Co-Chair Cynthia Bentley

Co-Chairs Cynthia Bentley opened the conference with words of welcome.

Co-Chair Mary Buckley

Mary Buckley opened the conference with words of welcome.

“Balancing Electronic Information as the World Turns” was the theme of the 2005 Virginia Library Association Paraprofessional Forum Conference. This event was held from May 15-17 at the Holiday Inn/Koger South Conference Center in Chesterfield County. Mary Buckley and Cynthia Bentley, both of George Mason University, co-chaired the conference that hosted 406 library personnel. The majority of those who attended were from Virginia; however, the conference also attracted attendees from Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. It was an outstanding conference that offered great keynote speakers, a variety of educational sessions, and many opportunities for enhancing one's professional development.

VLA President Ruth Kifer

VLA President Ruth Kifer welcomed attendees on behalf of the association.

2005 VLA Conference

Most sessions were filled to capacity.

Author Carrie Brown

Virginia author Carrie Brown spoke at Sunday evening's banquet.

Sunday's Author Banquet

Virginia author Carrie Brown spoke at the Sunday evening author banquet. During her presentation, Brown described how working as a reporter for a small-town newspaper influenced her life. As a journalist, she covered local happenings such as court cases and weddings. Her job placed her in a position from which she could observe how people interact with one another and react to the situations they encounter in life. While working for the newspaper, Brown also learned how to tell a story — both how to discover narrative and how to link it together. Once she moved to rural Virginia, where her husband had accepted a teaching position at Sweet Briar College, she discovered that she missed this interaction with people and their stories. At this point, her husband suggested that she continue the conversation by writing down her stories. Brown did just that — surrounded by children and family pets, amidst all their activities, she began to write.

Les Louziere
Susan Paddock
Sam Clay

Les Louziere (left) of Virginia's Office of the Attorney General provided Monday's keynote address. Susan Paddock (center) spoke to attendees about supporting the VLA Foundation. Sam Clay (right) described how to manage managers.

Brown read an excerpt from her book, Rose's Garden, which is a tribute to the small-town newspaper: the book celebrates the lives of ordinary people. Brown describes her fiction as quiet and literary, and said that her stories focus on the drama in daily lives. She closed by saying that libraries are humanity's greatest contribution to civilization, and thanked us for what we do in providing library services. Brown closed out the session by answering questions from the audience.

Robert Vay presenting

Robert Vay discussed the digitization of library materials.

Donna Barrow presenting

Donna Barrow presented information on how to preserve family treasures.

Monday's Opening Session

The Monday morning general session opened with words of welcome from VLAPF Co-Chair Mary Buckley. VLA President Ruth Kifer welcomed everyone on behalf of the Virginia Library Association. Kifer reminded everyone that this year is the centennial of VLA, and that this occasion would be highlighted during the fall conference in Williamsburg. She also mentioned the exhibit on display at the Library of Virginia that commemorates our centennial. The exhibit will soon be available on the VLA website; after the fall conference, it will become a traveling exhibit.

Kifer also spoke about the newly established VLA Foundation and introduced VLAPF Board Member Susan Paddock, who also serves on the VLA Foundation Board. Describing the foundation, Paddock explained that the goal for its first year in operation is to have one hundred percent participation from VLA membership. The foundation will provide funding for several critical areas, including legislative advocacy, scholarships, and continuing education programs. Paddock encouraged everyone to support the foundation by making a contribution.

VLAPF Board Members

VLAPF Board members Lynn Brown and Steve Litherland listened attentively to the presenters from SOLINET.

VLAPF Co-Chair Cynthia Bentley introduced keynote speaker Les Lauziere, who works for the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lauziere addressed the topic of technology and crime as it relates to real-world issues. He shared stories about the ways in which people have used technology to commit crimes and how technology has also provided a way to catch criminals. He spoke about technologies used prior to the new high-tech world in which we live, making some comparisons. Lauziere explained how criminals use public access computers available in libraries to commit crimes such as ones related to child pornography and auction fraud. He said that he believes the issue is how to balance intellectual freedom with the need for information to help stop these crimes. Lauziere mentioned that the Patriot Act has helped reduce crimes committed with the use of technology. He then closed with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "Those who desire to give up freedom to keep security do not deserve either one."

— Lydia C. Williams, Longwood University Library

Social dancing

The social was filled with a touch of "Cinco de Mayo" flare (above and below).

Cinco de Mayo flare

Highlights of the VLAPF Sessions

Electronic Genealogical Resources

Mary Lovell Swetnam, Virginia Beach Central Library

How many different ways can you spell your last name or family surname? Can you come up with two, three, or more different spellings? Do you know many of your ancestors' given names, middle names, or nicknames? Do you check for dates of birth or dates of marriages when performing your genealogical search? Do you know port of entry for any family members who came to this country as immigrants? Have you ever sat down with a grandparent or great aunt or uncle and listened to the oral history of your family? If so, did you record this information for use at a later time? These are just a few of the questions that Mary Lovell Swetnam of the Virginia Beach Central Library asked attendees to think about when searching for information about their family trees or assisting customers who are searching for family information.

Genealogy is a popular hobby for both young and old. Swetnam has been researching her family since the age of six, so we were listening to an expert! She provided the group with tips, titles of helpful books (such as Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy by Emily Anne Croom), and information about searching Soundex and databases such as and Hermitage Quest. Swetnam provided information on how to search for census records, directories, information about Native American ancestors, court records such as wills, and deeds of sale for family members who may have been slaves. She informed those in the group to work with what they know and then move backwards in the search. Swetnam alerted the group that names may be misspelled and advised that searches should be performed using as many forms of the name as possible, keeping in mind both phonetics and the many different ways a name may have been pronounced. Swetnam gave detailed answers to the many questions asked during this two-part presentation. These sessions provided the group with a wealth of information that allowed them to leave feeling more confident and assured about assisting a customer or working on their own family histories.

—Mona Farrow, Perry Library, Old Dominion University

Women in sombreros at social

A few wild hombres showed up at the social (left to right: Donna Hanna, Sheila Hallahan, and Ruth Oberg).


Marcia Cramer, Carole Ray, and Mona Farrow posed for photographer Pierre Courtois.

"Gone Phishing": The Latest on Cybercrime

Les Lauziere, Office of the Attorney General, Commonwealth of Virginia

Les Lauziere is a member of the Computer Crime Unit in the Office of the Attorney General for Virginia. This unit was formed in July 1999 to investigate and prosecute original and concurrent jurisdiction cases, and to coordinate groups in the Commonwealth fighting Internet crime. Lauziere joined the Virginia Cyber Crime Strike Force in July 2004. The Virginia Cyber Crime Strike Force (VCCSF) is a joint federal task force that investigates significant crimes, including both federal and state violations, occurring within the State of Virginia. With the explosion in Internet crime over the last several years, the VCCSF has been created to better coordinate information on Internet crime and provide Virginia with a single location to report Internet-related crimes. The VCCSF is a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and is comprised of the United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia; the Commonwealth of Virginia Attorney General's Office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Virginia State Police; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and other federal, state, and local agencies. More information can be found about the VCCSF by visiting

Lauziere explained the term "phishing," which is the use of "spoofed" emails to lead consumers to counterfeit websites designed to trick recipients into divulging financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames, passwords, and social security numbers. It also includes the hijacking of brand names of banks, e-retailers, and credit card companies. Another term, "pharming," is the process of redirecting victims from a legitimate website to a false version that prompts them to give up their usernames and passwords. Example: Over the weekend of March 12-13, 2005, victims were redirected from eBay, Google, and to three websites that attempted to install spyware on each victim's PC.

This was a very good session that provided insight into the world of cybercrime, reminding us to think twice before diving into what we think is normal.

— Carole Ray, Perry Library, Old Dominion University

Sales table

Cynthia Bentley, Mary Fran Bell-Johnson, and Marcia Cramer worked the sales table.

Managing Your Manager

Edwin S. Clay III, Fairfax County Public Libraries

Sam Clay, Director of the Fairfax County Public Library, began a lively discussion by saying that immediate supervisors are major contributors to an employee's success or lack thereof. He asked the group to list some traits a good manager should have. Some of the suggestions included being willing to provide training, allowing employees to take risks, giving sincere praise, providing direction, and saying "Thank you."

Clay then asked why there might be a need to change the relationship between an employee and a manager. The answers were varied and included the desire to have better communication and comfort in breaking down barriers and managing disciplinary actions.

Clay gave pointers on how to approach managers to discuss possible changes. He suggested bringing solutions, not just complaints, when meeting with the manager. He also recommended that one make sure the issue is timely, list the benefits, see the manager as a customer, and be prepared for challenges.

The session ended with a profound statement: "Before trying to mange the manager, one must be able to manage oneself."

— Marie Carter, Alderman Library, University of Virginia

Are You Sure You Want to Weed?: The First Step in Collection Assessment

Sharon Albert and Ben Norris, Radford University

A crowd of fifty individuals listened to Ben Norris, reference librarian, and Sharon Albert, periodicals stacks manager, of Radford University's McConnell Library as they took the audience through the basic procedures in collection assessment. As Norris pointed out, collection assessment is a crucial first step in collection development. Norris delineated the process used for the McConnell Library's reference project, while Albert discussed the periodicals assessment project. The presentation concluded with a short to-do list that session attendees could use to develop their own assessment projects. Following the presentation, the group had an engaging question-and-answer session.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia Education Library


Linda Hahne, Ruth Turner, and Ona Turner Dowdy took a break from the registration desk to enjoy the social.

OCLC Hot Topics: What's New and Improved

Jennifer Bielewski and Elisha Strong, SOLINET

SOLINET serves ten states, including Virginia, and is the sole source for OCLC services and products. SOLINET representatives Bielewski and Strong provided an update on new products and services, including the OCLC service center portal, OCLC WorldCat Resource Sharing, and Connexion. The OCLC service center portal allows one to manage one's account at Here, one can also order library audiobooks and other products. For OCLC WorldCat Resource Sharing, products such as Passport for ILL, ILL Web, ILLME, and Illiad 6.X have been retired as of May 8. Union listing will have moved into Connexion in the fall. Beginning July 1, 2005, all libraries will be on subscription pricing for ILL services. OCLC Passport for cataloging will have retired on June 4, and CatME on July 1. Catalogers may now use CatExpress, Connexion, or the Connexion client (currently up to version 1.50).

The Open WorldCat project is the worldwide union catalog that holds fifty-seven million records in more than forty languages. The vision for OCLC services is to open WorldCat to people outside the library, so that they may have access to library collections. OCLC and Google are collaborating on this project, which harnesses the power of Internet searching and helps to make libraries and their collections more accessible. It puts highly used records on Google. Any library that has holdings in OCLC and has subscriptions in WorldCat can participate.

— Lynn Brown, Perry Library, Old Dominion University

Feeling Lucky?: Learn How to Use Google's Advanced Searching Features

Michele L. Young, Virginia Tech

Michele Young from Virginia Tech University Libraries provided her audience with a wealth of information about using Google for advanced Internet searching. She informed everyone that not everything in Google is indexed. Young shared two terms that are very helpful when using Google to search for information. The plus sign (+) states that the word needs to appear in your search results, while the minus sign (-) states that the word need not come up in the search results. Young reminded the audience that we should not rely on Internet searching alone in the quest for information, but also remember to include the library's print resources.

— Marion Eaton, Virginia Tech's University Libraries

Dress for Success for Le$$

Bernie Hurtt (Retired), Enoch Pratt Free Library (MD)

Do you like designer name-brand pocketbooks, shoes, clothing, and the like, but don't like paying the high-end cost? Bernie Hurtt, an expert thrift store shopper, dazzled the crowd with high-quality items she purchased at a fraction of their original cost. Hurtt provided proof of her shopping skills by exhibiting several Coach pocketbooks in top-notch condition that she had purchased for less than five dollars. She had classic designer shoes that have sold for a fortune on eBay and name-brand outfits that made one's head spin. She demonstrated how to turn one simple black dress into several different workday and evening outfits. Before the conference, she had shopped at a local Richmond thrift store and purchased a two-piece luggage set that appeared brand-new for only four dollars. One of our conference attendees quickly noted that she had just seen one of the pieces in a major chain store with a price tag of over one hundred dollars. Hurtt alerted us to the fact that all items found in your local thrift, consignment, or resale store are not always secondhand. One can find off-the-rack items donated by well-known stores for tax write-offs. So, if you are interested in an adventure and have a limited budget, try finding your treasures at your local thrift or consignment store.

— Mona Farrow, Perry Library, Old Dominion University

Line dancing class

Mary Fran Bell-Johnson taught a line-dancing class.

Technical Troubleshooting Tips

Virginia Kinman, Longwood University

Virginia Kinman from the Greenwood Library of Longwood University gave her audience some very useful tips on what they need to know when reporting or fixing problems related to their computers. Her troubleshooting tips included information on how to solve problems such as releasing a zipped file that has become stuck and what to do when MS Outlook locks up. She also shared information on how to find answers using vendor technical support sites, newsgroups, online publications, and selected Internet sites. At the end of the session, she asked all participants to write down particular problems they'd dealt with and how they'd resolved them. Some of these were shared with the group. Everyone left the session with lots of helpful information.

— Marion Eaton, Virginia Tech's University Libraries

Pat Howe

Managing Information and Capturing Knowledge through the Use of Bibliographic Management Software

George D. Oberle III, George Mason University, and Kevin E. Simons, George Mason University

Two George Mason University colleagues — George Oberle III, the Johnson Center Library Multi-Media and History Liaison Librarian, and Kevin Simons, the Fenwick Library Instruction Coordinator — presented an introductory overview of EndNote, a bibliographic management tool. After defining bibliographic management software and identifying some of the different types available, Oberle and Simons demonstrated how patrons and staff could use EndNote. Of the various features shown to the audience, "Cite as you write" received the most attention. This feature allows the user to place citations within the body of a paper and automatically create the bibliography, in the proper style format, while writing the paper! A spirited question-and-answer period followed the presentation, with part of the discussion focusing on some of the problems arising from patrons using federated searching.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia Education Library

Donna Hughes

Donna Hughes got members from her group involved during her session on storytelling.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Social

The Monday evening social is always a popular event, and this year was no exception. The dance floor stayed occupied for most of the evening, with people dancing to the music provided by DJ Ronnie Gilder of Richmond. The theme for the social was "Cinco de Mayo Fiesta," which set the stage for a festive evening filled with fun and laughter as everyone enjoyed the music, dancing, door prizes, and refreshments.

— Lydia C. Williams, Longwood University Library

Virginia Kinman

Virginia Kinman shared technical troubleshooting tips.

The Fish Philosophy of Customer Service

Carol Henderson, George Mason University

Carol Henderson of George Mason University's Human Resource Department's Training, Recognition, and Recruiting Programs presented this program in two one-hour sessions. The Fish Philosophy is based on the techniques used by the fishmongers at Pike's Fish Market on the Seattle waterfront. Customer service involves four elements: Have fun, Make their day, Be there, and Adjust your attitude! A video filmed at Pike's Fish Market in Seattle brought to life the philosophy of the workers as they play, work, and get customers involved in their daily routines. During this presentation, time was allotted for several exercises utilizing the Fish principles.

— Carole Ray, Perry Library, Old Dominion University

"Books Alive": A Storytelling Workshop

Donna Hughes, Handley Regional Library

This lively, interactive session had all fifty attendees on their feet, clapping, singing, acting, and learning how to bring books to life for an audience. Donna Hughes, Children's Services Division Head at Handley Regional Library, shared her tips and techniques for reading to groups of children and adults. Reading from several different books, Hughes and her participants modeled the tips found on handouts distributed to the audience. A fun and instructive time was had by all.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia Education Library

Marcia Cramer

Incoming Co-Chair Marcia Cramer gave a warm welcome to all who attended Tuesday's closing event.

NYSLAA's Certificate of Achievement

Sheila Hallahan, Horseheads Public Library (NY); Donna Hanna, SUNY Geneseo (NY); and Ruth Oberg, University at Buffalo (NY)

Shelia Hallahan, Donna Hanna, and Ruth Oberg, who are involved in the New York Library Support Assistants' Association, gave a presentation about a program developed for library support staff in New York. The NYSLAA's Certificate of Achievement, which began in 1992, has specific guidelines that must be met in order to receive this certification. The three described how the program works, what the benefits can be, and how to get started in the program. The paraprofessionals from Virginia were very interested in learning more, and the presenters were very helpful in answering the many questions they received.

— Marion Eaton, Virginia Tech's University Libraries

Bill Fiege

Keynote speaker Bill Fiege closed out the conference on Tuesday following the buffet luncheon.

Personal Safety in Public Places

John Wright, Virginia State Police, Crime Prevention Unit

Trooper John Wright, a crime prevention specialist with the Virginia State Police, gave a very helpful, informative, and interesting presentation. He talked about what men look for in potential female victims, locations where abductions are most likely to occur, and the time of day when most crimes against individuals take place (between 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.). He said that taking a class in self defense is better than carrying a gun, because a weapon can easily end up in the hands of the criminal. Many other helpful tips include: never park beside SUVs and vans; carry the least amount of money and only the credit cards you need; travel as light as you can; keep a safe distance from strangers; be aware of your surroundings; and always trust your instincts. This session was filled with helpful information on how to stay safe in a world where we are often too busy to stop and think about our own personal safety.

— Jean Quible (Retired), Virginia Tech's University Libraries

Mary Fran Bell-Johnson and Bill Fiege

Incoming Co-Chair Mary Fran Bell-Johnson with Bill Fiege, following his keynote address.

Teens on Stage

Donna Hughes, Handley Regional Library, and Julie Ramsay, Mary Riley Styles Public Library

Wondering what to do with the teens in your library, especially those teen volunteers? How do you provide them with meaningful work that will keep them coming back? Donna Hughes, Children's Services Division Head at Handley Regional Library, and Julie Ramsey, Youth Services Supervisor at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in Falls Church, presented some dramatic ideas for the twenty attendees of Teens on Stage. Ramsey discussed the Reader's Theater programs her library conducts. She provided the attendees with a bibliography of titles that can be used in a Reader's Theater program. Several of the books listed in the bibliography were available for attendees to look at after the presentation. Hughes had a PowerPoint presentation about her library's puppet theater troop and provided handouts on the five basic techniques of puppetry. Then it was time to put discussion into action. Hughes demonstrated several puppet routines, and each attendee had the opportunity to use a puppet in a routine with the group. I am sure everyone would agree that puppetry is harder than it looks, but it is a lot of fun and a great way to engage your library's teens.

— Carole Lohman, University of Virginia Education Library

Dreama Croft

Dreama Croft (left) was named Outstanding Paraprofessional of the Year.

Are You at Risk for Identity Theft?

Cathy Hubbs, George Mason University

Identity theft is a very big problem, and we all need to protect ourselves from becoming victims. Some of the things to do include: checking your credit report every four months; carrying only what you really need in your purse; keeping an emergency file of account numbers at home; having your picture put on your credit card; writing "Ask for photo ID" next to your signature on your credit cards; keeping your checkbook balanced; checking credit card receipts; shredding papers with personal information or any account numbers on them; and using all the words "cancel," "close," and "eradicate" when requesting to close an account. Beginning in September 2005, each of the three credit reporting companies will have to provide an annual report to you free of charge each year. Spreading out the requests over the year will provide you with a report every four months.

— Jean Quible (Retired), Virginia Tech's University Libraries

Rachel Kirkland

Rachel Kirkland (left) received this year's Clara Stanley VLAPF Scholarship.

Building Staff Morale through Fun and Games

Dan Connole, Arlington County Department of Libraries

In comedic style, Dan Connole garnered the attention of his audience with two funny stories. Then he said, "You must be happy in your work." The well-attended session was filled with ways to have fun and keep staff morale upbeat. Connole informed the group that we all want the same things from our places of work — a safe environment, fair compensation, a respected position, and a sense of accomplishment — so have some fun. Before setting up "fun" things for your staff, plan thoroughly prior to carrying out activities. Ideas should be bounced off others. Be open to suggestions — the more planning, the smoother the event. Because there is not always a budget for leisure activities, do the best you can with what you have. Connole closed the session by suggesting that we not be afraid to poke fun at ourselves.

— Marie Carter, Alderman Library, University of Virginia

Raffle Winner

Lots of happy winners left the event with raffle baskets (above and lower left).

Closing Session/Awards/Raffle Drawing

Mary Fran Bell-Johnson and Marcia Cramer, VLAPF Co-Chairs Elect

Tuesday's closing session included a speaker, a buffet luncheon, awards, and the drawing for the scholarship raffle. Incoming Co-Chair Mary Fran Bell-Johnson opened the session with words of welcome on behalf of the VLAPF Board. Incoming Co-Chair Marcia Cramer announced the recipients of two special awards. Rachel Kirkland, who is employed at George Mason University, was recognized as this year's recipient of the Clara Stanley VLAPF Scholarship, sponsored by the VLA Paraprofessional Forum Board. Dreama Croft of the York County Public Library received the Outstanding Paraprofessional Award for 2005.

Raffle Winner

Bill Fiege, Interim Dean of Instruction at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, was the keynote speaker for this event. His presentation, "Positive Impact," began by asking us to consider the question, "What will our impact on others be?" Using many inspiring stories, Fiege encouraged the audience to examine the ways in which they approach life and handle difficult situations. He offered some simple suggestions that, if acted upon, could change the way we impact the lives of others. These include: always smile; greet people; speak less and listen more; say thank you; reach out to new people; treat others as you want to be treated; and develop a passion for what you do, no matter what you do. Fiege said that we should not allow a negative incident to impact the entire day, but instead, try and turn a negative into a positive. To illustrate, he reminded us of the hardships endured by Abraham Lincoln, whose life and actions made a tremendous impact on our society. Fiege closed with a quote from the poem "What Is Success?" by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "… to find the best in others;/To give of one's self without the slightest thought of return;/… To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exaltation;/To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;/This is to have succeeded."

The scholarship raffle was an exciting event with which to close out the conference. The members of the VLAPF Executive Board generously donated some unique and attractive baskets for the scholarship raffle. Once again, the Moss Society kindly donated a print for the raffle, and Chris Mason of Christopher's Fine Art and Framing in Farmville provided his time and talent to frame the print. Thirteen people left the conference with attractive baskets overflowing with interesting things, but Donna Rushing of Chesapeake, Virginia, was the lucky winner of the Moss print. It was another successful raffle that earned $2,011 for the Clara Stanley Scholarship Fund sponsored by the VLAPF. VL

— Lydia C. Williams, Longwood University Library