Second Bi-Annual Regional Conference–Library Adaptation: Expose Yourself…by Jessie Dunbar


It is really a privilege to be on the Continuing Education Committee and getting to work with area librarians towards presenting an intellectually stimulating as well as entertaining regional conference; the kind that will keep you from leaving early. 
Well, CE certainly did that. The quasi topic of the Transparent Library morphed into combining four speakers who had many different kinds of “exposure” to this way of thinking and working: Open Communication; Adapting to Change; Scanning the Horizon and Learning to Learn. 
R. David Lankes, Director, Information Institute of Syracuse was our keynote speaker. Several attendees were noticed to be furiously writing notes that were no doubt inspired by his discussion on library services and the role libraries play in their communities. He used the word “biblio-fundamentalist” (a brand new word for me) and when I Googled it, Dr. Lankes’ name was noted in both of the retrieved references.  This is a good word to use when having a discussion with a librarian who tells you “this is how we have always done it”. 
Mary Ghikas, Senior Associate Executive Director of ALA and former WNYLRC director “fondly recalled” the many road trips to Albany and how she had a “captive audience” if accompanied by an employee or WNYLRC member when engaging in discussion during the long trip. Many good ideas sprang up from these trips.  She uses the phrase “we need to take a drive to Albany” when her ALA meetings seem to be stalled or stale ideas are prevailing.   She also spoke about recognizing new service models and something about a “big hairy ball” and how to work around the chaos not in it.
Next was a delicious Italian style lunch buffet with the best dessert spread that we have ever had at any meeting since I have been at WNYLRC. Right after lunch we had the drawings for the twenty-eight different door-prizes that were compiled through donations from member libraries and individuals. Pat  Klaybor’s special touch made them interesting and so good looking!
Dr. Melissa Wanzer, Professor of Communication Studies at Canisius College spoke after lunch. Her topic was the use of appropriate and effective humor in the workplace. After listening to her speak it occurred to me once again that it’s a wonder that spontaneous humor still exists at all with all of its potential pitfalls.
John Szabo, Director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System was our closing speaker. As a new director he inherited a very mean, dysfunctional and apparently dangerous place to work. His leadership and calm demeanor inspired discouraged and distrustful staff and trustees to work together to rid the system of many of its toxic influences including people and practices. His talk was genuine and interesting.
Survey results indicate the conference was a huge success. Only one, yes I repeat, only one complaint about the food. That’s a big deal.
WNYLRC and CE intend to continue the Library Adaptation brand for future conferences. If you have a good idea for a conference topic in 2010 contact someone on CE or Sheryl Knab, Executive Director.
To view some photos of this successful event, follow this link:

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