Getting “Real”

On April 21st, WNYLRC held its biennial (every-other-year) conference, organized by the Continuing Education Committee. The title was “REAL: Resources and Education for Awesome Libraries.”

After our 2015 conference, we received comments that people wanted presentations with more practical information, so that’s what we set out to give them. The first half of the day focused on UX (User Experience) while the afternoon contained a variety of topics.IMG_1793

Our first presenter was Judy Siegel, from Thompson Reuters, speaking on UX from an outside-of-libraries perspective. In talking about user-centered design, she shared a video showing how a shopping cart was redesigned completely with the customer in mind. She also shared examples of designs created for websites, and how you can even come up with ideas by just writing them down on paper and re-arranging them – it doesn’t all have to be done with a computer.

Judy’s slides on Google Docs.

IMG_1798Next up was Justin Cronise from Erie Community College. He reported on a “Work Like a User Day” that he had held among staff at ECC’s library. Staff had a checklist of tasks to complete, including entering through the public (rather than staff) entrance, and carrying all their belongings with them around the library, rather than leaving them at a desk or office.

Justin’s handout
Justin’s presentation on Prezi
Justin’s assessment survey on Google DocsIMG_1807

Our last presenter of the morning was Craig MacDonald from Pratt Institute. He covered how UX thinking has affected libraries, including the idea of a “User Experience Librarian” which many institutions have created in the last several years. He also spoke about different UX methods, such as A/B testing and user surveys.

Craig’s slides

IMG_1813After lunch (catered by Lloyd Taco Truck) and some time to browse the exhibits at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, we resumed the presentations. Here we had 2 time slots with 2 presentations each:


IMG_1829Mandi Shepp and Christopher Shepp spoke about their respective roles of Library Director and Marketing Manager at Lily Dale Assembly. The library had been without a librarian for many years, and the community’s branding and marketing needed work, requiring creative thinking and new ideas.

Chris & Mandi’s slides

IMG_1840Tom Vitale, of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, spoke about how libraries can serve as social service centers. He previously worked as a social worker and was able to incorporate ideas from that field in his work with special populations at a public library.

Tom’s slides and handout

IMG_1833Katy Duggan-Haas of WNY-STEM spoke about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEM literacy. She shared examples of STEM-based learning where questions and investigations are driven by the students, and they are encouraged to think creatively.

Katy’s slides.

IMG_1825Rhonda Konig, a Genealogy Specialist at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, spoke on genealogy. She talked about how the field has changed today, and included useful resources and reference interview techniques for genealogical questions.

Rhonda’s handout.

Our final activity of the day was a craft using discarded books. Rhonda KoniIMG_1843g, who also did our genealogy presentation, led the activity. Using simple bending or folding of the paper, we were able to make designs out of a book, using no glue or tape. For extra decoration, Rhonda provided some cut-outs and colored pencils that we enjoyed using on our creations.


Thank you to the members of the Continuing Education Committee, staff, presenters, and of course attendees for a great conference!

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