(The following is a blog post from Liz Grace, MLIS, one of the 2019 winners of the UNYOC Professional Development Award).
As a newly-appointed Head of Collections in an academic health sciences library, I am constantly seeking new educational opportunities. Attending the Charleston Library Conference: Issues in Book and Serial Acquisitions in Charleston, South Carolina provided me with an excellent opportunity to take a deep dive into the world of collections. This conference allowed me to learn, network, and explore my new career niche.
Learning about different types of collections was incredibly interesting. Even when the conference content did not directly apply to my library’s size and scope, I still learned something new. I hope to put into practice several innovative ideas. One of the most exciting presentations discussed new approaches to collection workflows. As someone who is very much still learning about the landscape of collections, I found this fascinating. While their improved workflow would never fit in my library, it made me think about potential changes I could make to encourage collaboration and decrease unneeded spending.
I made sure to attend the keynote lecture given by Patricia Flatley Brennan, Director of the National Library of Medicine. The topic was the future of biomedical communications. She touched on the intersection of interests of federal libraries, publishers, and librarians. We are all trying to provide the right information at the right time. NLM is making some big changes that are sure to impact my job, but I am glad that conversation was opened up the larger community. The information provided by NLM is accessible to the public, but many may not know the intended use or audience.
The Charleston Conference is not just for librarians; vendors and publishers attend and present alongside their librarian counterparts. Changing my approach to library-vendor relationships is something I realized I need to explore. A talk I attended discussed reframing the relationship libraries have with the vendors they work with. My job is not to just negotiate successfully with vendors, but to engage with them. This different perspective will hopefully have a transformative influence on future vendor partnerships.
Charleston is such an interesting place to host a conference. The culture and history are unlike anywhere I have traveled before. Walking from my hotel to the various venues, I was able to soak in a lot of the historic downtown. Restaurants, parks, hotels, and churches abound! Waterfront Park and Rainbow Row were both a treat to see. I also made sure to take full advantage of the vendor-sponsored evening at the South Carolina Aquarium, where I tried cheesy grits for the first time. This dish lives up to the hype, so much so that I am already plotting my return to Charleston!