Reflections on the 2015 Paralibrarian Division Annual Spring Workshop!

CSLLogo-CMYK-VPosted on behalf of Amanda Langdon, Colorado State Library 2015 Paralibrarian Division Annual Spring Workshop Scholarship Recipient

First, I wanted to thank the Colorado State Library for their generous scholarship, allowing me to attend the Paralibrarian Spring Workshop in Boulder. This was my second continuing education program since entering the field, and it was so much better than the first! At both, I was one of very few academic librarians, so a bit of effort had to be put into finding ways to apply the wealth of information provided to my specialized field. CAL’s workshops, however, were far more academic-friendly, and more universally applicable. The greatest challenge was deciding which of the sessions to attend: they all sounded interesting and useful!

The morning began with a tasty catered cold breakfast and registration, followed by three amazingly enthusiastic keynote speakers from Pine River Library. They talked about the challenges they’d faced, how they’d overcome them, and how they’d worked with hard-won grant monies to develop their community services beyond anyone’s expectations.

The first session I attended was “Aha! Moments: What are they and how to have more.” Sharon Morris talked about the use of insight as an alternative to analytical problem solving. Nearly half of the attendees admitted that analytical thinking was their primary approach (me included). Insight is a valuable – and under-used – thought process that can be developed to balance and support the more linear and structured process. One key fact was that attempting to see a “problem” as a learning experience and a source of inspiration can itself change the dynamic of the situation for the better. Most interesting was the fact that people who stepped back from a problem and viewed some form of comedy were more likely to discover an insightful answer than those who didn’t take the humorous break. Fresh air and physical activity are also said to promote insight.

The second session was “Create an Online Portfolio”. While the emphasis of the session was on looking for a new job, there was plenty of great information provided for those of us content where we are. While I am quite content in my current position, Kayci Barnett provided many tips for developing my online presence now; things that will come in handy farther down the road. Moreover, this is information that can be shared with everyone from co-workers to our student patrons, helping them develop their own portfolio and online presence. I will be adding my own write-up on this topic to the Anschutz Medical Campus Library’s blog and newsletter in the hopes of sharing all that great material!

The provided lunch from Jason’s Deli was tasty, and the clouds cleared just long enough to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air between sessions.

The final workshop was “Body Language”, taught by Jean Heilig. The first thing she pointed out was that body language is difficult to read and can very easily (and very often) be misinterpreted, even within a specifically-Western/American context. However, learning how to appear non-confrontational while speaking with an unhappy patron can come in very useful in any type of library. Simply being made aware of various aspects of body language, and how those can be interpreted, has made me more cognizant of both my own posture and that of others. I had no idea that 55% of communication is nonverbal, with only 7% of the meaning being interpreted from the words used. (The remaining 38% comes from tone and inflection: how the words are spoken.)
I’d like to end with a final note of thanks for the gift-basket I won in the drawing! What a delightful surprise ending to an engaging, informative, and fun day!

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