Last Thursday I attended New Jersey's VALE Conference, and I wanted to mention a few things I'll be following up on that were directly inspired by my participation:
(1) A few semesters ago a faculty member approached me about getting the resource SciFinder Scholar for our library. Unfortunately we haven't figured out how to justify the expense. I believe it would be about ten thousand dollars for an institutional subscription, but pricing is not usually made public, and I don't see it on their web site. Two-year institutions are not their primary market, either. But after speaking with a science librarian at one of New Jersey's colleges, I now wonder if CAS might be able to work with us to find a solution that would provide some kind of introductory or neutered (also cheaper) version of SciFinder. It's worth investigating, at least.
(2) I'll be doing a presentation to faculty in a few weeks discussing assignments that the library has helped to support. I'd like to cover assignments from both inside the college and out, and at the conference I learned about a great assignment involving Wikipedia. It was being done at a 4-year college, but for first-year students, so I think it will be relevant.
(3) Every institution's library is unique, which is something I knew but which was illustrated starkly by the keynote speaker Brian Mathews, who has worked in several large research libraries. What this can mean for library space is that depending on the users there may be a need to have multiple zones. Although it's a bit obvious upon reflection, the idea that a traditional quiet reading room with comfortable lighting and a no-food policy could exist side by side, instead of competing with, a flashy high-tech collaborative space, was novel to me.
This was my fourth consecutive year attending this conference, and again I found it extremely rewarding. In fact, I've gotten so much out of it that I'm feeling obliged to give back in return. Assuming I do something worthwhile this year, I'd like to to submit a proposal to do a presentation in 2013. I've presented a poster at VALE before, but I've never done a presentation. I think many of the librarians who attend are required to present their work as part of their professional obligations, for tenure when they have faculty status and for administrative advancement when they do not. I do not have a requirement like this for my own position, but I hope I would be encouraged to present my work at VALE.
Reconsidering the Think Tank
5 weeks ago