Tag Archives: Library statistics

Are library conferences worth it? CLA 2011 proved totally affirmative!

30 May

In the past few years, Canadian librarians have been made aware of the financial troubles of the Canadian Library Association. Membership has been on the decline and the very future of the association’s existence has been questioned. When I was a MLIS student at McGill’s School of Information Studies, student memberships were inexpensive and I was consequently the member of three different library associations including the CLA. However, when one becomes a professional the membership fees jump in price and they can be rather expensive especially when I am paying them out of my own pocket (as opposed to the fees being covered by my library institution which is the case for many lucky librarians). I have consequently had to be more selective of what associations I join. I kept my membership with CLA because I believe strongly in the benefits of a national library association. However, since I was dishing out my own money to become a member of CLA and to attend the conferences it was very important that the annual conference last week in Halifax be “worth it”.

As for my experience at CLA 2011, I can only vouch for the specific sessions that I attended and the awesome people that I hung out with. My conference experience might have greatly differed from someone else’s but I personally feel that the past week was totally worth it!

Since I started as a library director, there have been so many things that I have found challenging. Everyone has moments when they say to themselves “they never taught me that in library school” and I feel that this is probably even more the case for managers and directors.
Luckily for me, there seemed to be an abundance of sessions that spoke directly to the information needs of managers and directors. One of the most useful sessions that I attended was Performance Metrics: Helping Boards Understand Library Statistics presented by John Shepherd, a university accounting instructor, and Allan Wilson, the Chief Librarian of the Prince George Public Library and the 2011 recipient of the CLA/Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship. I loved this session because the information it offered was so practical. John Shepherd got into the nitty gritty of how to better design statistical charts and Allan Wilson provided great ideas on establishing meaningful metrics that will communicate more effectively the value of the public library to the community, the library board, and the municipality. This session actually succeeded in transforming my perception of statistics and performance metrics and made statistics seem almost fun.
This conference was also fantastic in terms of catching up with friends and meeting new people.  At first I was intimidated by what appeared to be an older demographic of librarians who all seemed to know each other.  Then I realized that this “old boys club” (there seemed to be a surprising number of baby boomer men at this conference) was the result of decades of the same people attending conferences together. In many cases, the older librarians had probably even attended library school together “back in the day”. This thought inspired me to think that my friends and I will one day also rule the CLA conferences. There are so many dynamic young librarians who have only just begun their professional careers in the past few years. We are still testing the waters of what it means to be professional librarians and attending the CLA conference definitely helped to establish a foundation for our new professional identities. We all seemed to value the importance of coming together to share stories and advice on being librarians. We had a lot of fun together and it reinforced my opinion that librarianship is full of interesting and dynamic people.

CLA 2011 in Halifax was totally worth it and I am looking forward to continuing to be active in the CLA throughout my career.
Are you a member of a library association? Do you think that it is worth it?

Smiles in Libraries

4 Sep

I’ll admit that I usually scan quite quickly through my copy of the CLA’s Feliciter magazine when it comes in the mail. This week when I received my latest issue and saw that it was completely dedicated to images from the CLA 2010 conference in Edmonton I assumed that it would quickly be put aside. Although I was disappointed to miss the CLA conference this year because it conflicted with our McGill School of Information Studies graduation ceremony, I wasn’t necessarily excited to look through the photos of all the smiling librarians who did get to attend. However, instead of tossing the magazine aside, I found myself extremely interested in the reports written by the library school students who summarized the highlights of various conference sessions.

The reports were all extremely well written and I felt that the students from the different Canadian library school programs all succeeded in capturing the interesting points from their sessions. I was especially motivated to read University of Toronto iSchool’s Kate Perch’s article on the session “Hot Topic: International Librarianship –CLA’s Role in IFLA”. As many of you know, I am extremely interested in international librarianship and since I dream of one day getting involved in IFLA, the title of this session particularly grabbed my attention. In this article, Kate Perch quotes a discussion question from this session “How many smiles do libraries create every day?”.  I LOVE this question! Since my blog is already full of my geeky proclamations of how passionate I am about libraries and librarianship then there is no harm in admitting that since reading this quote a few days ago, I have become obsessed with this question. Seriously, I have been extra observant of all of our users to see if they are leaving the library with a smile on their faces. I am starting to think that in addition to ticking off  on a page the number of reference questions we receive for our library statistics, we should also be keeping a record of how many smiles we see in the library on a daily basis. This relates somewhat to Alvin Schrader’s talk « Getting Beyond Library Statistics: Challenges in Capturing Library Meaning and Telling the Whole Story of Library Value » at the ABQLA’s 2010 conference in May. Schrader’s presentation also got me thinking of better ways to understand the value of libraries in the lives of our users and a smile is certainly an indisputable visual display of someone’s satisfaction. Are you conscious of the smiles of users in your library? Is there a formal way of calculating smiles that could be included in official reports? Let me know what you think and I’d like to thank Kate Petch for publishing this great article that has got me so pumped!