Despite an extremely truncated Annual (I needed to leave early to help an injured friend), my preconference presentation went well. The preconference itself was an all-day RUSA affair on the subject of Reinvented Reference, or new approaches to the challenge of structuring library public and information services in light of shrinking budgets and changing staffing paradigms. The morning section featured four speakers, each of whom dealt with a different common problem area in reference services – myself on collaboration, Lisa Ennis on working with IT, Bill Pardue on staffing models, and Brian Mathews on assessment strategies. My co-presenters were excellent. Slides from my portion of the talk:
(Note: that’s my Texan mother in the tiara, gown, and curious jailbreak cheerleader outfit, obviously, and I’m happy to say that she was extremely enthused to inspire a manners lesson for librarians.)
From the broadest possible perspective on my talk, the point I was trying to make was that successful collaboration is all about good communication, and also that it is totally contextual and an integral part of the nature of the public services environment. That said, if collaborative opportunities are identified as such and approached as a series of nested relationships that require a working infrastructure better facilitated by platforms such as KnowledgebasePublisher or Google Docs, etc., they can result in more successful, longer-term partnerships that can develop organically over time. I also made the point that in dire financial times wherein capital improvements such as constructing information commons may not be an option, it is a good idea to look outward and seek opportunities to contribute to existing help/information services within the campus or community you serve, such as jumping on an IT ticketing system or course management system help platform, or attending committee meetings and providing on-the-fly information/research help (that last one from Bill Pardue).