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UNCG Hosts Conference of Area Library Paraprofessionals

On Tuesday May 13th,  over 100 individuals from Greensboro and the surrounding counties, converged on the Elliott University Center to take part in the first ever Triad Area Library Association (TALA) Paraprofessional Conference titled “Academic Libraries: Staying Relevant in Times of Change.”  Supported by the University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University (WFU), and the Carol Grotnes Belk Library at Elon, the aim of the conference was to enhance the development of library paraprofessionals by providing workshops, presentations, discussion groups, and networking opportunities.  A total of six sessions focusing on a variety of important issues facing library staff members including customer service, emerging technologies, and disaster preparedness, were presented during the day.  In addition, the Director of UNCG’s Career Services, Patrick Madsen, gave a rousing lunchtime talk, titled “The Intentional Career Brand” about the importance of discovering what you want to do, where you want to do it, and how to market yourself to prospective employers.  The day concluded with a presentation by Henry Frank, the Director of the East Carolina University Music Library, on how librarians can find their “niche” in life and the future of the academic library.

The idea for the conference came from Rosann Bazirjian, the Dean of the University Libraries at UNCG who recognized the importance of staff development within her own library and believed there might be a need in the larger library community. In spring 2013, she took her proposal to the other members of TALA, which is a membership network of academic libraries in North Carolina's Piedmont region that are committed to reciprocal resource sharing. After gaining support from other institutions, a ten person multi-university planning committee was formed to determine the details and logistics of the
conference.  Throughout the year, the committee met numerous times, determining themes, speakers, location, and other details of the conference. 
Sean Mulligan,
Conference Planning Committee Member

Despite this being the first conference for TALA, the overall survey feedback by participants  was extremely positive.  Many felt that they learned a lot of new information throughout the day and were impressed by the quality of speakers.  There was overwhelming acclamation for the food selection, the parking accessibility, and facility location. Humorously, some respondents specifically mentioned that the macaroni and cheese at lunch was “the best I’ve even eaten” and “it was awesome!” While it has not been determined when or if there will be a 2nd TALA Paraprofessional Conference, it is clear that paraprofessional librarians in the Triad greatly appreciate the opportunity to continue their professional development.

Text written by Sean Mulligan.