The Symposium

This past Saturday was the 3rd Annual SIRLS Graduate Student Symposium.  After months of planning, organizing, and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it, it all came together.  And I think it went fantastically.  We had one presenter cancel at the last minute due to illness, but other than that everything went smoothly.  The technology worked, the presentations were great, and we stayed on schedule.  I saw a presentation on searching behavior of avatars in Second Life, Learner-Centered vs. Teacher-Centered Instruction, and Learning Styles in Library Instruction.  They were all wonderful and I was very impressed with the quality of content presented by these students.  I delivered my own presentation on Access to Information in the Czech Republic and received positive feedback, although unforunately it ran a little long leaving little time for discussion.  I probably should have gone for the 50-minute slot, after all.  You can see more details on the day’s presentations online here.

We had 5 posters at the poster session and there were some great discussions surrounding virtual searching, library environments, and the library needs of young children.  The only real negative feedback we got for the event was that the room we held this in was too small.  It doesn’t surprise me, since I found it to be crowded myself, so lesson learned for next time.  I was very excited to have a poster session for the first time; we had attempted this last year but to no avail.

Chris Dodge delivered the keynote presentation and discussed inconsistencies between ALA’s core values and the practice of librarians, including equal access, diversity, and intellectual freedom.  I found it quite fascinating.

Unfortunately people seemed to dwindle a little bit near the end.  While we had approximately 60 attendees at the Symposium overall, there were only 42 at the closing keynote and probably 20 people at the reception that followed.  It is always a hard thing to judge.  Overall, though, I was very happy with the turnout and it was the largest that we’ve seen at the annual Symposium.  So that’s a very good sign.

A number of faculty from SIRLS were in attendance, including director Jana Bradley; also attending was Nancy Ledeboer, director of the Pima County Public Library.  Three university librarians came as well as a number of library staff and student workers.  I heard a lot of positive feedback on the organization of the event and the program.  The three student presenters that flew in from Maryland also said they were impressed with the event, which was great to hear. 

It’s finally over so that I can stop worrying about what may or may not happen.  I do believe that all the hard work was worth it.  The students got a lot out of it, and it increases the visibility of the SIRLS program & its students within the library community.

Just for fun, here are a few quotes from attendees:

“The Symposium was a spectacular success!” – Jana Bradley, SIRLS Director

“This conference was way better than any ALA program I have ever attended.  The subject matter was rich and the participants were enthusiastic.” – Mary Evangeliste, University of Arizona Librarian (you can see her whole blog post on the event here). 

“This is an event that will stay in my memory for the rest of my career, and I’m pleased and proud to have been part of it.” – Liz Danforth, SIRLS Student and Symposium Presenter

“Kudos to the committee and the presenters for the wonderful job they did on the SIRLS Graduate Symposium which happened this Saturday. I think the presentations I attended were great and had the largest audiences I have seen at the Symposiums!!!” – Carrie Larson, UA Library Information Associate


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