2014 MLA/DLA Conference

About a month ago, I attended the joint conference of the Maryland & Delaware Library Associations in Ocean City, MD. I took a different tactic this year with my note-taking, and took everything in Evernote rather than in individual blog posts. I’ve finally had a chance to go back in my notes and try to clean things up a bit and add links where appropriate. So, here they are!

All of these sessions were really excellent, and I have already tried to put some of what was presented in the event evaluation session into practice. I think my biggest takeaway from that talk was that people experience cognitive overload when you ask them to complete a complex evaluation at the end of a session. I went back to work and changed up what I did on the event evaluations for a recent conference.

We have four questions that we ask on these evals, which we use at our in-person training sessions. Generally speaking, the questions are “what did you like best,” “what could be improved,” “please rank these four aspects of the presentation on this Likert scale” and “what else?” In my time doing these, we’d always started off with the rankings question, so I rearranged and rephrased a little bit to lead off with “how was this session valuable to you?” in hopes that  I could get some better responses to that particular question.

I’m not sure it really made a big difference in the types of responses I got – librarians are perhaps more willing than most to tell you what they really thought, and my general impression was that I got about the same amount of comments, at about the same level of depth, as usual. But, I want to circle back and compare the kinds of answers I got from this model to what I’ve gotten in past years, and see if I can tweak further for future conferences. I’m not sure we’re quite ready for the one-question evaluation Joyce is using (as someone pointed out, some of us need the numbers) but I think it’s important to rethink these types of things occasionally and see if you can make them work better. I have the feeling that we can probably remove the “anything else?” question and perhaps even drop “what can we do better,” or maybe rephrase it somehow. (Maybe “is there something you wish we’d done differently?”)