2009 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference

by Calida Barboza

Events during the first two days of the 2009 Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) Annual Conference included sessions on networking, what Net Generation students want from the library, faculty outreach, improving communication among library staff, and free online tools. A panel of graduates from the inaugural program of the PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies also spoke, as did Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles. The Conference was held on October 18-21, 2009, at the Hilton Harrisburg Hotel in Harrisburg, PA.

In "Networking Now!" Tina Hertel, Help Desk/Web Support Librarian at Lehigh University emphasized that networking is the number one thing people can do for their careers. Hertel said that networking shouldn't just be done when you need something---like a job. Networking is about what you can give, not what you can get. In addition to explaining the importance of building business relationships, she offered this advice:

-Network daily.
-Contribute to conversations, but listen before you speak!
-Design your own personal business card and hand it out.
-Start slow. You don't have to do everything at once.

Lizah Ismail, Public Services Coordinator and Assistant Professor at Marywood University, presented the results of her survey in "What Net Generation Students Really Want From the Library: Determining Help-Seeking Preferences of Undergraduates." Ismail found that Marywood undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 22 prefer to use social networking tools for socializing, not for research. She also noted that these users are confident doing research without librarian assistance. Because librarians have taken the profile of Net Gen users for granted and because each campus's culture is different, Ismail urged attendees to find out what undergraduate students at their institutions want. She warned against implementing new services just because other libraries are. Ismail's research will be published in Reference Services Review.

Cataloguing and Circulation Librarian Renate Saches and Systems Librarian Andy Gulati from Franklin and Marshal College (F&M) led the session "Around the Campus in 8 Days: Learn How Librarian House Calls Can Create a Buzz About Your Library." Saches and Gulati described travelling in pairs to faculty offices for a few hours each day during the two weeks after mid-term breaks to inform faculty of the new resources and services the library offers and to answer any questions they might have. This outreach program has increased awareness of the library's resources and has resulted in collaborative relationships with the F&M faculty.

Jennifer 8. Lee spoke about her book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles during the President's Program. Her book was the "One Book, One Conference" selection this year. Lee described the history of American foods that are thought of as Chinese (such as, fortune cookies and chop suey), her worldwide travels to investigate the history of these foods, and her obsession with Chinese food in general. Lee told the audience that her Chinese food obsession has affected her choice of Halloween costumes---she and her boyfriend will go as Generel Tso and his chicken this year.

"Communications Among Library Staff: When NOT to Be Quiet in the Library" was a well-attended session. Tricia Richards, President of The PR Department, LLC, provided explanations of how better communication among library staff affects job satisfaction. She provided communication tips to people at all levels of the organization. Among other things, Richards emphasized face-to-face communication, sharing information about organizational changes and projects, and telling your manager what you would like to learn or do in your career to avoid becoming stagnant.

Librarians who participated in the "PALS: PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies" panel spoke about the program's coverage of leadership, the benefits of the program to public and academic librarians, the value of mentors, and networking. The panel discussed how they implemented what they learned at their home institutions and in their careers. The presenters were Calida Barboza (Instruction/Reference Librarian & Assistant Technical Professor at King's College), Lisa Galico (Director of the Juniata County Library), Sharon Helfrich (Director of the Andrew Bayne Memorial Library), Mike Packard (Executive Director of the Pottstown Public Library), Paul Proces (Reference Librarian at Delaware County Community College), Heather Simoneau (Business Librarian at Lehigh University), and Jennifer Worley (Circulation Manager with the Dauphin County Library System).

In the "40 Tools in 40 Minutes session", Tina Hertel presented more than 40 free online tools in less than 40 minutes. To see a list of these tools visit http://www.diigo.com/user/Serendipitina/online_tools.

Materials from these and other 2009 PaLA Annual Conference sessions are available at the Pennsylvania Library Association website .