SAGE Support Staff Travel Grant Recipient Reports

Donna Hanna, Darlene Hert, Trish Pelletier, Susan Prefontaine, Scott Reinke, and Mary Tilley are the 2006 winners of the Sage Support Staff Travel Grant, which permitted them to attend their first ALA Conference. Due to the success of last year's award, the award was extended to six individuals this year.

the group of six sage grant winners

donna hanna Donna Hanna

State University of New York (SUNY)-Geneseo

As anticipated, we were all graciously welcomed by the great city of New Orleans. It was apparent at every turn that our presence was greatly appreciated. Everyone seemed to bend over backwards to ensure that our stay was a safe and memorable event.

I arrived early for the 2006 ALA Conference in order to participate in the "Libraries Building Communities," and helped out at the Benjamin Franklin High School. Six feet of floodwater had entered the school, and they had lost most of the books on the lower shelves in their library. There were several volunteer options, and I chose to help move their library collection to a temporary location in another building near their soon-to-be completed new library. With a great team effort, we were able to move most of the collection.

I attended many sessions during the conference. The first was "I Want to Speak to the Person in Charge," which featured tips to use to avoid difficult situations and ensure that proper policies are in place. I attended "Mold and Its Effects," which is a great topic any time, but seemed even more relevant with what New Orleans and the surrounding areas have had to deal with. I also attended "Understanding LC Classification." This was an overview of the ALCTS/PCC two-day workshop. We focused on how a call number is constructed, but the overall workshop looks very beneficial, and I look forward to taking it at some point.

There were several special events, and I enjoyed listening to a great line-up of speakers during the conference, including Charlie Fox and Ed Martinez, editors of Library Mosaics; Cali Williams Yost, President and founder of Work+Life Fit, Inc.; Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State; Anderson Cooper, CNN television journalist; and Cokie Roberts, political commentator for ABC News.

Wandering through the "stacks" was both interesting and entertaining. I picked up a lot of new ideas as well as some great giveaways. I made a point of stopping by the Sage booth to thank them for their generosity in providing the grants.

The conference was very well organized and I would like to thank everyone from the Sage Support Staff Travel Grants Jury for selecting me to win one of the awards. I would also like to thank the people who helped with my registration, made travel arrangements and answered my questions. Thank you to all of the folks in New Orleans who made us all feel so welcome. I would especially like to thank Sage for offering the grants and providing an opportunity for library support staff to attend this outstanding event.

darlene hert Darlene Hert

Montana State University-Billings Library, Billings, Montana

Attending my first ALA conference in New Orleans was an exhilarating experience that I will never forget. I developed a daily itinerary and decided I would not worry if it did not go according to schedule, based on logistics warnings given by my co-workers and mentor.

Highlights of my trip included a walking tour of the French Quarter, a tour of the Historic New Orleans Collection, St. Peter's cemetery and lunch at the Gumbo Shop. The presentation by John Wood, founder of the Room to Read nonprofit organization, was awesome. He autographed advance copies of his book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children. I attended a variety of programs, visited the numerous exhibits, perused the poster sessions, and watched the Book Cart Drill Teams perform.

I attended the ALA diversity program on mentoring and had the special privilege of meeting Dr. Ling Hwey Jeng. Dr. Jeng was one of the program presenters and is currently the Director of Texas Women's University online library science program, where I am pursuing my Master's in Library Science degree online.

I felt extremely honored at the ALCTS Awards ceremony held at the Hotel Monteleone. The six travel grant award winners were presented with beautiful framed awards from ALCTS and Sage Publications. It was an honor to meet the other winners as well as representatives from ALCTS and Sage Publications.

I would like to thank ALCTS and Sage Publications for this opportunity to attend the 2006 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to my Library Director, Jane Howell, for supporting me in the application process, encouraging me in professional development and providing financial support to extend my stay in New Orleans. My overall experience was very rewarding and fulfilling. I will always remember my first ALA conference experience with fondness; especially because I was overwhelmed by the many expressions of thanks from the local people of New Orleans.

trish pelletier Trish Pelletier

Apache Junction Public Library, Apache Junction, Arizona

What an impact ALA made on New Orleans! Leave it to ALA to pave the way for others to follow. Thanks to ALCTS and a grant from Sage Publications, five other individuals and I had the opportunity to attend the ALA Annual Conference. As the experience will forever be remembered, heartfelt thanks go to ALCTS and Sage Publications for this opportunity. Throughout the conference, the other grant recipients and I were able to meet and exchange ideas and information. We all quickly became friends. My mentor, Dale Swensen, was very helpful by providing tips for navigating the conference.

My most memorable experience was participating in the "Libraries Building Communities" volunteer effort on Friday. I volunteered at St. Mary's Academy school library. St. Mary's Academy had extensive damage, and the Academy merged locations with another school until rebuilding and repairs can be completed. Extensive cleaning, repairs and set up were needed at the new location so the children and teens would have a library when school starts this fall. One thing I learned was how much we take our own public and school libraries for granted.

The entire conference was overflowing with information. The sessions were numerous. I often found that it was difficult to choose which one to attend. All the sessions I attended provided me with valuable information to use at my library. Cataloging is rapidly changing. The information from the sessions will help me keep current with the variety of changes coming down the line. This is why ALA and other associations will always continue to be extremely valuable to library staff. ALA keeps us current with all the changes in technology and changing environments.

I strongly encourage support staff to lobby for opportunities to attend local meetings and state, regional and national conferences. These experiences are not just for librarians. They are for the whole library community because it takes more then just professional staff to make a library great.

Susan Prefontaine Susan Prefontaine

Electronic Periodicals Management Department, University at Buffalo/State University of New York (SUNY)

My experiences at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans were very rewarding. Instead of feelings of trepidation about attending the conference in a city that had been through so much the previous year during Hurricane Katrina, I was anxious to see for myself how the city had endured and what was being done to rebuild it.

The bus ride from the airport provided some opportunity for this. Our bus driver acted as a tour guide and explained much on the way downtown. He pointed out the peak water level at thirteen feet on a bridge, showed us the 17th Street levee and drove us by the Super Dome, undergoing repairs. The workers on the roof of the Superdome looked like tiny ants. Although the extent of the devastation was not evident from my bus, tears welled in my eyes when the bus driver thanked each and every one of us for supporting the City of New Orleans by standing by the decision to hold ALA there. Our presence meant that he would get a paycheck for the first time in quite a while. As he drove us to our various hotels, we passed by the Morial Convention Center. This massive structure housed thousands of people during and after the hurricane. It suffered extensive damage, and crews were still working on it as we drove by. Most of the convention center was up and running to host the ALA exhibits and many workshops. I checked into my hotel, the Astor Crowne Plaza, on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal Street. I decided to walk back to the convention center to register and get my badge. I wanted to walk to see as much as I could even though it was 96 degrees and steamy. I was fortunate enough to walk right past Mother's restaurant, a New Orleans institution. It was everything I heard it would be.

I attended my first program on Saturday. "Publisher Packages in the E-World: New Roles for Libraries, Publishers and Agents" was sponsored by the Serials Section. The panel consisted of recognized representatives from various publishers, agents and libraries. The discussion explored the changing roles of each group in the management of subscriptions in the electronic environment. I really enjoyed the lively discussion and differing opinions that were presented. I found the content to be very pertinent to understanding the work that I do, and it really helped me grasp the evolving "big picture." Next I attended "Current Developments in E-Resource Licensing and Rights: What You and Your Institution Need to Know" which was presented by the ALCTS Electronic Resources Interest Group. The panel discussed the complexities of licensing, including deciphering terminology, copyright, and recording the proper metadata in the various local systems. The speakers were great, and I came away from the session with the feeling that they only had time to scratch the surface of this very complex issue. After a very nice lunch and presentation hosted by EBSCO, I hurried over to another session presented by the LITA MARC Format Interest Group. There was much discussion about the implementation by OCLC of the MARC Holdings (MFHD) this past February, including the migration and the challenges that have ensued. This was another very informative session presented by stellar speakers.

I was fortunate enough to have been included in an invitation from Emerald to cruise the Mississippi Saturday evening aboard the John James Audubon. We chatted with the Emerald representatives while munching on locally inspired finger foods and listening to great live jazz. It was a wonderful close to a very busy day.

I spent time on Sunday walking through acres of exhibits at the convention center. I was amazed at the scope of the whole thing. I had been told, but until you see it, you just cannot imagine it. The ALCTS Awards ceremony was later in the afternoon. It was the first time that all the award recipients were together. We finally had the opportunity to meet with the members of the awards jury. It was an honor to be included in such a wonderful group, and we developed a real feeling of camaraderie. After the reception all six of us went out for a great dinner at a local hot spot and then walked through the French Quarter.

Dr. David Levy, Professor, University of Washington Information School, was the speaker at the 2006 ALCTS President's Program on Monday. His presentation was entitled "Information Overload and the Quality of Your Life: Can a New Environmental Movement Restore Balance?" What a wonderful program! Every person in the room could relate to what he was saying, as was evidenced by the many commentaries in the question and answer period.

I am so honored to have been chosen for this award. I want to wholeheartedly endorse this travel grant to my fellow library support staff. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you to ALCTS and Sage Publications for the honor and the opportunity. Everywhere I went the people of New Orleans thanked me for being there. As I stood in line at the airport to check my bags for the trip home, a woman asked me if I was with ALA. When I said yes, she asked to shake my hand to thank me for coming. What a memorable end to an incredible trip.

scott reinke Scott Reinke

National Archives and Records Administration, St. Louis, Missouri

The ALA conference was a successful and rewarding experience that allowed me to interact with other preservation professionals and gain a better understanding of the role that preservation plays in America's libraries.

The ALCTS/Sage Support Staff Travel Grant coordinators paired me with a mentor, Hilary Seo. Her familiarity with the Preservation and Reformatting Section (PARS) of ALCTS was very beneficial, helping me to gain the most from my experience. I met with Hilary before the ALCTS/PARS Preservation Administration Discussion Group to become acquainted and discuss my goals for the conference. Hilary was great about introducing me to members of the group, and this helped facilitate conversations for the rest of the conference.

I attended two sessions that were particularly interesting. One covered the topic of mold, and the other concerned preservation education. Having experienced a flood-related disaster myself, I thought the discussion about mold in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina covered new ground and will benefit people having to deal with future disasters. The preservation education session opened my eyes to the exciting work taking place in this area. I have enjoyed sharing what I know in preservation courses in the past, and am exploring whether I can contribute to any course work that is currently under development.

My advice for future award recipients is to leave plenty of time for networking with your colleagues. I am sure people attend ALA for many reasons, but for me it was an opportunity to share information and develop relationships. When I worked at the University of Hawaii, it was difficult to attend conferences, but now that I am working for the National Archives and Records Administration, I am looking forward to attending more conferences and playing a more active role in the profession.

mary tilley Mary Tilley

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

As a veteran library worker, I was looking forward to attending the American Library Association Annual Conference, and I was not disappointed. Southern hospitality is no myth, as the citizens of New Orleans so amply demonstrated. Everywhere I went I was greeted with warmth and gratitude.

I arrived in New Orleans on Friday afternoon and departed for Lincoln on Monday morning, so I had very little time to squeeze in all I wanted to do. On Friday, I met with my mentor, Amanda Bakken, a cataloger at Northwestern University. Amanda did a great job as my mentor. She contacted me by email several times prior to the conference and met me at the Morial Convention Center on Friday. She helped me choose programs to attend and checked back periodically to see how things were going. I really appreciate the great help she gave to me.

Some of the programs I attended included the New Members Orientation, ALCTS/CCS Catalog Management Discussion Group, LITA/ALCTS/ACIG Online Authority Control, ALA/LSSIRT Effective Communication Skills Workshop, and some of the ALA/LSSIRT Empowerment workshops. I also made it to the exhibit floor, the OCLC update breakfast, the EBSCO update luncheon, and the ALCTS awards ceremony.

What did I learn at Annual Conference? I learned that the field of librarianship is incredibly diverse. There were workshops offered on almost every topic imaginable. I met many other library staff from all over the country--New York, Arizona, Alaska, Florida, Montana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Missouri--and all of them had the same concerns: how to offer the most to their patrons in the best way possible. I discussed how to handle the "series" problem with librarians from several other similar institutions, and heard what others had to say in programs. I met, saw, or heard speak, many of the top librarians in academic libraries; one of the workshops featured both Arlene Taylor and Lois Mai Chan.

One of the highlights of the convention was meeting the other five award winners and attending the ALCTS award presentations. The other award winners are outstanding individuals and it was a pleasure to spend time with them. We are a diverse group, several from small institutions, one a specialist in preservation and several from larger libraries.

I would like to thank ALCTS and Sage publications for the opportunity to attend the 2006 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. I am honored that I was chosen as one of the recipients of this award. I plan to encourage other staff members at my institution to apply for this grant for 2007. Thank you to Sage and ALCTS for providing this great opportunity to library staff workers, and for recognizing the contributions that support staff make to the library profession. ALA Annual Conference was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thank you so much for making it happen.