Monday, November 05, 2012

ARL Library Assessment Conference 2012: Initial notes and impressions

Last Friday was my first day back from attending the ARL Library Assessment Conference (LAC) in Charlottesville, Virginia. As I am taking some time to reflect and review my notes, some of which I will post here for my future reference, I find that I have some mixed feelings about the experience. There were some sessions that were interesting, but there were also one or two sessions that I found to be underwhelming. I will try not to say more publicly since one of the things I did learn at this conference is that you are only supposed to fawn on speakers. Say something negative, even in light jest, and they can actually get snippy (yes, this actually happened, and no, I am not discussing it further unless certain people bring it up).

So, what else did I learn right off the top? I found that smaller colleges and universities are woefully underrepresented. I guess I should not have been surprised by this. It is ARL after all. The reason I mention this is that a colleague of mine from another institution mentioned that the issue was brought up in a session she attended that I did not attend. It just made me think a bit. I also thought of this because in many cases the projects presented are done in places with bigger budgets, more resources, and more people, people who often do assessment as a full-time (or almost full-time) endeavor with little or no additional concerns. To folks like me, assessment is just one of the many things I have to do. My colleague wondered about that as well. For me, however, I don't think all is lost, so to speak. I have a good instruction team here, a supportive administration, some access to resources, and plenty of pluck. I did come back with some nuggets of wisdom I can adapt to our setting here.

I did hear from a few people wondering why PowerPoint slides, the presentation tool of choice, were not made available beforehand. Given that many presenters relied heavily on graphs and tables for their presentations, having the slides handy to take notes would have been helpful. I do not think it is unreasonable to request these so they can be made available beforehand. And by the way, this morning, as I was looking over my feed reader, I came across this post on "Ten Things I Did Not Learn in Library School, Academic Edition." The post has a few things I would disagree with, but that was caught my eye was this comment in the post by Jo that echoes something I have been saying for a while. She writes:

"Library schools need to be teaching educational psychology and pedagogy if we expect librarians to be respected and included in faculty circles! Just go to any library conference and listen to 15 minutes of the boring presenter-librarian reading their PowerPoints to the audience and you'll know we've missed that boat." 

 Yes, I sat through one or two of those PP presentations that were not exactly enthralling. I will grant this is not just LAC, but it is something to think about in our profession. 

At any rate, I am still sorting through my notes. I also jotted down some book titles; presenters often recommend books and articles for further reading, and I will add some of those to my notes as well. So, for the next few posts, it will just be my notes. 

On the side, I did manage to get some sightseeing in. I did get to see Monticello and, on the way back, Woodrow Wilson's birth home and presidential library. I can cross that one off my list of Presidential Libraries. I have a very small bucket list, but seeing the Presidential Libraries, official or not, is an item on that list. I will try to write down some of my impressions of those places later, probably over at The Itinerant Librarian since sightseeing is a more personal thing. And on a final note for now, I learned that driving through the West Virginia mountains to get to Virginia and then back home to Kentucky is one of the most scenic and beautiful experiences one can enjoy. 

No comments: