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Racing to the crossroads at NASIG 2017

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the NASIG (formerly the North American Serials Interest Group, Inc.) 32nd Annual Conference in Indianapolis this year as a first time attendee. I’ve only ever heard good things about the annual NASIG conference, so I knew what to expect, and I was not disappointed. This conference creates a great environment for librarians, vendors, and publishers to collaborate. I was thoroughly impressed that there were people present at the conference who have attended all 32 conferences. I hope that I can continue to attend in the future. As I’ve had time to reflect on the conference, there are a few things that resonated with me, but I didn’t go to a session or event that I wasn’t able to glean something from. I wasn’t able to attend everything, of course, so I’ve already began to peruse the NASIG Slideshare for other presentations from the conference, and I’m looking forward to reading the NASIG newsletter for some other recaps. Here are a few quick takeaways from my experience at the conference:

The Conference Mentoring Program and First Timers Reception

Being a first timer, I wanted to know how to make the most of the conference. The conference mentoring program and first timers reception programs really helped me to do that. The mentoring program is a great opportunity for first timers to learn the ins and outs of the conference and meet new people. My mentor took the time to go around with me and introduced me to several people the first night of the conference and that allowed me to make connections throughout the entire conference. I would recommend this program to any first time attendee or any long-time attendee who’s willing to help someone out. The First Timers Reception is also a beneficial event that allows you to take full advantage of the mentoring program. This is not only a great platform to meet your mentor or mentee, but lots of other people as well. The conference has a lot packed into a few days, so it’s nice to have some time at the beginning to check in with mentors, mentees, and other first timers before things get crazy (in a good way!).

“Evaluating User Experience and Access Data to Reveal Patrons’ Print and Digital Serials Preferences”

This session was interesting because it was led by the library at the Art Institute of Chicago, which is a library that serves a diverse population of people. The library used usage statistics and analysis of user experience through surveys and interviews to draw conclusions about their users’ preferences. This is important for any organization, but it was particularly important for this library because of the different types of people using the library, including museum curators, research associates and docents, interns, volunteers, faculty and students of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, museum visitors, and outside researchers. The libraries concluded from the research that print and electronic resources are used by patrons, because patrons like the convenience of the online resources, but they use print resources to gain more context on the materials and when online scans are inadequate.

“They Searched What? Usage Data as a Measure of Library Services & Outreach”

Usage data is valuable for renewals, but the library staff at Indiana State University felt that they could do more with that information, as presented in this session. They needed to examine many moving parts to tell its story about user experience. User behavior information, combined with information about discovery, e-Resources, and website lib guides helped to paint a clear picture about how the library could improve the services offered. This library, like the library at the Art Institute of Chicago, also found a somewhat interesting need among their users. Some of its top searches were related to drag racing and motorsports because of the Motorsports Management program that Indiana State University offers. This is something that the library was aware of, but the scope of the searches illustrated the need to highlight these resources more. The next steps for this project included developing user personas for different users of the library. In my experience, developing personas like this is very useful in parsing out the needs of your users, so I would be interested to see where that arm of the project goes in the future.

“The Charm, the Harm, & the Daring of Dillinger”

 Though not library-related, this lecture that was a part of the opening session was really interesting and well-done. Story Performer Sally Perkins, in conjunction with the Indiana Historical Society, spoke about American gangster John Dillinger, who was born in Indianapolis. The quality of this lecture shows how much care goes into planning NASIG, not only of the formal sessions, but also the social and extra things at the NASIG conference. The talk was very entertaining and informative, which matched well with the overall tone of the conference.

These four parts of the conference, and many others, were really interesting to me and helped me get the most out of the conference. I really appreciate everyone who put their time and effort into planning the conference and those who presented at the conference, as well as anyone who was nice enough to just strike up a conversation with me.

Featured image credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway by tpsdave. Public domain via Pixabay.

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