Librarians on Safari

Four WWU librarians gather resources in Africa

By: Becky Beddoe

Following the conference, many of the librarians chose to embark on a safari, where they had the opportunity to observe African wildlife and landscape.

For five days in mid-June, four WWC librarians could be found collaborating with other librarians from Seventh-day Adventist institutions around the world.  The event was the 27th Annual Conference of the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians (ASDAL), and this year’s gathering was held in South Africa.

Among the 45 persons in attendance were the four representatives from WWC: Carolyn Gaskell, Librarian, Christy Berry, Reference Librarian, Annette Melgosa, Associate Librarian, and Bruce McClay, Associate Librarian, Portland campus.  Other attendees represented South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, England, Germany, and Jamaica.

Being in attendance and a part of the educational and networking experience wasn’t all the WWC librarians did in South Africa.  Each of them played an important role in the conference program. 

During the school librarians pre-conference, Gaskell gave a presentation entitled, “How Do You Manage? Vignettes from selected SDA school librarians in the Northwest.”  The presentation reported on a survey of elementary and secondary school libraries in the Upper Columbia Conference, focusing specifically on two academy and two elementary school libraries.  Gaskell also gave the Project Manager's report at the annual Adventist Library Consortium's Council meeting and acted as chair for the Constitution and Bylaws Committee.

In spite of her list of responsibilities, Gaskell was still able to enjoy being part of the crowd for some of the conference.  “Listening to the professional presentations from our southern African colleagues renewed my respect and appreciation for the level of scholarship they practice,” says Gaskell.  “This ASDAL conference served to remind us all of the diversity and collegiality Adventist librarians share throughout the world.”

Berry also gave a presentation during the school librarians pre-conference.  Her presentation was called, “Raised by Librarians: Children’s Curiosity at the Reference Desk.”  It was a basic look at reference sources for children, including which ones to purchase and how to decide where to put priorities, what types of sources are considered reference, and how to actually answer questions for children when in the library. Berry also acted as moderator for the public services break-out session.

Although she was delivering educational information at the conference, Berry still learned quite a bit from others there.  “It is always good to associate with other colleagues,” she says.  “It helps you to think creatively about challenges faced at your own institution.  It also gives you the chance to share with others knowledge that you have gained through experience.”

Melgosa’s role was to present a report from the Ad Hoc Library Manual Committee, of which she is chair.  The committee is an ASDAL committee and as such they are required to report back to the body.  The committee is made up of seven librarians from various countries, and their task is to develop a how-to manual to help SDA schools and colleges around the world set up and run a school or college library.  The manual is for worldwide distribution to Adventist academies and colleges, and has been commissioned by the Education Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Melgosa was intrigued by her international colleagues.  “Here in America libraries are often taken for granted and some don't feel that they are even needed anymore, she says. “But the teachers and librarians of Africa reminded us of the role that libraries play in providing equal access to education and culture – something we tend to forget.”

With an interest in how to increase student and faculty use of library services and resources, McClay gave two presentations on marketing, presenting ideas on how to make the library a positive, friendly place that is the center of student learning and activity on campus. 

One of McClay’s presentations was for the school librarians pre-conference and was centered on elementary and high school libraries.  His second presentation was given at the full conference and was a PowerPoint presentation focused on marketing strategies that have been successful in other universities or colleges, including the WWC School of Nursing Library in Portland.  In 2002 the School of Nursing Library received commendations from both the Commission on Colleges & Universities of the Northwest Association of Schools, Colleges, & Universities and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.

“To me, the richest experience of the conference is the opportunity to meet those from other countries and cultures, says McClay.  “With all the beauty of touring a new country and seeing things like a dozen lions on the hunt in their natural environment, nothing can compare with the joy of meeting new people, making new friends, and acquiring new resources.”

The Peterson Memorial Library on the College Place Walla Walla University campus can be reached by calling 509-527-2134.  The School of Nursing Library on the Portland campus can be contacted at 360-694-7233.

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