Notes from the Road: Member Visits in San Diego, California

Submitted by Gillian Harrison Cain, ATLA Director of Member Programs 

Early April found me in San Diego, California, enjoying the company of other librarians in yet another hotel ballroom at the CNI (Coalition for Networked Information) Spring 2018 Membership Meeting. It was a great meeting, lots of good sessions attended and connections made, but honestly one of the highlights for me was achieving escape velocity from the hotel and spending some time in the sunshine en route to visit with members at the University of San Diego and Bethel Seminary.

Helen K. and James S. Copley Library

I met Martha Adkins, Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian, at the entrance to the Helen K. and James S. Copley Library on the campus of the University of San Diego the front of which had been recently renovated to fit into the new pedestrian “mall” area created when they closed a street that formerly went through campus. Students and others were out enjoying this area and the weather, as did we as we walked up it to lunch. Lunch was in a beautiful dining area with an amazing view and Martha and I chatted about many topics including the tenure process for librarians, engaging with faculty to improve information literacy, and professional development for theological and religious studies libraries. After lunch she took me on a lightning tour of a bit of the campus and the library, highlighting room the classic-looking room in the older part of the library. Afterwards, she pointed me in the direction of the Garden of the Sea at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice where I spent a peaceful hour catching up on email.

Prince Memorial Library

Prince Memorial Library at Bethel Seminary San Diego

The next day found me headed out to visit with Mary Lou Bradbury at the Prince Memorial Library at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Mary Lou, who is retiring at the end of May after being at Bethel since 1981, and I had a lovely chat that covered a wide range of topics. Along with Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, they recently changed to ALMA, and she shared some of the challenges and opportunities working with a new system brings. With only herself and one other assistant in the library (the ever smiling and welcoming Leslie Houston), she expressed appreciation to engage closely with colleagues in St. Paul, as well as members of SCATLA and ATLA. We discussed the value of the ATLA Serials Exchange (ASE) program and how that helped her in building the collections in her library. With classes starting at 4pm, there weren’t many folks in the library that morning, but we took a quick spin around. Along the way she shared that she’s been dropping print subscriptions to many current periodicals, as many members do, and the discussions about fitting a small room with technology for virtual meetings but the need to maintain a library workroom which is so critical for sorting donations and other tasks.

My thanks to Martha, Mary Lou, and Leslie for their warm welcome which I could feel in addition to the lovely Southern California sunshine.

Gillian Harrison Cain is the Director of Member Programs at ATLA. She has worked in lots of corners of library land, from public to academic libraries, from vendors to nonprofits, from small hidden rooms of catalogers to large circulation and reference desks. With an engineering background and a flair for marketing, she is passionate about bringing together technology, libraries, and people.

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