Wednesday, October 9, 2013

30th Year Reflections/57: MLA 2013 Expectations

“Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.” — Peter Drucker

I do not know if what follows is a true thought experiment, following classic lines. But after the previous post here in which I talked about the upcoming MLA annual conference, I concluded that the post was not really a personal reflection that fit within this series of thirtieth year ruminations; it was an advertisement for the conference. And so I decided to come back to this drawing board and attempt something different: to list in advance all the sessions I marked out for myself from the conference schedule and state my expectations. Then, after the conference, I will come back to the list and make some judgments on whether or not those sessions met my expectations. I realize this is a bit risky, for me and the presenters. I’m publicly stating my hopes; in the week to follow I’ll offer my assessment. Here, then, is my session list and expectations:

All Facts Considered: a Conversation with an NPR Librarian (Malesky and Aslanian)

This promises to be a conversation between Malesky and Aslanian. What I’m hoping to hear are inside stories of what it is like to work at one of my favorite (and trusted) news sources, what might have been most challenging for Malesky during nearly three decades at NPR, insights into some of the individuals she’s met over her career, how her work has changed over thirty years, and what trends she sees in news reporting and her interaction with that reporting (including preservation and access to this record) in the future.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Libraries Respond to the Aging of America (Schull)

I’m in the demographic group Schull will address during her session. She will “review the changing landscape of services…highlight innovations in libraries…offer ideas and examples useful for professionals in both public and academic libraries.” Part of my curiosity with this session is how much Schull will look externally at patrons and internally at libraries. I’m especially interested to see how she sees 50+ folks interacting with technologies, especially search and social media. Also, I’ll be curious to see what she says about programming and outreach to this segment of the population.

Legislative Update (Keefe and Ranum)

This session is pretty straightforward, an update on MLA legislative activities “and issues of interest to all types of libraries.” Keefe and Ranum are pros when it comes to tracking legislative activity. What I’ll be looking for are issues I can track once the legislature is in session so that I’ll be ready to lobby when Legislative Day rolls around. I'm hoping they might also make some observations on the impact of the federal shutdown.

ARLDapalooza (Meeting and Poster Session)

This is an Academic and Research Libraries Division meeting. There are proposed revisions to the bylaws (which I need to review before the meeting) and perhaps other business to attend to in short order. The poster session is the main draw; I’ll be interested to see what my colleagues are up to.

Future Focused—Trends Impacting Library Services: the Minitex Perspective (Horton)

Valerie will have a list of trends which we’ll be invited to explore and a chance to “provide input on the strategic position of Minitex’s programs and services for the future.” I’m always interested in trends and will be attentive to what she focuses on. Our unit provides copies of rare materials for Minitex, so I’ll keep an ear cocked for anything that might relate on this front. Since Minitex is such a “player” when it comes to lobbying the Legislature, I’ll be listening for anything in the trend/strategic discussion that translates into legislative action.

MLA Membership Meeting

More proposed amendments to the bylaws, including a change to the dues structure. My expectations are generally fairly low for a business meeting; I’ll walk away happy if the meeting was well-run, meaningful business efficiently conducted, with no food fights.

What Is This Thing Called Digital Humanities? (Bahnemann, Oberg, Schell)

I’m surprisingly a bit out of the loop on DH so I’ll look forward to what two of my colleagues from the U (and a former colleague, now at Macalester) have to say in their panel discussion that will get me back up to speed. Since I’m keeper to a wealth of material relevant to DH, I’ll be especially attentive to what technologies I might employ and the types of material of interest in curricular support.

A Rock Band Needs a Roadie: Using Guide on the Side for Tutorials (Hootman, Lee)

We’ve talked for some time within our department about tutorials. I’m not sure, for all our talk, that we’ve ever launched something successful online that might be useful in the area of archives and special collections. We do have a web page with pointers to external tutorials and other useful links. But I think our own product is still “in the can.” So I’ll be interested to see what “Guide on the Side” might have to offer.

Surviving the Public: Customer Service the Unshelved Way (Ambaum, Barnes)

This is another “headliner” in our two day biblio-rock festival. Given that this falls sometime around lunch, I’ll be looking for some comic relief and a pick-me-up.

Rocked and Rolled: Lessons From Closing the U of M Library School

I’m offering this session so my self-expectation is to be at the top of my game and provide a lively and informative presentation to those attending.

Off-Label Uses for Books (McKean)

The final “headliner” performance before the conference ends. I’ll be coming down from my session so my biggest expectation here will be something that sends me on my way with a bit of zip and energy. My hope is that I’ll be pleased with what I experienced over the last two days, excited to be in this profession, and eager to take what I learned back to work and share it with others.

This is the "meat and potatoes" of the conference; I've not mentioned any of the social times or "fun" activities scheduled for early morning, midday, or in the evening. I'm looking forward to those as well, but I'll spare them any post-conference analysis. See you in St. Cloud!

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