I had to the opportunity to travel to ALA Midwinter 2015 – this year it was held in the Windy City -aka- Chicago, and it was a blast. This year’s theme was: Libraries Transforming Communities. I had to flip the script on this one and turn it around to: Transforming Your University’s Perception of the Academic Library. It is one of the best experiences that I’ve had going into the new year. I had the opportunity to engage with some of the top librarians in the field, and I walked away feeling like I can make a major difference on my university campus by showing faculty members and administrators that our library is an institution within an institution. It will be a challenge, but it can be accomplished.
My first stop during the conference was the Libraries Transforming Communities institute, and I walked away with a lot of knowledge. There were at least five librarians sitting at my table, and we talked about our present institutions and some of the issues that we have faced as it pertains to working with our communities. I always think outside the box and I brought it back to the community at my university and how to get individuals to understand the importance of the library and how it is a resource in a lot different capacities as it pertains to academia as a whole. Many of the librarians agreed with me, that we have to advocate for our presence and need for support at our own institutions. I wanted to know more about how doing this without making it seem as if I did not care about other areas of the university system — with regard to other departments. And, we came to the conclusion that we are an institution in our own right.
The one thing that I’ve learned in my short career, students can be your biggest advocates. Just by showing up everyday and reinforcing the importance of studying, understanding how to research, and how to access information has brought more students to our library. As well as, they have a better understanding of what library etiquette means at Lincoln University. I intend on creating a library information literacy toolkit for our campus and presenting the information to our faculty senate in the fall of this year. Even, professors need to be refreshed in the process of how to access information and the importance of having a presence in the library and supporting our efforts.
In closing, I wanted to share my entire #alamw15 experience with you. I posted this snippet on Facebook the last day of the conference:
…finally in my room for the my last evening in Chi-town and I had a blast. I was able to hook up with two of my favorite people in the world and they made me smile, think, smile, think, and that ish some more. I had the pleasure of sitting in the audience on Sunday morning for the Author Speaker Series, feeling like I was eight (8) years old all over again while listening to LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow) read a story to a room full of adults – we were front and center. I shed a few tears – it was a real moment in time. He had me captivated by his voice, demeanor, and great storytelling skills. He simply asked us, “Can I read you a story,” we all obliged!
And, then that damn exhibit hall — where I saw sooooo many books and wanted each one. I still smell them right now. They are some miraculous entities filled with knowledge, life, death, love, pain, hurt, and so much more. I picked up as many as I could to bring back home. I went back for about six (6) rounds of literary madness. I waited on my Josephine Baker poster and you know I got a couple for my students. I got to take free pictures and met a great jazz musician/author. I ate for free, paid for a few meals, had some great drinks, and communed with some of the greatest minds of our time.
Yes, librarians run the world. Without us… It would be bleak, boring, half-assed, and the world would be completely lost because we can answer any question at any given moment. We are here to serve in every capacity that is within our reach. You ask why we are relevant –will you be around forever?? My answer to this: Librarians provide equal access (FOR FREE) to information that defines the quality of your life and mine. Get you some knowledge. Open up a book, I dare you to become what you always wanted to be. I am waiting to see your greatness. Stop by the reference desk any time.