APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Reflections on the Library Assessment Conference

The most recent recipient of the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award, Stacey Smith from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, used the award to defray the cost of attendance at the Library Assessment Conference earlier this fall. Alison Cody, assistant manager of APA’s Databases & Electronic Resources Customer Relations group, recently talked with her to get her impressions of the conference. The following transcript of our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and context.

The Library Assessment Conference was held in Arlington, Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. While she was in the area, Stacey visited the Library of Congress.

Alison: This was your first time attending the Library Assessment Conference. What were your overall impressions?

Stacey: It was a fantastic conference! I liked that it wasn’t overwhelmingly huge like ALA Annual or Midwinter, but I still felt like I learned a lot.

Alison: That’s great to hear! Tell me a little more about how it was a valuable conference for you to attend.

Stacey: I went into the conference with a very limited understanding of what assessment was, as I had really only been exposed to instruction assessment. I came out of the conference with all kinds of new ideas for what to assess, how to assess, how often, and how to talk to colleagues outside of the library about assessment.

Alison: That last piece is sometimes the hardest, I think. Were there any takeaways that you could put into practice immediately? What’s the most useful thing you learned so far?

Apple pie looks like it’s a pretty clear favorite of students at The Chicago School.

Stacey: One of the sessions I went to talked about how the library used an interactive whiteboard to poll students on their favorite chairs in the library, which helped when they began to purchase new furniture. There’s a whiteboard in our library that usually just contains a quote, so I’ve repurposed it into an interactive poll. The first poll I started was “Vote for your favorite pie.” The next question will be “How often do you use our inter-library loan service?” This will not only will give us some data about ILL usage, but it will also be a way to advertise our ILL service.

Alison: That’s great! It’s so helpful to leave a conference with a quick, simple idea to implement when you get back to the library. This conference is very focused – who would you recommend it to? Is it something that’s best for people who are already conducting assessment?

Stacey: I would recommend this conference to anyone who has a basic understanding of assessment, but doesn’t know where to start. I would also recommend it to librarians who work at medium-sized or larger institutions, as most of the paper presentation sessions I attended were from medium to large institutions. I work in a very, very small library with only two librarians on staff, so while I was able to learn from every presentation I saw, there were some things that I knew I just couldn’t translate for my library.

Alison: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today! I’m glad you got so much out of attending this conference.

For more information on the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award, including details on eligibility, deadlines, and application materials, please see the website.

Marta Soto