At the PALS Office, Fall means the return of students, a decrease in parking spaces on campus, an increase in training and support requests, and preparation for and travel to Fall Conferences and MnPALS User Group. Theses changes are both energizing and, at times, tiring – with the exception of the parking hassles, which are just tiring. Like the libraries we support, we find ourselves pulled in many directions and sometime struggle to prioritize the many demands on our schedules. On the bright side, there is no danger of becoming bored…however, things like the PALS Blog get put on the back burner. Now that the forecast has threatened snow on at least one occasion, it is time to reflect back on a busy fall season…
In late September, Stephen and I travelled to Minot for the North Dakota Library Association’s Annual Confernce. Although the drive from Mankato to Minot is LONG, it was a wonderful opportunity to visit with librarians from outside the state of Minnesota, chat with our counterparts at ODIN, and experience the dynamics of a different state’s library association. Librarians – and the people of Minot in general – were welcoming to their visiting out-of-state librarians, such as the folks from Minitex and PALS. They were ready to ask questions about libraries in Minnesota and answer our inquiries about North Dakota’s libraries.
The ODIN, Minitex, and PALS booths were collocated in the exhibit hall, allowing us the opportunity to chat at get updates about each others organizations. With the current financial situation across the nation, it makes sense for us to keep the lines of communication open between these like organizations and look for ways that we can work together to enhance library services across the state. No one organization has as much time, money, or staff power as it needs to do all of the “cool stuff” it would like to do. By sharing our existing plans and future goals, perhaps we will be able to combine our resources to accomplish common ambitions.
October sent me to Spearfish, SD for SDLA’s Annual Conference; Duluth, MN for MLA’s conference, and Moorhead, MN for the Upper Midwest Ex Libris Users Group and the MnPALS User Group. As with NDLA, all of these events offered wonderful opportunities to hear what libraries across the region are up to. Four conferences in three weeks means that my memories of what I heard or saw where are fuzzy, however three themes seem to have woven themselves through my notes: a focus on the “user experience,” doing more with less – both in terms of staff and money, and the ever-present need to stay current with technology. The Consortium of MnPALS Libraries and PALS seem poised to offer library staff in the region the opportunity to share practices related to each of these themes at User Groups, Spring Work Days, and the MnPALS mailing lists, forum, and wiki. As always, we are open to suggestions on alternative ways we can support our users: if there is something we are not currently doing that would assist the consortium, please let us know! Comment below or submit a support ticket with your ideas. And start thinking about ways you can contribute to Work Days this Spring and/or User Groups next Fall!