Dissecting CARL

Posted on 5 April 2010 at 10:31 pm in Events.

We’re just a few days away from the 2010 CARL (California Academic and Research Libraries) Conference and I couldn’t be more excited. Last week, my friend and carpool partner Carolyn came over for dinner and discussion of our itinerary and figured out which presentations we most want to attend (subject to change, of course, based on recommendations and momentum once we arrive).

So I thought I’d dissect the schedule and the presentations I’m most interested in seeing. Once the event is underway I’ll tweet my live impressions, and when it’s over I’m sure I’ll post a conference wrap-up.

Thursday, April 8

The conference kicks off with AM and PM “Engage Sessions” for early birds. Since these cost extra and both Carolyn and I are on “underemployed” budgets, we decided to pass on extra out-of-pocket expenses. It’s unfortunate, since several of these presentations sound interesting, particularly “Reference Toolkit Revisited” by Amy Wallace, CARL President. I’ve been doing specialized archival reference at the California Academy of Sciences, so a good refresher on the latest tools and tricks for general reference and instruction would have been worthwhile. Perhaps I can pick Amy’s brain during some of the open conference time.

The main draw for us Thursday is the dinner program from 6-8, which promises to be a great chance to reconnect with librarians we’ve worked with in the past and make new contacts.

Friday, April 9

Friday morning is when the serious presentations begin (and the difficult choices). After an early plenary session with Dr. Peter Hernon, we have to decide between four different presentations to attend late morning, another four after lunch, and a final set of four for the early evening. The three sessions I’m leaning towards attending are as follows (and, of course, subject to change):

  • New Directions in Library Instruction: Keywords, Visual Literacy, and Critical Thinking by Matt Conner (of UC Davis). This is appealing because I consider Library Instruction to be one of my strengths as a librarian and this is an opportunity to see another professional’s perspective and deepen my own understanding of information search. My own philosophy of Instruction is pretty heavily based on what I learned working with Joe Garity and his team at USF so I’m very curious what other perspectives are out there.
  • People Make Research Guides with Jacqui Grallo, Kathlene Hanson (of CSU Monterey Bay), and Jade Winn (USC). LibGuides and similar software are becoming the dominant medium for dynamic research guides (replacing the static pathfinders of the days of yore) and getting a better understanding of how to use these tools will keep me on the cutting edge of Reference Librarianship.
  • Digging into Our “Hidden Collections”: Maximizing Staff Skills and Technology to Enhance Access to Special Collections with Elaine Franco and John Sherlock (UC Davis), Sarah Buchanan (UCLA). I may just be getting suckered into a presentation about a mystery with a fellow named Sherlock, but this sounds very compelling to me. A lot of what I’ve been doing with the California Academy of Sciences has been digging through the back cabinets to find the uncataloged, unheralded and otherwise undiscovered items in our collections. I’d love to learn about Franco, Sherlock and Buchanan’s experiences with similar work on the larger scale of a research university.

Alternatively, there is an compelling sounding presentation on information literacy assessments (AM), library research ethics (PM), and wiki-based research guides (late PM) that could draw me away from my initial choices. The Friday lunch is also exciting: CARL will be introducing the current Rockman Award winners, and it will be my chance to meet the other members of the committee.

Saturday, April 10

The final day of the conference promises to be pretty full, too. I’m less decided on my Saturday “Listen & Learn” sessions, but here is what I’m leaning towards:

  • The Library as a Student Research Site by Anna Gold (of Cal Poly-SLO). Library service always starts with the user experience. Whether you’re trying to provide access to materials, assist in locating information, or performing behind-the-scenes technical services, everything we do as librarians has to be about easing the experience of our library patrons as they seek information, a place to study, to work and to collaborate. This presentation promises to be a well-researched look at how university library users are using the tools at their disposal and how libraries can make their research goals easier to accomplish.
  • Early Career Issues in Academic Librarianship with Katherine O’Clair (Cal Poly-SLO). Well, I fit the bill. I graduated in December and am currently looking for a full-time, professional position, and this session is all about what to do when you’re in my shoes. From the presentation description, this sounds like it could be a great, open discussion, or fall flat if the audience is light and unresponsive. However, given O’Clair’s impressive curriculum vitae, I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s doing and this session will be worth attending — it has the potential to be the most useful I attend all conference.
  • Let’s Try This Again: Redefining the Content of Information Literacy for a Post-Google World by Korey Brunetti (CSU East Bay), Julian Prentice (Chabot College), and Lori Townsend (CSU East Bay). It’s pretty clear that literacy and information literacy have diverged pretty sharply in the Age of the PDF. This collaborative, workshop-style presentation is focused on determining just what the necessary research skills are in our current technology-driven environment and how to ensure university students gain that understanding.

There’s also a snazzy-sounding Saturday late afternoon presentation on LibGuides in case I miss the Thursday research guide session. Saturday lunch is also reserved for brown-bag/Dutch-treat interest groups, and I’ll be joining the Rockman Committee and award winners for lunch at Rio City CafĂ©.

All in all, I couldn’t be more excited about my first CARL conference!

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