ASSOCIATES (2009, November, v. 16, no. 2)

Library Association/Conference Information

ALIA National Library and Information Technicians Conference 2009

Jules Witek
Library Officer
Morris Miller Library
University of Tasmania

Ask anyone who went to Adelaide and attended the ALIA National Library and Information Technicians Conference 2009. “What did this conference mean to you?” and I think you will receive a different answer from each person. The reason for this, I believe, was due to the variety of different choices any individual could take when selecting what to do or see. Perhaps unconsciously I chose the path that would most challenge and engage me in terms of personal development. I opted to attend more of the workshops than the presentation of papers. Over the week 14th to the 18th September, I attended over 23 sessions and social occasions related to the Conference. It would therefore be unfair to give them all equal weight and importance. So I will offer you a “these were a few of my favourite things” approach. I began with what turned out to be a great pre-conference session.

Leadership for Library Technicians

This workshop session was conducted by Kevin Dudeney and co-hosted by Jennifer Dyer. The venue was the Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide. This was an all day session and it would not do it justice to abbreviate it too much, therefore I suggest that you to go to the following link and download the documents available before they are eventually removed.

I found the short course informative and encouraging. It covered topics such as:

The Key points which stood out for me were:


There were 3 theme days called Technology, Technique and Unique. The keynote speaker for day one was Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw PhD.

Find Your Footstool! How to Reach Your Dream –
Even it is on the Very Top Shelf

Dr Yashin Shaw describes herself as a recovering academic. But in fact she is a brilliant orator, educator and inspirer of personal potential. Immediately humorous and engaging she took the conference attendees on a journey of self discovery through revelations of personal experiences and insights. With the clever use of props, video clips and audience participation she used metaphor to awaken how we see ourselves, the world and what we could do to elevate the unique potential we have trapped within us all. Points that lingered in my mind were:

  1. Actively put yourself out of your comfort zone as often as you can as this will help you to grow.
  2. Everyone is different / unique – work with this – and build on it as strength to help you realise your potential.
  3. Practice perspective shifting to help you solve problems.

Three Keys for Confident Communication
A workshop by Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw PhD.

Dr Yashin-Shaw conducted a very interesting workshop focusing primarily on improving and enhancing verbal communication. She stated that as library professionals, having good communication skills are essential. She identified 3 elements that can help improve one’s speaking voice by making it sound more enthusiastic, captivating and engaging: these elements are clarity, continuity and colour.


“Clarity of speech is essential if wanting to sound professional and inspire confidence. Sloppy speech is often associated with sloppy character. Clear professional and polished speech WILL WIN you credibility and respect”. Dr Yashin-Shaw gave us exercises to practice which made our voices sound more articulate and educated. This involved opening the mouth wider, lowering the tongue in the middle and extending the length of one’s vowel sounds.


“Smooth flow of words is essential for sounding confident and in control”. “Disconnected, choppy speech is really hard to listen to after a while. It also sends the message that the speaker is not thinking clearly or is uncertain of what they want to say”. We were given exercises which concentrated on reading sentences as though they were one long word as well as elongating the vowels at the same time.


As Dr Yashin-Shaw described “Speech ‘colour’ is essential for conveying enthusiasm and commitment for your message”. During the workshop she gave us exercises for us to practice that would help us develop these qualities in our voices. This involved pitch, pace, pause and power namely the 4 Ps. The audience was encouraged to vocalise all these exercises and to speak them individually into a microphone. Assistance was provided for anyone brave enough to volunteer!

For further information about this and to learn more about Dr Yashin-Shaw go to the information pertaining to the conference is on the “Learn at home” tab.

Keeping Technology in Perspective:
5 Thoughts from My Interviews with the Public.
Keynote address by Elaina Norlin

Elaina is a librarian working in the United States. She is also the Director of Strategic Initiatives for KIP Communications. There is a perception online resources should replace the bricks and mortar library structures. These comments and opinions, she says, are coming from people who are unaware of what the modern library provides, especially in the area of shared resources. Elaina conducted interviews involving 5 different people she could trust to give an honest answer to her questions. Some of these people had no idea of what the modern library looked like from the inside or they were indifferent. After the initial interview gauging the interviewees’ opinion, she then offered to explain what the 21st century was really like.

All the interviewees agreed that if they were aware of these facts they would not have been so negative about libraries in the past, some were quite astonished.

Finally, Elaina said that if people only knew how COOL libraries were in the 21st century lots more people would want to go there. If libraries advertised themselves more pro-actively, tweaked their websites so that they were more user friendly and underlined their features and benefits, there would be less talk about closing down libraries.

Elaina later facilitated a workshop that focused on “Are Your Consumers Really Finding What They Need? Why Usability Testing is needed at Every Library.” This workshop was an excellent follow on to her keynote address. She demonstrated the system and methodology used in the US to assess the library’s home page and catalogue. Clients were chosen from numerous user groups. They were invited to perform certain tasks in the presence of a moderator and were then encouraged to comment as they proceeded. The results of these interviews were then compiled and the suggestions were then used to tweak the website and catalogue further. This process took one year to complete but was well worth the effort. See the results at


There were many more interesting things I would have liked to have written about. I encourage you to go to the following page and view the papers and info for yourself to get the broader view.