Monday, May 21, 2012

College Librarians and Media Specialists of Washington State Spring Conference

Last week I attended the CLAMS conference at South Seattle Community College in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. It was a two day conference entitled Library Advocacy Success Stories. I couldn’t attend all sessions because of my work schedule, but I had a few nuggets I thought I’d share.
The first day featured a “library success” presentation by Pierce College, mostly about their recent remodel of the library space. It really turned out beautifully. They focused on creating clearly defined spaces for different types of learning – collaborative, individual, multi-media, instruction – and different “vibes” – absolute silence, coffee-shop, whisper-level, interactive etc.

This photo from Library Journal terms it as “zoned” for different types of interaction. The signage is all one-word. The reference desk just says ASK and the circ desk says BORROW. You can kind of see them in this photo:

I’m not sure if I’m 100% sold on those terms, but the effect is striking and definitely closer to meaning something to a student than REFERENCE and CIRCULATION. (As I just read somewhere the latter terms are what WE do and the others are what the STUDENTS do – shouldn’t we be using signage that speaks to the user not us?)
One of the key phrases I took away from the presentation was the idea of “facilities as pedagogy.” We are having an impact on learning through our layout, facilities, signage, and yes, even furniture, and we should remember that if we’re ever lucky enough to have money to remodel J
Another important piece of their presentation was that the way they were able to get the money to remodel was by “proving their worth” in our favorite way… assessment. Oh, Pine Tree will never leave us. They were able, through surveys and analysis, to positively correlate interactions with a librarian with a higher student GPA at Pierce College. This really hit me – this is probably true at all of our institutions, but we have to create the data for anyone to know or care. No one is going to come along and create this data for us; we have to take the initiative. But when we do, our reward will be the irrefutable evidence that we matter to student success and (hopefully) the guarantee that our positions will exist in perpetuity. They left us with: “assess what you value, don’t value that which you can assess.” This is easier said than done, but something to think about.
Day two featured a series of shorter presentations on a variety of topics. I’m running out of steam so I will make them another post. Hope to see you all at ALA2012!

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