ALA Midwinter

I attended ALA Midwinter in Denver, Colorado this February, which was a good experience, but when I got home from the trip, I felt worn out. I had a very busy fall. During the conference, I was wrapping up a book review, putting together a conference proposal, and working on my review documentation. As I sat in my room munching on a salad while writing, I realized this was not dissimilar to what I was doing at home most nights after work–still working, not spending time with others, not exercising, etc. I had been stretching myself too thinly and not taking care of myself. I took a step back from social media, turned down requests, canceled a few things, and used some sick days to start getting a little help. Making the right steps to get myself back on track have helped me feel a little better, and I plan to begin writing here a bit more now that I have some more energy. As a way to jump back in, I have a quick Midwinter overview.

This was my first time attending Midwinter, which I attended to co-lead ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group (LMOIG) discussion with my co-convener Jen Park. It was lovely to meet her in person, and we actually ran into each other in the restroom on the way to the ACRL Leadership Council meeting. I’ve really enjoyed working with her!

LMOIG Leadership Team

After the Council meeting, we attended the Opening Keynote, given by #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Kahn-Cullors and #1000blackgirlbooks founder Marley Dias. It was a humbling experience, and I was amazed to meet them both and receive signed copies of their books, one of which I gifted to a co-worker.

I only attended a few other meetings, but I enjoyed the Undergraduate Librarians Discussion Group (UGLi DG) meeting. I also experienced falling snow for the first time.

I visited the Denver Public Library, which has seven floors and is home to the world renowned Western History Collection.

Reforma held a fundraiser at Museo de las Americas; the museum had just opened a new exhibit on pachuco culture. (I somehow missed Junot Díaz appearance at the fundraiser, though! And this is a small gallery! I’m hoping he showed after I left, but I did leave at about 10 pm.)

Lowrider piñata

I think I had the most fun at the Denver Art Museum. I actually liked that it wasn’t that large, and I managed to see everything except for a few things in a just a couple of hours. I’m not one to write reviews, and I actually wrote one for their Facebook page. In case you don’t have a Facebook account, here is the text:

I really enjoyed my visit!

I was actually able to see most of the museum in a couple of hours, which was perfect as I am in Denver for a librarian conference full of meetings. As a librarian, I was very moved by Xiaoze Xie’s book censorship exhibit. I also thought the Stampede: Animals in Art exhibit was a lot of fun.

I happened to come by during the #heartsforarts campaign and spotted a few make-and-take craft carts and the participatory poster about what visitors treasure about the museum. I also saw an area that has soft seating and Spanish- and books available for young children. I really like that there are interactive activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

I love the integration of Spanish throughout the museum, as well–from the descriptions of items to the books available for children. I would love for my mom to come visit as her predominant language is Spanish.

I also took note that the museum is free for all children 18 and under. What a wonderful way to make art available to our youth!

From fun exhibits, interactive elements, and integration of both Spanish and English, I highly recommend this family-friendly art museum.

I generally don’t go on many excursions between conference sessions, but I’m glad I took the time to do a little exploring in Denver. In June I’ll be attending ALA Annual in New Orleans, which will be full of programs, including a co-sponsored program by the LMOIG and University Libraries Section Academic Outreach Committee, and, hopefully, a little sightseeing, too.

Abrescy-Kranich Library Award for Student Research Excellence

Over the summer, I was part of a team that helped develop a new undergraduate student research award, the Carter Joseph Abrescy and Larry Kranich Award for Student Research Excellence. The award recognizes an undergraduate student research paper or project that was completed within the last 12 months for a credit-bearing course that demonstrates effective use of library resources and services. We will either award one winner with $1,000 or two winners with $500 each. We researched several library research awards from different institutions to create the criteria. Students will need to submit an abstract, their paper or project, bibliography, and a reflective essay about their research process. We also developed a rubric for reviewers to use when scoring the applications.

We hit a bit of a snag when it came to the money side of the initial set-up, so we got behind schedule for the launch. We were able to work with Financial Aid and Scholarships to use their undergraduate scholarship system to house the award application materials. Working with Financial Aid and Scholarships has been a great experience! The Scholarship Coordinator is very patient, and she does prompt work.

In s surprising turn events, I’m now chairing the committee. My colleague has several big projects, so she and I switched reins about three or so weeks ago. I’m a bit nervous chairing something like this, but it’s the next logical move for me in terms of committee work and event planning. My supervisor, who was also on the planning group, has been very helpful with my questions and in offering feedback.

Originally, we were going to begin advertising the award in October, but since the financial side wasn’t ready, it’s going to be a very tight turnaround during this initial year. I’m pleased to report that we were able to launch the award the Friday before finals. Whew! Applications are due Monday, Feb. 12, and the winner(s) will be announced by March 15. The award ceremony will take some time in mid-April. Our communications coordinator put out a quick email message to the campus community about the award, and she’ll be working on a larger campaign when students return from winter break. We are very fortunate that the scholarship system alerts students who have previously applied for scholarships about new scholarship opportunities, so over 1200 students received an alert. I’ve also made some other strategic contacts about the award.  Now that the award is live, we can be begin advertising earlier in subsequent years.

Right now, I’m working on recruiting members for the selection committee. The selection committee is a team of five: three librarians (as chair, I’m not one of the reviewers) and two faculty members. The faculty members, we hope, will be representatives from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) and Undergraduate Council. The chair of UGC has been in contact with me and has some good ideas.

I’m looking forward to seeing our submissions and awarding a student (or two!) with a prize for their research. I’m also curious about working with Development for the awards ceremony.

Leading from the Middle

I’m not a library manager. I don’t have a budget, and faculty members like me don’t supervise staff, but my immediate supervisor is the dean of my campus, not the library director at the main campus. She, the library director, the other librarians at the main campus, and the staff I work with throughout the day realize the weird position I am in. I am the only full-time employee.

There are so many employee changes in store this coming academic year. In April, we hired two part-time librarians to help cover evening  hours when I leave work. Both these ladies are working this summer (I have a 10-month contract), and I am so happy to have the extra help and assistance for our students in our much busier fall season. Our part-time library media technician just retired after 27 years of service, and one of our part-time library media bookstore clerks (the bookstore is in the library) just got a great new job at the local University of California (UC). We have one remaining library media bookstore clerk. The dean is really going to push for a full-time library media technician position, and I think we have a good shot at getting it, but, in the meantime, our substitute library clerk will be filling in, and I think our new retiree may  be helping through September.

I lead from the middle, so to speak. I do have a vision for a more friendly space. I have very slowly been making changes over the last two years to help cultivate the library as a campus hub, and now that I know what needs to happen and what kind of stuff works, delegating will be easier. I sense excitement with our remaining team, and I am looking forward to getting to know our future new people and discovering what people like to do and what they want to learn more about. This is my first professional librarian job, and I just wouldn’t have been ready for such a big change in my first or second year.

With that, I am really thinking I might need to do a little more reading about leadership. I found this great little article from Lifehacker, “Become a Stronger Leader by Asking Yourself These Three Questions” that made me take pause. The questions are:

1. What am I not saying that needs to be said?

2. What am I saying that’s not being heard?

3. What’s being said that I’m not hearing?

Which questions would you add? Someone in the comments from the Lifehacker article gave this little gem, “What is best unsaid?” Isn’t that the truth? I think I might even make a little note with these for my desk.