2012 Joint Spring Conference in Kentucky

Apr 27, 2012 by

I’ve just returned from the 2012 Annual Joint Spring Conference of the Kentucky Library Association Academic Library Section, Kentucky Library Association Special Library Section and Special Libraries Association Kentucky Chapter in Jamestown, KY.

I had not attended this particular state conference since 2005. It was very nice to talk to past colleagues I had not seen in years. Always taking place in a state park, the bucolic setting creates a more relaxed atmosphere for the attendees. And, I admit, I greatly enjoyed an environment with more relief than the very flat vistas of Central Florida.  However, the speakers are still taking the conference very seriously and do a very professional job of presenting.

The theme of the conference was “Become the Library They Need: Understanding User Expectations”. Several sessions thus covered students and/or faculty perceptions, needs and preferences in regards to instruction, resources and reference.

There was also a poster session and a particular offering caught my eye. Susan Finley, Business Librarian at the University of Louisville presented “Classic Misunderstandings of User Expectations: Lessons from Business”. Using examples from the business world of big names refusing to read their customers’ opinions correctly (think Coca Cola and New Coke; US auto manufacturers and compact cars; IBM and photocopying technology by a fledgling Xerox), she pulled out lessons for libraries concerning user studies. I hope this is made available online somewhere (I may just have to contact her to suggest this. UPDATE: done and Sue does want to write an article out of her poster – good news).

Also inspiring to me was a quote by Megan Oakleaf used by Betina Gardner, Acting Library Dean of Eastern Kentucky University, in her session “Probing the Depths: Exploring Faculty and Graduate Student Behaviors and Perceptions of Their Library”. The quote is from a February 13, 2012 post from Oakleaf on the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries blog:

Increasingly, academic library value is linked to service, rather than products (P. Kaufman, Carpe Diem 2009, 2). Library literature reveals this shift in library emphasis from collections to experience, from resources to educational impact (Dow 1998, 279), from access to sense-making, from mediation to enabling (Lougee 2009, 612). The change is logical. Because information products are generally produced outside of libraries, library value is increasingly invested in service aspects and librarian expertise. In fact, academic provosts have a future library focus that is “less on the library qua institution and more on the people who work in libraries…less on the library and more on the librarian” (Webster and Flowers 2009, 306).

Academic libraries are now way more than the sum of their print (or electronic) collections, they’re about the services and the persons. It’s a profound shift that’s happening right now.

Janice Lachance, CEO of SLA, was the opening keynote speaker. Her talk about librarian visibility and the need to create library evangelists seems to meet approval by the audience. Her exclamation that librarians are the ones who create the libraries particularly resonated with my experience as a solo librarian without a library during my first years at USF Polytechnic. I was indeed both the librarian and the library, in my office among the faculty.

I was honored to be asked to present the closing keynote session. In my address entitled “The New Academic Library Building – You Can’t Get What You Want (Til You Know What You Want)”, I shared my own reflections and experiences about library construction and renovation projects, especially when it comes to user experience and the future of academic library buildings. I also used pictures from various library visits over the last few years.

Can’t get your finger quite on the source of the subtitle of my presentation – go listen to this esteemed artist.

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