CLiC was pleased to have given 4 scholarships to the Reference Renaissance Conference in Denver in early August. Here are some edited responses from the four attendees.
During the conference, and afterwards, my overall impression remained the same: one of hope and energy. Hope for the future of libraries and reference, and energy of both presenters and attendees. I came away with some great ideas, specifically the creation of a Staff Portal intranet (from the Reference Tracking session) and Library Facebook Fan Page (from the Facebook Outreach session), both of which we have already instituted. Our MPL Staff Portal is a place for the staff to communicate online about all library departments; we even have a place for personal “Happy Hour” conversations. The staff appreciates having one place to get all library information, and is currently learning how to navigate and engage on the site. We are all learning about Facebook, too, with our Library Fan Page – we got three fans in the first day of page creation! We found that it is also very easy to send event ‘invitations’, and are happy to have one more place to advertise our library programs and connect with our community.
Victoria A. Petersen
Mancos Public Library
From Antiquity to Technology: A Renaissance of Libraries Today and Tomorrow
Beginning with an inspiring and thought-provoking Keynote speech by David Lewis to the theme of “rebirth” within reference and libraries, the Reference Renaissance conference, with over 500 attendees, proved to be one of the best conferences I’ve attended in the past 3 years. Filled with great optimism and acceptance of our fast-paced world, the sessions proved to introduce new concepts and the use of collaborative technologies in libraries today and of the future. As Colorado State Librarian Gene Hainer quoted, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so” [W. Shakespeare], moving forward in reference and library services is greatly influenced by our collective mind-set. Presenters urged the importance of positivism and optimism as we move forward in discovering library services in the 21st Century. As colleagues and professionals, we must be proactive about our libraries, information resources, and our users’ information needs. We must renew our commitment with ourselves, our careers, our libraries and colleagues, and ultimately our communities of information seekers. The future of libraries is exhilarating!
Sarah Myers, Library Director
Red Feather Lakes Community Library
As a result of attending the Reference Renaissance Conference, my staff and I have entered discussion of just what we want our reference service to look like, and how will we achieve that. We have begun planning a rearrangement of our print collection with format free, bookstore-style display and themed location in mind. We are poised to pilot chat reference through our Plinkit website. We will begin discussion of how we can better market our online reference resources to patrons, especially our youth. Of all the ideas I’d to pursue, I think the most critical things we will do involve education. Instead of just getting answers for people, as has been traditionally done, today’s information seekers usually want to know how they can find answers themselves. That doesn’t mean they want us to point to an area in the stacks, hand them a URL, or sign them up for computer time. It means that we take the time and opportunity to connect personally, seize the teachable moment, and assist them at their point of need to master the skills needed to become information literate. In the end, the ability to find and evaluate the information they find will serve them much better than a hundred single answers. Yes, I know, the more we teach the fewer tally marks we’ll have on our reference tracking sheets. It’s a small price to pay for meaningful, and hopefully transformational, service.
Sandy Messick, Director
Woodruff Memorial Library
The Reference Renaissance conference was a real eye-opener for someone like myself from a small public library district. The conference was quite large, with more participants than there are residents in my little town! Many were from large universities from around the USA, as well as some from other countries. The conference presenters were clearly focused on the needs of academic libraries, although smaller library needs were also addressed.
There was a stimulating array of speakers with computer backgrounds who were familiar with the technology that would propel reference into the twenty-first century. While some spoke about the need for face-to-face reference services (or should I say, side-by-side partnering reference services!), the majority were illustrating the multi-faceted ways of on-line and electronic contact that is preferred by the younger generation. The entire conference was committed to keeping the reference departments a vital and vibrant part of the libraries of our nation.
Edith Strate, Adult Services Librarian