APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Reflections on the 2018 British Columbia Library Conference

The most recent recipient of the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award, Kaetrena Kendrick at the University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Medford Library, used the award to defray the cost of her attendance at the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) conference in May 2018. Patti Avellanet of APA’s Databases & Electronic Resources Customer Engagement team recently talked with her to learn what she thought of the conference. The following transcript of their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and context.

Patti: Hi, Kaetrena! I know you were headed to the British Columbia Library Association Conference when we last talked, and I’m eager to hear your thoughts and overall impressions.

Kaetrena: The BC Library Conference was very well-organized and welcoming; there were numerous presentations that supported the conference’s theme of “Work + Culture.” I was really excited about this theme which “urge[d] an examination of the connections between work environments, institutional cultures, and communities; an inquiry of how cultures can impact, clash, and complement each other and inform society as a whole,” (BCLA, 2018). The theme dovetailed perfectly with my recent work on low morale in academic libraries.

Patti: Indeed, it did – and congratulations on this opportunity to present and promote not one, but two sets of research findings! I admire your work to understand and improve the well-being of librarians behind the reference desk as well as the students in front of it. (Ed. Note: Kaetrena’s presentations were on low morale in academic librarians, and how welcome Black/African-American students feel as library patrons attending Predominantly White Institutions [PWIs].) Were there any events or groups that you found particularly useful or welcoming?

Kaetrena: One of their protocols I really enjoyed at this conference was that, instead of speaker gifts, the British Columbia Library Association contributed to a non-profit organization focused on combating Islamophobia and racism.

Patti: What a great idea – simultaneously honoring the speakers and the library profession in such a substantive, meaningful way. Was the conference as valuable as you’d hoped it would be?

Kaetrena: Yes! As excited as I was to travel to present my research, the real value was being able to talk with Canadian academic librarians and explore how they approach their practice. Even though we share a continent with Canada, for me it was an opportunity to delve into my other research love: international/comparative librarianship. I met many librarians who told me about their experiences. Their feedback both validated my current work and will probably inform my future research.

Patti: Being immersed in an environment where ideas are flowing freely and being discussed by colleagues with common ideals but differing perspectives sounds energizing. Were there any takeaways you thought you might be able to immediately put into practice?

Kaetrena: I loved the speaker contribution idea so much that I took it back to the Metrolina Library Association Board where I’m an At-Large Member, and we did something similar for our keynote during our June 2018 Conference. Our conference theme was “Advancing Diversity: Moving Beyond Discussion,” and we gave a contribution to the E.J. Josey Scholarship.

Patti: I think it’s terrific that you were able to quickly transform your excitement into a tangible community contribution. What do you think is the most useful thing you brought back from the sessions you attended?

Kaetrena: In terms of programming, I really enjoyed a presentation focused on workplace systems and motivation, and I think some of the systems discussed are worth reviewing in my own library.

Patti: Is the British Columbia Library Association Conference one that you would recommend to other librarians?

Kaetrena: I would recommend this conference to librarians working in all environments or specialties who are interested in international librarianship. It provides many opportunities to meet people and delve into conversations that you can only do at smaller (but mighty) regional conferences.

Patti: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Kaetrena: I’d like to thank the American Psychological Association for offering this wonderful research and travel support opportunity. As an active scholar and academic librarian at a small and rural college campus, awards like this make it possible for me to disseminate my work internationally, and more importantly, directly connect with colleagues globally.

Patti: APA is pleased to have supported you in extending your research to an international community with this travel award. It sounds like your attendance at this BCLA conference was a very rewarding professional development experience in many ways!  Best wishes to you, and thanks so much for talking with me today.

Would you or a librarian you know benefit from receiving an APA Librarian Conference Travel Award?

From September 1 through November 30, 2018, the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award is accepting applications for conferences taking place from January – April 2019. Please visit the website for details on eligibility, deadlines, and application materials.

Patti Avellanet