American Library Association 2007 Washington D.C.
Conference Report by Dr. Sheridan Young, Director of Library Services

This year's Conference participation proved valuable. Visits to the National Archives, Library of Congress, and Congressional buildings provided learning experiences that enhanced conference programs.  The poster session I presented provided opportunities to meet and speak at length with others interested in my poster topic.  This account provides description of and commentary about some of my experiences.

American Library Association makes child care available for children and teenagers of attendees, and pays a portion of the care which includes field trips for pre-teens and teens.  I thank ALA for making the camp available.

A visit to the National Archives made me realize that all libraries and archives, regardless of relative funding levels, face similar challenges regarding material preservation, increasingly complicated by the existence of multiple and changing storage and retrieval methods.  National Archives displays that integrated print- and multimedia-based teaching methods explained how experts created plans and implemented plans designed to preserve the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution by enclosing them in display cases filled with argon gas.  The documents are on permanent display in the Archives.  Good thing for us the founding fathers did not compose the documents on the acid-laden paper used today.  A sculpture composed of various types of twentieth-century computer and mechanical equipment used to store and read information and a display of reel-to-reel D-Day films illustrated how even National Archives officials are confronted with preservation headaches caused by storage of information in different formats.

Camp Welcome Sign

Speaking of new ways to record and access information, a Conference session I attended focused on new technologies was the only one I attended where employees removed a movable wall and brought additional chairs into the newly-created space in order to accommodate listeners.  Attendees at Once Upon a Furl in a Podcast Long Ago: Using New Technologies to Support Library Instruction, heard about ways to reach students who are reading less, learning more from visual and less from printed information, and viewing screen information in the order of their choosing, as opposed to an author's intended order.  I considered the session in light of my experiences with my children.  Each time I enter a museum with my eleven and thirteen year olds, they head for the multimedia displays while I head for the print displays.  They do know how to read books from beginning to end, however, and do so regularly when I've hidden their Game Boy machine!  Perhaps teachers need to find a balance between using audiovisual material as teaching tools and requiring students to read entire articles and books.

National Archives Display

I enjoyed presenting my poster session held in the exhibits hall.  Several people stopped found their ways to the table in order to discuss the material, including one librarian from France and one from Canada who told me how she employs cooperative learning teaching techniques in the library instruction sessions she teaches.  Brad Sietz, Director of LOEX Library Orientation Exchange, an organization that provides information regarding library instruction and information literacy to members, visited me.  He told me about a recent LOEX workshop focused on team-based learning and the interest in the topic, and I explained to him my poster's focus on use of cooperative learning when forming teams was not possible due to time constraints.  Several people encouraged me to make my poster information more widely available, so here it is. 

Poster Session

OCLC Online Computer Library Center treated hundreds of librarians to lunch, according to tradition, and kept us entertained with statistical information about the company and descriptions of some new services.  Humor helped maintain audience attention.  When I first worked in libraries, OCLC existed to help librarians create and maintain catalog records.  Today, the Center lists fifty different provided services including those associated with eContent, interlibrary loan, and electronic reference.  Familiarizing oneself with the names and descriptions of all the services alone is challenging.


I sat next to a Portland, Oregon Lewis and Clark College librarian during the lunch who told me about the library's traveling Lewis and Clark exhibit.  The library's newsblog provides access to unique digital collections and in-library rock concert photo series display.  The award-winning web site is informative and pleasing to view.

Library Orientation Exchange Director Brad Sietz at Poster Session

On to the United States Capitol Complex for Library Day on the Hill, I met two Alabama librarians delighted to pause and pose for a picture in spite of the murderous heat and long walking distance to their destination.  Day on the Hill participants received shirts and instructions as to how to make contact with legislators and what to say when contact was established either with them or with their assistants.

Day on the Hill Participants

Unsuccessful at locating Oklahoma's building and concerned about heat and lack of water, I decided to visit the nearby Library of Congress where I met ALA President-elect University of Texas at Austin Professor Dr. Loriene Roy.  She encouraged me to become more active in ALA and gave me some tips as to how to do so in light of the high competition for committee membership positions.  A building tour caused me to ponder that fact that Library of Congress displays differed from National Archives displays in that the former lacked multi-media components.

I visited University of Maryland where I encountered some customer service ideas to present to Cameron's library faculty and staff members. 
A Student Union Bill of Rights invites patrons to expect friendly and courteous service, an informed and resourceful staff, and a clean,
comfortable, safe, and attractive building.   Campus no parking signs had a friendly twist; they invited drivers without decals to park as
much and as often as needed during specified time periods.  Building maps located near the Union and Library entranceways oriented visitors
spatially and provided information about services.  Maps and comment forms offered patrons ways to describe experiences and make suggestions
for their improvement via the web.

Library of Congress
The Conference was beneficial to me in my capacity as an academic library director.  My poster session provided me an opportunity to discuss with others my ideas and experiences regarding use of cooperative learning teaching techniques in the library and information literacy classroom.  Attendance at sessions in which presenters discussed use of technology in library and information literacy programs familiarized me with creative ways librarians are using computer software and hardware and internet to facilitate student learning. 

Library of Congress and National Archives visits increased my knowledge of preservation issues and techniques.  Participation on Library Day on the Hill familiarized me with current legislation of concern to libraries.  Meeting and talking with other librarians and the visit to University of Maryland gave me service improvement ideas to present to Cameron University faculty and staff members.

Think, Pair, Share! Cooperative (ppt)

Think, Pair, Share! Cooperative (Poster)

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