Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Minnesota Opportunities for Reference Excellence

This would be a nice compliment to our program classes, for continuing education and networking, as a resume-builder.


MINITEX is pleased to announce a four-part series regarding core competencies of Minnesota Opportunities for Reference Excellence (MORE). Sessions will be offered over a four-week period. This series is HIGHLY interactive and will involve pre-work and post-work (1 hour) for each session. Participants are required to attend each session to receive a certificate of completion.

The MORE program and these training sessions are geared towards paraprofessionals and/or library staff new to the reference desk. Experienced library staff members are welcome to attend. Something new will be learned, and collective knowledge will be shared.

This series is limited to 8 participants; sign up today!

Thursdays, 10am-12pm, November 29- December 20, 2007

Tuesdays, 10am-12pm, January 29- February 19, 2008

WEEK 1: MORE: The Reference Interview (2 hours)

This webinar will cover what reference is and why it is important. Model reference behaviors (welcoming, paraphrasing, open questions, real information need, follow-up question) and the six pieces of evidence (purpose, deadline, type & amount, who, where, the basic question) will be
discussed, examined, and practiced. Legal and ethical issues involving librarianship, along with looking at libraries' communities, will be examined. Minnesota Volunteer Library Certification competencies for Public Services: Administrative 6 and 7, Direct User Services 3 and 4, Philosophy 2, 7 and 12 will be covered.

WEEK 2: MORE: Evaluating and Examining Electronic Reference Sources (2hours)

This webinar will cover searching in an electronic environment as well as tips for becoming a better information provider by evaluating and examining electronic reference sources and web sites. Different types of electronic sources will be covered including indexes, directories, full-text resources, the Internet, and virtual reference including e-mail and chat. Minnesota Volunteer Library Certification competencies for Public Services: Administrative 8, Direct User Services 5 will be covered.

WEEK 3: MORE: Evaluating and Examining Print Reference Sources (2 hours)

This webinar will focus on tips and tools for evaluating and examining print reference sources available in your library in order to become a better information provider. It will cover what makes a good print reference source as well as the importance of understanding how these resources are organized. This session covers almanacs, atlases, encyclopedias, ready reference tools, statistical sources, the MN Legislative Manual, and the U.S. Government Manual. Minnesota Volunteer Library Certification competencies for Public Services: Direct User Services 5 will be covered.

WEEK 4: MORE: Readers' Advisory (2 hours)

This webinar focuses on important aspects of Readers' Advisory Services. It will cover the basics of readers' advisory, including goals and skills of the service, the appeal of books including plot, character, and genre, and performing a readers' advisory interview. It will also cover ongoing places for professional development on the readers' advisory service using print materials, databases, blogs, and other available resources for librarians. Minnesota Volunteer Library Certification competencies for Public Services: Administrative 7, Direct User Services 6 will be covered.

***This series is approved for MN Voluntary Certification for 8 contact hours. ***

Kristen Mastel, Reference Librarian
MINITEX, 15 Andersen Library
222 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Direct: 612-626-9843
Fax: 612-625-3569


For more information on Minnesota's Voluntary Certification Program, see:


MLA Thursday night - Awards Banquet

Okay, so this is going a little bit backward, but I wanted to be sure I posted a big kudos to MCTC program student, Brandi Bauer, who interned last spring at the University of St. Thomas' Ireland Library. While at the reception prior to the awards banquet, I ran into several people from St. Thomas. Completely unsolicited, several people thanked me/us for sending Brandi to them, and how great it was to have her do her practicum there. As the person coordinating internships for our program, it always warms my heart to hear positive feedback about our students. And, St. Thomas is asking for more interns, for circulation at their Minneapolis library, and for other projects they have. So, if you're a current program student thinking about your internship, think about doing one at St. Thomas.

While waiting for the bus to take us to the Minnesota State University - Mankato campus, which was where the awards banquet was being held, I found myself standing next to Regina Harris, administrator of the Urban Library Program, a 12-credit certificate program offered through the College of St. Catherine and St. Paul Public Library, and Minneapolis Public Library is involved too. We had a great conversation about our two programs, and how we could help students who complete their certificate continue on in our program to finish their A.S. degree or our certificates.

Part of the point of all this blogging is to demonstrate the tremendous value of attending a professional conference, both for professional development and for networking. You never know who you're going to end up standing next to in a line, or seated with at a meal. Mary Ann Van Cura, Library Development and Continuing Education Coordinator for the Minnesota State Library Services office in the Department of Education was seated at my table. She used to be the head of technical services at Hamline Law Library. Later, I had the opportunity to talk with Joan Roca, the Dean of Library Services at MSU-Mankato. I had lunch on Friday with Orrin Ausen, Director of Library Services at Bethany Lutheran College. All the mailed resumes in the world can't substitute for sitting down and having a conversation with folks who are active professionals in their libraries.

In 2008, the Minnesota Library Association conference will be held in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Planning has already begun. Join the association and tell them you'd like to help. Work on local arrangements, help with the silent auction, or volunteer to help with registration. Get involved now, and make the most of the networking opportunities that a professional conference provides. Your professional association needs you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

MLA Friday morning - Library 2.0

This morning, I went to the session, "Library 2.0: Connecting with Your Patrons on a New Level," presented by Carla Steinberg Pfahl. The idea behind Library 2.0 is developing library websites and services that involve more interactive resources and tools. Some of these tools involve "social networking," but not always social, per se. Clearly, these tools are being used for non-social purposes as well (which, as an aside, makes me raise my eyebrows - when Microsoft buys Facebook for $15 BILLION dollars, they aren't doing it to make "friends.").

Pfahl discussed using her MySpace account to connect to other libraries, essentially using this network as a web-based set of bookmarks, based on being "friends" with other libraries and their MySpace accounts. She related an anecdote of planning a trip to Denver, and using her link on MySpace to the Denver library to find out what was happening there. My thought - she could have done the same thing through a web browser bookmark or by a simple Google search for that library; MySpace was just a convenient way for her to do it, that fit with her model of doing "business." So, food for thought - how many of your library's patrons are in those spaces and do you want to connect to them there?

She went on to discuss blogs and their applications in libraries. This is one Web 2.0 concept that I'm much more agreeable to. I do think that blogs add real value and provide a nice communication tool for a library. Pfahl talked about adding widgets to Flickr, LibraryThing, Shelfari, Twitter, Amazon, MeeboMe Chat Window...

Wikis were discussed as a tool for groupwork, which I believe can be very helpful, particularly for policies, procedures, etc. However, using externally hosted wikis (and other content) can be of some concern, particularly regarding intellecutal property rights. Be sure to read the terms of service so that you are making an informed decision on how those impact what you're doing.

Pfahl introduced the idea of going to the Learning 2.0 Project at:


which is a site that encourages the exploration of Web 2.0 and new technologies. Patricia Post of CMLE mentioned that in their multitype region, they'll be rolling out one of these types of projects, and will be offering some incentives. If you're interested in being involved in this, watch for more information at CMLE's web site at:


Glenn Peterson of Hennepin County Library developed EngagedPatrons.org:


This pulls together the programming tools to create and add many of these kinds of tools for public libraries to use. It is free to public libraries with budgets of under $1 million dollars, and prorated for larger libraries.

Pfahl started talking about podcasting, and presented the example of mnstories.com, a Minnesota-focued blog with video aand audio:


Pfahl demonstrated use of a portable recording device to record content for a podcast, and discussed the process of actually creating the podcast. She talked about some of the ways libraries were creating podcasts: storytimes, speeches, music, discussions, lectures, reviews, tours, services for visually impaired users... Clearly the list can go on, limited only by your imagination. (Dating myself, "back in the day...," podcasts were just called "audio files.") She completed her demonstration of recording a podcast by uploading the audio file to the MINITEX reference blog.

FYI, all MINITEX blogs can be found at:


The last technology tool Pfahl described was using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) as a way to find out about new content from other sources, and using it on your library web site to easily show users what's new on yours.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MLA Thursday afternoon

After the keynote, I went to Becoming a Servant-Leader in the Library Setting, presented by Paul Elliott Dahl, the library director of the Minnesota Department of Health library. I don't know anything about this, so I'm here completely to learn. JoAnn Toussaint, from the University of St. Thomas, just sat down next to me.

The main point, I'm gathering, is to think of leadership as a service role. One of the questions Dahl presents is to ask yourself, "who do you serve?" Dahl comments that many leaders expect others to serve them; according to Dahl, in the servant-leader model, leaders should think of who they serve.

Attributes of a servant-leader that Dahl mentions include:
  1. Listening
    Ask questions to build understanding
  2. Empathy
    Judge performance, not personality; Show concern for the whole life of the employee
  3. Healing
    Toxic situations/institutions do contaminate; Model your own healing; Take care of yourself
  4. Awareness
    "The unexamined life is not worth living"; make your words consistent with your actions; be emotionally observant
  5. Persuasion
    Don't rely on coercion or force; convince and seek consensus; share success
  6. Conceptualization
    Long-range thinking; do a little dreaming; "see things whole" - E. B. White
  7. Foresight
    Take advantage of intuition; link the past, present, and future
  8. Stewardship
    More than simply profit-making; take into account the needs of others.
  9. Commitment to the growth of others
    All employees have an intrinsic value beyond their work contribution; support their growth to build the team; support the decisions of others
  10. Building communities
    Use your gifts to better social institutions; we are diminished when we limit our liability to the group; generate an exportable surplus of love

Dahl drew from analogies from Abraham Lincoln's presidency, including how Lincoln named many of his opponents in the presidential race to his cabinet. A reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was an example of foresight.

Dahl compared circle models of leadership to the pyramid style, and the idea of the ripple effect of modeling servant-leader behavior. In the question/answer period, Dahl revealed he had been a pastor previously, which leads one to believe that he comes to this concept somewhat naturally. A participant suggested that humility is a part of all of this, and he agreed; another participant reflected that it also required confidence - confidence in yourself as well as confidence in your colleagues. It highlighted a connection to me that successful work environments I've been in have been more collegial, where the staff trust each other. Like at MCTC.

MLA Thursday afternoon - Keynote presentation

I attended Thursday's keynote presentation, "The Saving Grace of Stories," presented by Sandra Benitez, author of "The Weight of All Things," the book chosen for MLA's one book, one conference program. She was humorous, and called library workers, "The Keeper of the Stories." She talked of her lifetime relationship with stories and how libraries influenced her through access to materials, and included anecdotes of her res"earch experiences. One question she called a library with was, "How long does it take for rigor mortis to subside?" They suggested she call the police department. She realized that she hadn't introduced herself as an author first...

"All of you are beloved; all of you are important to what we [authors] do."

MLA Wednesday afternoon

I sat in on part of a session, "Save Time and Money: Make OCLC Cataloging Partners Part of Your Workflow," on Wednesday afternoon. I found out that Minnesota School of Business, a library that uses the same integrated library system as us at MCTC, was using this program. This is something that we're thinking about doing at MCTC, so I made a note to follow up with Erica Nutzman, one of their librarians, about this. The information in general was useful, but making that connection will ultimately be much more beneficial later. One more reason to go to a conference - a nitty-gritty way to see how someone else has done something, and how you could maybe do things better. More importantly, now too I have a specific person to contact.

After that session, it was time to get ready to present my own session.

Presenting a session is a very different dynamic, of course from attending a session. Not everyone wants to be a presenter, but it is a powerful way to give back to one's profession. We all have something to share; we're all unique people with unique perspectives. In addition, library people are a pretty friendly bunch. So, you have a supportive audience overall. After Nicole and I presented, over the next couple of hours, several people came up to me later to comment on something I said that was meaningful to them, or to ask a follow-up question, further enriching the experience and helping me make more personal connections with the participants.

After our session, there was a reception in the exhibit area, so I went back there to be at our MCTC table. There were appetizers and soft drinks available, as well as a cash bar, to give people a chance to see what the exhibitors had.

Viewing the exhibits gives you an opportunity to look at "library-friendly" career options. There are publishers there, book and serial jobbers, library furniture and supply companies, library-related crafts, educational organizations that have resources for libraries (the Raptor Center was there with a bald eagle and a hawk... SUPER COOL!). If I were someone who might be doing a job hunt, here are all of these career options presented that respect my library background. What a nice opportunity to expand job search horizons. Yet another reason to go to a conference.

After the reception, it was off to dinner for more informal conversations with other conference-goers. Another informal, low-pressure networking opportunity.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

MLA Wednesday morning - Business meetings

I couldn't remember for sure which business meetings, if any, I had signed up for. So, I went to the Technical Services Section meeting. I always have to be careful at these events so I don't volunteer for anything on the spot. I get myself into trouble that way.

The meeting was pretty business-focused, with updates from MINITEX, and for some other projects that the section had been working on. I was interested to hear about a "shadowing" program that had been offered at one point. It sounded like some kind of job shadowing effort. It piqued my interest, as this is something I will want my Intro to Technical Information Services students to do. I made a note to follow up with the person who had coordinated that effort to see what planning they had done and how I might learn from it. They announced that they were starting a new blog for the Technical Services Section. You might want to check it out at:


I managed to escape without volunteering for anything. Phew!

The TSS meeting was over early, so I went next door to where the Support Staff and Paraprofessional Interest SectioN (SSPIN) was meeting. As a former SSPIN chair, it's fun to see what that group is up to. In addition, it is such a great group for paraprofessionals to "cut their teeth" in, in terms of developing leadership skills and becoming involved at the professional level in the library world. There, I saw Kathie Martin, ILL coordinator for Gustavus Adolphus, JoAnn Toussaint, ILL assistant at St. Thomas, and JoEllen LaPrade, cataloging associate at St. Olaf College, two long-time friends from my early SSPIN years. I made a great contact with the incoming chair, Chris Lang, who works for Plum Creek Library System. I can tell, she's going to be a "mover and shaker."

MLA Wednesday Morning

I made it over to the Mankato Civic Center, which of course has a corporate name: the Alltel something or another. The good news is that there is wireless Internet all over the place, one advantage of having a facility like this sponsored by a major wireless vendor. Conference registration went smoothly, thanks to the volunteers working the table. More reasons to come to a conference - one of the volunteers was Carla Dewey Urban, one of the staff at the MINITEX BATS unit, a person who "knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy..." and is worth introducing oneself to, if you haven't met her previously. Carla gave me great directions to the exhibit area, so I could set up our MCTC professional table, and I was good to go.

The morning keynote speaker was Stevie Ray, the executive director of Stevie Ray's Improv Company, not Stevie Ray Vaughan, who did not come back from the dead to present at the conference. Ray talked about te power of saying yes, and turning from saying Yes, but... to saying Yes, and... He suggested banning the use of the phrase, "we tried this already," as a lead-in to a negative statement and find ways to turn it into a positive statement. He was a fun, interesting presenter, and had people talking later, including philosophical discussions about whether or not his idea of "yes, and.." applied to correcting misstatements of fact, etc. At the keynote, I ran into Mary Ann Greenwald, one of the folks in the MnPALS office, and was able to talk to talk to her a bit (another networking opportunity), not to mention getting to meet other new people through Mr. Ray's interactive game-playing session (more networking opportunities!).

MLA Tuesday Night - Wine Tour

This year at MLA they offered a tour of a local winery, in the New Ulm area. When I saw this, I thought, "Winery? Count me in!" So, I signed up, even though it would mean an extra night in Mankato and having to get to the Mankato Holiday Inn before 5:30, which would be something of a challenge given that my reference desk shift lasts until 3 p.m. so I wouldn't be able to leave until that was over.

I spent most of yesterday preparing a handout for the session I'm doing today. Nicole Herold, the Technical Services Manager at Ramsey County Library, and I are doing a session at 2:45 p.m. called, "Top 3 (Cataloging) Things to Spend Your Time On," and I was putting the finishing touches on a resource list while working on the reference desk. As soon as I was off the desk, I was printing my handouts, grabbing the box o' stuff that Tom had ready for me to bring down, and heading out the door to start the quest to get out of the cities.

A beautiful drive down 169 later, I made it to the Mankato Holiday Inn at about 5 p.m. Phew! Thanks to being a Priority Club member (I think I originally signed up at this Holiday Inn 10 years ago or so...), I got a free drink ticket to the bar. I pocketed that, thinking that will come in handy later. Got checked in, dropped off my stuff, and made it back to the lobby to hook up with the other wine tour goers.

So, who goes on a wine tour? Well, a real interesting bunch. Okay, so I'm not so fabulous with names, but there were at least two library directors on the tour, and a good mix of public and academic library workers (mostly librarians, I think, but of course no one had a big P for Paraprofessional on their chests or anything... We're all equal on a winery tour!).

I found myself sitting next to Daardi Sizemore, the Archives/Special Collections librarian , and Barb Bergman, Media Services librarian, both from MSU-Mankato. After going through the "what do you do?" conversation, Barb asked if we ever had interns that would be looking for things to do, because they had some projects... DINGDINGDING! Reason #1 for going on this tour - made a connection for future intern sites for program students or for graduates that may need some extra experience. Daardi and Barb are doing a session on Thursday on outreach with a book cart drill team... I would have never thought about going to that session until I was seated next to them, but they were so much fun that their session will rock, I'm sure. Reason #2 for going on this tour - find out about other sessions that sound good.

At the winery, I found myself sitting next to Marlene Moulton-Janssen, the library director for Anoka County Library. Nice connection to make to find out what jobs are available. She was extremely complimentary about the intern from our program they hosted last year (Nice job, Alice Lin!), which, as the internship coordinator, is nice to hear particularly when the comments were completely unsolicited. Also at the table were librarians from Minneapolis Public Library and Carver County Library. Not bad folks to talk to if you want to network and find out about what's going on in other metro area libraries. Three metro area public library systems were represented at our table - that doesn't happen every day! And, to get to chat over some good wine, and tasty food, so much the better.

By the way, the winery: Morgan Creek Vineyards at http://www.morgancreekvineyards.com/

My favorites were their Gewurztraminer and Saint John Reserve. Others around me seemed to really go for their Nova. Yes, a bottle of each of my favorites will come home with me.

Blogging from MLA

Well, blogging from conferences seems to be the thing to do these days, so I'll step up and do it. Tom Eland and I are both attending the Minnesota Library Association conference in Mankato this year. We are both presenting sessions and will be at a table promoting our program. I'll be posting updates on sessions I attend and stuff I do... Why going to a professional conference is important!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Volunteers Needed for MLA Conference

If you're going to the Minnesota Library Association conference later this month, on October 24-26, you may want to volunteer to help with aspects of the conference. Volunteering is a great way to "break the ice" and meet people.

Conference Volunteers are needed to assist with registration, the silent auction, and greeting. Please consider giving an hour or two of your time during conference to help insure that arrangements go smoothly.

Contact Conference Volunteer Coordinator Janet Urbanowicz for more information and to get the latest schedules at:

jurbanowicz@mplib.org, 612- 630-6173.