The Public Library Association (PLA) Conference was held in Portland, Oregon March 23-27th. The city of Portland has a wonderful transportation system that enabled conference goers to easily travel from area hotels to the convention center, not to mention area shopping and restaurants, for free. The system even went to the airport for a small fee.
The workshop highlights for the conference for me were Book Buzz with Nancy Pearl, What's New in Fantasy, Paranormal, and Science Fiction for Teens and Adults (a gift to myself :), and oddly enough, I Have These Statistics--Now What? Getting Started on the Path of Collection Analysis. Other highlights for me included hearing the keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize winning speaker Nick Kristof and listening to a short concert by Natalie Merchant prior to the keynote. These two individuals started things off on an inspiring and positive note, as they each spoke of the impact libraries had on their own successful lives. They also provided critical reminders of the great difference librarians can make daily in the lives of our customers and in our communities, things that go way beyond the collections and walls of the buildings to the heart of libraries: the interactions of the customers and the library staff.
In addition, a lot of my focus for the conference was on collections and collection development, so I also took the opportunity to visit the booths in the exhibit hall. I picked up a couple of galley copies of Fang by James Patterson and The Passage by Justin Cronin. I also spoke with some vendors like BWI, discussing their services and discounts; checked out Brainfuse to compare it with Tutor.com; spoke to our ILS vendor TLC to ask some questions and make some suggestions; and scoped out some library card vendors for our upcoming First Library Card project. (I may have picked up a free cookie here and there along the way!)
I've come back with some definite ideas and action items: First, I am running reports to get relative use figures for our collections to help us better identify where our weeding needs to go deeper and what areas of our collection are successful and need to be expanded. My goal is to complete these reports and present findings within the month so that we can move forward with next fiscal year's collection budget allotment with accuracy. Next, I am going to follow up with some other collection vendors to see if they offer competitive pricing, convenient services, etc. Finally, I've got some good information to use for my proposal/plan for the First Library Card.
Thanks to Western Maryland Regional Library for supporting the trip to the conference.