Professional Development Award – Member Report

In 2015, AAAL launched a Professional Development Award for member libraries. Nicole Palanuk, Yellowhead Tribal College, was one of the first recipients of this award, receiving funding to attend the AAAL AGM in April. Here is Nicole’s report on her experience.

It was an honour to be chosen as one of the recipients of the first AAAL Professional Development Award by the Professional Development Committee. As a librarian at one of the six tribal colleges in Alberta, I value every opportunity to meet with fellow professionals and hear about current projects and developments in the field.

I participated in the discussion group about incorporating public library practices into collection development at academic libraries. One of the topics we discussed as a group was whether or not to lend textbooks to students on a large scale rather than simply purchasing faculty requests. Some libraries in our group had begun purchasing all of the required textbooks and loaning them to students. An interesting point was made that public libraries create collections that best meet the needs of their population. One way academic libraries could incorporate public library collection development practices would be to meet students’ needs by responding to their requests for textbooks.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the Spring AGM was the Lightning Strike sessions. The quick format allows attendees to hear highlights from many different projects in a short amount of time. It was interesting to learn about SAIT’s new collection development model and how the roles of liaison librarians changed in response to this shift in duties. The study done by Mount Royal University of academic library users was fascinating in how it highlighted the differences and similarities of the way library spaces at different institutions are used by students. It was great to hear about the successes MacEwan University had promoting their LibQual survey using their in-house marketing team. I also learned a lot from the presentation made by Red Deer College about hosting digital files, digitizing old formats and copyright issues related to the digital media project. Finally, I gained a deeper understanding about the library services at Maskwacis Cultural College and was made aware of the Library Showcase being hosted at Maskwacis, which I was lucky enough to attend this month.

It was wonderful to get the chance to visit Red Deer College Library for the first time and see their new service desk model. The staff was very welcoming and gracious in answering our many questions about the combined service point. In particular, I was very interested in their reserve collection which was open for students to browse and select items. This contrasts other reserve collections I have seen which are usually located behind the service desk and inaccessible to students. This openness and willingness to make staff and resources more accessible to students is something I would like to emulate at my own library.

Overall, I am very grateful to the Professional Development Committee for giving me the opportunity to attend the AAAL Spring Meeting. I plan to incorporate some of the things I learned into the services at Yellowhead Tribal College Library and look forward to future AAAL meetings.

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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