APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Reflections on ALA 2017

The most recent recipient of the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award, Rachael Elrod from the University of Florida, used the award to defray the cost of attendance at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in June. Patti Avellanet in APA’s Databases & Electronic Resources Customer Relations group recently talked with her to get her impressions of the conference. The following transcript of their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and context.

Photo of Rachael Elrod presenting her research at ALAPatti: Welcome back from ALA! Was the conference as valuable as you had hoped?

Rachael: And how! I gave my first national conference presentation at the LIRT (Library Instruction Round Table) preconference event on Friday. The presentation introduced attendees to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant project I am working on called “Researching Students’ Information Choices” that aims to understand how students from grade 4 through graduate school assign credibility to online resources and how they identify those resources. Participants in the study are presented with a STEM-related research prompt and a simulated Google results list, and then answered questions about whether they would find the resource helpful, whether they would cite the resource, how credible they think it is, and what type of resource it is (i.e. a book, a journal, a blog, etc.). Later during the conference, I was also happy to be able to meet with an IMLS staff member to share updates on the grant’s progress. If you want to find out more about the grant, see our LibGuide at http://guides.uflib.ufl.edu/RSIC.

Patti: Your first presentation to a national audience — that sounds exciting!

Rachael: It definitely was! This research takes on a critical role in the literature in the face of current emphasis on fake news and how to determine what one is looking at in an online environment. Unfortunately, the grant specifically does not support funding to present at ALA. I have never had the chance to present at ALA before and was excited about this opportunity.

Patti: I’m glad that we were able to help you cover that gap in the cost of attending so that you could present your grant project’s research. Were there any specific events or groups that you found particularly beneficial?

Rachael: The Education and Behavioral Sciences Section (EBSS) events! This was my first year serving as Chair of the EBSS Reference Sources and Services Committee, and my first time at ALA where I was Chair of an EBSS Committee. I was able to meet two of the committee members face-to-face for the first time. We were able to begin planning a project for the coming year for the committee that we hope will help us understand how education faculty and students use resources — and hopefully lead to a publication! It’s very exciting to be a part of something like this.

Patti: I remember that one of your objectives for attending ALA was to continue strengthening your professional network in specific ways, and it’s clear that you enjoyed some unique opportunities to do that. Are there any other takeaways that you can immediately put to good use?

Rachael: I got to meet informally with so many other librarians. I actually met someone while on the escalator who was very interested in the IMLS study — he remembered me from the presentation and waved me down later on to chat! We talked about his research project on studying the citations of undergraduate students, which could be important for my team’s grant. Based on what they are finding, they are learning what students find trustworthy enough to cite.

In addition to presenting my research, the other primary reason I wanted to attend ALA is that my library is preparing to undergo a major $3 million renovation next year. I’d hoped to be able to meet other librarians as well as vendors who can assist me in everything from planning, procedures, policies, assessment, user satisfaction, finding furniture, and so much more.

Patti: I love the escalator story! You never know when and where you might meet someone who is interested in your work. It sounds like this was a terrific conference experience for you, and I’m getting the sense that you would recommend attending ALA to other librarians.

Rachael: Absolutely! There is something here for everyone, whether you are new to the field or a seasoned veteran. Whether you are a school librarian, academic librarian, or public librarian. It’s a place for everyone to come together and learn, share, and fellowship with one another.

This travel award enabled me to connect with others engaged in similar research, as well as people who have valuable insights into successfully planning an amazing library renovation. It was terrific to be able to attend this important conference without breaking the bank as I continue working towards earning my doctorate and becoming an academic library leader.

Patti: I’m glad to hear you enjoyed such a great experience at ALA, and that APA played a part in helping you to achieve that. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.

Would you or a librarian you know benefit from receiving an APA Librarian Conference Travel Award? Now through November 30, 2017, the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award is accepting applications for conferences taking place from January – April 2018. Please visit the website for more details on eligibility, deadlines, and application materials.

Apply by 7/31 – APA Librarian Conference Travel Award for Fall 2017 Conferences

Do you work in an academic or health sciences library in the United States? Are you an early- or mid-career librarian? Are you looking for sources of funding for a conference you’d like to attend this spring?

If the answer to all of those questions is yes, please consider applying for an APA Librarian Conference Travel Award! Through July 31, 2017, we are accepting applications for conferences taking place from September – December 2017. This includes – but is not limited to – the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, the Charleston Library Conference, and Internet Librarian International.

The award is intended to help defray conference-related expenses for librarians with less than 15 years of experience after receiving their MLS. Three cash awards are distributed three times each calendar year, and the application cycle opens and closes on a rolling basis. At this time, we are not limiting the conferences that are eligible for travel award funding. Applicants should identify the conference that best meets their professional needs, and explain how attendance will support their current duties and future goals.

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APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Apply by 3/31 for Summer 2017 Conferences

Do you work in an academic or health sciences library in the United States? Are you an early- or mid-career librarian? Are you looking for sources of funding for a conference you’d like to attend this spring?

If the answer to all of those questions is yes, please consider applying for an APA Librarian Conference Travel Award! Through March 31, 2017, we are accepting applications for conferences taking place from May to August 2017. This includes – but is not limited to – LOEX 2017, the Medical Library Association Conference, ALA Annual, the ACRL Immersion Program and Teacher Tracks, and the APA Annual Convention.

The award is intended to help defray conference-related expenses for librarians with less than 15 years of experience after receiving their MLS. Three cash awards are distributed three times each calendar year, and the application cycle opens and closes on a rolling basis. At this time, we are not limiting the conferences that are eligible for travel award funding. Applicants should identify the conference that best meets their professional needs, and explain how attendance will support their current duties and future goals.

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APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Reflections on ALISE 2016

The most recent recipient of the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award, Karen N. Reed from the Middle Tennessee State University, used the award to defray the cost of attendance at the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) conference in January. Alison Cody in APA’s Databases & Electronic Resources Customer Relations group recently talked with her to get her impressions of the conference. The following transcript of their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and context.

Alison: What are your overall impressions of the ALISE conference?

Karen: I had a wonderful time at ALISE! It was very well-organized, and there were a nice range of session topics to choose from.

Alison: While you were there this year, you presented a paper to a special interest group in your research area. How did that go?

Karen: Yes, I presented a paper to the School Library Media SIG, which is an interest group for educators of K-12 school librarians. I was nervous going in, but was very pleased when it was over and I was able to receive audience feedback. People were very supportive but also asked questions that helped me think of an area for future research. You know, when you’re wrapped up in a research project, the subject matter is so clear to you – getting feedback from others can help you see things in a different light, or question where you were going. All of these ideas from others can only strengthen your work.

Alison: That must have been extremely valuable. Was the feedback useful for the current paper as well?

Karen: Yes, the feedback from my audience regarding my paper was so helpful; I’ve taken that feedback into account in tweaking my paper before I submit it for publication. Also, I was amazed at the individuals who attended my presentation: these were well-known people in my field. In fact, several of the people who spoke to me and gave me feedback were researchers that I had quoted in my paper! In speaking to them, I really had to stifle my fangirl urge to gush and instead try to act professional in talking research. But part of me was thinking “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m talking to so-and-so!”

Alison: What a great experience! What else did you pick up while you were there?

Karen: It was extremely helpful to me to listen to the different presentations and compare their research methodologies. I saw a nice range of ideas, and seeing their practical application to a research scenario gave me much to think about. I am currently writing my dissertation proposal, so it was perfect timing for me to attend this conference and soak in the research designs that have worked for other people.

Alison: It sounds like this was a great conference for you. Who would you recommend ALISE to, and why?

Karen: ALISE is structured towards university library science educators, which is a smaller and more specialized group than the prior librarian conferences I’ve attended such as ACRL. This is a more close-knit group of regulars who seem to know each other and work well together across different institutions. If this is a group that you are interested in meeting with and networking, then I highly encourage this conference.

Alison: I agree! And I’m glad to hear that it was a useful conference for you.

Karen: I am just very grateful to the APA for funding this opportunity. The conference went by very quickly, but I will remember it as a career highlight.

Alison: I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.

Now through March 31, 2016, the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award is accepting applications for conferences taking place from May to August 2017. Please see the website for more details on eligibility, deadlines, and application materials.

APA Announces Winter 2017 Recipient of the Librarian Conference Travel Award

Photo of Karen N. ReedWe are pleased to announce that Karen N. Reed, Assistant Professor and Education Librarian at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, TN, is the latest recipient of the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award. Karen used the funds to defray the cost of attendance at the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) conference earlier this month.

At MTSU, Karen supports the College of Education, which includes graduate programs in school psychology and professional counseling, and will soon include a Master of Library Science program. Attending ALISE will help Karen prepare for this new program; she hopes to teach a class in the MLS program after completing her Ph.D. in Literacy Studies.

The committee would like to thank all those who took time to apply – we received applications from librarians in a wide variety of institutions and positions. The applicant pool is always strong, and the committee encourages past applicants to apply again when they are next in need of conference funding.

Now through March 31, 2017, the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award is accepting applications for conferences taking place from May to August 2017. Please see the website for more details on eligibility, deadlines, and application materials.