Sunday, February 03, 2008

Things learned at SuperConference

I haven't posted for a week, but that has been because I've been very very busy and important! This week was the annual Ontario Library Association SuperConference. Held, luckily, in Toronto. There, I took part in a little of this, and also a lot of sitting listening to people, and a lot of droning on for myself. SuperConference is exhausting! And I only went to two of the four possible days.

Because it was in Toronto, I also served as a, well, not exactly bed and breakfast, as one of the guests doesn't eat it and the other brought her own, but perhaps we can call it a bed and snackfest, so that the North of Steelesers could sleep an extra while and take the subway, rather than battling the snowstorm to drive. So it was a three day librarian PJ party!

Some things learned at SuperConference:
  • Lugging around really heavy and ancient laptops all day hurts your back, and it is really nice to have people around who are willing to act as pack mules!
  • Never ever believe the blurb explaining what a session is going to be about. It is sure to be about something entirely different, and likely a lot less interesting.
  • 93% of customers will approach an information desk where the person is standing, making eye contact, and smiling, while only 10% of customers will approach a desk where someone is sitting, making eye contact, and smiling.
  • For every 1 customer who complains there are 26 others who remain silent.
  • There are now at least 48 countries in which the government is actively censoring the Internet.
  • In order to be successful it is important not to involve the community - you must engage the community.
  • 1 in 5 people would interrupt sex to answer an email or take a call.
  • There is actually such thing as a drive-through funeral, at which, people take less than 90 seconds to bid farewell to their loved one.
  • In order to appear professional in making your presentation at SuperConference, all you have to do is have spoken with your co-presenter about which order you will be talking in, and maybe have looked at your slides before reading directly from them.
  • Nigeria has the world's third largest film production system - after Hollywood and Bollywood.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, homophily makes you stupid. Baaaaaa!

How did my presentation go? Quite well thank you! It was the second year for the Best Bets for Teen list, and our audience size almost doubled (despite presenting early in the morning on the snow day). I was quite pleased with our list this year, and I'm looking forward to next year as well. Though I must admit, I plan to take the rest of February at the very least to catch up on some non-Canadian Teen lit reading - maybe some American teen lit. Maybe some adult books. Who knows? I feel like the reading world is my oyster and I don't know where to begin.

The list hasn't been published on the OLA site, but it will eventually appear here. In the meantime, here is the teen list:

Aker, Don - The Space Between - Harper Collins

Bennett, Holly - Warrior's Daughter - Orca

Brooks, Martha - Mistik Lake - Groundwood Books/ House of Anansi

Friesen, Gayle - For Now - Kids Can Press

Heneghan, James - Payback - Groundwood Books/ House of Anansi

Jocelyn, Marthe - How It Happened in Peach Hill - Tundra

Juby, Susan - Another Kind of Cowboy - Harper Trophy

MacIntyre, R.P. & Wendy - Apart - Groundwood Books/ House of Anansi

Ravel, Edeet - Secret Journey of Pauline Siddhartha - Raincoast

Toten, Teresa - Better than Blonde - Penguin

And some honourable mentions:

Aubin, Henry, T. - Rise of Golden Cobra - Annick
Choyce, Lesley - The End of the World as We Know It - Red Deer Press
Ellis, Deborah, and Eric Walters - Bifocal - Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Denman, K.L. - Rebel's Tag - Orca (Currents Series)
Fergus, Maureen - Exploits of a Reluctant (But Extremely Good Looking) Hero - Kids Can
Kay, Guy Gavriel - Ysabel - Penguin
McCann, James - Pyre - Simply Read Books
Stevenson, Robin - Out of Order - Orca


Deranged Squirrel said...

Ha! I love your list of things learned.

ru said...

i am intrigued by the whole "standing, eye contact, smiling" thing. bc is up for a redo - we should have standing station floating reference points - like roving, with ipacs, but better because we won't have to use ipacs. really i would like a handheld pc. and an amazon kindle, but i don't think they will buy me one of those at work!

MadJenny said...

It is an interesting idea. The other fascinating stat I didn't add there is that 90% of customers will approach a desk where someone is standing and making eye contact (but not smiling). So the smiling only adds 3%. So that's good. Because if you did have some standing floating places it wouldn't really matter if the person was a smiler. And we know a lot of them aren't.
The woman who gave that workshop also suggested that we turn reference desk computers around and work on the same side of the desk as the customer, so that they can see the search. That would necessitate more off-desk time to get work done, but I also like the idea. How often do we have to try to flip the monitor so they can see, unplugging it in the process, and causing them to lean in awkwardly.

faerie-writer said...

Good list! :D

MadJenny said...

faerie-writer - this was such a good year for Canadian YA it was really hard for the committee to narrow down the list. There were so many that I loved that I wish could have been on there. But - the good news about that is that YA publishing in Canada is huge right now, and that is awesome! I just kind of wish we could have had a list of 20 plus honourables or something.

False Prophet said...

Actually, one of our colleagues told me when she worked in one of the New York systems, the information desk terminals had two screens--the librarian's and one facing out for the customer.

I think if you're going to adopt the standing service model, you need to get back to that ideal of reference shifts being two hours max. Four hours on their feet will wear anyone down fairly quickly, but more importantly, getting less off-desk work done at the desk will be painful. But a portable PC or similar device would make things easier, absolutely. Still, you could probably set up a rotating floor schedule with X hours on the seated desk and Y hours at the standing point.

MadJenny said...

Yes. One of this presenter's main points was, in fact, that on desk time should be kept specifically for public service - and that staff either need fewer administrative duties, or need to rotate off-desk more often.

She even talked about some library systems who have two different streams - info. staff who do only roving and public service desk, and info-staff who do the admin. stuff and programming/outreach.

I'm not sure that's the way we want to go, but it does bring up interesting possibilities, and if we had a larger cohort of part-time staff it could really work.