Regional Conference- REAL: Resources and Education for Awesome Libraries
Friday, April 21, 2017
Friday, April 21, 2017
8:00 am to 4:00 pm

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Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village


REAL: Resources and Education for Awesome Libraries

For this conference, we're getting real, by giving you not just theories, but practical applications of them. You'll come away with doable strategies that you can put to use right away! The morning will cover User Experience (UX) and the afternoon will have multiple topics, with concurrent sessions so you can pick what's best for you.

Location: Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, Amherst, NY






8:15am-8:55am - Breakfast/registration
8:55am-9:00am – Opening remarks
9:00am-10am – Judy Siegel, Thompson Reuters. "A UX Perspective from Outside of Libraries."
10am-10:10am – Break
10:10am-10:40am – Justin Cronise, Erie Community College. "Empathy, Assessment, and Improvement: UX in practice with Work Like a User Day"
10:40am-11:40am – Craig MacDonald, Pratt Institute. "Navigating the UX Obstacle Course: A Practical Guide"
11:40am-1:10pm – Lunch (Catered by Lloyd Taco Truck) / Browse Exhibits

1:10pm-1:55pm – 2 concurrent sessions
Session A: Amanda Shepp & Christopher Shepp, Marion Skidmore Library, Lily Dale Assembly.
"A Spirited Guide to Saving Your Library."
Session B: Rhonda Konig, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. "Embracing Genealogists."
1:55pm-2:10pm – Break
2:25pm-3:10pm – 2 concurrent sessions
Session A: Katy Duggan-Haas, WNY STEM. "Leading the Next Generation to STEM Literacy."
Session B: Tom Vitale, Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. "Libraries as Social Service Centers."
3:10pm-3:20pm – Break
3:20pm - 4:00pm - Hands-On Activity, Book Paper Crafts: Rhonda Konig, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Session Descriptions:

"A UX Perspective from Outside of Libraries"
Judy Siegel, Thompson Reuters

The critical role that libraries play in our civic society has perhaps never been more needed than now. Libraries are information centers that also double as community centers -- providing critical access to all kinds of information that directly affects patron's lives.  

The importance of libraries is obvious, but how do we think about and describe the user experience of libraries -- both the digital and physical UX of library spaces? How does this inform how we consume, occupy, and teach within these spaces? How does this inform the design and experience of these spaces?

As a UX Designer by training, I think about the entire UX experience of spaces -- mostly in a digital way, but increasingly in a physical way as well. Because I am such a fan of libraries, I have been involved in several library-centric UX projects. I'll discuss what UX is and why it is critical, share my findings from recent projects, my overall view of UX in libraries, and what I think is coming next.

"Empathy, Assessment, and Improvement: UX in practice with Work Like a User Day"
Justin Cronise, Erie Community College
So, you've heard of this "User Experience Design" (UX/UXD).  Wonder what UX looks like in practice?  Bring user experience design into your library with "Work Like a Student Day," a UX-inspired program that:
  • Builds empathy with users
  • Assesses library resources, spaces, and services through a UX lens
  • Identifies specific areas of improvement; and (most importantly),
  • Inspires library staff to action


"Navigating the UX Obstacle Course: A Practical Guide"
Craig MacDonald, Pratt Institute.


When we talk about UX, we often talk about it in terms of methods (like card sorting and usability testing) or products (like wireframes and sketches) or as a general effort to be more user-centered in the way interfaces are designed and services are provided. While this view of UX is accurate, it's also incomplete because it obscures the fact that doing good UX requires more than just figuring out how to apply the right method or design an intuitive interface. It also requires navigating a complex web of organizational factors, logistical constraints, and practical obstacles that threaten to derail any UX project before it even gets off the ground. In this interactive session, attendees will delve more deeply into to the more nitty-gritty aspects of getting UX work done. By the end of this talk, attendees will have a stronger grasp on the biggest barriers to doing good UX and get a head start on developing concrete strategies and practical solutions to overcome those barriers and design a more experience-centered organization.


"A Spirited Guide to Saving Your Library"
Amanda Shepp & Christopher Shepp, Marion Skidmore Library, Lily Dale Assembly
Does your library need a resuscitation, makeover, or straight up overhaul, but you don't know where to start? Do you worry about how to keep your community interested in a library they might not even know exists? Have you ever felt that the only way to get people to notice your institution's hidden treasures is to shout about them from a rooftop? 
“A Spirited Guide to Saving Your Library” uses the Marion H. Skidmore Library of Lily Dale, NY as a study in taking an historic institution and reintroducing it to new audiences. Learn how to breathe new life into your library through the journey of this unique special collections facility, and why your library deserves to be rescued, too!
The floor is leaking, the books are organized by color and catalogued in Latin, I haven’t seen a patron all day, and the last one just needed to use the printer!  Sound familiar?  Overwhelmed with how to bring your institution back to the life it deserves?  Mandi Shepp, Director of the Marion H. Skidmore Library in Lily Dale, and her husband Chris, the town’s Marketing Manager, have been there and will help you break down your issues, assess their solutions, execute your plans, and gain/maintain your brand and audience through public relations tips, community cooperation, and public events.  Let your library’s spirit shine and help it regain the community position it deserves!
"Embracing Genealogists"
Rhonda Konig, Buffalo & Erie County Public LIbrary

Learn about today’s genealogists, genealogy reference interview techniques, and how genealogists can support your library or archives.?

"Libraries as Social Service Centers"
Tom Vitale, Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System
Heard in the stacks: "I'm not a social worker; this isn't my job."
Where does the work of a librarian end and the work of a social worker begin?  In the 21st century, libraries have redefined their role to be that of a community center. Some libraries actually employ a social worker, or contract an agency social worker to "deal" with myriad populations who need assistance.  Our role is to provide information - whatever information that happens to be is up to the library user. As a helping professional do we also have an obligation to go the extra mile in providing basic casework, or do we find a community resource and pass the buck?
"Leading the Next Generation to STEM Literacy."
Katy Duggan-Haas, WNY-STEM
Libraries provide the energy to help inquiry learning take flight.  STEM is grounded in inquiry learning. Therein lies the perfect nexus for creating 21st Century learners.  We will lay out a model of high quality STEM learning and will provide scenarios and examples of project-based learning experiences, engineering design resources for libraries and technology integration appropriate for supporting the school library as the fulcrum for inquiry and STEM learning.
Hands-On Activity, Book Paper Crafts

Rhonda Konig, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Led by Rhonda Konig, we'll make a decorative paper craft using discarded books. Books and all other craft materials will be provided.





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Speaker Bio:

Craig M. MacDonald is an assistant professor in the School of Information at Pratt Institute (formerly the School of Information and Library Science) where he developed and coordinates the User Experience program. He holds a Ph.D. in Information Studies and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) from Drexel University and his research addresses two broad themes: (1) investigating and strengthening UX practices in different contexts and (2) understanding and improving UX education. He has presented his research at many top conferences in the field, including the ACM CHI conference, the Information Architecture Summit, the annual meeting of the Association for Library and Information Science Educators (ALISE), and the annual meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). You can follow him on Twitter at @CraigMMacDonald or visit his website at

Justin Cronise is a librarian at Erie Community College’s South Campus, coordinating instruction, outreach, and a wide array of projects loosely described as “UX.”  In 2015, Justin glowingly reviewed “Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library” (Schmidt & Etches, 2014) for the Journal of Library Innovation, and has been running with it ever since.  When away from the library, Justin enjoys the many joys of homebrewing, reading books with his two adorable children (over and over again), and dreaming of a beach in an undisclosed location.

Judy Siegel is a UX Designer living in Jersey City, NJ. She is currently contracting at Thomson Reuters. Prior to that, she was Director of User Experience at MSNBC Digital, designing the digital presence for the network. Previous jobs include working as a Senior UX Designer at CNN Digital and Ericsson, as well as fellowships at the DNC (where she designed the first mobile canvassing app) and, as well as stints at Fiserv, VMware and the CDC. In past professional lives, she worked in non-profits as a grant writer and researcher and on political campaigns as an organizer.

Amanda M. Shepp received her MLS in Library & Information Science from the University at Buffalo in 2013.  After graduating, she worked on a variety of library and museum projects for the Center For Inquiry including  digitization, digital collections management, and working with rare books before winding up at the Marion H. Skidmore Library in Lily Dale, NY, as their first professional librarian.  Amanda was promoted to Library Director in 2016.  When she isn’t presenting on topics within the history of Spiritualism or digitization techniques, she’s homebrewing, cooking with science, and finding creative ways to teach listeners how to concoct interesting drinks while disseminating information about the weirder points in history.  Every two weeks, she descends upon the Internet’s radio waves as the Loud-Mouthed Librarian, humble host of This is My Normal Talking Voice, a slightly foul-mouthed educational podcast.

Christopher A. Shepp is a prominent online radio personality, sideshow performer, and Marketing expert. He is currently the Marketing Manager for the Lily Dale Assembly. In his leisure time, he brews experimental beers, attempts to consume every horror movie on Netflix, and co-hosts the “This is My Normal Talking Voice” trivia podcast. Universally lauded for his ability to drown out any other noise in the room with his thunderous voice, Chris has continued to mildly amuse audiences to this day.  Notable achievements have included booking an interview with a well-known adult film actress, co-organizing the outreach and events for the Marion H. Skidmore Library, and thumb-wrestling a bear.  

Rhonda Konig has been a genealogy librarian since 2002 and currently serves as the Genealogy Specialist in the Grosvenor Room, the Special Collections Department at the Central Library in Downtown Buffalo.  She is a board member of the Western New York Genealogical Society and the editor of the society's JOURNAL.  Rhonda has been researching her own genealogy since 1999 and her most surprising genealogical accomplishment to date is the debunking of her maiden name.  ?


Katy Duggan-Haas is an experienced Sustainability  and STEM Education Consultant.  She serves as a project director in WNY-STEM. She is a former Director of the Math & Science Center in Jackson, Michigan, where she was responsible for professional development, student programs, curriculum support, resource clearinghouse, community engagement.  Katy has also been a biology teacher and advisor for sustainability and outdoor experience clubs and activities.


Tom Vitale currently serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System in Jamestown, NY. He has presented at the New York Library Association Conference and at numerous libraries and library systems throughout New York State. Tom worked as a social worker for fifteen years before transitioning into public librarianship. He has research and teaching interests in mentally ill adults and adults with co-occurring disorders. Tom currently serves as President of the Library Access Round Table for NYLA and as Vice-President and Programming Chair for the Rural Libraries Roundtable of NYLA. He is the current chair of the WNYLRC Continuing Education Committee. Tom holds undergraduate degrees from SUNY College at Fredonia in elementary education and Clarion University of PA in liberal studies. He has graduate degrees in social work from Stony Brook University and library science from Clarion University of PA. Tom is a certified public librarian in the States of New York and Pennsylvania. 


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