Chapter Spring Workshop on May 23rd at Muhlenberg College. I’m trying something a little different (modeled on a session I saw Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches do in November 2011) and will be bringing in some students to discuss the library:

A Crevice or a Chasm? Investigating the Disparities Between Experience and Expectation – How wide is the gap between what students expect from the library and what they experience? Hear from four current college students about why, when, and how they use (or don’t use) the library. Audience members will have the opportunity to pose their own questions to the panel following this facilitated conversation.

June

My first conference abroad! A joint proposal I submitted with two colleagues was accepted for presentation at the 5th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries being held in Rome June 4-7 at “La Sapienza” University. Does anyone have international travel tips for me? I’ve never been outside the US, so this is big & awesome news!

One Website to Rule Them All: Meeting the Needs of Students, Faculty, and Librarians – Most academic library websites have three main audiences: students, faculty, and librarians. While there are additional audiences (including non-users, community members, staff, and parents), these three groups spend the most amount of time on our sites. Libraries risk losing credibility and customers if these three main audiences do not have a good experience on the site. While each of these groups has a different set of needs and expectations, many academic libraries do not have the freedom, time, or skill set to develop a distinctive website for each user group. Our challenge, therefore, is to create a single website that meets the needs of each of our individual user groups without sacrificing continuity of design, quality of information, or consistency of navigation for one group over another. This presentation will highlight the opportunities and challenges of building an academic library website for students, faculty, and librarians. Each speaker will address one audience and will highlight various qualitative measurements which attendees can recreate at their home institutions in order to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of their websites to make targeted improvements.

How is your spring looking? Anything you’re looking forward to? If you’ll be at any of these events, make sure to say hello!

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 courtesy of fsse8info on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

January 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

PaLA Conference 2012

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pala 2012 logoJust sharing some of my notes and reflections from the 2012 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference in Gettysburg earlier this week. It was great to see friends and colleagues from across the state. Unfortunately it wasn’t 100% awesome since I was recovering from a bad cold, the hotel wifi was terrible (almost non-existent!), and we couldn’t find a ton of great places to eat in Gettysburg. Health, the interwebs, and good food are apparently staples of my happiness. I did really enjoy the tours this year – a wine tasting at Adams County Winery (picked up a bottle of Turning Point) and a nighttime walking tour of the haunted Farnsworth House Inn and Cemetery Hill! I was running around a lot so I didn’t get to attend a ton of sessions (I co-presented a session on Monday, facilitated two focus groups, and ran three unconference sessions – thanks to all the volunteers!).

Unconference session notes

  • I thought the unconference sessions went really well. Some of the same people came to all three, but there were also new people at each one which made the group breakout discussions pretty unique. We tried to get everyone to do evaluations so PaLA can decide if it’s worthwhile to do again next year (in my opinion, yes!).

Playing for Keeps: Lifelong Learning in the Ludic Library by Barbara Fister (Professor, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library @ Gustavus Adolphus College)

  • The Citation Project – great project coming out of the composition and rhetoric fields
  • Student approach to research is to find some quotes that work and rearrange them
  • Being really good at following the rules stifles creativity and discovery – how does this impact how we teach information literacy?
  • There is value in doing things, not just learning about things

Using “The Filter Bubble” to Create a Teachable Moment by Allyson Valentine (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College) and Laura Wukovitz (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College)

  • Panopticlick
  • “confirmation bias”
  • Peek You
  • My reflections:
    • “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser might be a really fun pick for a college One Book, One Campus program to get students to think about this kind of stuff on a broader scale.
    • Filter bubble instruction might work well in Millersville’s COMM100 classes where students do public speaking and have to present both sides of an argument/persuade their audience.
    • I posed this question during the Q&A portion of the session. Are library database vendors picking up on the idea of the filter bubble? I know some systems have built-in recommender services (if you liked this article, you might like these) but what about federated search systems? Do we know if EBSCO is privileging its content over other provider’s content that has been integrated into the results? If we don’t know how the systems determine relevancy, then we don’t really know, right?

The Space Between: Valuing and Utilizing Empty Spaces in Libraries by Alica White (Head Librarian @ Penn State University Mont Alto)

  • If you look at the aerial view of botanical gardens, they are a lot like the floor plans of library buildings (never noticed this before, but true)
  • Sala Borsa in Bologna, Italy
  • My reflections:
    • We need to think intentionally about the space between and around things in our libraries and be strategic about that space. It’s like whitespace when you’re designing a poster or a layout. The eye needs room to breath in order to take it all in.
    • We could brainstorm some way to revitalize “stacks” as content goes more and more electronic. I was thinking maybe you could take out some shelves from the middle (leave end caps and shelves at the top/bottom – even leave some books on the top ones, maybe?) and then put in a row of hanging plants. This would bring some green elements into the space but also create a nice vertical line that’s not completely solid or blocking too much visibility – a way to section off some space without closing it in completely?

Moving Towards the Future: Three Applications of Cutting-Edge Mobile Technologies in Libraries by Carolyn Sautter (Director of Special Collections and
College Archives @ Gettysburg College), Jessica Howard (Reference & Web Services Librarian @ Gettysburg College), Eric Phetteplace (Emerging Technologies Librarian @ Chesapeake College) and Erin Burns (Reference Librarian @ Penn State University Shenango)

  • Write your search terms like a robot
  • Aurasma augmented reality app seems cool
  • The Gettysburg artiFACTS project is a great example of one area the library could be considered an “expert” at outside the building. There’s lots of artwork located in different buildings on campus and the library could “curate” QR codes with additional information (where the piece came from, history of it, etc) for an interactive exhibit.
  • My reflections:
    • Aurasma (or something like it) would be the perfect thing to incorporate into a poster session at a conference. You could put right on the poster which app to use (or, an entire conference like ALA or ACRL could make the decision to use one app) and then if you put your poster up but weren’t standing right next to it all the time, visitors could scan and see you do a pre-recorded video poster talk.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Session notes from PaLA 2011

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Below are my notes and key takeaways from the 2011 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference. Some of the sessions have posted slides and handouts online and more are being added daily. You can also check out photos from the conference on my Flickr or on the PaLA photostream.

Service-Learning @ the University Library

Featuring Kelly Heider, Education Librarian, Indiana University of PA & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • National Service-Learning Clearinghouse = resources for K-Higher Ed.
  • Libraries could investigate support from/collaboration with advancement and admissions.
  • Key ingredients for service-learning are community service, instruction & reflection. There is an increase in student motivation to learn content because they are putting it directly into practice. Students have the ability to transfer knowledge to different situations.
  • Ideas from attendees (but, always have to remember, what is the library role?):
    • Campus daycare/Early Education students – students read a story, teach a mini lesson, hold a reflection session
    • Local shelters/Social Work students – students teach basic information literacy/computer skills
    • Community center/Art students – students work with children at community centers to create murals or do beautification projects
    • Disaster-stricken communities/Disaster and Emergency Management students – students create and implement plans
    • Community members and historical societies/History students – students work with Archives & Special Collections librarians to learn about preservation, community members bring in items they want to preserve for assistance
    • Retirement home/Computer Science students – students teach basic computer skills

A Safe Space on Campus: Winning Strategies Academic Libraries Can Use to Serve GLBTQ Students and Faculty

Featuring Matthew P. Ciszek, Head Librarian, Penn State Shenango; Kristen Yarmey, Digital Services Librarian, Weinberg Memorial Library, University of Scranton; Tara Fay, Faculty Specialist, University of Scranton & sponsored by the College and Research Division. Link to slideshow.

My takeaways:

  • Although there is a rise in self-identified GLBTQ students, there is still an invisible community with a variety of needs.
  • Libraries should offer an electronic format research guide so that LGBTQ students can access information online rather than have to come into the library and ask for help. The guide should have an actual contact person for follow up, ideally someone who has been through safe zone training. Identify someone as the point person for student organizations, faculty doing research in LGBTQ areas. (TO DO)
  • Encompassing the resources described above under “Diversity” or “Women/Gender Studies” may not be helpful – less intuitive, less findable.
  • Organize GLBTQ training session for all library staff, as everyone working in this space should have a basic knowledge of LGBTQ issues, particularly when dealing with the public (Circulation, Help Desk, etc).
  • Find out what the needs are of LGBTQ students on campus and then ask how we can meet those needs. For example, could ask students/faculty to complete: “as a lgbtq ally/ library user, I feel welcome when…”
  • Invite a representative from LGBTQ/Allies student organization to serve on library student advisory board. (TO DO)
  • October is GLBTQ history month. Library display ideas include connecting to student life, history of LGBTQ groups on campus, hook into archives and special collections for images & ephemera.
  • As a safe, neutral space on campus, the library could host LGBTQ/Allies student organization meetings.
  • Check out Matt’s article: Ciszek, Matthew P. “Out on the Web: The Relationship between Campus Climate and GLBT-related Web-based Resources in Academic Libraries.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 37.5 (2011): 430-436.

Get Off the Bench: Low Cost Outreach Initiatives @ Your Academic Library

Featuring Robin Wagner, Library Director, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College; Jennifer Luksa, Head of Collection Resource Management, Bevevino Library, Misericordia University; Colleen Newhart, Access Services Manager, Bevevino Library, Misericordia University & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • Have the campus theater group do a preview show in the library – free programming for you, practice and pr for them.
  • When communicating with faculty and inviting them to library events, have them bring their best students with them.
  • Look for a balance between formal and informal events to improve visibility.
  • Students love cake in the library. Announce it over the PA system. Making/decorating the cake could also be a staff activity. When you’re serving the cake, hang out near the table and talk to students.
  • Students seem to love cardboard cutout people – presidential candidates, pop culture icons, etc. Can dress them up for special events.
  • Feature the photography of students who have traveled abroad as a rotating art exhibit. Have them write an accompanying artist statement.
  • For artwork, pull line art from old college yearbooks.
  • Paper airplane making/flying contest.
  • If you have a large staircase, have a slinky race.
  • Hand out bags of microwave popcorn with “tickets” to film/AV databases on them to departments. Track usage statistics.
  • Have a make-your-own-valentine table. Ask students to write a valentine to the library, what they love about the library. Collect those and you have great testimonials for annual reports, etc.
  • Create valentine cards, distribute them to staff members. Tell them to mail a card to anyone who has done something nice for them during the semester/year. This helps with visibility and fostering goodwill. (TO DO)

Nature, Nurture, and Pennsylvania Academic Library Managers

Featuring Russell A. Hall, Reference Librarian, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • Hall did a survey of academic library managers in Pennsylvania. He sent out 313 surveys and received a 38% response rate. 62% of respondents were female, 38% were male, and all had MLS degrees.
  • When asked about the most difficult aspect of library management, 64% responded “Personnel/Human Resources.”
  • When asked what management skills students should learn in LIS programs, respondents said: evaluation/ assessment, strategic planning, communication, human resources & budgeting
  • Respondents also called for a “safe environment” to talk about management issues.
  • Survey results showed that the top personal attribute to being a manager was interpersonal skills, then integrity and vision.
  • Survey respondents said personality traits were more important than learned skills in nature v nurture aspect (75/25)
  • Audience members questioned the differences between library leadership and library management. Also asked what instruments exist to evaluate leadership, management, and change within an organization.

Beyond the Library Walls: Community Hot Spots

Featuring Hedra Packman, Director of Library Services, Free Library of Philadelphia; Khaleef Aye, Community Outreach Specialist, Free Library of Philadelphia; Jenn Donsky, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Hot Spot Coordinator; a gentleman from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation whose name I forgot to write down & sponsored by the Library Administration & Management Round Table and the Public Library Division.

My takeaways:

  • Free Library is taking the library out into the community through partnerships. They looked for established community gathering places instead of trying to create a spot of their own. Organizations had to be lockable, open to everyone in the community, closely knit & sustainable.
  • The hot spots also offered technology connected to library resources. 40% of homes in Philly don’t have Internet access. All content at the hot spots is filtered, even wireless.
  • However, there is a difference between access to technology and access to the knowledge of how to use that technology. Some of the people running/working int he hot spots are actually members of the community organization, not library staff. When the grant money runs out, they hope there will be a knowledge transfer. They will leave the equipment and someone within that organization will be trained.
  • Target audiences for this project were job seekers, new Americans, families with young children, the digital savvy, and entrepreneurs.
  • Hot spot partnerships bring vibrancy to neighborhoods and visibility for the library. There has been a lot of demand – they have donors coming to them who want to sponsor a hot spot.

Technology Tools for Assessment Toolkit

Featuring Linda Musser, Head, Fletcher L. Byrom Earth & Mineral Sciences Library, Penn State University; Michelle Belden, Access Archivist, Penn State University; Emily Rimland, Information Literacy Librarian, Penn State University & sponsored by the Library Instruction Round Table.

My takeaways:

  • Before you can assess, you have to know why you’re doing it. With Twitter metrics, pick a few that relate to your library’s goals. Which are most relevant to you?
  • Use analysis = followers, readers, retweets, replies, mentions, clicks. Content analysis = content relevance to mission, composition, tone of writing, number of tweets per day/week.
  • Twitter tools/ideas:
  • Google Analytics
    • Visitors: You can see what browser visitors are using, their screen dimensions (web designers can use this data to meet user needs), if they are accessing the site via mobile, and service providers (can use this to determine on and off campus locations)
    • Traffic: Shows you keywords used
    • Content: Overlays on top of your site and visually shows where visitors go once they’re there.
    • Funnels: The series of pages users would go through to get somewhere. You can find new paths and see where you lose people to design better sites.
    • Use Google’s Conversion University forums for help.
  • Poll Everywhere - Live polling via SMS, web, Twitter
    • Ask: How would you describe your feelings about research? (free text response)
    • At the end of the instruction session, ask: Where I am going to begin the next time I need to do research? (free text response)
    • At the end of the instruction session, ask: How many resources have you found for your assignment?
    • You can use Poll Anywhere to measure pre and post instruction. Emily got IRB permission for this, might depend on your university.
    • Poll Anywhere has a filter that you can turn on or off, she has never had any problems.
    • Reassure the students that it is all anonymous and not connected to phone numbers or names.

Rethinking Information Literacy: Classroom Evidence for Incorporating Students’ Social Media Practices into our Professional Understanding

Featuring Donna Mazziotti, Public Services Librarian, Weinberg Memorial Library, University of Scranton and Teresa Grettano, English Professor, Department of English & Theatre, University of Scranton & sponsored by the College and Research Division.

My takeaways:

  • Librarian and English professor co-taught a course on rhetoric and social media, incorporating ACRL information literacy standards. There were 13 students in the class and the instructors viewed the class as a series of case studies. They started with a research question: What are the effects of social media use in our students information seeking behaviors and processes? Another overarching theme was that “it’s about culture, not technological functions.”
  • Instructors obtained informed consent to use student’s assignments for data and created a private Facebook group to take screenshots. Students were asked to keep a log of Facebook activity for 3 hours per week.
  • They found: That information now comes to users, via customized feeds, RSS, etc. By customizing feeds (like curating their Facebook news ticker settings) students are articulating a future information need. However, this creates a filter bubble. Students don’t know what has been edited out, similar to the idea of the echo chamber.
  • They found: That information recall and attribution are now social. Recall is not based on the source, but the person who shared that link with them (ANDY this is where you were quoted but the slides aren’t up yet).
  • The layout of a post on Facebook contributes to rhetorical strategy and provides clues on what is being privileged: the sharer, not the content. Students were asked to analyze a Facebook profile and determine what assumptions could they make from the information presented on the profile.
  • They found: That “expertise and passion are conflated.”
  • They found: That evaluation is social. Students don’t care about what is being posted unless they know the person. Also, the more engagement an article has (comments, shares, RTs), the more relevant/reputable the information is to the students. If the information is behind a paywall, why? We could relate this to peer review, open comment systems. (FOLLOW UP ON THIS IDEA)
  • They found: That information is now open. Students are creating information on a daily basis on Facebook, contributing to radical transparency on the web.
  • Student log quote: “We won’t feel forced to share, we will simply be terrified of not sharing” (related FB to the idea of the panopticon).
  • Student log quote: “If people are conditioned to be transparent, they will be better people.”
  • Instructors concluded that “Information literacy now situated within a social and decentralized, non hierarchical information environment”

PA Poets Write About Pennsylvania, and Other States of Being!

Featuring Julia Kasdorf, Erin Murphy, Todd Davis and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley & sponsored by the Local Authors Committee.

I can’t write too much in terms of “takeaways” for a poetry reading session, but I strongly encourage you to check these poets out. Their work was reflective of Pennsylvania and hearing them read was very inspirational.I purchased a few of their books in the PaLA store but I unfortunately had to run and check out of the hotel so I didn’t have time to chat with them or have them sign my copies.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 11, 2011 at 3:33 PM

PaLA Annual Conference 2011

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palalogo11

I’ll be at the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference in State College Sunday through Wednesday (October 2-5). Thought I’d share my tentative schedule here in case anyone wants to catch up before/during/after a session or grab meals together. You can always send me a tweet or DM @libscenester to get in touch.

Sunday, October 2

3:15-4:15 – Service-Learning @ the University Library

4:30-5:30 – A Safe Space on Campus: Winning Strategies Academic Libraries Can Use to Serve GLBTQ Students and Faculty

6:30-7:30 – College & Research Division Dine Out

8-11 – Unofficial PaLA Conference Tweetup

Monday, October 3

7:30-8:30 – Eye Opener Yoga

10:30-11:45 – Get Off the Bench: Low Cost Outreach Initiatives @ Your Academic Library (I’m moderating!)

1-2 – Poster session – I’ll be there co-presenting my poster “Changing Perspectives, Building Careers: Library Internships for Undergrads”

2:15-3:15 – Nature, Nurture, and Pennsylvania Academic Library Managers

Tuesday, October 4

9-10:15 – Beyond the Library Walls: Community Hot Spots

11-12 – Technology Tools for Assessment Toolkit

12:15-2 – College & Research Division Luncheon featuring Marshall Breeding “Beyond the ILS: Introduction and Future Directions”

3:30-4:30 – Brainstorming session about PaLA reorganization

4:30-6 – Annual Business Meeting

Wednesday, October 5

9-10:15 – Rethinking Information Literacy: Classroom Evidence for Incorporating Students’ Social Media Practices into our Professional Understanding

10:30-11:45 – PA Poets Write About Pennsylvania, and Other States of Being!

This is the first time I’ll be bringing my iPad with me to a conference, so we’ll see how it goes with note taking! Any advice on good iPhone or iPad apps to have for conferences?

Written by Erin Dorney

September 30, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Tweetup @ PaLA Annual Conference

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Logo for Otto's Pub & Brewery

If you’re going to be in State College for the 2011 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference, consider attending the unofficial tweetup! It would be super lame if you spent the first night of the conference alone in your hotel room, and Otto’s Pub & Brewery has a great beer list! Anyone is welcome, whether you tweet or not. We’ll be drinking, networking, and gearing up for the next three days of conferencing.

Date: Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time: 8 PM – 11 PM

Place: Otto’s Pub & Brewery (http://ottospubandbrewery.net/)

Our hashtag is #palatweetup, so use that if you’re doing any pre-event tweeting! I’ll also probably start a twitter list of attendees at some point. If you’re wondering what a tweetup is, it’s where people who Twitter (or use other social networks) meet up in real life. It is a great opportunity to meet virtual friends in real life and learn more about common interests (in this case, libraries).

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=153110941445881

Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/pala11tweetup

Hope to see you there!

Written by Erin Dorney

September 17, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Leadership is a function of knowing yourself: PALS 2011

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Lets Go I Want To Go All The Way To The Horizon by Bethan on Flickr

I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Pennsylvania Library Association Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS) last week. PALS is a cooperative endeavor between PaLA and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries with support from Polaris Library Systems. The yearly program offers leadership development for newer librarians (those with less than 6 years of experience) through training and mentoring support. You can learn more about the program (including 2009 and 2010 graduates – 2011 participants will hopefully be up soon-) by visiting the PaLA website. It is an incredibly important program in terms of recognizing, developing, and ensuring continuity of effective library leadership within Pennsylvania.

I have a bit of history with the initiative (I was invited to speak to the inaugural class and compare the program with ALA Emerging Leaders back in 2009) but this time was a completely new experience. Along with four other Pennsylvania librarians, I am a mentor for the class of 2011. Mentors got to attend the academy and participate in various ways, including sharing illustrations of leadership from their own experience. Post-academy, I will work with a small group of PALS graduates in my geographic area but will also support all of the graduates in terms of networking, leadership, career and personal development.

That’s right, folks. Three years ago I moved to Pennsylvania (not knowing a single soul) to start my first professional position as a librarian. And it was a newly-created position to boot. Now I am being asked to mentor other new librarians and support them on their journeys. It’s pretty dang amazing. I was preparing for the academy and my boyfriend asked me, “Did you consider yourself a leader before they invited you to do this?” Honestly, no. I never sat down and thought about it. But now I see that it’s what I have been aiming to do all along, even with this blog. Leadership is a choice we make and it doesn’t hinge on being in a position of power. More on that later. I am so honored to be a part of PALS, and I know I will learn just as much (if not more) from the friends I have made through this experience as they will learn from me.

Along with friends, I came home with a copious amount of notes and new ideas (shamelessly stolen), so look for more posts on library leadership right here. Perhaps this is the re-invigoration I needed to spark my blogging back up. Pete Bromberg has already requested that I turn my opening keynote into a blog post (it’s coming, I promise!) so keep your eyes peeled.

In good consciousness, I could not wrap up this post without thanking the PALS organizers for inviting me to participate, particularly Tina Hertel, Angela Buckley, Holly Etzweiler, Mike Packard, Allyson Valentine, Mary Garm, and Marguerite Dube. And of course, all of the PALS Class of 2011 – you are such an inspiration to me! I look forward to learning with you and making our collective mark on libraries in Pennsylvania.

Written by Erin Dorney

June 12, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Posted in Libraries

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