01 September 2005

Summer Fun at Library Institute

by Jennifer Young

This past summer I traveled to Tucson from Mesa, Arizona and stayed in Pima dorm for a week where four classmates and I trekked all over UofA campus. We laughed, we joked, we sometimes consulted maps, and all of this with some thirty-five wearied and weathered librarians in tow. That’s right, I was a student guide at Library Institute!

Library Institute is an event sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records and hosted by SIRLS at University of Arizona to provide aspiring and current library directors the opportunity to engage in professional development activities and network with each other. The librarians all traveled to UofA from small towns in rural Arizona where they manage public libraries. My job as a student guide entailed assisting the librarians with checking in and moving in and out of the dorm, escorting librarians and presenters to and from various events, lunches, and dinners, participating in events and general socializing.

Now, I know you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of work, but I can honestly say it was well worth it to meet this group of fabulous and inspiring librarians and speakers! Most notably, we were motivated by Mary Bushing, a dynamic library consultant and educator, who woke us all up after lunch when she dared to ask the question in her presentation “Why do libraries charge late fees? Why not get rid of them? Seriously folks!!!”

Linda Holman Bentley of the Phoenix Public Library made a convert out of me, and many others, I suspect, with her completely entertaining and convincing presentation “The Need to Weed” – not only am I an advocate of weeding in libraries now, but I was inspired to (gasp!) weed my own beloved collection of books. Agnes Griffen, a Library Consultant and all-around purveyor of common sense, shared with us her vast wisdom about working with library boards and ‘Friends of the Library’ groups, striking home for the librarians and opening my eyes about the trials and tribulations of the administrative side of libraries. Our very own Jana Bradley encouraged the audience, presenting on the benefits of joining national and local library associations and of pursuing continuing education for personal and professional gain.

In addition to the obvious benefits of gleaning all of this new wisdom from such prominent speakers and the librarians themselves, I got to hang out with some great classmates whom I’d been in classes with online but had never ‘met’ before, ride around in a golf cart all over campus, although sometimes hanging on for dear life, I might add, enjoy the most fantastic and beautiful food I’ve ever seen in my life all week long (for free!), and get paid a stipend of $500.00 for doing it all.

Although I can’t say the week went perfectly…there was that fire alarm at the dorm on the first night at 2am!, a minor ‘detour’ through construction to a presentation at an obscure building across campus (or as I liked to call it “an unofficial campus tour”) which some guests didn’t exactly appreciate, and of course, the heat…I learned a lot and had a blast doing it, and I definitely would do it all again!!

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