Happy Friday the Thirteenth! I thought I would address your worst conference nightmare…wasting a session. It doesn't matter if it's ALA or ALAO (that's the Ohio ACRL chapter), but I usually end up sitting through one disappointing presentation. In this case, the content delivered didn't live up to expectations created by the session title and description.
The issue with this specific session was the use of the phrase "lessons learned" in the title and the thought provoking questions posed in description. Instead of hearing about lessons learned or best practices or tips or sage advice…I heard an infomercial. My disappointment stems from the content presented not being scalable or applicable to another institution. Don't tempt us with "How do you prioritize your resources and staff?" to only tell us that you were able to hire more librarians and have money for an information commons. That's great for you, however it's not practical or implementable for the majority of your audience.
The only transferable "lesson learned" (and not even to my local situation) I got out of the presentation is to share laptops between library departments. Do you use laptops for instruction and for lending to students? Great! Work with circulation/access services/whomever controls the lending side to pool laptops during peak times of the academic year. Use the majority of laptops for instruction at the beginning of the semester/quarter (when instruction is high and assignments low). Reverse the distribution model at the end of the semester. Let circulation/access services use your laptops for students to borrow to work on all of those end of term papers and projects. You're probably not doing much (if any) instruction at the end of the term. It's a win-win and a great way to extend those insufficient capital expense dollars.
Feel free to take a look at the PowerPoint slides. You might get something out of them that is useful for your institution. My lesson learned for you? Go with your gut instinct when picking conference sessions. I'll try to do a better job with all of my schedule conflicts in Anaheim.
If I could do it over again, I would have gone to hear Paul Waelchli and Sara Holladay talk about "Fantasy Sports: The Road to Information Literacy Championships." Paul and Sara win the prize for information sharing! You have to appreciate the amount of time they put into creating an amazing Fantasy Football Toolkit for Libraries. Check it out…