SELA/SCLA Conference: Take-Aways

selaLast week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Greenville, SC for librarians in the south-east United States and present a poster about web-based reference statistics tools (see my post about that here).

Instead of recapping every session I went to (as much as I want to–there were so many amazing things I learned!), I thought it would be more helpful to share the biggest take-aways I got from the conference. I know that it’s common to go to a conference and get fired up and full of wildly awesome ideas and then …. slip back into a normal routine soon after returning. So the purpose of this post is partly to share some fun ideas and partly to hold myself to giving them a try myself. 🙂

1) Be cute, funny, and brief. One of my favorite sessions was one by two Clemson University librarians that described their journey from showing incoming students several long, informative tutorials, to deciding it was much more effective to show them two videos under two minutes (one involving unicorns). Besides being adorable and setting a great tone for the library, the videos were a great lesson to me about the value of brevity–someday I’ll learn, less is more!

2) My life is disorganized. The intent of the session about Evernote and Scoop.It wasn’t to show me how disorganized my life is; it was to show how librarians might organize information more efficiently to put into LibGuides using cool new web tools. However, I saw a LOT of potential in those tools to make my life easier through nifty features like tabbing and tagging. Librarian friends, I recommend checking them both out!

3) I am a yellow hat thinker. One of the sessions I went to described De Bono’s six thinking hats, each one a different color. The session was really fun (the presenter was wearing a tutu … don’t ask), but it also really made me feel better about the differences in my own thinking as compared to others. See if you can determine your own thinking hat color (or colors):

blue hat leader, synthesizes the information, moves forward
white hat fact-finder, gets/uses the stats
green hat creative, throws out lots of alternatives
red hat emotional, questions how he/she/patrons will feel
yellow hat optimistic, sees all the potential positive outcomes
black hat sees all the potential barriers (seems negative, but is really helpful!)

4) Faculty don’t know what they want. One of the most valuable sessions I went to talked about reaching out to faculty and attempting to provide great service for them. One of the issues discussed in the session is how we can possibly know what faculty need–especially when, as the presenters admitted, the faculty might say they want something in a survey but prove they aren’t really that interested when they never attend that webinar, workshop, or presentation. One solution: get to know your faculty more! Then you can figure out what they really want for yourself. 🙂

5) Web content is often very inaccessible. This was one of the hardest sessions to hear. The session about web accessibility made me alarmed, ashamed, and indignant–there’s so much out there that is inaccessible to those with disabilities! Sadly, I’m contributing to that inaccessibility and I didn’t even know it… Turns out flash files (like the fancy ones I’ve spent months making for my tutorial videos) are very difficult for a people with a whole host of disabilities to access. A hard-learned lesson, but one I feel was very important.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at SELA meeting lots of friendly, innovative librarians. Hopefully I’ll be able to see some of these friendly south-eastern librarians again when SELA is in Georgia next year!


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