Professional development is vital for librarians. It allows us to sharpen our skills, become familiar with innovations in the library and archival worlds, and collaborate with colleagues we don’t usually interact with. All of this helps us to enhance what we do at our home libraries. With this in mind, I attended the METRO Annual Conference at the Vertical Campus at Baruch College on January 15th.
After an introduction, brief award ceremony/business meeting, and quick breakfast, Jessamyn West, the keynote speaker, began her talk. Ms. West is an advocate of increasing access to content for everyone, and she focused on several legal cases involving copyright and fair use that have had great impacts on the library world. She also discussed a project called Open Library, which lends e-books, some of which are technically still under copyright, to patrons (this is an unusual way of lending out materials, and it will be very interesting to see what happens as it gains steam!). I learned a lot about fair use from this presentation, and I’m really eager to see how access to information will continue to evolve as institutions and technology change.
After, there were project briefs. There were many, many topics covered, but of course, as one person, I couldn’t make them all! I went to five (all of these can be found on the conference link above):
Information Literacy Sessions for Faculty: These librarians from St. Joseph’s College used surveys, a faculty bulletin, and a lot of follow-up to increase awareness of library resources to faculty. As someone who teaches orientations, it’s important for me to learn new ways of engaging faculty, and I really found this brief helpful.
Break Out: Adding Value to Your Library in Non-Traditional Ways: The head of St. Barnabas’ Hospital library and her staff organized an employee tea and sent packages to soldiers overseas as ways to make the library stand out to administrators at the hospital. It always helps to have support from non-library departments, and these were really interesting ways to help in getting that support.
Wikipedia in Cultural Heritage Institutions: METRO’s Wikipedian-in-Residence (an intriguing concept in itself) demonstrated how Wikipedia can be, and is being, used by various educational institutions to highlight resources and engage communities. Although we as academic librarians often discourage the use of Wikipedia as a reference source, getting authoritative people and institutions to add and edit Wikipedia articles for greater accuracy and detail can only help in the dissemination of useful knowledge.
Five Partners, One Access-Oriented Services Consortium: The Shared Services Model for Small Cultural Heritage Institutions: Staff members described the services provided at the Center for Jewish History. Since Touro has many campuses, we are constantly working together, and it’s always fascinating to hear how other places pool resources.
From Creation to Preservation: Transforming the Culminating Student Project through Collaboration: Librarians and other staff at Purchase College took a process in which senior theses, capstone projects, and master’s theses were embedded within Moodle rather than printing them and having the bound copies in the library, and also involved the library more in the projects throughout their creation, rather than just at the end. We have many student projects here as well, and as technology continues to change the way courses are structured, it was beneficial to hear about how one college made the transition from print to digital.
After the presentations, there was a brief wrap-up, and the conference was concluded. All in all, it was an incredibly interesting experience for me. From learning new ways to interact with faculty for information literacy, to seeing how librarians can embed themselves more directly into courses, I hope to utilize the knowledge I’ve gained to improve the services I provide for patrons, to work more effectively with my colleagues, and to better show the many resources the libraries at Touro have to offer.