APA Librarian Conference Travel Award: Reflections on the 2018 Public Library Association Conference

The most recent recipient of the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award, Aisha Conner-Gaten at Loyola Marymount University, used the award to defray the cost of attendance at the Public Library Association’s (PLA) annual conference in March. Patti Avellanet in APA’s Databases & Electronic Resources Customer Relations group recently talked with Aisha to get her impressions of the conference. The following transcript of their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and context.

Patti: Hi, Aisha! I know you were really looking forward to attending the Public Library Association’s conference, in part to present your work on diversity. How was it?

Aisha: The conference opened on a chilly March Wednesday with the theme “Imagine the Possibilities,” which could not have been more fitting. Public library work varies so dramatically depending on location, staffing, funding, and community that imagining the possible (and sometimes impossible!) becomes an essential part to sustaining an engaged institution in support of its patrons.

Patti: “Imagine the Possibilities” sounds like a terrific call to action. What were your overall impressions of the conference?

Aisha: As an academic librarian a bit out of her element, the PLA conference made a definite first impression on me as both an attendee and as a presenter. I’ve been to a few of the larger academic conferences this past year thanks to travel awards like the APA’s and found there was a “feeling” that always permeates the venue: slight panic mixed with subdued professionalism. Some would call this the overall “vibe” or “culture,” but regardless of the namesake, I found PLA to be so different from my previous experiences. There was a general calm in the convention center as well as all the sessions. It made for really impactful conversation without the tinges of overwhelming haste that sometimes ruin the conference experience.

Patti: I can’t help but chuckle when I think of what “slight panic mixed with subdued professionalism” looks like when worn by a sea of people! It’s terrific that PLA felt serene and completely different in that respect from other conferences you’ve attended. How did your presentation go?

Aisha: Multiple PLA members came by to support my presentation, When Push Comes to Shove: Supporting Patrons of Color in Your Institution, and, after a dynamic session, attendees were very receptive to the presentation’s content and message. They were vocal of their support and criticisms and were not at all afraid to ask questions or share solutions as issues emerged. It really made our session feel more like an extremely large working group, hopefully with lasting impact beyond the conference.

Patti: It’s great to hear that your audience was so constructive, interactive, and solution-focused. Were there any particular events or groups that you found especially useful or welcoming?

Aisha: I did have the pleasure of attending a PLA recruitment session with my interested colleagues. I was glad to see that PLA really hopes to engage its members at all levels of involvement. The comparatively low levels of effort to work on a temporary taskforce or write for a blog are actively encouraged alongside the higher levels of effort involved in leading a committee, running for office, or working on an award committee. Some PLA members are library directors while others are part-time staff, but PLA seems to really haven taken into account its membership’s rapidly fluctuating time commitments and job schedules and made adjustments accordingly. I think that re-organizing around the needs of their members should prove effective for them long-term. PLA is also unlike many professional conferences I’ve attended in that it did not hold many committee or group meetings during the conference. My understanding is that much of that work is done offline, providing more time for attendees to acclimate to the conference environment and enjoy their overall experience more.

Patti: Not having to attend committee or group meetings sounds like a terrific opportunity to spend more time learning as much as possible from the conference sessions. Was the conference as valuable as you had hoped?

Aisha: I found the PLA conference very valuable. My initial hope was to gain insight from public libraries on how academic libraries like mine could better engage with their communities, and how the entire library staff is tasked with this endeavor. From this conference, I was able to see how work in libraries, specifically beyond large initiatives and strategic planning, can be impactful for the community.

Patti: PLA may not be a conference that many academic librarians would think of attending due to differences in patron types, funding, and other characteristics, but you clearly anticipated the benefits given the common framework of community support that public and academic libraries share. Were there any takeaways from this public library conference that you can immediately put into practice at your academic library?

Aisha: Two of the sessions I attended were very different, but the takeaways for my institution were very similar. One of these sessions included supporting career placement with very basic concepts – such as how to tie a tie from the Free Library of Philadelphia – and another involved a project preserving common heritage in Athens, Georgia. They both focused on evidence-based programming and project work with community buy-in from the very start. That meant the library recognized they could not do good work without the community and that they would remain accountable to that same community throughout the process. I think this is a key part of any library or memory work: allying with the community and remaining accountable to their needs and occasional criticisms.

Patti: How interesting – two sessions that exemplify very different but important supportive functions that a library can serve within a community. That tie tying workshop was only one of many terrific hands-on activities featured in the 2018 PLA How-To Festival that our readers might explore bringing to their own libraries! Is this a conference that you would recommend to other librarians?

Aisha: I would absolutely recommend attending, if not PLA itself then a local public library conference or event, to any librarian – and especially those in academia. While we do have different patron types, our work really does follow the same framework of support. Additionally, public libraries do not have the luxury of a very specific scope – everyone comes for all sorts of things – and often varied levels of funding, so they get creative and innovative in ways that many academic libraries sometimes do not. It is an excellent opportunity to exit our academic silo and hear how to better integrate dynamic community work in all parts of our institutions.

Patti: I agree that working to integrate within a community and dynamically support it, while remaining accountable to those you serve and breaking through boundaries of creativity to meet needs and solve problems can be a complex challenge, but one that offers countless rewards for librarians and patrons alike. It certainly sounds like your PLA experience helped to expand your vision of what is possible and increase your enthusiasm for these types of challenges in your own library. 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 May 1 through July 31, 2018, the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award is accepting applications for conferences taking place from September – December 2018. Please visit the website for more details on eligibility, deadlines, and application materials.

APA Style CENTRAL® Update: Improved Searching of Learning Center Content

The search function in the Learning Center has been improved! APA Style CENTRAL recently added features and updated tools to help with your research and writing in APA Style (also see our previous blog posts for details about spell-check and appendices and citing within paper elements).

After discovering that users were not easily finding relevant quick guides, sample references, and other content when searching the Learning Center, we updated the behind-the-scenes indexing for the learning objects to make them easier to find.

You can now enter a variety of search terms without having to exactly match the terms used in the learning object’s description or title. All of the relevant parts of the search results are highlighted in yellow. If the answer can be found in both the learning object and an associated PDF in the LEARN MORE section, both will be highlighted.

For example: Searching for “chapter” results in highlighting of the quick guide title “Book Chapter Reference”; all instances of the word “chapter” in this quick guide’s DESCRIPTION heading; the video preview box in the THUMBNAIL section; and the text in the LEARN MORE section, “APA Style Guide to Electronic References, Examples 19-20″.


Another notable example: Searching for “Bible” will display the “Citing References in Text” quick guide, with highlighting of the relevant section of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association that addresses the citation of classical works.

Let us know! If you search the Learning Center but don’t find what you’re looking for, please email us! Tell us what search term(s) you used and what you expected to find so that we can update the content indexing to improve the search functionality.

Search tip: To quickly clear your search terms from the search box or view all learning objects again, use the “Show all items” link to the left of the search box (see screenshot above).

Related resources:

Questions? Want to see more features added to APA Style CENTRAL?
Let us know!  support@apastylecentral.org

Redesigned APA Style CENTRAL Training & Support Home Page

The APA Style CENTRAL® Training & Support Home page has been redesigned to help you access our training materials more quickly and easily.

""We offer support in a variety of formats designed to help students, instructors, librarians, and administrators:

You can also subscribe to the APA Style CENTRAL email list (announcements only), and view the contact information for the APA Style CENTRAL Support team.

The right navigation rail enables quick access to all of these links within the APA Style CENTRAL support site in the “Training & Support” section. There is also an “APA Style® Information” section for easy access to additional APA Style resources.

Bookmark or link to the APA Style CENTRAL Training & Support home page in library websites, LibGuides, your course management system, or any other location where students, faculty, and researchers will find it.

If you have any questions about using APA Style CENTRAL, please email us or call (1-800-374-2722; TDD/TTY: 202-336-6123) — we’re here to help you!

Apply by 3/31 for the APA Librarian Conference Travel Award

There’s still time to get your application package together!

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, 2018, we are accepting applications for conferences taking place from May to August 2018. This includes – but is not limited toLOEX 2018, the Medical Library Association Conference 2018, ALA Annual 2018, 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/MLIS. 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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Webinar Alert: APA Style CENTRAL® Trainings for March & April 2018

APA’s training specialists have developed several webinars for librarians, instructors, and students that include a content overview and a live demonstration of features.

Click on any session link below to register (all times are EDT).

APA Style CENTRAL Overview (60 minutes) introduces librarians, faculty, and students to the platform:

Teaching With APA Style CENTRAL (60 minutes) details how faculty, librarians, and other instructors can use APA Style CENTRAL in teaching APA Style:

Writing Papers in APA Style CENTRAL (30 minutes) teaches end users how to create and save papers using APA Style CENTRAL:

For more information, including the full training schedule, visit the APA Style CENTRAL webinars page.