7 things I would now do differently

By Linh Ly, C.A.S.E 2014 Scholarship recipient

Before I begin sharing my own experience of the 2014 ALLA Conference held in Adelaide, I would like to say a very big thank to the ALLA NSW Committee in giving me this wonderful opportunity by sending me to the conference. Overall it was a great experience and I walked away feeling inspired being amongst a group of law librarians in Australia and internationally. You can read my tweets from @OurGirlInAdel.

Below are 7 things I have learnt, personal observations that intrigued or inspired me to change the way I do things from now on.

Get out and Tweet!
Some people who know me can attest I can get a little nervous when it comes to social media. I decided this conference will be a perfect time for me to explore what Twitter can do for me and to help me engage with my fellow peers. So with tentative steps as @OurGirlInAdel, I discovered the Twitter world was not scary as I thought. With patient guidance from my fellow peers at the conference, I learnt how to tweet. It was a nice feeling when my new followers would retweet my comments. Apparently “retweeting” is like a “gold star” for your comment. I also gained one new follower from a law librarian from Wales.

The conference certainly beat the fear of using Twitter out of me! In her workshop, Mary Ellen Bates encouraged information professionals to learn how to use social media. Her message is, this is no different to learning how to use a research database. With this wisdom and encouragement from my fellow peers, I will certainly continue to engage, learn and be inspired!

Think like a learner
As a trainer in my current role, I am always keen to hear about what others have come across and their experience in the e-learning sphere. Nicola Parkin’s session on her take on Online Educational Design and how this affects our users was very informative. Her key message was”think like a user”. It seems obvious but we still need to be reminded about this.

She believes we cannot just “think” as librarians but also as a learner, web user, architect, auditor, educator, artist, lawyer and designer. That is certainly quite a few hats! Nicola reminded me that it is a “user-driven” future, where we will only learn
by doing the actual task. She suggests putting a human element in the e-learning sphere, such as adding a photo or a video clip. The communication with the users can be mix of online and face-to-face.

These ideas are food for thought when I come to plan for my online training sessions and to keep the learner in mind!

Effective Questioning techniques in training sessions
Manjeet Janjua from LexisNexis delivered a session on how to effectively use questioning techniques to uncover training needs. His style and approach to training was a good refresher for me. Depending on the type of delivery style you choose, higher participation and retention of information from the training session can be achieved.

I am a big believer in encouraging the users to collaborate and, share ideas during a session. According to Manjeet, the Facilitation and Brainstorm type of delivery produces a higher level of retention of information for attendees. The use of varied open, leading and probing questions all play a role in the type of sessions you run. I now intend to review my training sessions to fine tune my questioning techniques so the users get the most out my training sessions. I will also take on board and make sure there are not too many questions, as Manjeet advised.

Tools to use to engage with your users
I was really keen on what Emily Allbon had to say and see how she used technology to engage with her students. For my own purpose, I would like to incorporate online tools to engage, enhance learning and also add a different element to training. Emily mentioned tools such as social media and videoscribe are good examples as it is more apparent that training is no longer just in the classroom. This session has encouraged me to focus on catching up with users’ expectations.

I am amazed and inspired by how much Emily has achieved in this sphere, with her work on Lawbore (http://lawbore.net/). The golden rule for user engagement is to incorporate technology to engage users of library sources as it is no fun just looking at black text!

Add some creativity to your professional development
As our roles have changed, and the current information professionals needing to wear many hats, Karen Rowe-Nurse strongly encourages us to undertake CPD. Why? To become better at our job. Some CPD programs are not even taxing to
the budget, such as presenting a 10 x 10 at work, reading up on professional literature, writing articles, becoming active in ALLA or even better, apply for a scholarship to attend an ALLA Conference!

For myself, I see CPD as an on-going project, to learn and share my knowledge with others. I also find talking to my peers for ideas is always a good one. It is hard not to become complacent but it is important to continue to learn, not just for my role but for myself.

Are we really indispensable?
I was fortunate enough to attend Mary Ellen Bate’s (MEB) workshop on “The Indispensable Librarian” prior to the conference. I need to say she was fantastic and kept me engaged and awake despite my morning flight to Adelaide! I look orward to meeting or possibly working with Mary Ellen in the near future!

One of MEB’s main messages is how we see ourselves is not the same as how our clients perceive us. She has the study to back up her claim! (SLA/FT Report: The Evolving Value of Information Management And Five Essential
InfoPro Attributes) As an informational professional, I like to think I am doing a job that adds value to my client. The keyword here is perception. Deep down I knew this but to have MEB say it out aloud was a reality check for me. It made me question whether I was really “indispensable” to my clients?

My takeaway’s from MEB’s session were:
1. It is not about the process but the outcome. Not about working faster/harder but how we can help them win a big matter/deal
2. Clients demand relevancy over “data dump”
3. Understand executives/clients and their needs and find out what their biggest challenges are.
4. Clients want us to be proactive
5. Do not say NO. MEB encourages us to raise our clients expectations and that in turn will raise
our value.
6. Take ownership of your own learning, this includes social media as well as research databases.

Signing off for now…
There was so much to take in at this conference. I am so glad and very grateful for this chance to attend. I now feel there are some things I am doing right and have received guidance on areas I can improve on. When I present at an ALLA event later in the year, I can tick that off my CPD list.

I will certainly add some new things at the presentation. Thank you again NSW ALLA Committee and to all my peers I have met during my travels in Adelaide!

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