OLA Super Conference 2015

I attended this year’s OLA Super Conference, held in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I attended the conference on Thursday and Friday. I will be summarizing my experience and provide advice for future attendees.

Speed Networking

I could not skip the opportunity to network. It was a great way to meet professionals from the information studies field in quick succession. I had the opportunity to exchange business cards and ask them about their position and the path they went through.

Though I myself am introverted, I found that simply saying “hello” and then starting a conversation sprung organically as we talked about ourselves and our interests.

I would recommend registering for the event, as it is exclusive. If you cannot register in time, you will be put on the waiting list. Regardless, go to the event early and see if you can participate, as some people make last minute cancellations. Do not overlook talking to students/new professionals too, as they are your peers. Ask if the professionals are a part of any associations and if they are looking for anyone to participate.

As you will rotate with professionals very quickly, I recommend against bringing a writing instrument or paper, but I do recommend water, as you’ll be talking a lot. They have refreshments provided.

Don’t be afraid to follow up with the professionals; if they have a LinkedIn profile, connect with them. If they have any volunteer opportunities in their organization, ask them.

After the official event, there is a mingling, where you will have the opportunity to speak to the other professionals and to the students.

Panels

1) So NOT Boring: Social Media Policy for Libraries by Anne Marie Watson and Mary Medinsky

This panel discussed the importance of defining your organization’s social media platform.

Some of their recommendations involved knowing your audience so you can post meaningful content and asking others to review potential posts before publishing them.

They also recommend to have a proactive approach. For example, following followers or potential ones can garner exposure to your accounts. Use a contest to promote yourself.

They also highlighted resources for analytics:

Hootsuite
TweetDeck
Social Biblio
Twitter Audit

2) Supporting Multi-Campus Instruction through E-Learning by Afra Bolefski and Joanne Oud

Whilst being an instructional librarian at a university with multiple campuses, there are issues with traveling and instructing between them. Therefore, the presenters recommended various video tools that can be used for teaching.

Programs such as Skype do not suffice for instruction. They recommended tools such as Adobe Connect and Cisco Jabber. The presenters laid out the programs’
various pros and cons.

For etiquette, they suggested to test the software beforehand, dress appropriately, clean your office (as students can see it), create learning outcomes, be interactive and receive feedback.

3) #WeNeedDiverseBooks: Discussing Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Susan Chau, Dayna Debenedet, Feather Maracle Luke and Margie Wolfe

Inspired by, but not affiliated with the official #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, various authors, publishers and librarians gathered to discuss the lack of diversity in books and the publishing industry.

One of the interesting points made was that if we want more diverse books published, we (librarians) must begin to promote such books with displays, activities, etc.

We have the purchasing power to send a message to publishers. We need to provide more opportunities for diverse writers and advocate for their books. Seek out local publishers who aren’t one of the Big Four.

Expo

The Expo is where publishers, schools and vendors have tables set up to talk to visitors. This is an opportunity to see the latest technology available for libraries and publications available.

Though as a student, I was not making business with the vendors, it was a great way to connect with them and see the products they offer, as you may be ordering from them in the future.

During book signings, they will actually be handing out free copies of books and advanced copies. Take advantage of it!

FIMS Alumni Reception

After I completed my volunteer shift, I attended the reception, right across the Metro Centre. I was able to meet classmates, both those working in Toronto and studying in London. It was a great way to reconnect with friends and network with Alumni.

Overall, the Super Conference was a great way to meet new people and learn about the developments in the field. Volunteering was simple and straightforward. I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned now and apply it for next year’s edition.
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