Professional Development Award – Member Report

In 2015, AAAL launched a Professional Development Award for member libraries. Sheena Gardner, Grande Prairie Regional College Library, was one of the first recipients of this award, receiving funding to attend the AAAL AGM in April. Here is Sheena’s report on her experience.

I had the pleasure of attending the AAAL Spring Meeting in Red Deer due to the gracious offer of the Professional Development Award sponsored by your AAAL PD Committee. It was a delight to attend and participate in such an invigorating meeting. The day kicked off with a presentation from Nicole Charles, IT Librarian at Red Deer Public Library. Nicole spoke about how injecting play into learning can help learners retain information and then had us play with a range of objects from a banana piano to the classic game of Perfection. This demonstrated that play can spark curiosity which leads to a sense of wonder and desire to learn. While we were still flush with excitement from interacting with the tools she brought, Nicole encouraged us to bring play into our own library instruction classes to foster curiosity and the desire to learn.

I really enjoyed hearing about the partnership between the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) & the Northern Alberta Health Library Association (NAHLA) and how the combined efforts of these partners ensures that members have the best offerings for patrons. I look forward to hearing about further developments from COPPUL and NAHLA.

This mentality of partnership was a theme that ran throughout the day and I was very impressed that collaboration runs so strong in this province. Whether through commitments to participate on task forces or the executive, it is clear that the Alberta Association of Academic Libraries has a sharing culture that helps to provide all students with the finest resources possible.

Perhaps the most inspiring moments during the day were those regarding student consultation. Through outreach, focus groups, and surveys, librarians are collecting information to create and tailor outstanding and unique services. These services range from having required readings on reserve to hosting yoga sessions that encourage self-care. The breakout talk on the topic of outreach was a great opportunity to hear about how other institutions craft and project their messages about these services.

There were so many highlights during the day but one in particular was the tour of the bustling RDC Library. This library is a true display of innovation with its Single Point of Service desk and the collaboration with the Red Deer Public Library. I think that many of us were intrigued by how the single point of service desk operates and RDC staff were great about answering all of our questions. The RDC Library truly reflects and caters to its community in a vibrant way.

I am sure that the conference was as valuable to those who have worked in libraries for years as it was to those like myself who have just started their careers. As we move out of one academic year and plan for the next, the AAAL Spring Meeting was a great experience.  Now the hard work begins by trying to funnel the ideas and energy gained at the meeting into successful planning and initiatives at GPRC. Thank you for a wonderful experience.

For more information about the Professional Development Award, please contact committee members Suzanne Rackover (Banff Centre) or Janet Sainsbury (Bow Valley College).

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