LOEX 2016: Grumpy conference notes and other things

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The end of the Spring semester is a nightmare for academics most of the time, and it was especially so this year as I was finishing out my 1st full year at Paul Smith’s College and planning to conference the last week of the semester. Between visiting students in the residence halls, staffing the main desk during extended hours, and of course finishing up our presentation slides, I was pretty exhausted before we decided to trek nearly 12hrs by car to Pittsburgh, PA. But, I had never been to LOEX and after hearing so many great things about their program curation, I was excited for some really great, quality programs.

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Librarian Meg and the Homestead Librarian –1st rest-stop (among many)

Back in February or so, my co-worker, Meggan Press and I learned that we were accepted to present our workshop, Everything in its right place: Effective, Strategic, Differentiated Outreach. We were super excited because we definitely had a great idea and LOEX has a pretty low acceptance rate at about 35% (just a smidge higher than ACRL). We thought for sure we were gonna kill it, and I think it was pretty successful – we had a little over 40 attendees, and even though we haven’t quite gotten our comments back from participants, lots of people were coming up and talking to us about the workshop. Eventually it’ll be published in the LOEX conference proceedings – available FOR-ev-ER in case you ever decide you want to read it.

So, on to the fun stuff:

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HACC reunion❤

The first thing I did (after checking the hotel room for bedbugs because I’m neurotic and that’s okay) is pop over and have margaritas with my former Harrisburg Area Community College colleagues! It was so fun, and I pretty much hung out with them on and off during all of the snack breaks that LOEX provides. Do you guys even remember when I was an adjunct? It feels like forever ago, and yet all of us picked up conversations as if I was just there yesterday. It takes some special people for that to happen🙂

But now that I’ve set up all that great stuff and before I get into my conference notes, I’ve got to say that I was mostly disappointed with the conference presentations. A few presentations went far too long to the point of overlapping into the next person’s presentation, and some ‘interactive’ sessions did little more than “think-pair-share.” I was really expecting more from what I consider professional instructors. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but something. else.

I also noticed that lots of presenters seemed to think their audience was total newbies to the field. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I tried to go to sessions that were marked a little bit on the higher level – it just seemed overall, the programs were a little bit more geared toward LIS graduate students. Which isn’t to say it’s all bad, it just wasn’t what I thought I was getting myself into and I walked out of several sessions because of it. In fact this conference is really was got me to start looking into conferences in fields like User Design/Experience because I’ve started to feel like anything that has ‘for librarians’ in the title or in the assumed crowd, the information will be watered down. At this point in my career, I think that I ought to go to conferences that speak directly to what I do, not to me-as-a-librarian. I think that I’ve got enough analytical skills to take what I learn at a non-library conference and apply it to what I do and how I can apply it to my patrons without having another librarian mediator speaking to me at a ‘librarian conference’ in a layman version.

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Conference Day 1

Friday

Engaging Diverse Learners
Emili Vrbancic (UC-Colorado Springs)

  • Ask yourself “who am I including, who am I excluding” – this got me thinking about how I approach teaching in the classroom. There’s so many different kinds of students and abilities in the room, it’s hard to know where to focus
  • Universal design focuses specifically for students with disabilities
    • 11% of undergraduates have reported disabilities
    • But, reporting disability isn’t mandatory in higher ed
  • Universal design for IL
    • Equitable use – content in multiple formats, using sans-serif fonts, vocalize actions while showing
    • Flexibility of use – vary methods, appeal to varying learning styles (are learning styles still a thing though?)
    • Simple and Intuitive – yes this should be all the time
    • Perceptible info – shorten task instruction
    • Tolerance for error – give 1/3 of class-time for individual work, encourage more help
    • Low physical effort
    • Pay attention to size and space and approach of room
    • Create a community of learners
  • Did pre-post test (my note: ugh there has got to be something BETTER than this idea of pre and post tests)

Reaching over the Fence
Julia Feerrar @Virginia Tech
Rebecca Miller @Penn State

  • Presentation focused on developing strategies to work with contingent faculty/ like adjuncts, visiting professors, etc.
  • Strategies for reaching contingent faculty: shift thinking about adjuncts and have an empathetic approach
    • Be sensitive to pressures and limited resources
    • recognize unique experiences and skills
    • articulate shared goals and challenges
    • Try integrating with existing training groups and seek opportunities to mentor
  • Faculty are just another group of learners
    • Be flexible
    • Provide a toolkit for them including sample lesson plans and info on how to scaffold
    • Start convos and seek opportunities to listen

Remix: Combining motivation design with problem-based learning
Lindsay Roberts @University of Colorado–Boulder
Libguide for presentation

  • Problem-based learning – must be complex, no 1 correct answer, student-learning should be self-directed and authentic.
  • ARCS + Motivation design – Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction
  • Suggested another pre-post test for students
  • Suggested using non-subscription databases to teach students the skills they’ll need outside of college
  • Framework concept: searching as a strategic exploration

 

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Saturday

Making the case for Credit Courses
Lydia Ellis @University of Northern Colorado

  • Credit course seemed like a standard credit bearing LIS course
  • Assessment involved pre- and post- test, a paper analysis, GPA-retention, and student perception (my note: there has got to be a better way for assessing this stuff)
  • Faculty member who also presented with librarian was VERY happy that the librarian was teaching his students APA. My thoughts on this: teaching citation has no value to life-long learning, and I have a problem with librarians ‘owning’ citation. Should we? After all, the faculty in the field should be expert researchers in their field and therefore very familiar with citation styles and even more familiar with what they want from their students. So why is it that this tedious task falls onto the librarian, that actually does nothing to teach students valuable framework concepts? Why should we be teaching how to fill in the blanks of a citation? Frankly I don’t think we should. Maybe we could teach students to figure out some of this themselves through a problem-based learning exercise, but I will never again stand before a class and be like ‘Now this is the author, you put this name at the beginning of your citation, OK?’ No. We are trying to move beyond that and teach students actual concepts for using information, not just how to write down where you got it from. And really, with the almost ubiquitous use of discovery services, does it actually matter? I know, I know, this is controversial, but I don’t care.

Breaking Good: Becoming integrated into student learning communities
Millersville University

  • Arguably the best presentation I went to the entire conference
  • Don’t just go into a new community guns-blazing ask “How am I going to approach this community?”
  • 4 themes:
    • Timing – users have very different ideas about ‘point-of-need’ than us
    • Local context – This is critical. 1 presenter said that she approaches this theme as an anthropologist (well, because she is one). You have to do your research about a group and find a trusted member to help you break into it.
    • Endorsement – this is the person-to-person stuff. You want to create relationships with people where they will go out and endorse YOU. My thought: This is where Meggan’s moves management philosophy is really going to play a meaningful role with faculty where we create deep, lasting, and sustainable partnerships.
    • Relationship-building: TAKES TIME, quit stressing
  • Do some asset mapping: Who do you have on your team, and what can they bring to the table. In fact, how to we strategize to get to the table?
  • We need to move from the rhetoric – ‘YOU NEED THE LIBRARY’ to asking students what talents and gifts they bring to the table❤

Connecting libraries to metacognition, student learning, and student success
University of Minnesota

  • Very basic presentation on basically the definition of metacognition (understanding how you understand)
  • Went over the differences between cognitively passive and active activities

Are you HIP: Building the value of libraries with high-impact practices
Ngoc-Yen Tran @University of Oregon

  • Definition of HIPs, gave examples of HIPs
    • First year classes
    • Common intellectual experience
    • Learning communities, etc
  • At University of Oregon, they worked with First Year Experience class – played a game like the Amazing Race, worked with living-learning communities, and created an Enhanced Research Skills Certificate Program for undergraduate students (I thought that last one was super interesting).

On playing with FIRE 
Cathryn @University of New Hampshire

  • My 2nd favorite presentation of the conference and the last one of the day! (I got a shrinky-dink giveaway/swag)
  • Created a game with Green Door Labs for the library’s component of the Univ’s 1st year experience class (which is an entire academic year class).
  • Winners of the overall game got $500 scholarships – which is a small enough incentive to make it possible at most institutions, but big enough for students to get competitive over.
  • Librarian partnered with student to create game and integrated ‘Scholarship as Conversation’ frame
  • Essentially it was an ‘escape the room’ game
  • Basically, students that were in this FYS class, had to work as a team throughout the entire academic year to earn points both through attending various campus events individually and as a group. The game the librarian and student created was engaging enough where a person was in a room and had to look for clues to get out of the room. Essentially once all the clues were collected, a key appeared and you were let out of the room. Students earned points within the game so they were incentivized to keep trying to finish the game to earn more points.
  • This would work well at Paul Smith’s as we’re trying to keep students around here on weekends and to attend more events. If it was built more into their classes or FYS class, perhaps they would actually attend those things and become more integrated into campus culture and start writing the pages for how we envision campus culture being in the future.

And then…

I spent the rest of my time in Pittsburgh exploring and hanging out with my best friend from high school – Hi Billio!

And then Meggan and I drove home, tried to find the outlets, got lost, ended up at the fanciest mall ever, smelled bath-bombs, got headaches, stopped at Sheetz because MTO-yes, drove forever, saw lots of dead animals on the road, swerved a groundhog, laughed, finally arrived back home in the Adirondacks.

The End. 

Professional growth: On moving on

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This past semester was a whirlwind of change and sadness and joy.

In August, I accepted a new position as the Student Outreach Librarian at Paul Smith’s College nestled in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. I have to say that it has got to be the most beautiful campus on earth. I can see the lake from the window of my office and hear the loons calling when I stroll around on lunch breaks. It’s an isolated little campus, one with only 900 students, but there’s an intimacy here between the people and with nature. Something I never really found in the culture in Texas.

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But this is not going to be a bash Texas post. One of the saddest things I did this year was say goodbye. I said goodbye to some amazing colleagues, friends, and a town that I called home. I said goodbye to Palo Duro Canyon. And our house. And Palace Coffee😉

But professionally, it was time to move on. I was feeling stagnant and uninspired which was beating me down. I felt stuck, like I couldn’t do great work because of barriers and that didn’t seem fair to the students I served. I wasn’t my best me, and that was hard to accept. I realized what I need in a professional environment is an atmosphere of autonomy. I need to feel free to create and explore and try things and fail. I need to be able to get into a program and play with it, see what I can make it do, take my design somewhere beautiful. I discovered that I needed to be in charge of something. Even as I write that, it feels lame, but somehow it couldn’t be more true. I like being responsible for an aspect of the library – I can say with confidence that this is my thing. I no longer have to ask for permission.

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And in this new library, all of us work together to complete stuff that isn’t our “special thing.” We ALL work circulation, we ALL do reference, we ALL teach, we ALL act as liaisons. And yet, each of us has some individual gift, and we’re free to run with it. My director holds weekly individual meetings and says, “What can I do to help? What do you need from me to make what you’re doing successful?” When you feel supported in your profession, it seems to me that all things are possible. I am starting to feel comfortable again, and I’m slowly regaining confidence in myself.

The next step of the journey is figuring out how to be a great faculty librarian– how can I take my teaching, research, writing, publishing, design-work beyond my office? I’m certain this is going to take a while to figure out, but I’m so happy to say that I know I have the support to do it. My new colleagues are amazing and are so very talented, and the students have been so kind. Here’s to many more years here at Paul Smith’s College!

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Happy new year!

 

Marketing to Parents of College Students

I was recently asked to create some marketing materials that could be handed out to parents at New Student Orientation, and I jumped on the opportunity because anytime I get to be creative and draw, I’m happy. But, what do parents want to know about the library? Why should they care?

This summer, I’ve spoken to a ton of parents about the library, but the number one question I get is, “can my student get their textbooks there instead of buying them?” I often wonder, how can I make something that isn’t monetarily rewarding, intrinsically important to parents and their future students?

I try to make the library appear different than shushing library they might’ve grown up with– I tell them that we once had tubas in the library– TUBAS! And that we show a movie outside in the fall, and we have dogs in the library– DOGS during finals. We have a coffee shop! And amazing librarians that will pretty much do anything to help their student.

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But sometimes, the message doesn’t get across. So, I’ve crafted a little sheet for them to refer back to. I think maybe parents care more about their child succeeding in college and less about all of the cool events and things we’re doing. Damn it, Amy, know your audience! Rookie mistake, certainly.

Parents want to know that their children are getting personal attention, that they’re cared for, and that they pass their classes while finding their passion. I’m hoping that their student might take a peek in their parent’s bag too, and might be interested in the neat flyer.

What are you crafting lately?

Library Marketing and Outreach Keynote Speech

Last week, I had the opportunity to give the opening keynote speech at the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) workshop at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. And you guys, it was awesome. I think this was the most comfortable I’ve ever felt speaking in front of an audience because the entire workshop was designed to get Tennessee librarians inspired to get out and creatively market to their users– they even got to work through developing a marketing plan for their very own libraries. This is what I love. This is the kind of thing I want to help people achieve. I love the way this meeting turned out because it got people excited and ready to implement a concrete plan. Many times at conferences, we get excited and inspired but then we get home and lose the energy to actually use the ideas, or maybe we get so inundated with information that it’s just too much to process. But my experience with these librarians is that they truly believe that TEL is an excellent resource, and they want everyone to know it, and I wanted to help them.

sweet signage inside Hodges Library

sweet signage inside Hodges Library

TEL is a collection of article databases, eBooks, and other online resources available free of charge to all Tennessee state residents. It helps people find jobs, research their family history, learn languages, practice for college prep and career certification tests and do all the kinds of research needed by students from kindergarten through college. And that’s awesome. In Texas, we have a similar collection called TexShare, but I’ve found that it’s hard to get college students excited about it since we have so many other subject-specific databases that are more useful for traditional research papers. I was excited to learn about ways academic Tennesseans are using TEL, and it was totally adaptable to my own institution.

Since TEL appeals to K-College, my audience comprised of school, public, and academic librarians. I was pretty worried about being able to adapt to all of these areas, but as I was developing my talk, I realized that we are all educators, artists, and stewards. We all have similar goals when it comes to outreach and we can all work together to market to our unique audiences.

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I began my talk by gushing over my own experiences with libraries, how my mom used to take me to all the area libraries, even driving to Delaware so I could see the hamsters at the Newark Public Library. I believe that libraries are about experiences, not so much about the stuff, but about creating a memorable moment. How can we tap into that ethos when we’re marketing? How can we create memories for our users by also integrating these resources into their daily lives?

Marketing must be sustainable, well-designed, and strategic.

Content in libraries is no longer absorbed, it’s created. As stewards, we must provide resources to users that meet their needs and we need to meet them where they are, wherever they are. I think we need to create community, a sense of belonging, passion, and cultivate creativity & enthusiasm. But the only way to do that is to know, really know, our users.

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I recommend that the audience do a little inventory of their community. Think about all of the things their community has– i.e. hospitals, schools, rotary club, craft clubs, etc. Then think about how you can apply what resources and spaces you have to those places within the community. The goal, really, is to market strategically by first partnering up with the surrounding community– become immersed in the community, become the user, then build relationships.

I reminded the audience that in order to be targeted, we need to really think about where we are marketing. First decide who you’re marketing to, then figure out where they are, then brainstorm the best way to meet their needs. Instead of the age-old, just blast everyone everywhere on every channel we have, we want to make it more personal. The thing is, when it comes to marketing, not everyone cares about everything. The more stuff we put out there, the more desensitized people become. We want to make sure that we’re only focusing on a small group (I recommend no more than 3 user groups) and appealing to those users only.

Remember, keep it simple, keep it elegant, keep it beautiful. You don’t need the fanciest design software to make things beautiful. And, if you have absolutely no design experience, consider partnering with someone in your community who can. Basically, we can do this. It’s not out of our reach. We are all creators.

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Big thanks to Erin Loree, Kathy Bennett, and Heather Lambert from the Tennessee State Library for thinking of me for this talk. It was a great experience.

Monarch Butterfly Workshop

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Since 1990, nearly 1 billion monarchs have perished accounting for about 90 percent population decline. Like bees, monarchs are essential for pollination and like the bees, have fallen victim to excessive herbicide use on their lifeblood, the milkweed plant. Once flying by the billions over the United States between Mexico and Canada, only about 30 million remain.
This grim state of the monarch population has ignited the Obama administration to take action as part of his “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” The administration has “recently introduced a plan to restore the monarch butterflies’ habitat and increase their population by 225 million. The centerpiece of the plan is a “flyway” along Interstate 35, which stretches from Texas to Minnesota. The plan calls for turning federally owned land along the interstate corridor into milkweed refuges for the butterflies” (Whelan, 2015). Environmental groups all over the country have been banding together to help with the conservation efforts, including Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas.
Texas provides critical habitat on the primary migration pathway of Monarchs to and from their wintering grounds in Mexico. The availability of native milkweed host plants, essential to assure successive generations continuing north, has declined in Texas. Herbicide resistant crops, mowing of roadsides, parks and open areas and continued drought have all had an impact on the number of Monarchs surviving the southern journey to Mexico.
Overwintering resources for Monarch butterflies are also diminishing. Shelter and water needed by the overwintering butterflies are declining in Mexico and illegal logging has already eliminated a number of former colony sites. Continued thinning of the forests and outright deforestation reduces the availability of water for both the butterflies and the people.
Wednesday, June 10th at St. George’s Episcopal church in Canyon, Texas Cathy Downs and the Texas Panhandle Audubon Society invites the people of the Llano Estacado to a Monarch Workshop to come together to help reverse the damage. Cathy, a Texas Master Naturalist with the Hill Country Chapter, was born and raised in New England and retired to Comfort, TX in 2004 from a 30 year career owning and operating her own retail businesses. She is a Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist with Monarch Watch, currently chairs the Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas (BBMT) program for Native Plant Society of Texas and is a certified Monarch Larval Monitoring Project educator. Cathy raises caterpillars for education as well as propagating native milkweeds. She hosts workshops and live Butterfly Pavilions for Texas Master Naturalist Chapters, Native Plant Society of Texas Chapters, Garden Clubs, Nature Centers, State Parks and elsewhere throughout Texas.
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The workshop will cover:
  • Monarch anatomy, biology, and life cycle. Live specimens will be used wherever available.
  • Migration decline and the reasons for the habitat decimation.
  • How to identify several local native milkweeds and talk about the importance of native and non-systemically treated milkweeds in the Monarch habitat and why that is crucial to Monarch survival.
  • Identify native nectar plants and the importance of fall blooming plants to increase lipid and energy levels for overwintering Monarchs.
  • Resources, seeds and handouts, and a Q&A.

The Texas Panhandle Audubon Society will be raffling off milkweed plants for home gardeners and hosting a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction benefit Bring Back the Monarchs to Texas. So, join us and take part in brining back our essential pollinators to the Llano.

Off to Portland for ACRL 2015!

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In a few short hours, I’ll be heading to Portland, Oregon for the 2015 Academic College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference! I’ve never been to ACRL, so I’m super pumped and somewhat overwhelmed. Lucky for me, I’m going to be staying with a pretty awesome librarian blogging over at Librarian for Life & Style, so keep an eye out for my upcoming Librarian Style Profile spotlight on her blog🙂

What’s so awesome about this particular conference is that I got to present on a topic that I’ve really started to focus on in my own research. That being, how can we make information literacy more sustainable? How can we get students to love researching and to help them understand that research isn’t a once-and-done thing, it’s a growing, organic mass of information. And, accompanying me on the panel are some librarians that I’ve always admired, like Megan Stark and others.

So, if you’re going to ACRL this year, let me know, or come find me!

You might see me…

  • Taking photos for LibrarianWardrobe
  • Grabbing this zine at the unconference
  • Sitting in the front row at the Keynotes (thanks to the ACRL Early-Career Scholarship!)
  • Speaking at this: panel
  • All over PORTLAND!

Stay tuned for conference notes and selected tweets from the conference!

Library Links & Loves: Professional Development

For me, professional development is the most important aspect of my job. Not only do the students benefit when I learn something new, but then I can share it with my co-workers and begin to make a larger cultural change. One of the reasons I took the job here is because I saw so much potential in this library, and I felt as though there was an open and encouraging environment for professional development.

So without further delay, here’s a list of stuff that I check pretty regularly/do for my personal professional development. You’ll notice that some of these are more focused on my own job duties and interests, such as teaching and outreach, but I think it’s good to look at when you’re just getting into the profession:

Listservs I follow

  • Ili-l (ALA- Information Literacy Instruction Discussion List)
  • academicPR (ACRL- academic & research librarians sharing ideas and best practices in marketing/outreach)
  • iglmo (ACRL Library Marketing and Outreach interest group)
  • CULD (Texas Library Association group. As a member of TLA you should automatically be subscribed to the CULD [college & univ libraries division] list if you selected that as your main division)
  • LIRT (Texas Library Association group – Library Instruction Round Table list.)
  • sustainRT (ALA- Sustainability round table, Provides resources for the library community to support sustainability through curriculum development, collections, communication, etc.)

Blogs I❤

  • A Library Writer’s Blog – This is mostly a blog that posts CFPs (calls for papers), conference information, calls for book chapter proposals, etc. I check this pretty regularly just to see if anything interests me. On the other listservs above, sometimes a call for writing comes out. I personally write a bunch so I am usually looking for something like that.
  • In the Library with the Lead Pipe – this is an EXCELLENT blog. It’s more of an online journal, but the pieces are very good and provocative. Check it out.
  • Library Babel Fish (Authored by Barbara Fister)- This blog is hosted on Inside Higher Ed and it’s a really great way to see what’s new in the field and also I like the way Barbara Fister thinks. I’m sort of a fangirl about her. Anyway, she’ll be speaking in Austin at the Texas Library Association annual conference and I get to introduce her – it will be a huge honor for me.
  • Library Loon
  • Librarian Wardrobe (for fun)

Professional associations/Organizations I’m part of

  • American Library Association, 2009 – Present
    • Library Instruction Round Table, 2009-Present
  • Association of College & Research Libraries, 2009-Present
    • TX State Representative,  Library Marketing & Outreach Interest Group 2014-Present
    • Texas Chapter Liaison chair, 2014-2015
    • Women’s Studies section
    • University Libraries section
  • Texas Library Association (District 2), 2012-Present
    • College & University Libraries Division, 2012-Present
      • Chair, 2014-2015
      • Programming committee chair, 2013
    • Scholarship & Research Committee, 2013-Present (3yr appointment)
    • Library Instruction Round Table, 2012-Present
    • Reference Round Table, 2012-Present

Facebook groups I follow

  • LMAO (Library Marketing & Outreach) – here’s a space where people share events, activities, and marketing strategies that they’re doing at their library. Lots of the library world is show-and-tell, and sometimes that’s a good way to pick up on stuff that you don’t encounter in library school.
  • ALATT (ALA Think Tank – which isn’t actually a part of ALA, but it’s a bunch of librarians who share stories about what’s going on in their library and also to vent about problem patrons.) I mostly just watch and giggle.

People on twitter that I highly recommend

Workshops you might find interesting

  • Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians – I graduated from this institute July 2013 and I loved every minute of it. I was surrounded by the most amazing librarians and Harvard faculty and I learned a ton. It’s a really good workshop if you really want to hone in on your leadership skills – I did it because I accepted appointment as Chair of the College & University Libraries Division of TLA.
  • ACRL Immersion Programs – good for instruction librarians, so maybe not specifically for your interests, but there might be more programs for what you like.
  • ACRL continuing ed – some of these are good and there’s quite a bit of diversity in their programs. I will say, though, that they can get pricey.

I’m also always looking at different conferences that interest me and then submitting to see if I get accepted. It’s kind of thrilling. I have spoken at a few conferences and I was recently invited to speak at the Tennessee Electronic Library conference – I’ve finally attained INVITED SPEAKER STATUS. w00t! What are some of your go-to professional development resources?

Creek House Honey Farm

This post is originally published at Local Llano.

It’s the science behind it that draws George and Paige Nester of Creek House Honey Farm in Canyon, Texas together to produce sweet, floral, and bright local honey. An intense love of the bees — an entire ecosystem in your hands — a world encompassed in a 10-frame wooden box, attracts this couple to cultivate and breathe life into the hives. George believes what sets him apart from other beekeepers in the area is his partnership with his wife, an everlasting team. In fact, for George, honey pulling is a family affair— children, cousins, and friends all join together to watch the sweetness seep from the extractor while the Cowboys game flickers in another room.

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Now in their fourth year, the farm has grown to 14 hives over 100 acres, including four swarm-hives that they’ve collected from the local community. After reading about colony collapse, Paige wanted to try out keeping a hive to learn from the bees and to help pollinate her backyard garden. They never thought it would turn into a business. George, a pharmacist, and Paige a biologist-now-art-teacher just thought it would be an interesting learning experience, a hobby to enjoy together. Now, the demand for local honey has exploded and each pull yields 800-1000 jars which sells out in 1-2 days. There’s even a waiting list.
Creek House Honey Farm has the goal of educating the public about keeping bees and what goes into their food. George offers classes for those who want to learn how to harvest their own honey, and what they can do to keep bees thriving in our area. With the drought, people are more aware of the importance of bees to the rest of the ecosystem and have started to shift perspective on how best to manage our slice of the Llano. George ultimately wants to build strong relationships with our farmers to help pollinate our food, work together to survive and to help the bees survive.
But keeping bees takes time and care, especially in the drought-ridden Llano Estacado. Bees need water to survive, produce honey, and to cool their hives in the summer. In winter, they need pollen substitute and sugar water to continue to produce and survive the harsh Panhandle weather. With an alarming average 20-30% hive loss among beekeepers, George and Paige pride themselves on a 0% loss due to their careful cultivation, and it shows in the beautiful honey bounty twice per year.

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When preparing for a pull, George places the frames into his shop and keeps the indoor temperature around 90 degrees— the same as the inside of a hive. This temperature keeps the honey loose and allows for the extractor to pull the optimum amount of honey. The boxes that contain the frames sit atop two brooder boxes — the slats filled with capped-off decadence within the combs.

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Layers of aged honey line the walls, filled with the scent of a prior brood. George carefully places the frames into the extractor and makes it spin – the forces cutting through propolis and drawing out the honey. Capturing the flow is a slow and beautiful process, taking hours to days filtering through fine mesh into a bucket.

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A seemingly crude process, but it works, and what’s left is pure, golden honey.

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The Nester’s love for the bees traces back to George’s grandfather for which the farm is named. George wanted a place locked away from the outside world, a place where he could disconnect from distraction and connect with nature. When he opens a hive, his senses are battered with the scent of honey, the hum of the bees. In winter, George lowers his head, presses his ear against the wood wall to check on them, to make sure they’re still humming. He proudly states, “It’s the most amazing thing to witness.”

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Saying Thank You: A Post-Interview Essential

In the last few weeks, we’ve been interviewing for an evening Reference Librarian position, and it got me thinking about my own grueling job search, not so long ago! I remember stressing out about how much stuff I had to get together: update my CV to highlight what the posting is asking for, re-write my cover letter, investigate the institution, research the library, the list goes on and on. But, one important piece of advice I received while interning with an Outreach Librarian as an undergrad is: once you get that interview – make sure you say thank you.

While I always complied with my colleague’s advice, I never really considered how important it was, until I was sitting on the other side of the desk. Search committees are just as overwhelmed as the applicants and are often looking through hundreds of CVs & cover letters, scoring them based on what they’ve received on paper, and then rearranging schedules to meet with the candidates on campus. It’s a long, arduous process in its own, and it’s always nice to get a thank you note after all of that hard work.

Think of it this way: first impressions are important, but last impressions last.

Sending well-written ‘thank you’ notes shows the search committee that you’re thoughtful and excellent at communicating. But, what makes a great thank you? How do you decide whether you should send an email or a handwritten note? Well, here’s a few tips for your next interview!

Decide whether you have enough time to mail cards, or if you need to send an email
Sometimes, you will be asked for a phone interview before having an in-person interview. These are usually done to weed out lesser candidates before the university decides to spend the money to bring you to campus. If it’s a phone interview, you will likely find the timeline is much shorter between hanging up and getting a call for a 2nd interview. No worries! Emails can be just as unique and personal. These glorious cards from Treat allow you to easily customize your card from the inside out – then, you can decide to send it as an e-card or mail them! Simple and elegant!

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Classic and professional

Say thank you to each person
Even if only one person on the search committee is going to be your future boss – send a card to everyone you spoke to in the interview. This means tailoring each card to the individual. This shows that you were listening and considering each person’s point-of-view and time spent on preparing for your interview. In other words: it sets you apart.

Remind the interviewers again of your strengths & ALWAYS tie it back to something you discussed
Use this essential space to tie it back into why you’re the perfect fit for this job. Remind them of your experience, skills, and expertise! Bring up a question that the interviewer might have asked and expand on it. Or, try to remember a question that you didn’t particularly answer well, and take this opportunity to show that you’ve put some extra thought into it. Remember: don’t send cookie-cutter cards – you wouldn’t just send a cookie-cutter cover letter, would you? Of course not, or you wouldn’t have received an interview in the first place.🙂

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Be concise. Be personal. Be great.
While thank you notes should address your skills and reflect why you’re a good fit, they shouldn’t be 5-page letters. Being concise shows off your ability to write well and to highlight which interactions during the interview were especially important to you. This is where being personal is essential. Show them you truly appreciated the conversation.

Plan ahead
If you were invited for a face-to-face interview, make sure you do your research and plan ahead. As you’re scouring the university/library’s website, get an idea of who you might be meeting, and Google them. This might give you some insider perspective on what the interviewer(s) might like in a thank you card.

Hopefully with these tips, you’ll craft the perfect thank you card and land that dream-job! If you want to stock up on thank you notes so you can hand-write something beautiful, quickly, check out some of my favorite places to get unique cards like Night Owl Paper Goods and Treat by Shutterfly.

Have you ever sent handwritten a thank you card? Did it land you a job?

 

Help me pick new glasses!

I need some new glasses, so I decided to try out Warby Parker’s home try-on program. Haven’t heard of it? Well, it’s this really awesome thing where you pick out 5 pairs of glasses from their website, and then they send them to you for free and you get to test them out at home🙂 Much simpler than awkwardly trying them on at the eye doctor’s office with everybody watching and judging – plus, they have WAY COOLER frames.

So, I need your help, friends. I can’t decide (although I do have my own favs). Are you ready to see some weird photos of me posing?

Let’s start with me sans glasses:

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Alright, keep that one fresh in your mind as you scroll through!

#1 Nash (Crystal)

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I think these are too ultra-modern. Would come in handy for cutting wood, though😉

#2 Crane Ti (Striped Olive)Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.59.37 PM

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#3 Baxter Ti (Sugar Maple)Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.59.27 PM

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#4 Finch (Grenadine)
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#5 Welty (Plum Marblewood)Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.59.16 PM

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That’s all, folks! Now – pick your favorite by commenting below or tweet me your fav #warbyhometryon❤